ABOTA Resolutions

Download the ABOTA Resolutions

1. Right to Trial - Loser Pay All

The American Board opposes the British rule of “Loser Pay All” as an economic prohibition to access to the court system. (March 22, 1986)

2. Caps on Pain and Suffering Damages
The American Board opposes any legislative attempt to place mandatory limits on a jury award of pain and suffering damages. Such an attempt is viewed as
interfering with the right to trial by jury. (March 22,1986)

3. Caps on Attorney Fees
The American Board opposes any legislative attempt to place mandatory caps or limits on attorney fees, both plaintiff and defense. (March, 22, 1986)

4. Federalization of State Causes of Action
The American Board opposes any federal preemption of existing state causes of action. (April 4, 1987)

5. Frivolous Actions or Defenses
The American Board condemns frivolous actions or defenses or other proceedings which are totally and completely without merit or maintained for the sole
purpose of harassing an opposing party. (September 26, 1987)

6. Additur/Remittitur
The American Board favors the doctrines of additur and remittitur which, when fairly applied, allow the courts to increase or decrease a jury verdict with an
option for a new trial to be allowed to the party adversely affected. (September 26, 1987)

7. Structured Settlements
The American Board favors voluntary resolution of lawsuits by structured settlements, however opposes mandatory structured settlements by legislation.(September 26, 1987)

8. No-Fault Legislation
The American Board opposes no-fault legislation as an invasion of the right to trial by jury.(March 19,1988)

9. Diversity Jurisdiction
The American Board opposes any congressional attempt to eliminate diversity jurisdiction in the federal courts. (September 10, 1988 / April 20, 1990)

10. Caps on Non-Economic Damages
The American Board opposes any attempt to place mandatory limits on a jury award for non-economic damages. (September 10, 1988 / March 28, 1992)

11. Jones Act Cases
The American Board opposes the abolishment of Jones Act cases. (April 21, 1990)

12. FELA Cases
The American Board opposes any attempt to abolish FELA cases. (April 21, 1990)

13. Mandatory Alternative Dispute Resolution
The American Board opposes any mandatory alternative dispute resolution. ABOTA supports non-binding, voluntary ADR. (April 21,1990)

14. Peer Review and Approval for Suit
The American Board opposes any legislation or any court rule requiring peer review and approval before suit. (March 28, 1992)

15. Arbitrary Damages Limits in Certain Types of Cases (e.g. Obstetrical Negligence)
The American Board opposes any arbitrary damage limits in any case. (March 28, 1992)

16. Complex - Sophisticated Professional Juries
The American Board opposes the use of juries not composed of randomly selected juror laypersons from the venue of the court. (March 28, 1992)

17. Lawsuit Affidavits in Professional Liability Cases
The American Board supports the use of affidavits in all  professional negligence cases as a method to reduce unmeritorious lawsuits. (March 28, 1992)


18. Attorney Television Advertising
Resolved, the American Board of Trial Advocates deems appropriate for members the use of the name ‘American Board of Trial Advocates’ or ‘ABOTA’ in the following instances: business letterheads, business cards, firm brochures, and resumes or curriculum vitaes. This does not include newspapers or commercial printings, ‘yellow page’ directories, radio or television advertisements.”  (September 23, 1989 / September 21, 1996 / April 10, 1999)

19. Dollar Amounts Claimed in Lawsuits
The American Board supports legislation or court rules  restricting  lawsuits  from  stating  other  than “claims in excess of jurisdictional limits.”
(March 28, 1992)

20. Use of Annuity Amounts in Settlement Press Conferences
The American Board supports prohibiting the use of annuity amounts in settlement press conferences.  (March 28, 1992)

21. Insurance Companies Roles in Frivolous Suits
The American Board states that paying nuisance settlements amounts to lawyers prosecuting frivolous lawsuits and encourages continued frivolous lawsuits.  Thus  insurance  companies  should  be encouraged to use the jury system to resolve non-meritorious cases. (March 28, 1992)

22. Direct Client Solicitation
The American Board is opposed to any form of direct solicitation of clients, whether through the use of the mails, telephone, telegrams or any form of direct written  or  oral  communications. (September 11, 1993)

23. Contingency Fee Resolution
The American Board favors the use of voluntary Contingency Fee contracts. Moreover, the American Board favors resolution of fee disputes on a case-by-case basis. (September 17, 1994)

24. U.S. Air Collision
The American Board deplores, as unprofessional and contrary to public interest, unsolicited contact by lawyers with victims of disasters. 
(September  17, 1994)

25. Honesty and Accountability
ABOTA opposes the amendment of the rules of evidence, the rules of civil procedure and the rules of criminal procedure without subjecting proposed
changes to the vigorous scrutiny of the usual and customary procedures of the Judicial Conference of the U.S. Supreme Court. (January 21, 1995)

