What the trial lawyers don't mention about their agenda 

American Association for Justice President Anthony Tarricone, the head of the nation's trade organization for trial lawyers, gave a press briefing earlier this month to promote his group's agenda. There's nothing too surprising in the agenda he outlined:

> An end to forced arbitration in credit card agreements (which keeps cases out of court)
> An end to federal pre-emption of state lawsuits over medical devices
> No limits on medical malpractice suits in any health care reforms
> A legislative overturn of the stricter pleading standards called for in two recent Supreme Court cases.

All well and good. But if you pull up AAJ's lobbying filing for the fourth quarter of 2009, you'll find two items that escaped mention altogether:

> A special tax break for trial lawyers that would allow them to write off legal costs for contingency cases in the year they are incurred, whether or not they win the case at trial later. This is the rough equivalent of letting banks write off loans on theiir taxes before they actually become bad debt. For trial lawyers, it's worth $1.6 billion.
> A provision in the House health care bill (section 257, to be precise) that outsources to state attorneys general the right to sue employers under that law on behalf of anyone, whether they want to bring suit or not. This provision would result in the mass deputization of private trial lawyers for such parens patriae lawsuits, something states do routinely but which the federal government is currently barred from doing.

These two matters -- the ones not mentioned -- are arguably much more important to AAJ's membership. Only a limited number of trial lawyers will ever deal with medical devices or medical malpractice suits, but all of them would get this tax break. That's why they've retained Thomas Boggs, one of the most powerful lobbyists in Washington, to push it.

And the most politically connected trial lawyers could benefit through an incredibly corrupt pay-to-sue system of agreements with state attorneys general.

About The Author

David Freddoso

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David Freddoso came to the Washington Examiner in June 2009, after serving for nearly two years as a Capitol Hill-based staff reporter for National Review Online. Before writing his New York Times bestselling book, The Case Against Barack Obama, he spent three years assisting Robert Novak, the legendary Washington... more
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