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Don’t be fooled by the Oklahoman’s Tort Reform Editorial from April Fool’s Day, aimed to further distort the facts regarding Oklahoma ‘s Civil Justice System. Cited is a study from the Pacific Research Institute, a right-wing mouthpiece which also trumpets that global warming is a hoax and that the war in Iraq is a gleaming success. Instead of rhetoric, let’s talk facts.

According to the Oklahoma Supreme Court, medical malpractice lawsuits are down 60% since July 2003, in our eight largest counties. PLICO, the largest insurer of physicians in Oklahoma , saw a 36% reduction in costs in 2005 and a dramatic reduction in claims. In fact, PLICO had a net income of $21 million the first 6 months of 2006 and did not raise its rates. Most importantly, Oklahoma medical malpractice premiums are lower than 5 neighboring states, including Texas , which has already implemented sweeping pro-business tort reforms. Further, payouts of lawsuits are, on average, less than 1% of personal health care expenditures in Oklahoma .

So whose rights do you support? The rights of Oklahomans to have a jury of Oklahomans award damages on a case-by-case basis? Or the rights of big insurance/big business to lobby laws limiting damages in all cases and slamming the courthouse door shut for Oklahomans? Tort reform equals more profits for insurance, at the expense of individual rights.

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