Institute for Legal Reform's Commentary
"For too long, asbestos bankruptcy trusts have operated without adequate oversight. Courts around the country have uncovered examples in which plaintiffs' lawyers have filed inconsistent or fraudulent claims with multiple trusts and in the court system. This abuse shortchanges legitimate asbestos claimants while hurting solvent companies, their shareholders and employees.
"The bipartisan Furthering Asbestos Claim Transparency (FACT) Act addresses this problem by requiring the trusts to file quarterly reports on their claims to the federal bankruptcy courts. This commonsense legislation would help discourage fraud and abuse in the asbestos compensation system.
"We commend Representatives Farenthold and Matheson for introducing the FACT Act, as well as Chairman Goodlatte and the House Judiciary Committee for holding this week’s hearing. We urge swift House and Senate passage of this important legislation."
Bipartisan Poll Shows Small Businesses Concerned About Economy, Lawsuits, Effectiveness of Government Actions
Small business owners are much more pessimistic than average voters about the national economy and hold negative views of Washington’s attempts at solving problems, according to a national bipartisan poll conducted by Bill McInturff and Doug Schoen for the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform (ILR). The survey also shows that small business owners are among the most motivated about this fall’s elections.
“This poll reveals that there is a lot of fear among business owners in this current economic climate,” said U.S. Chamber Executive Vice President and ILR President Lisa Rickard.
Groups throughout the economy and across the country today joined the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform (ILR) in sending a letter to U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner opposing a proposal to grant trial lawyers a special tax break. The proposed change in IRS tax policy – a perennial goal of plaintiffs’ lawyer advocates – would add nearly $1.6 billion to our national deficit over 10 years by allowing trial lawyers to deduct their up-front litigation expenses in contingency fee cases.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Institute for Legal Reform (ILR) applauds a new study released by the RAND Institute for Civil Justice that provides the foundation for debate over how to reform the broken asbestos bankruptcy trust system. The RAND study is the first phase of a major research project investigating the bankruptcy compensation system for asbestos claimants.
“The California Supreme Court’s decision to allow government entities to partner with private lawyers in contingency fee lawsuits will not only result in more litigation, but will further burden the state’s ability to create jobs and emerge from its worst economic situation since the Great Depression.
“While today’s decision provides more uncertainty for America’s job creators, it gives clarity to the lawsuit industry and plaintiffs’ lawyers looking to expand into a new area of litigation..."
U.S. Chamber Applauds Congressional Inquiry Into Treasury's Consideration of $1.6 Billion Trial Lawyer Tax Break
Statement of Lisa A. Rickard, president of the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform, on the letter sent July 23rd by Senator Chuck Grassley and Congressman Dave Camp to Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner regarding Treasury’s consideration of a $1.6 billion tax break for plaintiffs’ lawyers:
“Senator Grassley and Congressman Camp are right to question Treasury’s possible enactment of a special interest tax break for plaintiffs’ lawyers without the approval of Congress.
“For the past three years, the trial lawyer lobby has been pushing Congress to enact a $1.6 billion tax cut for plaintiffs’ lawyers that would increase abusive litigation and add to the deficit. With support in Congress woefully lacking, the trial bar is trying to circumvent our elected representatives and get Treasury to enact their special interest tax break by fiat.
“At a time of high unemployment and record deficits, Washington should be working to put Americans back to work, not increase the deficit while subsidizing frivolous lawsuits. I applaud Senator Grassley and Congressman Camp for questioning this brazen end run around our democratic process.”
Statement of Lisa A. Rickard, president of the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform, on the efforts of plaintiffs’ lawyers to get the Department of Treasury to allow for a $1.6 billion tax break for costs associated with contingency fee lawsuits:
“Plaintiffs’ lawyers have been pushing Congress for the last two years to give them a $1.6 billion tax break for their contingency fee lawsuits. This amounts to a subsidy for more lawsuits at the expense of the American taxpayer. Now they’re trying to circumvent Congress and go right to the Treasury Department to allow them to have this tax break.
“This is simply a taxpayer-funded loan to plaintiffs’ lawyers that will be a further drag on job creation and economic growth, all while increasing the federal deficit. America needs more jobs, not more lawsuits.”
Noting that small businesses have created 64% of all net new jobs in the United States over the past 15 years, ILR President Lisa Rickard said, “As America struggles out of this current economic downturn, this study shows that our lawsuit system continues to be a drag on job-creating small businesses.”
A new study documents how plaintiffs’ attorneys and advocates are working with foreign plaintiffs and employing a common set of aggressive, out-of-court tactics that approach, straddle and sometimes cross ethical lines to gain litigation advantages against transnational companies. The first-of-its-kind study, released by the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform (ILR), also shows a dramatic increase in the number of global tort claims or transnational tort cases filed in the U.S. against American companies for alleged injuries that occur abroad.