26. Conduct of Attorneys, Including Fees
ABOTA supports full disclosure,  pursuant  to  the Rules of Professional Conduct, as to all matters related  to  attorneys’  fees  but  opposes  Federal attempts to regulate the conduct of attorneys, including fees, which should be left to the individual States. (January 21, 1995)

27. Right of Access
ABOTA opposes legislation which seeks to limit the right of access to the courts. (January 21, 1995)

28. Diversity
It  has been and continues to be the policy of the American Board of Trial Advocates that membership be open to all qualified persons of diverse back-
grounds, without regard to age, color, ethnicity, gender, national origin, race, religion, sexual orientation, disability, or handicap. (September 21, 1996)

29. Compensation for Federal and State Judges and Justices
ABOTA urges the restoration of compensation levels to their past equivalent, in terms of real income, and changing the procedure for adjusting future compensation of Justices and Judges of the United States.  (May 10, 1997)

30. ERISA Immunity Shield
ABOTA endorses congressional opposition to the ERISA immunity shield protecting HMO’s and other managed care providers in medical malpractice liti- gation. (November 8, 1997)


31. Y2K
ABOTA opposes proposed Y2K legislation pending in Congress because it federalizes traditional state causes of action; alters obligations and remedies on contracts already in existence; blurs the existing distinction between contract and tort law and some versions of the legislation take away the power of a civil jury to make factual determinations damages. (April 10, 1999)

32. Italian Air Mishap
ABOTA urges the United States Congress to reinstate compensation as imposed for victims’ families of the air mishap in Italy. (May 19, 1999)

33. Judicial Salaries
ABOTA recommends to the United States Congress and the legislatures of the various states that there be laws enacted to increase the funding of the judicial systems generally, and that specifically, there be increased salaries paid to those who serve as judges. (April 8, 2000)

34. Multidisciplinary Practice
ABOTA resolves to oppose efforts to change the ethical rules governing the practice of law to allow the sharing of ownership, control, and legal fees of law
practices  with  non-lawyers (i.e.,  multidisciplinary practices, or “MDP”). (January 29, 2000/July 1, 2000)

35. Vacancies in the Federal Judiciary
The American Board of Trial Advocates recognizes that the present extraordinary number of vacancies on the Federal bench impedes the people’s rights to justice and trial by jury as guaranteed by the 7th Amendment to the United States Constitution. We urge the President and each member of the U.S. Senate to cooperate and expeditiously fill the present vacancies in the federal judiciary. (January 19, 2002)

36. Objective Peer Evaluation of Federal Judicial Candidates
The American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA) believes objective peer evaluations of the professional qualifications of federal judicial candidates by the ABA Standing Committee on Federal Judiciary (the Committee), based on criteria of professional competence,  integrity  and  judicial  temperament,contribute a valuable perspective to the process of choosing and confirming federal judges; further, in performing evaluations the Committee provides an important public service that has helped ensure the high quality of our Federal Judiciary and has earned the respect and confidence of both the legal com- munity and the public. ABOTA therefore urges the President and the Senate to carefully consider evaluations of the professional qualifications of federal judicial  nominees  conducted  by  the  Committee. (January 19, 2002)

37. Continued Federal Funding for the State Justice Institute
The American Board of Trial Advocates urges the Administration  and  Congress  to  maintain  federal support for the State Justice Institute. The American Board of Trial Advocates urges Congress to fund the operations of the State Justice Institute at adequateand reasonable levels to enable it to carry out its mandate to award federal grants to improve the administration and quality of justice in state courts. The American Board of Trial Advocates supports the State Justice Institute’s request for an appropriation of $13.55 million for Fiscal Year 2003. (January 18, 2003)

38. Health Act of 2003 (S. 607)
The legislation currently pending in the U.S. Senate commonly known as the HEALTH (“Help Efficient, Accessible,  Low-Cost,  Timely  Healthcare)  Act  of 2003 violates eight of ABOTA’s resolutions. The bill violates the patient’s 7th Amendment right to a jury determination of the damages in a case. We also oppose federal preemption of the tort systems of the fifty  states. Since 1987, ABOTA has opposed this concept. Each state should be left to decide what tort rules are best for its citizens. ABOTA strongly recom mends the U.S. Senate reject this proposed legislation.Specific ABOTA resolutions the HEALTH Act of 2003 violate are:
Resolution 2: Caps on Pain and Suffering Damages, passed March 1986
Resolution 3:   Caps  on  Attorney  Fees,  passed March 1986.
Resolution 4:   Federalization  of  State  Causes  of Action, passed April 1987.
Resolution 7:   Structured   Settlements, passed September 1987.
Resolution 10:  Caps on Non-Economic Damages, passed  September 1988,  March 1992.
Resolution 15:  Arbitrary Damages Limits in Certain Types  of  Cases,  passed  March 1992.
Resolution 26:  Conduct  of  Attorneys,  Including Fees, passed January 1995.
Resolution 27:  Right  of  Access,  passed  January 1995. (April 26, 2003)

