When an Outdated Design Finally Needs to be Put to Bed:
The Government’s “State of the Art” Defense in Road Design Cases

III. The “State of the Art” Defense
A. Supreme Court Decisions

Since 1985, the Supreme Court of Missouri has not been called upon to address the state of the art defense in depth. One of the Court’s most recent decisions was Hensley v. Jackson County. In Hensley, the Missouri Supreme Court was faced with whether a downed stop sign was a dangerous condition.17 Jackson County argued that public entities could only be sued for roadways and highways being in a dangerous condition based on a negligent design theory.18 The County reasoned that the language creating the “state of the art” defense limited the waiver of sovereign immunity for a roadway being in a “dangerous condition” to negligent design theories only.19 The Supreme Court disagreed and ruled that the “state of the art” defense has no impact on other types of “dangerous conditions” cases. Hensley added little to the case law expanding on the “state of the art” defense. Ultimately, Hensley simply reiterated what the statute already said, the “state of the art” defense is only available to MHTC if the plaintiff sues based on a negligent design theory.

17 Hensley, 227 S.W.3d at 494-96. 
18 Id. at 494. 
19 Id. at 494-96.


Previous Page
III. The “State of the Art” Defense
Next Page
B. Court of Appeals decisions

Call 816-931-0048 NOW, For Your Free Personal Consultation!