American Coatings Association

ACA is committed to being proactive in defending the industry and striving to restore the reasonable, fair, and balanced fundamental principles of our country’s legal system, first and foremost, by requiring courts to apply definitive standards for permitting standing to bring cases, determining liability, evaluating evidence, and assessing damages. As such, ACA has devised a strategy for advocating legal reform. The result is the ongoing, effective ACA legal issues tracking and Amicus Program — an enterprise with several components that work together to address legal reform in a comprehensive manner.

Through its Amicus Program, ACA chooses select prominent cases each year in which it files an amicus, or “friend of the court,” brief as a show of support for issues that can adversely impact the industry. Specifically, the Amicus Program seeks to prevent court decisions that establish bad precedent, to overturn such precedent where it currently exists, and to advance the legal protection of property due process and liberties that rightfully belong to good faith corporate interests and behavior. Since the program’s 2007 inception, ACA has filed more than 40amicus briefs.

ACA Policy Statement of Civil Justice Reform

When it functions properly, America’s justice system benefits every citizen in two ways. First, it assigns liability for damage and the cost associated with it to the person responsible. Second, it deters careless behavior by placing people at financial risk for their wrongdoing. Today, valuable products and services become more costly or even unavailable, as unwarranted lawsuits make it too costly for industry to provide them. In addition, courts are so choked with frivolous lawsuits that it can take years to get a fair hearing on a valid claim. The rapid growth of class action suits, product liability claims, and punitive damage awards threaten the nation’s economy, and the very businesses that drive its growth and our livelihoods. The costs to industry often effectively stifle new product research and development as well as the offering of products already developed.

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Amicus Program

Now in its ninth year, ACA’s Legal Amicus Program is one of the pre-eminent programs of its type in the nation. Over the last year, filings were made in state and federal courts, addressing the following matters:

  • Lead pigment litigation (risk contribution in Wisconsin; public nuisance in California);
  • Daubert (general causation issues relating to cancer latency; potential new amicus on application of Daubert in California state court);
  • Regulatory overreach (extraterritorial application of the Clean Air Act); and
  • Federal jurisdiction (presumption in favor of remand; potential new amicus addressing fraudulent joinder/misjoinder).

ACA, in a majority of instances, now attracts notable fellow amici to lend weight to its arguments, including other impacted trade associations, as well as a prominent defense attorneys’ group.

Access to the Courts Initiative

In 2013, ACA helped found the Access to the Courts Initiative (ACI), a 501(c)(6) advocacy organization dedicated to promoting the common interests of its members in fair and expeditious access to federal courts for resolving interstate disputes, as envisioned by those who framed and ratified Article III, section 2 of the Constitution.

ACI is responding to the fact that the plaintiffs’ bar, heavily capitalized and very influential in state politics, has worked the court system to the severe disadvantage of out-of-state industry defendants finding themselves caught in the dragnet of state courts that often seemingly serve up “home-cooking.” The initiative is designed to systematically inform the public, properly influence courts, and move Congress for legislative reinforcement that the actual wording of the U.S. Constitution and the writings of the Founders clearly instruct that such defendants are entitled by right to the assurance of fair trials for such disputes by having them heard in impartial federal courts, if desired.

ACA believes that this option should have beneficial effect over the long course, if effectuated, for companies now caught in the current tilted system — companies that often find no choice but to settle for devastating sums, as they face the ”decision” with a proverbial gun to their head. If able to avail themselves of removing a case to federal court, they would, instead, be able to much more accurately calculate their chances of defending in a tribunal bound by rules which, for example, demand that plaintiffs prove with real science and supportive facts that a defendant’s product actually caused the alleged harm(s) in the dispute.

For more information:

Thomas Graves
Vice President, General Counsel, and Corporate Secretary
(202) 462-8743