Tort reform should be designed to reduce the costs of broken system, not spread the costs out

WASHINGTON , D.C. – In response to the recent debate over asbestos reform in the Senate, Americans for Tax Reform (ATR) president Grover Norquist issued the following statement:

“The purpose of tort reform is to reduce the costs of the broken system. The asbestos tort abuse has bankrupted more than 60 companies, eliminated thousands of jobs, and devalued worker pension holdings. There is no question this is a broken system which must be reformed.

“But the purpose of reform is not to spread the costs out of a broken system. The purpose of reform is to eliminate or at least reduce these costs.

“The trust fund idea simply spreads the costs of this broken system out. And it spreads the cost out to American taxpayers. This is not tort reform, but rather a new spending fund that will likely result in future tax increases.

“The Asbestos trust fund idea creates new incentives to turn a broken system into taxpayer funding exactly the way tobacco litigation turned into tobacco taxes.

“The Senate needs to remove this idea of a trust fund and institute real tort reform such as ideas ATR suggested to the Senate Judiciary Committee in written testimony in 2002 and 2003.

“This includes establishing objective medical criteria to determine asbestos-related impairment, liberalizing the statue of limitations to remove the incentive for premature filing, and have each case focus on each individual’s specific situation by removing the consolidation of asbestos claims.

“These reforms reduce the costs of the system and do not spread out the cost to taxpayers with ideas such as trust funds.”