The Norman Transcript

State/Region

September 4, 2013

Changing suits

OKLAHOMA CITY — At the request of Gov. Mary Fallin, the Oklahoma Legislature returned to the state Capitol on Tuesday for a special session to address changes to the way civil lawsuits are handled in the state.

The House and Senate convened shortly after 1 p.m. for the first special session since 2006. It is the first time Fallin has called a special session.

Fallin, a Republican, requested the special session after the Oklahoma Supreme Court in June threw out a comprehensive 2009 bill that overhauled the state’s civil justice system.

“I think this is one of the most important issues facing the state of Oklahoma,” Fallin said on Tuesday. “That’s why I’ve called a special session today. It’s important for our business climate, not only retaining businesses and attracting new businesses, but it’s also important to helping with our high medical costs in the state.”

Fallin and other proponents of the changes say they help protect businesses and doctors from frivolous lawsuits, but opponents claim they restrict the access of citizens to the court. Fallin said since the tort-reform bill passed in 2009, the number of medical malpractice cases in the state dropped 39 percent.

But the Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled the bill was an unconstitutional example of “logrolling,” or including multiple subjects in a single bill. As a result, legislators plan to introduce about 30 separate bills to address all of the changes that were made in 2009.

In a separate ruling, the state’s highest court also rejected as unconstitutional a requirement that plaintiffs in professional negligence lawsuits must have an expert endorse their case in what is referred to as a certificate of merit. The court said requiring that certificate “creates a monetary barrier to access the court system.”

House and Senate leaders said Tuesday they planned to introduce a certificate of merit bill, although it’s not clear if such a measure would pass constitutional muster.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
State/Region
  • Health officials prepare for flu

    OKLAHOMA CITY — Following a flu season in which a record number of Oklahomans died as a result of the virus, state and county health officials say educating the public and general common sense are vital to reducing both the death rate and ...

    July 27, 2014

  • Scam targets migrants

    HOUSTON — Scammers have been preying on the relatives of unaccompanied young migrants being held at two U.S. military bases by conning them into paying nonexistent fees to be reunited with their loved ones, officials said....

    July 27, 2014

  • Trial delayed for man in murder case

    DUNCAN — The first-degree murder trial of a Velma man charged with killing a 16-year-old girl has been delayed until January....

    July 27, 2014

  • Man seeks video of 1995 Oklahoma City bombing

    OKLAHOMA CITY — One man’s quest to explain his brother’s mysterious jail cell death 19 years ago has rekindled long-dormant questions about whether others were involved in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing. What some consider a far-flung ...

    July 27, 2014

  • Man found dead outside Tulsa home

    TULSA — Police in Tulsa are investigating the death of a man whose body was found outside a house on the city’s north side....

    July 27, 2014

  • McCain: Arizona execution ‘torture’

    TUCSON, Ariz. — U.S. Sen. John McCain says the execution of an Arizona inmate that lasted two hours was torture....

    July 26, 2014

  • Okla. food pantries struggle to meet demand

    TULSA — Food pantries, soup kitchens and shelters across Oklahoma are scrambling to meet demand for food from, among other groups, kids left in the lurch because they can’t get the free and discounted meals offered when schools are in ...

    July 26, 2014

  • Rogers County clerk sues paper over stories

    CLAREMORE — The Rogers County clerk has sued the Claremore Daily Progress and its government reporter over claims the newspaper painted her in a false light and invaded her privacy. Clerk Robin Anderson filed a lawsuit Thursday against ...

    July 26, 2014

  • Okla. high court says lawmaker can serve as DA

    OKLAHOMA CITY — A Republican House member from Jenks is eligible to become Tulsa County’s district attorney, even though a raise for prosecutors was approved during his term in the Legislature, the Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled Friday....

    July 26, 2014

  • Fallin wants probe to include botched executions

    OKLAHOMA CITY — A spokesman for Gov. Mary Fallin says the governor wants investigators looking into Oklahoma’s recent flawed execution to consider problems that have popped up in other states such as Ohio and Arizona....

    July 26, 2014