Oklahoma Lawsuit Reform Measure Heads to Gov. Henry

May 8, 2008

Legislation requiring an expert opinion confirming professional negligence before a lawsuit can be filed is headed to Oklahoma Gov. Brad Henry after final passage in the House of Representatives.

House Bill 2458 would require a plaintiff in a civil lawsuit for professional negligence to attach to the petition an affidavit attesting that a “reasonable interpretation of the facts supports a finding that the acts or omissions of the defendant … constituted professional negligence.”

The affidavit must state that the plaintiff has consulted a qualified expert who has reviewed the available medical records and other facts, and that the qualified expert has provided a written opinion stating that the facts support a finding that the defendant was professionally negligent.

The bill would provide for dismissal of the suit without prejudice if the affidavit is not attached to the petition and also provides for an extension of time to file the affidavit. The legislation allows that the affidavit would not be admissible in court.

This legislation would make it harder to file lawsuits not only in the medical field, but with any accusation of professional negligence.

The governor signed similar legislation applying only to medical malpractice cases in 2004. That law was later thrown out by the state Supreme Court in 2006 because it was too narrowly tailored.

Rep. Dan Sullivan said he expects the governor will support this language, unlike his other tort reform bill he pulled from consideration earlier this session because the exact language was vetoed by Gov. Henry last year.

Source: Oklahoma House of Representatives

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