Washington, D.C., Nov. 26, 2002 – The United States Chamber of Commerce today commended the Mississippi House and Senate for passing legislation providing greater legal protections for businesses that are sued. The Mississippi legislature, which has been in “special session” since September, passed a medical malpractice reform bill last month and then approved general tort reform measures late last night.
“At last, Mississippi lawmakers are beginning to understand what America’s business community has been saying for years – that if they want economic growth, job creation and a better way of life for its citizens, then Mississippi’s tort laws must be changed,” said Thomas Donohue, Chamber President and CEO.
Earlier this year, the U.S. Chamber ran full-page ads throughout Mississippi about the harmful effects of the state’s broken liability system. The Chamber also released a Harris poll it commissioned that ranked Mississippi’s legal system as the worst in America.
“While this bill is a step in the right direction, it is just that – a first step,” Donohue said. “The task of tort reform is far from finished in Mississippi, and I hope Mississippi’s elected leaders will address other unresolved issues when they return in January.”
The Mississippi tort reform bill contains many important improvements, including:
* Caps punitive damages for small businesses worth less than $50 million at a maximum of 4 percent of net worth; big businesses are subject to a graduated scale, with a cap of $20 million.
* Protects “innocent retailers” who are sued for selling defective products they did not design or manufacture.
* Limits venue to where the cause of action occurred or the plaintiff’s home county.
* Allows proportionate liability for non-economic damages and improves joint and several liability for economic damages.