Sen. Harry Reid seems to have been central:
“We felt really good the last couple of days,” said the tech lobbyist. “It was a good deal—one we could live with. Then the trial lawyers and pharma went to Senator Reid late this morning and said that’s it. Enough with the children playing in the playground—go kill it.”…
Trial lawyers are heavy donors to Democratic politicians, including Reid. … The long history of the divide over other kinds of legal tort reform loomed over the bill, which was dubbed the Innovation Act in the House. The fact that it was the trial lawyers’ lobby that reportedly delivered the death blow suggests that the rift only got wider as debate dragged on.
Key Litigation Lobby allies like Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) spoke out against the legislation on the Senate floor. [Joe Mullin, ArsTechnica]
Phrases I wish I had coined: from a Walter Russell Mead post on Prime Minister David Cameron’s efforts to rein in escalating litigiousness in Britain.
Glenn Garvin at the Miami Herald has spotted a trend on the film festival circuit. Among the questions he raises: why was the New York Times so oddly unskeptical about the Chevron-bashing opus Crude? And why was such widespread credulity accorded to the showcasing of Jamie Leigh Jones’s lawsuit in Susan Saladoff’s Hot Coffee? More: Jim Dedman, Abnormal Use.
Remember the “Halliburton rape” case, where the national media uncritically passed along claims that a young woman had been viciously assaulted by co-workers while stationed in the Middle East, then confined to a container by beastly managers when she tried to complain, and finally suffered the ultimate indignity when her employment contract required her to submit the claims to arbitration? It’s a tale that was advanced by politicians like Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.), by some of the usual suspects in opinion journalism, and especially by the litigation lobby as part of its campaign against contractually provided-for arbitration (as with the much-reviewed, HBO-aired “Hot Coffee“). Not a few of these advocates — like the left-leaning ThinkProgress — threw “allegedly” to the winds and flatly accused the co-workers of rape.
Unless you’d read one of the very few skeptical evaluations of the case — many of them written by Ted Frank — you may have been shocked this July when a Houston jury summarily rejected Jamie Leigh Jones’s lawsuit. Now — better late than never — the Houston Chronicle shreds the popular narrative of the affair and its media coverage in particular (ABC News: a tale of “sexual brutality, corporate indifference and government inaction.”) Is it too much to hope that anyone will be embarrassed enough to apologize?
More: As commenter E-Bell notes, journalist Stephanie Mencimer, with whom we’ve had our differences in the past, deserves due credit for this July coverage in the unlikely venue of Mother Jones. And quoth @Popehat: “‘Putting the victim on trial’ is code for ‘defending yourself and testing the evidence.'”
- Mother ship? White House staffers depart for Harvard Law School [Politico]
- New York: “Lawmakers consider lawyer-friendly med-mal bills,” even as many key legislators moonlight at personal injury firms [Reuters]
- David Brooks on explosive political potential of Fannie Mae scandal [NYTimes] After Kentucky bar panel’s vote to disbar Chesley, Ohio AG pulls him off Fannie Mae suit [Adler, Frank, Beth Musgrave/Lexington Herald-Leader]
- Alabama legislature removes Jim Crow language from state constitution — but black lawmakers oppose the idea [Constitutional Daily]
- AAJ lobbyist Andy Cochran works GOP turf, has convinced trial lawyers to sponsor Christian radio program [Mokhiber, “Seventh Amendment Advocate“]
- Centers for Disease Control funnels grants to allies for political advocacy on favored public-health causes [Jeff Stier, Daily Caller]
- Must have mistaken her for a jury: “John Edwards Sought Millions From Heiress” [ABC News] “One thing [worse than Edwards’s] conduct is the government’s effort to put him in jail for it.” [Steve Chapman]
- Bizarrely overbroad: “Tennessee law bans posting images that ’cause emotional distress'” [Tim Lee, Ars Technica]
- “Superlawyer Stanley Chesley Faces Reckoning Tuesday” [Dan Fisher, Forbes, Cincinnati Enquirer, reporter Jim Hannah, earlier]
- More on record run-up in used car prices [Perry; my Cato take]
- Winkler County, Texas nurses case illuminates evils of prosecution-as-weapon [Texas Observer via PoL; earlier here, here, and here]
- Not a parody: claim that litigious celebs should be doing more to support Litigation Lobby [CJD]
- “Feminism by Treaty: Why CEDAW is Still a Bad Idea” [Christina Sommers, Policy Review]
- Why do agents of so many miscellaneous government agencies pack guns? [Quin Hillyer last year]
- New idea for who to sue over sex scandals [Conan show lawyer ad parody, adult content]
The New York-based Center for Justice and Democracy, which describes its mission as “protecting our civil justice system,” released a statement calling Obama’s remarks “disgusting” because many proposed changes would affect cases with merit. “The Republican proposals would weaken the legal rights of sick and injured patients and lessen the accountability of incompetent doctors and unsafe hospitals,” the statement said.
I haven’t seen a direct link to the “disgusting” statement yet, only the NLJ/Legal Times coverage, so I’ll try not to jump to conclusions. (Update: link here, h/t gitarcarver). But I’ve wondered before whether the tone taken by the misnamed Center for Justice and Democracy is so harshly abrasive and shrill that it actually alienates the sorts of centrists and moderate liberals that its trial-lawyer constituency should be trying to win over. Earlier on CJD here, here, here, here, etc.
Last week my colleagues at the Manhattan Institute put out a report in their Trial Lawyers Inc. series taking a look at the lobbying clout of the plaintiff’s bar in Washington and elsewhere. It’s full of interesting details and vignettes, and now Jim Copland, who presided over the compiling of the report, will be blogging it all week at Point of Law. His first installment is here.