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Legal Reform Committee - Action Alert

June 16, 2009

Council Lobbies in Opposition to Martin Act Expansion Bill

The Business Council and representatives of the financial services industry lobbied Assemblyman Richard Brodsky in opposition to his bill (A.8646-Brodsky/S.5768-Schneiderman) that would dramatically expand provisions of the Martin Act.

This legislation would increase the risk of significant liability by authorizing a public retirement system, mutual fund, or other institutional investor to bring actions for damages sustained due to violations of the Martin Act. The Business Council opposes the bill because it would significantly contribute to New York’s notorious tort tax and federal law strikes an appropriate balance between the rights and remedies of companies and investors.

Stop the Lawyer Tax Coalition Launches Statewide Media/Grassroots Campaign

New Yorkers for Lawsuit Refomr and members of The Business Council have formed a coalition to launch a statewide Stop the Lawyer Tax media and grassroots campaign. The purpose of the Stop the Lawyer Tax Campaign is to expose the myriad of trial lawyer friendly bills poised for action in the closing weeks of the legislative session. www.stopthelawyertax.org

The Wall Street Journal – June 13, 2009
Texas Tort Victories
The plaintiffs-lawyer lobby blows $9 million and gets nowhere.

Texas recently finished its legislative session, and the best news is what didn't pass. Namely, some 900 bills put forward by the tort bar.

The plaintiffs-lawyer lobby spent $9 million in last year's state legislative elections to help smooth the way for these bills, which were designed to roll back tort reforms passed in recent years, or to create new ways to sue. Yet that money wasn't enough to convince most Texas legislators to give up two-decades of hard-won legal progress, which ranges from class-action clean-up to medical liability reform.

Among the more notable failed proposals were a bill that would have shifted the burden of medical proof away from plaintiffs and on to defendants in asbestos and mesothelioma cases; an attempt to rip up Texas's successful system of trying multidistrict litigation in a single court; and legislation to allow plaintiffs to sue for "phantom" medical expenses.

Part of this success was due to the legislature's gridlock over a controversial voter ID bill. Yet Republicans who run the Senate and House also did yeoman's work to keep many bills from ever reaching the floor. Republicans also got a helping hand from a number of brave, antilawsuit Democrats, many of them from South Texas, where litigation has exacted more of an economic toll.

Speaking of the economy, it's notable that Texas created more new jobs last year than the other 49 states combined. Texas's low tax burden is one reason. But also important is a fairer legal environment in which companies are less likely than they were a generation ago to face jackpot justice.

Printed in The Wall Street Journal, page A12