Myth Busting

ATRA's annual “Judicial Hellholes" early gift for corporate CEOs

Every year, the American Tort Reform Association (ATRA) releases a recycled edition of its widely ridiculed and debunked “Judicial Hellholes” report. This year proves no different: ATRA not only reuses its cover, but again the report lacks any real facts or data. With funders like Philip Morris, Dow Chemical, Exxon and State Farm, it’s no doubt that ATRA’s report serves as a corporate propaganda tool used to dupe the public.

U.S. Chamber ignores asbestos deaths

This week’s National Law Journal published a letter I submitted in response to a tone-deaf op-ed from the U.S. Chamber’s Institute for Legal Reform. 

As is par for the course, the Chamber makes their usual baseless claims on behalf of asbestos manufacturers and their corporate donors.  More importantly, it did not make one single mention of the tens of thousands of Americans that have died from asbestos exposure.  As I wrote in the letter:     

U.S. Chamber's ILR Hypocritical Board Members

The U.S. Chamber’s Institute for Legal Reform (ILR) has the sole mission of restricting the ability of individuals harmed by negligent corporations to access the civil justice system.  One ILR board member, Johnson & Johnson, has not only plowed money into this cause, but also has a sordid legal history that underscores the hypocrisy of ILR and its corporate financers.

In 2007, Johnson & Johnson filed their own lawsuit against the American Red Cross for using the red cross symbol on first aid kits and other disaster-preparedness items create by the Red Cross.  That same year Johnson & Johnson filed a patent lawsuit against fellow ILR board member Abbott Laboratories over the arthritis drug Humira.  Johnson & Johnson’s love for lawsuits continued when they file another patent lawsuit against Boston Scientific in 2010 for a dispute over heart stent devices.     
 
Johnson & Johnson is not alone in their hypocritical actions to deny Americans’ access to justice while at the same time using the courts to advance their bottom line.  AAJ’s newest report, Do As I Say, Not As I Sue, exposes ten ILR board members who claim American businesses are hindered by too many lawsuits, but show no hesitation in liberally using the courts to help themselves. 
 
Read more about the U.S. Chamber’s ILR and download the report at www.justice.org/USChamber

Do As I Say, Not As I Sue

Today in a Roll Call op-ed, AAJ President Gary M. Paul calls out the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and its Institute for Legal Reform (ILR) for their latest attack on the civil justice system.  Mr. Paul writes:

And in its typical self-serving fashion, ILR has seized on the hardships of millions of unemployed Americans, claiming that this country needs “jobs, not lawsuits,” despite no actual evidence to bolster its nonsensical claims.

ILR’s board members run the gamut of industries — from chemical makers and drug companies to Wall Street banks. And they have more in common than just their commitment to closing the courthouse door on injured Americans. The corporations that finance ILR have long, storied histories of using the courts for their own agendas — to gain the upper hand against their competitors, customers and even each other.

Today also marks the ILR’s annual summit – a daylong strategy session dedicated to discussing ways to undermine the civil justice system. 

To commemorate the event, AAJ released a report, Do As I Say, Not As I Sue, exposing ILR board member companies that hypocritically use the courts to advance their own agendas, while at the same time advocating legislation that would close the courthouse doors to anyone who would hold them accountable for their wrongdoing.

GOP Sen. Mike Lee Calls Medical Malpractice Reform "Constitutionally Problematic"

A medical malpractice provision included the Senate GOP jobs bill has gained another conservative critic over constitutional concerns.  In an interview with Think Progress, Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) described federal efforts to limit state medical malpractice laws as “constitutionally problematic:”

LEE: Congress needs to be very careful when it enters into a uniquely state law area like tort. So tort reform needs to be undertaken very carefully insofar as it’s done at the federal level. There are some tort suits that proceed in federal court and, um, but if we venture much outside of that, particularly if we get into telling state courts how to interpret state law, that can be constitutionally problematic.

KEYES: [State tort reform] might not be justified as far as the enumerated powers go?

LEE: Correct, correct. . . . [tort reform] is something that can be addressed in some way at the federal level, but most of it needs to be done at the state level.

GAO Deals Major Blow to Asbestos Manufacturers

Following last month’s House Judiciary Committee hearing on asbestos trust  that was practically commissioned by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) has released a report on the issue; of course, requested by House Judiciary Chairman Lamar Smith for the U.S. Chamber.

Conservatives Call Out GOP Jobs Bill For Violating Federalism Principles

Another prominent constitutional conservative has come out against federal legislation to reform state medical malpractice laws.  Writing for the National Review Online, Carrie Severino joined Georgetown constitutional law professor Randy E. Barnett, in calling out Senate Republicans for being hypocrites when it comes to federalism.  Both Severino and Barnett argue that by including medical malpractice reform – The Medical Care Access Protection Act (S.197) – in their Jobs Through Growth Act, Senate Republicans violate their commitment to limited federal power.

Lowering cost by preventing errors

According to reports, at their annual meeting in San Francisco the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) have been trumping out the misleading talking point that limiting the ability of patients to seek justice in the courtroom will help ease the health care crisis in this country.  This notion is just simply not supported by the actual facts.  Preventing medical errors from occurring in the first place will reduce costs and more importantly, save lives. 

Investigation Uncovers Home Health Companies "Gaming Medicare" to Increase Profits

 The USA Today reported on a Senate invetigation just released that uncovers for-profit home health companies "gaming" the Medicare system to increase profits:

Three home health care companies manipulated the Medicare system by charging for unnecessary services, according to an investigation released Monday by the Senate Finance Committee.

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Rick Perry's "loser-pays" bill serves as little more than a cheap talking point

Rick Perry likes to talk a big game about the tort reform he’s passed in Texas, but his rhetoric is rarely ever backed by reality. The “loser-pays” legislation that he is so fond of touting not only has nothing to do with job creation, but the bill itself serves as little more than a cheap talking point that he can use on the campaign trail. As Reuters reports: