Bush calls for limits on jury awards, class-action lawsuits


COLLINSVILLE, Ill. - Surrounded by physicians in a community known for lawsuits, President Bush yesterday launched a campaign for limits on the money people can win in court.

"The United States Congress needs to pass real medical liability reform this year," said Bush, appearing on stage in a notoriously litigious community with rows of white-coated medical workers seated behind him.

The president made the campaign-style appearance in Madison County, becoming infamous for its high volume of lawsuits. Bush's rally marked the start of a public campaign for congressional action this year on limits the president is promoting.

Bush will summon bipartisan congressional leaders to the White House today to argue for limits in class-action lawsuits, and he will travel again tomorrow to Michigan to pitch for limits on lawsuits over asbestos-filled products.

Bush hopes to limit jury awards for "noneconomic damages" such as pain and suffering to $250,000, and save punitive damages for "egregious cases where they are justified."

He proposes limiting the scope of class-action lawsuits that corral huge groups of people into claims against companies and restrict payments for lawsuits over asbestos-filled products.

The president has the backing of the business community - insurance companies - which complains that the cost of litigation drains $233 billion a year from the U.S. economy. And he has the support of the medical community, which maintains that the cost of insuring doctors against medical malpractice claims is forcing many to stop practicing.

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