Senator James A. Williamson, R-Tulsa
State Capitol Room 412
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 73105
For Immediate Release:
March 27, 2008
Sen. James A. Williamson
Judiciary Committee Co-Chair Urges Governor to Show Lawsuit Reform
An agreement on lawsuit reform is possible
this year, according to the Republican co-chairman of the Senate
Judiciary Committee, if Gov. Brad Henry is willing to make a counter-offer
to the bipartisan lawsuit reform plans that he rejected during the
2007 legislative session.
“I believe that a meaningful lawsuit reform bill is doable
this year if the governor will get engaged in the process and make
a formal counter-offer to the bipartisan proposals he rejected last
year,” stated Sen. James Williamson, R-Tulsa, the co-chairmen
of the Judiciary Committee.
In 2007 Henry vetoed Senate Bill 507, a bipartisan lawsuit reform
bill that passed the Senate and House of Representatives. Henry
also rejected a second bipartisan compromise that sought to resolve
his complaints about SB 507.
“There was a lot of talk last year by the governor and his
surrogates about how close an agreement was, yet Gov. Henry still
has not provided legislative language to show what he supports.
If he truly wants to reach an agreement on lawsuit reform, it is
time for Gov. Henry to put his cards on the table,” Williamson
Williamson said the need for lawsuit reform is clear, but it is
ultimately up to Henry whether Oklahoma doctors and businesses receive
relief this year from lawsuit abuse.
For the fourth consecutive year, the Judicial Hellholes report
published by the nonpartisan American Tort Reform Association (ATRA)
gives Oklahoma a “dishonorable mention.”
Survey data from the Oklahoma Alliance of Physicians for Tort Reform
showed the threat of lawsuits caused nearly one-fifth of Oklahoma
doctors to consider leaving the state, while 60 percent of doctors
have stopped performing riskier procedures (like delivering babies)
in order to avoid lawsuits.
Lawsuits are also playing a role in the growing shortage of critical
medical specialties here, such as obstetrics, especially in rural
Oklahoma. Meanwhile, The Houston Chronicle reported that tort-reformed
Texas is attracting doctors from non-reformed states like Oklahoma
and Pennsylvania, making it difficult for Texas to keep up with
the requests for new medical licenses. Similarly, a recent State
Chamber survey of businesses showed that 87% believe that Oklahoma’s
legal climate hurts job growth, while 52% said they would consider
moving their business out of state because of lawsuits.
A 2007 report in Directorship magazine – widely read by job-creating
CEO’s and directors – ranked Oklahoma’s legal
climate a paltry #44 for business and job growth. The nation’s
preeminent business newspaper – The Wall Street Journal –
has scolded the governor in editorials because of Oklahoma’s
lack of lawsuit reform.
“A majority of state legislators support real, comprehensive
reforms to halt lawsuit abuse. We’re hopeful that Gov. Henry
will choose to be a catalyst for reform this year instead of being
the road block he has been in past years,” Williamson said.
“All we are asking is that the governor fulfill his pledge
to Oklahomans for Texas-Plus lawsuit reform.”
For more information contact:
Senator Williamson's Office: (405) 521-5624