[Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: William J. Clinton (1995, Book I)]
[May 4, 1995]
[Page 639]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office www.gpo.gov]



Statement on Proposed Legal Reform Legislation
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.