Finally, after years of trying, Republicans (and a few Democrats) passed a tort reform package which, in the words of the chairman of the Business Council of Alabama’s Board of Directors, let it be known that “Alabama is open for business.”
Which begs the question, when hasn’t it been?
Although many business groups attacked Alabama courts as “judicial hell holes,” it is hard to see how the fear of lawsuits prevented Gov. Bob Riley from recruiting the companies to Alabama that he did.
Nor has anyone come forward with more than anecdotal evidence to suggest that companies are avoiding our state for fear they might be sued — unless, of course, they plan to do something that could lead to a suit.
Moreover, it can be argued that the primary cause of lawsuits in the state has been the way the Legislature, which has been controlled by Democrats until late last year, has historically catered to the interests of business.
Even before the 1920s when Gov. Bibb Graves decried the influence that the “Big Mules” (agriculture and industry) had on state government and denounced the Legislature for paying scant attention to the needs of working folks, this state has catered to commerce and manufacturing with low taxes, hostility to organized labor and few, if any, environmental regulations.
This left the courts as the only place where citizens can go with their grievances. Now that avenue of redress has been limited.
In congratulating itself for getting tort reform passed, the Business Council of Alabama noted that tort reform will lead to “new businesses and new jobs.”
More likely, however, is that tort reform will simply be added to the list of things the Legislature has done for business which, in the long run, will benefit only business. Anything positive that the general public gets must be viewed in that context.