A Bad Way To Do Tort Reform

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Several Georgia State Senators, two of whom I know and like very well, have introduced this bill into the State Senate. The bill requires that:

(a) In any civil action seeking damages arising from a tortious injury involving a contingency fee, whether in tort or contract, the plaintiff shall be entitled to receive no less than the following amount of compensation:

(1) Seventy percent of the first $500,000.00 recovered;
(2) Eighty percent of any amount over $500,000.00 up to $1 million recovered; and
(3) Ninety percent of any amount over $1 million recovered.

(b) Such compensation amount shall apply in all civil actions whether the recovery is obtained by settlement, arbitration, judgment, or otherwise, regardless of the number of defendants, and shall be exclusive of reasonable and customary court costs relating to the civil action.

I like the concept. I’m not a lawyer who is opposed to tort reform. But, the implementation is flawed.

Let’s say that the case grosses $500,000.00. Well, there are court costs in there of several hundred dollars, there are probably expert fees, copy costs, fax costs, Westlaw costs, and the attorneys fees as well. What if those expenses equal 33.33% of the case — a fairly standard contingency percentage for a lawyer? Well, the lawyer has to eat costs.

How will the lawyer respond? He will charge the client by the hour, thereby excluding poor people from access to the courts.

Come on Republicans, you can do better than that.

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Erick Erickson
By Erick Erickson

Erick Erickson

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