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Tort reform

  • As most on here seem to range from conservative to Libertarian, how do you feel about the Republicans push to have the government decide the limit that a person can be awarded for pain and suffering rather than a jury? Since most Oklahomans are conservative do you think there is really a problem with excessive verdicts? It seems that the people who are damaged the most will be affected the most by this.

    This post was edited by redbud 3 years ago

  • We don't need tort reform. We need less law schools. We're turning out entirely too many lawyers who have nothing left to do but chase ambulances.

    It effects everything. Why is healthcare costs out of control? Doctors have to order like ten times the number of tests neccesary to make sure they don't miss the smallest thing for fear that one of the ten trillion lawyers on the planet doesn't hammer them and act smug in the process.

    Our whole society is sue happy. In fact.... I'll probably get sued for this post.

  • Jaded - I have contacted my attorney.

    I am not sure what the OP said given that his posts can only be read by the super duper VIP members but I do agreed that our society is sue happy and that we need tort reform.

  • redbud said... (original post)

    As most on here seem to range from conservative to Libertarian, how do you feel about the Republicans push to have the government decide the limit that a person can be awarded for pain and suffering rather than a jury? Since most Oklahomans are conservative do you think there is really a problem with excessive verdicts? It seems that the people who are damaged the most will be affected the most by this.

    It is unconstitutional for the government to federalize contract and liability law. It is a state issue, so it must be dealt with locally.

  • I'm all for it unless the wrong leg is removed!!!

  • As an attorney, I am obviously against it. Our founding fathers believed in allowing our peers to determine the damages, which is why we have juries. Why should we limit liability for dr.'s and corporations. Tort reform was passed back in 2009, and the republican senators at the time said it was sweeping tort reform, they praised it and said it would stop frivolous lawsuits. If you have paid attention to the republican senators such as Sykes who wrote the new bill, nowhere has he ever stated that this will stop frivolous suits. The reason he has not said such a thing is b/c we do not have a problem with frivolous suits.

    Sykes is on record as stating that this will protect doctors and corporations. My question, is what does it do for the people of the state of Oklahoma. This will now allow doctors to act negligently and not worry about their actions as they will be immune to punishment. Corporations can now put out bad products and not have to worry about the damage, injuries and deaths that their products have caused because they are only on the hook for 250k. This is a joke. The people of the Oklahoma should not allow the government to limit their damages, it should be left to a jury.

    Some other points made by Senator Sykes and his buddies are that doctors are leaving and going to Texas since they have tort reform. This is simply not true. We have the same amount of doctors per ratio of population as Texas. Sykes has also said that it will lower malpractice insurance rates for doctors which in turn will lower healthcare costs. Another lie, if you look at Texas they have had tort reform for 5-6 years and during this time the malpractice rates have risen. Oklahoma's malpractice rates have held steady since 2005 and have not increased, so why do we need tort reform. Simple, we do not, but the senators are in the back pocket of doctors and companies and will therefore push to protect them.

    The US Census Bureau recently placed Oklahoma as the number one state in the country for population growth from 2000 to 2010 . . . due to the strong economy. If our economy is so good and our job market is so good, then why do we need tort reform.

    My simple question for those who support tort reform, would you still support it if your wife was permanently injured and would need around the clock care for the rest of her life because some doctor screwed up, or some company made an incredibly bad product, or how about if one of your children was given the wrong medicine by a doctor and as a result will now need around the clock care and will never be able to live a normal life, do you still favor tort reform.

    Here are some links to some stories of Oklahomans who have suffered at the hands of doctors.
    http://okwatchdog.org/connie.cfm.
    and http://www.okwatchdog.org/meet/clayton.cfm. Sorry I did not know how to post the link.

  • OU attny you make good points but let's be honest about one thing, you know as well as the rest of us that we DO have a problem with frivolous lawsuits.

    Intelligent people can argue whether tort reform is the way to fix it or not but it is a problem.

    That said, I think having the "loser pay" system Europe uses might be a better option. People would be less likely to file frivolous lawsuits if they knew it would cost them a bundle when they lost.

  • I don't think anyone wants to keep folks from getting their just compensation. However, we have a serious problem with the legal system when people name everyone and their dog to a law suit that is baseless and then everyone has to defend themselves at great expense or settle which is what they are hoping for in the first place.

    An attorney told me the way to limit this is to make it possible to counter sue if you are successful in your defense and if the original plaintive (now defendant) has no money you can sue his attorney. Now about all you can sue for is some minor court costs I understand.

    Suddenly, only just cases come to court. Problem is, a good percentage of the folks on the Supreme Court are lawyers so the racket will continue.

    Guess we were typing at the same time Cyber. Very similar ideas.

