Editorial: MTBE and tort costs

Gasoline price volatility in store for parts of the US this driving season relates to a larger problem with even larger costs. The problem is the insufficiently bridled pursuit of riches by plaintiffs and their lawyers in civil courts.The right of citizens to sue to redress harm caused by the lapses of others will receive no challenge here. In the US, however, that right has become a magic money machine. As a recent study by Towers Perrin Tillinghast shows, it’s a large money machine with an excessive pull on the US economy.Costs riseAccording to the study, the US tort system cost $260 billion in 2004, up 5.9% from 2003. That’s $886/person, $41/person more than the prior year....

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