WASHINGTON, DC – The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Institute for Legal Reform (ILR) today applauded Ohio Governor Robert Taft for signing comprehensive legal reform legislation that will bring fairness and common sense to Ohio’s civil justice system. Ohio ranked 32nd among the 50 states in legal fairness in the 2004 ILR/Harris State Liability Systems Rankings.
“This landmark piece of legislation will go a long way toward balancing the scales of justice in Ohio’s courts,” said Lisa Rickard, president of ILR. “The employers, consumers and working families of Ohio owe a debt of gratitude to Governor Taft and the Ohio legislature for passing this bill that will make their state’s legal system simpler, fairer and faster for everyone.”
While the legislation allows unlimited economic damages, it provides reasonable limits on punitive and non-economic damages. Except for cases considered “catastrophic,” the bill limits non-economic damages at $500,000, and limits punitive damages to twice the total of a case’s economic and non-economic damages. The bill also protects small employers and individuals by limiting punitive damages against small businesses to the lesser of $350,000 or ten percent of their net worth.
The legislation also bars lawsuits in Ohio that have already been barred in other states under statute of limitations rules. This much-needed provision will curb the practice of “venue shopping” by out-of-state trial attorneys searching for plaintiff-friendly Ohio jurisdictions in which to file their lawsuits. The bill further helps Ohio employers by protecting them against frivolous litigation filed for certain lawful products that were designed, marketed, and labeled in accordance with federal regulations.
The mission of the Institute for Legal Reform is to make America’s legal system simpler, fairer and faster for everyone. It seeks to promote civil justice reform through legislative, political, judicial and educational activities at the national, state and local levels. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is the world’s largest business federation, representing more than three million businesses and organizations of every size, sector and region.