Minnesota officials oppose tort legislation aimed at insurance industry

A proposed law in Minnesota could raise the cost of insurance premiums.

A coalition of county commissioners from across Minnesota this week submitted their formal opposition to a proposed law they said would grant wealthy trial lawyers a pay raise at the expense of the state's families and businesses.

Opponents of the bill said its passage would drive insurance companies to raise premiums on auto insurance and other insurance products, hurting the rate payers of the state.

The bill in question, before the Minnesota state senate, would grant personal injury lawyers- on behalf of their clients - damages and attorney fees from insurance companies that are over and above what is already allowed under law, according to the county commissioners.

"This proposal creates yet another incentive for wealthy attorneys to file questionable lawsuits against insurance companies," said commissioner Bill Pulkrabek of the Washington County Board of Commissioners. "Moreover, it places Minnesota insurance law well outside the American mainstream."

Currently, states use the widely accepted "American rule," under which each party pays for its own fees and costs, except in proven cases of bad faith on the part of the insurer.

In an open letter to Minnesota state senators, Pulkrabek and 14 other signatories urged the legislative body to reject the bill, calling it "a pay increase for wealthy trial lawyers paid for by Minnesota consumers."

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Posted: April 28, 2009

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