Lawsuit Opposition Group Tied To Tobacco

Times-Picayune LA
Monday, August 7, 2000

A Louisiana organization working to stop frivolous lawsuits was started with the help of donations from tobacco companies, a study has found.
Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse, which bills itself as a grass-roots organization of people concerned about a civil justice system run amok, was actually founded in 1992 with the help of the tobacco industry, which provided financing directly and indirectly, according to the study by a national consumer organization.
Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse and Louisianans for Legal Reform, a related group, were started as part of a national network of "front groups" that got money and strategic help from big tobacco and other large corporations, the study says.
The study's authors combed through thousands of documents released in connection with states' lawsuits against cigarette manufacturers as well as tort reform groups' applications for tax-exempt status. In many cases, tobacco firms contributed money to industry associations, lobbyists or law firms, which then passed money along to anti-lawsuit organizations in several states, the study says.
But Louisiana stood out, said Joanne Doroshow, one of the study's authors and executive director of the Center for Justice & Democracy.
"It is the only CALA group in the country where we could actually find that the tobacco industry directly set them up and contributed enormously o their existence," Doroshow said. "There was no attempt to hide the contributions. In other states, there seemed to be an effort to funnel the money through a (Washington D.C.) law firm."
For a copy of the complete article, contact CJ&D.

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