Brett Emison in News Story: Proposed Legislation Fundamentally Alters the Rules of Evidence

Langdon & Emison Partner Brett Emison was quoted today in a news story republished by news station KPVI in northwest Missouri. The topic: a bill sponsored by Sen. Dan Hegeman that would create a loophole for car manufacturers and dealers in cases brought against them.

SB 30 addresses a very specific situation, but one that isn’t particularly uncommon in cases brought by passengers who were riding in notorious 15-passenger vans. Such vans, which are perhaps most commonly used by churches, have long been treated as inherently dangerous: the federal government has issued repeated warnings since the turn of the century that the vans can have a propensity to roll over, especially when they are filled to capacity as designed. – Geoffrey Woehlk

This bill in particular would alter the playing field in favor of those who make dangerous 15-passenger vans, a practice area in which Langdon & Emison has litigated many cases in its 30-year history. Additionally, Geoffrey Woehlk’s story (originally printed in the Maryville Forum) pointed out that the bill would nullify a part of existing statute that caps the mitigation of damages in cases where the plaintiff wasn’t wearing a seat belt, and instead allow car manufacturers and dealers to use failure to wear a seat belt in showing comparative negligence by the person who brought the suit.

“The problem with that is that it fundamentally alters the rules of evidence, that evidence has to be related to the damages or the accident,” Brett said as part of the story. “In a case where you’re rear-ended by a Ford Pinto and the fuel tank explodes, and you survive the crash but you’re burned by the exploding fuel tank, whether or not you’re wearing a seat belt is not a materially relevant issue.”

Brett’s practice focuses on representing catastrophically injured individuals and their families. This year he has joined the membership of the American Board of Trial Advocates, a prestigious bar association open to only the most experienced of trial attorneys. Brett is a member of the Executive Committee of the Missouri Association of Trial Attorneys, and is heavily involved in the American Association for Justice.