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January 3, 2005

U.S. Chamber Applauds Speaker Hastert for Commitment to Passing Legal Reforms in 109th Congress

WASHINGTON, DC – The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Institute for Legal Reform (ILR) applauded Speaker of the House J. Dennis Hastert (R-IL) for his inaugural address to the 109th Congress today, in which he designating legal reform legislation a key plank in his agenda for the next session.

“We are gratified that Speaker Hastert has publicly committed to making passage of legal reform legislation a key priority in the 109th Congress,” said Lisa Rickard, president of ILR. “We urge all members of Congress to pass the Class Action Fairness Act, a consensus asbestos litigation reform bill, and medical liability reform—it’s good for America’s employers, workers and families.”

Rampant asbestos litigation has driven more than 70 companies into bankruptcy, costing as many as 60,000 Americans their jobs, according to ILR. Furthermore, during the past decade alone, class action lawsuit filings rose more than 300 percent in federal courts and more than 1,000 percent in state courts.

America’s litigation system is the world’s most expensive, draining more than $233 billion from the U.S. economy, and costing the average American family of four more than $3,200 a year in higher prices, higher insurance rates and higher health care costs. The system is bilking small businesses of an astounding $88 billion a year, according to a recent NERA Economic Consulting study conducted for the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform (ILR).

“This should be a wake up call to America,” continued Rickard. “We must understand that there is a huge cost of abusive lawsuits on jobs and our economy.”

The mission of the Institute for Legal Reform is to make America’s legal system simpler, fairer and faster for everyone. It seeks to promote civil justice reform through legislative, political, judicial and educational activities at the national, state and local levels. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is the world’s largest business federation, representing more than three million businesses and organizations of every size, sector and region.

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