Tort Reform
Backed by corporate heavy weights, tort reform threatens our right to a jury trial. They have poured billions of dollars into a propaganda war vilifying the citizen jury system.

“Tort reform” generally seeks to limit an individual’s right to file a lawsuit, make it more difficult to obtain a trial by jury, and to limit the amount of damages awarded to the injured party. Tort reformers advocate for limiting corporate accountability, and often propose immunities from liability for bad corporate conduct. Immunity takes away the right of the person who is harmed from becoming whole again. Allowing the person to seek redress through the civil justice system is the best option for preserving personal and property rights.

For thirty years, “tort reform” has been the battle cry of corporate America. Major companies like Philip Morris, Dow Chemical, Exxon, General Electric, Aetna, Geico, and State Farm funnel millions of dollars every year into ATRA (American Tort Reform Association), CALA (Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse) and the Civil Justice Association of California (CJAC), which are just some of the groups bent on undercutting our constitutional civil justice system. These organizations, along with corporate-funded think tanks like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Institute for Legal Reform, have erected an entire rhetoric surrounding the myth of a “litigation crisis” in America in order to support immunities and limited liability.

The “reforms” for which they advocate fly in the face of their own principles, including personal accountability and reducing government spending.

Personal accountability: By making it difficult or, in some cases, impossible for consumers who have been harmed to take corporations or other wrong-doers to court, or by limiting the amount of compensation harmed consumers can receive if they do go to court, “tort reform” measures strip accountability from the equation. That lack of accountability limits the deterrence of further wrongdoing.

Reduced government spending: “Tort reform” that limits fair compensation for harm forces injured consumers to rely on government-funded health and disability programs to get by. Medicare and Medi-Cal (as well as private health plans) end up footing the bill for medical care instead of the person or company that caused the injury.