•To limit expansion of tort liability
•To reduce lawsuit defense costs
•To speed resolution of lawsuits
•To improve fairness & certainty of
civil justice system
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News from the LRC
Feb. 23 legislative update
First major cut-off shuts down some bills
But not nearly enough
Friday marked the first big cut-off of the 2015 legislative session, when all bills must be out of their policy committee (except matters relating fiscal committees). Several liability measures failed to be voted out of committee, effectively rendering the bill moot for the session (although there’s always a chance a bill can come back to life, given political will). However, the majority of bad liability policy continues to move through the process, particularly measures in the House. A few notable bills include:
HB 1067 – removes the sunset provision of the Medicaid False Claims Act, without the benefit of this this summer’s JLARC report on the act’s effectiveness.
HB 1248 – massive expansion of the jurisdictional level of the mandatory arbitration system, despite the complexity of higher-dollar cases that are not suited for the rushed nature of arbitration.
No fewer than a half-dozen bills aimed at increasing employer liability by creating new causes of action.
The complete Bill Tracker can be found on our website. By Friday all fiscal bill must be out of committee in order to be viable. Each chamber then has until March 11 to pass bills out of their house of origin. If you should have any questions or comments about liability issues in Olympia, please contact Dana.
For a list of all liability bills, check out the LRC Bill Tracker.
LRC shines bright light on the Supreme Court
The LRC has released the seventh installment of its Judicial Scorecard, which is a two-year look back at the significant liability rulings of the Supreme Court and how the nine justices ruled. The results are interesting, if not alarming. Only one justice ruled consistent with the LRC’s position in at least 50 percent of the cases. Two justices received paltry one-digit scores. The rest are somewhere in the in middle. The rulings from this powerful branch of government warrant careful and consistent monitoring and the LRC will continue to do so.
The LRC's Record of Success
For the past 25 years the LRC has helped protect Washington’s citizens and businesses from more lawsuit abuse. No organization more aggressively fights the trial lawyers’ trade association than the LRC. The LRC has published a Record of Success which shows the long list of bills this organization has managed to defeat in Olympia, to the chagrin of the plaintiffs lawyers.
Wacky Warning Label Contest
The internationally recognized “Wacky Warning Label Contest,” now in its 16th year, has selected the 2014 winners. While amusing, it’s an embarrassing result of our overly litigious culture. The warning labels demonstrate the ridiculous efforts companies must put forth to avoid lawsuits.
Jury awards boozer truck driver over $119,000
A recent article in the Wall Street Journal and posted on overlawyerd.com blog is one you don’t want to miss:
In 2009, a driver with Old Dominion Freight Line, Inc., admitted to the company that he had an alcohol problem. The company told him that it would no longer allow him to drive heavy trucks for the firm. (It said it offered him a less safety-sensitive, but also significantly lower-paying, dock job.) The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) stepped in and sued on his behalf under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). It conceded that Old Dominion could (and indeed had to) take the keys away from a heavy truck driver it found to be currently drinking on the job, but contended it had failed in its obligation to “make an individualized determination as to whether the driver could return to driving and provide a reasonable accommodation of leave to its drivers for them to obtain treatment.” Of course backsliding and remission are common following rehab treatment, which means as a group drivers with known past alcohol problems will have a higher risk profile than drivers without. That is why at an earlier stage of the case I asked, “Are we really required to take chances with 18-wheelers on the highway?”
Now we know the answer: Yes. A jury agreed with the EEOC and awarded the driver $119,000 in back pay.
The posting is from Walter Olson, a commentator, author and critic best known for his work on American law. A senior fellow at the Cato Institute, a think tank in Washington, D.C., he has written a series of widely acclaimed books on our legal system, beginning with The Litigation Explosion, The Excuse Factory, The Rule of Lawyers: How the New Litigation Elite Threatens America’s Rule of Law, and most recently Schools for Misrule: Legal Academia and an Overlawyered America On the web, he founded and continues to run Overlawyered.com, widely cited as the oldest blog on law as well as one of the most popular. The Washington Post has described him an "intellectual guru of tort reform".
The LRC was honored to have Mr. Olson as a keynote speaker several years ago at our Annual Meeting.