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Quayle’s Legal Reform Ideas Criticized at ABA Meeting

<i> From Associated Press</i>

Consumer groups and the new president of the American Bar Assn. on Wednesday assailed some of Vice President Dan Quayle’s proposals for sweeping changes in the nation’s legal system.

Ralph Nader of Public Citizen accused Quayle of “using his vice presidential office as a platform for winning Brownie points from the big business groups that will fund the next Bush-Quayle campaign.”

In a speech Tuesday at the ABA’s national convention here, Quayle charged that too many lawyers and lawsuits are hurting the nation’s ability to compete in the world market.

The President’s Council on Competitiveness, headed by Quayle, is recommending 50 changes in the legal system. The two most controversial changes would strictly limit punitive damage awards in personal injury cases and force the losing side in some lawsuits to pay the winning side’s legal costs.

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The proposals “would only discourage injured people with legitimate claims from pursuing their rights through the civil justice system,” said Kristen Rand of Consumers Union. The consumer groups commented in statements issued at the convention.

Talbot D’Alemberte, a Miami lawyer who began a one-year term Wednesday as the ABA’s president, called Quayle’s plan “patently absurd. I cannot accept his premise that lawyers are hurting the industrial strength of the United States.”

Nader called the proposals “an anti-worker, anti-consumer, pro-corporate wrongdoer blueprint for undermining America’s system of common law. . . .”


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