OKLAHOMA CITY (Legal Newsline) -- Gov. Mary Fallin on Tuesday applauded state lawmakers for quickly passing a series of measures to rewrite Oklahoma's tort reform system.

"I appreciate lawmakers acting quickly to bring our special session to a successful close," the governor said in a statement. "Their efficient work will minimize the costs of the session and save taxpayer dollars."

According to Fallin's office, the House and Senate sent 23 bills related to lawsuit reform to her desk in five business days.

The governor said she will act on them after she and her legal staff has had a chance to review them.

"My thanks go out to our lawmakers for passing these measures that will protect our businesses and our medical community from frivolous lawsuits and skyrocketing legal costs," Fallin said. "It was important to address lawsuit reform immediately and with a singular focus.

"These measures will help to keep jobs in Oklahoma and further our reputation as a business friendly state. They will also help us to attract and retain good doctors and contain medical costs. This is a big win for Oklahomans."

Last month, Fallin issued an executive order calling for a special session to begin Sept. 3.

The executive order called on lawmakers to re-institute components of House Bill 1603, a lawsuit reform package signed into law in 2009.

It was passed with bipartisan support and signed into law by then-Gov. Brad Henry, a Democrat.

In its June 4 opinion, a majority of the Oklahoma Supreme Court said the Comprehensive Lawsuit Reform Act violates the single subject rule in the state constitution and is unconstitutional "logrolling." "Logrolling" is the passing of legislation containing multiple subjects.

The reform package included class action reforms, a cap on appeals bonds, adoption of summary judgment similar to that allowed in federal lawsuits, joint and several liability reforms, product liability reforms, junk science testimony rules, certificates of merit and a cap on non-economic damages.

The law aimed to curb frivolous lawsuits and reduce court costs.

"This bill is unconstitutional and void in its entirety," the Supreme Court's order stated.

Justice Noma Gurich explained that the law's 90 sections do not reflect a common theme.

Fallin, a Republican, called on lawmakers to separate the law into appropriate bills, thus reinstating the policy without violating the single subject rule.

"In the weeks since the court ruled our laws unconstitutional, at least a dozen lawsuits have been reopened against hospitals, doctors and other employers," the governor said in a statement last month.

"As lawmakers, we need to act now to protect our businesses and our medical community from frivolous lawsuits and skyrocketing legal costs."

Fallin said the alternative to a special session would've meant delaying a potential fix for a full year.

From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by email at jessica@legalnewsline.com.

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