WASHINGTON (Legal Newsline)-The leader of the nation's trial lawyer lobby, Anthony Tarricone, is taking a victory lap over the health care overhaul signed last week by U.S. President Barack Obama.
Tarricone, who leads the American Association for Justice, boasts in a posting on his organization's Web site that the health care legislation will not fetter trial lawyers' abilities to file lawsuits on behalf of patients allegedly harmed by medical malpractice.
"I am very pleased to report that the health care bill is clear of any provisions that would limit an injured patient's rights concerning medical negligence claims," he wrote to AAJ members late last week.
While there is a provision in the law for demonstration projects, he noted that there is an opt-out clause that plaintiffs may invoke at any time.
"While some states may embark on demonstration programs we find objectionable, the opt-out provision for plaintiffs minimizes this concern," he said.
Tarricone, a partner at the aviation law firm of Kreindler & Kreindler LLP, said fighting efforts to include tort reform as a way to cut health care costs were part of the "long and difficult journey" to the final health care bill that Obama signed last Tuesday.
During debate on overhauling the nation's health care system, Democrats, who receive large amounts of campaign cash from trial lawyers, eschewed the idea of including tort reforms in the final legislation.
That, despite the director of the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, Douglas Elmendorf, saying that as much as $54 billion could be saved over the next decade if Congress enacted a $250,000 cap on damages for pain and suffering and a $500,000 cap on punitive damages and restricting the statute of limitations on malpractice claims.
Along the way, Tarricone said AAJ, formerly known as the Association of Trial Lawyers of America, helped secure some major victories on behalf of plaintiffs' lawyers, including the defeat of a Senate amendment that would have placed a cap on attorney's fees.
In the House, he said, the group's lobbyists help defeat tort reform amendments that were offered in the three committees that amended the original bill sought by the Obama administration.
In closing his letter to AAJ members, Tarricone urged his members to recruit more plaintiffs' attorneys into their lobby, noting that the organization needs the financial support to fight the "never-ending assault on trial lawyers."