Last-minute effort allows suit reform bid to advance

By Michael McNutt Modified: April 10, 2008 at 12:14 am •  Published: April 10, 2008
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"I
t will be problematic if it is essentially the same bill with the same objectionable language in it.”

Among other things, the bill would cap noneconomic damages, which generally are for pain and suffering, at $300,000. It would limit a jury to award punitive damages only if it found intentional or gross negligence by clear and convincing evidence.

Henry in vetoing last year's lawsuit reform measure said he concluded several provisions of the bill were unconstitutional, and it unduly restricted Oklahomans' ability to seek justice. He also thought it did not do enough to curb frivolous lawsuits.

Republican legislative leaders last year criticized the Democratic governor's action.

Sen. James Williamson, R-Tulsa, two weeks ago challenged Henry to make a counter-offer to the lawsuit reform measure.

Rep. Scott Inman, D-Oklahoma City, a member of the Judiciary and Public Safety Committee, opposed this year's bill.

"This is the same thing we dealt with last year,” said Inman,. "We're a state that's tough on crime but soft on negligence.”



About the bill
Among other things, the bill would cap noneconomic damages, which generally are for pain and suffering, at $300,000. It would limit a jury to award punitive damages only if it found intentional or gross negligence by clear and convincing evidence.

A section of the measure would offer an exemption "so that companies that do each other wrong have a free market to sue each other, but if you're an injured child you have to have caps on your damages,” Rep. Richard Morrissette said.

What's ahead?

The lawsuit reform measure now goes to the House floor.

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