Engineering Inc. - March/April 2005 - (Page 12)

The House Judiciary Commit- tee Chairman says legal reform will be a top priority in the just-convened 109th Congress. But, he cautions, any lasting changes will have to be supported on the state level, too. ACEC INTERVIEW WITH F. JAMES SENSENBRENNER, JR. advanced other legislation that economic costs. Engineering behind such reforms. The Senate ACEC: The new Congress has would have protected the con- companies will benefit from a will present a challenge to just convened. What do you see cept of personal responsibility by fairer legal environment that will reform, but I remain hopeful that as the principle agenda items for curbing frivolous lawsuits based leave national cases in the federal the 2004 elections have made the 2005? on the ridiculous notion that courts, curtail forum shopping current Senate a more reform- CHAIRMAN F. JAMES firearms manufacturers should be and eliminate the most specula- friendly place than it was before. SENSENBRENNER: Some of responsible for the conduct of tive class-action lawsuits. ACEC: Class-action lawsuit the Judiciary Committee's initial criminals who use guns, and that ACEC: Last year, the House reform is another area of interest agenda items for 2005 include food sellers should be responsible passed the Lawsuit Reduction to our members. What are your the Real ID Act stricter identifi- for the amount of food someone Act LARA , which would have plans in this area, and how will cation provisions , class-action decides to consume. restored meaningful sanctions this legislation improve the reform, bankruptcy reform, The Senate is working hard on against frivolous claims and legal climate for engineering medical-liability reform, examin- the difficult issue of asbestos to stopped judicial shopping i.e., companies? ing expiring provisions of the come up with a legislative solu- the practice of moving a lawsuit SENSENBRENNER: Class- Patriot Act, and sentencing tion to an abysmal failure by the to a jurisdiction more favorable action reform legislation has bet- guidelines. In Congress, Social tort system to allocate scarce to the plaintiff . ACEC is sup- ter prospects than in the past, Security reform and getting resources to those who are sick, portive of this legislation and any and I expect the House will pass spending under control also are rather than to the non-sick and legislation that would protect it again with a significant biparti- early agenda items that are being their lawyers. If the Senate is able A/E companies from unfounded san majority. The president high- discussed. to pass asbestos or any liability- lawsuits. Do you see this or simi- lighted the need for class-action ACEC: ACEC appreciates management bills, the House is lar legislation being considered in legislation in January, and I am your leadership in the 108th prepared to act quickly on them. this Congress? very encouraged by the words of Congress that enabled common- Nonetheless, the rules of the Sen- SENSENBRENNER: I am a support coming from the Senate. sense tort reform measures to ate and most of the Democratic co-sponsor of Rep. Lamar Engineering companies, and pass the House. Medical liability minority in the Senate are major Smith's R-Texas LARA legisla- many sectors of our economy, reform is one area in particular obstacles to these important tion again this Congress and am have been victims of an abusive that will have long-term benefits reforms. hopeful about its legislative class-action lawsuit system that to medical providers, patients ACEC: In some respects, these prospects. I would note the 2004 currently allows multimillion- and businesses that offer insur- issues are the tip of the iceberg presidential campaign had John dollar cases of national scope to ance to their employees. Can you in terms of additional legal Edwards endorsing the same be decided in notoriously plain- discuss the prospects for passage reforms that are needed. ACEC sorts of penalties for filing frivo- tiff-friendly local courts, like of legislation in this area in 2005? has continued to advocate a lous lawsuits that LARA con- those in Madison County, Ill. SENSENBRENNER: The broad legal-reform agenda that tains. That's a sign things are The present system is good for House will once again pass com- addresses problems with joint moving in the right direction. forum-shopping trial lawyers and prehensive health care litigation and several liability, statutes of In addition, last year the Judi- bad for consumers, businesses reform in the 109th Congress, repose, Certificate of Merit, and ciary Committee and the House and everyone else because of the and the president is solidly 1 2 ENGINEERING INC. M a r c h l April 2005

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Engineering Inc. - March/April 2005

Table of Contents
From ACEC To You
Ask Members
News & Notes
Market Watch
Legislative Action
COVER STORY: A Perfect Legal Storm
Interview With F. James Sensenbrenner, Jr.
Is There an Engineer in the House
ACEC/PAC Donations Break All-Time Record
ACEC Roundtable
Members In the News
One on One

Engineering Inc. - March/April 2005