A compromise plan to make Iowa regulations and rules for court cases more “business friendly” cleared the Iowa House last night with Republican votes, and Democrat Governor Tom Vilsack’s expected to sign it into law. Republican Representative Lance Horbach (hor’-bawk) of Tama praised Vilsack for compromising in order to win support for another idea — the new state economic development fund. Horbach says it was an extremely difficult decision for Vilsack because he’s vetoed some of the ideas before. Horbach says the changes will hopefully reduce the number of frivolous lawsuits that’re filed in Iowa. Horbach says “everybody is lawsuit crazy” and he cited the case of the woman who won millions in a lawsuit over spilled coffee from McDonalds. But Democrat Representative Don Shoultz of Waterloo says the bill’s changes will make it almost impossible to collect any punitive damages in a product liability case. Shoultz called it a “ridiculous” and “irresponsible” bill. Democrat Representative Kurt Swaim of Bloomfield, an attorney, argued against the new rules which seek to limit some of the punitive damages awarded in civil lawsuits. Swaim says there’s a presumption that if injured people go to court, they’re doing something bad, but when businesses go to court, it’s an entirely different matter. The bill now goes back to the Senate and must be approved in identical form before it’s sent to Governor Vilsack.
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