If you think that medical malpractice and other tort issues only affect physicians, then this article is for you. Keep in mind that Mississippi is one of the nation's poorest states and has one of the highest unemployment rates. Therefore, the Toyota plant would have created much needed jobs for the state. Barbour: Legal climate hurt state in push to get Toyota plant EMILY WAGSTER PETTUS Associated Press http://www.sunherald.com/mld/sunherald/news/state/8524967.htm JACKSON, Miss. - Gov. Haley Barbour says Mississippi's legal climate hurts economic development and may have helped push Toyota away from the state last year. But lawmakers who oppose Barbour's efforts to get comprehensive changes in the civil justice system say the governor - not the legal system - is making the state look bad. House Judiciary A Committee Chairman Ed Blackmon, D-Canton, said Barbour is wrong to publicize a letter from a Toyota executive criticizing Mississippi's legal climate. "It shows the extent certain leaders of the state will go to, to paint a picture of Mississippi that is not true," Blackmon said. Barbour on Monday gave reporters and legislators copies of a letter written to him last week by Dennis C. Cuneo, a New York-based senior vice president of Toyota Motor North America Inc. In February 2003, Toyota chose to build a new plant in Texas rather than in Mississippi or several other states that courted the company. Cuneo said he led the site selection for the Japanese auto maker's newest plants and was impressed by Texas Gov. Rick Perry's commitment to changing that state's civil justice system. Cuneo wrote Mississippi is "desirable" for its infrastructure, pool of skilled labor, quality of life and proximity to other Toyota plants and suppliers. But he said "the litigation climate in Mississippi is unfavorable, and negatively impacts the state's business climate." When Toyota chose the Texas site, company officials said being in San Antonio would help the company tap into markets in Texas and Latin America. In news reports before the site selection, Toyota officials said the new plant would need rail access from at least two carriers. A proposed site in north Mississippi had only one rail carrier. Democrat Ronnie Musgrove was Mississippi governor when the state tried to get the Toyota plant. Republican Barbour defeated Musgrove in November. Mississippi lawmakers are in the final two weeks of their four-month session. Barbour - backed by business and medical groups who supported him financially in last year's election - is pushing for changes in how and where lawsuits can be filed and for limits on how much can be awarded for pain-and-suffering damages. Opponents, including trial lawyers who often give money to Democrats, say changing the civil justice system will hurt people who are damaged by others' negligence. Barbour says he wants comprehensive changes passed during the regular session but will call multiple special sessions, if necessary, to get changes this year. "We need it for our economy, we need it for job creation and we need to get it over with. We need to put it behind us," Barbour said during a press luncheon. "It is an irritant to relationships between people who can work together on lots of other subjects. This becomes an issue over which they clash and it makes it harder to work together." The Senate has passed two civil justice bills. One of those has already died in the House and another is expected to die this week. Blackmon says he opposes capping awards for pain-and-suffering damages. His Senate counterpart, Charlie Ross, R-Brandon, is pushing for a $250,000 cap. The House last week passed a resolution to file a new bill. Doing so at this point, weeks after the regular filing deadline, requires two-thirds permission of both chambers. The Senate Rules Committee on Monday altered the House resolution. Instead of filing a new bill, Senate leaders want to extend deadlines to further consider existing civil justice bills. The House proposal for a new bill would not include pain-and-suffering caps. The Senate plan allows caps to be considered. Blackmon said he's not budging in his opposition to caps. "I'm not going anywhere on this issue and I'm not going to change my mind," he said.