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Tort Reform and the Candidates

Donald Trump has been extremely litigious over the years, which is not surprising since he is a businessman of great public notoriety. But he has expressed no views on tort reform. One could speculate that he might favor it given the lawsuits his hotels surely face from injured plaintiffs. He states that he doesn’t settle lawsuits. Institutional defendants often make this type of statement to ward off lawsuits, a policy that may be discarded when settlement is seen as wise.

Then U.S. senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama in 2005 jointly sponsored legislation to establish a National Medical Error Disclosure and Compensation Program. The bill was killed in Senate committee.

Ted Cruz, hearkening back to the second President Bush and his campaign against “junk lawsuits”, has championed tort reform to restrict malpractice and other wrongful injury and death lawsuits, limiting how much a jury can award a harmed individual for pain and suffering and in punitive damages. Yet, Cruz while in private practice, in 2010 and 2011, worked on tort cases to secure $50 million-plus jury awards prompted by corporate malfeasance.

Bernie Sanders voted no on a bill that would have limited the awards that plaintiffs and their attorneys could be given in medical malpractice cases to $250,000. The bill would also have limited punitive damages to $250,000. Punitive damages would have been banned against makers and distributors of FDA approved medical products. The bill would have capped attorneys’ contingency fees to 40% of the first $50,000 in damages; 33.3% of the next $50,000; 25% of the next $500,000; and 15% of any amount greater than $600,000.

John Kasich favors tort reform, and, in support of his position, cites the hugely overblown spilt McDonald’s coffee case.

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