Trial Lawyers have made more campaign contributions than any other interest group during the last decade; Rayner calls it an obstacle for states’ economic recovery

TRENTON, N.J. – The Manhattan Institute for Policy Research has just released a scathing report chronicling the lobbying practices of the trial lawyers, formerly known as the Association of Trial Lawyers of America.

The trial lawyers donated $725 million dollars to candidates for state offices during the last 10 years. According to the study, such influence has allowed trial lawyers to block civil justice reforms which would strengthen many states’ economies. The annual direct cost of American tort litigation – excluding much securities litigation, punitive damages, and the multibillion-dollar settlement reached between the tobacco companies and the states in 1998 exceeds $250 billion, almost 2 percent of gross domestic product, it finds.

Says Marcus Rayner, executive director of the New Jersey Lawsuit Reform Alliance, “The trial bar’s donations to state campaigns are strategic, because the state level is where grassroots tort reform movements begin. The trial bar is effectively trumping the ability for lawmakers and citizens to decide what is best for their states, especially as their financial influence seeps into the judicial branch.”

“As states begin considering tort reform as a common-sense, cost-neutral initiative to promote job growth, the trial bar is presenting an additional obstacle to economic recovery at exactly the wrong time.

Among such efforts is a federal tax break for contingent-fee lawyers that is worth more than $1 billion. It allows state juries to override federal regulations and discourages arbitration in disputes that are too expensive for trial.”

The entire text of the study can be found on the Manhattan Institutes website, at .