Lawsuit Reform Measures Pass Okla. House Committee

March 7, 2007

A House committee on Mar. 6 passed two measures aimed at providing comprehensive lawsuit reform in Oklahoma: House Bill 1620 ,authored by Rep. Rob Johnson (R-Kingfisher), and House Bill 1475, authored by Rep. Doug Cox (R-Grove).

House Bill 1620 contains a number of provisions, including limiting the amount a defendant can be required to pay to secure the right to appeal; making it harder for frivolous lawsuits to make it to trial; limiting unreasonable class-action lawsuits; limiting the plaintiff to only be liable for its proportionate share of damages, excluding criminal cases; limiting non-economic damages in civil suits to a reasonable amount; and protecting school officials from being sued for reasonably punishing unruly students.

House Bill 1475 lifts the restriction on the medical specialties under which the $300,000 non-economic damages cap applies. Existing language only applies to OB-GYNs as it relates to pregnancy, and medical professionals involved in emergency room care. Wrongful death or negligence are exceptions to the cap. Its author, Cox, is an emergency room physician.

Both are part of the House Republican majority’s Entrepreneurial Society legislative platform – a package of legislative measures focused on removing barriers to economic growth and opportunity in Oklahoma. A third part of the House GOP’s lawsuit reform package, House Bill 2106, is scheduled for a floor vote on Mar. 7.

Authored by Speaker Cargill, HB 2106 will create a specialized court docket to handle commercial and corporate disputes. Cargill said the complex nature of these types of cases requires expertise and familiarity with specific areas of business law, creating a significant burden on trial courts.

Source: Oklahoma House of Representatives

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