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1/22/2005

Institute for Legal Reform

The Chamber of Commerce's Institute for Legal Reform (ILR), "which is financed by large contributions from the most-often-sued corporations in America," [WP] has been very active of late. Its main agenda item has been limitation of corporate legal liability, which it has been pushing both at the federal and state level.

Jim VendeHei and John Harris of the Post mapped much of the terrain over which corporate liability issues will be fought. The ILR's strategy has three prongs: extorting state legislatures to limit liability, promoting apocryphal anecdotes in the media to skew the perception of the issue, and focusing on specific areas of liability rather than a single sweeping stroke.

The ILR has recently been active in Georgia, where corporations are extorting the state into protecting them from their wrongs. It is a classic example of the power corporations exert over state government finances. Lisa Rickard, president of the ILR, made the argument more explicitly in the Cincinnati Post:

As a state that ranked in the lower half (32 of 50) of this year's U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform/Harris State Liability System Rankings, legal reform in Ohio was long overdue. Employers are afraid to locate in states with abusive legal climates, and litigation forces the average Ohio family of four to pay an extra $3,200 a year in higher prices, higher insurance rates and skyrocketing health care costs.

Thanks to the recent action taken by the Ohio legislature, the scales of justice will be more balanced -- and less inclined to tip in favor of the select group of wealthy plaintiffs' attorneys who staunchly opposed these reforms. In conjunction with recent asbestos litigation reforms enacted last year, Ohioans can take heart that these changes will help the state enjoy the same level of success we've seen in the two other states -- Texas and Mississippi -- that recently have passed comprehensive legal reform legislation.
The economic dynamism of Texas and Mississippi - there's something for Ohio to aspire to. The ILR has also prominently attacked Madison County, Illinois.

The ILR is effusive in its praise for George W. Bush's efforts, through the "Class Action Fairness Act," to protect corporate wrongdoers against class action lawsuits. The same for his efforts to limit corporate liability for asbestos harms. The ILR is also working on "global forum shopping," medical malpractice, toxic mold, and obesity litigation, according to it's Legal Reform Now site. If you get a chance, browse through some of the Legal Reform Now newsrooms, to see how deeply the Chamber has burrowed into the heart of the peudo-conservative beast. Also note the prominence of pseudo-conservative WSJ editorialist John Fund on the ILR's home page.

 

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