( – promoted by OKWatchdog)
Republicans have filed the first of what likely will be a number of corporate immunity bills masquerading as “lawsuit reform” during the upcoming legislative session.
Legislators have filed resolutions to call statewide referenda on capping noneconomic damages and attorney fees, and have filed related legislation to do the same thing.
The resolutions do not require the governor’s signature.
Manufacturers of unsafe products and dangerous drugs, greedy insurance companies that would rather delay and deny claims than pay them, and doctors who routinely harm patients will all be given a free pass.
Although we don’t believe handing a blank check to corporate CEOs and insurance companies is good policy, the people of Oklahoma may have the ultimate say on who runs the courts. It comes down to whether Oklahomans trust politicians or 12 of their neighbors to decide what’s fair when someone is injured or cheated.
Businesses will continue to sue each other for huge amounts, as they regularly do, but average Oklahomans may soon lose that right. This lays bare who really benefits from corporate immunity.
True lawsuit reform would involve greater regulation of the insurance industry and stronger oversight of the medical profession. True lawsuit reform would speed up the legal system and reduce its costs. True lawsuit reform would protect everyone, not just negligent doctors and corporate CEOs.
Caps blatantly discriminate against the elderly, the poor, ethnic minorities, children and stay-at-home mothers. Caps deny justice to the most severely injured – those who most need it and most deserve it.
Contingency fees are an essential, misunderstood part of protecting ordinary Oklahomans.
Finding an attorney to take a case on contingency is the only way the injured and cheated can afford to stand up to those with nearly unlimited resources and a refusal to admit wrongdoing.
Rep. Dan Sullivan, R-Tulsa, who works as a defense attorney and has filed fee-cap legislation, will no doubt continue to charge whatever he sees fit while denying that right to other members of his profession. Corporations will continue to pay untold sums to their legal teams.
Capping damages and attorney fees is an affront to the free market and fundamental fairness. Insurance companies and corporations will benefit. Taxpayers will foot the bill.
Caps are a solution in search of a problem.