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March 11, 2004

Public Citizen Invites Chamber Head to Debate Over Tort Ads

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Calling ads by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce inaccurate and misleading, Public Citizen today invited Chamber President Tom Donohue to a debate over issues raised in the ad campaign.

In a letter to Donohue, Public Citizen President Joan Claybrook outlined some areas that are misleading about the national ad campaign, which calls for restrictions on lawsuits.

Claybrook said the Chamber’s methodology for calculating the cost of lawsuits is flawed, and she questioned the way the Chamber designed its survey to rank states in order of best and worst legal systems. That survey puts at the bottom of the list two states that the American Medical Association says are exemplary.

Claybrook also asked Donohue whether the Chamber believes that legal judgments rendered by disadvantaged citizens are suspect. The Chamber has named as "judicial hellholes" many jurisdictions that are heavily populated by minorities.

"Beneath the surface of your advertisements and press releases lurk several questions that deserve more than a superficial treatment," Claybrook wrote. "If you are willing to stand behind your assertions in a public forum, we would be pleased to arrange a time and date convenient to both of us."

Claybrook adds that the right of any citizens in America to use the third branch of government – the courts – for dispute resolution has helped to make this country the envy of the world by holding the powerful accountable and deterring fraud, abuse and the manufacture of unsafe products.

Click here to view the letter.

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