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Tort reform passes Minnesota House

Four bills that Republicans say will reduce the cost and number of lawsuits in the state passed the Minnesota House of Representatives last week.

The package of bills passed on mostly party-line voting after several hours of testimony. Republicans say the changes will make Minnesota more business-friendly. Democrats say they will burden plaintiffs and unfairly target regular citizens who were harmed or injured and have legitimate claims.

The bills:

* Reduce the civil statute of limitations from six years to four.
* Establish an interlocutory appeal on class action lawsuits that immediately stops discovery and other proceedings until a decision on the validity of the class.
* Limit attorney fees for cases like wrongful termination or sexual harassment.
* Reduce the interest rate on judgments to a market-based rate no lower than 4 percent. The current rate is 10 percent.

The Minnesota Association for Justice lobbied against the proposals. The Minnesota Chamber of Commerce and other groups support the changes.

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