Trial Lawyer Windfall Translates into Political Spending

Florida Citizens for a Sound Economy





Florida Citizens for a Sound Economy

Media contact: Slade O'Brien (561) 417-7171

FOR RELEASE: Friday, September 18, 1998


Group Questions Timing:
Trial Lawyer Windfall Translates into Political Spending

  1. Florida Citizens for a Sound Economy (CSE) called into question the timing of the first payment to the tobacco trial lawyers today. "It's a little too convenient that this group of liberal trial lawyers are receiving close to three billion dollars, due to a deal brokered by Lawton Chiles and Buddy McKay, less than 50 days before the general election. The 25,000 members of Florida Citizens for a Sound Economy find this extremely troubling," said Slade O'Brien, Director of Florida CSE.

  2. "This windfall virtually guarantees that the trial lawyers will step up their attempts to buy their way or intimidate the Florida legislature, and that's just wrong," said O'Brien.

  3. A Sept. 6 Washington Post article put this plainly enough: "The nation's most influential and aggressive trial lawyers stand to win billions of dollars in fees from lawsuits against the tobacco industry and plan to use those sums in part to fund Democratic candidates and battle business in the courts, Congress and state legislatures."

  4. Trial lawyers have poured money into the self-styled "Coalition for Family Safety," which is a "thinly-veiled lobby for Florida's trial lawyers," according to the Palm Beach Daily Business Review. This trial lawyers' political organization has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on advertisements and political mailings targeting candidates who are in favor of bringing lawsuits under control.

  5. "By hiding behind this sympathetically named political organization, the personal injury lawyers are admitting that Florida voters do not support their true agenda, which is more and bigger lawsuits," he said. "By attacking legislators on unrelated issues, they concede that their true agenda could not withstand the light of day."

  6. "The trial lawyers' mouthpiece spent hundreds of thousands of dollars attacking several popular legislators including moderate north Florida Democrat Charles Williams," said O'Brien. Williams was defeated in his Senate primary bid. "Williams voted for fair and reasonable reforms to Florida's legal system in the 1998 legislative session. That's why the trial lawyers spent more money influencing the race than the candidates spent on their own races," he added.

  7. "The trial lawyers $2.9 billion windfall and the scruples of hyenas is a dangerous combination. Consumers should beware of negative advertisements, direct mail and "push poll" telephone techniques employed by these front groups. I'm sure the attacks and mud will be spread from Key West to Pensacola," predicted O'Brien.

  8. O'Brien said that Florida CSE has worked to educate consumers on how their elected officials voted on the civil justice reform bill. "I'm confident that if Florida's voters and consumers know the truth they will not be fooled by the trial lawyers' attempts to buy Florida's political system," he concluded.

  9. To receive more information on Florida CSE, Florida CSE Foundation, or to comment on our publications, call, write, or e-mail:

    Slade O'Brien, Director
    Florida Citizens for a Sound Economy
    Florida Citizens for a Sound Economy Foundation
    P.O. Box 276095, Boca Raton, FL 33427-6095
    Phone (561) 417-7171, Fax (561) 417-7162,

    or contact our Washington office:

    Citizens for a Sound Economy
    Citizens for a Sound Economy Foundation
    1250 H Street, NW, #700, Washington, D.C. 20005-3908
    1-888-JOIN-CSE, (202) 783-3870, Fax (202) 783-4687

    (c)1998 Citizens for a Sound Economy

This is a page in the section entitled Lawyers Make Billions at Expense of Sick and Dying Smokers in the Web site entitled Legal Reform Through Transforming the Discipline of Law into a Science.