INSTEAD of the latest on Hollywood stars, moviegoers may get a dose of advocacy this month when they settle into their seats for the feature presentation.
Coming to theaters are commercials that are intended to spell out the perils of frivolous lawsuits as told by “everyday Americans,” including small-business owners who have been hit with costly lawsuits they believed were arbitrary and abusive.
The series of two-minute trailers is the latest salvo in a long-running political battle over whether there should be curbs on bringing civil lawsuits. President George W. Bush often criticized what he called “junk lawsuits,” but trial lawyers fought back, citing research by the RAND Institute and other groups that as few as 2 percent of injured people file lawsuits.
The United States Chamber of Commerce, which represents three million businesses, is hoping this “Faces of Lawsuit Abuse” ad campaign, from its Institute for Legal Reform, can revitalize interest in restricting litigation. The tales, now running on radio, television and the Internet, will appear on the big screen for audiences in Washington, D.C., and in Colorado and Louisiana. The plan is to then expand to theaters nationwide.
The campaign is not pushing any specific legislation, but Joanne Doroshow, executive director of the Center for Justice and Democracy, a consumer advocacy group, said the chamber was trying to fend off legislative changes to mandatory arbitration clauses.
“They want to make sure that consumers don’t have the right to go to court when there are disputes in consumer contracts like health insurance, credit cards or mortgages,” she said.
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