Chances are you periodically hear talk in the news about “tort reform.” When it does come up, you often will hear accompanying controversy. Many people do not understand what tort reform is, or what a tort even is, for that matter. They certainly do not understand whether Ohio’s “tort reform” is in the best interest of the people, especially victims of sexual abuse.
A tort is any action or inaction that harms another person or corporation. The purpose of tort law is to give the injured party the means to recover from those injuries by placing the responsibility of the victims’ losses on the party who created the injuries in the first place.
Typically, when someone is hurt in an accident or is the victim of a crime, the victim will ask for damages in the form of monetary compensation. These damages are designed to compensate the victim for their pain and suffering, property damage, wage loss, and medical expenses that they sustained as a result of the accident.
In general, there are three, different main categories of a tort, per the Legal Information Institute (LII):
- Intentional torts: these are cases where the harm was intentional, such as rape.
- Negligent torts: this is where the harm was due to the carelessness, such as in a car or truck accident.
- Strict liability torts: this tort is liability for products that are defective.
The goal of tort reform is to place strict limits on the amount of compensation that a victim can receive of course. There are no limits on what big businesses can recover when harmed. Tort reform is promoted by the insurance industry and big business to increase profits and discourage the accountability of those who cause harm by limiting the rights of people.
Limits on Tort Reform
The injuries that persons suffer sometimes cause lifelong pain and suffering. With limits placed on damages by tort reform, there is less incentive for attorneys to take on cases, especially when working on a contingency-fee-basis only. Tort reform discourages accountability.
Investigating and litigating accidents and other types of harm can be costly, especially when law firms must hire professionals like experts. Tort reform laws vary from one state to the next, but may include:
- Limits on punitive damages (punishment)
- Limitations on non-economic damages like pain and suffering
With limited exceptions, Ohio places a cap of $250,000 on pain and suffering. While that may sound like a substantial sum, it is not because inclusive of attorney fees and expenses, litigation expenses alone can cost $50,000, $75,000, or even $100,000, depending upon the complexity of the case. And then you have to deduct attorney fees on cases that often take years to resolve.
Ohio’s tort reform law is particularly extreme. One example is a case handled by The Fitch Law Firm, Jessica Simpkins v. Delaware Grace Brethren Church.
During a counseling session in March 2008, Brian Williams, a pastor, twice raped Jessica Simpkins. Simpkins sued, alleging that the Delaware Church’s negligent hiring practices resulted in the rapes. During the trial, two women testified that while they were teenagers, Williams had inappropriately touched them and made sexual comments to them. One witness testified that a Delaware Church official said, “let’s keep this quiet to protect our brother.”
The jury awarded Simpkins $3.5 million in pain and suffering.
However, under Ohio’s 2005 tort reform law, the $3.5 million was reduced by the trial court to $250,000 for two rapes, inclusive of attorney fees and expenses. The upshot is that Ohio’s “tort reform” protects the financial interest of a broad range of bad people—even those who rape a child and their enablers.
If you or a loved one is hurt or suffering because of the negligence or intentional wrongdoing of another party, you have the right to hold them liable. For a free review of your case, contact the Fitch Law Firm LLC today at (614) 545-3930.