Thursday, May 14, 2009

Update on tort reform in Oklahoma; what makes a frivolous lawsuit frivolous?

Back in March I posted a short update on tort reform efforts in several states, including Oklahoma. (See here.) Today, the TortsProf Blog has posted (here) that Republicans in the Oklahoma legislature have reached out to trial lawyers and patient advocacy groups to forge a tort-reform compromise that the governor will likely sign. Reportedly, the bill targets the typical tort reform's agenda (eliminating or modifying joint and several liability and capping compensation for non-economic damages (subject to at least one exception), for example), but it also proposes to redefine "what constitutes a frivolous lawsuit" and to strengthen summary judgment rules "to make it easier for a judge to dismiss a lawsuit that has no merit before it goes to trial." Now, that I find interesting. How can you redefine a frivolous lawsuit as anything other than "frivolous"? How exactly do you determine that a claim has "no merit" other than by using the current rules and doctrines of procedure, evidence and the analysis of whether a case meets the elements of a prima facie case? Thanks to Chris Robinette for the information and links for the full story here and here.

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