Center for America

State Profiles

 
 

South Carolina

 

South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford Signs Tort Reform Bill
Greenville, S.C. - March 21, 2005 - Joined by House Speaker David Wilkins, State Sen. Larry Martin, State Reps. Harry Cato and Herb Kirsh and numerous other legislators and business advocates, Gov. Mark Sanford signed into law H. 3008, a business tort reform bill that will substantially upgrade South Carolina's civil justice system and make South Carolina more competitive.  View H. 3008 (pdf)   See Full Story

South Carolina’s Tort Reform Success Story

by Cam Crawford, Executive Director,

South Carolinians for Tort Reform

April 22, 2005

Three years ago, no one believed that meaningful tort reform was possible in South Carolina. Yet, on March 21, Governor Sanford signed H.3008 into law. What changed the environment to win reform in South Carolina?

 

First, South Carolinians for Tort Reform (SCTR) spent two and a half years pushing the tort reform issue learning from our mistakes and fine-tuning our message. We narrowed the tort reform issues from 14 to 4 that focused on the issues that were giving South Carolina a “black eye” on the national scene. For example, Hampton County, South Carolina was rated the third worst Judicial Hellhole by the American Tort Reform Foundation; South Carolina was one of only ten states not to have modified their joint and several liability doctrine. Only two insurance companies were writing general liability insurance for homebuilders in our state due in part because of South Carolina’s 13 year statute of repose.

 

In addition, coordinating with the South Carolina Medical Association, we made a strategic decision to separate the medical malpractice issue from the general tort reform issue. This proved to be sound strategy with both bills passing this year. SCTR elected to use a strategy of “targeted media management” instead of the shotgun blast approach in order to get our message across to the public. 

                                         

 

                                           Read Cam's Op-Ed

 

 
South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford to Sign Tort Reform Bill
March 18 - Gov. Mark Sanford will be joined by Speaker of the House David Wilkins, State Sen. Larry Martin and other members of the South Carolina General Assembly in Greenville this Monday (March 21, 2005) as he signs H. 3008, which brings meaningful tort reform to South Carolina. View H. 3008 (pdf)

What does this bill mean for South Carolina?

 

H. 3008 as adopted:


1) Provided a 50% threshold on joint and several liability. A defendant has to be 50% at fault to be required to pay 100% of the damages. A defendant less than 50% at fault only pays his percentage of liability.

2) Venue reform - lawsuits can only be brought where the most substantial part of the action arose or the defendants principal place of business, unless it's a foreign corporation with no ties to SC or a non resident defendant which have an additional option of the
plaintiff's residence.

3) Statute of Repose - reduced from 13 years to 8 years.

4) Post Judgment Interest Rates reduced from 12% to prime plus 4%

5) Frivolous Lawsuits sanctions lawyers and parties bringing frivolous claims including reporting lawyers to the Commission on Lawyers Conduct and requires the Supreme Court to keep a public record of frivolous sanctions.

6) Makes using a nickname in lawyer advertising a violation of the Unfair Trade Practices Act.

Want to know more? Click here

SC Supreme Court Decision Should Reduce Forum Shopping in Third Worst "Judicial Hellhole"

February 2 —The Supreme Court of South Carolina issued a decision that should reduce forum shopping in the state and reign in the rapidly increasing number of cases filed in Judicial Hellhole Hampton County. In a unanimous decision, the Court adopted the position urged by the American Tort Reform Association (ATRA) in its amicus brief, ruling that a corporate defendant resides where it has an office and agent for the transaction of corporate business.  The Supreme Court also reaffirmed a trial court's traditional discretion to transfer a case when it serves the convenience of witnesses and the interests of justice. The case, originally filed in Hampton County, was remanded to Greenwood County. ATRA was joined by the South Carolina Chamber of Commerce in filing the brief.

 

The 2004 Judicial Hellholes report ranked Hampton County the third worst jurisdiction in the United States. Litigation tourists, guided by their personal injury lawyer travel agents, file their cases in Judicial Hellholes because they know they will receive a favorable award or precedent, or both.

 

The number of lawsuits filed in Hampton County has nearly doubled in the last five years. Sixty-seven percent of cases filed in Hampton County in 2002 were filed by residents from other counties and other states.  Download ATRA News Release

 

   

 

If you know of or have authored an article or report that deserves recognition among corporate and public policy leaders, please send an email to LegalReform@lawexec.com.  Original material © 2005 Center for America.

 

 

 Legal Reform Partners and Resources in South Carolina

 

South Carolina Chamber

 

 

Special Feature:

South Carolina’s Tort Reform Success Story

 Cam Crawford, Executive Director, South Carolinians for Tort Reform writes about the recent passage of meaningful tort reform bill (H.3008) in South Carolina, and the key efforts from leaders around the state to make it happen.

    April 22, 2005

Read Cam's Op-Ed

 

Resources

 

State Government Profile

 

State Tort Law Profile

 

Governor's Website

 

Senate Website

 

House Website

 

Attorney General Website