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Congress Pushes Tort Reform Bills Through Judiciary Committee with No Hearings

Posted on behalf of D'Amico & Pettinicchi, LLC on Mar 31, 2017 in Personal Injury

columns in front of courthouseDespite bipartisan opposition, the U.S. House of Representatives seems to be fast-tracking five bills that would make it harder for victims of corporate negligence to file civil lawsuits to hold large corporations accountable and recover fair compensation for damages.

These five tort reform bills were passed earlier this month by the House Judiciary Committee without a single hearing.

H.R. 1215, The Protecting Access to Care Act, barely made it out of the committee because of strong opposition from Republicans and Democrats. This bill would severely restrict the rights of ordinary Americans to file personal injury lawsuits over medical malpractice, dangerous drugs, dangerous medical devices and nursing home abuse.

Meanwhile, H.R. 985, The Fairness in Class Action Litigation Act, passed by a vote of 220-201. If this bill is signed into law, it would strip consumers of the right to file class action lawsuits

Public Opinion of Tort Reform

In recent years, large industries have funded expensive public relations campaigns to attempt to garner public sympathy for large corporations and institutions that face lawsuits from everyday Americans. These industries are hoping to turn public perception against the civil justice system.

Fortunately, these efforts appear to be unsuccessful. A recent survey from North Carolina's Public Policy Polling (PPP) found that a majority of voters in seven states oppose H.R. 1215.

Researchers discovered that 63 percent of voters in Arizona, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Utah and Texas oppose this bill. The highest level of support among all of the states that were polled was only 24 percent.

Furthermore, at least 58 percent of survey respondents in all seven states would be less likely to vote to re-elect their representative if he or she supported H.R. 1215.

Misinformation About Civil Lawsuits

Large corporations have promoted the idea that Americans are obsessed with filing civil lawsuits and that corporations are unfairly targeted.

However, most civil lawsuits involve small claims, such as consumer-debt-collection, landlord-tenant disputes and small contracts, according to the National Center for State Courts. These are lawsuits filed against consumers, not the other way around.   

D'Amico & Pettinicchi strongly supports the right of ordinary Americans to pursue justice through the civil court system when they are victims of corporate negligence.