Washington, DC—The American Association for Justice today demanded that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce immediately halt a series of false, unfair and deceptive print and broadcast advertisements promoting its ongoing campaign to weaken the nation’s civil justice system.
“By airing and publishing these false, unfair and deceptive ads, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is misleading the public in a cynical effort to weaken the civil justice system,” said Jon Haber, CEO of the American Association for Justice. “The Chamber and the stations and newspapers must take immediate action and stop airing and publishing them.”
The Chamber’s ads, appearing in numerous markets throughout the country, claim that “lawsuit abuse” costs the average American household $3,520 a year, based on a 2006 report by Tillinghast Towers Perrin. However, Russ Sutter, the chief author of the report, says the Chamber’s use of the data is “misleading.”
According to an online Wall Street Journal blog:
But Russ Sutter, a Tillinghast principal and primary author of the study, told me the firm’s numbers are being misrepresented by the U.S. Chamber Institute. The ads make the dubious assumption that every lawsuit in the tort system is frivolous. Mr. Sutter said his group didn’t try to evaluate the merit of individual lawsuits, but simply set out to calculate the cost of the entire tort system. “The way they use it makes it sound like the $3,520 is all for abusive lawsuits,” he told me. Furthermore, the ad “assumes all the costs we tabulate in our study are due to lawsuits. That’s a bit misleading”—because other costs associated with insurance are also included.
Moreover, Sutter maintains his report is not intended to measure the cost of lawsuit abuse. As the study itself unequivocally notes, “the costs tabulated in this study are not a reflection of litigated claims or of the legal system.’’ (Sutter’s comments can be found at http://blogs.wsj.com/numbersguy/how-much-are-frivolous-lawsuits-really-costing-you-95/.)
Just last year, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce had to pull ads falsely claiming that several candidates for Congress voted in favor of landmark legislation providing seniors with prescription drug coverage. In fact, three of the candidates had not yet been elected when the vote occurred and a fourth opposed it in a subsequent vote.
“The U.S. Chamber’s campaign of lies and deception must stop now. The Chamber knows the ads are wrong, and there can be no excuse to continue to run them,” said Haber. “The Chamber’s phony attack on our civil justice system is designed to enable corporate interests to evade accountability for wrongdoing and negligence.”