There is only one reason for politicians to try to restrict fees plaintiff lawyers can charge, and that is to make it harder for consumers to sue businesses and insurance companies. When these frivolous bills are proposed there is never a matching provision to limit how much a corporation or insurance company can pay their lawyers. This is strictly a one-sided proposal to keep consumers from hiring the best lawyers. Here is a report on the most recent state to try this tactic, Oklahoma:
Oklahoma House Approves Contingency Fee Cap
The AP (2/19, Talley) reports, “The Oklahoma House narrowly approved legislation Wednesday that would ask voters to lower the cap on contingency fees charged by trial attorneys, a proposal opponents described as politically divisive and an unconstitutional infringement on Oklahomans’ right to freely enter into contracts.” It “would limit contingency fees assessed by trial lawyers on damage awards to their clients at 33 percent of the first $1 million recovered and 20 percent on higher awards.” Opponents of the bill “accused Republican supporters of using the issue as a political wedge to raise campaign funds for their re-election and to try to compel Gov. Brad Henry to sign other pending legislation that would make a variety of changes in the state’s civil justice system.”
The Oklahoma City Journal Record (2/19, Francis-Smith) reports that Oklahoma’s Democratic Party is “gearing up for a grass-roots, door-to-door battle over tort reform.” The Republican majority in both the state Senate and House of Representatives are “pushing hard for tort reform,” but Democratic Gov. Brad Henry is “unwilling to sign a bill containing hard caps on damages.” Ivan Holmes, chairman of the Oklahoma Democratic Party, said “the Republicans trying to destroy the effectiveness of lawyers in Oklahoma” because “lawyers have been good to the Democratic Party.”
From the American Association for Justice news release.