Justinian Lane

Oklahoma State Senator Jim Wilson on SB 507

It remains to be seen whether or not the Governor of Oklahoma will veto this bill.  For the sake of Oklahoma, I sure hope he does.  And shame on Susan Paddack for voting for this one.  I'd chastise the Republicans who voted for it, but we all know they did so out of concern for their campaign contributions and not for their constituents.

Wilson spoke at length about Senate Bill 507, a controversial lawsuit reform bill that passed Thursday, 25-23, with only one Democrat – Susan Paddack, D-Ada – voting for the measure.
Wilson was very open about his views on the bill.
“I hope the governor vetoes it,” he said.
Wilson explained several details of the bill that he disagrees with, including:
• Relatives of fatal accident victims who are awarded monetary judgments would, under the new measure, have those judgments reduced by an amount equal to any life insurance payments made.
• Relatives of nursing home residents who may have been injured because of nursing home negligence would not be allowed to use nursing home records as evidence.  (See what happens when a major industry buys off legislators? - Justinian)
“That’s protection for the nursing home industry,” said Wilson.
“Not that we don’t need to protect them, but we have to be moderate about it.”
• Judgments in favor of plaintiffs in negligence lawsuits would be paid in annual installments, based on the expected life-span of that plaintiff. The problem with that measure, Wilson said, is that many of those negligence victims have exorbitant bills that need to be paid, and are likely to settle for a much smaller amount just so they can receive the entire settlement in one lump sum.
Wilson said supporters of the bill claim it will lower malpractice insurance costs for doctors in the state. But, he added, the legislature passed a $300,000 cap on lawsuits against emergency room and obstetrics/gynecology doctors several years ago.
That bill, he said, did what it was intended to do – lower costs – but the savings were not passed on from the insurance companies to physicians and patients. (Emphasis added.)

Source: Tahlequah Daily Press - Wilson addresses tort reform at Hulbert breakfast

Can someone please explain to me why we can cap the amount of money that injured citizens can receive, but we can't cap the malpractice premiums of doctors?  Especially when we pass laws that are intended to lower malpractice premiums?

Originally Posted at

Justinian Lane: Author Bio | Other Posts
Posted at 4:24 PM, Apr 23, 2007 in In the News
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In response to your question about caps. The practice of law is at present like the tv show "Deal or No Deal". At the top of the board is the huge jury award. The insurance company is the banker. The client like the contestants on the show will always want the big money, the insurance company like the banker will look at the overall odds and eventually make an offer. The attorney knows that the odds of the big money are low but wants the client to play the game for the most they can get before they totally lose the game. Remember, in most cases, the client is playing with the attorney's money.

With caps, the big dollar amount is gone and the whole price of the game is cheaper.

In Tennessee there where only 6 cases that went to the jury out of over 1000. Practicing med-mal attorneys make their money out of settlements that are based on the ration of how much they can get vs the cost for the insurance company to fight. Caps, change this ratio.

Also to be considered is seperate but divisible, remember, the big money in med mal comes from this. That is to say, you sue the doctor but he is not worth as much as the hopital, government, etc.

Hence you see the other major provisions of the bill. The one that is the most interesting is the seperate but divisible parts of the bill.

Posted by: Chris | April 24, 2007 8:50 AM

Well, you guys are good at spin; I'll give you that.

The law in question would not ban the use of "nursing home records" as evidence. It would ban the use of one specific type of record -- QA reports. Actual records would be admissible.

And the judgments would only have to be paid in installments for future damages, not all damages, so someone who has bills that need to be paid based on their past injuries will still get the money in a lump sum to pay those bills. (The purpose of awarding future damages to a plaintiff is to allow him to pay for care in the future -- so he shouldn't be spending that money on past bills anyway.)

Posted by: David Nieporent | April 24, 2007 9:24 PM

Well, I see that Chris and David have some learning to do. Having intimate knowledge of how med-mal cases and tort cases in general work IN OKLAHOMA (not TN since, afterall, this IS an Oklahoma tort reform bill), I see the insurance lobby, Chamber of Commerce, and medical community did some late night oil burning in some selected legislators' offices to get this one passed (Good job PLICO, State Farm, Allstate, & Farmers).

To answer the questions posed, we can have caps on malpractice insurance but the GOP, who receives a large portion of their contributions from the insurance industry, won't do it. They cite 'market controls' etc. etc. Meanwhile, PLICO (the state med-mal insurance company) has no competition, that's right, NO competition in did they do that?? Your GOP legislators. We all know that competition drives down costs, so why do we have only one med-mal carrier in OK? Interesting isn't it. Can you answer that for us, Chris?

'Deal or No Deal'...I guess that might work in the business world but in the realistic 'tort' world, the 'deal' is usually received on the part of the Defendant's insurance company. The predominate jury verdicts in Oklahoma (med-mal and general tort cases) favor, YES FAVOR, the defendant. The insurance company, who has retained, pays, and fires, (ask State Farm, Farmers, & Allstate who they hire as their attys...they are all STAFF attys) the defendant's attorney knows that the chances of going to trial FAVOR HIS CLIENT. So, the INSURANCE COMPANY'S LAWYER hired to defend the case forces the Plaintiff into a lop-sided unfair settlement or risk a court trial where he (the defendant's atty) knows he has the advantage.

Regarding, 'future damages', David, I'm sure those 'future damages' will be adjusted for inflation of having the 'future' procedure a year or two or three or four down the road, right? And, if waiting to have that future procedure causes other complications, those cost will be forseen by the Defendant's atty who will gladly and happily make sure they are added to the 'future damages' as well for his client to pay, right?

One last thing about doctors. I find it interesting that a 'peer review' will be kept 'confidential' from the State medical board (the already impotent state agency responsible for licensing doctors in OK). What does that mean...that a doctor can screw up one of his patients (and by the way, that patient will have little recourse because, you guessed it, of this Tort Reform Bill) have his fellow doctor buddies look over the medical records (that may or may not be already 'doctored' themselves), get a slap on the hand (if it goes that far), and the State Board never is the wiser. Think of that the next time you're sitting on the gourney in your doctor's office looking at all those nice state certifications hanging on the wall-you feeling all safe and secure....

This bill is also interesting in that it requires a Plaintiff's expert to provide a written explanation as to why the defendant is liable for the tort. Further, it also offsets the Plaintiff's compensation from other sources. Why can we, in Oklahoma, not know at trial whether the defendant has insurance? The mere mention of the word causes mistrials in civil cases. We can save the insurance companies money by offsetting their own responsibilities to pay an insured...what a racket...I tip my hat to the insurance industry on that one...yet hang my head for those insurance company employees who live in oklahoma and for their insureds. Wait until THEY have a claim against that company they've been working for....

One last tidbit for you lawyer haters. When a tort case goes to trial, who do you think foots the bill? The client? guess again, the client's family? guess again, the client's insurance company? guess again (come on, did you really think they would?). I'll answer it for you, the Plaintiff's lawyer pays the litigation costs. So, let me ask you, by now you know that most cases are being won by the defendents (you know because I told you and YOU can look it up for yourselves) how do you expect that these 'trial lawyers' are going to recoup their losses? They don't. And, they are leaving Oklahoma or moving into other areas of law by the droves. Hence, the next time you get hurt and it's someone else's fault, don't be surprised if you can't find a lawyer to take your case. Ahh, but your a lawyer hater anyway so it doesn't really matter to you, right? We'll see....actually, YOU'LL SEE...

Posted by: Dan K | April 27, 2007 3:55 PM