Valparaiso University Law Review
Does so-called "tort reform" decrease tort case filings? In Texas and other states that have enacted numerous rounds of tort reform, the answer appears to be a resounding "yes," at least as of the year 2000. More recent evidence from Oklahoma supports that conclusion and provides an interesting case study within the tort reform juggernaut.
During at least the past twenty years, tort reformers have achieved substantial legislative successes and, some would argue, public relations victories. Yet their desire for more "reform" seems insatiable, and their legislative agenda rarely sleeps.
Tort reform bills bloom perennially in the Oklahoma legislature, and numerous significant changes in liability rules, restrictions on remedies, and procedural innovations were enacted in 2002, 2003, and 2004. Despite their apparent success, tort reformers spun these victories as losses and vowed to press on. One omnibus tort reform bill passed by the legislature in 2007 was immediately vetoed by the governor. Its supporters, apparently undeterred, resurrected most of the provisions from the defeated 2007 bill and reintroduced them in 2008.
One might reasonably ask whether anyone has stopped to see what, if anything, the enacted "reforms" have already wrought, before advocating even more sweeping changes. This article will make a small contribution toward answering that question.
Patricia W. Hatamyar, The Effect of Tort Reform on Tort Case Filings, 43 Val. U. L. Rev. 559 (2009).