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Product Liability Law Relevant to Plaintiffs in Missouri: Comparative Fault

Avanced Legal Research, Fall 2017

Comparative Fault

When evidence of comparative fault can be introduced is an important consideration for plaintiff's product liability attorneys. The most pertinent statute is V.A.M.S. § 537.765 (this is a link to a free website). This statute abrogated contributory negligence as a complete bar to the plaintiff's recovery, and instead a defendant can introduce evidence of comparative fault to reduce the plaintiff's recovery. Below are good places to research this area of law.

Secondary Sources

Missouri Practice Series

  • This, once again, provides unparalleled access to compilations of relevant Missouri primary law. Chapter 38, the product liability chapter, and Chapter 55, the wrongful death chapter, of the Personal Injury & Tort Handbook provide fantastic information on when (and if) comparative fault evidence can be introduced by discussing both statutory and case law. Additionally, Chapter 3 of the Personal Injury & Torts Handbook provides great information by discussing all possible situations in which comparative fault can be applied (not just in product liability cases).
  • Again, it must be emphasized that this source is worth the investment. It provides current, up-to-date information (updated in August 2017) and is easy to navigate and provides excellent primary sources, like statutes, cases, and regulations.


Law Review Articles

Missouri Law Review

  • Comparative Fault in Missouri (link is to a free resource) by Ronald A. Conway, 50 Mo. L. Rev. 141 (Winter 1985). Although this article is dated, it evaluates the change in the application of comparative fault (from that of strict contributory fault which barred recovery to the looser standard of it simply reducing the award by the percentage of fault) in Missouri and provides interesting history for the researcher. Of course, it will not provide extremely current information, but it provides a great background on the history of comparative fault law in Missouri.
  • Comparative Fault and Products Liability: A Dangerous Combination (link is to a free resource), 52 Mo. L. Rev. 445 (Winter 1987). Once again, although it is a dated article, it provides a good historical look at when Missouri joined the jurisdictions who refused to apply the doctrine of comparative fault to strict liability products liability actions, and the impact it was thought to have by some people. This is not a source for current information, but rather for a good understanding of the history.