AS 2011 LEGISLATIVE SESSIONS WIND DOWN STATE COMPETITION FOR ECONOMIC GROWTH AND JOBS SEEN AS DRIVING FACTOR
The following information was released by the American Tort Reform Association:
As most state legislatures across the country have either adjourned or are winding down their respective sessions for the year, the American Tort Reform Association has pronounced 2011 as the "most productive year for enactment of meaningful state civil justice reforms in recent memory."
ATRA president Tiger Joyce attributed final passage of so many bipartisan bills in so many states to "the desire to enhance access to health care, and the ongoing competition among the states to foster economic growth and job creation in the context of a still struggling national economy.
"Tort reform is ultimately an economic issue, not a political issue," Joyce continued. "Political divisions may surface in boom times, but when unemployment rates are stubbornly high and tax bases are shrinking, policymakers are left with what should always be an easy choice between the interests of their hard-hit constituents or those of personal injury lawyers.
"State lawmakers and governors of both parties see vigorous job growth in tort reform states such as Texas, and they see employers fleeing high litigation states such as California, Illinois and New York, where plaintiffs lawyers control the legislative process. One needn't be a Nobel-winning economist to understand that reasonable limits on liability promote prosperity, while expansions of liability undermine prosperity."
Joyce cited enactment of 32 new tort reform measures in states across the country so far this year, including "big wins" in Alabama, Arizona, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Wisconsin, among many others.
"We also remain hopeful that Pennsylvania's need for job creation will motivate senators in Harrisburg next week to support Sen. Jake Corman in passing the Fair Share Act, a long overdue reform of the Keystone State's antiquated and anti-competitive joint and several liability law," Joyce concluded.
The various new civil justice laws passed thus far are detailed in ATRA's summary of 2011 State Tort Reform Enactments.