, Muskogee, OK

June 13, 2013

Redraw lawsuit reform act

— Oklahoma lawmakers should renew their efforts to make frivolous lawsuits easier to dismiss and to strengthen summary judgment rules.

A 2009 law governing those matters was struck down recently by the State Supreme Court.

The high court ruled the tort reform law was unconstitutional because it violated the single-subject rule in the Oklahoma Constitution.

The majority opinion said the legislation amounted to logrolling — the passing of legislation that contains multiple subjects.

State lawmakers must take the Comprehensive Lawsuit Reform Act of 2009 apart — piece by piece — and resurrect parts in new bills in the 2014 session.

The law originally received bi-partisan support.

It should, piece by piece, receive bi-partisan support again.

Our courts are bogged down.

There are many legitimate lawsuits being filed.

But there also are many that are just ridiculous.

Judges need the discretion to be able to throw out those lawsuits.

It will speed up the process for everyone if judges had more authority in that case.

The original law also set limits on damages in some cases.

When legislators examine each part of the 2009 law, they might find some room for improvement.

Lawmakers might find that each part needs a little tweaking to make it better.

It is like taking the time to disassemble an engine and clean and refurbish every individual piece.

Put the pieces back together and you might have a more powerful engine.