Plan for Oklahoma Tort Reform Hearings Presented

April 9, 2004

Oklahoma state Senator Mike Morgan, D-Stillwater, and state Representative Jari Askins, D-Duncan, announced a schedule for four issue-oriented hearings on tort reform.

Morgan and Askins co-chair a special 23-member joint House-Senate committee that will examine the state’s civil justice system. They outlined the process the committee will follow in the hearings.

“We intend these hearings to be extensive and probing. The issues involved in tort reform deserve special scrutiny and it’s my intention for the committee to give them the attention that they deserve. This is an important job and we are serious about getting it done,” Morgan said.

“The members of the committee will approach this issue with the same resolve used to move it to this point in the process,” Askins said. “We will explore all sides of the issues and at the end of the process we will have a comprehensive proposal.”

Beginning with an April 15 hearing in the Senate Chamber on “Caps on Non-economic Damages and Product Liability,” the committee will allow opponents and proponents 45 minutes each to present witnesses to the committee. Committee members will also be given 45 minutes to question witnesses from each side. Morgan said each of the meetings is expected to last approximately three hours.

The three subsequent hearings, which will be held either in the Senate or House Chambers, are set for April 22 on “Medical Malpractice and Insurance Reform;” April 29 on “Class Action Lawsuit Reform;” and May 6 on “Civil Justice Reform and Frivolous Lawsuits.”

Morgan and Askins said it is possible further hearings and meetings could be scheduled.

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