As a regular reader of Automotive News, I've admired your independence and fresh thinking on a range of issues facing the automotive industry and consumers.
However, your editorial in favor of tort reform was a disappointment ("Time for tort reform," Nov. 15).
The notion that meritorious lawsuits against members of the auto industry and the medical industry have stymied business has been conveniently peddled by the business community, which understandably doesn't like getting sued.
Businesses sue one another far more frequently than individual consumers sue businesses, four times as often by some accounts.
Consumers who are seriously injured due to poorly designed products need access to the courts to air their grievances. In an era of decreasing federal regulatory activity, consumer lawsuits serve a critical consumer protection function against some of the most egregious manufacturer behavior.
During the Ford-Firestone hearings in Washington, for example, the plaintiffs' lawyers, not the federal regulators, had the best information on Ford Explorers with Firestone tires rolling over due to tread separations.
That information ultimately laid the groundwork for an overhaul of our highway safety regulatory system that affected vehicles and tires as well as providing redress for owners of Ford Explorers.
Capping damages in consumer cases or making plaintiffs pay lawyers' fees and court costs if they lose a case will ultimately diminish consumers' access to justice and endanger important protections these cases provide.