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Tag Archives: Tort Reform

It’s not easy being an expert these days (access required)

Tort reform and the stagnating economy have taken a toll on the expert business, though not necessarily to the extent some might expect. “With tort reform hitting hard in a lot of states, we’re seeing a big push towards mass tort work by the plaintiff’s bar,” said Eric Eckhardt, head of development and sales for Pennsylvania-based Robson Forensics. “So for example, if plaintiff’s lawyers can’t try a case effectively in Texas, they’re moving towards trying cases nationally. They’re networking with other plaintiff’s lawyers to get the payout.”

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After tort reform, support costs of litigation get a hard look from lawyers (access required)

In anticipation of state legislators passing tort reform, Mark McGrath and his law partner, George Podgorny, started reviewing medical malpractice cases for filing about eight months ago. With the new tort reform law taking effect Oct. 1, the triage of what to fast-track and what to drop continues unabated at McGrath Podgorny in Research Triangle Park, N.C... Every new case coming in is probed: How many medical experts are needed to present the case? How much research will be required? What’s the chance of settling the case or winning a jury verdict if it goes to trial? Is the patient at the center of the case a child or a nursing home resident?

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Effective date of tort reform a headache for lawyers and plaintiffs (access required)

On July 25, the General Assembly voted to override Gov. Beverly Perdue’s veto of Senate Bill 33, a tort reform measure that places draconian limitations on the ability of medical malpractice victims to seek redress in court. The bill reads like a Christmas wish list for malpractice insurers, the state Chamber and the medical lobby: noneconomic damages capped at $500,000, virtual immunity for providers who perform vaguely defined “emergency” treatment, heightened requirements for expert witnesses and abbreviated periods of limitation.

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Governor Haley signs tort reform into law (access required)

Two years of political back-and-forth ended when Gov. Nikki Haley signed a new law that caps punitive damages, making South Carolina the last state in the Southeast to a pass tort reform measure. The Fairness in Civil Justice Act of 2011 was signed July 26 and takes effect Jan. 1. The new civil litigation law is built on two tiers of liability caps. The first limits damages to $500,000 or three times the compensatory damages awarded, whichever is greater, while the second tier raises the cap to $2 million or four times the compensatory damages.

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Not all tort-related wishes come true  (access required)

Looking back on the past legislative session, attorneys mostly see just one bill: HB 3375, the S.C. Fairness in Civil Justice Act – commonly called the tort reform bill. Pushed by business groups and conservatives in the legislature, the bill imposes caps on punitive damages to be awarded in tort cases, with some exceptions. It gave Mike Hemlepp, executive director of the South Carolina Association for Justice, a big case of heartburn. As part of an organization that represents trial lawyers, Hemlepp said that he and his group are, on principal, opposed to tort reform and caps of any kind. “We trust juries,” he said. “Anything that interferes with a jury’s ability to make a judgment, we are opposed to it.”

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Senator on tort reform bill: ‘We’ve got a problem’ (access required)

An amendment tacked onto a legislative proposal that would limit punitive damages in civil cases threatens to derail the bill on the Senate floor, said state Sen. Larry Martin, a key supporter of the proposed cap. The amendment would turn South Carolina away from the state Supreme Court's 2010 designation of the risk-utility analysis as the sole test for defective design in many products liability cases. In Branham v. Ford Motor Co., a split court reversed a $31 million verdict against the automaker last August and said state courts no longer would charge juries with the venerable consumer-expectations test except in manufacturing-defect cases.

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Senate Judiciary Committee gives nod to punitives cap (access required)

A bill capping punitive damages in civil actions was set to go before the S.C. Senate after the Senate Judiciary Committee gave it a thumbs-up. The committee voted to send H. 3375, named the Fairness in Civil Justice Act of 2011, to the full Senate with a favorable review and amendments. The proposal would limit a plaintiff's punitive damages to $350,000 or three times the amount of his compensatory damages, whichever is greater.

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Punitives cap passes House, still pending in Senate (access required)

A bill that would cap punitive damages in the South Carolina is now before the state Senate's Judiciary Committee, having won a thumbs-up from a judiciary subcommittee last week. The bill, H. 3375, named the Fairness in Civil Justice Act of 2011, passed the House of Representatives by a 100-to-11 vote on Feb. 10. It would limit punitive damages to $350,000 or three times the amount of the compensatory damages, whichever is greater. "We believe the fact that South Carolina doesn't have any caps when every other state around us does means that we're simply at a competitive disadvantage when other states are recruiting economic development head to head with us," said state Sen. Larry Martin (pictured).

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