Center for America

News Releases About Legal Reform

Apr 6, 2005

 

ATRA Annual Meeting Brings Together

Key Legal Reform Leaders
 

Washington, DC, April 5, 2005

The American Tort Reform Association convened for its annual membership meeting on April 5th in Washington to review the organization’s annual report, elect a new Board of Directors, and discuss plans for 2005.

 

In the legislative meeting that followed, several major figures in the campaign for legal reform joined ATRA members to discuss the importance of the work being done by the organization.  Keynote speaker Harriet Miers, Counsel to the President, was joined by ATRA President Tiger Joyce, Center for America Chairman Steve Hantler (Chrysler LLC), National Association of Manufacturers President and former Michigan Governor John Engler; Cam Crawford, Executive Director, South Carolinians for Tort Reform; and ATRA’s General Counsel, Victor Schwartz, who is a partner of Shook Hardy & Bacon.

 

Speakers lauded ATRA for its effective legal reform advocacy, especially with the release of the comprehensive Judicial Hellholes 2004® report, which identifies the counties across the country where the trial bar has created a pro-plaintiff legal climate prone to high jury awards and court rulings unfairly favorable to plaintiffs. Talking about the report, Tiger Joyce said, “[It] was the most comprehensive and successful to date. We reached millions of people through earned media including a live broadcast by C-SPAN of our press event at the National Press Club. Our Hellholes report has and will continue to play a critical role in shining the spotlight on the abuses of our legal system and providing solutions to problems in the Hellholes.”

 

Joyce reiterated the importance of the members of ATRA stating, “The past record-setting year for states enacting civil justice reforms was possible because of the support of ATRA members”. As legal reform takes center stage in many state legislatures, ATRA’s commitment to support reform will be evident through their continued research and development of in-depth solutions. Joyce concluded his remarks by addressing the goals of ATRA’s 2005 agenda, commenting, “We will continue working closely with states that are trying to fix their broken legal systems and work on the federal level to help push through important legislation.”

 

Steve Hantler introduced John Engler saying, “Governor Engler brings to the national level his passion for tort reform and the major success in tort reform he achieved during his three terms as Michigan’s governor.”

 

John Engler had high praise for Tiger Joyce. “The true measure of a leader is in how you respond to adversity,” said Gov. Engler.  “I believe Tiger Joyce has proven himself to be a strong and resolute leader. Today we are beginning to see some truly exciting results of the work he has done, and that is profound testimony to his leadership.”

 

Gov. Engler left no doubt about the commitment of NAM to achieve legal reform.  “Everywhere I go the story is the same – frivolous lawsuits, venue abuse and jackpot justice are strangling job growth.  For all of our members, and for the future of our country, it is vital that we achieve real legal reforms at the state level to create a fair and predictable legal system from coast to coast.”

 

He went on to point out that NAM helped to organize the Center for America to accomplish three goals:

  • To win public support for pro-reform candidates for governor, legislatures, supreme courts and attorney  general;

  • To enact legislation and court rules that substantially reduce, if not eliminate, incentives for frivolous lawsuits, excessive claims and verdicts;

  • And to motivate the public to support reforms.

Harriet Miers, Counsel to the President, echoed the need for legal reform, saying that the President fully supports reforms to end lawsuit abuse.  She pointed out that while the Class Action Fairness Act took almost seven years to pass in the Congress, the President intends to make comprehensive legal reform a priority in his second term.

 

 ATRA General Counsel Victor Schwartz added, “Most attempts at legal reform have gone down because of divisions in the business community, not because of the trial lawyers. The only practical solution is LARA (Lawsuit Abuse Reduction Act, H.B. 420), because it restores the business community with weaponry against baseless and frivolous lawsuits.”

 

Schwartz went on to identify the three major threats to the U.S. civil justice system, and outlined ATRA’s ongoing role in creating solutions to these problems. Through what he has termed litigation tourism (plaintiff lawyers presenting cases in venues where plaintiffs have no pre-existing claim to personal or business opportunities) combined with ATRA’s Hellhole jurisdictions, Schwartz fears the destruction of our legal system. He articulated two other major problems: the dangerous alliance between state attorneys general and contingency fee trial lawyers and the frivolous cases brought as a result of inadequate consumer protection laws.

 

Contributor:

 
Kristyn Shayon
Editor, Website Resources
Center for America
973-476-7120
CFA@lawexec.com
 
   
 

 

If you know of or have authored an article or report that deserves recognition among corporate and public policy leaders, please send an email to LegalReform@lawexec.com.  Original material © 2005 Center for America.