“We can’t be the best place in the country to do business with an unbalanced judicial system,” Clark said. “It’s time to do something about it.”

Clark also cited soaring auto insurance and medical malpractice insurance premiums in Georgia brought on by huge jury awards. He said a rash of “runaway” jury verdicts in the past year has prompted three auto insurance carriers to pull out of Georgia, while many health-care providers have turned to Europe for malpractice insurance.

But opponents of tort reform say business groups have manufactured a “lawsuit crisis” to convince lawmakers to pass reform legislation, exaggerating the problem by cherry-picking cases.

Madeleine Simmons, president of the Georgia Trial Lawyers Association, said civil lawsuit trials in Georgia require 12 jurors to reach a unanimous verdict in order for the trial judge to sign off on a verdict.

“In today’s political climate, if 12 strangers can agree on anything, it is nothing short of a miracle,” Simmons said. “The American jury system has proven to be the bedrock of our democracy, and Georgia’s civil justice system is no exception.”

Clark said the Georgia Chamber’s top priorities during the upcoming General Assembly session will include legislation doing away with “premise liability,” where property owners can be sued for crimes committed on their properties that they had nothing to do with, and prohibiting so-called “direct action” lawsuits in which insurance companies can be sued directly rather than the insured party.


“We’re one of only two states in the nation that allow direct action,” he said. “Let’s be in line with other states. We don’t want people [venue] shopping where Georgia is a target.”

 The Georgia Chamber will have a new ally in 2024 in the fight for tort reform. A newly formed nonprofit coalition called Competitive Georgia unveiled late last month is vowing to champion the issue during the upcoming session.