Monday, 8 September 2003

Tort reform

I got a fax today from a group called Mississippians for Economic Progress (I’d like to meet the Mississippians who oppose economic progress, by the way) who want me to sign a tort reform pledge. The copy of the pledge I got calls for these state law changes (I’ve shortened some of the planks):

  1. Reasonable caps on non-economic damages that may be awarded.
  2. Protection for manufacturers and sellers of products from punitive damages if they have complied with specifically applicable government regulations.
  3. Elimination of joint and several liability.
  4. Additional protections [for retailers and distributors who] sell and distribute products manufactured by others….
  5. Numerous changes… to stop the joining of numerous parties’ claims and forum-shopping.
  6. Prohibition of multiple punitive damage awards for the same conduct.
  7. Greater protection against liability for property owners and businesses for intentional wrongful acts of others on their property.
  8. Enforcement of arbitration agreements.

    I know some libertarians like Radley Balko don’t like tort reform proposals (although often on federalism grounds, which wouldn’t apply to a state-level tort reform bill), but some do. And I’m not generally a huge fan of candidates for public office signing “pledges” (maybe the “Contract with America” turned me off of that idea, back in my more liberal-leaning days). But none of these planks (except possibly #6) seem particularly objectionable. So I guess I’ll have to sit and ponder this one.