Oklahoma’s House of Representatives approved HB 2661, the tort reform bill, on a 68-32 vote Thursday afternoon. The State Senate was to take up the legislation for final passage Friday morning.
In response to the move, Oklahoma Governor Brad Henry offered the following response.
“This is a major step forward for Oklahoma, particularly its businesspeople, health care providers and consumers. It is a pro-business, pro-health and pro-consumer reform bill, no matter how you look at it,” said Gov. Henry.
“First, this legislation addresses the number one reform issue of small businesspeople – frivolous lawsuits. This measure will protect business owners and other citizens from the kind of nuisance lawsuits that cost them millions of dollars each year. The measure also enacts further safeguards for business, restricting joint and several liability, creating business courts and cracking down on venue shopping, among other things.
“On the health care front, this legislation enacts major medical malpractice reforms, strengthening caps on non-economic damages and assisting the Physicians Liability Insurance Company, among other things. Because it will relieve some of the financial pressures on PLICO, the immediate result of this legislation will be a $10,000 savings to every doctor who is covered by the company. As leaders of the Oklahoma State Medical Association have stated, this legislation will provide doctors and other health care providers with the reforms and protections they have been seeking. It will defuse the crisis that has been brewing in our medical community and threatening the practices of thousands of doctors across the state.
“This is the most sweeping, comprehensive tort reform package in Oklahoma’s history, without question. Anyone who examines this legislation with an objective eye will agree that it beats Texas in many areas. This improves our civil justice system and makes it more business-friendly without restricting citizens’ constitutional right to have equal access to the courts.
“I appreciate the stakeholders and legislators who fought so hard to draft this reform package and see that it got the hearing it deserved. This legislation is the product of compromise, as is all legislation in any lawmaking body, and it is a good compromise for the people of Oklahoma.”
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