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Henry Chooses Trial Lawyers over Teachers, Vetoes School Protection Act

Sen. Glenn Coffee Sen. Glenn Coffee

State Capitol, Oklahoma City – When it comes to choosing trial lawyers or teachers, Oklahomans now know where Gov. Brad Henry’s loyalties lie: The trial lawyers.

Friday Henry vetoed a bipartisan lawsuit reform bill that would have curbed lawsuit abuse against teachers and school administrators who enforce discipline in the classroom. The veto is a major blow to teachers and schools, but it protects Henry’s allies in the trial lawyer industry.

The School Protection Act, Senate Bill 1024, is authored by State Senate Co-Floor Leader Owen Laughlin, R-Woodward, and State Rep. Dan Sullivan, R-Tulsa. The bill was supported by the Oklahoma Education Association.

“It’s ironic that the self-described ‘education governor’ has put the interests of the ‘Big Trial Lawyers’ industry ahead of the interests of teachers and schoolchildren. It is very discouraging to see the lengths this governor will go to stop even the most modest of lawsuit reform proposals from becoming law in Oklahoma,” said Laughlin.

“Once again Governor Henry has vetoed a bipartisan lawsuit reform bill, and once again he has refused to tell the Legislature which reforms – if any – he is actually willing to support,” stated Coffee, R-Oklahoma City. “It’s becoming painfully clear there is no lawsuit reform proposal this governor will sign. We may have to go to a vote of the people if we ever want to accomplish meaningful lawsuit reform for Oklahoma.”

Editors’ note: Here are Highlights of The School Protection Act :

  • Would have provided liability protection for actions taken in good faith by a school district for the out-of-school suspension of a dangerous or disruptive student pursuant to applicable Oklahoma Statutes.

  • Would have provided liability protection for losses or claims resulting from the use of “necessary and reasonable force” by a school district employee to control and discipline a student during the time the student is in attendance or in transit to and from the school, or at a school function.
  • Would have awarded attorneys’ fees and court costs to school districts that successfully defend a lawsuit against the district or an education employee.
  • Would have made it a crime for students to falsely accuse education employees of criminal activity.
Contact info
Paul Ziriax, Leadership Assistant Office of the Co-President Pro Tempore State Capitol: (405)