tort reform, asbestiosis, mesothelioma, bankruptcy reform, environment law
The current tort "reform" movement, if successful, will completely undermine our most effective tool for deterring outrageous corporate misconduct: the threat of punitive damages. Such "reform" would have a particularly egregious impact on the environment and public health because, due to a lack of enforcement and the undetectable nature of many pollutants, environmental offenses are often more difficult to deter than other types of offenses. The essay argues that, although rarely imposed for environmental offenses, punitive damages are especially vital in that arena because, when imposed, they are richly deserved. It concludes that, rather than tort reform, what we need in order to protect the health and safety of our communities is bankruptcy reform.