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States reform civil justice

June 22, 2011 at 12:15 PM

WASHINGTON, June 22 (UPI) -- At least 18 states have passed legislation this year tipping the civil justice system to favor business, a U.S. group that lobbies for such changes said.

The American Tort Reform Association said the changes run the gamut from how class-action suits can be filed to new rules freeing property owners from liability for accidents and injuries suffered by trespassers, Stateline.org reported Wednesday.

The most sweeping and controversial changes have been passed in states where Republicans recently gained power.

Lawmakers in Alabama approved a ban on liability lawsuits against those who sell faulty products but did not manufacture or cause a defect in them.

In Wisconsin, which went from Democrat to Republican control, the Legislature wasted no time in passing a lawsuit-limitation measure that was signed by the governor.

A widely cited 2008 study by a financial analysis company in Texas found aggressive efforts to limit lawsuit over the past 15 years have helped the state create 500,000 permanent jobs.

With the economy still struggling, Republicans and businesses argue a predictable civil justice system without huge payouts will help companies keep costs down and create more jobs.

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