September 28, 2005 10:08 Age: 9 yrs

Wall Street Journal Runs Commentary by Shepherd, Rubin on Tort Reform

By: Elaine Justice

The October 8 edition of the Wall Street Journal features a commentary by Emory economists and law professors Paul Rubin and Joanna Shepherd. The duo's research suggests that tort reform—such as caps on punitive damages—leads to fewer accidental deaths. Rubin and Shepherd looked at two possible effects of tort reform's impact on accidents and safety:

• that reforms could increase accidents as companies internalize less of their external cost savings and have less incentive to reduce the risk of accidents; or

• that reforms "could decrease accidents as lower expected liability costs result in lower prices, enabling consumers to buy more risk-reducing products such as medicines, safety equipment and medical services."

After examining the effects of tort reform on non-motor vehicle accidental death rates, Rubin and Shepherd found that "tort reforms in the states between 1981-2000 have led to an estimated 14,222 fewer accidental deaths."

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