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ATRA Calls Attention To 'Trial Lawyer Bonanza' Tucked Into House Health Care Bill

Says Tort Lawyers Are Only Special Interest Not Asked to Sacrifice

CONTACT: Darren McKinney

Washington, DC, January 8, 2010 -- As House and Senate leaders prepare to hammer out compromise health care reform legislation, the American Tort Reform Association is calling attention to what it identifies as "one of the most ominous 'trial lawyer earmarks' yet considered by the 111th Congress."

"Buried in the House health care bill is a multibillion-dollar bonanza for the trial lawyers," explained ATRA general counsel Victor Schwartz, referring to Section 257 of the legislation. "The section was inserted without one moment of hearings on its merits."

He said Section 257 "would empower state attorneys general to hire their trial lawyer friends and bring cash-heavy private lawsuits against practically anyone – small and large employers, health care providers, insurers, and others – for any violation of any one of thousands of regulations that will flow from the bill. The section is not in the Senate bill, but trial lawyer lobbyists with total access to the House and Senate leadership are prepared to do everything possible to keep it in the final legislation."

Schwartz added that a recent memo from the president of the trial lawyers' principal lobbying organization, the American Association for Justice, "openly boasted about the group's success in keeping meaningful medical liability reform out of both the House and Senate bills. As if that weren't enough, now they've undertaken a stealth campaign to preserve Section 257 throughout the reconciliation process.

"If they succeed," Schwartz suggested, "not only will personal injury lawyers be the only special interest group in America that won't be obligated to make some kind of sacrifice as a result of health care reform, they'll actually stand to make a hefty profit."