Ohio’s recent wave of tort law changes has done nothing but enrich insurance companies and big business at the expense of those in the greatest need. When insurance companies lost money in the stock market a few years ago they ran to their Republican friends in the Ohio legislature and earmarked money and gifts to encourage the passage of caps on damages and other punitive measures against the citizens of Ohio. What used to be called bribery is now called lobbying. The result is the insurance industry “owned” the legislature.
The problem with the whole concept of tort reform is that there was never a need to reform in the first place. There was never any evidence presented that jury verdicts were too high or negligence victims over compensated. There was never any evidence provided that companies were leaving the state, or doctors were closing their practices. The legislature didn’t require proof to enact the changes asked for by the insurance industry because they had already been paid for their vote.
Now, in Ohio, one hospital can sue another for millions of dollars for breach of contract, but the quadriplegic victim of medical malpractice whose life is ruined has his/her damages capped. Why? To ensure insurance company profits. Most victims in Ohio suffer twice, once at the hands of the negligent defendant, and again by the legislature when they try to collect fair compensation.
What can we do? On an individual level we can call our state senators and state representatives and tell them you know there was no crisis, and you want those bad laws repealed. You can also help when you are called to jury service. In every case the defendant sits at counsel table looking sad and worried that he/she is going to lose their house in the lawsuit. In nearly every single case that defendant has insurance that you are never told about. His lawyer is hired by the insurance company to defend him. Please remember every penny of money that you don’t award to the injured plaintiff goes directly back to his insurance company. All you are doing is helping them hire more lobbyists to try to further erode the right of the citizens of Ohio.