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April 4, 2014

Plaintiffs Lawyers Hope to Block Legal Reforms

The tort bar is pouring millions of dollars into Senate races this year in order to block legal reforms that have passed the House of Representatives, writes Kim Strassel in the Wall Street Journal. One of these Senate hopefuls, Rep. Bruce Braley of Iowa, recently told a group of trial lawyers that he has “been literally fighting tort reform for 30 years”:

After a decade of bad headlines and curbs on the trial bar’s business model, Mr. Braley’s words were music to their ears. Famous tort litigators like Dickie Scruggs and Bill Lerach went to federal prison after corruption and kickback convictions. A federal judge busted up a silicosis legal racket, courts have started questioning asbestos scams, and the Supreme Court has reined in class-action and securities litigation. Businesses have started fighting back, successfully winning racketeering suits against lawyers—as Chevron did recently against Steven Donziger, or as rail company CSX Transportation did in 2012 against plaintiffs lawyers.

Plaintiffs’ lawyers are particularly concerned with a GOP-controlled Senate, continues Strassel. The upper chamber, with its Democrat majority, has been able to block any legal reforms from the House, but that could change if the Senate flips.

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