Letter shows state needs tort reform

Published 12:00 am Monday, May 31, 2004

Mississippi apparently lost a major car manufacturer thanks to the poor legal climate that can hurt businesses large and small.

Toyota, which considered building a plant in Mississippi, stayed away from the state because of its legal climate, according to a letter Gov. Haley Barbour began circulating this week.

Now Rep. Ed Blackmon, an opponent of the civil justice reforms Barbour backs, says the letter simply paints a picture of the state that isn’t true.

Email newsletter signup

But perhaps Blackmon, a trial lawyer, isn’t seeing the same Mississippi many of the rest of us are.

Losing a major business like Toyota isn’t the only problem with the lack of civil justice reform.

What about the many small businesses &045; businesses built in Mississippi by natives of this state &045; that are often just one lawsuit away from closing?

Perhaps Blackmon is forgetting about the small Fayette drug store that was hit time and again by diet drug lawsuits just so big-time trial lawyers could file their claims in Jefferson County.

If Barbour’s circulation of the letter from Toyota is a tactic to get folks to pay attention to the need for tort reform, we’re glad to see it. Mississippi residents &045; and, more important, lawmakers &045; need to know just how harmful our lack of civil justice laws can hurt us.

On Tuesday, a Senate vote revived tort reform efforts for the current legislative session, but we still aren’t holding our breath to see any action this time around. If lawmakers do not pass any bills, Barbour needs to put his money where his mouth is and call a special session to address the issue.