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Sympathy Note Legislation Clears Committee

Under current law, there may be times when Oklahomans want to extend messages of sympathy or compassion to another, but are advised by their lawyer not to for fear it could be used against them in a lawsuit. That would change under Senate Bill 1262 by Senator Glen Coffee.

Basically were saying that a court in civil action cant use a communication expressing sympathy, compassion or benevolence relating to the pain, suffering or death of an individual, explained Coffee, R-OKC.

Senator Coffee said the legislation is the result of an article written for the Oklahoma Bar Journal by Oklahoma City Attorney Debra McCormick.

There have been numerous studies on mediation and settlement on the impact of a simple apology. Often thats all an individual wants, but when they dont get it, they resort to a lawsuit. And as a mother of five, I find it ironic that Im trying to teach my children that saying you are sorry is a good thing to do when someone has been hurt, yet as an attorney I could be forced to advise a client not to do that, said McCormick.

Senator Coffee, who is also an attorney and the father of three, felt McCormick had raised a valid point that needed to be addressed by the legislature.

Obviously, this would not exempt an outright admission of fault or guilt from being used in court. But there are times when you should be able to say that you are sorry that something has occurred without that expression of empathy being used against you, said Senator Coffee.

The legislation has already won approval by the Senate Judiciary Committee. It now moves to the full Senate for further consideration.

Contact info
Senate Communications Division - (405) 521-5605