Trial lawyers on trial

National Journal
Saturday, July 12, 2003

Business groups are working hand in hand with the GOP to pass tort-reform bills, put trial lawyers on the defensive, and weaken a key funding source for Democrats.

On the other side, ATLA and its consumer allies, including Public Citizen, USAction, and the Center for Justice and Democracy, have turned up the heat in the Senate through a combination of personal visits, heavy advertising, and grassroots efforts. 

ATLA affiliates and USAction ran TV ads in at least six states to counter the message from doctors and hospital groups. USAction, a grassroots group with affiliates in 23 states that includes the American
Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees; the Communications Workers of America; and the Service Employees International Union, has already spent close to $600,000 this year on ads, according to Jeff Blum, the group's executive director. The unions that belong to the group, as well as trial lawyers, provide the lion's share of USAction’s $1.5 million annual budget, Blum said.

The Center for Justice and Democracy brought medical-malpractice victims to key states, including those with striking doctors. The individual stories, trial lawyers and consumer groups say, could make the difference in swaying a few key senators. "I don't think Congress should decide what a one-size-fits-all cap should be," said Alexander of ATLA. "It should be juries with citizens who listen to the facts. Those who want to take away those rights don't trust juries, but we do."
For a copy of the complete article, contact CJ&D.

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