McIntyre Law has been following the developments of the Oklahoma Republican Establishment’s attempt to cater to special interests and incorporate sweeping tort reform that effectively closes the courthouse doors for the most injured in our society. For some reason, the Establishment (big business) has appointed Oklahoma State Senator Anthony Sykes, Chair of the Judicial Committee, to carry these bills.
Back in December, we got our first clue Senator Sykes planned on bowing to the foot of his richest donors when he stated in the Duncan Banner that he intended to steer “the state down a path more aligned with Republican values that promote business growth through tort and workmen’s compensation reform.” The statement “Republican values” should be the first clue that Senator Sykes did not intend to adhere to “Conservative values.” For further reading why these bills fail the litmus test of conservatism, please read my blog entitled Damage Caps – Where Do Oklahoma Constitutional Conservatives Stand.
Now, the next curious statement Senator Sykes makes in his December Duncan Banner interview is that his diverse background in law has helped prepare him for the task at hand as chairman of the judiciary committee.
“Very few attorneys in this state have my background,” he said. “I was a former public defender and I defended large corporations. I have run the gamut in terms of experience in law.”
Now as an attorney I hear everything ranging from unbridled arrogance to true Christian humbleness when I talk to clients and politicians. In this instance, we have an arrogant State Senator saying that he has a more diverse background than most attorneys in this state. Well, most attorneys would laugh at this comment as many of us have defended corporations and represented individuals. Senator Sykes statement that few attorneys have his background shows questionable judgment at best. Nonetheless, as you might have already noticed, there is something very important missing from Senator Sykes experience.
Now this is important. Does Senator Sykes mention anywhere in his braggadocios statement that he has represented injured individuals? The answer is NO. Senator Sykes experience practicing law has enabled him to only see one side of the fence. One of the goals of insurance corporate attorneys in a lawsuit is to always minimize damages. They learn as a first year lawyer to question, seed doubt and outright call the injured liars. They do this to reduce the possible economic exposure of their client should a jury render a Plaintiff’s verdict.
So what does Senator Sykes so called “tort reform” bills do? They limit damages in catastrophic injury cases. These bills do nothing to curve so called frivolous lawsuits as each and every bill addresses the end result which is Plaintiffs jury verdict. Senator Sykes and the corporate puppet handlers that are pulling his strings could care less about limiting “frivolous lawsuits.” Their go is to limit the exposure in catastrophic injury cases. In doing such, they place an artificially low number of the value of a life and thus they can arm themselves with the ability to forgo safety in lieu of profits.
Frankly, Senator Sykes has shown himself incapable of using rational judgment in creating tort laws that equally benefit both parties. Everything he has drafted is for the Defendant and the Defendant only. What happened to representation of the people?