    This post was edited by SoonerNM 3 years ago

  • I would have to disagree that Oklahoma has a problem with frivolous lawsuits. I am sure there are some suits that are brought that may be considered frivolous, but it is an extremely small percentage. Tort reform would have no effect on frivolous suits. In my opinion, I doubt there are any frivolous medical malpractice cases being filed now. The reason is because the plaintiff is now required to attach an affidavit from an expert doctor stating that in his medical opinion malpractice was committed. It sounds easy, but it is not. The opinion from the doctor does not come for free. Malpractice cases are very costly for the plaintiff's attorney. If a malpractice goes to trial and could easily cost up to 50k in costs which come out of the attorney's pocket. If the plaintiff loses, the attorney is out a lot of money. So for the most part, you hardly ever see frivolous malpractice cases.

    As for loser pay, I have no problem with this, but you will never get the insurance and medical profession industry to agree to this. One reason for this is because the ordinary plaintiff will not have any money and is probably bankrupt or unable to work if it is a malpractice or horrific products liability case. Whereas, if the plaintiff wins, the recovery of attorney's fees would be easily obtained since it was coming from insurance money.


  • nm

    This post has been edited 2 times, most recently by SoonerInTN 12 months ago

  • I cant speak as to whether or not good doctors are leaving Oklahoma, but I do fear that if tort reform passes we might get more bad doctors to come to our state since they will be immune to large judgments. Tort reform will just open the door for poor work and bad judgment on the part of doctors and hospitals as they will not have to face the fear of a large verdict. I know a lot of doctors in the OKC area and I am not aware of any of them leaving because of fear of large verdicts. I would assume if any doctors have left Oklahoma it is because they got a better job offer or they were not a good doctor to begin with.

    Tort reform is not the answer or the problem. For a doctor, I think they can blame their malpractice insurance company for screwing them with such large insurance premiums. If you look up the insurance profits, they are definitely not losing money.

  • nm

    This post was edited by SoonerInTN 12 months ago

  • I want to sue McDonalds for the hot coffee I got this morning before we get any of this tort reform stuff!!!

    I think $3 Mil ought to do it.

    This post was edited by zeeb10 3 years ago

    “Any people anywhere........have the right to rise up, and shake off the existing government, and form a new one that suits them better.”

  • I don't think lawyers or there families should be entitled to medical care. They almost single handly ensure CYA medicine occurs so I say.... they can CYA.

  • I can understand it is a touch subject with many on here. However, my question to all of the tort reform supporters, those that do not believe in putting the case in the hands of the jury, would you still support it if your spouse or child was critically injured by a botched surgery, misdiagnosis, faulty product, etc...would you truly support it if your spouse or child would not need 24 hour help for the rest of his or her life. If so, then fine. But I would not be able to take care of my spouse or child for the rest of their life on 250k while the doctor or company got zero punishment for his or her wrongdoing.

    I believe in letting our jury decide what the award should be, not letting the government tell us what it should be. We already have too much government control. Tort reform is not what the general population wants, it is what the companies, chamber of commerce and doctors want. Who does tort reform benefit, the people of the state of Oklahoma --NO, it benefits doctors, insurance companies and big corporations.

    I obviously have my view points, but I would like to hear from the tort reform supporters as to why we need tort reform, in particular, why do we need it in Oklahoma. I am not talking about nationwide.

    I saw an earlier post about the hot coffee at McDonalds. On the surface it sound ridiculous, but there is a lot more to the story. McDonalds had been warned numerous times that their coffee was way too hot and the cups were faulty, yet did nothing to correct it. The lady that brought the action against McD's was burned all over her lap, stomach and legs. The burns were 3rd degree burns that required numerous surgeries. It also severely burned her reproductive organs to the point that she can no longer get pregnant, which she wanted to do. Lastly, the reward was reduced substantially by the California Supreme Court to a figure I believe was around $1million or less. This was not like the Seinfeld episode where Kramer got burned, this was a major burn that required numerous surgeries and skin grafts.

    This post was edited by OUatty 3 years ago

  • OUatty said... (original post)

    It also severely burned her reproductive organs to the point that she can no longer get pregnant, which she wanted to do.

    Maybe it's just a rumor, because I've never looked at the actual suit, but I thought this lady was around 70 years old.

  • The info I got on the mcd's case came from the attorney that mediated the case.

  • There must be multiple cases, because I found a Stella Liebeck (who was 79 at the time) to be the first to sue McD's over the hot coffee incident.

  • The only thing about hearing an attorney talk about how tort reform only protects corporations and doctors is that one also wonders if the attorney really acting in his/her own self interest and is motivated to keep those huge fees they collect. Suing doctors/hospitals is extremely profitable for attys. And it's real easy to find "experts" who come up with ridiculous life care plans exceeding 8 figures to present to the jury (and I would bet after the fact studies would show none of the plaintiffs actually do these life care plans after getting huge settlements or verdicts based on these inflated numbers).

    Would the attorneys agree to not take 50% plus expenses, say down to something reasonable --like10-15%. Oh, and if they subscribe by the rule that you sue everything and everybody you can (so they can get settlements from the sued parties who want to avoid the costs of litigation) then would they be willing to personally pay attorneys fees and costs to those defendants who won.

