Monday, February 13, 2012

Minnesota's Governor Dayton Vetoes Litigation Reform Bills

Last Friday, Governor Mark Dayton vetoed four GOP-sponsored litigation reform bills that had been approved by the Minnesota House and Minnesota Senate. We previously posted about these bills, which were aimed at limiting litigation costs and which were the first bills to reach the Governor’s desk this legislative session. Had they passed, the bills would have: (1) reduced the statute of limitations for filing a lawsuit; (2) limited the recovery of attorney’s fees by successful claimants; (3) created stronger appeal rights to challenge a case being designated as a class action; and (4) reduced the interest rate on monetary judgments not paid while the case is still in the court system.
Minnesota House Speaker Kurt Zellers, R-Maple Grove, has been quoted in the press stating that the GOP does not plan to give up on the proposed legislation. Governor Dayton’s reaction to the proposed bills, however, makes clear that Minnesotans will continue to see a bipartisan battle on this and other fronts. In vetoing the bills, Dayton described the legislation as the product of special interest groups and called the GOP “too extreme to lead,” echoing a similar comment he made in January after Minnesota Republican senators fired his appointee of the Public Utilities Commission. In turn, the GOP is claiming that 62,000 business owners backed the proposed legislation and that the reforms were indirect job bills that would have improved Minnesota’s business climate.
While the litigation reform bills are dead for now, we will watch with interest to see if the debate on tort reform continues and whether Governor Dayton and the legislature are able to make any progress in reaching any meeting of the minds this session.

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