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December 09, 2004


Hantler on the trial bar

Steve Hantler, assistant general counsel of DaimlerChrysler, published an op-ed in Tuesday's Wall Street Journal entitled "How to Beat the Trial Bar." ($) Hantler gives corporate legal counsel and other tort reformers many good ideas about how to fight back against the litigation industry. Our readers might also enjoy his characterization of trial lawyers' strategy:

Page One from the [trial lawyer] playbook is research and development. Right now there are several dozen trial-lawyer firms poring over every successful company's government filings, press releases and all their public documents. The purpose: To find the next billion-dollar "mistake."

Page Two is testing this alleged mistake on mock juries and the media. If the story sells, they move to Page Three and bring the issue to government regulators, including state attorneys general, and try to involve them.

Page Four is filing the lawsuit, if possible in one of those magic jurisdictions that the American Tort Reform Association calls "Judicial Hellholes." Page Five is staging a press conference or working with their allies at the network news magazines to generate incendiary coverage about their lawsuits. In Old West parlance, some of these events could be called "necktie parties" -- that is, public hangings. Trial lawyers have even been known to brief financial analysts who cover a company's stock in an effort to drive down share price.

Those interested in some of Mr. Hantler's other writings, in more depth, should check out his two recent contributions to the Manhattan Institute's Civil Justice Forum series, "The Seven Myths of Highly Effective Plaintiffs' Lawyers" and "Toward Greater Judicial Leadership in Asbestos Litigation."

Posted by James R. Copland at 05:49 PM | TrackBack (0)



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The Manhattan Insitute's Center for Legal Policy.