Tort Reform: The Destruction of the Civil Court System
“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. This informal maxim can be applied to countless situations, from car maintenance to business practices. It can also be applied to the idea of tort reform and its effect on the civil court system in the United States. ‘Tort reform’ commonly refers to “proposed changes to common law civil justice systems that would place limits or caps on tort litigation or damages to be awarded to a plaintiff” (“Tort Reform Law”). It is thought by many that tort reform prevents “frivolous lawsuits” and lowers medical care costs for the general public. However, the evidence proves these ideas false. As tort reform has been shown to do very little, if anything, to help the American people, other methods such as repealing tort reform laws in their entirety should be attempted.
Tort reform began in the 1980s as a political and corporate undertaking against large settlements reached in personal injury lawsuits. According to John T. Nockelby, director of the civil law program at Loyola Law School, the movement sought “to transform the cultural understanding of litigation by attempting to persuade the public through advertising that the civil justice system is constricting the economy and contributing to astronomical insurance premiums.” The idea of tort reform originated from large corporations “seeking to minimize losses against them” (Nockelby). The problem of tort reform lies inherently in its origination: if companies successfully curtail their abilities to be sued for large amounts of money, even if a large award to a plaintiff is warranted, the civil court system loses its power to bring justice to the average citizen.
One of the central ideas of the pro-tort reform argument is that “frivolous lawsuits” are draining the United States legal system of precious time and money. This, however, is simply not the case. “The frivolous lawsuit is a myth,” states Susan Saladoff, a former...
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