Tort Reform in Mississippi
The WSJ has an interesting piece on tort reform today. I'm not very familiar with the subject, but what they report seems encouraging:
Prior to the legislation, Mississippi was known as the "jackpot justice capital of America." The American Tort Reform Association had labeled certain jurisdictions "judicial hellholes." A survey of more than 1,200 senior in-house counsels for the U.S. Chamber Commerce ranked Mississippi 50th in virtually every category of judicial system nationwide. Insurance companies were fleeing the state. Others were refusing to write new policies. The medical field was particularly strained: Liability insurance was in many cases unaffordable, and in some cases unavailable.
One year later, the story is very different. Mass Mutual Insurance Group, St. Paul Travelers, World Insurance Co. and Equitable Life Insurance Co. are returning to Mississippi. State Farm Insurance eased its growth restrictions for homeowners' insurance and lowered its rates on property insurance.
The Medical Assurance Company of Mississippi, which writes 60% of the medical malpractice coverage for doctors in the state, had raised its rates 20% the year prior to the tort reform legislation. After its passage, MACM did not raise its rates at all. "Those people who said tort reform would not work and actively fought any civil justice reform," Mississippi Insurance Commissioner George Dale said. "I think this indicates they were wrong." MACM also recently announced an end to its moratorium on new business; it also just declared it will cut its rates for 2006.