ATRA Statement on Recent Personal Injury Lawyers’ Briefing in the U.S. House of Representatives

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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., 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 with opioid abuse, but these problems will not be solved overnight.  It is essential that elected policymakers, the expert regulators they appoint, the medical and scientific communities and law enforcement work cooperatively to advance public health and safety.  Litigation driven by personal injury lawyers paid on a “contingency” basis is not the solution.  The public interest is paramount in this situation – not the profit-seeking interests of members of the plaintiffs’ bar.

Yesterday, personal injury lawyers came to the U.S. House of Representatives in advance of a May 8th hearing on the opioid crisis with the leadership of national and regional drug distributors in the Energy and Commerce Committee’s Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee.

By focusing exclusively on the companies that lawfully distribute these and others medications, the personal injury lawyers fail to point out that the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) approves all such transactions and has significant legal authority over opioids at all times beginning with the manufacturing process and through the distribution process.  According to Department of Justice data, between 2009 and 2013 the DEA approved production increases of 64% for oxycodone and 80% for hydrocodone.  In addition, the lawyers are working with a former DEA official who played a central role in regulating these products as one of their “experts.”

This is a public health problem that should be solved by experts, not by lawyers whose profits increase as jury awards and settlements go up.  Elected officials and those with the responsibility to protect public health should do just that and avoid the problems that arise when the profit motives of personal injury lawyers are front and center.

-ATRA-

 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, all dedicated to a civil justice system that is predictable, fair, and efficient so that abuse is limited and the rule of law prevails.

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