Tort Reform in Mississippi

WSJ, via Libertarian Leanings:

One of the worst places, in
term of frivolous lawsuits, was Jefferson County. It became renowned as
the lawsuit capital of the country, with more plaintiffs than
residents. This is the infamous county where one pharmacist was named
in more than 1,000 lawsuits. In one legendary case against a
pharmaceutical company that sold the diet pill Pondimin (part of the
weight-loss combination known as fen-phen, which was later banned), a
Jefferson County jury awarded $1 billion to the family of a woman who
had taken the drug.

But four years ago, Mississippi transformed itself
from judicial hell hole to job magnet, a story that is instructive for
other states trying to attract jobs in turbulent economic times. The
lessons here are especially timely, because the pro-growth tort reform
trend that was once spreading across the country may soon reverse

Almost overnight, the flow
of lawsuits began to dry up and businesses started to trickle in.
Federal Express invested $1 billion in a new facility in the state.
Toyota chose Mississippi over about a dozen other states for a new $1.2
billion, 2,000-worker auto plant. The auto maker has stipulated that
the company would pull up stakes if the tort reforms were overturned by
the legislature or activist judges.

That hasn't happened. About 60,000 new jobs have
arrived in four years "“ not a small number in a workforce of about 1.3
million "“ and a sharp improvement from the 30,000 jobs lost in the four
years before Mr. Barbour took office. Since the law took effect, the
number of medical malpractice lawsuits has fallen by nearly 90%, which
in turn has cut malpractice insurance costs by 30% to 45%, depending on
the county.


  1. Dave:

    There is, perhaps coincidentally, a long article in the New Yorker profiling Dickie Scruggs, the originator of many of Jefferson County's tort abuses. The article is not yet online, however, it is well worth reading, even if it does contain much of the liberal viewpoint on class action suits. It provides some interesting insight into the insular nature of Mississippi's legal community.

  2. John Moore:

    And sadly, I saw a report on local (Phoenix) TV that our state is short on doctors because of high malpractice costs. I guess we need tort reform too. Not likely under Janet.

  3. dorkey:

    Mississippi tort reform legislation signed into law Dec. Forbids out-of-state lawyers to advertise in Mississippi "for the purpose of soliciting prospective clients" for civil litigation there unless they first associate local counsel to be actively involved in the lawsuit. However, the new law permits law firms that have members not licensed in Mississippi to advertise in the state if a majority of the firm's lawyers are members of The Mississippi Bar.

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