The primary focus of most if not all general counsel is on the care and well-being of a single corporate client and the industry in which the company is engaged. Inevitably, but regrettably, attention to the big picture as it affects the business community in general is at times overlooked. This is why the work of the Atlantic Legal Foundation, now in its 35th year, is so important: With the guidance of a distinguished roster of seasoned corporate lawyers, Atlantic Legal works to uphold the rule of law in legal and regulatory proceedings across the country, raising issues vital to the business community.
The mission of the Atlantic Legal Foundation is advocating limited and efficient government, free enterprise, individual liberty, parental choice in education and the application of sound science in legal proceedings.
Atlantic Legal is the nation’s preeminent public interest law firm in advocating for the admissibility of sound medical and expert testimony in toxic tort, product liability and other litigation. Atlantic Legal fights against the admissibility of “junk” science, representing prominent scientists as friends of the court. In the leading case on this subject, Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, in the Supreme Court of the United States, the majority opinion cited the Foundation’s incisive brief in its seminal decision that set the evidentiary standard for expert scientific testimony in federal courts. Representing scores of noted scientists, including 16 Nobel laureates, the Foundation has successfully challenged bogus theories of medical causation in numerous federal and state cases. For example: in a case in the California Supreme Court, Atlantic Legal’s amicus brief was cited by the court as a basis of its decision that the connection between low-frequency electromagnetic fields produced by overhead high-voltage power lines and cancer – or the fear of cancer – was too speculative and remote to sustain a claim against the electric utility company. The decision effectively ended a campaign by the plaintiffs’ bar to create yet another goldmine of litigation.
The Foundation recently has filed briefs in three asbestos cases in Pennsylvania, Illinois and California challenging as scientifically unsound the theory that exposure to a single asbestos fiber can be a “substantial cause” of mesothelioma. The Foundation’s efforts in these cases are an attempt to bring sanity to, and stop, the flood of asbestos litigation that has engulfed U.S. manufacturing companies and the courts.
Atlantic Legal advocates against intrusive regulation of business and for responsible corporate governance. The Foundation was an early proponent of preservation of the attorney-client privilege against compulsory waiver of that essential protection where corporate misconduct has been asserted. It has challenged abuse of class action procedures. In Wal-Mart Stores v. Dukes the Foundation argued that the expert’s testimony was not adequately examined for reliability under Daubert and that both the district court and the Ninth Circuit erred in failing to acknowledge that the Daubert standard applies to expert testimony proffered to satisfy Rule 23's class certification requirements and that Federal Rule of Evidence 702 and Daubert create a single standard for evaluating the reliability of expert testimony, whether at trial or at the certification stage of a class action.
Atlantic Legal’s work in the school choice area is focused on supporting charter schools. A major part of this effort is publishing a series of state law guides to educate charter school leaders in combating organizing campaigns of labor unions. The Foundation also has evaluated and proposed reforms in New York’s unduly burdensome charter renewal procedures and has counseled many charter schools when they have been challenged by those reluctant to change the status quo.
Atlantic Legal has participated in important cases involving capricious exercise of governmental power, as well as the interplay between U.S. law and international law. It has challenged local attempts to regulate interstate and foreign commerce and attempts to bar military recruiters from college campuses. It has argued for equal opportunity in state contracting, forcing a major overhaul of New Jersey’s contracting procedures. The Foundation won a consent decree which established a fundamental constitutional right to equal protection, and all firms now compete on a level playing field. The state has benefitted from lower costs because contractors now compete on price and quality, not on meeting race- and gender-based goals.
Atlantic Legal publishes papers considering legal issues of concern to the business community: for example, inadequate judicial compensation and its impact on the New York economy and the need for restructuring New York’s outmoded trial court system.
Atlantic Legal is a non-profit 501 (c) (3) foundation that offers legal representation without fee and relies on grants from corporations, law firms, private foundations and personal donations. The Foundation deserves the support of the business community.
For a complete review of its current activities and its leadership, please visit www.atlanticlegal.org or call the Foundation’s president, William H. Slattery, at (914) 834-3322.