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House OKs Changes to Civil Lawsuit Payouts (Mar 29, 2011)

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — A key component of a Republican-sponsored plan to overhaul the state's civil justice system has been passed by the House.

The House voted mostly along party lines Tuesday for a bill to eliminate the concept of "joint and several liability." The proposal prevents defendants in civil cases from having to pay judgments that exceed what they were actually responsible for.

Opponents say the bill will prevent injured Oklahomans from being properly compensated for their damages. Supporters say it will reduce costs for businesses and doctors.

Another bill approved in the House requires jurors in civil cases to be notified that damage awards are not subject to federal or state income tax.

Overhauling the state's civil justice system is a top priority of Republican Gov. Mary Fallin.

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