New Survey Shows Tennesseans Support Curbing Lawsuit Abuse

April 6, 2011 8:00AM

NASHVILLE – A recent survey of likely voters shows that Tennesseans support current efforts to curb lawsuit abuse. The poll was commissioned by the Tennessee Center for Policy Research and conducted under the supervision of Dr. David Woodard, a political science professor at Clemson University. The survey posed a number of questions related to lawsuit abuse and reform to 450 Tennesseans who have voted in two of the past three general elections and plan to vote in 2012. These Tennesseans are responsible for the make-up of the present General Assembly, and will determine the next one as well. By more than a two-to-one margin, 58 percent to 26 percent, Tennessee voters favor limiting medical malpractice lawsuits. Further, significantly more Tennesseans (46 percent) think that general lawsuit abuse reform is a “good thing” versus those that prefer the status quo (30 percent). Additionally, the poll results show that:

  • Fifty-one percent of voters believe that making it more difficult to file lawsuits would help Tennessee’s business environment.
  • Over 44 percent of voters believe that people file lawsuits just to “win big money.”
  • Candidates for office who pledge to support tort reform are “more likely” to receive the vote of 71 percent of those surveyed, while 84 percent of voters said they would be “less likely” to support a candidate who took campaign contributions from personal injury lawyers.

“It’s not surprising that Tennesseans overwhelmingly support curbing lawsuit abuse in our state,” said Justin Owen, president of the Tennessee Center for Policy Research. With a majority of Tennesseans linking the correlation between a reformed civil justice system and economic prosperity, the general sentiment of Tennesseans follows empirical evidence that reform leads to a better economic climate. TCPR’s recent policy report, Lawsuit Abuse in the Volunteer State, highlight many examples of this evidence. “States like Texas and Mississippi have experienced measurable economic benefits since reforming their civil justice systems. Tennesseans understand that reform here could lead to many of those same results including new jobs, availability of health insurance and greater access to health care,” said Owen. “This poll shows that voters understand that Tennessee needs more jobs, not more lawsuits.” About the Survey The poll sample was representative of likely voters in Tennessee. There were 450 respondents surveyed between March 7 and March 11 by David Sparks & Associates in Clemson, South Carolina, under the supervision of Dr. David Woodard, Professor of Political Science at Clemson University. The survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.5 percent. The sample mirrored the voting population for Tennessee, with a female to male ratio of 53 percent to 47 percent. Age and race breakdowns were also identical to the voting population. Of those surveyed, 26 percent affiliate with the Republican Party, 20 percent with the Democratic Party, 17 percent identify themselves as independents, while 31 percent vote based “on who is running” and six percent identify with another party or did not answer.