Nearly everyone has heard the terrible news story about Chad Perry and the bar fight at the Dan O’Briens Restaurant and Pub in Oklahoma City.
Mr. Peery (his attorneys) filed a civil lawsuit earlier this week against the idiots that beat him up, as well as the bar. For those interested, here’s a copy of the Petition. Bob Thomlinson at Thomlinson, Rust, McKinstry & Grable P.C. filed the suit. In addition to the battery claim against Rinken, Smith and Lopez, the suit alleges that the Dan O’Briens pub was negligent.
I’m sure Mr. Thomlinson is well aware of the “tort reform” that went into effect on November 1. That’s likely why the lawsuit was filed on October 31, 2011. Filing the lawsuit after the 31st would have limited Mr. Peery’s right to a civil recovery (but helped the insurance company that insures Dan O’Briens).
Some of the laws that went into effect this week that help insurance companies at the expense of people:
House Bill 2128
- This puts a $350,000 hard cap on non-economic damages in bodily injury cases.
- Note the bill has an exception where the judge and jury find that the tort-feasor’s action to be in reckless disregard of the rights of others, grossly negligent, fraudulent or intentional or with malice. This is obviously a higher standard than negligence, but as to the bar’s liability, it may not be met.
- The law doesn’t apply to wrongful death cases.
- Note that a jury is not told of this limitation. The court is to submit special interrogatories to the jury as to which of the damages are for economic and which are for non-economic damages.
- Also note, Article 7, § 15 of the Oklahoma Constitution (which the insurance company backed bill likes to ignore):
“In all jury trials the jury shall return a general verdict, and no law in force nor any law hereafter enacted, shall require the court to direct the jury to make findings of particular questions of fact”
Senate Bill 862
- This amends that statute 12 O.S. § 15, which provided for joint and several liability on a defendant whose negligence is greater than 50% or whose conduct (or who acted with reckless disregard).
- The new law imposes the risk of insolvency on the innocent victim. The rationale for joint and several liability is that there is an inherent risk in the system that one or more tort-feasors will be insolvent and unable to pay for the damages.
- Does anyone think the idiots that attacked Mr. Peery can pay for the damages? (Note: If the bar is held negligent, this is where the Dan O’Briens insurance policy should kick in).
Senate Bill 865
- This new law requires an instruction to juries that the award for damages for personal injury or wrongful death are not subject to income tax.
House Bill 2023
- This new law limit’s an injured plaintiff’s recovery for the medical bills to the actual amount paid by medicare, medicaid or a health insurance company, rather than the amount charged by the health care provider.
- Any personal injury attorney will tell you that health insurance companies, medicare, and medicaid have a right to subrogation. This means that they have a right to be reimbursed for medical bills that they’ve paid for personal injury lawsuits.
- The sole purpose of this statute (like the others) is to reduce the amount of damages awarded in trials.