Tort issue creates a tussle; Disagreement on need for reform

Kansas City Star
Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Tort-reform advocates say the U.S. court system — with too many frivolous civil lawsuits — creates a drag on productivity, research and development, job creation and international competitiveness.
But publicly available data do not support that conclusion, contends a new report by the Economic Policy Institute.
The institute, frequently at odds with policies backed by the Bush administration, came out swinging Tuesday with “The Frivolous Case for Tort Law Change,” a briefing paper.
The report is sharply critical of an annual estimate by Tillinghast-Towers Perrin, a consulting company, which put the cost of the U.S. tort system at $246 billion in 2003. Tort-reform advocates often cite that estimate as a reason why “frivolous lawsuits” should be quashed.
Tort lawsuits usually involve damage to property or to a person’s reputation or harm to a person’s commercial interests. Reforms are meant to curb litigation and its costs to business.
The Economic Policy Institute joins other groups, such as the Consumer Federation of America and the Center for Justice and Democracy, which say the $246 billion figure is a grossly inflated representation of the costs of tort litigation and is misused by tort-reform advocates.
For a copy of the complete article, contact CJ&D

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