Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Open Door Policy - Feb. 24, 2009

It has been a very busy week at the Capitol. We have had several controversial pieces of legislation come to the floor of the House of Representatives. One in particular I want to point out is House Bill 1602. The House debated this legislation which would place a cap on attorney fees collected by reducing the amount from 50% to 33% that can be collected.
While this sounds like a great opportunity for the plaintiffs to receive money that they deserve in a lawsuit, the problem arises when one side has a restriction on what they can claim in costs against the other side (the insurance companies) that are not limited in an amount for defense. This bill allows insurance companies to drag out cases; force up costs on hours billed and, if the judge does their job and limits the amount of the settlement, prevents the plaintiff from receiving the best representation due to the possibility of spending more than can be collected because of the cap.
In essence, people will not be able to find attorneys that will spend the money up front on costly cases with expert paid witnesses when they know the case will not bring back a profit, while the insurance companies will be able to drag out cases. This happened with my father in a truck wreck many years ago when the insurance company threatened to drag out his lawsuit for several years and forced him to settle his case since his attorney would cost more over that time. This did not allow for proper medical coverage later in his life as part of the settlement. I feel this restricts a fair judicial hearing and I could not support it.
I had the chance to visit with three young ladies from District 65 at the Oklahoma School of Science and Math on Tuesday. Juliet, Nadine and Kasandra discussed educational issues they face and provided me a better insight on their school.
I also had a nice surprise on Monday as I received an award at the annual Oklahoma Conservation Districts banquet. I have served for seven sessions now and this was my first recognition from organizations that work for causes at the Capitol. The inaugural "Big Hugh" award, was given by the Oklahoma Conservation Commission to four legislators this year. This is named after Hugh Hammond Bennett, recognized as the "Father of Soil Conservation" by his peers. I received this for being a champion of conservation issues in Oklahoma for bills I have authored and debate I have given on issues important to preserving water and soil for our future Oklahomans. I felt greatly honored to be recognized by them.
It is an honor to represent your views at the State Capitol. If you wish to contact me and discuss one of these or another issue, I can be reached at my office in Oklahoma City toll-free at 1-800-522-8502, or directly at 1-405-557-7305. My e-mail address is joedorman@okhouse.gov at work. My mailing address is PO Box 559, Rush Springs, OK 73082 and my website is http://www.joedorman.com/ on the Internet. Thank you for taking time to read this column and I look forward to seeing you soon.

Trent Drennan, Ralph Morgan, Sen. Ron Justice, Rep. Joe Dorman and Dee Surber at the Oklahoma Conservation Districts banquet. Justice and Dorman were two of four recipients of the "Big Hugh" Award

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