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Friday, January 11, 2013

Ind. Law - "Confusion over Pence’s approach to tort reform continues"

Eric Bradner of the Evansville Courier & Press, in the paper's blog, Capitol Journal, has posted a roundup of information on Gov.-elect Pence's potential focus on tort reform in his legislative agenda.

Mary Beth Schneider reports today in the Indianapolis Star in a long story headed "Indiana legislature bill would make losers of civil court actions pay all legal costs," that begins:

You won’t find tort reform in Gov.-elect Mike Pence’s “road map,” the agenda he laid out in his campaign.

Nor did Pence spend time as a candidate talking about making the losing side in all civil court actions pay all the legal costs.

But that, apparently, is among the issues he will pursue in the legislature.

State Sen. Mike Delph, R-Carmel, said he filed Senate Bill 88 at the request of the incoming Pence administration.

“A member of Pence’s staff asked me to do it,” said Delph, an attorney. “This was not on my radar till they asked me to do it. I’m just trying to be supportive of the governor-elect. . . . I feel like the governor-elect is the leader of our party, and I wanted to try to do what I could to be of help to him.”

The bill would take away the discretion of judges and juries to decide legal fees and instead says the court must make whichever side loses pay them. * * *

Tort reform has been championed by business groups for years as a way to protect them from frivolous lawsuits, and Pence has supported it as a member of Congress. But he never initiated a “losers pay” bill in Congress, and the only tort reform bills he co-sponsored were in 2003.

Making tort reform part of his legislative agenda as governor would give it a stature far above the myriad of other issues Pence merely supports or opposes. It virtually guarantees it would get at least a hearing in a legislature where Republicans hold supermajorities in both the House and Senate.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on January 11, 2013 12:26 PM
Posted to Indiana Law