Those wicked lawyers

Cleveland Scene
Thursday, October 12, 2000

Ohio Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse is, in fact, part of a sophisticated national campaign subsidized by large corporations to transform American tort law. The goal: insulate corporations from lawsuits.
While the public face of these groups is the shop owner and the family doctor, CALAs around the country are indirectly funded by the likes of Philip Morris, Dow Chemical, and Nationwide Insurance. CALAs run a street campaign designed by the American Tort Reform Association, a coalition of more than 300companies and trade associations, to overhaul civil liability laws. Twenty-seven CALAs operate around the country. Smith says the CALAs have "no official ties"to each other, yet their campaigns and promotional materials are virtually identical. CALAs even share the same 1-800 number reception center. "We have a similar message," says Don Wolfe, head of the Silicon Valley CALA. "When a lot of different people go to a doctor for a headache, the doctors give them an aspirin, and the doctors are not in collusion."
By washing the money through the Tort Reform Association, corporations leave few stains on these pseudo-citizens' groups. Big tobacco has taken advantage of the cloak. In 1995, the industry gave the Tort Reform Association $5.5 million -- more than half the ATRA's budget, according to the Center for Justice & Democracy and Public Citizen.
For a copy of the complete article, contact CJ&D.

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