WASHINGTON, D.C., July 9, 2018 – In making a rare midyear addition to its annual “Judicial Hellholes” report, the American Tort Reform Foundation announced that the Twin Cities of Minnesota […]
Trial Lawyers ‘Willfully Misleading’ Media, Public on Much Needed MPA Reform
WASHINGTON, D.C., February 7, 2017 – Noting “recent media coverage influenced by trial lawyers’ willful efforts to mislead the public about an important policy debate,” the American Tort Reform Association […]
WASHINGTON, D.C., February 7, 2017 – Noting “recent media coverage influenced by trial lawyers’ willful efforts to mislead the public about an important policy debate,” the American Tort Reform Association today urged journalists, lawmakers and academics to set the record straight.”
“With plenty of help from ‘Show Me Your Lawsuits State’ judges, the personal injury bar has managed over the past few decades to corrupt and distort the Missouri Merchandising Practices Act (MPA) into an all-purpose tool for bringing a variety of lawsuits – many of them preposterous,” began ATRA president Tiger Joyce.
He referenced a study by Emory University law professor Joanna Shepherd, showing that the number of MPA lawsuits has grown exponentially. Shepherd attributes this growth to the original 1967 statute’s failure to define unlawful practices with specificity, subsequent expansions of the law by plaintiff-friendly courts, and 1973 amendments that invited private-sector lawyers to pursue attorneys’ fees and punitive damages in specious class actions that can actually hurt consumers when litigation costs are passed on in the form of higher prices.
“But now that a large majority of Missouri’s lawmakers and a new governor rightly see the MPA doing more to enrich trial lawyers than it does to protect consumers,” Joyce continued, “those lawyers are desperately spreading misinformation through the media in an effort to scuttle reform legislation.
“The trial lawyers have focused their media misinformation campaign on a provision in the reform bill, S.B. 5, which quite reasonably protects sellers of goods and services from lawsuits over alleged conduct that is either allowed or required by state or federal regulators. Missouri’s lawsuit industry is falsely claiming that this provision would wholly exempt from MPA claims any industry that is regulated by a government agency.”
Offering a lengthy list of “flimsy MPA lawsuits filed in recent years that alleged various ‘unfair’ or ‘deceptive’ practices,” Joyce clarified that S.B. 5 “simply seeks to keep pay-day-seeking plaintiffs’ lawyers from dragging into court law-abiding merchants whose relevant conduct is considered permissible by a government agency already working at taxpayers’ expense to protect consumers.
Jennifer Artman, a Kansas City-based attorney who testified in support of S.B. 5 on ATRA’s behalf concurred, saying, “With this provision, our courts can rely on well thought-out decisions made by regulatory agencies and decades of guidance from the Federal Trade Commission. It removes the very real risk of a plaintiffs’ lawyer bringing a private lawsuit claiming a business’s action is unfair or misleading when that same action is permitted by a government agency.”
Artman’s colleague, James Muehlberger, a seasoned Missouri litigator added, “We are seeing a surge of cut-and-paste MPA class actions in Missouri courts,” several of which he has defended. “These are lawyer-driven claims that fight over whether a company can fit more Skittles or Hot Tamales in a box, or if cupcake mix or cleaning products qualify as ‘natural.’”
Agreeing with Artman’s and Muehlberger’s analyses, Joyce explained that, “31 other states already have such regulatory exemption language in their state consumer protection laws, including five that border Missouri: Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Tennessee. So the notion that this element of the MPA reform bill is extraordinary or draconian is also patently false.
“For the sake of consumers, and in order to mitigate Missouri’s troubling reputation as a Judicial Hellhole that’s hostile to business investment, lawmakers and Governor Greitens should not be fooled by the trial lawyers’ propaganda and move ahead with their reasonable and much needed civil justice reform agenda,” Joyce concluded.
The American Tort Reform Association, based in Washington, D.C., is the only national organization dedicated exclusively to tort and liability reform through public education and the enactment of legislation. Its members include nonprofit organizations and small and large companies, as well as trade, business and professional associations from the state and national level. The American Tort Reform Foundation is a sister organization dedicated primarily to research and public education.
