Sunday, June 4, 2006
This manuscript contains the most detailed, complete and comprehensive legal dataset of tort reforms in the U.S. The dataset records state laws in all fifty states and the District of Columbia over the last several decades. For each reform we record the effective date, a short description of the reform, whether or not the jury is allowed to know about the reform, whether the reform was upheld or struck down by the states' supreme courts, as well as whether it was amended by the state legislator. Previous and current scholarship which studies the empirical effects of tort reforms uses various different legal datasets, (tort reforms datasets and other legal compilations), some which existed online, some created ad-hoc by the researchers. Besides being different from each other, these datasets frequently do not cover reforms adopted before 1986, miss reforms superseded after 1986, miss court-based reforms, ignore effective dates of legislation, and do not accurately record judicial invalidation of laws. It is possible that at least some of the persisting variation across empirical studies about the effect of tort reforms might be due to variations across legal datasets used. This dataset builds upon and improves existing data sources. It does so by reviewing original sources of legislation and case law to determine the exact text and effective dates. It is hoped that by creating one "canonized" dataset our understanding of the impact of tort reform on our life will increase.