DC Power Shift Not Good for Trial Lawyers

January 3, 2011

A recent article in the Washington Times reported on what a resurgent GOP means for the trial bar.  In short: Washington has become a lot less trial-lawyer friendly.  For instance, the incoming chair of the House Judiciary Committee, Rep. Lamar Smith (TX), intends to make tort reform one of his top five priorities. 

But the trial bar still has many friends in Washington.  Tiger Joyce, head of the American Tort Reform Association, believes plaintiffs’ lawyers will merely shift their efforts from Capitol Hill to the Obama Administration:

“Mr. Joyce noted that [trial lawyers have] started a campaign through the Treasury Department to get a tax break that will allow trial lawyers to deduct costs advanced to clients immediately. Repeated attempts to persuade Congress to enact the tax break, valued at an estimated $1.6 billion over 10 years, have failed.


“Mr. Joyce said the Obama administration has given a sympathetic ear to trial lawyer concerns about ‘pre-emption’ – by which federal law, considered less friendly to plaintiff interests, supersedes state law. The White House in 2009 issued an executive memorandum instructing federal agencies to avoid the practice and to review cases over the past decade in which their position has supported pre-emption.”

With a divided Washington, many also are predicting reform battles will be fought in the states – particularly in Texas and Florida. 

Stay tuned.

Posted by in the categories: Tort Reform, Trial Lawyers