Thursday, May 20, 2004

House Republicans delay vote on personal injury bill

The Associated Press

COLUMBUS - House Republicans have delayed until after Election Day a vote on a bill limiting injured Ohioans' right to sue, the House Judiciary Committee chairman said.

The decision reflects lawmakers' wishes to take as much time as needed on an important issue, Rep. Scott Oelslager, a Canton Republican, said Wednesday.

House Speaker Larry Householder announced the vote decision at an internal meeting for GOP representatives earlier this month, Oelslager said. The delay was reported by the (Cleveland) Plain Dealer Wednesday.

While Householder, a Glenford Republican, has been critical of trial lawyers - who oppose the bill - he received $65,755 in campaign contributions from trial lawyers last year, the newspaper reported.

The legislation would cap pain-and-suffering awards for Ohioans injured by defective products at $1 million for the worst injuries. It would also crack down on frivolous lawsuits and limit the length of time people have to file a personal injury lawsuit.

Oelslager said lawmakers need to take as much time as possible debating a bill that some see as restricting people's right to a jury trial.

The Senate passed the bill last year but has watched in frustration as Oelslager refused to move quickly.

"You're talking about legislation that's going to affect 10 million Ohioans, and it doesn't hurt anything to take a complete and thorough review of legislation that's going to have that kind of impact," said Householder spokesman Dwight Crum.

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