Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

Coalition advocates for passage of the South Carolina Justice Act

CRBJ Biz Wire //February 26, 2024//

Coalition advocates for passage of the South Carolina Justice Act

CRBJ Biz Wire //February 26, 2024//

Listen to this article

The South Carolina Coalition for Lawsuit Reform (SCCLR) recently gathered on the State House steps to address longstanding issues with the state’s legal liability system and to rally for the passage of the South Carolina Justice Act.

The briefing focused on the adverse impacts of current South Carolina law, which can leave defendants fully responsible for damages in lawsuits regardless of their level of fault.

Under current South Carolina law, defendants can be held fully liable for damages in lawsuits even if they are only partially at fault. This system disproportionately affects businesses, including small businesses, which may struggle to withstand the financial burden of hefty lawsuits. Moreover, this legal framework results in increased insurance premiums, reduced availability of insurance coverage, and targets those perceived as having “deep pockets.”

The South Carolina Justice Act intends to address the inequities within the state’s statutory scheme. The bill aims to correct the language in the existing law to ensure that parties are held liable for damages proportional to their actual responsibility for the damage or injury.

At the briefing, Tom Mullikin, SCCLR President and General Counsel, emphasized the importance of civil justice to the state’s businesses and urged the Senate to pass the Justice Act. “Our efforts are in response to the call from the South Carolina Supreme Court to address the inequities within the state’s statutory scheme,” Mullikin said. “The South Carolina Justice Act bill would correct wording in the current law that presently allows for parties to be held totally liable for damages when they have only a small percentage of actual responsibility for the damage or injury.”

Industry sector leaders and representatives of small and large businesses, as well as veterans’ service organizations and non-profit and arts advocacy groups joined in support of the cause. Alongside Mullikin, the lineup of speakers included Rep. Mark Smith, District 99, Sen. Ross Turner, District 8, Sen. Shane Massey, District 25, Jake Scott, Collum’s Lumber Products LLC, Lowell Koppert, U.S. Army Special Forces veteran, Aiken County Veterans Council chairman, small business owner and Tim Aponte, Director of Health, Safety, & Security, McCall Farms.

The South Carolina Coalition for Lawsuit Reform serves as the united voice for the business community on tort and workers’ compensation issues; coordinating lobbying, legal, grassroots, and public relations activities. For more information about the SCCLR and the South Carolina Justice Act, visit



“As a manufacturer that depends on a timely and efficient supply chain to bring timber into our sawmill so that we can get our products to the marketplace, I understand the real-life negative impacts that our state’s civil justice system is having on our economy. In our industry alone, we have seen commercial liability insurance rates triple in many cases since 2017. Increased insurance premiums and liability costs only hurts our state’s broader economy by prohibiting businesses from reinvesting back into their operations or their employees.” – Jake Scott, Vice President of Operations, Collum’s Lumber Products, LLC, Allendale, S.C.

“Our business, like many others in the state, has been hit with rising liability costs and increasing insurance premiums because of the imbalanced civil justice system in South Carolina. This increases the cost of doing business. This in turn raises prices for consumers. Thankfully, the South Carolina Justice Act would remedy this issue and restore fairness to an unfair system by making clear that defendants less than 50 percent responsible for an incident or accident are only liable for damages equivalent to their portion of fault. This common-sense solution will go a long way to restoring a more fair and reasonable system of justice in our state that brings certainty to businesses that operate here.” – Tim Aponte, Health, Safety & Security Director, McCall Farms, Effingham, S.C.

“I am here today not to speak on behalf of veterans or for veterans. I am here today to speak alongside veterans. We as a group stand to lose something that is very near and dear to us. Something our predecessors created for us and something we earned the right to be a part of through our service to this great nation. I am talking about our Veteran Service Organizations; you may know them as the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the American Legion, the Purple Heart Chapter, the Special Forces Association, Disabled American Veterans, Marine Corps Leagues and the Military Officers Association of America, to name a few. These organizations are closing their doors, unfortunately, due to the rising cost of liquor liability insurance. These are organizations that were created around the simple principle of service. Service to the community in which they reside. As these organizations close their doors, it is not only the veterans that lose out, it is the community as a whole.” – Lowell Koppert, U.S. Army Special Forces veteran, Aiken County Veterans Council chairman, small business owner

“South Carolina prides itself on being a business-friendly state, but businesses are under tremendous pressure to continue to operate as their insurance rates steadily climb because of the impact of joint and several liability. Businesses are often told that they must take total financial responsibility for something where another party is at fault. That’s not fair, and that’s not right. S. 533 will help us return fairness to our liability laws. Fairness is what South Carolinians understand and expect from the Legislature.” – Leslie Clark, COO, SC Government Relations & Divisions Director, Carolinas AGC