As proof that 81 year-old Ralph Nader hasn’t missed a beat, his statement at last weekend’s opening of his American Museum of Tort Law regarding the tort reform agenda became comically prophetic this week. Nader called the conservative rallying cry to limit damage awards “the cruelest movement I’ve ever encountered.” As if on cue, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the largest lobbyist in the world issued a bizarrely self-unaware, intentionally misleading manifesto against the American Association of Justice (AAJ), of which my esteemed boss, Justinian C. Lane is a proud member. Full disclosure, Mr. Lane asked me to look into the 52-page report created by the Chamber’s “Institute for Legal Reform,” but the results that I found were absolutely shocking, and the opinions I have about this absolute piece of garbage are my own. I am not a lawyer, I have no desire to be a lawyer, and I choose to write for Legal Reader out of passion, not due to lack of more lucrative alternatives. I had already known since I helped to write a case study on multinational corporation activity in China in 2000 that the U.S. Chamber was by far the largest advocate for opening that market (think Walmart), what I didn’t realize is to what degree the organization dominates K street (See images).
Indeed, despite nearly outspending its five closest lobbying counterparts, the Chamber is allegedly scared s#!tless about the AAJ’s “Trial Lawyer Underground,” who “very quietly, but rather successfully, has pursued its policy goals through federal agencies while attracting very little attention.” Among the secret conspiracies of this rogue group of justice seekers was convincing President Obama to issue an Executive Order prohibiting federal contractors from using arbitration to resolve employment disputes (ask Uber drivers what they think about their arbitration clause). Another gripe by the poor picked on world of big business is that automakers are forced to handle frivolous lawsuits like the burning death of four year-old Remi Walden, when the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) was doing such a great job of regulating the auto industry prior to the ascension of Michael Rosekind, the first person in years to get tough with automakers. After all, nobody knows how to prevent auto recalls like automakers themselves right? (DAS SARKASMUS).
Also up the poor Chamber’s crawl is the conspiratorial relationship between trial lawyers and the infallible Food and Drug Administration (FDA). If there is one body of scientists that can be trusted to fight against big business, it would have to be an FDA recommendation panel right? In actuality, I could pretty much link each of the over 300 articles that I’ve written in some form of ironic snarky response to this waste of potential-toilet tissue, but my right-click button on my mouse is wearing out. At the same time, as a defender of truth, two wrongs don’t make a right. I figured if the AAJ wields such power to bring billionaires to their knees fearing for the future, the organization must shelling out some big dollars to pass their dark conspiratorial agenda of collecting legal fees as a reward for protecting consumers.
…umm, not really:
Lobbying Expenditures by Year (in millions)
(For those dumb enough to believe the Chamber’s report, COC means “Chamber of Commerce”)
Source: Center for Responsive Politics
These numbers are not typos; they come from public financial disclosures. The organization with the big numbers is saying that the organization with the little numbers is spending too much on lobbying. AAJ President Larry Tawwater and CEO Linda Lipsen wrote a kind response to the Chamber’s propaganda to members of AAJ:
Dear AAJ Members,
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Institute for Legal Reform has released a new report attacking trial lawyers and the work they do. It is biased, misleading, deceptive, and inaccurate—not surprising given the source.
The Chamber wants a world without any accountability. It’s because of your work that we do not live in the Chamber’s world. Your work over decades has ushered in tremendous changes that have improved healthcare, products, cars, and our environment.
While the Chamber didn’t intend it, the report demonstrates how hard AAJ is advocating on multiple fronts to support the work you do for your clients.
But, the truth is hard to bury. The Chamber tries to bury it every day, year after year: It has spent over $900,000,000 lobbying over the past decade. The first half of 2015, alone, the Chamber has spent over $30 million on federal lobbying, the Chamber’s Institute for Legal Reform has spent nearly $11 million, and AAJ has chugged along spending $2.78 million. Despite the odds, we will continue to prevail because we have the truth and the facts on our side.
We responded to the Chamber’s report with a statement to AAJ members through our list servers and a statement for the media. If you have any questions about the report or AAJ’s advocacy, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
We are incredibly proud of the work you do, and AAJ will continue to stand up to the Chamber and advocate as vigorously as ever on behalf of you and your clients.
I, on the other hand, am going to forgo any chance at a Pulitzer for this piece by cordially reminding the Chamber that the AAJ is rubber, and you are glue; so eat a fat one you turds!