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House OKs bill that excuses punitive damages

The Arizona House has passed a bill that would release businesses from punitive damage claims.

Lawmakers in a 38-20 vote gave final approval Wednesday to legislation that keeps consumers from suing manufacturers or service providers for punitive damages if government regulators’ standards were still met.

Supporters say prohibiting punitive damages, which are awarded on top of actual damages if a defendant acts recklessly or with malice, would foster a better economic climate.

Republican Rep. Kimberly Yee, the bill’s sponsor, says it will not apply when manufacturers act illegally or hide information to gain a product’s approval.

Detractors argue the bill would make it harder to use litigation to get companies to repair defective products.

The legislation, which already passed through the Senate, now heads to Gov. Jan Brewer’s desk.

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