Legal reform today in America is critical, and critical for economic reform. Our free market economy cannot be sustained without ensuring full guarantees of private property and transparent predictability for entrepreneurship. Legal reform should be an integral part of any state government reform agenda.
In 2009, American’s legal system cost $248.1 billion, or roughly $808 per person. This statistic makes America’s civil justice system the most expensive in the industrialized world. Forecasts also expect higher levels of tort cost growth for 2011, given that growth in legal costs also generally increases with inflation and are directly tied to government spending as well.
The tactics used by aggressive personal injury lawyers cause many companies to settle questionable lawsuits just to stay out of court. They use the media to sensationalize these issues and often plaintiffs can be awarded multi-million dollar punitive damage awards, another reason companies often settle out of court. Lawsuits like this are bad for business and bad for society as one can easily see from the rising cost of our legal system.
Reform must take place on multiple fronts in order to address this serious legal issue. Health care liability reform, class action reform, and punitive damage limitations are among the issues the SGLF believes need to be addressed. Regulation through litigation must be addressed as well. It is crucial that state leaders step up and reform the system at the state level.
A reformed tort system will also ensure that the United States remains competitive on a global scale. Businesses must do what is in their best interests, and the high costs of the U.S. judicial system do not bode well for them. A reformed, efficient legal system will also greatly benefit the residents of the United States, as it will not only encourage creativity and innovation, but will lower product costs, insurance premiums and taxes and increase employment across multiple sectors.
News & Articles
Florida Lawmakers Approve Medical Malpractice Reform
FMA General Counsel Jeff Scott said changes are needed so physicians can be assured they are granted adequate legal rights as they practice medicine. “It is important that we promote the highest standard of medical care our state has to offer by holding bad actors responsible for their actions,” he said in a statement. The Florida Chamber praised lawmakers and the FMA on the bill’s passage. “We congratulate the FMA on this victory,” said David Hart, executive vice president of the Florida Chamber. “This bill aims to make Florida’s legal environment more friendly for physicians.”
Lawmakers struggle with tort reform
In 2012, the the state Supreme Court struck down a provision of the 2003 tort reform law that limited who could testify as an expert witness in medical malpractice cases. The decision came on the heals of a 2011 ruling in which the court had stricken provisions in the law that capped punitive damage awards in civil cases. This year, champions of tort reform entered the regular session with the idea of putting in the state constitution parts of the state law that the high court said did not meet constitutional muster. But last week, a joint legislative committee considering proposed constitutional amendments to recommend for referral to the 2014 general election ballot passed over a pair of tort reform proposals.
Senate Joint Resolution 2 by Sen. Jeremy Hutchinson, R-Little Rock, would have required that a person who files a lawsuit deemed to be frivolous pay the other party’s attorney fees; that an expert witness in a medical malpractice lawsuit be trained in the same or similar discipline as the person on trial or have similar education and experience; and that an attorney who files a medical malpractice suit file a “certificate of good faith” stating that a medical expert is ready to testify that medical malpractice occurred.
Florida physicians closer to medical malpractice reform
Simmons said doctors in his district email him concerned that corporations are buying their practices. Instead of owning the physician practice, Simmons said, doctors will become employees. “The entire profession is at risk. It’s at risk of no longer being a profession,” said Simmons, who ultimately voted for the bill (SB-1792). “That’s what physicians ought to be dealing with their own future. They are drowning. They are literally drowning and getting ready to be destroyed as a profession within a few years and what we are doing is we are dealing with this; a side issue.”
The risk of enforcing hospital staffing levels
Under the bill, hospitals in violation of staffing requirements will face civil penalties of up to $25,000 a day, regardless of whether any patient suffers a resulting injury. But it doesn’t limit civil enforcement to the D.C. attorney general. As a result, entrepreneurial personal-injury lawyers could file costly lawsuits, as they did in California three years ago. There, personal-injury lawyers won a jaw-dropping $677 million class-action verdict against an operator of 22 assisted-care facilities across the state, not to compensate any injured persons but simply because records showed occasional dips below mandated nurse-to-patient ratios.
Arizona lawmaker works to cut down on medical malpractice suits
A state legislator wants to impose some new requirements on judges and attorneys in his bid to cut down on medical malpractice lawsuits. The proposal by Rep. Bob Thorpe, R-Flagstaff, would bar lawyers from filing a medical malpractice lawsuit unless they were certified by the state Supreme Court as a "medical malpractice attorney.'' Thorpe's bill does not define what it would take to be certified, leaving the details up to the state's high court.
"The idea is to try to weed out the difference between good, legitimate attorneys that are practicing in the area of medical malpractice ... from the ambulance chasers,'' he said. Thorpe said he envisions the certification process as establishing minimum standards. But HB 2465 does not stop there. It also would allow these cases to be heard only by judges who also have been through special training on medical malpractice cases. Thorpe said the reasoning is the same. "Let's ensure that even a judge assigned to the case has a baseline understanding of the issue.''
Tort reform package advances
The tort reform bills have been a “darn nightmare,” he said. “I’ve been here for 20 years, with everybody getting along, then all of a sudden,” people are finding things they don’t like, and starting to pick the system apart. The reform effort gained momentum this year, despite trial lawyers’ protests that Virginia’s highly regarded civil justice system is not hostile to business.
