The most important tort law development of 2006 is still up for grabs, with the U.S. Supreme Court expected to rule on Philip Morris’ appeal of a $79.5 million punitive damage judgment in a lawsuit brought in Oregon, according to the “U.S. Liability Report of 2006: A Review of Significant Events in Tort Law,” a detailed assessment of major legislative and judicial developments in U.S. tort law in 2006.
The report, published by Guy Carpenter & Company Inc., also says that silica cases will continue to garner the attention of the legal community, with Congressional hearings and federal and state criminal investigations underway.
“The Philip Morris case is a highly anticipated Supreme Court ruling that could influence the liability insurance and reinsurance markets well into the future and have far-reaching repercussions,” said Andrew Marcell, managing director and head of Guy Carpenter’s Professional Liability and Casualty Specialty Practices. The case was argued before the Supreme Court on Oct. 31.
Marcell added, “Likewise, the recent Texas ruling could have a significant and lasting impact on the validity of medical evidence presented by plaintiffs in silica cases where the evidence is flimsy. Overall, the state and federal reforms enacted over a number of years appear to have had a restraining impact on tort costs, and this trend looks likely to continue.”
In addition to the Philip Morris case and developments in silica and asbestos law, the report touches on a number of other key U.S. tort law developments and trends, including:
* Obesity legislation and the success of the restaurant industry in persuading states to limit food industry liability from claims of weight gain or obesity.
* Progress in state medical criteria laws, which establish medical standards for pursuing asbestos and silica claims.
* A new set of tort reform efforts touching on the abuse of state consumer protection laws.
* The long-term impact of tort reform initiatives on insurance claims.
A copy of the full report is available for download at www.guycarp.com. For printed copies, contact Guy Carpenter at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Source: Guy Carpenter & Company Inc.
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