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Tort tied up


To everyone's surprise, the Republican-dominated state Legislature has fumbled in its effort to craft a workable tort-reform bill. Big business has for years pushed for restrictions on the ability of consumers to sue companies for negligence, and for caps on damage awards; a bill to do that passed the Legislature last year but was vetoed by Gov. Lawton Chiles. This year, with more Republican legislators than ever, plus Jeb Bush in the governor's chair, the reforms were seen as a shoo-in. Yet by Tuesday negotiations on two competing bills in the House and Senate had broken down amid claims that key players had conflicts of interest.