House GOP quietly advances key elements of tort reform

Washington Post
Friday, March 10, 2017

By Kimberly Kindy

House Republicans are advancing a series of bills that would make changes to the civil justice system long sought by doctors and U.S. corporations, including a cap on some medical malpractice awards and new roadblocks for classes of people seeking to sue jointly to address harm.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other business groups are promoting the measures, arguing that courts have grown overly tolerant of frivolous and fraudulent claims. Civil rights and consumer groups oppose the measures, saying they would severely limit the ability of average Americans to pursue legal remedies from powerful institutions.…

Joanne Doroshow, executive director of the Center for Justice& Democracy at New York Law School, called the fast-paced legislative campaign to overhaul multiple parts of the civil court system “unprecedented.”

“These bills, put together, would exonerate large corporations and the health-care industry for any kind of harm they may cause everyday people,” Doroshow said.

Doroshow and others said the Fairness in Class Action Litigation Act would squelch most class-action lawsuits, which typically involve plaintiffs with a wide variety of similar complaints. It could sharply restrict membership in a class, for example, to women who had been sexually harassed in the same way by the same manager, they said.

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