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National Poll: Voters Say Litigation is Hurting Economy, They’re More Likely to Support Pro-Tort Reform Candidates

Nine of 10 Say ‘Lawsuit Abuse Is a Problem,’ 8 of 10 Say ‘Nation Suffers from Too Many Lawsuits’

CONTACT: Darren McKinney

Washington, DC, August 21, 2012 -- With both major political parties poised to begin their national conventions, the American Tort Reform Association and the grassroots Sick of Lawsuits campaign have released a new national survey indicating that strong majorities of voters across the political spectrum believe lawsuit abuse hurts economic growth, job creation and U.S. competitiveness.

“Lawsuit reform isn’t a partisan issue, it’s an economic issue,” observed ATRA president Tiger Joyce.  “When 89 percent of Americans say lawsuit abuse is a problem, candidates and elected officials should pay attention.  Whether it’s large companies facing preposterous consumer class actions or small businesses threatened by slip-and-fall racketeers, lawsuit abuse erodes the nation’s economic prospects and drives American jobs overseas.”

“America’s primary focus should be on creating jobs, not lawsuits,” added Tom Scott, a California-based spokesman for Sick of Lawsuits.  “We hear from small business owners every day about their fear of costly lawsuits and the negative impact that expanding liability has on their bottom line and capacity to hire additional employees.  People understand that, and they want their elected officials to do something about it.”

The national telephone survey conducted in mid-July also found that 78 percent of registered voters say the “nation suffers from too many lawsuits” while only 8 percent say it “suffers from too few lawsuits.”  Meanwhile, 73 percent of voters surveyed say they are more likely to support a candidate who advocates lawsuit-reducing liability reforms. 

“Also relevant to the ongoing debate about health care reform,” ATRA’s Joyce pointed out, “is the fact that 75 percent of voters believe both that jury awards for ‘pain and suffering’ should be reasonably limited, and that personal injury lawyer advertising encourages those who haven’t been injured to file lawsuits anyway.”

A more thorough summary of survey results is posted here.  It includes the following:

Voters are concerned about lawsuit abuse:

  • 89 percent of American voters call lawsuit abuse a “problem”
  • This view cuts across party lines: 94 percent of Republicans, 89 percent of Independents and 86 percent of Democrats say it’s a problem
  • 78 percent believe there are too many lawsuits in the U.S.
  • Half fear that they or a family member will be victimized by a lawsuit

Voters say lawsuit abuse is negatively affecting the economy, consumers and U.S. competitiveness:

  • 60 percent believe lawsuits filed against businesses have hurt the U.S. economy
  • 88 percent want safeguards put in place to protect small businesses from groundless lawsuits that could put them out of business
  • 60 percent believe that consumers are negatively affected by lawsuit abuse
  • 72 percent believe “Our country's liability lawsuit system makes it harder for employers to do business and succeed.”
  • 72 percent agree “Our liability lawsuit system negatively impacts the United States' ability to compete in the world as it raises the cost of doing business and limits investment in jobs here.”

Voters are more likely to support candidates favoring lawsuit reform:

  • 73 percent are more likely to vote for a candidate for public office who supports lawsuit-reducing liability reforms
  • 83 percent believe the liability lawsuit system needs to be improved
  • 78 percent agree “Enacting lawsuit reform is an important part of improving the U.S. business environment and attracting and keeping jobs.”

About the Survey

This summary is based on a national telephone survey of 1,013 U.S. registered voters conducted by Luce Research from July 11-19, 2012. The interviews included both landline and mobile telephone numbers. The data were weighted by age, ethnicity and region to ensure a representative sampling of voters by all demographics, including gender, education and party identification. The sampling error for this study is ± 3.1 percentage points at the 95 percent confidence interval. The survey was commissioned by the American Tort Reform Association and Sick of Lawsuits.