Politics

Trial Lawyers See Bleak Future Under Trump Presidency

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Kevin Daley Supreme Court correspondent

Trial lawyers had a bad night Tuesday as well.

The trial lawyer bar, a solidly Democratic constituency steeped in resources and influence, rallied around the campaign of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton — according to the Center for Responsive Politics, five big law shops with large litigation practices, including DLA Piper; Kirkland & Ellis; Skadden; Akin Gump; and Paul Weiss, were among Clinton’s top 20 donors, contributing a combined $5 million to her failed presidential bid.

“As they routinely do, personal injury lawyers spent many millions of dollars during this campaign cycle, hoping to capture all the levers of power in Washington and otherwise advance their civil liability-expanding agenda in certain statehouses across the country,” said Tiger Royce, president of the American Tort Reform Association, in an email statement. (RELATED: Trump Is Supposed To Appear In Court Before He Becomes President)

The Clinton transition team also vetted several personal injury attorneys for appointments to the White House judicial selection panel, a committee which recommends judicial nominees to the White House counsel and the president. Lisa Blue Baron, a prominent Texas personal injury attorney, was among those considered, according to remarks she made to a gathering of mass torts plaintiffs lawyers in October. Baron’s practice specializes in mesothelioma lawsuits.

Trump’s victory also reinvigorates the defunct Fairness in Class Action Litigation and Furthering Asbestos Claim Transparency Act of 2016. The legislation, which aims to reduce the number of class-action lawsuits, was passed by the U.S. House of Representatives in March, but floundered in the Senate under a certain White House veto. The legislation will likely meet a friendly reception by the notoriously litigious president-elect.

Royce added that a federal judiciary shaped by Trump and the Republican Senate is likely to assist in the work of tort reform.

“Mr. Trump has pledged to appoint judges with records of leaving lawmaking to the politically accountable legislative and executive branches of government,” he said. “And with our nation’s economy still struggling under the weight of too many lawsuits, not too few, this bodes well for reasonable limits on civil liability.”

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