39. Mandatory Arbitration Provision
WHEREAS, the 7th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution preserves the right to trial by jury in civil cases at common law and;
WHEREAS, mandatory binding arbitration of disputes impinges upon that right to a jury trial and should not be enforced unless all parties thereto have agreed;
RESOLVED that the Congress of the United States enact legislation requiring that the party seeking to enforce any mandatory binding arbitration provision bears the burden of proving by clear and convincing evidence that the provision was adopted by all parties knowingly, voluntarily and intentionally; and be it further.
RESOLVED that the officers and representatives of the American Board of Trial Advocates be, and they hereby are authorized and directed to take any and all necessary action to effectuate the purposes of this resolution. (October 4, 2003)

40. Minimum Trial Requirement for Judges
Be it resolved, that the American Board of Trial Advocates does hereby recommend to the Attorney General of the United States and to the Judiciary Committee of the United States Senate, that any candidate or nominee for appointment to the office of Judge of the United States District Court or the United States Court of Appeals be required to have had extensive experience trying cases before juries,  in the opinion of this body no less than ten such trials, as a condition to such appointment; and be it further resolved, that  the  officers  of  the  American  Board  of  Trial Advocates are authorized and directed to take whatever action is appropriate as necessary to effect the purposes of this resolution. Oct. 16, 2004

41. 7th Amendment Summit Resolution
WHEREAS: On March 31 through April 2, 2005, a Summit of trial lawyers, judges, law professors, members of multiple legal organizations, including the American Board of Trial Advocates, Federation of Defense & Corporate Counsel, Academy of Rail Labor Attorneys, ABA Tort & Trial Practice Section, Association of Trial Lawyers of America, Association of Defense Trial Attorneys, Defense Research Institute, International Society of Barristers, National Center for State Courts, International Society of Trial Lawyers, American College of Trial Lawyers, Trial Lawyers for Public Justice, and the Federal District Judges Association and other interested participants were convened to consider the issue: “The American Jury Trial — Do We Allow Its Death or Lead Its Rebirth”

WHEREAS:There is concern that the American jury system is threatened in the federal courts and in the state courts and more on the civil side than on the criminal, but threatened nonetheless. Therefore, be it resolved, that: We reaffirm our confidence in and commitment to the American jury system, the 7th Amendment right to trial  by  jury,  and state constitutional provisions providing a right to trial by jury; and We reaffirm our confidence in and commitment to the independence of America’s judiciary and our third branch of government, and ABOTA hereby commits to preserve and improve the right to trial by jury in civil cases. We urge a task force be created to further develop this effort and ABOTA hereby commits to protect the independence of America’s judges and our third branch of government. August 13, 2005

42. Resolution: Readily Available Jury Trials to Civil Litigants at Government Expense 
Whereas: The civil jury trial represents an integral and essential component of the American justice system which is protected by the 7th Amendment.
Be It Resolved:That both the federal and state governments have a duty to make jury trials readily available to civil litigants at government expense. The interests of justice are ill served by assessing jury costs against litigants.  April 4, 2009

43. Medicare Liens
WHEREAS the Constitution of the American Board of Trial Advocates dedicates the American Board to promoting the efficient administration of justice for the benefit of the general public and;
WHEREAS plaintiffs, defendants, and the courts recognize the important role the judicial process plays in determining and providing proper reimbursement under the Medicare Secondary Payer statute for sums paid by Medicare for causally- related medical care in claims
involving personal injuries or wrongful deaths and;
WHEREAS the courts and all parties, including Medicare, have an abiding interest in the prompt review of Medicare expenditure information in order to efficiently resolve and reimburse Medicare Liens;
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOVED THAT: Within sixty days of plaintiff’s notification to Medicare that a claim has been resolved or within thirty days of any subsequent request after the initial notification, whichever is later, Medicare shall provide the parties the amount Medicare claims to be subject to lien together with an itemization of the amounts expended and the treatments rendered. Thereafter, within fifteen days of the plaintiff’s notification to Medicare of the amount of attorneys’ fees and costs incurred, Medicare shall provide to the parties the claimed lien reimbursement amount. (Oct. 9, 2010)

