Joe Biden and Tort Reform

Walter Olsen at Overlawyered comments on the selection of Delaware senator Joseph Biden’s by Senator Obama as the Democratic vice-presidential nominee and his support of injury victims in tort reform and other matters. (Here and here.) Olsen calls injury victims “trial lawyers” which underscores how conservatives have done a much better job at framing political issues on their terms. No one wants to support trial lawyers. Injured victims engender a great deal more sympathy. I’ve been reading George Lakoff’s great book on this concept, which he calls framing. The book offers political tactical ideas that are also useful to trial lawyers on both sides of the v.

With Democrats likely to make gains in the House and Senate, I have not given much thought to the candidates thoughts on tort reform and related issues because I do not think anything meaningful is going to happen with tort reform on a national level. Besides, I vote as a citizen, not as a trial lawyer. If Obama and McCain both took the other’s view on tort reform, I’d still vote for Obama.

Actually, there is one big issue on the radar screen right now in this election from a trial lawyers’ standpoint. (Can you tell I’m thinking as I’m writing? It is a Saturday.) I expect Congress to pass a bill overturning the FDA preemption win for drug companies in Riegel v. Medtronics.

I think a President Obama would sign such a bill; I’m not sure about a President McCain. I’m pretty sure McCain is not a big supporter of the proposed bill. The question is would be whether he would spend the political capital to veto it.

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  • Justice in Michigan

    We in Michigan have lived under an FDA preemption law since 1996. Candidly, I believe your take on this is too casual. We have no idea how Obama would vote because he has refused to comment on the preemption issue (I can assure you he has been asked to do so many times).

    Meanwhile, if the Supreme Ct. upholds preemption in Levine, as they are very likely to do, it will be much harder for Congress to do anything than for devices, because of the differences in the relevant device and drug laws.

    The reality is that we are heading over a preemption cliff _unless_ this becomes an issue in _every_ race, from the President on down.

    It is time to MAKE NOISE! Indeed, it is almost too late.

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