Bill would change state law regarding liability in property damage cases due to livestock
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Bill would change state law regarding liability in property damage cases due to livestock

Date: January 27, 2016
By: Nicole Shaddy
State Capitol Bureau

JEFFERSON CITY - One Missouri lawmaker wants to update state law to ensure livestock owners aren't held responsible when another person or an "act of God" allows the animals to get out and damage a neighbor's property.

Rep. Joe Don McGaugh (R-Carrollton) spoke in front of the House Civil and Criminal Proceedings committee, which he chairs, about the bill he sponsored that he said would protect innocent livestock owners unless they're deemed negligent.

Currently, Missouri law states that livestock owners are strictly liable for any damages to another's property, even if the animals got out because of someone other than the owner, or because of a natural disaster, according to McGaugh.

If it passes, this bill would ensure livestock owners only be liable for damages if they are pr oven to be negligent.

Negligence could include failure to build and maintain proper fences for the animals.

"This is an issue that plagues our members quite frequently," Shannon Cooper from the Missouri Cattlemen's Association said. "This just updates the laws and tries to put the blame where it should be."

Rep. Bill White (R-Joplin) raised concerns about how property owners can collect damages if the livestock owner cannot be held liable without negligence.

"If you don't have an insurance scenario ... you're going to go to court," White said.

He said this means innocent people in the situation would be forced to hire an attorney and incur court fees.

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