Trial-Lawyer Earmarks: Twisting Law, the Economy

By November 29, 2007Briefly Legal

A good update from Bloomberg on the largely overlooked special-interest language that the plaintiff’s bar is having their congressional allies write into legislation. Their goal? More lawsuits, more lawyers’ fees, more jackpot justice.

Nov. 29 (Bloomberg) — U.S. trial lawyers have spent years fighting off litigation limits pushed by the Bush administration and congressional Republicans. Now it’s their turn to take the offensive.

Provisions backed by the lawyers have already been inserted in more than a dozen bills. They’ve scored a victory for victims of railroad accidents and strengthened consumer rights in prescription-drug cases. Now, they are quietly joining with advocacy groups to push legislation to limit the use of arbitration in consumer-rights disputes, preserve state regulations opposed by companies and make it easier to sue Chinese manufacturers.

With their Democratic allies holding only slim majorities in Congress, the trial bar is keeping its sights set low, avoiding both sweeping demands and a high-profile lobbying campaign. “This is trial lawyers working to enhance their revenue,” said Victor Schwartz, an attorney at Shook, Hardy and Bacon LLP in Washington who favors curbing lawsuits.

The Pacific Research Institute’s study, “Jackpot Justice,” reported that excessive, out-of-control litigation imposes a cost of $865 billion on the U.S. economy every year. That’s $9,827 for a family of four.

Trial lawyers think that figure is way too low.

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