What do two retirees, a personal injury attorney, an assistant attorney general and a realtor have in common?
They all apparently feel the same exact way about securities fraud lawsuits.
Each had their name signed to an identical letter mailed to at least 11 newspapers to be published as editorials, a trick used by the American Association for Justice (formerly the American Trial Lawyers Association) to drum up support for a case currently being considered by the U.S. Supreme Court.
The case, Stoneridge Investment Partners v. Scientific-Atlanta, Inc., will determine if third parties (i.e. investment banks, accountants and law firms) can be held accountable for being a part of a company's fraud.
The high-profile case could create a wave of new lawsuits. Dozens of state attorneys general, led by Ohio's Marc Dann and Texas' Greg Abbott are even keeping tabs on the case and joined in the filing of an amicus brief.
The pro-investor, President Bush-bashing editorial was drafted by People Over Profits Grassroots Action Center, a site sponsored by the AAJ. The site even has a link for anyone who wants to send a letter, which began appearing in June, to their local editor.
Realtor Lily Leung had her name attached to one to the Contra Costa Times, a newspaper in suburban San Francisco. Retirees John McConnell and Richarda Didier signed letters to the Ventura County (Cal.) Republican and the Colorado Daily, respectively.
Also, attorney Paula Bauer's name appeared on a copy in the Vallejo (Cal.) Times-Herald, while Patricia Medeiros, apparently an assistant attorney general under Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley, was the name signed on to a letter in the Sun Chronicle of Attleboro.
The opinion page editor at the Sun Chronicle told the Wall Street Journal Law Blog that he never would have published the letter if he had known it was a form letter.
The letter says:
"Last week President Bush betrayed investors, pressuring Solicitor General Paul Clement to steer clear of a pending U.S. Supreme Court case that could provide shareholders with the necessary tools to hold crooked CEOs accountable - as is still needed for Enron investors defrauded only five years ago.
"The case, Stoneridge Investment v. Scientific-Atlanta, asks whether investors can recover investment losses from investment banks, attorneys, accountants and other parties involved in fraudulent corporate collusion. The Supreme Court is expected to consider the case during its next term. The outcome could determine whether victims of the Enron scandal can proceed with a $40 billion lawsuit against investment banks that enabled Enron's massive fraud.
"Even though the Securities and Exchange Commission urged the administration to file a brief in support of investors, the administration thumbed its nose at investors.
"With Bush's approval rating hovering around 30 percent, his only remaining support comes from the CEOs of giant corporations. He's just playing to the last of his base, while showing small investors across America how little regard his administration has for our well-being."
Other letters have appeared in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Marion Chronicle-Tribune (Ind.), Sal Luis Obispo (Cal.) Tribune, Roanoke (Va.) Times, Wichita (Kan.) Eagle and Pasadena (Cal.) Star News.