Senate Majority Leader Harvey Peeler is saying that tort reform is one of the big movers right now for Republicans in the upper chamber. In a recent column, Peeler said, “In order to retain our current businesses like Boeing and attract new ones to the state, it I critical for our state to ensure a fair and predictable legal climate. […] It is simply about protecting businesses from people trying to make a quick buck when they see a business with perceived deep pockets to plunder.”
Organizations that document the legal climate across states for businesses tend to put South Carolina on the edge between fairly good and slipping into the back of the back, when it comes to issues like tort reform. It would seem rather odd that this is the case, since the state is and has always been a conservative place. However, Southern trial lawyers became a national stereotype because they were very good at what they did, and that includes large judgments for plaintiffs.
During this session, Peeler has said that the voters made a firm decision on Election Day and they want reforms, want them quickly and now is the time to act to bring in more jobs. “We have a lot of ailing, rural counties in our state, and giving businesses every chance to start up, expand and hire more workers should be a top priority — not only in our present circumstance, but in every circumstance,” he said.
Currently, there are two bills in the Senate called the “South Carolina Fairness in Civil Justice Act of 2011.” One is S. 22, which is Peeler’s bill. It has been sent to the Judiciary Committee. The other bill is S. 23, chief sponsored by Sen. Larry Martin, which is currently in subcommittee. The House version, H. 3375, is expected to be taken up by the full House this week.