Washington, DC—The American Tort Reform Association (ATRA) is set to release a new white paper tomorrow that will undoubtedly attempt to distort the truth and push the agenda of giant corporate CEOs who fund this front group.
As we await the release of this new propaganda from ATRA, it begs all of us to ask two key questions:
- Who is ATRA?
- Why write a white paper?
1. ATRA is funded by big corporate CEOs, including insurance, pharmaceutical and tobacco companies. Corporate giants such as Altria (formerly 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 – have all supported ATRA. 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.” [Gannon, “Tort Deform - Lethal Bedfellows, Essential Information,” 1995, pp. 23-25; “Proponents of Reform,” Legal Times, 4/17/95, cited in Silverstein, “Smoke & Mirrors,” Public Citizen Congress Watch, 1996, p. 11; ATRA website: http://www.atra.org/about/members.php]
Tobacco interests provided half of ATRA’s budget in one year alone. Documents uncovered as part of Minnesota’s lawsuit against the tobacco companies showed that the industry gave nearly $5.5 million to ATRA in 1995 – more than half of the ATRA’s 10.2 million budget for that year. [“Tobacco Industry Quietly Backed Tort Reform; Unsuccessful 1995 Effort Included Donations And Behind-Scenes Strategizing,” Saint Paul Pioneer Press (Minnesota), 2/21/99]
2. As defined by Merriam-Webster, a white paper is “a detailed or authoritative report.” Considering the source, it certainly won’t be authoritative, and the only details ATRA will be providing are those that push the tobacco, insurance, and pharmaceutical agenda. While ATRA would like to create junk research and pass it off as reputable, their corporate funding, lack of sound methodology, and obvious distortion of the facts makes this an impossible feat.
American Association For Justice looks forward to the release of ATRA’s new white paper, as it presents us with another opportunity to inform the public of who is really behind these attacks: corporate CEOs corrupting our justice system while padding their profits.