News & Events
WASHINGTON, D.C., June 18, 2018 – The American Tort Reform Association (ATRA) encourages Oklahoma Attorney General candidates AG Mike Hunter, Gentner Drummond, Mark Myles, and Angela Bonilla to sign ATRA’s […]
WASHINGTON, D.C., June 11, 2018 – The American Tort Reform Association (ATRA) today praised South Carolina Attorney General candidates AG Alan Wilson and William Herlong for embracing good-government principles by […]
WASHINGTON, D.C., May 10, 2018 – The American Tort Reform Association (ATRA) today praised Pennsylvania gubernatorial candidate Laura Ellsworth for embracing good-government principles by signing ATRA’s 2018 Transparency Code pledge […]
WASHINGTON, D.C., May 3, 2018– All Americans should be encouraged to know that responsible authorities in Washington and around the country are determined to address the complex public health problems […]
WASHINGTON, D.C., March 29, 2018 – The American Tort Reform Association (ATRA) today applauded Missouri lawmakers’ final passage of the Transparency in Private Attorney Contracting (TiPAC) Act, good-government legislation that […]
WASHINGTON, D.C., March 23, 2018– The American Tort Reform Association (ATRA) today applauded Wisconsin lawmakers’ final passage of a multi-part legal reform package that includes very important reforms to the […]
WASHINGTON, D.C., March 22, 2018 – The American Tort Reform Association (ATRA) today applauded Kentucky lawmakers’ final passage of the Transparency in Private Attorney Contracting (TiPAC) Act, good-government legislation that […]
High Court’s Contempt for Lawmakers’ Authority, Lawsuit Rackets Place Florida atop Latest ‘Judicial Hellholes’ List
WASHINGTON, D.C., December 5, 2017 – The American Tort Reform Foundation issued its 2017-2018 Judicial Hellholes® report today, naming courts in Florida, California, Missouri, New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Illinois […]
WASHINGTON, D.C., December 1, 2017 – This week, the Wisconsin Legislature unveiled its 2018 civil justice platform which features two of the American Tort Reform Association’s highest priorities: discovery […]
WASHINGTON, D.C., November15, 2017 – During its annual fall legislative conference in Austin, Texas last evening, the American Tort Reform Association presented Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker with its “Civil Justice […]
WASHINGTON, D.C., October 3, 2017 – The American Tort Reform Association is cheering a U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit decision last Friday that reversed a record-setting $663 […]
ATRA Backs Congressman Faso’s Pro-Growth Reform Bill Aimed at New York’s Antiquated and Costly ‘Scaffold Law’
WASHINGTON, D.C., September 19, 2017 – The American Tort Reform Association today announced its support for reform legislation introduced by Congressman John Faso (R-NY) that “will allow the federal government […]
WASHINGTON, D.C., August 28, 2017 —The American Tort Reform Association (ATRA), along with the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) and the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) on Friday […]
WASHINGTON, D.C., August 23, 2017 – The American Tort Reform Association (ATRA) today praised Virginia attorney general candidate John Adams for embracing good-government principles by signing ATRA’s 2017 Transparency Code […]
WASHINGTON, D.C., August 22, 2017 – Citing California’s stubborn and long criticized reluctance to adopt unambiguously the more exacting Daubert standard for expert evidence used in all federal courts and […]
WASHINGTON, D.C., June 19, 2017 – Acknowledging the “growing scope, seriousness and complexity of our nation’s problems with the abuse of federally approved pain medication,” the American Tort Reform Association […]
WASHINGTON, D.C., June 19, 2017 – With today’s announced decision of a third significant jurisdictional case by the U.S. Supreme Court this term, the American Tort Reform Association applauded the […]
ATRA Cheers Enactment of ‘Expert Witness’ Reform, Says Old Standard Helped Make Missouri the ‘Show Me Your Lawsuits State’
WASHINGTON, D.C., March 28, 2017 – With Gov. Eric Greitens expected to sign a key tort reform bill into law today, the American Tort Reform Association pointed again “to the […]
Costly New Anti-Arbitration Rule Aimed at Nursing Homes Is Administration’s Latest Gift to Trial Lawyers
ATRA Urges Media to Focus on Other ‘Midnight’ Regulations Expected to Favor Big Donors to President’s Party as Time Runs out on His Second Term
Urges NY Lawmakers to Pass Asbestos Transparency Legislation, Says AG Schneiderman Should Investigate Fraud by Asbestos Plaintiffs’ Lawyers