Perceived abuses of civil lawsuits in the United States seem to be a hot issue at both the national level (today, 10/22/03, the “Class Action Fairness Act” is up for vote in the senate) and the state level (Texas recently passed a ballot measure limiting non-economic damages to $750k in malpractice suits).
Are reforms truly needed? The “common wisdom” seems to be a resounding “yes,” usually punctuated with outrage over the infamous McDonald’s coffee case, or a story about someone getting injured on private property and suing the owner. This opinion even seems to be relatively bipartisan–the right sees tort reform as pro-business and even the NY Times editorial board seems to acknowledge problems with the system. But I have a hard time swallowing any kind of limits on damages: I think big corporations need big damage awards to get their attention, and I think a lot of the armchair lawyers judging these cases (perhaps myself included) don’t know enough about the facts of the case (or the law) to hold a valid opinion.
So, to all the people out there more knowledgable about the US legal system then I: What, if anything, is wrong with civil lawsuits in the US?