Challenges in passing reforms show value of simple approach

Business Insurance
Monday, February 16, 2004

Carefully targeted bills stand a much better chance of passage than sweeping measures, legal observers say. But reformers also must persuade Congress that a liability problem is of such national importance that it justifies federal intrusion into what has traditionally been the province of the states. That can invite objections from some usually pro-business conservatives, noted one tort reform opponent.

Yet some conservative lawmakers balk at enhancing federal jurisdiction over what have been traditionally state matters, pointed out a leading opponent of tort reform initiatives.

''For a long time, the reason they failed on the big things was even
Republicans believed this was not an appropriate issue for Congress to handle, because tort law has traditionally been the province of states,'' said Joanne Doroshow, executive director of the New York-based Center for Justice & Democracy.

''More recently, the proposals have been so severe in terms of restricting
victims' rights that even Republicans did not have the stomach for it. That was definitely why the medical malpractice bill failed,'' she said, referring to a measure that passed the House last year but was killed in the Senate.
Even having a pro-reform president doesn't guarantee success with Congress at the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue, pointed out a veteran insurance industry lobbyist.

''Corporate special-interest lobby money doesn't buy fairness for the
American people,'' said the spokesman for Washington-based ATLA. ''What the advocates of limiting the legal rights of American families want cannot ever in good conscience be called 'reform.'
For a copy of the complete article, contact CJ&D.

Join Our Fight!

The Center for Justice & Democracy is the only national consumer organization in the country exclusively dedicated to protecting our civil justice system. If you'd like more information, please contact us.

Connect with us