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April 27, 2009

U.S. Chamber Launches Movie Theater Trailers Featuring Victims of Lawsuit Abuse

WASHINGTON, D.C.—The U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform (ILR) today released four short films featuring everyday Americans who have been victimized by abusive or frivolous lawsuits. The trailers, which are part of the national Faces of Lawsuit Abuse campaign, will air throughout May before feature movies in select Washington, D.C. theaters and in states across the country.

“Lawsuit abuse and the harm it brings to our citizens and small businesses is one of the great American tragedies today,” said ILR President Lisa Rickard. “That’s why the silver screen is the perfect venue for the Faces of Lawsuit Abuse trailers. The only difference between the feature presentation and these short films is that the damage, the costs, the winners and losers that are featured aren’t fiction—they’re true stories.”

One of the short films features a Colorado couple whose seven-year-old son was sued by an adult skier over a minor accident on a ski slope. “I believe the lawyers used Scott and his age as a pawn to get across a certain fear that ‘we’re going to hurt your child more if you don’t pay us,’” said Scott’s father, Robb Swimm. The Swimms were eventually forced to settle due to the financial and emotional tolls of fighting the abusive lawsuit.

Another trailer tells the story of a Maryland pool supply owner who was sued for $750,000 when a federally protected wild goose nesting near his store startled a passerby and caused her to fall. One film highlights a Louisiana small business owner who is facing more than 100 asbestos mass action lawsuits. A fourth trailer features a California after school basketball facility that was forced to close when it could not afford to fight a lawsuit brought by a guest.

“Lawsuits are turning the American dream into a litigation horror film,” said Rickard. “These movie trailers warn that even those who play by the rules can still have their lives turned upside-down by costly, frivolous lawsuits.”

The trailers can be found at www.FacesofLawsuitAbuse.org/shortfilms/. The ILR-sponsored campaign includes the Web site, www.FacesofLawsuitAbuse.org, which features a collection of longer videos about small businesses and individuals across the country who have dealt with abusive lawsuits. The effort is supported by a national television, Internet and radio ad campaign.

ILR seeks to promote civil justice reform through legislative, political, judicial, and educational activities at the national, state, and local levels.

The U.S. Chamber is the world’s largest business federation representing more than 3 million businesses and organizations of every size, sector, and region.

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