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Access to Justice header

PAUL STRITMATTER
Excerpted from the Winter 2003 Public Justice

TLPJ Foundation President Paul Stritmatter Paul Stritmatter
2002-2003 President
The TLPJ Foundation

At the outset of my presidency, I stated that we would make "Securing Access to Justice" a theme of our public interest litigation work. We’ve succeeded beyond expectations, from the trial courts to the highest court in the land.

Trial Lawyers for Public Justice fights on the front lines – and wins major strategic battles – on behalf of the right of ordinary people to hold corporations and governments accountable in court. Giant corporations are pouring buckets of money into "tort reform" proposals that would deny injury victims and deceived consumers the right to have their day in court. But like David squaring off with Goliath, TLPJ is standing firm for public justice, taking on the big guys and winning important battles.

Securing Access to Justice:
Fighting for Your Day in Court

You may view our Securing Access to Justice series below with the free Adobe Acrobat Reader. Simply click on your selection below. These PDF files are large (about 150 KB), so if you have a slow connection it could take a minute to download each article.

David equipped himself with a pouch filled with smooth stones. Let me tell you about some "smooth stones" that Trial Lawyers for Public Justice has successfully slingshotted right between the eyes of corporate and governmental wrongdoers.

TLPJ convinced 17 States’ Attorneys General, the U.S. Solicitor General – and finally, all nine Supreme Court Justices – to defeat the boating industry’s attempt to block injury victims from suing boat engine makers for failing to install propeller guards. This victory for the public interest goes beyond promoting boat safety. If the U.S. Supreme Court had not reversed numerous lower courts and rejected the industry’s federal preemption argument in its landmark Sprietsma v. Mercury Marine ruling, then common-law claims could have been wiped off the map in many other consumer protection arenas. 

TLPJ took on the steel industry in a citizen enforcement suit that set an important precedent to protect our nation’s air from fugitive dust emissions. A federal court in Kentucky not only found that the corporate defendants employed "scorched earth" tactics and "willfully, wantonly, and oppressively" violated the Clean Air Act; the judge also appointed a Special Master to stop the polluters’ outrageous conduct

Trial Lawyers for Public Justice battled my own City of Seattle, which rounded up peaceful WTO protestors in December 1999, and threw them in jail for merely exercising their constitutional rights. We convinced a federal court to greenlight the protestors’ class action lawsuit. 

TLPJ’s special litigation project on fighting class action abuse walked a fine line to halt those rare systemic abuses, while thwarting corporate attempts to eliminate the class action device altogether. For years, we’ve successfully fought for the rights of class members – ordinary people who, without class actions, would never be able to stop corporate and government misconduct on race and sex discrimination, disability rights, defective consumer products, environmental degradation, and corporate deceit. (For an outrageous example of insurance fraud, see our amici curiae brief in State Farm v. Avery).

Corporate giants throw up barricades to the courthouse doors and Trial Lawyers for Public Justice knocks ’em down. We beat the corporate bullies on secret settlements and other examples of unnecessary court secrecy. We urged the U.S. Supreme Court to uphold the funding of legal services for the poor through the interest on lawyers’ trust accounts, known as IOLTA. We argued against the proposed "complexity exception" to the right of average Americans to exercise their right to a jury trial. We battled mandatory arbitration abuse on many fronts.

And again, before the U.S. Supreme Court, we filed successful amicus briefs in Syngenta Crop Protection, Inc. v. Henson and Ford Motor Company v. McCauley two cases that absolutely hammered corporate attempts to evade the jurisdiction of state courts. Our recent successes before the highest court in the land demonstrated that TLPJ has truly taken our fight to the next level.

Access to Justice versus Tort Reform

We can keep winning in court -- exposing the corporate propaganda behind so-called tort reform while securing access to justice for consumers and injury victims -- with your continued support

How can you help fight ill-conceived, corporate-sponsored tort reform proposals and secure access to justice for ordinary Americans? Visit our homepage, www.tlpj.org. Click on the "Securing Access to Justice" button and equip yourself with our series of substantive legal articles. (They’re smooth stones in your pocket.) Refer cases. Work on Trial Lawyers for Public Justice cases. Give generously.

If you believe in the importance of a strong civil justice system – a place where ordinary people can battle through the so-called tort reform barricades to win their day in court – your tax-deductible contribution to The TLPJ Foundation could not come at a better time than now. All of us at TLPJ deeply appreciate your support.

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