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About ATRA

ATRA - At a Glance

Since 1986, the only national organization exclusively dedicated to reforming the civil justice system. A nationwide network of state-based liability reform coalitions backed by 135,000 grassroots supporters. An unparalleled track record of legislative success.

ATRA was founded in 1986 by the American Council of Engineering Companies. Shortly thereafter, the American Medical Association joined them. Since that time, ATRA has been working to bring greater fairness, predictability and efficiency to America's civil justice system. Those efforts have resulted in the enactment of state and federal laws that make the system fairer for everyone. Further, ATRA is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization with affiliated coalitions in more than 40 states. We are the only national organization dedicated exclusively to tort and liability reform through public education and the enactment of legislation. ATRA's membership is diverse and includes nonprofits, small and large companies, as well as state and national trade, business, and professional associations. Click here for sample list of members.

ATRA's Mission: Real Justice in Our Courts

ATRA is the only national organization exclusively dedicated to repairing our civil justice system. ATRA fights in Congress, in state legislatures, and in the courts to make the system fairer. We identify and champion elected officials and judges who want to fix the system. In the media, we serve as the national voice of the civil justice reform movement.

Today, America's $246 billion civil justice system is the most expensive in the industrialized world. Aggressive personal injury lawyers target certain professions, industries, and individual companies as profit centers. They systematically recruit clients who may never have suffered a real illness or injury and use scare tactics, combined with the promise of awards, to bring these people into massive class action suits. They effectively tap the media to rally sentiment for multi-million-dollar punitive damage awards. This leads many companies to settle questionable lawsuits just to stay out of court.

These lawsuits are bad for business; they are also bad for society. They compromise access to affordable health care, punish consumers by raising the cost of goods and services, chill innovation, and undermine the notion of personal responsibility. The personal injury lawyers who benefit from the status quo use their fees to perpetuate the cycle of lawsuit abuse. They have reinvested millions of dollars into the political process and in more litigation that acts as a drag on our economy. Some have compared the political and judicial influence of the personal injury bar to a fourth branch of government.

ATRA works to counter that influence by challenging this status quo and continually leading the fight for common-sense reforms in the states, the Congress, and the court of public opinion.

ATRA's Agenda: Fair Laws, Fair Judges, Fair Courts

ATRA supports an aggressive civil justice reform agenda that includes:

  • Health care liability reform
  • Class action reform
  • Promotion of jury service
  • Abolition of the rule of joint and several liability
  • Abolition of the collateral source rule
  • Limits on punitive damages
  • Limits on noneconomic damages
  • Production liability reform
  • Appeal bond reform
  • Sound science in the courtroom
  • Stopping regulation through litigation

ATRA's Structure

ATRA is a District of Columbia corporation designated by the Internal Revenue Service as a 501(c)(6). ATRA has a 26 member Board of Directors.

Click here to meet the ATRA staff.

Nationwide Reach. Nationwide Impact.

One of ATRA's greatest assets is its network of tort reform advocates (state coalitions) that advance ATRA's agenda in state capitals. Their work is bolstered by an "army" of more than 135,000 citizen supporters who have joined together in state and local grassroots groups. Together, the state coalitions and grassroots activists are an effective one-two punch in the fight for state tort reform.

A Track Record of Success

According to a 2003 ATRA survey, 85 percent of Americans believe too many frivolous lawsuits clog our courts. ATRA successfully translates that frustration into action and reform.

Since ATRA was founded in 1986, more than 45 states have enacted portions of ATRA'ss legislative agenda. On Capitol Hill, ATRA has a strong track record of enacting civil justice reform laws, including liability protection for teachers and principals (enacted into law in 2002) and immunity for volunteers (enacted into law in 1997).We continue to fight in Congress for class action reform and health care liability reform.

ATRA's goal is not just to pass laws. We work to change the way people think about personal responsibility and civil litigation. ATRA programs shine a media spotlight on lawsuit abuse and the pernicious political influence of the personal injury bar. ATRA redefines the victim, showing how lawsuit abuse affects all of us by cutting off access to health care, costing consumers through the "lawsuit tax," and threatening the availability of products like vaccines. Our innovative "Judicial Hellholes" program has curbed lawsuit abuse in the most egregious trial courts.

A Message from ATRA President, Sherman Joyce

"Some astonishing decisions come out of the courts these days. Hundreds of millions in punitive damages piled on top of relatively minor actual damages. Meritless cases settled because defendants fear the outcome of an emotion-filled jury trial or a lawless court. That's why the America Tort Reform Association (ATRA) leads the fight for a better civil justice system - one that's fair, efficient and predictable," says ATRA President Sherman Joyce.