When an Outdated Design Finally Needs to be Put to Bed: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

VI. Conclusion

MHTC has a duty to design safe highways. When a motorist or her passenger is injured on a highway due to an admittedly outdated design standard, MHTC will inevitably try to avoid legal responsibility by relying on the “state of the art” defense. While the “state of the art” defense will pose an additional hurdle for a plaintiff to overcome, the defense does not defeat the plaintiff’s case. To overcome the “state of the art” defense, the plaintiff will want to craft a discovery plan focusing on modifications performed at the accident site. By focusing on modifications, a plaintiff can bring her case under the purview of Martin and Linton, and put the “state of the art” defense to bed. Ultimately, the legislature should amend the “state of the art” defense to not only better protect Missouri citizens, but public entities as well.

Read the verdict of: Kim Markley v. MHTC (Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission) 

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V. Legislative Solution