State Commerce Secretary weighed into the ongoing tort and workers' comp reform efforts this afternoon, publicly endorsing legislation that would help address both issues, by reining in frivilous legal actions against employers. He pointed out what those of us in economic and workforce development know all to well:
Moving workers' compensation reform and tort reform forward now would strenghten our businese environment and thus increase our competitiveness. While numerous factors influence a company's location decision, we have found that fundamental issues like tort laws and workers' compensation play a key role in every location decision.
Speaking as someone in the HR realm, I've seen enough frivilous actions by current and former employees to last a lifetime, but often got paid because the cost of going to trial was far more than paying them (both claimants and their attorneys) to go away.
Cam Crawford with the S.C. Civil Justice Coalition, one of the leaders on this issue, praised Taylor's move:
The South Carolina business community agrees with Secretary of Commerce Joe Taylor that tort laws and workers' compensation play a key role in every location decision. We feel that a reasonable limit on punitive damages is essential to improving our business climate. The majority of states in the Southeast have limits on punitive damages but not South Carolina. This is unacceptable if we are serious about economic development.
Two bills on this issue are moving forward: House Bill 3489, the “Damage Awards Fairness Act” and Senate Bill 350, the “Civil Fairness in Civil Justice Act”. While both bills have a large number of sponsors, the primary sponsors are House Speaker Bobby Harrell and Senator Larry Martin.
A lot of people have been working really hard to push this effort forward, including attorneys, so if you support this reform effort, be sure to give the good guys a pat on the back for their efforts.