By: Matthew Tievsky
Since the election, the U.S. House of Representatives has considered several
bills which, if passed into law, would significantly limit the right of
personal injury plaintiffs to seek justice in courts across the nation.
Many of these bills are promoted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other
business groups with a financial interest in preventing or limiting personal
For example, the proposed “Protecting Access to Care Act” would
limit awards of noneconomic damages to $250,000 in medical malpractice
cases. This means that, for example, if a doctor were to negligently and
permanently disable you during surgery, you would not be entitled to more
than $250,000 for your pain and suffering, no matter how severe. Such
legal caps on awards take the power of decision-making away from juries,
composed of ordinary citizens, and put that power in the hands of politicians instead.
To take another example, the proposed “Fairness in Class Action Litigation
Act” would permit class action lawsuits (lawsuits filed on behalf
of hundreds or thousands of people at a time) in federal court only if
every person who was harmed, suffered practically the same injury as everyone
else. This would make it much harder to maintain class action lawsuits
in federal court, and deprive plaintiffs of a useful tool for justice
in which it is too difficult or expensive for every plaintiff to file
his or her own individual lawsuit.
Corporations and other common opponents of personal injury plaintiffs have
unfortunately spread the myth that lawsuits are out of control. To the
contrary, lawsuits are how we correct and deter abuses not covered by
the criminal justice system, and ensure the compensation of victims of
wrongdoing. Special legal privileges for wrongdoers harm victims and society
in general by allowing wrongdoing to go unchecked by the legal system.
We urge you to contact your congressional representatives to make it known
that you oppose these kinds of so-called “tort reform” measures.
Courts and juries should be allowed to do their work without interference