May 2012

Preview: June’s Trial Magazine

Drugs and devices are major areas of focus and concern among AAJ members—and the June issue of Trial, AAJ’s flagship magazine for attorneys and the legal community, looks into the latest on key drug and device litigation topics, including:

AAJ Mourns Loss of Harry Philo

We are mourning the loss of a true giant among trial lawyers. Harry Philo died Monday at the age of 87. He spent his life on a quest for equal justice for all and was involved for more than 30 years with ATLA, now the American Association for Justice. He served as our President from 1980 to 1981, but it was his law career that most distinguished him. He supported numerous civil rights causes, was lead counsel in landmark cases such as Shavers v. Kelley which successfully challenged Michigan's “no-fault” legislation, and exposed the dangerous risk-shifting schemes inherent in construction. Harry was never too busy to advise struggling trial lawyers and we will miss him. 

ALEC’s Campaign to Legislate Corporate Immunity

Despite recent backlash and intense consumer pressure on corporations to drop sponsorship of the shadowy front group, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), many corporations are standing by ALEC. Corporations have used ALEC’s Civil Justice Task Force to get a wide swath of state laws enacted to grant corporate immunity when products injure or even kill consumers. For decades, corporate immunity has been ALEC’s specialty.

Congressional Hearing on ALEC Asbestos Legislation

The House Judiciary Committee Subcommittee on Courts, Commercial and Administrative Law held a hearing on Thursday on H.R. 4369, the “Furthering Asbestos Claim Transparency (FACT) Act of 2012.” As we reported last week, the goals of this legislation are to delay justice for victims of asbestos diseases and allow corporations that have profited from asbestos to deny accountability.

Patients Injured by Generic Drugs Get a Glimmer of Hope from Court, Senators

Even though generic drug makers claim a recent Supreme Court decision gave them immunity from ALL lawsuits, some victims harmed by generic drugs may have a glimmer of hope.  The First Circuit ruled some claims can go forward against the generic maker and upheld a jury award in a case called Bartlett v. Mutual Pharmaceutical Co.  This decision comes after last year’s SCOTUS Pliva v. Mensing decision that granted generic drug makers immunity from most lawsuits.

U.S. House to Hold Hearing on ALEC Asbestos Bill

Shadowy front groups working on behalf of corporations that have profited from asbestos have convinced lawmakers to hold a hearing tomorrow on legislation that delays justice and allows corporations to deny accountability. The legislation was crafted by lobbyists for the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and the U.S. Chamber’s Institute for Legal Reform (ILR).

ALEC Task Force Chair denies ALEC Membership

Why is Victor Schwartz Hiding Ties to ALEC?

A major player in the shadowy corporate front group, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), is now denying his ALEC membership. The Private Sector Chair of ALEC’s Civil Justice Task Force, corporate lobbyist Victor Schwartz, told a reporter that “neither he nor his law firm, Shook, Hardy & Bacon, are members of ALEC” and then declined to comment further.

The Fight Against Forced Arbitration Continues

Today, Bloomberg ran a powerful story on the real-life implications of forced arbitration on consumers and employees. It covers the history of forced arbitration and includes the story of William Kurth. Bloomberg writes:

IOM finds FDA Drug Monitoring Deficiencies

The Institute of Medicine (IOM) released a report Tuesday recommending that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) review drugs on a regular basis for as long as they are on the market in order to catch any new safety issues. The IOM also recommended that the FDA create a comprehensive, publicly available document that reflects risks as they crop up throughout the "lifecycle" of the drug.

Law Day: "No Courts, No Justice, No Freedom"

John Adams said,

“Representative government and trial by jury are the heart and lungs of liberty.”

He and the other Founders wisely set up a system of accountability through the “checks and balances” provided by three co-equal branches of government. And they sealed the deal with the passage of the Bill of Rights, specifically the 6th and 7th Amendments, which provide the right to trial by jury.