Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Tort Reform Bill in Oklahoma

H.B. 1603 passed the Oklahoma House Judiciary Committee and now moves to the full House. The bill would "cap non-economic damages; require an expert witness for pre-certification of a lawsuit; and eliminate joint and several liability, among other reforms." More from Insurance Journal. (Thanks to the TortsProf Blog for this information.)
Like all tort reform bills, the goal is both to make it more difficult for plaintiff to bring claims and to reduce the amount they can get as compensation for their injuries. The provision requiring "pre-certification" will make it more difficult for plaintiffs to bring claims; the partial elimination of the collateral bar rule and the total elimination of joint and several liability will allow a defendant to avoid paying the total value of the damages they caused. A bill with similar provisions was declared unconstitutional in Illinois a long time ago, and a bill with caps on damages in medical malpractice cases was declared unconstitutional in Georgia just a few days ago. See here.

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