January 26, 2005
Nation's Largest Industry Trade Group Joins Fight for Legal Reform in the States
In an effort to bolster legal reform in the states, the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) today officially launched the American Justice Partnership (AJP). The partnership brings together, for the first time, leading national and state organizations to coordinate the fight for effective legal reform.
NAM President and former Governor of Michigan John Engler announced at a news conference this morning that Dan Pero, former chief of staff to Gov. Engler, will lead the partnership. They were joined by Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour, a leading proponent of state legal reform who successfully led a reform effort in Mississippi.
"As a governor, I saw firsthand how an out-of-control, unpredictable legal climate can negatively impact the economic vitality of just about every segment of state commerce, hurting job creation and the well being of families," said Engler. "The average American family of four pays a 'litigation tax' of more than $3,300 a year-in higher prices for the products they buy, insurance rates and health care costs."
"Mississippi had the worst lawsuit abuse in the country," said Gov. Barbour. "It was hurting health care and reducing job creation. Working together with the legislature, in which Democrats have majorities in both houses, we enacted the most comprehensive tort reform bill in the country. We've put an end to lawsuit abuse in Mississippi."
"As president of the NAM, I've traveled across this country to meet with business leaders and job providers who have shared their concerns about a legal system run amok," Engler continued. "The story is always the same: frivolous lawsuits, venue abuse, and jackpot justice are strangling job growth, undermining economic development, and creating a climate that threatens businesses everywhere, large and small."
"We aggressively pursued change in Michigan during my 12 years as governor and succeeded in passing sweeping reforms to a legal climate that was once hostile to business. Today, Michigan is a better place to start a business or find a doctor because of the many legal reforms we were able to enact. The court system is working better, with fewer delays and fewer appeals, all because our judicial system -- under the leadership of America's finest state Supreme Court -- has become more predictable," said Engler.
America has the most expensive tort system in the world, costing $246 billion a year, or 2.23 percent of GDP, compared to less than 1 percent of GDP in Japan, France, Canada, and the UK. "'Trial Lawyers Inc.' rakes in more than $40 billion annually, more than the revenue of Microsoft or Intel, and nearly double that of Coca-Cola," Engler noted.
"The American Justice Partnership brings new vision and new muscle to the fight for legal reform," said AJP President Dan Pero. "The time has never been better to focus on this issue. Tort reform is a high priority in many states. With President Bush speaking out forcefully on the issue, more and more citizens are beginning to realize the extent of the problem."
The AJP will work closely with its various partners, consistent with their missions and bylaws, to:
* Support pro-reform candidates for governor, the state legislature,
supreme court, and attorney general;
* Enact pro-reform state legislation and adopt court rules that curb
frivolous lawsuits; and
* Enhance public understanding about the importance of legal reform and
the need to become more politically involved.
"If, collectively, we can succeed here, we believe a fundamental change in behavior will occur and the process of reversing America's 'lawsuit happy' culture can begin," concluded Pero.
AJP partners include the American Tort Reform Association, Washington Legal Foundation, Manhattan Institute, Center for Individual Freedom, American Legislative Exchange Council, Council of State Chambers, and a number of state manufacturing associations and chambers of commerce.
The NAM is the nation's largest industrial trade association, representing large and small manufacturers in every industrial sector and in all 50 states. Visit the NAM's web site at http://www.nam.org/. The AJP is a project of the NAM, established to promote legal reform in the states. Visit AJP's website at http://www.americanjusticepartnership.org/.
American Justice Partnership
CONTACT: John Fitzpatrick or Jody Clarke, +1-202-289-2001, for the
American Justice Partnership; or Laura Brown Narvaiz of the National
Association of Manufacturers, +1-202-637-3087
Posted by Tom Troceen