Tort Reform, a Winning Issue on Election Day

By November 6, 2007Briefly Legal

Haley Barbour is up for re-election today as Governor of Mississippi, running against John Arthur Eaves, the Democratic nominee. As you can see from his law firm’s website, Eaves is a quintessential trial lawyer, ginning up mass litigation in the hopes of hitting the big jackpot.

Barbour is expected to win, thanks in large part to his handling of Hurricane Katrina. But legal reform has also been a major part of his campaign, where Barbour can point to economic growth that followed the rationalization of the state’s civil justice system. From The Jackson Clarion-Ledger:

Replenishing the state’s depleted rainy day fund, pushing a controversial tort-reform bill through the system and lobbying to bring businesses such as the Toyota plant coming to Tupelo are among the successes, Barbour said.

’Some people say tort reform is a waste of time. Ask Toyota because, you know, Toyota said they wouldn’t have considered coming to Mississippi if we hadn’t passed comprehensive tort reform,’ the Yazoo City native told hundreds of business people at Hobnob Mississippi last week.

Jim Copland of the Manhattan Institute surveys the entire political scene in Mississippi in today’s National Review Online, describing what’s at stake:

In 2004, Governor Barbour led the charge to clean up this situation, and the state passed comprehensive tort reform. The results of this legislation, and improvements to the state’s judiciary, have been profound: the state’s largest medical malpractice insurer lowered rates each of the following three years, and businesses have begun to look at Mississippi as a attractive site for investment. But the improvement has been limited by fears that the state could revert to what the American Tort Reform Association calls a “judicial hellhole” — an outcome that will be largely determined by what the state’s voters do at the polls.

We’ll keep a good thought.

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