Lawsuit Reform Across the Country: Using the New State Lawsuit Reform Website
States across the country need to reform their lawsuit systems. Too often, well-meaning businesses get penalized by frivolous lawsuits and are unable to fully contribute to a state’s economy.
StateLawsuitReform.com shows how proverbial bad actors like Illinois and New York score poorly on lawsuit fairness indicators across the board. The data also note that good actors like Iowa and Oklahoma generally handle lawsuits well. At the same time, though, every single state has some particular need. Oklahoma, a recent pioneer of reform, falls behind on consumer protection litigation, while New York manages to perform decently on the same category. Opportunities exist in every state.
Reforming State Consumer Protection Litigation
State consumer protection acts offer those harmed a right to sue. But when the standards for bringing a claim are too lax, these statutes turn into end runarounds for lawsuits that cannot pass muster as traditional personal injury lawsuits. And lawsuits start to arise that turn lost pants at the dry cleaner into $67 million claims.
States need to align the prerequisites for bringing a consumer protection lawsuit with those for bringing a tort lawsuit. Clear statutes should determine available damages with fair recovery guidelines, and lawmakers must closely monitor class actions under state consumer protection acts to ensure they do not beget abusive litigation.
As a promising example, West Virginia just passed reforms that greatly clarified the rules on what is necessary to bring a consumer protection claim.
Jury Service Reform as a Lawsuit Reform
Serving jury duty can be annoying, time-consuming and cost-prohibitive, especially for hourly wage-earners or small-business owners. With such disincentives for many people to serve, juries become more homogenized and less exemplary subsets of one’s peers. Arizona has pioneered reforms to make jury service less burdensome. ALEC members developed the Jury Patriotism Act to similarly enable more jurors to serve their civic duty.
Jury service reform is both a good-government reform and policy innovation that can have an impact on a state’s lawsuit output. Anecdotal evidence suggests diverse juries tend to issue more reasonable awards. This makes some intuitive sense; as backgrounds on a jury become less diverse, so do perspectives. A jury with tunnel vision that does not consider alternative perspectives will be more likely to come to extreme decisions. Meaningful discussion in a well-rounded jury will beget more thoughtful awards.
Learn more about how to lessen the burden of jury service here.
And visit www.statelawsuitreform.com to learn about other important ways to improve state legal systems.