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