With the stroke of a pen it is official, Mississippi now has the most comprehensive tort reform law in the nation. Once coined as the capital for 'Jackpot Justice', supporters of the new law say it rebalances the scales of justice.
"Critically, all this has done is leveled the playing field," says Governor Barbour.
Leveled the playing field between plaintiffs and defendants he says. In the past there have been a number of lawsuits in the state which have resulted in multi-million dollar rewards but that's no longer the case. Under the new tort reform law, plaintiffs can receive up to a $500,000 reward in medical malpractice lawsuits and up to a $1,000,000 reward in all others. This is something the Governor calls 'good for business.'
"Mississippi had been named for three years in a row as the worst state in the nation for lawsuit abuse and the legislature has changed that perception overnight."
The word about the new law is spreading quickly, even outside the state. In Wednesday's edition of the Clarion Ledger newspaper, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce took out a full page ad stating 'Mississippi is now OPEN for business!' Also, with the Wallstreet Journal recently had a similar editorial. These are things that the supporters of the measure call all 'good signs' of what's to come, especially for East Mississippi.
"We have been the forgotten ones in the state in the past," says District 31 Senator Terry Burton. "So now, with more business and industry opportunities and opportunities for businesses to expand, I think that East Mississippi is going to be at the top of the list when it comes to the area of the state that's going to benefit the most."
Although Governor Barbour projects the new law will ultimately lead to lower insurance costs for all, he says this likely will take some time due to a number of previously filed lawsuits that are still pending.
Mississippi's new tort reform law will take affect September 1.