- Associated Press - Thursday, September 11, 2014

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Missouri business leaders are expressing alarm at a state Supreme Court ruling allowing unlimited punitive damages in a limited class of lawsuits.

The court ruled Tuesday that Missouri’s 2005 law capping punitive damages at $500,000 does not apply to lawsuits that make common-law claims of injury, such as fraud. The court reinstated a $1 million punitive damage award to a woman who sued a car dealership for fraud.

A representative of the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry said the ruling is “striking fear into the hearts of business owners.”

But the president of the Missouri association of lawyers who represent plaintiffs in personal injury cases said the decision’s effects will be limited. That’s because the Supreme Court said its ruling doesn’t apply to claims based on statutes, such as human rights violations.

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