The web of tort ‘reform’

This week, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is holding its annual States and Nation Policy Summit in D.C.  ALEC’s Civil Justice Task Force will meet to discuss new ideas on how to limit your right to access the courts.  ALEC is among the top corporate front groups pushing the tort “reform” movement, especially at the state level.  Below is an excerpt from an article in the upcoming December issue of Trial, the flagship magazine of the American Association for Justice (AAJ).  Be sure to read the full article, The web of tort ‘reform,” here.  


The web of tort ‘reform’

Major corporations have launched a concerted attack on the most basic tenets of civil justice. What they call tort "reform" is in fact a disingenuous ploy to convince Americans that corporations are on the side of ordinary citizens.

Americans have been told for decades that they are living amidst a “litigation explosion” and that frivolous lawsuits are bankrupting businesses. The message is the result of a multi-tiered campaign funded by billions of dollars from major corporations, and it has misled the public about civil justice. Worse, it seeks to limit Americans’ right of access to the courts. The reality is that the number of lawsuits filed has decreased dramatically over the years, and that the lawsuits that are filed are anything but frivolous.1

Legislation introduced in Congress and statehouses, reports released by think tanks, news stories, blog posts, Facebook pages, and tweets are all part of this campaign, and they are connected through a widespread, coordinated, and well-funded corporate network.

Although taxpayers and small businesses are the poster children of this campaign, they are largely excluded from the process. When the curtain on the tort “reform” movement is drawn back, a very small group of executives from Fortune 100 companies controls what seem to be multiple interest groups, creating the appearance of meaningful support for a disturbing concept: that corporations should be let off the hook when their products harm or kill Americans.