SC House gives tort reform bill gets key approval

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - A proposal to cap how much people can be awarded through civil lawsuits in South Carolina has received key approval.

The House approved the tort reform bill 104-9 on Wednesday. It faces another, perfunctory vote before heading to the Senate.

The measure would limit the amount juries could award to punish a person or business for negligence. Such punitive damages could be $350,000 or three times compensatory damages, whichever is greater.

House leaders called it an economic development issue, since neighboring Georgia, Florida and North Carolina already have the caps.

But opponents said multi-million-dollar lawsuit awards are extremely rare in South Carolina and they doubted the cap would influence whether a company moves to the state.

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