ATRA’s “Hellholes” Report: Corporate Ploy to Duck Accountability

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For Immediate Release: December 14, 2010

Contact: Jamie Hammon
American Association for Justice
202-965-3500 x8369
AAJ Press Room

ATRA’s “Hellholes” Report: Corporate Ploy to Duck Accountability

Washington, DCToday, the American Tort Reform Association (ATRA) again recycled its annual “Judicial Hellholes” report, complete with the same lies and distortions as past editions. The effort is funded by negligent corporations and industries to undermine the civil justice system and prevent American workers and consumers from getting justice.

“Despite all the chemical companies and polluters behind this front group, it appears ATRA is going green - recycling the same junk report that has been debunked and ridiculed year after year,” American Association for Justice Communications Director Ray De Lorenzi said. “It's an early holiday token of thanks to its drug, tobacco and insurance industry funders and a ploy for these corporations to continue their negligent behavior and avoid accountability.”

ATRA has been funded by corporate giants such as Philip Morris, Dow Chemical, Exxon, General Electric, Aetna, Geico, State Farm, Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson and Nationwide – a “who’s who” of corporations with the most to gain by shutting the courthouse doors on consumers. Legal Times has also reported that, “most of ATRA's funding comes from large corporate donors. Insurance firms … are each good for $50,000 or $75,000, one unnamed lobbyist familiar with the Association told the publication.” [“Proponents of Reform,” Legal Times, 4/17/95; ATRA website: http://www.atra.org/about/members.php]

Here’s what the experts say about ATRA’s report:

  • ATRA’s 2007 report was accurately described by the New York Times [Liptak, 12/24/2007] as having “no apparent methodology” and that “the question is whether the report’s arguments make sense . . . the report often falls short.” The 2008, 2009 and 2010 editions made no changes in this regard.
  • “[T]he point of the hellhole campaign is not to create an accurate snapshot of reality. The point of the hellhole campaign is to motivate legislators and judges to make law that will favor repeat corporate defendants and their insurers, and to spur voters to vote for those judges and legislators who will do so." [Thornburg, West Virginia Law Review, Vol. 110 2008]

AAJ has a list of flaws in past “Judicial Hellholes” reports. If interested, please contact Jamie.hammon@justice.org.

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