Tort-uring the System: An Analysis of Litigation Reform

Jul 12, 2005Jul 14, 2005



Session One: Tuesday, July 12
Priciples of Tort Law
Dr. Paul Rubin
Professor of Economics and Law
Emory University 

Click Here to listen to audio archive.

Session Two: Wednesday, July 13
Analysis of Reform
Dr. Paul Rubin
Professor of Economics and Law
Emory University 

Click Here to listen to audio archive.

Session Three: Thursday, July 14
Race, Poverty, and American Tort Awards
Dr. Alexander Tabarrok
Professor of Economics
George Mason University 

Click Here to listen to audio archive. 

For decades, developed nations have experimented with ways of promoting economic growth in poor countries.  Wealthy nations have provided grants, encouraged education, made loans, and forgiven debt.  Yet half of the world’s population continues to live on less than two dollars a day. 

Shortly after being assembled, the 109th Congress enacted the Class Action Fairness Act, which was quickly signed by the President. The Act aimed at reforming class-action lawsuits by granting federal courts jurisdiction over large, interstate class-actions and by protecting the interests of individual class members through provisions that ensure fair compensation. Critics fear that the Act will be the death of smaller class-action suits brought on by consumers. They believe high costs, complicated procedures, and full federal dockets will keep the majority of class-action suits from ever being heard by federal courts. And so the debate on litigation reform rolls on.

An effective tort system is vital to any healthy goods and services economy. It holds producers liable to consumers for the safety and quality of the goods they produce. By compensating victims and holding injurers liable for their actions, tort laws improve overall economic performance. An ineffective tort system can impose excessive costs on society and act as a tax that drains both producers and consumers of valuable resources.

To address the tort system in its current state and look at potential reforms, the Mercatus Center at George Mason University will host a three-day course to provide policymakers with a thoughtful economic analysis of litigation reform. Our scholars will incorporate fundamental economic principles with empirical evidence to address the following questions:

  • What types of damages does tort law cover? What are the different liability standards?
  • What are potential options for reform? What has been suggested in the past and how does recent legislation affect the system?
  • How well does the tort system achieve its goal of deterrence and compensation? How do compensation funds, such as the 9/11 Compensation Fund, achieve the goals of tort law?
  • What is the role of juries in tort verdicts? How do location and culture affect verdicts? Would greater use of judges improve the system?