OSMA: Okla. now has two liability caps

LETTER — Posted Aug. 16, 2004

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Regarding "Okla. tort reform not quite so rosy" (Letters, July 19): It appears that the author of the letter cited above received some bad information.

Oklahoma now has two different caps on noneconomic damages. A $300,000 cap was passed in the 2003 legislative session that is applicable to obstetrics cases and to cases that initiate in the emergency room. The judge can lift the cap if he or she makes a finding, out of the presence of the jury, that there is clear and convincing evidence of negligence (this is unchanged from 2003). The cap applies regardless of the number of parties against whom the action is brought or the number of actions brought with respect to the personal injury.

A second noneconomic damages cap of $300,000 was passed in the 2004 legislation session that applies in all other cases. It is true that it is not as good as the cap on noneconomic damages that was passed in 2003.

Nevertheless, the lawsuit reform bill that was passed in the 2004 session had a positive impact on the existing noneconomic cap passed last year. The cap for obstetrics and cases that initiate in the emergency room would have sunset in 2008. This year's lawsuit reform bill actually extended the sunset provision by two years to 2010.

Mukesh T. Parekh, MD, president, Oklahoma State Medical Assn., Oklahoma City

Note: This item originally appeared at http://www.ama-assn.org/amednews/2004/08/16/edlt0816.htm.

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