Carmakers and others seek tort reform

Dec. 6, 2004 at 4:35 PM

WASHINGTON, Dec. 6 (UPI) -- U.S. automakers and other business groups are stepping up efforts to limit civil liabilities and curb frivolous lawsuits.

Among bills likely to come up early next year are those that would make it harder to mount class-action lawsuits and place limits on how much victims of medical malpractice could collect, the Detroit News reported Monday.

"America is experiencing a dramatic rise in the number of lawsuits and multimillion dollar settlements," Ford Motor Co. Chief Executive William Clay Ford Jr. said. "As a percentage of our gross domestic product, we spend more than double the amount of other industrialized nations on lawsuits."

Ford said U.S. businesses cannot continue to absorb the rising cost of lawsuits if they hope to remain competitive with foreign companies. He also noted little of any jury award actually goes to the plaintiffs.

"Only 20 cents from each dollar spent actually goes to the winners of the lawsuits," he said. "This is raising the cost of doing business and raising questions about the fairness of our legal system."

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