Okla. Lawmakers Roll Out Lawsuit Reform Plan

February 4, 2005

Aiming to bring common sense back to Oklahoma’s legal system, reduce health care costs for citizens and create a stronger economic climate, Speaker of the Oklahoma House of Representatives Todd Hiett unveiled details of an initiative to fight lawsuit abuse, the House Media Services Division reported.

Hiett unveiled the plan under House Bill 2047, along with Rep. Fred Morgan, R-Oklahoma City, who will carry HB 2047 through the House in the upcoming session.

Hiett, a dairy farmer and rancher, and Morgan, a practicing attorney, have named HB 2047 “The Justice & Common Sense Act of 2005.” The act aims to tackle four major areas of reform:

Quick and Fair Compensation for Injured People: The Justice and Common Sense Act of 2005 will make it easier for injured people (plaintiffs) and defendants with strong cases to win on summary judgment, rather than going through the painful, expensive and difficult process of a trial.
Cleaning Up Class Action: An important and legitimate part of Oklahoma’s legal system, class action suits in recent years have unfortunately turned into a shakedown racket for some trial lawyers. In one recent case against Jiffy Lube, attorneys collected millions in fees while the clients got coupons for car service. Cleaning up class action will address two areas:
–If clients get coupons, the lawyers get coupons;
–Limit”contingency” fees. Lawyers will be paid for the hours they actually work, just like everyone else in Oklahoma.
Reduce Health Care Costs for Hardworking Oklahomans:
–Putting limits on non-economic damages – Money for pain and suffering should be set at common sense levels. Right now, the system is too often abused, hurting both injured people and defendants.
–Greater freedom for doctors to give free care to disadvantaged and indigent Oklahomans: Doctors will be able to provide charity care without worrying about insurance.
Common Sense Protection for Business Owners:
–Lawyers sue businesses that make products that have already been approved by the federal government as safe. This will end under the new system.
–Choice-based products, which everyone knows can be harmful—such as fast food—should not be subject to lawsuits.

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