The Nebraska Association of Trial Attorneys is dedicated to the improvement of the trial practice, and preservation of the jury system. The Association provides quality continuing legal education and is active in the legislative process insofar as it impacts upon justice in Nebraska. The membership of the Association is open to all lawyers,and law students. The resources of the Association are committed to providing advocacy-related services to members and sponsoring, supporting or opposing legislation as needed to protect rights of citizens to recover for wrongs inflicted upon them and maintaining the integrity of the legal system.
NATA is pleased to present “Practice Pointers” on December 6, 2019 at the Scott Conference Center, Omaha. Program Chair Kathleen Neary has assembled an outstanding faculty of seasoned attorneys who will provide practical tips and successful strategies in handling various aspects of litigation. The program will also include a judicial perspective, caselaw and legislative updates, and ethics in the practice of law. For details and online registration or to download an electronic brochure. Brochures for the seminar will be mailed in mid-October.
NATA's quarterly publication, The Prairie Barrister is an electronic only publication. Volume 25, Number 3, Fall 2019 is now available for Download.
NATA's Annual Meeting and Election of 2019 2020 Officers and Directors was held on September 13, 2019 at the Scott Conference Center, Omaha. Newly elected Officers are Andy Sibbernsen, Omaha, President Elect; Brock Wurl, North Platte, Secretary; and Todd Bennett, Lincoln, Treasurer. Board members elected for three-year terms are Greg Coffey, Lincoln, District One Director; Steve Gerdes, District Two Director; and Directors-at-Large Aaron Brown, Omaha; Joe Dowding, Lincoln; Nancy Freburg, Kearney; Dan Friedman, Lincoln; Matt Knowles, Omaha; Kyle Long, Scottsbluff; Jeff Putnam, Omaha; and Adam Tabor, Omaha. Following the election, NATA President Elect Jason Ausman, Omaha, assumed the office of NATA President, 2019 2020.
Linda Lipsen, CEO American Association for Justice
It is with great pleasure that I can tell you that the Forced Arbitration Injustice Repeal Act (H.R. 1423) just PASSED the U.S House of Representatives by a vote of 225-186 (2 Republicans crossed over to vote with the majority of Democrats). This bill, first introduced in Congress in 2007, is landmark legislation which would restore the fundamental rights of workers and consumers to seek justice and accountability from Corporate America. Today’s vote is a monumental step in the fight to enact this bill into law.
For the first time, this wasn’t a debate just about trial lawyers vs. corporations. It was a debate about what justice really means to the people who are hurt when corporations break the law. The other highlight is that for the first time ever, multiple anti-civil justice members of Congress openly admitted that in certain circumstances, having access to the public court system is essential (sexual assault, harassment, and military). While of course access to the civil justice system shouldn’t be limited to these circumstances, the fact that even these members admitted this out loud, and were also willing to consider limits on forced arbitration in certain circumstances, means we are moving to a place where we can actually change the law to realize the restoration of rights.
Prior to the congressional recess in August, AAJ worked on legislation to protect 911 first responders. As you may know, AAJ helped create the original 9/11 victims’ fund in 2001. Now, with AAJ’s support, Congress overwhelmingly passed a bipartisan bill so that first responders and rescue workers who became ill from exposure to toxic chemicals at Ground Zero continue to receive compensation from the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (VCF), which was running out of funding; and the President then signed the bill into law.
The House passed H.R. 1327, the Never Forget the Heroes: James Zadroga, Ray Pfeifer, and Luiz Alvarez Permanent Authorization of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund Act. Many 9/11 first responders and survivors have become ill or lost their lives due to exposure to toxic chemicals that were present at Ground Zero. In 2010 and again in 2015, legislation was passed to provide medical monitoring and treatment through the World Trade Center Health Program (WTCHP) and the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (VCF). While the WTCHP was authorized through 2090, the VCF was running out of funding. The bill ensures that the VCF is authorized through 2090 to match the WTCHP and that it is fully funded for victims who get sick in the future. The Senate passed the bill on July 23, 2019, by 97-2; and it was signed into law by President Trump on July 29, 2019
In April, the Advisory Committee on Civil Rules approved a watered-down 30(b)(6) meet and confer amendment. This amendment requires parties to meet and confer on the matters for examination, but not on the number and description of topics. The Standing Committee, which all advisory committees report to, approved the 30(b)(6) amendment without additional changes.
Judge Bates, the Chair of the Advisory Committee, and Judge Campbell, the Chair of the Standing Committee, both agreed that it would help push parties to confer who do not do so already. Judge Bates said that it would not fundamentally change 30(b)(6) depositions, and anything more would be too controversial to pursue.
Next, the Judicial Conference will decide whether to approve the 30(b)(6) amendment. If the approval process continues uninterrupted (and it should), the rule will go into effect December 1, 2020.
The Social Security Subcommittee released revised draft rules for district court judges handling appeals from the Social Security Administration. Judge Bates, the chair of the Advisory Committee, explained that the Social Security Subcommittee hoped to have a recommendation about whether to pursue separate rules of civil procedure for Social Security cases by the fall.
In June, the Social Security Subcommittee convened a meeting in Washington, D.C., to receive feedback from stakeholders. AAJ participated at this meeting along with AAJ Social Security members who practice in different jurisdictions. While the rules won’t necessarily hurt cases, AAJ questions whether creating new rules for Social Security cases is the right policy as it will lead to other requests for specialized rules. The rules are supposed to be transsubstantive so that they can cross practice areas and do not require specializations. Specialized rules defeat this purpose.