Monday, September 8, 2008

Trial Lawyers Want Nixon to Turn Back the Clock on Tort Reform

One major reason that I supported Kenny Hulshof in the Republican primary for governor is that he supports tort reform and his opponent did not.  But Missouri trial lawyers' support for Sarah Steelman's campaign was only lukewarm compared to their current support for Democrat Jay Nixon.

And trial attorneys are sending Nixon more than moral support.  They are filling his campaign coffers at a tremendous rate.  According to an article from Tony Messenger in today's St. Louis Post-Dispatch, "a look at Nixon's big-money donors starts and ends with Missouri's big-name lawyers, specifically personal injury attorneys."

Nixon's supporters are the folks who file lawsuits for injured people (or for uninjured people claiming to be injured).  Some, indeed, are advocates for the downtrodden little guy but a good many are slick ambulance-chasers out to get their one-third contingency fee off of the top of the biggest and most settlements they can get.  These lawyers' bottom lines have been affected by common sense legislation passed by the Republican-led Missouri legislature and signed into law by Governor Matt Blunt in 2005.  This legislation - now law - is commonly referred to as tort reform.

Tort reform put an end to personal injury lawyers shopping around for the most liberal forum in which to file their lawsuits (the City of St. Louis was a favorite) and now requires all tort suits to be filed where the alleged injury happened.

Tort reform prevents a defendant who is only minimally responsible for causing an injury from having to pay an entire judgment, just because that defendant has deeper pockets than the one who was more responsible for the injury.

Tort reform limits requires a correlation between the amount of actual damages in a case and the amount of punitive damages that can be awarded.

Tort reform brings evidence of money actually paid to healthcare providers, instead of amounts billed but written off.

Tort reform allows people accused of causing harm to express natural human sympathy to a victim or the victim's family without their words being construed as an admission of guilt or responsibility.

Tort reform evened the playing field between plaintiffs and defendants in civil litigation.  The trial lawyers are funding Jay Nixon in the hope of getting some of their old advantages back.

To keep the courtrooms fair, Kenny Hulshof needs your vote in November.

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