June 23, 2008
Viewing the Battle Over Tort Reform
Interesting, expansive article in the New York Times -- To the Trenches: The Tort War Is Raging On, by Jonathan Glater. Thanks to Evan Anziska for emailing it to me. Here's an excerpt:
In a Washington ballroom bedecked with flags honoring explorers who overcame oceans and mountains to pursue international trade, Thomas J. Donohue congratulated the assembled modern merchants — a group of executives, lobbyists and lawyers — for challenging a more mundane adversary.
“It took guts, bravery and vision to get behind what must have seemed like an insurmountable task — taking on the powerful trial bar,” said Mr. Donohue, the chief executive of the United States Chamber of Commerce. “We have succeeded beyond our expectations.”
There were plenty of reasons for self-congratulation at the dinner, held earlier this month to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the chamber’s Institute for Legal Reform. Some of the best-known plaintiff-side lawyers in the country — Richard F. Scruggs, Melvyn I. Weiss and William S. Lerach — have all pleaded guilty to charges that they tried to manipulate the justice system. The very phrase “trial lawyer” has become associated with unadulterated greed; the Association of Trial Lawyers of America now calls itself the American Association for Justice.
But it is still too early to declare an end to the so-called tort wars, a decades-old conflict over the rules governing civil lawsuits. Corporate interests have won several potent victories, but trial lawyers continue to try to undo legislation restricting litigation and are pursuing new strategies of their own.
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