APR 10, 2013
4:30 PM - 6:00 PM
Lawyers are trained to understand a menu of legal subject areas—contracts, property, securities, criminal law, constitutional law, civil procedure, business transactions, torts and a vast array of other specific legal areas. Legal training orients lawyers toward zealous representation of clients and toward a the litigation process, which may ultimately include a trial and appeals, where disputes are finally resolved.
However, lawyers sometimes forget that the words in statutes that they argue so much about can be changed. New statutes can be created. Legal positions and liability can change when statutes are amended. Thus, zealous representation of clients should consider legislative solutions achieved through the political process carried out by elected members of Congress and state legislatures. There is understandably a dearth of knowledge about integrating a political and legislative strategy into a legal strategy for clients, but so doing can often mean fulfilling the obligation to represent the best interest of a client in the most zealous manner—and achieving an outcome that a client seeks.
This discussion by three Case Western Reserve School of Law classmates will examine the integration of legal, legislative and political strategies that led enactment of a major piece of federal legislation that dealt with the implications of the 9/11 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center in New York City. The discussion will start with how a chance meeting at a school playground by two Case Law classmates led to the formulation of a litigation-legislation-political solution embodied in the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act of 2010, signed into law by President Obama on January 11, 2011, the last day of the 111th Congress.
This significant legislative achievement enabled resolution of more than 10,000 lawsuits with perhaps billions of dollars in potential liability against five Good Samaritan prime construction contractors that engaged to rescue people and recover the World Trade Center site in the minutes and months following terrorist attack. Importantly for the client, the law capped the liability of the construction contractors and enabled their businesses to move ahead without the cloud of potential future liability.
The discussion will involve details about a growing litigation threat, the lawsuit by responders, the litigation strategy before the playground meeting, the legislative opportunity, corralling the clients, the work to craft legislative options, the substantive, budget and political dynamic that influenced the legislative drafts, the growing litigation cloud, the integration of the legislative strategy into the litigation strategy with five companies and five different law firms, the comprehensive solution incorporated into the Zadroga Act (health, compensation and liability protection), months of politics, the media making a difference, enactment of the bill on the last day of the 111th Congress, and the signing of the bill into law.
Lawyers and law students will gain an understanding of how to evaluate when a legislative solution is possible, how to integrate an untraditional legislative or political solution into a client’s representation, the fundamentals of the legislative process to change the law, and why legal training in a law school was important in resolving this 9/11 situation and remains critical today.
Duane R. Gibson, The Livingston Group, LLC
Mark F. Lindsay, The Livingston Group, LLC
Michael Lyle, Managing Partner, Weil Group
Free and open to public. Reception follows.