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August 21st, 2012

Broad Majority of Voters Supports Tort Reform, Says ‘Too Many Lawsuits’ Are Hurting Economy

As both major political parties prepare for their national conventions, the American Tort Reform Association has released a newly commissioned national survey indicating that strong majorities of registered voters across the political spectrum believe lawsuit abuse hurts economic growth, job creation and U.S. competitiveness.

With 9 of 10 voters believing “lawsuit abuse is a problem” and 8 of 10 believing the “nation suffers from too many lawsuits,” it’s clearly in the interest of candidates and elected officials to take note. 

Whether it’s large companies facing preposterous consumer class actions or small businesses threatened by slip-and-fall racketeers, lawsuit abuse erodes the nation’s economic prospects and drives American jobs overseas.  Thus it’s no coincidence that 73 percent of voters say they are more likely to support a candidate who advocates lawsuit-reducing liability reforms. 

Also relevant to the ongoing debate about health care reform is the fact that 75 percent of voters believe both that jury awards for “pain and suffering” should be reasonably limited, and that personal injury lawyer advertising encourages those who haven’t been injured to file lawsuits anyway.

In a Political Diary entry entitled “More Lawsuits, Less Growth,” the Wall Street Journal online was quick point out that, come Election Day, tort reform issues “could play big in states like West Virginia, Wisconsin and other places where lawmakers are looking at cleaning up the tort system as a way to improve the state business climate.”

A more thorough summary of survey results is posted here.  It includes the following:

Voters are concerned about lawsuit abuse:

  • 89 percent of American voters call lawsuit abuse a “problem”
    • This view cuts across party lines: 94 percent of Republicans, 89 percent of Independents and 86 percent of Democrats say it’s a problem
  • 78 percent believe there are too many lawsuits in the U.S.
  • Half fear that they or a family member will be victimized by a lawsuit

Voters say lawsuit abuse is negatively affecting the economy, consumers and U.S. competitiveness:

  • 60 percent believe lawsuits filed against businesses have hurt the U.S. economy
  • 88 percent want safeguards put in place to protect small businesses from groundless lawsuits that could put them out of business
  • 60 percent believe that consumers are negatively affected by lawsuit abuse
  • 72 percent believe “Our country’s liability lawsuit system makes it harder for employers to do business and succeed.”
  • 72 percent agree “Our liability lawsuit system negatively impacts the United States’ ability to compete in the world as it raises the cost of doing business and limits investment in jobs here.”

Voters are more likely to support candidates favoring lawsuit reform:

  • 73 percent are more likely to vote for a candidate for public office who supports lawsuit-reducing liability reforms
  • 83 percent believe the liability lawsuit system needs to be improved
  • 78 percent agree “Enacting lawsuit reform is an important part of improving the U.S. business environment and attracting and keeping jobs.”

About the Survey

This summary is based on a national telephone survey of 1,013 U.S. registered voters conducted by Luce Research from July 11-19, 2012. The interviews included both landline and mobile telephone numbers. The data were weighted by age, ethnicity and region to ensure a representative sampling of voters by all demographics, including gender, education and party identification. The sampling error for this study is ± 3.1 percentage points at the 95 percent confidence interval. The survey was commissioned by the American Tort Reform Association and Sick of Lawsuits.

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