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APRIL 1998

Trial lawyers go on the defensive to fight off tort reform ideas

Reacting to the new drive for tort reform, New York's trial lawyers went on the defensive this week, claiming that The Business Council is seeking "justice for only the rich and powerful."

The New York State Trial Lawyers Association orchestrated the creation of a new "coalition," calling itself "S.O.S. Justice," to fight against a tort-reform campaign it said would "destroy years of consumer protections."

The group was formed in the wake of the release last week of 'An Accident and a Dream,' a new report by The Business Council's Public Policy Institute. The report documents the $14 billion cost of the lawsuit industry in New York State, and the abusive, lottery-like tactics that some trial lawyers use to produce ever more litigation.

Key lawmakers are expected to unveil a comprehensive proposal for tort reform legislation within the next few weeks.

To fight the drive for reform, the Trial Lawyers Association (NYSTLA) organized a March 30 news conference and distributed papers claiming that "New York's richest and most powerful corporations" would "gut" consumer protections.

But the NYSTLA did not take part in the news conference itself; instead, it got the representatives of groups like Citizen Action, Environmental Advocates and the Civil Service Employees Association to front for the cause.

April 1, 1998