S.C. chamber chairman targets lawsuit abuse

In a recent column in the State newspaper, Mikee Johnson, chairman of the South Carolina Chamber of Commerce, called on the state Legislature to put an end to frivolous lawsuits and other matters of state law.

Johnson said lawsuit abuse harms citizens and businesses in the state and mentions the possibility of broad responsibilities and legal liability being placed on homeowners and other property owners for individuals occupying the space, a move sought by the American Law Institute. 

Johnson said that if this were to take hold, the forestry and lumber industry, hunting clubs, railroads and industrial facilities could be vulnerable to lawsuits. Johnson said exemptions should be made in cases of unlawful trespass or other "flagrant activity" that results in injury or other incidents leading to civil actions.

One issue Johnson brought attention to was litigation abuse in the case of asbestos lawsuits. Johnson cites a decision from Judge George Hodges in a case against Sealing Technology in Charlotte the previous year. Hodges ruled that the plaintiffs had withheld evidence that gave them an upper hand and the potential to receive more in damages by filing multiple bankruptcy trust claims.

Asbestos exposure has severe health implications that occur long after exposure. Lawsuits resulting from the widespread use of asbestos in the past have led many companies that produced the material into bankruptcy. 

Johnson calls for transparency in these civil cases so that judges and juries can consider everything within a case to ensure the litigation process is fair to both parties. 

"For the good of the Palmetto State’s citizens, the Legislature must make tort reform a priority this year and pass this common-sense legislation." Johnson said

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