ONCE AGAIN, THE NEED FOR TORT REFORM IS EVIDENT
(Extensions of Remarks - September 17, 1997)

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[Extensions of Remarks]
[Page E1775]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]




            ONCE AGAIN, THE NEED FOR TORT REFORM IS EVIDENT

                                 ______
                                 

                          HON. SPENCER BACHUS

                               of alabama

                    in the house of representatives

                     Wednesday, September 17, 1997

  Mr. BACHUS. Mr. Speaker, a jury in New Orleans, LA, last week has 
given us a prime example of this country's need for serious tort 
reform. Ten years after a tank car fire, CSX Transportation was hit 
with a $2.5 billion punitive damages verdict for this incident in which 
it was considered blameless by the National Transportation Safety 
Board.
  No matter who was at fault, such an enormous punitive damages award 
in this case would still be out of line, because there were no deaths 
or serious injuries as a result of the fire. But to make matters worse, 
every governmental authority that reviewed this incident, from the city 
of New Orleans to the National Transportation Safety Board, found no 
fault with CSXT. In fact, the city of New Orleans issued a proclamation 
recognizing the individuals from CSXT who prevented the fire from 
spreading for their heroic actions.
  Certainly local residents were inconvenienced because of the 
evacuation, but it was the trial lawyers who filed a class action 
lawsuit before the fire was even put out that convinced the jury to 
reach into the deepest pocket in the lawsuit, not the parties who were 
responsible.
  Punitive damages in our legal system are supposed to punish egregious 
behavior, but Mr. Speaker, in this case what was the jury possibly 
punishing? These high cost punitive damage awards must be reigned in, 
from the McDonald's hot coffee case to the bad paint job on the BMW, 
the consumers are actually the ones who will feel the belt-tightening 
because of the lack of tort reform laws.

                          ____________________