In what historians may refer to as the “Lazarus session,” Governor Mary Fallin called the Oklahoma legislature into special session to develop and pass legislation designed to reinstate the wide-ranging tort reforms rejected by the Oklahoma Supreme Court just three months ago (see blog post of June 4, 2013). The new legislation was passed in September by wide margins. All of the bills were signed into law by the Governor on September 10, 2013.
This special legislation effectively reinstates every aspect of tort reform rejected by the Oklahoma Supreme Court with the exception of the law that called for an “affidavit of merit” to be filed with every Petition alleging professional negligence. The Oklahoma Supreme Court took issue with the law’s application to only a subclass of negligence. The legislature now defines as requiring an “affidavit of merit” any lawsuit that alleges any negligence and that requires the testimony of an expert witness to establish negligence. In other words, professional negligence.
Some of the bills were passed as emergency legislation, causing them to take effect the day after signature — September 11, 2013. Two of the bills (affidavit of merit and statutory adoption of Daubert expert witness standard) are on the conventional track and will take effect in December 2013.