Oklahoma Governor Brad Henry Signs Tort Reform Legislation

Our congratulations and thanks to Gov. Brad Henry of Oklahoma for signing H.B. 1603, the Comprehensive Lawsuit Reform Act of 2009. From the governor’s office:

“This legislation enacts reasonable and responsible reforms that improve the civil justice system without impairing a citizen’s constitutional right to have his or her legitimate grievances appropriately addressed in court,” Gov. Henry said.

“It is perhaps the most comprehensive tort reform measure in state history, and I want to thank all the parties who were involved in crafting this bipartisan legislation. Now it is time to put this issue behind us and give the new reforms an opportunity to work.”

We note the Governor’s news release also includes a quote from Senate Pro Tem Glenn Coffee, who came back with legislation this session after Gov. Henry vetoed a bill in 2007. Coffee fought hard to get the important reforms through, and he put up with some pretty ugly attacks for his advocacy. Good job, Senator.

As Mike Seney of the Oklahoma State Chamber summarizes in an e-mail:

Governor Brad Henry’s signature of an historic lawsuit reform bill will  create jobs, draw new businesses to Oklahoma and increase health care accessibility.

This bill is the most important piece of work for the business community to come out of Oklahoma in a long time. This comprehensive package will create jobs, increase health care accessibility in all corners of the state and show outside companies that Oklahoma is open for business.

Contained in the legislation is an array of strong improvements to the state’s justice system. With class action reforms; a cap on appeals bonds; adoption of summary judgment similar to that allowed in federal lawsuits; joint and several liability reforms; product liability reforms; junk science testimony rules; certificates of merit; and a cap on non-economic damages, we can finally state that “Oklahoma has passed significant lawsuit reform.”

The Chamber has a distributed a section-by-section summary of the bill.

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