State Sen. Julie Daniels (R-Bartlesville) continues her attack on injured Oklahomans. She authored Senate Joint Resolution 40, which could arbitrarily cap pain and suffering damages in civil cases at $350,000. This bill would seek to change the State’s Constitution. The bill passed the Senate 26-16 and now heads to the House of Representatives.
However, a similar cap from 2011 was heroically struck down by the Oklahoma Supreme Court because the law treated people who survive injuries differently than those who do not. Our Legislature should seek to treat all Oklahomans equally and fairly, in alignment with the State’s Constitution.
But this bill isn’t about injured Oklahomans. SJR 40 is backed by out-of-state insurance companies and big businesses seeking to limit the financial consequences of wrongdoing. The 7th Amendment gives injured Oklahomans the right to have a jury decide their damages based upon a detailed presentation of facts. However, a judge can limit the verdict if the jury goes too far. SJR 40 is an unfair, one-size-fits-all limit. Imagine the pain and mental suffering of a child burned and permanently disfigured being worth only $350,000.
I invite Sen. Daniels to the courthouse to look injured Oklahomans in the eyes and tell them big business is more important than the lost limbs, burned bodies, paralyzed legs and the altered lives they now have to live.
What’s popular is not always what’s right, Senator. The people elected you, not big business. Protect the people. Abide by the State’s Constitution. Protect Oklahomans.
James J. Biscone is an attorney with Johnson & Biscone. His practice focuses on personal injury, workers’ compensation, and Social Security Disability.