Tuesday, May 2, 2006
A few months back, I had a series of posts about humanizing the teaching of Torts, in part by emphasizing to students that the cases involve actual people. In the comments, Ted Frank suggested that the negative impact of tort litigation on society, too, should be made clear - humanizing tort reform, if you will. (See here, here, here, here, here, here, and here for I believe the whole series.)
The American Justice Partnership, a group created by the National Association of Manufacturers (in conjunction with "the American Tort Reform Association, Washington Legal Foundation, Manhattan Institute, Center for Individual Freedom, American Legislative Exchange Council, Council of State Chambers, and a number of state manufacturing associations and chambers of commerce") apparently has the same idea.
For more than 40 years, plaintiff lawyers have spent tens of millions of dollars to convince the American public that they are using the civil justice system to protect average citizens. In fact, many plaintiff lawyers have manipulated the courts so that they stand to gain millions -- and even billions -- in legal fees at the expense of their clients, consumers, patients, employees, average investors, small business owners, corporations assaulted by frivolous and unwarranted lawsuits, and our state and national economies.
The American Justice Partnership is collecting examples of lawsuit abuse so that we and our partner organizations can bring more examples to the attention of government and the media about ways that consumers and companies are being victimized.
The survey is administered (based on the contact e-mail address) by Emerging Trends Consulting Group, which "helps chief legal officers and law department management teams to develop and implement transformative strategies to generate better legal, financial and reputation outcomes." Their client list includes "Sears, DuPont, Baxter International, Viacom, Prudential Financial, Pitney Bowes, McDonald’s Corporation, Manulife Financial, The New York Stock Exchange, International Paper, The Hartford, Lucent Technologies, Tyco International, Shell Oil Company, Schering-Plough, DaimlerChrysler and Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., among others." The group lists a wide range of "legal reform partners and resources." AJP's domain names are registered to Agincourt Corporation, an entity related to Emerging Trends. (Note that I don't think there's anything particularly nefarious here -- I just found the links interesting and thought I'd share.)
Update: In the comments, Ted points out, correctly, that AJP is pretty up-front about what it is -- i.e., not a grassroots group. The "Astroturf" in the title is a reference to the NAM blog post which, in my view, should have noted that AJP is an affiliate of NAM itself. It's not hard to find that out, but it's even easier to say up-front. I should have been clearer about the reference, in any event.