A report detailing state legislative efforts to reform the U.S. civil justice system was recently released by the National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies (NAMIC). The report, part of a NAMIC series regarding state laws and legislative trends, furnishes a summary of recent individual state tort reform laws, describes the laws’ net effects, details noteworthy points, and provides a hyperlink to the actual law. “Arranged by issue and by state, the report provides compliance officers, advocates, regulators and government affairs managers a comprehensive picture of legislative tort reform activity in the states,” Peter Bisbecos, NAMIC director of legal and regulatory affairs, said. These areas for reform were identified by the American Tort Reform Association (ATRA) and the American Legislative Exchange Council. NAMIC is a member of both. The report focuses on multiple tort reform issues, including: Appeal bonds, jury service, class actions, non-economic damages, collateral source rule, prejudgment interest rates, common sense scientific, evidence product liability, intrastate forum shopping, private attorney, retention, joint and several liability, and punitive damages. Key findings of the report include: a total of 174 tort reform laws have been enacted by states in recent years; the majority of the reform laws passed address five key areas of tort reform: Joint and several liability (35 states), collateral source rules and product liability (25 states each), non-economic damages (21 states), and punitive damages (18 states); the least commonly enacted tort reform measures are those that address common sense scientific evidence (1 state), intrastate forum shopping (2 states), jury service requirements (3 states), government contracts with private attorneys (5 states), and class action (7 states). In 2003, new tort reform laws addressing appeal bonds, private attorney retention, class actions, the collateral source rule, intrastate forum shopping and jury service were enacted in 15 states; tort reform bills introduced in 16 states during 2003 addressing joint and several liability, product liability, punitive damages, and prejudgment interest rates will be carried over for further consideration in 2004; states that have passed the most tort reform laws include: Colorado (9), Texas (8), Louisiana and Florida (7), North Dakota, Georgia and Michigan (6), Alaska, Arkansas, Idaho, Missouri, Montana and Ohio (5); states that have passed the fewest tort reform laws: Illinois, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Vermont and Wyoming, one each, and South Carolina with none; Jurisdictions cited by ATRA as magnets for litigation: Alameda County, California; Los Angeles County, California; San Francisco County, California; Madison County, Illinois; Orleans Parish, Louisiana; Mississippi’s 22nd Judicial District; St. Louis, Missouri; Jefferson County, Texas; Starr County, Texas; Hampton County, South Carolina; West Virginia and certain counties in Alabama. The full report can be obtained at http://www.namic.org/reports/tortreform/.
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