Financial Troubles for the Trial Lawyers

By September 28, 2009Briefly Legal, Health Care

They should just sue their membership. From The Washington Times, “Trial lawyers lobby sinks $6.2M in debt“:

The trial lawyers lobby has been awash in debt and bleeding members – just as it embarks on a national campaign to block any clampdown on medical malpractice lawsuits as part of President Obama’s health care overhaul.

The American Association for Justice, the most prominent group representing plaintiffs’ attorneys, has seen a shake-up in its executive suite and has struggled to deal with what appears to be a mounting budget shortfall. To help it fight congressional efforts to make it harder for patients to sue doctors and lawyers, it recently sent out an extra solicitation to its members, asking them to fork over money for a lobbying campaign.

The most striking evidence of its financial woes is a swift decline in income, which resulted in a more than $6.2 million deficit in its operating budget for the fiscal year ending July 31, 2008, the most recent year for which data are available.

Congrats to the Wash Times for reporting the story, including the news about the group’s failed lawsuit against Wachovia over loans to finance the association’s building. When Jon Haber, AAJ’s CEO, resigned in April, no one covered the leadership issues at AAJ beyond the most perfunctory of reports. (See our commentary at Point of Law.) Considering the group’s major political influence — and now, we see, its financial problems — reporters missed a good story.

We also wrote about the trial lawyers’ latest anti-tort reform campaign on September 15. You can see the AAJ’s message here.

P.S. The group’s Florida affiliate, the Florida Justice Association, has suffered damaging public relations this month after trial lawyers financed a race-baiting mailing in a special state Senate race. The head of the FJA, Scott Carruthers, has apologized, saying, “We had a moral duty to stop it and we didn’t.” As headlined the latest news, “Things can’t get much worse for trial lawyers in Florida.”

Not a good time to be launching the group’s first ever gala inaugural fundraiser, the FJA Justice Ball.

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