State Tort Reform

Under the federal structure of the United States, both the federal government and the states have a role in addressing the problem of lawsuit abuse. While federal reform efforts have been slowed by Washington gridlock, many states have taken the lead in advancing effective, commonsense legal reforms – measures that have brought widespread benefits to individuals, businesses and communities.

Legal reform has been an important state issue for several decades. In fact, California’s landmark medical malpractice law was passed in 1975 – nearly forty years ago.

But as the nation’s lawsuit abuse problem has grown, more and more states have chosen to pass reforms. In just the past three years, significant reforms were enacted in Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas and Wisconsin, among many others. Read More...

The Texas example is particularly striking. For a long time, the Lone Star State was known as a lawsuit mecca in areas such as asbestos litigation, product liability and medical malpractice.

But starting in 1995, Texas enacted a series of important legal reforms. These included:

  • Limits on joint and several liability
  • Product liability reforms
  • Restrictions on venue shopping
  • More rigorous medical causation standards for asbestos and silica lawsuits
  • Caps on non-economic damages 

As a result of these reforms, Texas’s lawsuit environment has improved considerably. Despite its population increasing by 28% between 1995 and 2007, the number of new tort cases filed in Texas declined by 35% over the same period. In the aftermath of medical liability reforms, the number of lawsuits against hospitals decreased by two-thirds while the number of new physicians increased faster than population growth, particularly in underserved areas and high-risk specialties. The president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, Richard Fisher, cited legal reform as a major contributor to Texas’s strong economic growth – a growth that spurred more than 40% of net job creation in the United States over the past four years.

This changed environment is also reflected in the Institute for Legal Reform’s ranking of state legal climates. When the first survey was released in 2002, Texas was ranked 46th in the nation with a raw score of 45.2 (out of 100). By 2012, Texas had moved up to 36th and improved its raw score to 57.2 – a 26% improvement.

Texas’s success encouraged many other states to enact reforms. Unfortunately, some of those measures have fallen victim to judicial activism. In Arkansas, Georgia, Illinois and Oklahoma, state supreme courts have defied the will of the voters and thrown out crucial reforms. These setbacks underscore the critical importance of not only good governors and good legislators but also good judges to advancing legal reforms.



Suggested Resources


All Results for State Tort Reform

  1. In the News Today - August 20, 2019

    August 20, 2019 | News

    Missouri Chamber Unveils Plan to Improve Business Climate in State... Read More

  2. In the News Today - April 9, 2019

    April 09, 2019 | News

    Mississippi AG Candidate Says State Should Stop Using Private Lawyers... Read More

  3. Florida's Highest Court Mulls Chance to Address Assignment of Benefits Abuse

    March 28, 2019 | News

    The Florida Supreme Court is currently weighing whether insurers can implement policy provisions to restrict abusive assignment of benefits (AOB) practices.... Read More

  4. Campaigns of Anti-Venue Reform Missouri State Senator Fueled By Lawyers

    March 18, 2019 | News

    Lawyers have contributed over $373,000 to the campaigns of Missouri State Sen. Scott Sifton, who has tried to water down efforts to rein in forum shopping in the state, the St. Louis Record reports.... Read More

  5. Georgia High Court Ruling Curbs 'Gotcha' Bad Faith Cases

    March 14, 2019 | News

    Earlier this week, Georgia's Supreme Court ruled that an insurer can't be sued for failing to settle a claim against its policyholder within policy limits unless the insurer received a valid settlement offer, Law360 reports.... Read More

  6. New ILR Research Looks at the Surge Of Lawsuits From Municipalities

    March 07, 2019 | News

    The U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform (ILR) released new research that offers solutions to the growing trend of cities and counties hiring private lawyers to file lawsuits, Bloomberg Law reports.... Read More

  7. New U.S. Chamber Studies Examine Surge in Lawsuits by Cities and Counties

    March 07, 2019 | Press Release

    Washington, D.C. - The U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform (ILR) today released a pair of studies examining the surge in lawsuits by cities and counties enlisted by trial lawyers to sue over alleged misconduct by businesses.... Read More

  8. Mitigating Municipality Litigation: Scope and Solutions

    March 06, 2019 | Research

    Municipalities are testing the boundaries of their litigation authority, claiming damages for wide-ranging matters of public policy including opioid abuse, climate change, and data privacy breaches. This paper is the first to document how and why municipalities and contingency fee lawyers are undermining legislators and state AGs with these lawsuits, the problems this trend is causing, and what states can do about it. ... Read More

  9. In the News Today - February 14, 2019

    February 14, 2019 | News

    Missouri Lawmakers Aim to Limit Out-Of-State Plaintiffs in Their Courts... Read More

  10. Forbes' "Best States for Business" Looks at State Legal Climates

    November 29, 2018 | News

    Forbes' "Best States for Business" report ranked the states on a number of key issues, including a "measure of the best and worst legal climates for businesses compiled by the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform" (ILR).... Read More