ATRA Prez: Soda Lawsuit Shows Need for Tort Reform
Tiger Joyce, President of the American Tort Reform Association, wrote in an opinion piece that a recent lawsuit filed against Coca-Cola and the American Beverage Association (ABA) by advocacy group Praxis Project, claiming that Coca-Cola and the ABA falsely advertised their products, is the latest in a series of lawsuits that prove the case for the need for tort reform.
In the lawsuit, the Praxis Project, claimed that Coca-Cola and the ABA falsely advertised their products, thereby deceiving consumers about the causes of obesity and the health risks associated with their beverages.
“It’s little wonder,” Joyce writes, “that this takes place since lawyers suing under these consumer protection statutes often do not need to demonstrate that an individual or group suffered actual injury because of the alleged deceptive marketing. These laws truly serve the interest of the lawyers bringing these cases, not the public.”
“This is just another regrettable attempt at regulation through litigation involving the food and beverage industry championed by big government liberals and greedy trial lawyers. Since the early 2000s, plaintiffs’ lawyers seeking to reap the benefits of the next “big tobacco” type settlement joined together with so-called consumer advocacy groups to target obesity through lawsuits against large corporations — and this case is a prime example.”
He calls for the following:
—All plaintiffs must show actual injury. This will dissuade lawyers from abusing consumer protection acts by inventing a “theory of misrepresentation” and then searching for clients.
—Require all consumer protection act claims to demonstrate “reasonableness” a factor. Obligating consumers to demonstrate that they acted reasonably in relying on a marketing claim is good policy and will cut down on abusive litigation.
—Only allow attorneys’ fees to be awarded when state laws have been knowingly violated. This will help to ensure that lawyers only pursue cases involving defendants who are consciously trying to deceive consumers.
—Limit the awarding of class-action remedies, such as statutory damages and attorneys’ fees. Limiting statutory damages will discourage many of the unnecessary and socially harmful consumer protection act claims. Additionally, capping attorneys’ fees will prevent lawyers from walking away with enormous amounts of money, while class members receive only a small amount of the overall settlement, which has frequently been the case in the past.
U.S. Doubles Up False Claims Charges Against Health Care Giant
The U.S. has intervened in separate False Claims Act cases against United Healthcare: the first instance is based on United’s alleged reliance on untruthful and inaccurate information about the health status of beneficiaries enrolled in United’s Medicare Advantage Plan in California. The charges are that United ignored information about the health status of the beneficiary in order to increase its monthly payments from Medicare. The second case alleges fraud committed by United in its national Medicare Advantage program.
The cases stem from an expansion of the False Claims Act in the early years of the Obama Administration. In nearly all instances, health care companies settle or risk being blocked from doing business with the federal government.
Outer Banks Businesses File Class Action Over Power Outage
A group of small businesses recently filed a class-action suit against the PCL Construction company that accidentally caused a power outage during construction of the Bonner Bridge, which joins the Pamlico Sound with the Atlantic Ocean.
Filed in U.S. District Court, the action alleges that PCL by driving a steel pylon through two power transmission lines acted negligently.
“In designing and building the Bonner Bridge, PCL had a duty to exercise reasonable care during construction so as not to cause any interference with the vacation rental plans of individuals and families in the affected area,” the complaint said.
The complaint asserts claims under federal maritime law, including federal common and statutory law. “The plaintiffs have suffered economic injury and/or damages as a result of the power outage,” the complaint said. “This is peak season for tourists and renters on Hatteras and Ocracoke Islands.”
Opioid Cases Setting Up Like Tobacco Cases
A recent analysis by Fox News says that the government cases against the drug manufacturers over the opioid crisis are setting up like tobacco-style cases:
“Opioid abuse ranks among the nation’s biggest public health challenges with drug overdoses now the leading cause of death among Americans under the age of 50. While the causes are complex and multiple, politicians and their trial lawyer friends aren’t letting the crisis go to waste.”
“More than 20 state and local governments including Ohio, Missouri, Mississippi and nine counties in New York have sued prescription opioid manufacturers for fraud and deceptive marketing, among other supposed offenses. Ohio GOP Attorney General Mike DeWine’s lawsuit against Purdue, Janssen, Teva, Endo and Allergan has set a template for other states that are coordinating litigation.”
“Governments are farming out the legal work to trial attorneys who front the bills in return for a share—typically 20%—of the reward. States used this contingency-fee model to squeeze $206 billion from tobacco companies in the 1990s, and the ringleader of that effort, former Mississippi Attorney General Mike Moore, is assisting with the opioid raids.”
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