Trial Lawyer Conventions Have Admitted Media in the Past

Writing at’s Legal Blog Watch, Robert J. Ambrogi finds himself unimpressed with the American Association for Justice’s excuses for not opening its summer convention in San Francisco to the media. From “The AAJ’s Misguided Media Ban“:

Ray De Lorenzi, the AAJ’s associate director of communications, said the event was open only to members of the national plaintiff-lawyers’ group, according to Legal Newsline. “No media have ever been allowed at our conventions,” he said. “This is for members only.”

Unfortunately for Mr. De Lorenzi, it is simply not true to say that media have never been allowed at AAJ’s conventions. I can say that unequivocally because I attended a number of the organization’s conventions as a credentialed member of the news media and also arranged for other reporters at my publications to attend. On more than one occasion, I conducted face-to-face interviews with the association’s president during the annual convention, usually with the organization’s director of media relations sitting in, so I have no doubt they knew I was there.

Ambrogi suggests the AAJ is making a PR mistake by hiding itself away. Seems to us they’ve actually succeeded in their goals of controlling the message. Here are several stories and blog posts on health care lobbying:

The lobbying efforts of the American Association for Justice are not mentioned once in any of these articles. Apparently if you’re the special interest of the plaintiffs’ bar, you can escape stories about health-care lobbying just by keeping your head down and banning reporters from the AAJ convention addresses of Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi or Energy and Commerce Chairman Henry Waxman.

On July 17th we posted at the Point of Law blog a list of the health-care provisions the AAJ lobbied on in the second quarter of 2009 – a period in which the AAJ reported $1.15 million in lobbying expenditures. We’ll just cut and paste the list below.

The first two entries on page 16 were also featured in the first quarter 2009 AAJ disclosure, but the rest are new.

S 391 (Healthy Americans Act); specific interest in provisions in Title VI and VII relating to payments to States for implementing measures related to liability for medical malpractice.

Lobbying with regard to medical malpractice liability as it relates to any health care reform proposal; also lobbying in response to “Call to Action: Health Reform 2009” (a White Paper issued by Senator Baucus); specific interest in proposed health courts and other malpractice compensation models.

Affordable Health Choices Act (HELP Committee health care reform bill; unnumbered as of 6/30/09); specific interest in amendments relating to liability for medical negligence.

Coburn amendment #88, not offered as of 6/30/09; to establish a grant program for states to develop, implement, and evaluate three alternative models to the current tort litigation system, including an expert review panel, an administrative health care tribunal, and a combination of these systems.

Enzi amendment #2, withdrawn; to provide federal funding for states to develop and implement alternative compensation models for medical malpractice.

Gregg amendment #29, not offered as of 6/30/09; to limit the legal rights of patients injured by negligent medical care.

Gregg amendment #30, not agreed to; to place caps on damages in medical malpractice suits for grievances regarding obstetrical and gynecological services.

Hatch amendment #5, not offered as of 6/30/09; to shield doctors and hospitals from liability for medical malpractice while limiting the legal rights of patients who seek emergency room services.

Hatch amendment #6, not offered as of 6/30/09; to shield doctors and hospitals from liability for medical malpractice while limiting the legal rights of patients who reside in rural and medically underserved communities.

Hatch amendment #8, withdrawn; to prohibit the conclusions and recommendations of the Center for Health Outcomes Research and Evaluation from being used by a plaintiff in a civil action against a health care provider, health care organization, or the manufacturer or seller of a medical product.

H.R.1478/ S. 1347 (Carmelo Rodriguez Military Medical Accountability Act of 2009); to allow members of the Armed Forces to sue the United States for damages for certain injuries caused by improper medical care.

H.R. 1998 (Health Care Safety Net Enhancement Act); to amend the Public Health Service Act to include emergency services and other related services pursuant to the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA), and to provide liability protection for hospitals, physicians, and other licensed independent practitioners who provide services to patients covered by EMTALA.

H.R. 1188 (Access to Emergency Medical Services Act); specific interest in provision calling for the establishment of a United States Bipartisan Commission on Access to Emergency Medical Services to study emergency services pursuant to the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA) including the potential legal liability of health care professionals and providers with respect to services furnished under EMTALA.

Join the discussion 2 Comments

  • Jacob says:

    Whats the chance this single payer health system gets passed and the plaintiffs have to wait on a list to get mri and other diagnostics like in canada. Cant do much with little meds to show to the jury.

  • Jim O'Hare AIC AIS VP medmal claims PIC FL says:

    Does the plaintiffs bar really want to fix med mal? Not a chance. When the total cash spent on any given case yields about 40 % actually getting to the injured party, The 60% comprises contingency fees, experts and legal fees for both sides. Big money. That 60% could be trimmed significantly by changing the forum for this specialized area of negligence = arbitration. Save a quick 30% while the injured gets the same cash, or more. Read on , it gets better.

    Lets be honest- does any doctor get a jury of his/her peers? No, many jurors get their medical training by watching House. Arbitration is a panel of docs of some sort- you know, equal station and rank in the community, the definition of peer. No way a lay jury gets the complexities and subtleties of causation, or actual negligence. Put a podiatrist or chiropractor on the panel, certainly peer material.

    Are verdicts amped up by the Hollywood antics used to sway emotions? You bet it does. Another reason to get out of the courtroom and into the arbitration forum. So what would we get? Leveled?

    The Doc gets a jury of his peers ( leveling the playing field), the hollywood factor that amps up verdicts goes away, the injured party gets the money quickly, and most of it, expenses plummet, premiums come down, access to policies increase along with the limits, defensive medicine decreases, policies become affordable, the cost of healthcare drops, the courts get declogged, time is saved along with big dollars, while the attorneys still make a nice living. I could go on !! Good idea? Tell me it is not!

    Good ideas never get any traction, lets just shuffle the same deck of cards. Change the forum. Be careful of those that scream for change, when the tranlation of their argument is :to preserve and further maximize their own coffers. Adjuser of med mal claims since 1985. regards Jim

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