The most common complaint that I hear as I visit in the district concerns the cost of health insurance. Rarely do I speak at a meeting when this topic is not raised.
The omnibus lawsuit reform measure that passed both the House and the Senate sought to remedy this situation. As debate began one member shared that his father, a neurosurgeon, began his practice by paying $1,000 a month for malpractice. He quit when his malpractice cost $1,000 a day. Every medical group in the state, the NRA and the American Royalty Owner Council endorsed this bill.
The bill put a cap on all non-economic damages at $300,000 for personal injury was a key part of the bill. However, the total amount can easily exceed $300,000 in terms of medical costs and other economic damages. Exceptions to this cap include gross negligence or malice.
This bill also limits on punitive damages. It allows punitive damages in professional liability action if it finds intentional or gross negligence through clear and convincing evidence.
Another section provides for the Common Sense Consumption Act, sometimes referred to as the “cheeseburger bill”. This provision protects against obesity lawsuits for restaurants, food manufacturers and growers.
It also requires that lawsuits against physicians and health care providers arising out of patient care will be brought within 8 years after the date of the incident in question.
This bill would also modify joint and several liability, the so-called “deep pockets rule.” Currently lawyers can use the joint and several liability rule that holds each defendant in a legal action responsible for the entire amount of damages a plaintiff seeks, regardless of the degree of responsibility.
The bill reforms loss of earnings rules, so that if any plaintiff seeks recovery for loss of earnings, loss of earning capacity, loss of contributions of a monetary value, or loss of inheritance.
It also provides the “Education Quality and Protection Act”, which provides liability protection to educators. It also mandates that a judge appoint a third party to represent a class in the settlement phase of a class action lawsuit, if a member of the class requests that representation.
Those are the provisions that I agreed with. It also mandates an opt-in versus an opt-out clause for class action lawsuits. I did not agree with that part of the bill and will seek to provide relief for royalty owners in a bill that will be heard later this week. I appreciate the input of mineral owners that helped with ideas for language in the follow up bill.