It was kind of hard to capture what I’m trying to say in one short headline (title), but basically the trial lawyers of America are going around knocking on the doors of statehouses and legislators everywhere to expand liability laws, so they can rack up increased litigation–and paychecks. It’s what Tiger Joyce of The Metropolitan Corporate Counsel calls the “litigation industry’s stimulus plan.”

Basically, what these lawyers are doing is beating back tort reform–which aims to make it harder for lawyers to sue companies right and left for often-frivolous reasons–whenever it rears its to-them-ugly, to-us-beautiful head.

Writes Joyce:

In the past…, I’ve offered broad analysis of the litigation industry’s well financed and well coordinated lobbying effort in statehouses across the country designed to roll back recent tort reforms and otherwise increase liability and the number of lawsuits, all at the expense of productive elements of the economy upon which we must rely to drive an eventual recovery.

He then goes on to note the four areas upon which the litigators are focused: false claims, consumer protection, statutes of limitation and repose, and wrongful deaths. In other words, these lawyer-bandits want to expand opportunities for lawsuits and financial rewards in these four very broad areas.

Consider just consumer protection and this infamous $54-million pantsuits litigation:

Overexpansion of existing consumer protection acts has led to cases such as Washington, D.C.’s infamous “pantsuit” wherein the plaintiff pursued a $54 million claim against his dry cleaner over a misplaced pair of suit pants. While the judge ultimately ruled for the defendant at trial, the broadly worded law, which allows a “private attorney general” to seek $1,500 “per violation” without demonstrating injury, kept the judge from dismissing the case outright at an early stage. The family owned dry cleaners ran up more than $100,000 in defense costs and ultimately opted to close the shop.

These categories pose fairly difficult challenges to us layfolk in understanding them, but Joyce provides good detail in his article.