Pauls Valley, OK, Pauls Valley Democrat

March 14, 2007

Paddack tort reform bill gets bipartisan support, passes Senate

By Jeff Shultz

Three major lawsuit reform bills, one authored by State Sen. Susan Paddack, received bi-partisan support Tuesday from the evenly divided Oklahoma Senate. All three bills now go to the House for consideration.

Paddack’s bill, SB 824, is aimed at preventing frivolous lawsuits. The legislation addresses a December decision by the Oklahoma Supreme Court that struck down some lawsuit protections for physicians.

Paddack, D-Ada, said her bill was “a significant step in the right direction on tort reform.”

“My tort reform bill strikes at the heart of the problem for Oklahoma doctors who are faced with the costs associated with frivolous lawsuits filed against them,” Paddack said.

Paddack’s bill restores the certificate of merit provisions included in previously passed tort reform legislation that was struck down in December by the Oklahoma Supreme Court.

“Senators on both sides of the aisle proved they are willing to address common sense solutions to help lower the cost of doing business for doctors in this state, while keeping courthouses open to everyday Oklahomans,” she said.

“I think all Oklahomans would agree that our courthouses should remain open for those seeking justice for wrongs against them, but Oklahomans also firmly believe those lawsuits should have merit.

“This legislation will ensure that. I look forward to working with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to ensure we send a piece of common sense legislation to the Governor, and not get bogged down in the politics that have plagued this issue in the past,” she added.

The other two tort reform bills passed Tuesday include:

•SB 1024 by Sen. Owen Laughlin, R-Woodward. This legislation helps teachers and school officials maintain discipline and order by providing lawsuit protections for educators.

•SB 507 by Sen. Cliff Branan, R-Oklahoma City. This legislation provides protection from lawsuits to volunteers and firearms manufacturers.