Oklahoma City – Republican leaders in the state Senate and House of Representatives today announced the details of their Texas-style lawsuit reform package.
Lawsuit reform legislation is being introduced in the Senate by Senate Republican Leader James A. Williamson, R-Tulsa, and in the House by Rep. Jim Newport, R-Ponca City.
“These landmark reforms actually exceed what was accomplished in Texas, and will put Oklahoma on the map as having the most progressive lawsuit reforms in the nation,” said Williamson. “We now call on Governor Henry to put aside politics and join us in a bipartisan effort to reform Oklahoma’s legal system. The governor talks a lot about being a ‘bipartisan’ governor, and this gives him an opportunity to prove it the people of Oklahoma by showing leadership and endorsing this legislation.”
House Republican Leader Todd Hiett, R-Kellyville, said, “As Republican legislative leaders said last week the Texas lawsuit reform initiatives are the bare minimum we want enacted in Oklahoma. Today, the Republican leadership of both chambers has outlined specific reforms to be addressed during the upcoming legislative session. It’s imperative Governor Henry not hide in the corner on this issue. As a friend of the trial bar I know his tendency might be to side with those who helped elect him in 2002. His allegiance will be questioned throughout the debate and with good reason. The Republican leadership asks that he stand up to the pressure from those that oppose these initiatives and join our effort to bring sweeping lawsuit reform and the high quality jobs that will go along with it to Oklahoma. It’s time to remove the economic burden from the thousands of hard working Oklahoma families who’ve been the victims of our out of control lawsuit system for too long.”
Rep. Newport said, “Oklahoma has the opportunity to be a true model for lawsuit reform across the country. Republicans have recognized for years the economic damage our lenient frivolous lawsuit laws have caused Oklahoma. The time to change that is now with passage of the reforms outlined today by Republican legislative leaders. I’m committed to doing what I can to work in a professional, bipartisan manner with my Democrat colleagues. Time will judge how successful our efforts will be and it’s too important an issue to allow politics to control the agenda. I hope that will not be the case.”
HIGHLIGHTS OF LAWSUIT REFORM LEGISLATION:
Attorneys fees would be capped on a sliding scale, ranging from 30 percent of the first $250,000 in damages dropping incrementally to 10 percent on awards greater than $1,250,000.
Broad-based $250,000 cap on non-economic damages in all civil cases, including all medical liability cases.
Loser pays: If a case is determined by the court to be frivolous, the plaintiff would be required to pay the defendant’s attorneys fees.
Protections for police, firefighters, government employees, educators, volunteers, and innocent property owners.
Prohibit “forum shopping” by requiring courts to decline jurisdiction if there is a better forum for the lawsuit.
Class action and product liability reforms