We put our safety in the hands of other individuals and corporations every day. We trust that our medications will make us feel better, our cars will deliver us to our destinations, and our food is prepared safely.
Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case because corporations don’t always have our best interests in mind. For Joyce Oyler and her family, trusting the local pharmacy meant losing her life.
Oyler was prescribed medications to help her heal after a hospital stay; however, when the prescriptions were phoned in to her local Hy-Vee, a pharmacy technician – who had recently been transferred from the floral department – incorrectly entered the medication into the system giving Oyler a highly toxic medication instead. By the time Oyler’s symptoms were diagnosed, the effects were irreversible. She died three grueling days later.
Oyler’s death was unnecessary and highly preventable, and the Court of Appeals agreed that punitive damages were warranted. Punitive damages are one of the few checks that hold corporations accountable when they harm or kill people.
Without the possibility of punitive damages, corporations like Hy-vee would have no incentive to prevent this kind of reckless corporate misconduct from killing other innocent people.
But now, some Missouri lawmakers are trying to change the punitive damages law.
SB 591 turns an important protection for families – punitive damages – into Swiss cheese. It would put so many holes in the law it would be virtually impossible to hold companies accountable and require them to prioritize safety.
Under the proposed changes in SB 591:
- You would have to prove a company “intentionally” harmed you – a very difficult thing to do in court.
- Employers could blame their employees for the damage, using loopholes to shield themselves from the employees and managers actions.
- The jury who heard the case could no longer decide if punitive damages should be considered – now the court would decide.
- If the same conduct was brought before a jury in another state in another similar case, a credit for previously awarded punitive damages will be applied.
Missourians need to be able to hold corporations accountable for their actions. Tell the Missouri Legislature to vote NO on SB 591.