TIME TO PUT UP A NEW SIGN outside Congress: "GOP-controlled, business-friendly." After 15 years of pushing for changes to the product-liability litigation system, Corporate America has finally achieved a breakthrough: On May 10, the Senate voted 61 to 37 to pass reform legislation. The Senate version, which would limit punitive damages for lawsuits on defective products, actually is less aggressive than the corresponding House legislation. But it may stand a better chance with the White House, which has threatened to veto a broad-ranging law. A House-Senate conference on the bill is expected as early as this summer.

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