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.
Congratulations to Andrew D. Sibbernsen, Omaha, who assumed the office of NATA President for 2020-2021 at NATA's Annual Meeting and Fall Seminar on September 25 at the Scott Conference Center, Omaha. NATA Officers elected for 2020-2021 are President Elect, Brock Wurl, North Platte; Secretary, Todd Bennett, Lincoln; Treasurer, Jonathan Urbom, Lincoln. Members of the Board of Directors elected for 3 year terms, 2020-2023, are District 5 Director Mitchell Stehlik, Grand Island; District 6 Director, Amy Patras, Chadron; and Directors at Large John Carroll, Omaha; Mark Grell, Lincoln; Jennifer Meyer, Omaha; Shayla Reed, Omaha; and Julie Tabor, Omaha.
NATA's quarterly publication, The Prairie Barrister is an electronic only publication. Volume 26, Number 2, Summer 2020 is now available for Download.
By Linda A. Lipsen, CEO, American Association for Justice
I’m pleased to report some positive legislative news on very important issues for you and your clients.
The U.S House of Representatives has passed the House Surface Transportation bill which would increase commercial trucking insurance minimums from $750,000 (the amount since the late 1980s) to $2 million; the new amount will also be tied to inflation. AAJ will continue to fight for justice for truck crash victims and their families.
In addition, the bill would eliminate Amtrak’s despicable use of forced arbitration against injured or killed passengers, restoring rights to millions of passengers who rely on their services every day.
We know how critical these issues are for you and your clients, and we will keep you posted as this moves to the Senate.
Below are some other highlights of how AAJ is working to protect your practices, your clients’ rights, and the future of civil justice.
We successfully fought demands for broad immunity in previous COVID-related legislation. However, Mitch McConnell and his allies in corporate America want blanket immunity to limit liability for employers and health care workers in the next COVD-19 stimulus package.
And now, with the introduction of the Cuellar/Graves “Get America Back to Work” Act in the U.S. House of Representatives, we are seeing the latest attempt to erode your clients’ rights. The bill is a corporate wish list of immunity proposals which would grant broad immunity for COVID-19 injuries and deaths—allowing companies to evade responsibility when they fail to act reasonably to protect health workers and consumers. The bill also prohibits the Occupational Health and Safety Administration from issuing citations to employers for forcing their workers into unsafe working conditions.
We remain focused on ensuring that corporate America and the U.S Chamber don’t succeed in using the COVID-19 crisis to achieve their anti-worker, anti-consumer agenda. Watch this space for more updates.
AAJ is strongly advocating for the accountability and policing reforms in the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act (H.R. 7120). The U.S. House recently passed this bill, 236-181. It would eliminate qualified immunity for police officers; ban choke holds; and eliminate racial and religious profiling. In addition, it would establish independent prosecutors for police investigations, a national police misconduct registry, and funding for community-based policing programs.
For over 50 years, the qualified immunity doctrine has shielded law enforcement officers from lawsuits for civil rights violations against those they are sworn to protect. In the last two years, AAJ has joined six amicus curiae briefs fighting to overturn this unjust policy.
The House bill is a strong first step towards comprehensive reform in policing. Lawmakers who opposed this bill wanted to amend it by offering the Senate version of the bill. This was not an acceptable alternative. For example, while the current House bill would end qualified immunity in policing, the Senate version does not. AAJ issued a strong statement against the Senate proposal when that bill was introduced.
While Congress is debating policing reform legislation, state governments are also taking action to increase accountability. In June, Colorado Governor Jared Polis signed into law CO SB20-217 to implement several important police misconduct reforms. The bill includes a repeal of the state’s qualified immunity doctrine and municipal caps on damages as applied in police misconduct claims, as well as language requiring attorneys' fees to be provided to a successful plaintiff in both damage and injunctive relief cases. Other states will consider measures to increase accountability later this year in special sessions or will address the issue during the 2021 sessions.
AAJ State Affairs will continue to work with the state TLAs in their efforts to hold wrongdoers accountable for their misconduct.
Thank you for your support. Despite these difficult times, AAJ continues to fight all attempts to deny access to justice. We will keep you informed about important developments and welcome your input. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org.