Network Firm News

Wednesday, November 27, 2002

Bush to Seek Legal-Cost Cap With Terror-Insurance Law
John D. McKinnon -- Wall Street Journal -- 11/27/02
WASHINGTON -- In the opening salvo of a new assault on what he called the "legal class," President Bush said he will seek to limit payments to plaintiffs' lawyers under a new federal terrorism-insurance program.

Mr. Bush said the Treasury Department would try to impose curbs as it implements the terrorism-insurance program, which will provide federal support for the troubled insurance market. "I look forward to working with the new Congress on stronger measures to prevent abusive lawsuits," the president added.

Reining in perceived litigation excesses is shaping up as one of the top priorities of Mr. Bush and his business allies when Congress convenes next year. Last summer, the president opened the administration's discussion on civil-justice-system changes, calling for new limits on medical-malpractice awards as a way to make health care more affordable.

Now, with the Republican sweep in the November elections, momentum appears to be growing for broader efforts. Possible targets include class-action suits, which critics say have spun out of control, as well as punitive-damage awards.

The effort is likely to include more-targeted attempts to ease the impact of particular types of cases -- asbestos claims, for example. The new homeland-security law Mr. Bush signed Monday protects pharmaceuticals companies from some litigation over vaccines for childhood illnesses.
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The President said that the secretary of the Treasury "will work to ensure that settlements are fair to victims, not windfalls for the legal class."
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