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May 11, 2010 11:00 AM, EDT

S.C. Trucking Assn. May Withdraw Support on Tort Reform

The South Carolina Trucking Association said it will withdraw support of a tort reform measure it championed if lawmakers do not kill amendments that the association said have weakened the bill.

“They’re continuing to kill time I think in the hopes that we will accept the weakened bill, which we will not do,” said Rick Todd, president of the South Carolina Trucking Association.

The original tort measure passed the House and was sent to a Senate judiciary subcommittee in March, where two sections were amended.

The original bill allowed the defendant in a traffic suit to introduce evidence about whether the injured plaintiff was wearing a seat belt at the time of the collision.

That provision has been amended to allow what backers of the bill before its amendments said is in some cases a “gag” rule against seat belt evidence.

The House’s bill also capped punitive damage awards at $350,000 but amendments make it easy to exceed that cap, Todd said.