A politically oriented compendium today, since the interesting law developments escape either our attention or our comprehension.
- Wall Street Journal, "Chrysler Agrees to Take on Pre-Bankruptcy Product Liability Claims." New York Times Wheels blog, "Chrysler Reverses Stance on Product Liability." Public Citizen claims victory (statement).
- Howard Dean continues to draw attention for his admission that Congress isn't talking tort reform in health care because the trial lawyers are too politically powerful. Charles Krauthammer, a doctor in his past life, observes: "You got to love Howard Dean. He is our best friend. He speaks the truth -- on this he did."
- Philip K. Howard comments in The Atlantic online, "Stonewalling Legal Reform," on the difficulty of finding numbers to make the case for medical malpractice reform -- or any health care reform, for that matter: "Congress should listen to doctors and patients. They see these problems with modern healthcare. The fact that it's hard to 'score' the precise savings doesn't mean that the changes are unimportant."
- Lisa Rickard, president of the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform, has a commentary, "Who Really Speaks for Consumers in the Arbitration Debate?," arguing that the motive behind the campaign against arbitration by "consumer activists" and lawyers is to stimulate creation of large class actions: "[The] plaintiffs' lawyers want first to cripple consumer arbitration. And next, they want to skim those few lucrative class action lawsuits from the sea of consumer disputes."
- Florida Governor Charlie Crist has named the successor to Sen. Mel Martinez (R-FL), who is retiring early from his term. Crist tabbed his former chief of staff, George LeMieux, who will resign from the law firm law firm of Gunster Yoakley & Stewart. Mark Wilson, president of the Florida Chamber of Commerce issued a statement: "We appreciate Governor Crist's decision to pass on applications from trial lawyers and other agendas which would be detrimental to future job creation during this important time." Martinez, of course, was a trial lawyer as well.
- Still in Florida, the hot political race has attacks and counterattacks being levied over trial lawyer connections. Former House Speaker John Thrasher is running for Senate District 8 in a special election, with all the action on the Republican side. An amorphously ad hoc group, Conservative Citizens for Justice Inc., has attacked his character; the group appears to be funded by politically active personal injury lawyers. (Jacksonville News story and column.) Former Gov. Jeb Bush has just cut an ad in response, saying lawyers are attacking Thrasher because he had the courage to rein in frivolous lawsuits.