Dale says state needs tort, judicial reforms

Published 5:00 am Wednesday, July 31, 2002

The insurance industry is changing rapidly, but changes thatInsurance Commissioner George Dale would like to see involve tortreform and judicial reform.

Dale, state insurance commissioner since 1976, touched on thereform issues Tuesday while speaking to the Brookhaven LionsClub.

The commissioner said justice has to be fair for the little man,but it also must not be against businesses and their desire to bein Mississippi. With judges having to raise campaign funds fortheir races, Dale said that gives the perception that justice is”for sale.”

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“Not only is tort reform needed, but some kind of judiciaryreform is also needed,” Dale said.

Dale said the state’s legal climate was one of four factorsdriving the cost of insurance in the state. Others includedinsurance companies’ underwriting practices, companies’ investmentactivities and re-insurance for companies in the wake of Sept.11.

“The pendulum has swung, in my opinion, too much to the side ofthe plaintiff and away from the side of business and being asobjective as it should be,” Dale said.

Dale said 71 insurance providers had notified his office thatthey will no longer offer insurance or a certain line of insurancein the state. That has had an impact on various areas of the statewhere doctors and others are struggling to find insurance.

“When they can find liability insurance, the cost of it is outof sight,” Dale said.

Dale also commented on the media’s role in promoting plaintifflawsuits. He mentioned the movie “Erin Brokovich” and books by JohnGrisham.

“It’s OK for entertainment, but it’s not the way to make policyor law,” Dale said.