Congress has departed Washington to campaign, and the American Association for Justice is claiming a limited victory. Note the prominence of preemption in its list of accomplishments from the AAJ's homepage, www.justice.org:
Members of Congress shut down early to devote the full month of October to the fall campaign.
AAJ advocacy efforts succeeded on many fronts, but health care reform, jobs and the stimulus package, and financial services reform pushed some of our issues into the background.
AAJ made progress despite a tough environment:
- Fought off at least 25 Committee amendments to the Health Care bill to deny the rights of patients injured by medical negligence, and an amendment offered on the Senate floor capping lawyer fees;
- Also defeated attempts to preempt state remedies in many bills introduced in both the House and Senate;
- Worked to achieve broad elimination of Bush era preemption language from administrative rulemaking;
- Helped assure that Chrysler and GM couldn't hide behind bankruptcy to deny compensation to future victims of potential negligence;
- AAJ helped to protect certain employees from forced arbitration and worked to include language in the new Wall Street reform law giving the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the Securities and Exchange Commission the power to limit the use of forced arbitration clauses in consumer and investment contracts. Attempts to strip these sections were defeated;
- AAJ's efforts to draw public attention to the issue of forced arbitration led several large financial institutions to eliminate such provisions.
Still working on that tax break from Treasury, though.
For a more critical view of the litigation lobby's efforts directed at the White House, see David Freddoso's recent column in The Washington Examiner, "Trial lawyers will still have their best friend after November. Freddoso warns that President Obama might lift the executive order banning the federal government from hiring private attorneys on contingency to carry out its litigation.