By BETHANY KRAJELIS
LAS VEGAS (Legal Newsline) – Trial lawyers from around the country will meet this week for a “Mass Torts Made Perfect” conference that will be held in conjunction with an auction for the American Association for Justice (AAJ).
In addition to the auction that will benefit AAJ’s “Take Justice Back” media campaign, the two-day conference will feature several educational sessions on mass torts, an induction ceremony for the National Trial Lawyer Hall of Fame and entertainment from comedian Lewis Black.
It appears that the conference, which will run Wednesday through Friday, will adhere to the host city’s well-known “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas” motto as an AAJ media representative told The Record last week that the event “is closed to the media.”
The auction for AAJ’s campaign is set to take place after Thursday’s conference sessions.
“’Take Justice Back’ is a newly launched media campaign designed to inform Americans that their legal rights are under attack,” according to an online booklet for the auction.
It goes on to explain that the campaign “reaches beyond trial lawyers and Washington insiders” through a web-based campaign and a video campaign.
The web-based campaign, the booklet states, “has already positioned takejusticeback.com as the ‘home base’ to engage, educate and most importantly—motivate activism. The site has already drawn tens of thousands of visits and features blogs, content and social media outreach.”
The video campaign will be funded through Thursday’s auction and “convey the message of civil justice in the most powerful and effective ways,” the booklet states, noting that additional support will allow AAJ to “spread the ‘Take Justice Back’ message to millions of people through national ad buys and web videos.”
Items that will be featured in the live and silent auction, according to the booklet, include several vacation packages, as well as a guitar autographed by members of the rock band, the Eagles.
The booklet also includes messages from two of the auction’s four hosts: Mike Papantonio, a shareholder at Levin, Papantonio, Thomas, Mitchell, Rafferty & Proctor in Pensacola, Fla., and Mary Alice McLarty, a partner at McLarty & Pope in Dallas, Texas, who serves as AAJ’s 2012-2013 president.
Papantonio said in his written message that “our civil justice system works,” but “is under attack — and the forces working against it are formidable.”
“They are spending more than $30 million every year to strip American consumers of their rights. We need to fight back. We need AAJ to fight back for us,” he said in his message, later adding that “AAJ is our last line of defense from the corporate assault on civil justice.”
In her written message, McLarty gave examples of stories that AAJ’s “Take Justice Back” campaign “will share with everyday Americans who have little idea that their legal rights are under attack.”
“Simply because Karen’s prescription was filled with a generic drug, not a brand, her legal rights are now in doubt,” she wrote of one example, adding another: “A few cents fix could have prevented Michael’s burns. But instead, Blitz USA put profits before safety.”
In addition to Papantonio and McLarty, the booklet states that Mark Proctor, president and shareholder at Levin, Papantonio in Florida, and Linda Lipsen, the chief executive officer of AAJ, will host the auction.
Aside from the auction, the “Mass Torts Made Perfect” conference will include sessions on “How to Choose Your Next Mass Tort: When to Double Down, When to Walk Away,” “How to Try and Win a ‘Bad’ Case” and “The Battles That Win the Wars: Settlement Strategies,” among several others.
It will also provide updates on current cases, including those over NuvaRing, Mirena, Propecia, Fosamax and the NFL concussion cases, as well as an ”insider scoop” session on “Mass Torts on the Horizon,” such as those dealing with energy drinks, Hurricane Sandy claims, Z-Pak, Motrin and Tylenol.
The website for the conference notes that “no defense attorneys” will be at the event “so we are able to give real, concrete and substantive presentations that will help you win your case.”
The conference will also feature a “Hall of Fame Panel: Insights from the Titans of Torts” that will consist of the following trial lawyers: Joseph Cotchett of Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy; Howard Nations of The Nations Law Firm; Russ Herman of Herman, Herman & Katz; Morris Dees, co-founder of the Southern Poverty Law Center; and Shelly Schlesinger of the Law Offices of Sheldon J. Schlesinger.
All of these attorneys are previous inductees to the National Trial Lawyers Hall of Fame.
This year’s inductees, according to the conference website, include: U.S. Judge Eldon Fallon of the Eastern District of Louisiana, Judge Sandra Mazer Moss of Philadelphia’s Court of Common Pleas, Chicago attorney James Montgomery and trial lawyers Craig Spangenberg and James Beasley, both of whom will be inducted posthumously.
Roger Denton, senior partner at Schlichter, Bogard & Denton, will present a session on “Creative Venue/State vs. Federal” and give an update on NuvaRing litigation, according to the agenda. He did not immediately return a message.
More information about the conference can be found at masstortsmadeperfect.com and details about AAJ’s “Take Back Justice” campaign can be found at justice.org.