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Trial lawyer lobbying: Let the meme blossom



Walter's post on lobbying by the U.S. Chamber's Institute for Legal Reform prompts us to take another look at the American Association for Justice's lobbying disclosure form for the 3rd quarter. The trial lawyers' lobby lists lobbying expenses of $1.32 million for the quarter.

Like the Chamber's ILR, the AAJ pursues legislation in many, many subject areas. Is there a unifying theme? You might describes its activities thusly: "The American Association for Justice, the chief lobbying organization for the nation's trial lawyers, spent more than $1.3 million in the latest quarter trying to expand the legal grounds for suing business, government and individuals.

The trial lawyers' lobby also continued its push for a $1.6 billion tax break for its attorney members, allowing them to deduct upfront the loans they extend to clients to keep help their lawsuits alive."

Oh yes, it's there. Page 17, the taxation category:


H.R. 6049 (Renewable Energy and Job Creation Act); specific interest in Section 311 of House-passed bill, regarding uniform treatment of attorney-advanced expenses and court costs in contingency fee cases; also specific interest in the same issue in versions of the bill in which the language of Section 311 was not included (e.g. S. 3335; Jobs, Energy, Families and Disaster Relief Act; and S. Amdt. 5633 and S. Amdt. 5635 to H.R. 6049; and H.R. 7060 and H.R. 7202).

This tax subsidy for trial lawyers was a big issue last spring (see Overlawyered), and it will surely return as a priority for the AAJ during the 111th Congress.

We've put the AAJ's entire list of areas and legislation lobbied in the extended entry.

Copyright/Patent/Trademark

  • H.R. 1908/S. 1145/S. 3600 (Patent Reform Act; specific interest in provisions relating to venue for patent cases, and damages.)
Consumer Issues/Safety/Products
  • H.R. 3010/S. 1782 (Arbitration Fairness Act; to prohibit mandatory binding arbitration agreements in consumer contracts.)
  • H.R. 5312 (Automobile Arbitration Fairness Act); relating to the use of arbitration agreements to resolve disputes arising under motor vehicle consumer sales or lease contracts.
  • H.R. 6126/S. 2838 (Nursing Home Arbitration Act); relating to the use of arbitration agreements to resolve disputes involving nursing home care and nursing home contracts.
  • S. 742/H.R. 3285 (Ban Asbestos in America Act); H.R. 3339 (Bruce Vento Ban Asbestos and Prevent Mesothelioma Act); also H.R. 6903 (Revised version of Bruce Vento Ban Asbestos and Prevent Mesothelioma Act)
  • H.R. 4040 (Consumer Product Safety Modernization Act); now public law 110-314; relating to the reauthorization and operation of the Consumer Product Safety Commission; specific interest in Section 231 of subtitle D, relating to preemption; i.e. the effect of CPSC regulation on state law.
  • H.R. 5913 (Protecting Americans from Unsafe Foreign Products Act); to provide for service of process over foreign nationals in cases involving defective products causing injury in the United States.
Financial Institutions/Investments/Sec
  • S. 3033 (Securities Litigation Attorney Accountability Act)
  • H.R. 3997 (as House vehicle for the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act); specific interest in the effect of the Secretary's authority under the bill on certain pending and future claims and on the issue of judicial review of the Secretary's actions; similar specific interests in Senate version of the bill (H.R. 1424; Now Public Law 110-343)
Government Issues
  • Bills relating to the operation of federal and/or state courts: S. 2450 now Public Law 110-322; to amend the Federal Rules of Evidence to address the waiver of the attorney-client privilege and the work product doctrine.
  • H.R. 1979/S. 2083 (Interstate Recognition of Notarizations Act; to require any federal or state court to recognize any notarization made by a notary public licensed by a state other than where the court is located.)
  • H.R. 3753/S. 1638 (To increase the pay of federal judges.)
  • S. 2449/H.R. 5884 (Sunshine in Litigation Act; to amend Title 28, U.S.C., relating to the protective orders, sealing of cases, and disclosure of discovery information in civil actions.)
  • S. 2041/H.R. 4854 (False Claims Act Correction Act; to make any person who knowingly presents for payment or approval a false or fraudulent claim for government money or property liable for a civil penalty.)
  • H.R. 5833, to provide for the direct payment of attorney fees and costs to the attorney representing a prevailing party in certain Social Security Disabilities Insurance and Supplemental Security Income Claims.
Health Issues
  • H.R. 6381/S. 3398 (Medical Device Safety Act); to amend the Food Drug and Cosmetic Act to clarify the scope of federal preemption of state law with regard to medical devices.
  • Congressional lobbying in response to proposed FDA rule regarding supplemental application to update warning labels on prescription drugs, medical devices and biologics.
  • H.R. 1328/S. 1200 (Indian Health Care Improvement Act; specific interest in authority of the Secretary of HHS under section 213 to promulgate standards for service under the bill.)
  • H.R. 1343 (Health Centers Renewal Act; to authorize appropriations for health centers program under the Public Health Services Act); specific interest in Section 5 of House-passed bill relating to liability protections for health service practitioners providing services in emergency areas.
Marine/Maritime/Boating/Fisheries
  • S. 846 (Longshore and Harbor Worker Compensation Act Amendments) H.R. 2989; to amend certain provisions of the Death on the High Seas Act. H.R. 2830/S. 1892 (Coast Guard Authorization Act; Specific interest in provision in each bill relating to class action suits for crew wages on passenger vessels.)
  • H.R. 6408/ S. 3204 (Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act); to establish requirements to ensure the security and safety of passengers and crew on cruise vessels; specific interest in section amending the Death on the High Seas Act.
Railroads
  • H.R. 2095 (Railroad Safety Improvement Act); as passed by both Houses; specific interest in Section 210 relating to preemption of state law regarding accidents at highway-rail grade crossings; Section 109 relating to an FRA study concerning the discovery and admission into evidence of certain reports and surveys; Section 419 relating to prompt medical attention for rail employees following an accident; Section 501 relating to unsolicited attorney communications following an accident.
  • Also sections in S. 1889 and S. Amendment 5259 relating to similar issues.

