Tort reform debate turns ugly

Fort Smith Times Record
Tuesday, January 11, 2005

The debate to reform the nation’s tort system is turning very ugly as Congress is set tackle the issue nationally in its upcoming session.
As part of his broad domestic agenda, President Bush has promised to reform the American judicial system by placing a cap on damages in medical malpractice lawsuits, similar to the recently passed Arkansas tort reform law.

On the other side of the battle, the liberal Center for Justice and Democracy has raised the question of race in the ATRA’s report, citing the fact that minorities made up most of the populations in the judicial hellholes. The New York group also said the report was “a wholesale attack” on America’s judges and jury system.
“ATRA’s ... report is nothing more than an intimidation tactic against judges who are not beholden to corporate interests,” the public interest group said. “When corporate-funded groups like this orchestrate national campaigns against local judges, the independence of our judiciary, and the very foundations of our democracy, are threatened.”
Another liberal advocacy group, Washington, D.C.-based Public Citizen, countered that Bush’s claim that lawsuits and jury awards are bankrupting doctors and driving doctors out of business is not true.
Public Citizen, which testified at the 2003 committee hearings in Arkansas on tort reform, also said that U.S. businesses file four times as many lawsuits as private citizens, including a survey in Arkansas and Mississippi in 2001 that found businesses were more likely than individuals to file lawsuits.
For a copy of the complete article, contact CJ&D.

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