Washington Attorney General Rob McKenna is making a notable suggestion: That Washington's tort laws cost its state government far more than neighbors Oregon and Idaho. That is to say, in relative terms, not just "more than it should . . ."
In a lengthy interview with LegalNewsLine, the Republican attorney general said his state annually pays out ten-times as much in tort settlements than in Idaho, and six-times more than Oregon does.
"There are basically no boundaries or limits on claims that are brought against state taxpayers by a tort claimant," said McKenna, adding that the state has paid out about $500 million in tort claims over the last 25 years.
"That is money that is not available to improve services such as foster care and transportation," he said.
Additional financial strain, he said, is placed on the state by Washington's doctrine of joint and several liability, where even if a co-defendant is found to be as little as 1 percent at fault, a co-defendant can nonetheless be held 100 percent liable for an award if the other co-defendant is found to be an empty pocket.
We're not in the rank of those blaming tort laws for the full range of social ills, but if the laws vary widely state to state, it doesn't take much imagination to see where that will lead an inventor litigator.