Moviegoers seeking diversion from pressing public policy issues won't escape the tort reform debate in select Colorado, Louisiana and metropolitan Washington theaters.
On April 28, the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform continued its multiyear, multimillion-dollar campaign to curb abusive lawsuits with two-minute movie theater trailers.
The trailers, which are running in four Washington area theaters and a total of four theaters in Denver and Baton Rouge, La., continue an advertising campaign dating back to December 2007. Previous ads have run on television, radio and on the Internet, but the Institute views movie theater advertising as a unique way to reach a captive audience, said spokesman Mark Szymanski.
"We don't know of any [group] who is in public advocacy who has gone out and done these type of movie trailers," Szymanski said. "We had the product and realized that we were looking at other ways to market the product."
One of the four trailers features a Colorado couple whose seven-year-old son was sued by an adult skier after a minor ski collision. Another centers on a Louisiana small business facing more than 100 asbestos lawsuits because it ordered a materials containing encapsulated asbestos -- fibers treated with a coating to prevent release -- for customers.
"Lawsuits are turning the American dream into a litigation horror film," said Institute president Lisa Rickard, in a statement. "These movie trailers warn that even those who play by the rules can still have their lives turned upside-down by costly, frivolous lawsuits."
The U.S. Chamber's movie trailers are "their latest desperate attempt to discredit the foundation of the U.S. legal system," said Ray De Lorenzi, a spokesman for the American Association for Justice, a national trade group for plaintiffs' lawyers.
"With the U.S. Chamber's core membership receiving all these taxpayer bailouts, they must be flush with cash to waste on stunts like this," said De Lorenzi.