Trial Lawyers Say Recent Study Proves Tort Reform Doesn’t Work

March 25, 2008

A new study on tort reform by a business-backed institute “proves tort reform does not work,” according to the association for the nation’s trial lawyers.

American Association for Justice CEO Jon Haber, representing trial lawyers, said the state rankings recently released by Pacific Research Institute (PRI) show there is no correlation between tort reform and costs.

PRI, which bills itself as advancing “free-market policy solutions,” found that Colorado ranks first in tort reform laws; however, it has the eighth highest costs. New Mexico ranks 44th in tort reform laws but has the sixth lowest costs, the PRI study said.

Haber said the PRI study actually shows that states most “hurt” by costs are the wealthiest.

“ExxonMobil, Phillip Morris, and Big Pharma are all corporate wrongdoers who have spent millions to destroy the civil justice system using groups such as Pacific Research Institute. But PRI’s new study actually agrees with independent experts that tort reform does not work,” said Haber.

Haber questioned PRI’s methodology and academic basis for its results. He said PRI cites itself or the American Tort Reform Association (ATRA) 34 times in the footnotes and that both PRI and ATRA are both funded by oil, tobacco, and pharmaceutical companies.

“Even biased, junk research shows tort reform is simply a scheme by powerful corporations to avoid accountability in the courtroom and stack the deck against every day Americans,” he said.

The PRI report ranked Florida the worst in terms of tort costs and litigation risks, while North Dakota was the best. In a separate ranking, Colorado was said to have the best tort laws on its books, while Rhode Island has the worst.

The report compares the legal climates of all 50 states.

“In the competition for jobs and capital investment among the states, those states that suffer from high tort costs and litigiousness will continue to lose jobs and businesses to states with superior tort systems. PRI developed the Index as a tool for governors and state legislators to assess their tort systems and to enact laws that will improve the business climate of their states,” said Dr. Lawrence J. McQuillan, co-author of the study and director of Business and Economic Studies at PRI.

By merging the quantitative tort costs ranking with the tort laws ranking, the study divided the states into four groups: saints, sinners, suckers, and salvageables.

Sources: American Association for Justice

Pacific Research Institute

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