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Civil Justice System

The mission of the Connecticut Trial Lawyers Association is to promote a fair and effective justice system and to support attorneys as they work to ensure that any person who is injured by the misconduct or negligence of others can obtain justice in Connecticut courtrooms, even when taking on the most powerful interests.

CTLA strives to improve the quality of health care, take dangerous medicines and foodstuffs from our shelves, make roads and workplaces less hazardous and to ensure that victims of negligence and misconduct find redress in Connecticut's courts.

The material found in this section is meant to expand your knowledge of the civil justice system, dispel myths, correct misinformation and provide more detailed information as to how our courts work for all.

Safeguarding a Pillar of American Freedom: An Historical Primer on the Right to Jury Trial in Civil Cases

When politicians in Congress or at the state level pass "tort reforms" they are taking power and authority directly away from juries, or in some cases, eliminating juries altogether. This primer entitled, "Safeguarding a Pillar of American Freedom - An Historical Primer on the Right to Jury Trial in Civil Cases" will provide ample background as to how our civil jury system is truly one of our more important rights as U.S. citizens.

Adverse Effects in Hospitals: National Incidence Among Medicare Beneficiaries

An estimate of the national incidence of adverse events for hospitalized Medicare beneficiaries, assessment of the preventability of such events, and estimate of associated costs to Medicare.

This federal study found that one in seven Medicare patients are harmed while in a U.S. hospital, and 15,000 die each month as a result of lapses by hospitals and their employees.

Think you know about the McDonald's Case?

Here's what the judge said: "Several years ago I presided over a jury trial where a plaintiff was burned by hot coffee purchased at McDonald's. The case received wide publicity and has become the poster child for tort reform in Washington... I have thought long and hard about this case [about] what it represents relative to our system of justice. Perhaps an argument could be made that this case, when viewed in detail rather than headlines, represents some of the things that are good about the courts and lawyers."

Here are the details about what really happened...

The Attack on Trial Lawyers and Tort Law

This 2003 Commonweal Institute Report, The Attack on Trial Lawyers and Tort Law, shows that, in addition to the expected corporate front organizations like the American Tort Reform Association (ATRA) and Citizen's Against Lawsuit Abuse (CALA), the "tort reform" movement is ideologically associated with a network of organizations, such as the Washington Legal Foundation, the Cato Institute, Manhattan Institute and the American Legislative Affairs Council. This web of "movement" organizations receives general operating support, project grants, and strategic guidance from a core group of ideological far-right-wing foundations that has been working for nearly 35 years to alter public attitudes about the civil justice system. What they seek, really, is corporate welfare-assurance that their misdeeds will be paid for not by them, but by others.

State Attorneys General: The People's Champion

State Attorneys General are among our country's most important public advocates. State AG's often initiate civil lawsuits on behalf of the general public to enforce state law where wrongdoing has been found to have been perpetrated by large corporations, insurance companies, banks and the pharmaceutical industry.

Because of this proactive activity on behalf of consumers, AG's have found themselves under fire by the so-called "tort reform" movement, funded almost entirely by big business and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Their aim is to limit their liability when their wrongdoing results in financial loss, injury or death. The Center for Justice and Democracy has prepared a White Paper describing these activities and the work by State Attorneys General of behalf of consumers.

Mandatory Binding Arbitration: Civil Injustice by Corporate America

Have you ever read the fine print attached to your cell phone contract, credit card application, or even medical insurance agreements? You should. For the last three decades, large corporations and the insurance industry have waged a campaign to take power and authority away from the civil courts to diminish the public's right to a civil court jury trial when wrongdoing has been alledged. This campaign is called "tort reform."

Many standard purchase agreements now include mandatory arbitration clauses, which force unwitting consumers to forfeit their day in court and submit any dispute to a third party arbirator. These arbirators are not required to have any legal training and are often under contract by the company with which you have a dispute. The Center for Justice and Democracy has prepared a White Paper describing the process of manadatory arbitration and how it is being misued to the detriment of consumers.

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