There seems to be a constant effort by the insurance industry and their friends in state and federal government to “fix” the system justice system. These proposals are part of a planned scheme‚ called “Tort Reform”‚ to limit insurance companies’ exposure to paying injured people full value for their claims. The most recent example is taking place in Oklahoma‚ where the Republicans in the state legislature–led by a former medical malpractice defense attorney–are trying to pass as many different changes to current law as they can. Not surprisingly‚ while all the proposals are favorable to the insurance companies‚ they are also all detrimental to protecting and compensating the general public.
Now‚ here comes a new report and possible effort to reform the civil justice system. However‚ the source of this report is from an association of personal injury attorneys–those who represent injured people.
This report‚ described in this AP news story‚ recommends major changes in the civil justice system in the way that courts hear civil lawsuits. The reasoning behind these suggestions is that the current system drags out disputes unnecessarily by demanding irrelevant and hard-to-find information through the “discovery” process where the parties are able to request information from one another.
Focusing on the federal civil justice system‚ the authors of the report point out that the federal discovery rules (which are very similar to state discovery rules) are out of date because they were created in the 1930s. Accordingly‚ they were written for a time when the volume of documents were much smaller than they are today in an age of e-mail communication. Major corporations are now hiring personnel merely to manage their document systems if they ever get sued to ensure they can‚ in the possible future‚ comply with federal discovery statutes.
In addition to updating the view of electronic discovery management in the federal discovery rules‚ the report also suggests creating new specific requirements for expert witness testimony‚ making sure a judge handles a case from beginning to end‚ and giving the judges the power to order mediation in some cases.