The ABCs of tort reform
Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Most people have heard of tort reform, a movement to reshape the way consumers can access the courts by restricting their right to sue and limiting the awards they could receive. But not that many people, including some with strong opinions, actually know what it's all about.
In law, a tort is an injury committed willfully or negligently by a person or company. Proposed changes under the general umbrella of tort reform include caps on damages that injured parties can receive, limits on the fees lawyers receive in contingency cases, shielding of certain products or classes of products from liability suits, and a statute of limitations on liability for manufacturers of certain products.

"We consider the term tort reform a misnomer," says Joanne Doroshow, president of the Center for Justice and Democracy, a consumer rights group. "The basic concept behind it is to take away consumer rights so that people who have been injured or killed as a result of a company's or individual's action no longer have the ability to go to court, get compensation and hold the company or person responsible."

"What gets lost in this discussion is how everyone benefits from cases brought by people who are injured," says Doroshow. "These suits and actions produce safer products and drugs. If the right to sue is so restricted that it is much less likely that people will go to court, businesses have much less incentive to provide safe products."
For a copy of the complete article, contact CJ&D

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