Thursday, May 21, 2009

2009 Oklahoma Lawsuit Reform Agreement

The major reforms agreed upon include the following:

Class action reforms as set out below:
Adoption of an expanded federal rule (#2023) as a foundation for class actions in
Specific procedures and guidelines set out the court must follow in appointing an
attorney to represent the class;
Specific findings that must be included in an order certifying a class;
More specific information that must be included in the notice provided to
potential class members if a class is certified;
More specific court oversight of the case, particularly regarding dismissals and
Limiting non-resident membership in state class actions;
Allowing the court to stay, transfer or dismiss a case if it should be heard in
another court;
Requiring the appellate court to immediately review certification orders using the
de novo standard;
Allowing the appellate court to also review orders determining whether the class
has exhausted administrative procedures;
Requiring the case to be stayed while an appeal of the certification order is
Providing that settlements in which coupons are awarded, the attorney shall also
receive his fee in coupons; and,
Providing specific guidelines the court must follow in awarding attorney fees to
the attorney representing the class, which includes allowing the court to appoint
an independent attorney to represent the class during the fee hearing.

Appeal Bond Cap - $25 million & no appeal bond required on punitive damage

Mandatory Dismissal for Late Service (180 days)

Summary Judgment – Adopted Federal Rules

Prejudgment Interest Reforms (Shall not begin to accrue until 24 months after
commencement of suit) and a reduction in the rate calculation

Joint & Several Liability
Limits liability to instances where a tortfeasor is more than 50% at fault..

Asbestos/Silicosis Reforms

Cap on Non-Economic Damages
In any action arising from a claimed bodily injury, the amount of compensation which a trier of fact may award a plaintiff for noneconomic loss shall not exceed $400,000.00.
In any civil action arising from a claimed bodily injury, the amount of compensation which the trier of fact may award a plaintiff for economic loss shall not be subject to any limitation.

Properly pleading jurisdiction levels (More closely tied to Federal level)

Peer Review Confidentiality

Certificate of Merit for Professional Negligence

Other significant reforms include:

Forum non conveniens

Redefining of “Frivolous” Lawsuits

Junk Science & Expert Witness Reforms

Initial Disclosure of Witness Exhibits

Gun Manufacturers Liability Protection
Exempts gun manufacturers, distributors and sellers who “lawfully” manufacture, distribute or sell firearms from liability for “any injury suffered.” Does not exempt such firearms from product liability if appropriate.

Common Sense Consumption Act
Known as the “Cheeseburger Act,” this protects against obesity lawsuits against restaurants and food manufacturers.

Volunteer Liability

Emergency Volunteer Immunity

School Protection Act

Admissibility of non-wearing of Seat Belts (exempts children under 16)

Agri-Tourism Liability Reform
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