Tort Reform & Election 2000

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Trial lawyers are busy calculating their contingency fees in the wake of the Firestone tire scandal. As with asbestos, tobacco, and guns, successful lawsuits and settlements have the power to overhaul entire industries, lining pockets along the way. Advocates of tort reform argue that this kind of regulation-by-lawsuit is vulture vengeance, not justice.

They are pushing for state and federal legislation that would limit liability on business’ behalf. The tort reformers have a friend in George W. Bush, who passed a sweeping tort reform package in Texas, including a cap on punitive damages. And the trial lawyers have a friend in Al Gore, who was burned last week by a fundraising memo targeting a big-ticket Texas litigator that implied: pay up, and we’ll kill tort reform.

Both sides are using huge political contributions to make the Gore-Bush race a sort of proxy battle: Is it really about your right to get justice from big business?
(Hosted by Christopher Lydon)


Sherman Joyce, President of ATLA

Fred Baron, President of ATLA

Jan Schlichtman, trial lawyer.