Mississippi, at long last, has some form of meaningful tort reform.
Under provisions of the new law, which will take effect in January 2003:
• A cap of $500,000 will be placed on non-economic damages.
• Venue shopping by plaintiffs’ attorneys has been reined in. Lawsuits will have to be filed in the counties where the alleged malpractice took place.
• Frivolous litigation over FDA-approved drugs will be limited.
These changes, and others included in the reform measure, should help stabilize the insurance market in which physicians, hospitals and other health care providers must operate, and when that happens, patients will benefit.
And while the medical malpractice reform legislation passed by the state House and Senate and signed by Gov. Ronnie Musgrove last week will help improve the legal climate in the state, much remains to be done.
General civil justice reform is needed if we want to foster economic growth and protect our businesses and industries from meritless lawsuits.
We have moved a few small steps forward in restoring fairness and reason to our courts. What happens in the coming days, however, will be of similar, if not greater, importance to the futures of all Mississippians.