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Chris Nace
Chris Nace
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Here We Go Again: ATRA Publishes its “Judicial Hellhole” Report

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The American Tort Reform Association is at it again. They have just come out with their 2010 Judicial Hellhole report. What do you think they mean by "hellhole"? Well, if by hellhole you mean jurisdiction where individuals can have a fair and just trial by a jury of his or her peers, then I guess all of America is a hellhole.

The American Association for Justice points out that

ATRA has been funded by corporate giants such as Philip Morris, Dow Chemical, Exxon, General Electric, Aetna, Geico, State Farm, Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson and Nationwide – a “who’s who” of corporations with the most to gain by shutting the courthouse doors on consumers. Legal Times has also reported that, “most of ATRA’s funding comes from large corporate donors. Insurance firms … are each good for $50,000 or $75,000, one unnamed lobbyist familiar with the Association told the publication.” [“Proponents of Reform,” Legal Times, 4/17/95; ATRA website: http://www.atra.org/about/members.php]

With an all-star cast of corporate wrongdoers, it is no surprise that ATRA is constantly trying to close the courthouse door to consumers. AAJ reminds us that

“Despite all the chemical companies and polluters behind this front group, it appears ATRA is going green – recycling the same junk report that has been debunked and ridiculed year after year,” “It’s an early holiday token of thanks to its drug, tobacco and insurance industry funders and a ploy for these corporations to continue their negligent behavior and avoid accountability.”

Come on, ATRA, get a grip. Our Founders created the civil justice system–and the right to trial by jury–as the only place where each and every citizen would be on an equal playing field with his or her adversary. That means that no matter how much money ATRA’s corporate sponsors have, any U.S. citizen can stand toe to toe with them in the courtroom.

Hmm, now that I think about it, I guess I understand why ATRA would want to shut the courthouse door . . . . This "hellhole" stuff is nothing more than corporate propaganda. The same type of propaganda that gave us Enron, WorldCom, Lehman Brothers, BP . . . .