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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release May 4, 1995


The Senate is engaged in the laudable goal of seeking to reform our legal system. Yesterday they went much too far by adopting an amendment to cap punitive damages in all civil lawsuits. In its present form the Senate bill sharply limits the damages paid by many classes of offenders who deserve to pay much more to their victims for the harm they have inflicted upon them.

The bill now before the Senate might be called the "Drunk Drivers Protection Act of 1995" -- for what it does is insulate drunk drivers and other offenders from paying appropriate amounts of punitive damages justified by their deeds. I insist that we hold drunk drivers fully responsible. When they cause injury and death to innocent adults and children, we should throw the book at them, not give them a legal limit on damages to hide behind.

The Senate should reconsider its position. At the least, it should remove damage caps on lawsuits involving drunk drivers, murderers, rapists and abusers of women and children, despoilers of our environment like the Exxon Valdez and perpetrators of terrorist acts and hate crimes.

All of these receive undeserved protection from the present bill. The Senate should reserve its compassion for the people who deserve it. If this bill comes to my desk as it is now written I will veto it, and therefore I encourage the Senate not to vote to limit debate on the bill at this time.

The Administration supports the enactment of limited, but meaningful, product liability reform at the Federal level. Any legislation must fairly balance the interests of consumers with those of manufacturers and sellers.