Trump Seen as Supportive of Business-Backed Litigation Bills

Bloomberg BNA
Thursday, March 2, 2017

By Bruce Kaufman

A package of far-reaching bills to overhaul the civil litigation process, long cherished by business and derided by consumer groups, is likely to win approval from President Trump if it reaches his desk. …

Joanne Doroshow, the founder of the consumer rights group Center for Justice & Democracy in New York, said medical malpractice is an issue that has “nothing to do with the other bills that exonerate misconduct by large industries, about which he said nothing.”

“It has different backers and has always traveled a very separate path in Congress,” she said.

Trump is also no ordinary Republican.

And with the exception of his latest comments on medical malpractice, and more distant remarks about asbestos, it’s noteworthy that there is no record of Trump coming down one way or another, as president or during the fierce presidential campaign, on a half dozen long-disputed business issues now moving their way through Congress. …

“It’s not as though tort reform was a big campaign theme for the new president,” Joyce, ATRA’s president, said.

Doroshow, of the Center for Justice & Democracy in New York, a legislation opponent, agreed.

“This was not an election issue, not a talking point, never mentioned in the debates. And there’s no evidence whatsoever that voters cared about it in the least” during the elections, she told Bloomberg BNA.…

But Doroshow, the bill opponent, said of Trump’s support of malpractice limits that “his endorsement of legal changes in this area, tepid as it was, puts him in direct conflict with many conservatives who strongly object to Congress interfering with traditional state tort law.“ …

In the case of asbestos, Trump offered a bewildering tweet in October 2012, saying: ”If we didn’t remove incredibly powerful fire retardant asbestos & replace it with junk that doesn’t work, the World Trade Center would never have burned down.”

In his 1997 book, “Art of the Comeback,” Trump wrote that asbestos was safe, anti-asbestos laws were “stupid” and the anti-asbestos movement was tainted by organized crime.

Do these comments, all verified by Bloomberg BNA, offer a window into Trump’s thinking about the pending asbestos bill or the broader litigation overhaul efforts generally? …

Doroshow, a bill opponent, was more blunt, saying there’s “no point wasting time trying to refute crazy.”

But now that Trump is in government, he does have access to “actual information,” she said.

Trump should learn from his own Centers for Disease Control and Prevention about the number of people who are diagnosed with mesothelioma each year, which is only caused by asbestos exposure, she said.

“And a disproportionate number of these individuals are veterans,” she said.

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