Priceless Arrogance

The SE Texas Record Aug. 2, 2009, 2:10am

Special tax break for plaintiffs' attorneys: minimum cost $1.6 billion.

Damage to U.S. businesses and the American economy: priceless.

No, that's not the latest installment of a credit card campaign. It's a nutshell summary of the effect of legislation being considered by Congress.

As reported last week in Legal Newsline, federal legislation has been proposed by trial lawyers that would allow those filing contingency-based lawsuits to deduct associated fees and expenses immediately from their tax returns. Such expenses are currently treated as loans to clients, to be recouped from the final settlement – or, in the case of a loss, deducted from tax returns at the conclusion of the case.

$1.6 billion is the estimated value of this special tax break to plaintiff's attorneys. The cost for Texans and all Americans is incalculably higher.

What's holding up the progress of this pricelessly arrogant bid for attorney enrichment and American impoverishment? Nothing but logistics, and the knowledge that American people would be outraged by the audacity of it.

"Everyone wants to do it, but the problem is there is not a tax vehicle yet," said American Association for Justice Senior Vice President of Public Affairs Linda Lipsen at the trial lawyer trade group's annual meeting last week. "You cannot have a standalone bill to help lawyers … so we have to tuck it into something."

By "everyone," Lipsen meant "everyone" who stands to gain--a privileged group of plaintiffs' attorneys and the politicians in their pockets.

Let's put this outrageous proposal in perspective. The economy is in a shambles and frivolous lawsuits are forcing some previously thriving companies to discontinue profitable products and services or face going out of business. What's the political solution being considered? Give trial attorneys more money and more encouragement to file their business-busting suits!

If the logic escapes you, join the club. Admission fee: priceless.

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Organizations in this Story

American Association for Justice
777 6th Street Northwest
Washington, DC 20001

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