Oklahoma Lt. Gov. Mary Fallin and Senate Republican leaders, joined by several Oklahoma doctors and business leaders, are calling for meaningful lawsuit reform during the 2005 legislative session.
Senate Republican Leader Glenn Coffee, R-Oklahoma City, also provided highlights of major components that GOP leaders expect to include in their comprehensive lawsuit reform proposal.
“After the passage of last year’s sham ‘reform’ bill, there was talk of a moratorium prohibiting further lawsuit reform. We’re here to say that as far as policy leaders are concerned, as far as rank-and-file doctors are concerned, as far as business leaders are concerned, there is no moratorium and we intend to fight for real lawsuit reform in 2005,” Fallin said.
“A year ago, Gov. Brad Henry promised us ‘Texas-plus’ lawsuit reform, but was only able to deliver a watered-down bill that was ‘reform’ in name only,” Coffee said. “In 2005, we’re going to help Gov. Henry keep his promise to provide meaningful lawsuit reform to the people of Oklahoma. If we are going to reduce insurance rates, if we are going to grow our economy and attract jobs, if we are going to keep our doctors practicing in this state, we have to pass broad-based lawsuit reform this year.”
Sen. James A. Williamson, R-Tulsa, said, “We know the challenges faced by Gov. Henry and the Senate Democrat leadership on this issue. We know how heavily they rely on trial lawyers to fund their campaigns. But we ask them to put aside those concerns and join us to pass meaningful, bipartisan reforms this year.
Coffee said Senate Republicans are coordinating with House Republican leaders on Speaker Todd Hiett’s comprehensive lawsuit reform bill, which will be unveiled soon.
Coffee said major points of the GOP’s lawsuit reform proposal will include:
• Hard cap of $300,000 on non-economic damages
• Eliminating the “deep pockets” rule, also known as joint and several liability
• Stopping the double collection of damages by eliminating the collateral source rule
• Prohibiting forum shopping
• Limiting attorneys’ fees
• Protecting educators from frivolous lawsuits
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