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September 10th, 2013

Oklahoma Legislators Act Quickly to Restore Tort Reforms Struck Down Earlier by Activist High Court

Oklahoma’s leading newspaper reports that lawmakers “completed a brief but intense special session Monday by approving 23 separate bills aimed at deterring frivolous lawsuits and making Oklahoma a more business-friendly state.”

Most of the legislation had been enacted in a comprehensive tort reform package in 2009 but was struck down by an activist, plaintiff-friendly majority of Oklahoma’s highest court earlier this year.  The court majority absurdly reasoned the package violated the state constitution’s requirement that legislation deal only with a “single subject” — as though civil justice reforms don’t comprise a single subject.

But a fast-acting Gov. Mary Fallin called a special session to undo the court’s meddling, and each bill was this time passed individually.  According to the Oklahoman newspaper, “business and legislative leaders all praised lawmakers for acting quickly to protect the state’s economy and business community.”

“My thanks go out to our lawmakers for . . . protect[ing] our businesses and our medical community from frivolous lawsuits and skyrocketing legal costs,” Fallin said in a news release. “These measures will help to keep jobs in Oklahoma and further our reputation as a business friendly state … This is a big win for Oklahomans.”

The governor is expected to sign the bills back into law promptly.       Gov. Fallin

In a statement issued in the immediate aftermath of the state supreme court’s lamentable decision last June, American Tort Reform president Tiger Joyce said:

“Every Oklahoman who is tired of costly lawsuit abuse should feel insulted by the high court majority and its apparent willingness, on such specious constitutional grounds, to obstruct the will of the people.  Lawmakers should act quickly . . . to reverse this injustice, and the public should recall this decision and the activist inclinations of the majority justices when their names next appear on the retention ballot.”

 

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