Medical Malpractice Tort Reform Signed into Law in Michigan
The Michigan State Medical Society, with significant support from The Doctors Company and its trade organization, the Michigan Insurance Coalition, initiated the legislation known as the “Patients First Reform Package.”
Pence seeks tort reform in first year
Pence has declined to release the details of his legislative agenda before he is sworn in Monday. But Sen. Mike Delph, R-Carmel, told The Associated Press on Thursday that he filed Pence's proposal to make losers in lawsuits pay all the legal fees.
MO GOP To Bring Back Tort Reform In 2013
Republicans claim a supermajority when the Legislature meets Wednesday to start the 2013 session, and GOP leaders say restoring the liability limits invalidated by the high court is needed to control health care costs and help keep doctors in Missouri.
Tort reform battle ahead for Assembly
The chamber hopes to limit the ability of a plaintiff to take a nonsuit in the late stages of a lawsuit and expand the ability of the defense to collect attorneys’ fees and expenses when plaintiffs take such a voluntary dismissal of right. Current law “effectively allows plaintiffs to take a ‘do-over’ after the defendant has expended significant resources preparing for trial,” the Chamber’s statement says.
Legal battle brews in TN over malpractice caps
The issue has taken on urgency as fungal meningitis victims start to craft medical malpractice lawsuits and attorneys weigh whether the suits will be filed in Tennessee or in Massachusetts, where injured patients can sue medical facilities for unlimited amounts of money for pain and suffering.
Guest opinion: Legal reform needed for job creation, economic growth
Now for the bad news. Just last month, the U.S. Chamber also ranked our state in the bottom ten for a good legal climate for small business. It’s a part of their 50-state study called “Lawsuit Climate 2012: Ranking the States.” What does it mean to be in the bottom ten? We may be a good place to start a business, but chances are that business is more likely to face frivolous lawsuits, costly legal bills and unpredictable court decisions.
2 States Try to Tackle Medical Malpractice Reform
Massachusetts’ new health-care cost containment law -- signed by Gov. Deval Patrick in August -- includes malpractice guidelines, known as the "disclosure, apology and offer" approach. The law requires a 182-day cooling-off period between an adverse medical event and the formal filing of a lawsuit. The hope is that, during that time, patients, doctors and insurers -- and their attorneys, of course -- can settle a case before it goes to trial.
Lawsuit Reform Group's New Poll Reveals Even Democrats Are Sick Of Lawsuits
Nearly 90 percent of voters say lawsuit abuse is a problem, the Wall Street Journal is reporting, citing a poll set to be released today.
The American Tort Reform Association and a group that calls itself "Sick of Lawsuits" polled 1,013 registered voters and found 89 percent believe lawsuit abuse is a problem and 78 percent think there are just too many lawsuits.
More Lawsuits, Less Growth
The survey of 1,013 registered voters found that 60% think lawsuits against businesses have damaged the economy and slowed the recovery, and 88% support measures that would help protect proprietors from the kinds of lawsuits that could put them out of business. Overall, 89% of voters say lawsuit abuse is a problem and 78% think there are too many lawsuits—an opinion that draws large majorities from both sides of the political aisle, including 86% of Democrats.
Maloney says tort reform is vital to state
"The court system is the number one thing we have to fix in this state," Maloney said Wednesday during a town hall meeting at the Putnam County Courthouse. "The court system affects every aspect of our lives."
Op-Ed: Tort reform has had just the impact we desired
The crisis' prime culprit was skyrocketing malpractice insurance rates that reflected Texas' status at the time as a lawsuit haven. To remedy this, we took the bold step of instituting tort reforms to limit lawsuit abuse and bring malpractice insurance rates down to a manageable level. And it was an overwhelming success.
Federal Tort Reform Ideas Lost in Obamacare Decision
Christie: Scutari won't consider tort reform
Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens Adopts Standards Governing the Hiring of Private Counsel
Attorney General Sam Olens announced today that in order to increase transparency and accountability, he has issued an Administrative Order establishing rules for the consideration and retention of outside counsel on a contingency fee basis. The new policy seeks to ensure that taxpayer dollars are employed in the most efficient and economical manner when compensating private counsel.
Ga. AG issues guidelines for hiring private attorneys
Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens announced Tuesday that he has signed an order that establishes rules for the retention of contingency fee counsel, if the need ever arises. Currently, outside counsel hired by the State is compensated with a contingency fee only in routine collection matters.
Another Golden State Disincentive
Dome: Insurance company credits ‘tort reform’ with lower premiums for doctors
Mag Mutual Insurance Co., the second-largest such firm in the state, credits the new laws with almost half of its recent 7.4 percent average cut in insurance premiums for doctors. The legislature last year overrode Gov. Bev Perdue’s veto of a bill capping “noneconomic” damages at $500,000.
Justices Limit State Liability Under Medical Leave Act
The ruling came in the case of Daniel Coleman, who sued the state of Maryland for damages, contending he was fired after he asked for 10 days' sick leave to deal with a documented illness. He sued under the 1993 Family and Medical Leave Act, a federal law that requires all employers to provide 12 weeks of unpaid leave to workers for the care of a newborn, other family members who are sick, or for the employee's own serious health condition.
Restoring Sanity To the U.S. Tort System
The 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reform law added 400 new rules – yet only 93 have been finalized. If you’re going to drown American businesses in regulation, at least let them know what they’re facing. The exponential increase in regulatory requirements enacted by the Obama administration means it’s only going to get worse.