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September 7, 2006

Tort Reform's Next Big Push

Tort reform groups and lawyers representing some of the nation's largest corporations are looking to introduce proposed amendments to consumer protection laws, particularly in those states with a history of large class certifications or high-dollar settlements and verdicts in products liability and other kinds of class actions.  The momentum for these reform proposals was provided by California Proposition 64, the 2004 ballot initiative which required plaintiffs to prove they suffered an actual harm as a result of an alleged violation of the state's consumer protection laws and imposed other procedural requirements traditionally associated with class actions.  Many state consumer protection laws do not require that a plaintiff show an injury or show reliance on a defendant's reprentations about a product in order to bring suit under the statute.

Plaintiffs' lawyers acknowledge that such reforms would have a "chilling effect" on, and raise significant hurdles in bringing, consumer class actions such as the recent multidistrict litigation filed against DuPont over the alleged health dangers of Teflon cookware.  See Amanda Bronstad's story for The National Law Journal.

JDP

September 7, 2006 | Permalink

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