WASHINGTON, D.C. – Plaintiffs’ lawyers have made significant gains lobbying federal agencies during the last seven years according to a new report released today by the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform and the American Tort Reform Association. The report, The Trial Lawyer Underground: Covertly Lobbying the Executive Branch, details instances in which the American Association for Justice (AAJ), the plaintiffs’ lawyer lobbying group, has lobbied federal agencies for major policy changes.
“The plaintiffs’ lawyers have become very adept at making end runs around Congress to the back rooms of federal agencies, where the rules are written and where there is little media scrutiny,” said Lisa A. Rickard, president of the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform.
An example cited in the report shows that, despite vigorous lobbying, the AAJ failed to convince Congress to pass legislation banning the use of arbitration agreements in contracts, which cut down on unnecessary litigation and attorney fees. Instead the plaintiffs’ bar turned to lobbying the administration, which is now expected to restrict the use of arbitration in consumer financial services agreements.
AAJ is also making headway in changing federal laws for generic prescription drug labels, the report shows. A Food and Drug Administration official testified that her office met with trial-lawyer lobbyists, but not with pharmaceutical companies, pharmacists, or physicians before issuing a new labeling proposal making it easier to file lawsuits against drug manufacturers.
"This report shows that even when the legislative process appears stuck on Capitol Hill, the plaintiffs' lawyers are working the government agencies, finding new ways to bring lawsuits," said Rickard.
To read the full report click here.
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