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Oklahoma special session: Lawmakers need to get their work finished quickly

by The Oklahoman Editorial Board Published: September 1, 2013
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In cases where attorneys expend $100,000 in advance, they undoubtedly think they have a good case. That won't change under the reforms being resubmitted in the special session.

Lawsuit boosters point out that one case bounced from Oklahoma courts due to lawsuit reform targeted a Tulsa psychiatrist prosecuted for drug distribution and Medicaid fraud. Several of psychiatrist David Crass' patients died, and one patient's family sued, alleging their son died from an accidental overdose after Crass prescribed a lethal mix of medications. From that description, it's hard to see how an attorney representing the family couldn't get an expert's affidavit declaring the case valid.

In some cases, tort reform may not be the cause of a lawsuit's failure. Attorney competence plays a big role in successful litigation. Historically, around 70 percent of lawsuits against medical providers have been dis-missed without payment. That's a sign of questionable litigation and justifies imposing reasonable restrictions.

Since lawmakers won't be plowing new ground, but recycling old legislation, this special session should be a short one. These issues have already been thoroughly vetted and debated, and four years ago were approved with bipartisan support. Oklahomans deserve protection from frivolous lawsuits. Lawmakers should provide that protection as quickly as possible — and go home just as fast.

by The Oklahoman Editorial Board
The Oklahoman Editorial Board consists of Gary Pierson, President and CEO of The Oklahoma Publishing Company; Christopher P. Reen, president and publisher of The Oklahoman; Kelly Dyer Fry, editor and vice president of news; Christy Gaylord...
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