A San Francisco-based nonprofit organization that supports limiting jury awards against corporations has ranked Nevada near the bottom in the nation for tort reforms.
The Pacific Research Institute ranked Nevada as 36th in the nation for tort costs and litigation risks in its 2008 state-by-state study of tort reform. North Dakota was No. 1 while Florida was last.
Supporters of tort reform seek to cap the amount people can collect in lawsuits because they say the high awards drive up the cost of doing business, among other reasons.
Lawrence McQuillan, director of business and economic studies at the institute, said Nevada has a very high number of auto insurance lawsuits and “slip ‘n’ fall”-type liability lawsuits. But this is offset by medical malpractice cases being brought relatively infrequently and jury award verdicts tending to be smaller.
That may change, however. Recently, health officials sent letters to 40,000 people alerting them to be tested for hepatitis C after it found unsafe medical practices at the Endoscopy Center of Southern Nevada. Some lawsuits against the center have already been filed.
McQuillan said although there are a large number of auto insurance and personal injury lawsuits filed in Nevada, there are relatively few attorneys. He predicted that there are out-of-state attorneys filing complaints in Nevada because they see it as “greener pastures.”
The study grouped states into several categories. “Sinners” like Alabama, New York and Oregon had high lawsuit costs and high risks for litigation. “Saints” were states with strong tort rules on the books and low tort costs. Ohio and Utah were among these.
Nevada was in the “Salvageables” category. This group included states with high tort costs but strong rules on lawsuits, including Texas, Colorado, New Mexico and Michigan.