After the passage in May of the tax-reform legislation that they supported, MANA and the Small Business Legislative Council (SBLC) have turned their sights to legal liability reform. MANA says many of its members have been unable to purchase product liability insurance at an affordable price. According to a study by LRP Publications, a Horsham, Pa.-based group that maintains a nationwide database of verdicts and settlements resulting from personal injury claims, the median jury award to plaintiffs in liability suits tripled from $500,300 in 1993 to $1.8 million in 1999.

While many states are now considering legal liability reform, MANA and SBLC, a 27-year-old independent coalition of trade and professional associations that share a common concern for the future of small business, believe this should be a federal law. They anticipate that Congressmen Steve Chabot (R-OH) and Ken Lucas (D-KY) will introduce a bipartisan legal liability reform bill in the next few weeks.