TCPR launches campaign to end lawsuit abuse

Feature, Policy — By on February 21, 2011 at 8:30 am

NASHVILLE, TN – Key changes to the state’s civil justice system could create an average of 30,000 jobs a year, provide health insurance for 67,000 more Tennesseans, give greater access to much needed medical care, and result in legal settlements that are more in line with actual harm done, say representatives for Focus577, a campaign launched today to educate citizens about the need for reform in civil lawsuits.

Lawsuit abuse reform, or tort reform, is quickly becoming a hot topic for the Tennessee General Assembly. Based on similar legislation passed in other states including Mississippi and Texas, proponents argue that reducing lawsuit abuse will lead to a more fair and just system, as well as boost the state’s economy.

Focus577, named for the potential of 577 new jobs created each week through reform, is being launched by the Tennessee Center for Policy Research, an independent, nonprofit, and nonpartisan think tank. The goal of Focus577 is to educate Tennesseans of the positive legal and economic impact that lawsuit abuse reform has had in other states.

“The facts speak for themselves,” said Justin Owen, Tennessee Center for Policy Research president. “Independent academics and researchers have studied states that have passed various types of reform ranging from non-economic and punitive damages caps to class action reform. Based on the measurable outcomes in those areas, there’s no question that Tennesseans could best be served by lawsuit abuse reform through job creation, availability of health insurance, greater access to medical care, and an overall improved quality of life for them and their families.”

According to a new study, Lawsuit Abuse Reform in the Volunteer State, released today by the Tennessee Center for Policy Research:

  • With lawsuit abuse reform, Tennessee can create an average of 30,000 jobs each year. That’s 577 jobs every week.
  • Reform could allow as many as 67,000 uninsured Tennesseans to finally obtain health insurance.
  • Forty-seven counties in Tennessee currently lack an emergency doctor. Reform could bring an emergency doctor to at least five or six of these counties, a much needed infusion of doctors in areas that must now do without.
  • If lawsuit abuse reform had been enacted in 2000, the state could have produced an additional $895 million in health care revenue, $611 million in durable goods manufacturing, and an additional $806 million in the retail trade industry in Tennessee over the ensuing decade. That’s more than $2.3 billion in additional production lost due to abusive lawsuits.

Owen stressed that lawsuit abuse reform isn’t about taking away the rights of citizens to file suit or limit their access to the courts. “When an individual or a business does wrong, they should be held accountable,” said Owen. “Unfortunately, our current civil justice system is rigged to allow trial lawyers to prey off both plaintiffs and defendants.”

“Our goal is to help people understand the benefits of making changes that would curb frivolous lawsuits, unclog the system, diminish unjustified multi-million dollar judgments, and at the same time, protect innocent Tennesseans from trial lawyers’ predatory practices. By following the lead of other states that have implemented broad-based lawsuit abuse reform, Tennessee could reap significant economic and legal benefits while maintaining a fair, just legal system.”

The Tennessee Center for Policy Research will kick off the Focus557 campaign by hosting an educational forum for the public on Tuesday, February 22, from 6:30 to 8:00 p.m. at the Vanderbilt University Commons Center, Room 237, 230 Appleton Place. Free parking is available in Lot 77 off the corner of 18th Avenue South and Horton Avenue. Click here for a map. For more information or to RSVP, call (615) 383-6431.

The Tennessee Center for Policy Research is an independent, nonprofit, and nonpartisan think tank committed to achieving a freer, more prosperous Tennessee. Through research and advocacy, the Center promotes policy solutions grounded in the principles of free markets, individual liberty, and limited government. For more information, visit www.tennesseepolicy.org.

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