Judge Rejects Regulation Through Litigation, Tosses Beer Company Lawsuit

February 2, 2005

A Los Angeles judge’s decision to dismiss a lawsuit should send a message to judges nationwide that regulation through litigation is the job of legislators and regulators, not the judiciary, according to the American Tort Reform Association (ATRA).

The Los Angeles Times reported Tuesday that Superior Court Judge Peter Lichtman dismissed a class action lawsuit against beer companies for allegedly encouraging underage drinking by “targeting teens with their advertising.” The judge ruled that under state law, “regulating alcohol ads is the job of the Department of Alcoholic Beverages Control, not the courts.”

“We applaud Judge Lichtman for his decision to dismiss this lawsuit,” said ATRA President Sherman Joyce. “Far too often, these types of lawsuits result in the regulation of entire industries, something that is traditionally the responsibility of legislators and regulators.”

The article notes similar lawsuits are pending in Ohio, Colorado, North Carolina and the District of Columbia.

“We hope this decision sends a strong message to personal injury lawyers nationwide that these attempts to regulate entire industries through the courts will not be tolerated,” Joyce concluded.

Personal injury lawyers reportedly attempt to make an end run around legislators and regulators by using courts as a means of achieving public policy and regulatory objectives. These attempts at “regulation through litigation” have been brought against the food industry, firearm manufacturers, HMOs and lead paint makers.

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