Letter to the Editor: Re "Why No Tort Reform? Follow the Money"

Wall Street Journal
Wednesday, September 27, 2000

In "Why No Tort Reform? Follow the Money" (editorial page Sept. 21), the authors, Sherman Joyce and Victor Schwartz, utterly fail to acknowledge the huge discrepancy between the political influence of "trial lawyers" and the practically infinite financial capabilities of corporate interests that seek immunity from consumer lawsuits.
According to the Center for Responsive Politics, so far this election cycle, major industries have contributed huge sums to federal candidates and political parties. The "Finance/Insurance/Real Estate" industry alone has contributed $166 million.
By comparison, contributions from "Lawyers & Lobbyists" total $75 million - far below the corporate total. But even this figure is misleading since it lumps together the contributions of not only plaintiffs' lawyers who are trying to protect the civil justice system, but also corporate lawyers and lobbyists who want to do the opposite.
Trial lawyer political expenditures are dwarfed by those of the corporate world. Perhaps that's one reason why for the past 16 years, lawmakers nationwide have been restricting the rights of consumers to sue corporate wrongdoers, not expanding these rights.
(NOTE: The author of the letter is CJ&D Executive Director Joanne Doroshow.)

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