OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) Republican House Speaker Todd Hiett's lawsuit reform plan has been approved by a state House committee in a narrow party-line vote.
The approval comes after Democrats called a bad bill that will not provide fair compensation to injured Oklahomans.
Hiett says the bill, which now goes to the GOP-dominated House, is an important step in reducing frivolous lawsuits and ``jackpot judgments'' that physicians have blamed for skyrocketing malpractice insurance costs.
The bill passed the House Judiciary Committee on a partisan 7-6 vote after Speaker Pro Tem Susan Winchester, an ex officio member of all House committees, broke a tie created by the absence of Representative Kevin Calvey who was away on personal business.
The head of the committee, Republican Representative Fred Morgan said the 113-page measure addresses concerns that lawsuits are driving up health care costs and preventing businesses from creating new jobs. He said similar reforms have been adopted in other states.