To the editor:

Public Citizen's Laura MacCleery describes the Pacific Research Institute's new study on the American tort system as "riddled with error" and "masquerading as research" ("PRI study flawed," April 8).

MacCleery failed, however, to point out a single factual error in our work. Instead, she relied on sweeping generalizations and rhetorical bromides.

Our calculations are based on the best available studies from the nation's top economists and legal scholars. If one compares U.S. tort costs to the tort costs of other industrialized nations, for example, one realizes that the U.S. tort system is the most expensive in the industrialized world. At 2.2 percent of GDP, direct costs are bigger in the U.S. than counterparts in Germany, France, Japan, or the United Kingdom.

Our tort system is expensive and inefficient. Not only does it return less than 50 cents of every direct tort-cost dollar to injured parties; it also causes our economy to go without things like investments into research and development.

Our study recognizes the importance of a healthy tort system, and says so. Unfortunately, today's system is out of control, and the data in our report illustrates this. Perhaps MacCleery should delve into our facts and figures before dismissing our findings out of hand.

Lawrence J. McQuillan
Co-author, "Jackpot Justice: The True Cost of America's Tort System"

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