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In its continuing effort to pander to big corporations, the Bush administration has found another quieter, more subtle way to make it more difficuilt for consumers to hold corportate wrongdoers accountable for the personal injury and death they cause. 

Limits on lawsuits to shield corporations from accountability for their wrongdoing have been included in 51 rules proposed or adopted since 2005.  Such regulations have been ordered or proposed, for example, for drug labeling and packaging; mattress flammability standards; automobile rollovers; school bus passenger safety. 

The Bush administration relies on the doctrine of federal pre-emption, upheld in recent court decisions, which asserts that federal rules both supersede stricter state rules and absolve companies that comply with them from liability, even if their products ultimately prove dangerous or defective. The biggest stealth tort reformers? The Food and Drug Administration and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which together account for 41 of the new rules.

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