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Distrust for Business Outweighs That for Lawyers

Saturday marks the start of the annual meeting of the American Association for Justice (f/k/a Association of Trial Lawyers of America), and the AAJ is setting the stage with today's release of a survey showing that voters distrust large corporations far more than they do trial lawyers. "Americans are deeply worried about their nation's future," the survey says, "and concern about corporate misconduct is a major source of their anxiety."

The survey, conducted for AAJ by Peter D. Hart Research Associates, explored voters' attitudes towards the civil justice system. It found that most voters see large corporations as preoccupied with the bottom line and irresponsible towards consumers and workers. Among voters' most significant concerns: huge payouts to corporate CEOs at the expense of rank-and-file jobs, defaults on pension obligations and refusals to pay for medical treatments.

The survey's executive summary contrasts voters' concern about corporations with what it describes as their "muted response" to criticisms frequently leveled against the civil justice system. Only a third of voters see a serious problem in trial lawyer fees, and only a quarter worry that jury awards are too high in personal injury and medical malpractice cases. More to the point, voters rank both of those below all of their concerns about big business. From the summary:

"Americans believe that the civil justice system provides essential safeguards for them at a time when corporate misconduct is such a serious problem. They tell us that making sure corporations are held accountable when their actions harm consumers, employees, or communities (70%) should be a much higher priority for the civil justice system than limiting the amount of compensation that juries can award for pain and suffering."

Holding big corporations accountable -- that, no doubt, will be the rallying cry as plaintiffs lawyers from throughout the United States convene in Chicago this week.

Posted by Robert J. Ambrogi on July 12, 2007 at 05:48 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

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