Georgia's Sen. Smith Recaps
Georgia State Senator
Preston Smith joined CFA for an exclusive video interview recapping the passage of "the nation's strongest comprehensive civil
justice reform package" and the coalition that made it happen.
Senator Smith speaks
frankly about the connection between the growing crisis of
affordable health care, business growth and tort reform in Georgia.
Smith was the principal author of the tort reform package, which
remarkably, passed the legislature on the 18th day of the
The trial lawyers fought
the bill with a great deal of money and a sophisticated campaign.
One day Sen. Smith found a rubber snake coiled up in his desk,
although it is not clear who put it there.
While in the past Senator
Smith had seen "business interests diverge as we got into the heat
of battle", the success as he describes it can be attributed to the
extraordinary coalition of state and national organizations,
including large and small businesses, the medical community and others. Sen.
Smith adds, "This is not about
doctors versus lawyers." He adds, "This is much larger than
that...this is about our viability as a state to continue
producing jobs and providing a place for people to live and work."
Georgia Speaker Richardson
Speaks Out for Legal Reform
Atlanta, GA -
exclusive video interview, Speaker Glenn Richardson of the
Georgia House of Representatives talks about the passage of
landmark legal reform legislation in their most recent session.
"Businesses are going to start coming to Georgia, and that's
what we want", said the Speaker during his interview. He speaks frankly about the
opposition from the trial bar and why he took on personal
responsibility in his leadership role to pass legal reform in
He speaks from the
heart about the challenges faced by the
House and the Senate as they struggled to find legislative
solutions to specific issues faced by the business community as
a result of old liability laws. You will come away with a
heightened understanding of the political dynamics that will
again play out in other states as they grapple with their legal
Watch Speaker Richardson's Interview
View Speaker Richardson's Bio
Gov. Perdue Appoints Harold
Melton to Chief Justice Vacancy
June 9, 2005- Georgia Gov. Sonny
Perdue (R) today appointed his top legal adviser, Harold
Melton, to the Georgia Supreme Court. Melton, 38, is the
first appointment by a Republican governor to the state’s
highest court in 137 years. He fills the unexpired term of
former Chief Justice Norman Fletcher. Melton will face
re-election in 2008.
Perdue said he sought
a justice who “would defer to the laws passed by the
Legislature, not circumvent the democratic process.”
“Harold Melton best
embodies the personal qualities, conservative principles and
legal ability to serve the people of Georgia on the Supreme
Court,” Perdue said. “Harold, I believe, shares my philosophy
that jurists should apply the laws passed by the legislative
branch, upholding a strict constitutional separation of powers.”
Melton, who has
served as Perdue’s executive counsel for two years, worked as an
assistant attorney general for former Georgia Attorney General
Michael J. Bowers. Georgia Supreme Court justices serve
six-year terms. During Melton’s upcoming tenure, the Georgia
Supreme Court is expected to consider high-profile cases
involving civil justice/tort reform, school funding, and
Georgia’s marriage amendment.
Enacting Civil Justice
Reform: Lessons Learned From Georgia
March 3, 2005
- This year, Georgians win big -- from
multinational corporations to small businesses to consumers and medical
providers and their patients. In mid-February, Governor Sonny Perdue
signed into law one of the nation’s most sweeping omnibus civil justice reform
packages. Stunned, the trial lawyers’ organizations decried the speed at which
the legislation passed and was enacted – less than a month from its introduction
through committees to be passed by both chamber of the Georgia General Assembly
– as a “railroad job.”
For those businesses,
medical providers, consumers, activists and citizens who have
labored in vain for enactment of reasonable civil justice reform
in Georgia, the win in February was the culmination of a
two-decade struggle. The
Foundation, a public interest law firm, the
Georgia Chamber of Commerce,
the state’s vital business community link to government, the
Medical Association of
Georgia, representing the physicians’ interests,
Georgia Hospital Association,
contributed time, resources, attorney insight, and passion to
Major provisions of the omnibus bill
signed into law include elimination of joint and several liability in all cases,
replaced by “proportional share” liability; offer of judgment to encourage
settlement and discourage costly litigation; expert witness reform to the
standard established in the U.S. Supreme Court’s Daubert decision; limits on
liability for non-economic damages in medical malpractice cases to $350,000 per
provider, up to a cap of $1,050,000; raises the standard in cases against
hospital emergency rooms and ER doctors to “gross negligence;” and, unique to
Georgia, allows a co-defendant to move a lawsuit back to his home county if
venue “vanishes” when another defendant is dropped from a lawsuit. Read Full Story
Georgia Governor Perdue Signs
Historic Legal Reform Measure
February 17 --
Governor Perdue signed SB 3 into law, making it the first major
legal reform legislation enacted at the state level in 2005.
After capturing majorities in
the Georgia House and Senate in November for the first time in more
than 100 years, it took the Republican House and Senate leadership less
than six weeks into the new term to put a sweeping legal reform bill
on the Governor's desk for signature. Major provisions of the bill
and several liability in all cases.
apportionment of fault.
Provides for offer of
judgment wherein an offering party may obtain litigation
costs, including attorney's fees, if the final judgment is
not at least 25% more favorable than the offer.
witness rules and includes the Daubert standard in
co-defendant to move the case back to home county if venue
standard in cases against hospital emergency rooms and ER
doctors to "gross negligence".
liability for non-economic damages in med-mal cases to
$350,000 per provider ($1,050,000 total).
healthcare providers to offer statements of apology and
sympathy without threat of statement being used against them
contains a severability clause so that if one or more
sections of the bill is ruled unconstitutional, it will not
void all other provisions of the bill.
House of Representatives
Enacting Civil Justice
Reform: Lessons Learned From Georgia
this feature, Todd Young, Policy Director of
Southeastern Legal Foundation and President of
DecisionMakers, Inc. provides an insider's view of how legal
reform in Georgia, long thought impossible, became a reality in
February. Written especially for our website, this
provides very valuable insights about steps the pro-reform
advocates should take to prepare their case, build coalitions
and get beyond short-sighted bickering to win a legislative
campaign for legal reform.