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Whether discussing the impact of typical tort reform proposals or the broad rhetoric used to support restrictions on legal rights, racial prejudice lurks behind the tort reform movement. Some connections to race appear to be part of a deliberate public relations effort, while others are not so apparent. However, it is clear that these pervasive connections are often obscured by less offensive arguments that allow some tort reform proponents to mask a racially discriminatory agenda. This Article examines some of the ways racial issues have been deliberately concealed by the rhetoric of the “tort reform” movement, and how tort reform proposals will have a disparate impact on racial and ethnic minorities. In particular, it analyzes some of the pillars of the tort reform movement: attacks on the medical malpractice system, limits on non-economic damages, class actions, and political attacks against the jury system. It also examines specific cases involving hate crimes and environmental justice, illustrating the importance of the tort system in furthering racial justice.


Washington University Journal of Law and Policy , Vol. 25, pp. 161-188