A new report from the American Tort Reform Association and the U.S. Chamber’s Institute for Legal Reform, “The Trial Lawyer Underground: Covertly Lobbying the Executive Branch,” documents how plaintiffs’ lawyers have been able to successfully lobby the executive branch to expand civil liability (and increase their bottom lines) over the past few years.
The report details instances in which the American Association for Justice (AAJ), the plaintiffs’ lawyer lobbying group, has lobbied federal agencies for major policy changes that increase litigation at the expense of investment, innovation and economic competitiveness.
“The plaintiffs’ lawyers have become very adept at making end runs around Congress to the back rooms of federal agencies, where the rules are written and where there is little media scrutiny,” said ILR President Lisa A. Rickard.
For example, “Even when an FDA official grudgingly admitted to a House subcommittee last year that AAJ lobbyists were the only ones to meet directly with the agency before it proposed a dramatic rule-change, most media ignored the story,” said ATRA president Tiger Joyce. “The rule change was designed to sidestep Congress and overturn a Supreme Court decision by altering longstanding authority for warning labels on generic drugs.” The change could generate a tsunami of litigation enriching trial lawyers, but costing consumers an estimated $4 billion annually.
This and other examples of policy changes that have increased litigation are fully detailed in the report.