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Box 17427 Austin, TX 78760.7427 389-1500 COMMUNICATIONS, INC. _saturated the electronic media with anti-lawyer stuff, implying that I was a big-time plaintiff lawyer and claiming that I killed economic development opportunities we had,” with Dickson’s opposition to workers compensation and product liability reforms. “We didn’t realize they were hurting us so bad because our polling was inaccurate,” Dickson said. “It was an attack campaign and I guess I was playing defense … I suppose I should have been more aggressive in dealing with it.” Dickson, who also operates a ranch, said he never considered himself anti-business, “although the Texas Chamber of Commerce made that clear.” He expects the theme to be replayed in the general election. “When things work, you find them being replicated,” he said. “They may smell blood,” he said of the business lobby. If, as expected, the Legislature revisits product liability in the 1993 session, “They won’t have many people left … who are willing to protect the consumer.” Sims can’t hang a law degree around his general election opponent, Troy Fraser, a Big Spring businessman and two-term state representative, but Sims believes lawyer loathing is ripe for this fall. “I think it will be [a big issue] wherever there’s attorneys running,” he said. Sims said he believes the Senate is more likely to look more favorably on products liability reforms. “If I go back and [Dickson] doesn’t, that’s one more, and I assume that’s going to happen once or twice again in the general election,” he said. He noted that Sen. Ted Lyon, D-Rockwall, a trial lawyer who was one of the leaders in the fight against controversial workers-comp reforms in 1989, has been mentioned as a target in the fall. Other key races are expected to include the vacant District 19 race, where Greg Luna, a Democratic San Antonio state representative and lawyer, faces Ernesto Ancira, a San Antonio car dealer running as a Republican. Sims reported spending $380,988 through the week before the election, while Dickson reported spending $399,208. Sims got $195,510 from PACS, including the Texas Farm Bureau Ag Fund with $35,000, followed by the Texas Medical Association with $30,000. , Dickson’s top contributors included Baron & Budd of Dallas with $12,500 and John M. O’Quinn of Houston, Joseph D. Jamail of Houston, Krist Gunn Weller Neumann & Morrison of Houston; Spivey Grigg Kelly & Knisely of Austin, Frank L. Branson of Dallas, Ernest H. Cannon of Houston, all with $10,000 contributions. Lawyers fight back The Texas Trial Lawyers Association has developed an advertising campaign to counter the lawsuit abuse project “on an ongoing basis,” Chapman said. Ads which are airing in the Valley question the source and motivation of the lawsuit-abuse effort. The TTLA also has developed ads that define the role of trial lawyers and product liability lawsuits. Those ads have been made available to local trial lawyer organizations and individual trial lawyers to incorporate into their local advertising efforts, he said. The TTLA noted that Aetna Life & Casualty Insurance Co. initiated a lawsuit abuse campaign in four test markets in September 1988. The insurance company spent $800,000 on newspaper and radio ads in St. Louis, Mo., Rochester, N.Y, New Orleans, La., and Denver, Colo. The American Tort Reform Association started a nationwide lawsuit reform campaign with themes similar to the Valley campaign in August 1990, but Summers said the Valley businesspeople were unaware of that effort when they organized their campaign in November 1990. “After we got started we joined the ATRA,” he said. Summers said no single interest has bankrolled the organization, which is not required to disclose its contributors. He said the average donation is approximately $250; only one donation has amounted to more than $1,000, and that came from a local highway construction company. “Our supporters include doctors, attorneys, businesses, cardealers and construction companies,” he said. ATRA’s state affiliates are pushing product liability reform in eight states, including Texas, and medical malpractice reform in 22 states, according to Liability Week, an industry newsletter. Larry Milner, president of the Austinbased Texas Chamber of Commerce, said he hopes the chamber will have money to run radio and television ads as well as billboards. He played down the influence of insurance companies. “It hasn’t been that we haven’t asked…. We’ve asked for money from everybody,” he said, but the lawsuit abuse campaign has received funds from “general public contributions.” Milner said the statewide chamber supported Lucio and Sims as well as other candidates in the primary election, and he expects all of the contested races in November to be important, but he played down the election-year timing of the lawsuit abuse project. “It really isn’t tied to an election cycle. It’s a long-term effort aimed at the general public trying to change that mindset,” he said. “There’s not really any ties \(between the chamber’s PAC both of them, and obviously we’re very . interested in those who support the type of legislation that we’re interested in,” he said. Summers also denied the Rio Grande Valley group singled out Hinojosa because he was a lawyer. “We never intended and we do not want to bash lawyers,” Summers said. “Sometimes in our speeches when you talk about unfairness you have to talk about what trial lawyers are doing, but the jury, the lawyers and some judges are at fault,” he said. “We don’t want to tilt the system. We want people to have an opportunity to go to court, but we want it to be for legitimate lawsuits.” Like Summers, Milner does not consider the project as “lawyer-bashing.” He said the program insists that injured parties deserve compensation for harm done to them. “There’s no question about that. But there are a lot of abuses in the system and that’s what we’re after,” he said. In the general election, Ted Lyon generally lines up as Business Enemy No. 1, if for no other reason than Sen. Carl Parker, a Port Arthur trial lawyer, is virtually unassailable in his Southeast Texas district despite a nominal Republican opponent. Lyon said he is aware of the attack on lawyers, which President Bush and Vice President Dan Quayle have led nationally, and he acknowleged there is a lot of frustration with government, but he disputed the notion than trial lawyers are to blame, noting that even in the Texas Senate, most of the lawyers represent corporate interests. In Lyon’s Northeast Texas district the lawyer issue may be blunted becuse although his Republican opponent, Florence Shapiro, is an advertising executive and mayor of Plano, her husband is a trial lawyer. “People have tried to do [lawyer bashing] for a long time and I’ve always taken ’em head on,” Lyon said in a telephone interview. “Generally the big insurance companies and multi-million dollar corporations are on one side and there’s me on the other side, representing the average person … and [the general public] may not like lawyers, but they hate insurance companies.” In any case, Lyon said, “If they want to play that game, we’re ready to play.” 6 MAY 8, 1992