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home / justice system / tort

Defending and Expanding Tort Laws: The Civil Justice System

Do you believe there are too many frivolous lawsuits in our country? Think that the legal system has run amok?

If you do, its no wonder.

For over twenty years, powerful forces of greed in our economy -- principally insurance companies, the manufacturing sector, the medical industry and Wall Street -- have spent hundreds of millions of dollars on propaganda, phony studies by pseudo-academics and think tanks to convince you that there are too many lawyers and too many lawsuits.

What are these giant corporations trying to accomplish?

Lobbyists and PR consultants for these corporations are pushing legislation to restrict your legal right to hold them accountable in a court of law. The "defendants' lobby" wants to eliminate the right of citizens to hire a lawyer, go to court and punish companies that steal, maim and kill with the only kind of lesson big business understands: a substantial financial whack at the bottom line, in the form of a damage award.

They call their strategy "tort reform." A "tort" is a legal term for "a wrong." The "tort law" is composed of state statutes and court decisions that give you the right to sue someone who causes harm to you, whether it's a drunk driver, a corporation that manufactures a defective product, a credit card company that overcharges you, or a government bureaucrat that breaks the law.

The arrogant corporate lobbies want to "reform" state tort law protections out of existence.

You can already see the damage done by the corporate campaign to deny people their day in court. Weakening of the nationšs securities laws, passed in 1995 by the U.S. Congress, led directly to the corporate scandals we are facing in America today: Freed of legal accountability, big corporations have cheated their investors and employees on an unprecedented scale.

Medical malpractice is another example. A 1975 California law prevents victims of negligent doctors from receiving full compensation for their injuries. The result has been devastating. Yet led by the American Medical Association, its state counterparts, and other lobbying groups for the medical industry, a campaign is underway to shield bad doctors from justice in other states.

We've fought the tort deformers and their anti-consumer proposals for years. We have assembled detailed resources on the dangerous corporate drive for "tort reform" and how you can fight it:

What the Tort System Does: This material explains the function of the tort system in our society, and the kinds of compensation victims are entitled receive for their injuries.

What's Under Attack -- And Why: This is an explanation of the specific laws that are under attack by the insurance companies and other large corporations, and why those laws are being targeted.

Who's Really Behind "Tort Reform" -- And The Phony Front Groups They Hide Behind: Here you can read about the companies that are sponsoring "tort reform," and the lobbying organizations that have been created to cloak the identity of the sponsors.

Is There a Litigation Crisis?: Insurance companies and other special interests claim that litigation has "exploded" in recent years. Here are the facts.

Will "Tort Reform" Lower Insurance Premiums?: Backers of "tort reform" claim that it will lower insurance premiums. Read the facts.

Real Reforms that Would Improve the Legal System: A list of pro-consumer reforms to improve the legal system, give people greater access to the courts and discourage abuse.



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