CALA Slingshots : Punitive Damages
Cashing in on Terrorism

I was astonished to read that Leo V. Boyle, president of the Association of Trial Lawyers of America, would defend open-ended and unlimited punitive damage awards in any future terrorism insurance legislation [letters, April 15, 2002]

Because taxpayer money is directly at risk, reasonable limits on liability must be part of any legislation, particularly with respect to punitive damages. Punitive damages should be limited to terrorists and those who help them. Mr. Boyle suggests that if an airline recklessly hires a pilot who is a terrorist, it would always be immune. Nothing could be further from the truth. If the airline had any knowledge that its acts aided and abetted terrorists, punitive damages would be appropriate under legislation already passed by the House.

It is a sad commentary that Mr. Boyle and the organized plaintiffs' bar would pursue pots of gold in cases of terrorism. In the event of another tragedy, dollars must be preserved for those who are injured and need them. They should not be wasted on excessive punitive damage awards.

Victor E. Schwartz
General Counsel
American Tort Reform Association
Washington


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