Center for America

Speaker's Resource: 2. Lawsuit Abuse, p 4



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Key Reference Citations (KRC)


Public Relations and the Press

  • Plaintiffs' attorneys regularly attempt to shape the court of public opinion so that business defendants will seek to settle lawsuits for a premium, rather than risk further damage to their reputation and/or financial standing. For those cases that don't get settled, the news media help shape the mindset of the jury pool such that, when lawyers make their case in court, juries nod their heads in recognition of what they heard during the media campaign. (KRC: Hantler, "Trial by Newswire",  p. 16)

  • Most instances of mass tort and industry wide litigation thus proceed as parallel campaigns inside and outside the courtroom, with the outside part – directed by trial lawyers and their allies at the press and public opinion – often the more important. (KRC: Olson, The Rule of Lawyers, p. 17)

  • “In most big litigation campaigns these days, the ginning up of publicity damaging to the targeted defendants is as vital a part of the lawyers’ efforts as anything that goes on in court”.  (KRC:  Olson, The Rule of Lawyers, p. 153)

  • “The implant affair drove home an important lesson: Publicity skillfully managed by trial lawyers and their allies, especially where juries and the public can be kept sufficiently confused about the state of the science, can fuel a mass tort despite weakness on the facts, the law, or both.  And in many mass torts, the publicity campaign outside the courtroom was to prove at least as important in shaping the outcome as any ruling handed down by a judge.” (KRC:  Olson, The Rule of Lawyers, p. 17)

  • “Lawsuits are no longer tried exclusively in a courtroom. They also are tried in the court of public opinion. The trial bar targets customers, shareholders, and potential jurors who sit in judgment”... “So PR pros must work seamlessly with legal counsel to adapt to today's litigious environment and be ready to communicate within it”. (KRC: Hantler, “Minimizing the Damage from Lawsuits”, June 27, 2005)

  • It is no accident that polls show the American public has a high level of distrust for corporations—a phenomenon that predates recent corporate scandals. It is not by happenstance that people believe that companies place profits ahead of safety and honesty. And it is no mere coincidence that, primed with this misinformation, juries are all too willing to vote for eye-popping damage awards. Make no mistake: This is a well-orchestrated public relations campaign by the trial bar and its surrogates—self anointed consumer and safety advocates—to undermine public confidence in corporations and distort our legal system. (KRC: Hantler, "New Core Competencies ...", p. 19)

  • “Lawsuits are no longer tried exclusively in the courtroom; today they’re also tried in the court of public opinion, where the messages are that business puts profits ahead of safety and fair dealing, and large damage awards are the only way to get business to act responsibly. Through massive, coordinated public opinion campaigns and other strategies, the trial bar has fundamentally changed the litigation landscape in ways that threaten American companies”.  (KRC: Hantler, "Trial by Newswire", p. 16; and, "New Core Competencies ...", p. 19)

  • Ask most litigation managers or their general counsel to create a process map for litigation and they will place “service of summons and complaint” in the first box on the first line. Most litigation managers and general counsel believe this is where the litigation process begins. But trial lawyers believe that the litigation process begins far earlier. For them, it begins in the court of public opinion and in federal and state legislatures and courts, where laws are made and interpreted. (KRC: Hantler, "New Core Competencies for the Litigation Manager”, p. 20)




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Please Note:  The material presented in this Speaker's Resource has been collected from a wide variety of sources.  You are welcome to use this material for quotations and factual material in your speeches, presentations and articles.  To the best of our ability, we have provided original citations so that you can document the comments you use.  If you become aware that any of the citations or facts presented in this collection are inaccurate or outdated by newer information, please send an email to to tell us so that we can update this material.  The materials cited are generally copyrighted by the original author and when you quote from their material, you should include the original attribution to acknowledge their role as authors.  Original material © 2005 American Justice Partnership.