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Tort Reform Bill Stalls in Senate

An agreement hammered out months ago to pass a class-action reform bill backed by the insurance industry fell apart late last week in the U.S....
July 13, 2004

An agreement hammered out months ago to pass a class-action reform bill backed by the insurance industry fell apart late last week in the U.S. Senate. The Class Action Fairness Act (S. 2062) would have placed most large class actions in federal court and taken them away from the jurisdiction of state courts, where tort reform advocates say abuses are rampant. Supporters of the bill contend it would have all but ended the practice of "forum shopping," in which lawyers steer cases to sympathetic judges or juries. Opponents argued the bill would limit the relief available to plaintiffs with legitimate complaints.

Shortly before a motion to cut off further debate on S. 2062 failed July 8 on a vote of 44-43, indicating Democrats could filibuster it, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tennessee) said there may be too little time remaining in the legislative year to bring it up. Despite that, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the American Insurance Association (AIA) expressed hope that the bill will see passage this year.

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