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Opening Arguments

Losers pay

That darn Mike Pence is bringing up tort reform even though he didn't say a single thing about it during the campaign. No fair, no fair!

You won’t find tort reform in Gov.-elect Mike Pence’s “road map,” the agenda he laid out in his campaign.

Nor did Pence spend time as a candidate talking about making the losing side in all civil court actions pay all the legal costs.

But that, apparently, is among the issues he will pursue in the legislature.

State Sen. Mike Delph, R-Carmel, said he filed Senate Bill 88 at the request of the incoming Pence administration.

[. . .]

Sen. John Broden, a South Bend Democrat and attorney who serves on the Senate Judiciary Committee, where the bill has been assigned, said the bill, if it became law, would represent a “seismic shift” in the judicial system.

“For it to be part of the governor’s agenda but having never uttered one word about it on the campaign trail is disconcerting,” Broden said.

Now, it's wrong for a candidate to make campaign promises he doesn't intend to keep. But I don't think you can argue that he's not allowed to pursue actions he didn't happen to mention during the campaign. I mean, Pence supported tort reform as a member of Congress and he is, after all, a conservative Republican, so it's silly to say this is part of some "hidden" agenda.

As to the merits of this particular reform proposal, I'm not sure. Yes, we want to discourage frivolous lawsuits, but judges in Indiana already have the ability to make people who file meritless cases pay. What we should be careful of is discouraging people from pursuing their right to be heard in court, and an automatic "losers pay" rule (now in effect only in Alaska, apparently) would likely to that.


Tim Zank
Fri, 01/11/2013 - 11:29am

I haven't seen his (Pence) suggestions yet but I would be a huge supporter of loser pays in civil cases. I do't think it would "deter" anyone with a real beef. The way it stands now you can be sued for anything anytime anywhere,  and it's ridiculous.