    Here's a scenario attorneys don't tell you: Indigent goes to hospital for some type of emergency, gets $1Millon worth of treatement, medicaid ususally pays about 20% to the hospital who have to write off the balance as a conditon to getting the funds, then the patient sues the hospital for malpractice--in addition to pain and suffering, etc one element of damages is medical bills incurred--and he asks for $1Million from the hospital because the attorneys fight like heck to pass laws to keep the jury from hearing the truth about how the bills got paid. The patient paid nothing, the hospital gets 20%, yet the jury is told the patient incurred $1M in medicals as part of the damages sought.

    Oklahoma is known as a pretty unfriendly state for business.

  • Soonerquest,

    In response to your points, can an attorney make good money on malpractice cases, the answer is yes, but they can easily lose $50k or more. That is why it is a contingency. You talk about attorneys taking too much, what about hospitals charging an outrageous amount, example $10 for 2 tylenol. The issue is not solely on attorneys as doctors and hospitals charge far more than what is reasonable.

    As to whether the Plaintiffs actually follow the life plan, I do not know, but i would suggest you watch a couple of the videos I linked and let me know if $250k will cover the damages these 2 individuals received and if they will follow their life plan. (http://okwatchdog.org/connie.cfm. and http://www.okwatchdog.org/meet/clayton.cfm)

    Your scenario presented on medical bills and insurance goes both ways. There are also laws that clearly favor the insured, such as not letting the jury know that the defendant has insurance. So yes you can make arguments both ways. The republican senators who are pushing this through are not doing so to stop attorneys from making large fees or protecting the citizens of the state of Oklahoma, they are doing so to support their buddies who fund their campaigns such as corporations, doctors, insurance companies and the chamber of commerce. Senator Sykes is on record as stating he wants to protect our companies and doctors, but what about his constituents and the citizens of the state of Oklahoma.

    Your last statement about Oklahoma being pretty unfriendly state of business is completely wrong. You are making this statement without any facts to support it.
    Here are my facts:

    According to CNBC, it has ranked Oklahoma in its top 10 in several categories including: #1 Cost of Living, # 3 for Cost of Doing Business (2009 ranking was 6th), and #6 for the Overall Economy. According to Business Facilities Magazine 2010 Rankings Report, Oklahoma is ranked #2 for Quality of Life, #4 for Employment Leaders, #5 in Cost of Labor, and #7 in Biofuels Manufacturing Research. Oklahoma is ranked 15th of pro-business states in the country, according to the 2010 Pollina Corporate Real Estate, Inc. study. The Oklahoma Department of Commerce boasts that “From Forbes to Fortune to RelocateAmerica, almost every leading business magazine consistently ranks Oklahoma among the most recession proof, affordable, livable, and pro-business states in the country. Entrepreneurs and established companies alike recognize Oklahoma as the best place to launch and thrive.”

    Oklahoma is clearly a friendly state for business. So my question is why do we need tort reform. If you claim it stops frivolous lawsuits, show me how, give me an example.

    Lastly, do you still agree with tort reform and limiting losses to $250k if it is your spouse or child that needs 24 hour care for the rest of his / her life. Is it still okay for a doctor or corporation to only pay $250k when the person they injured cannot walk, talk or enjoy living a normal life. I would like for our government to stop stepping in and let the verdicts be left in the hands of a jury.

  • Let me give an example of what I was talking about. Several years ago an elderly man, legally blind, without a drivers license turned down the wrong side of a divided highway, went around a curve and hit a kid doing very much in excess of the speed limit on a motor cycle.

    The kids widow got an attorney and sued everyone they could think of. They named the City, the Highway Department, every engineer that ever worked on the highway. Good Lord the old guy had no idea where he was.

    Estimates were made with regard to the price of defending those named and pretty much everyone settled for about half of the defense costs, It comes down to economics and the attorneys know it. None of these defendants were culpable in the slightest.

    Thats some justice for you.

  • It sounds like you are insinuating that life care plan costs are subject to the proposed cap on pain and suffering, but that would be incorrect, right?

    I understand the arguments on both sides. Attorneys have a personal financial interest to protect by opposing tort reform.

    For years, attorneys promoted, pushed, lobbied and got liberal laws enacted that tilted the playing field against defendants and insurance companies. The playing field was not level by a long shot.

    The overreaching and abuse of the lawsuit process has gone on for a while, and now the pendulum is swinging the other way. That shouldn't come as a surprise.

  • TIMB0B said... (original post)

    There must be multiple cases, because I found a Stella Liebeck (who was 79 at the time) to be the first to sue McD's over the hot coffee incident.

    Are you telling us the attorney didn't tell the truth, shocking!

  • SoonerPT said... (original post)

    Are you telling us the attorney didn't tell the truth, shocking!

    That, or the attorney that mediated the case wasn't telling the truth to him.

  • nm

    This post was edited by SoonerInTN 12 months ago

  • TIMB0B said... (original post)

    That, or the attorney that mediated the case wasn't telling the truth to him.

    More likely they both stretch the truth.