Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Tort Reform in Georgia

A press release from the Governor of Georgia released yesterday has this interesting section on "tort reform." Note how it makes a connection between "tort reform" and making Georgia "more friendly to business." The full press release is available here. It states, in part: "This session, I will propose two pieces of legislation that will make Georgia more friendly to business. First, we will cement our position as a leader in the biotech industry by enacting laws that respect the role of the federal Food and Drug Administration as the regulator of the safety of drugs and medical devices. "As other states have decided, I believe that FDA approval should mean something. It certainly should imply protection from tort lawsuits. This legislation will say that companies with a significant presence in Georgia will not be subject to product liability claims within this state if the FDA approved the medical device, drug or the labeling along with it. The legislation will make Georgia an even more attractive environment for biotechnology companies. "Secondly, Georgia’s courts are crowded with nuisance lawsuits, but unfortunately, they are often cheaper to settle than to litigate. Current law provides almost no deterrent for frivolous lawsuits and that must change. "I’m asking the General Assembly to pass another tort reform bill that will provide relief to individuals and companies wrongly sued. In short, if a claim is dismissed at the earliest possible stage, the litigant bringing the claim will be responsible for the prevailing party’s attorneys’ fees. "If the attorney fails to notify the client of this provision, that attorney could pay the award. Lastly, the bill will make sure that the costly discovery process will not begin until the legal merits of a complaint have been tested. "This will free up our courts to pursue justice in cases with merit, protect our existing businesses that provide jobs for Georgians and attract new investment. With the help of the General Assembly, we’ll make plain that the threat of meritless litigation is not a viable business strategy in Georgia." In other words, the Governor is proposing to pass legislation that would eliminate the right of plaintiffs to sue in state court for certain types of cases and procedural barriers to their claims when they do have the right to bring them. Interestingly, Illinois tried the approach of instituting procedural barriers a number of years agon but they were declared unconstitutional by the state supreme court. Also, the "loser pays" proposal has been considered and rejected in some form or another by the ABA in an old ethics opinion. It will be interesting to see if anything comes out of this. Thanks to Sheila B. Scheuerman of TortsProf Blog for the information

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Nothing will come out of this.