Dear Governor Henry: Civil Justice Reform, OK!

By April 24, 2007Briefly Legal

Oklahoma Governor Brad Henry, who has long embraced the need for tort reform to strengthen his state’s economy, has an opportunity this week to follow through by signing S.B. 507, a measure to bring balance to Oklahoma’s civil justice system (text of enrolled bill here). It’s a solid piece of legislation.

The State Chamber, Oklahoma’s association of business and industry, has a .pdf fact sheet on the bill available here. The bill protects doctors and medical facilities through an 8-year statute of repose, reins in “jackpot justice” with a $300,000 cap on non-economic damages and by controlling “joint and several” liability, and provides other definitions and legal processes to bring fairness to the civil justice system.

Governor Henry has been a vocal advocate for tort reform and as the Chamber notes, the legislation contains 18 of the 28 “Key Areas” of reform he sought in 2004. But he’s no doubt coming under intense pressure from his Democratic political friends and their allies in the “consumer” groups — that is, big-government activists financed by the trial lawyers. They’re at him to find some reason, any reason, to reverse his support for tort reform.

If the governor is serious about helping the state’s economy, now’s the time to step up. Signing S.B. 507 is the best means Governor Henry has available for improving the state’s manufacturing environment, that’s for sure.

P.S. We should also note and applaud the good work on this issue by of our friends at the American Justice Partnership, clear-minded and tenacious supporters of legal reform. In 2006, they joined with the Chamber to issue a survey of business owners and managers documentating how damaging Oklahoma’s tort system was to economic activity in the state.

Join the discussion One Comment

  • MadOkie says:

    Lip service != embracing. he knew at the time (2004) he didnt have the votes to get it passed, now that the votes were there he vetoed it!