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"This dynamic organization is a prominent force in both judicial and regulatory arenas, promoting economic growth and allowing free enterprise to prosper. If you share my beliefs that our country’s ability to compete in the world economy should not be hindered by excessive regulation and unreasonable court decisions, I encourage you to join WLF in defending free enterprise."
The Honorable Dick Thornburgh
K&L Gates LLP
Chairman, WLF Legal Policy Advisory Board
Criminalization of Free Enterprise - Business Civil Liberties Program
There continues to be a growing and dangerous trend by federal and state authorities to violate business civil liberties and criminalize honest business activities when more appropriate administrative and civil remedies are available. WLF aggressively fights for economic rights and commercial free speech, and vigorously opposes wrongful criminal prosecution of free enterprise.
WLF activities target government enforcement practices by the U.S. Department of Justice, U.S. Attorneys, U.S. Sentencing Commission, State Attorneys General, and state and federal regulatory agencies.
Protecting America's Freedom: National Security and Defense
Since its founding almost 30 years ago, WLF has been the leading public interest advocate in the courts for strong national security and defense, as well as for vigorous enforcement of our criminal laws. WLF has been in the forefront in litigating scores of precedent-setting court cases, opposing activist groups that have used the courts to attack the President, the Department of Defense, and law enforcement agencies -- including the Justice Department and the Department of Homeland Security.
Civil Justice Reform
WLF litigates and advocates to restore balance to the nation's civil justice system and to protect the rights and interests of consumers. WLF works in both the courts and the regulatory agencies to cut down on frivolous lawsuits, oppose overreaching by regulators and plaintiffs’ attorneys in antitrust cases, rein in improper testimony by hired-gun expert witnesses, support preemption of state tort claims where mandated under federal law, and cut down on litigation abuses generally.
Class Action Reform
Plaintiffs’ lawyers often bring nationwide class actions merely to attempt to coerce a settlement, without regard to the merits of the suits. Consumers, of course, ultimately pay the price of such settlements. When the lawsuits do go to trial, they tend to be totally unmanageable because class members typically have widely varying damages claims, and different sets of laws often apply to class members from different states. WLF has participated in numerous class action cases to present a public interest perspective in favor of reasonable limits on class actions.
Environmental Law Project
Environmental extremist groups, activist courts, and the media foster the false notion that the environment is always threatened by economic activities. The Washington Legal Foundation’s Environmental Law Project promotes a rational balance between environmental protection, on one hand, and economic growth and property rights on the other.
Reining in the Plaintiffs' Bar
WLF opposes litigation tactics by activists and plaintiffs' lawyers that undermine the integrity of the judicial process. Many of the problems with the civil litigation system in the U.S. can be traced to plaintiffs' lawyers filing too many frivolous cases, and then demanding excessive attorney fees as the price for dropping their claims. WLF has litigated to ensure that court-awarded fees are kept within reasonable limits, that public funds are not used to support unwarranted litigation, and that appropriate sanctions are imposed on attorneys who file frivolous suits or otherwise abuse the public trust.
Health Care Project
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is charged with responsibility with protecting the public from dangerous foods, drugs, and medical devices. In its zeal to regulate, FDA occasionally steps over the line by excessively delaying important medical breakthroughs or by improperly prohibiting truthful communications about approved drugs and devices. WLF is the most visible and effective FDA watchdog in Washington, and has had a significant impact in reforming FDA policies. WLF also litigates to ensure that the development of new lifesaving products continues unabated by supporting an effective patent system, opposing unwarranted antitrust suits against patent holders, and opposing state efforts to impose price control schemes on medical products, and by advocating for rational reimbursement policies on the part of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).
Limiting Punitive Damages
Excessive or improper punitive damage awards granted by runaway juries have made it difficult for companies to conduct business in many states. WLF has frequently gone to court to limit the circumstances under which punitive damages can be awarded. WLF argues that such awards undermine economic development and often result in valuable consumer products (such as vaccines) disappearing from the marketplace altogether. When state legislatures adopt laws imposing reasonable limits on punitive damages, WLF has repeatedly gone to court to defend such laws from the inevitable assault by plaintiffs’ lawyers.