The House sponsor of a controversial bill seeking to reform the state civil lawsuit system defends his measure against criticism that it will protect big corporations. Representative Richard Byrd of Kirkwood denies charges by Democrats that he has crafted a bill designed to allow corporations to shift civil trials to favorable counties. He does admit he wants to end the practice that allows attornies to grab for what he calls a “brass ring verdict” in St. Louis. Republicans claim lax tort-reform measures have driven businesses and their jobs from the state. Governor Bob Holden has indicated he will veto the measure.