Business Backed Tort Reform Passes General Assembly

The Senate finally gave approval to the South Carolina Fairness in Civil Justice Act last Tuesday. Over the past two weeks, Senators Larry Martin (Pickens) and Brad Hutto (Orangeburg) have worked closely with the business community and plaintiff lawyers to reach a compromise. H.3375 (Harrell) now heads to Governor Nikki Haley who has been vocal in her support of the legislation.
The agreement caps punitive damages that are greater than $500k or three times the compensatory damages awarded. If it is found that the defendant was motivated primarily by financial gain, or the defendant’s actions rise to the level of felony charges, then the award can be increased to the greater of $2 million or four times compensatory damages. If it is proven that the defendant intended to harm the claimant, was convicted of a felony arising out of the same act, or acted under the influence of drugs or alcohol, then the $2 million cap would not apply.
The bill also provides that insurers must disclose limits of individual automobile coverage when a claimant requests the information. This will prevent claimants from having to bring suit in order to receive disclosure of limits. Please click these links for additional details: H.3375 Bullet Summary and Civil Justice 2011 Summary.

06-07-2011 05:08 (EDT)