National Amicus Group
Shook, Hardy & Bacon’s National Amicus Practice Group has a long history of success in educating judges through filing amicus or “friend of the court” briefs with the U.S. Supreme Court, state supreme courts and mid-level appellate courts on behalf of various associations.
We have authored more than 150 amicus briefs on behalf of national and state business and civil justice organizations in cases before the United States Supreme Court, most of the federal appellate courts, and more than thirty state courts of last resort.
Importance of Amicus Briefs
Persuasive amicus briefs can be important for raising the profile of a case at the appellate level, expanding on the arguments made by the parties and developing the law. Well-written amicus briefs put case issues into broader context. For example, they can explain why ruling in favor of a defendant in a tort suit advances sound public policy in the consumer choice, public health or economic arena. In this way, they provide judges with a better understanding of the issues and how the outcome of a case can affect those not in the courtroom. While the parties to a lawsuit focus solely on the narrow legal issue before the court, amicus briefs alert courts to national and historic trends that would not otherwise be adequately considered.
amicus work and filed briefs.
Related Practice Areas
Focus: Providing a Just Forum for Fair Resolution of Civil Claims
SHB’s National Amicus Practice Group files briefs on issues at the forefront of American tort, product liability and consumer law, particularly where courts threaten to expand liability beyond traditional bounds. In addition, SHB lawyers have addressed unsound litigation practices, and rules of evidence and civil procedure that place American businesses at risk of liability or impose undue pressure to settle regardless of the merits of the case. The Group also defends the prerogative of state legislatures to enact laws placing rational, needed limits on liability and setting reasonable rules for the civil justice system.
For many years, the National Amicus Practice Group has contributed to shaping the law. For example, the group filed a brief in Daubert v. Merrill Dow Pharmaceuticals that suggested to the U.S. Supreme Court the need for judges to carefully evaluate proposed expert testimony before it is admitted in court. Today, all federal courts and two-thirds of state courts require that judges act as “gatekeepers” over the reliability of scientific and technical evidence, a role that has kept junk science out of the courtroom.
Courts have found SHB’s amicus briefs persuasive on a wide range of issues. These include novel attempts to require energy producers and automobile manufacturers to pay for the alleged effects of climate change, hold employers liable for exposure to asbestos carried home on an employee’s clothing and permit owners to recover damages for emotional harm for injury to their pets. The Group has also addressed key issues such as the need for members of consumer class actions to show that alleged deceptive conduct caused actual injury and financial loss, the effect of regulatory compliance on tort liability, the liability of pharmaceutical manufacturers to those who did not use their products, and the vicarious liability of franchisors.
Courts across the country have relied on the reasoning of SHB’s amicus briefs in upholding statutory limits on noneconomic damages and in rejecting expansive public nuisance claims and claims by uninjured plaintiffs to recover for medical monitoring expenses for mere exposure to a hazardous substance in the absence of physical injury or illness. The Group has also weighed in on the conflict of interest created when government officials hire private attorneys to enforce the law where the lawyers have a financial stake in the outcome.
The Choice of National and State Associations
The breadth of the National Amicus Practice Group’s experience has made it the choice of prominent organizations, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, NFIB Small Business Legal Center, Product Liability Advisory Council, National Association of Manufacturers, and American Tort Reform Association, for filing their amicus briefs. The Group has also filed amicus briefs on behalf of numerous state chambers of commerce, civil justice organizations and healthcare professional groups.