Capitol Idea: Mississippi Needs Tort Reform

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Tort reform has reached critical mass in Mississippi.

Doctors need it to continue to be able to practice, particularly in rural communities like those that dominate east central Mississippi. The business community suffers needlessly without it. And who's fighting it? The small cadre of trial lawyers who make their living from multi-million mass tort cases against drug companies and the like.

Let's clear up some misconceptions being spun by the trial lawyers lobby. No one is attempting to limit juries from awarding one nickel less in actual damages-the money that compensates someone for their expenses and future expenses after a loss. No one is attempting to limit juries from awarding one nickel in punitive damages-the money juries exact from companies to punish them for wrongdoing or from mistreating the poor or those who can't afford protracted legal battles.

What tort reformers seek to cap is non-economic damages, so-called "pain and suffering" at $250,000 to $500,000. Why? Because a man with the same injuries might be awarded $250,000 in non-economic damages in Lauderdale County while being awarded $25 million in Jefferson County.

That's wrong and that puts a target on the backside of manufacturers, doctors and corporations that insurance companies won't cover.

The time has come for Mississippi to adopt responsible tort reforms. And tort reforms can't be accomplished without caps on non-economic damages.