Who knew so-called tort reform and sex had so much in common?
During this past legislative session, lawmakers again wrestled with “tort reform,” a means by which to adjust to the legal system to prevent frivolous lawsuits. Would-be reformers claimed the system is rigged and costing the state and business community millions of dollars to defend themselves against lawsuits that never should have been brought up in the first place. Opponents said the reforms would cut lower-income people off from access to the courts.
The Legislature approved a measure with several reform provisions, but the bill was vetoed by Gov. Brad Henry, who had the backing in the Senate to prevent an override of his veto.
But just as the session was winding down, the governor sent out word to the press that tort reform was still possible if all the players came together to work out a deal. Alas, it was not to be, and the session ended with no bill.
One of the main sticking points was a cap on noneconomic damages awarded by juries. Reformers wanted a $300,000 hard cap, but the governor said that was too low. Henry wanted a soft cap that could be lifted if a judge felt inclined to do so.
“Well, that’s like using condoms with holes in them,” was the response Mike Seney, senior vice president of operations for The State Chamber, gave to Journal Record reporter Janice Francis-Smith.
Hard to imagine how a battle over the rights of the public to sue businesses for harmful wrongdoing turned into this.
Even the writers at Chicken-Fried News didn’t see this coming.