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Tort Reform, Kiwi-Style


When ordinary Americans think of New Zealand (which is hardly at all), they probably envision the breathtaking mountains, glaciers, and lakes panoramically depicted in the film version of Lord of the Rings. For legal scholars, however, radical tort reform distinguishes New Zealand's approach to accident law from that of the United States (and indeed of all other jurisdictions). Not that tort reform has been lacking in the United States. In recent years, most states have enacted important changes, almost always to reduce tort liability: caps on pain-and-suffering, a revised collateral source rule, limits on punitive damages and joint liability, and protections for physicians facing malpractice claims, among many others. Federal tort reform has focused on class actions, firearms litigation, preemption, childhood vaccines, general aviation, FDA regulated drug litigation, and other areas.

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