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Political Devotions - Conservative Alerts, News and Commentary
Wednesday, July 14, 2004
Exploring Tort Reform
Topic: Tort Reform
(What are "political devotions"? Click here.)

In a recent commentary for the Heritage Foundation website's Press Room section, Paul Rosenzweig notes the outrageous cost of US litigation:
This method of redressing civil wrongs is tremendously inefficient, costing Americans more than $180 billion per year -- roughly 2 percent of our Gross Domestic Product. By contrast, other countries' tort systems operate far less expensively. Great Britain's system claims only 0.6 percent of its GDP annually; Denmark's only 0.4 percent.

Yet legislative efforts to reform the system have stalled in state capitals and Washington, DC. This is partially due to the wealth and raw political pull of trial lawyers. Their campaign contributions -- running to hundreds of millions of dollars every election cycle -- have bought a dedicated opposition to reform among many incumbents.
Rosenzweig offers a couple of interesting proposals for reducing the obscene legal fees harvested by both plaintiff and defense lawyers. Should such proposals be enacted, medical malpractice and class action sharks like John Edwards would have to struggle by on a 5- or $10 million fortune, instead of a $70 million one, but we all have our crosses to bear.

And speaking of medical malpractice lawsuit abuse, SickOfLawsuits.org is offering an online petition for healthcare litigation reform. Their solution, based on capping unreasonable awards, is also worth examining.

Posted by Tim at 2:00 PM EDT

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