Roads/Highway

  • Congressional lobbying regarding proposed Rule of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration regarding roof crush resistance standards.
Taxation/Internal Revenue Code
  • H.R. 6049 (Renewable Energy and Job Creation Act); specific interest in Section 311 of House-passed bill, regarding uniform treatment of attorney-advanced expenses and court costs in contingency fee cases; also specific interest in the same issue in versions of the bill in which the language of Section 311 was not included (e.g. S. 3335; Jobs, Energy, Families and Disaster Relief Act; and S. Amdt. 5633 and S. Amdt. 5635 to H.R. 6049; and H.R. 7060 and H.R. 7202).
Torts
  • H.R. 3543; H.R. 6594 (James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act); specific interest in Title II relating to the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund. H.R. 989 (Innocent Sellers Fairness Act); to limit civil actions against product sellers.
  • H.R. 2183/ S. 1323 (Commonsense Consumption Act); to limit civil actions against food marketers, manufacturers, distributors and advertisers.
  • Bills Relating to Liability for Medical Malpractice: H.R. 5480/S. 2662 (Medical Funding Warning Response Act); specific interest in Title II, relating to health care liability. S. 1481/H.R. 2497 (Fair and Reliable Medical Justice Act) S. 243 (Medical Care Access Protection Act) S. 244 (Healthy Mothers and Healthy Babies Access to Care Act) H.R. 1626 (Family Health Care Accessibility Act) H.R. 6093 (Carmelo Rodriguez Military Medical Liability Act); to allow members of the Armed Services to use the United States for damages for certain injuries caused by improper medical care.
  • H.R. 2191/S. 11 (Volunteer Pilot Organization Act); to provide liability protection to nonprofit volunteer pilot organization.

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Isaac Gorodetski
Project Manager,
Center for Legal Policy at the
Manhattan Institute
igorodetski@manhattan-institute.org

Katherine Lazarski
Press Officer,
Manhattan Institute
klazarski@manhattan-institute.org

 

Published by the Manhattan Institute

The Manhattan Insitute's Center for Legal Policy.