Guest Editorial: Pushing Tort Reform to the Forefront

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Courtesy of Bergeson & Campbell, P.C.

The daunting costs of uncontrolled tort claims beg the need for tort reform. The need for tort reform legislation has reached a new level of urgency. A few facts explain why. The “elephantine mass” to which U.S. Supreme Court Justice Souter likened asbestos litigation shows no sign of receding. Indeed, the mass continues to feast on an orgy of claims – over 60 companies have sought bankruptcy protection, and some 600,000 plaintiffs seek relief. The Rand Institute for Civil Justice reports that over 6,000 companies are now in the throws of asbestos litigation, representing uniquely and surprisingly diverse industries. Liability projections are sobering, some placed at $275 billion and higher.

The cost to society of asbestos litigation gone amuck goes far beyond the cost of awards, settlements, and legal fees. Diminished stock value, company closings and the attendant increase in unemployment, and increased insurance premiums are direct consequences of asbestos litigation. However, these costs seldom figure into the plaintiffs’ casualty calculus.

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