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's quarterly publication, The Prairie Barrister is an electronic only publication. Volume 25, Number 3, Fall 2019 is now available for Download.
Linda A. Lipsen, CEO, American Association for Justice
The 2018 election results allowed AAJ to pursue a more affirmative agenda in 2019, with a House majority in favor of protecting individuals harmed by dangerous products, corporate negligence, or medical malpractice. While Congress is currently consumed by government funding deadlines and the impeachment inquiry, AAJ remains dedicated to fighting for your clients’ rights and is pushing ahead with its proactive legislative agenda in 2020.
Below, you’ll find some recent highlights of AAJ’s advocacy on behalf of you and your clients.
Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) released legislation before the Thanksgiving holiday that would provide significant privacy protections for consumers. The bill: 1) preserves existing state Unfair and Deceptive Acts and Practices (UDAP) statutes, breach notification, civil rights, common law, and all civil remedies that flow from these laws; 2) expressly preserves any state law that is stronger than the federal standard; 3) contains limited preemption of provisions within state privacy laws (not entire statutes) in direct conflict with federal law; 4) provides a strong federal private right of action that presumes violations are concrete injuries; and 5) prohibits forced arbitration and class action waivers. While many members of Congress have introduced legislation in the data protection and privacy space, Senator Cantwell’s bill is currently the most protective of consumers’ rights.
The House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee held a hearing on November 14, 2019, on maritime safety with two panels of witnesses. AAJ member Paul Sterbcow testified about the lack of accountability from outdated maritime laws, such as the Death on the High Seas Act (DOHSA) and the Limitation of Liability Act (LOLA). As you may know, DOHSA only allows for economic damages for death or injuries on the high seas, providing an exception allowing for non-economic damages for commercial aviation crashes into the ocean. The LOLA is an 1850s law that allows vessel owners to limit their liability to the cargo and leftover value of the vessel in tragedies on the high seas. Paul also testified about the impact of forced arbitration on maritime cases and the prevalence of forced arbitration provisions in transactions with cruise ships and recreational activity providers. Sterbcow’s testimony clearly illustrated that there is no safety without accountability.
AAJ is working with the committee and members of Congress to develop proactive maritime legislation, specifically regarding the inequities under DOHSA and LOLA.
The House Judiciary Subcommittee held a hearing on November 14, 2019, regarding the distortion of the Forum Defendant Rule by snap removal. As you may be aware, the Forum Defendant Rule allows state court jurisdiction in diversity jurisdiction cases, even if there is complete diversity, if one of the defendants is headquartered or incorporated in the state where the claim is brought. Snap removal is the quick removal by a resident corporate defendant to a federal court before being served with the complaint—denying proper state court jurisdiction over the case.
AAJ member Ellen Relkin testified at the hearing as a plaintiff lawyer who has faced significant access-to-justice hurdles from defense counsel’s use of snap removal. Relkin was joined by two law professors who generally agreed about the problem of snap removal, and one defense lawyer who largely testified about fraudulent joinder instead of the topic of the hearing. Relkin’s testimony was persuasive to committee members because she and her clients have actually experienced delayed justice due to snap removals.
AAJ is working with the committee to introduce proactive legislation that would combat the issue of snap removal that is undermining the Forum Defendant Rule.
AAJ continues to fight all attempts to deny access to justice. We look forward to keeping you in the loop on important developments. We welcome your input. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org