The Public Interest

Litigation’s stranglehold on charities

Spencer Abraham

Spring 1997

OUR civil-justice system is out of control. The research group Tillinghast reports that we spent $132 billion on this system in 1991 alone. That number includes money spent on courts, lawyers, and lost time. It represents two-and-a-half times what we spend on police and fire protection nationwide. These costs are only the beginning.  The “tort tax” or cost added to products by lawsuits and lawsuit avoidance is 2.2 percent overall, but far higher for certain items. The tort tax adds $100 to the cost of a $200 football helmet, $20 to the cost of a $100 step ladder, $500 to the price of a new car, and $170 to the cost of a motorized wheelchair.

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