Posts Tagged ‘Center for Justice & Democracy’

Tort reform opponents play race card

Apparently lacking in meritorious arguments, opponents of tort reform have resorted to a strategy of accusing tort reform advocates of racism. According to the “Center for Justice and Democracy,” “racial prejudice lurks behind the ‘tort reform’ movement.” Among the out-and-out lies in the press release: “‘Tort reform’ laws weaken the only available forum, in some cases, for holding perpetrators of hate groups and hate groups accountable.” But not even the scare paper supports this.

The report suggests that volunteer immunity laws are really a Trojan horse to provide protection for “volunteers for the Ku Klux Klan.” (You may recall that the American Trial Lawyers Association recently falsely suggested that those very same volunteer immunity laws refuted the premise of a recent Newsweek cover story. (see Jan. 9; Dec. 12).)

Evidence? Well, none whatsoever. The CJD cites successful lawsuits against the Klan and Aryan Nations for assaults, a murder, and a church burning, but no tort reformer has suggested that civil liability be limited for those who commit violent crimes or intentional torts. Certainly, the Volunteer Protection Act of 1997 does not; aside from the exclusion in the law for hate groups, the supposed “loophole” that permits states to provide additional protections for volunteers would have no effect on a federal suit for deprivation of civil rights.

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ATLA’s politics

One subtheme at the Association of Trial Lawyers of America’s annual meeting, held this summer in San Francisco, was ATLA’s big plans to develop influence within the Republican Party to go with its strong clout among the Democrats. A trial lawyer/GOP caucus expects soon to have chairpersons in all fifty states. “Asked by the lawyers how to talk to representatives who see them as the enemy,” a pollster and former Newt Gingrich aide offered several pieces of advice including, as a National Law Journal reporter paraphrases it, “tell them you want to give them money”. (David Hechler, “The Elephant and the Trial Lawyer”, National Law Journal, Aug. 5). Scheduled speakers at the meeting included Sens. Tom Daschle (D-S.D.), John Edwards (D-N.C.), John Kerry (D-Mass.), Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and Bob Graham (D-Fla.) and Reps. Dick Gephardt (D-Mo.) and Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).

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