44. Expedited Jury Trials
Whereas, ABOTA recognizes that the number of civil cases in the United States actually tried to a jury is rapidly decreasing and that litigation costs and delays are a major contributor to the reduction in the number of civil juries trials, and
Whereas, ABOTA recognizes that several states have adopted expedited jury trial programs which provide for streamlined pretrial procedures and abbreviated jury trials in many civil cases in an effort to thereby reduce the cost and time involved, yet preserving the civil jury system in this Country, It is therefore, RESOLVED, that ABOTA supports the concept of streamlined pretrial procedures and expedited jury trials and that ABOTA, through its leaders and members, should support existing expedited jury trial programs and encourage the adoption of similar programs throughout all jurisdictions. — Jan. 14, 2012

45. Preservation of an Independent Judiciary
WHEREAS the 7th Amendment to the United States Constitution guarantees the right to trial by jury in civil cases as an integral and essential component of the justice system; and
WHEREAS an efficient and effective judicial branch of government is fundamental to the success and perpetuation of the American form of government; and
WHEREAS the judiciary, as an equal and independent branch of government, must have adequate and sufficient resources to ensure the proper operation of the courts at all levels; and
WHEREAS liberty, justice and public security require a judiciary that meets its responsibilities in a system of governance that depends on checks and balances; and
WHEREAS the Constitutions prohibit withholding the funds necessary for the courts to protect the people and their rights through the rule of law; and
WHEREAS constitutional rights do not vary with the rise and fall of budgets, and the protections afforded the rights of the people through the judicial branch are not contingent on transitory political judgments regarding the popularity of raising or lowering taxes or on tactical decisions about periodic budget deficits; now, therefore, be it
RESOLVED that the Congress and the legislatures of the respective states must adequately and fully fund the federal and state judicial branches of government so that the rights and access to justice guaranteed by the Constitutions are preserved, and be it further
RESOLVED that the officers and representatives of the American Board of Trial Advocates be and they are hereby authorized and directed to take any and all necessary action to effectuate the purposes of this resolution. — Jan. 14, 2012

46. Judicial Fairness and Impartiality
WHEREAS, ABOTA is a national association of experienced lawyers and judges dedicated to the preservation and promotion of the civil jury trial right provided by the Seventh Amendment to the United States Constitution. AND 
WHEREAS, all parties to any legal dispute have the right to fairness and impartiality on the part of the judiciary, 
NOW THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the National Board of the American Board of Trial Advocates urges every member to advance the concepts of fairness and impartiality by speaking publicly on the issue whenever possible. 
ABOTA hereby adopts the following statement: Fair and impartial courts accountable to the constitution and the laws, not to politicians, ideologies or special interests, best safeguard our individual rights and liberties. Unfettered access to justice preserves the rule of law upon which our nation was founded and has flourished.  -October 6, 2012

47. Attorney Conducted Voir Dire
WHEREAS the 7th Amendment to the United States Constitution guarantees the right to trial by jury in civil cases as an integral and essentialcomponent of our justice system.
WHEREAS the parties in a civil case have the right to a fair and impartial Jury.
WHEREAS the attorneys are the most knowledgeable about the facts and the issues to be decided in the case.
WHEREAS the attorneys are aware of the potential prejudice and bias issues in the case.
WHEREAS the existence of challenges for cause and peremptory challenges is an important safeguard in the judicial process that allows the parties to eliminate potentially prejudiced or biased prospective jurors.
WHEREAS the parties have a strong interest in getting information necessary to the intelligent exercise of their challenges for cause and peremptory challenges.
RESOLVED that the American Board of Trial Advocates supports the right of the parties to have their lawyer involved in voir dire.
RESOLVED that the trial courts should permit a reasonably extensive examination of prospective jurors by the attorneys so that the parties have a basis for an intelligent exercise of the right to challenge.
RESOLVED that the officers and representatives of the American Board of Trial Advocates be and are hereby authorized and directed to take any and all necessary action to effectuate the purposes of this resolution. (October 12, 2013)

48.   Arbitration Fairness Act of 2013
WHEREAS the Arbitration Fairness Act of 2013, SB 878 and HR 1844, declares, in summary, that no predispute arbitration agreement shall be valid or enforceable if it requires arbitration of an employment, consumer, antitrust or civil rights dispute; now, therefore, be it
RESOLVED the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA) supports the Arbitration Fairness Act of 2013, SB 878 and HR 1844 and urges the President of ABOTA to inform the bills’ sponsors of ABOTA’s support. (January 24, 2015).

49.  Legislative Branch Imposing Restrictions on Judicial Funding
WHEREAS the United States Constitution and the Constitutions of the States recognize the judicial branch as an equal and independent branch of government; and
WHEREAS legislatures have attempted to tie funding the judiciary in exchange for legislative control over how the judiciary uses funds; and
WHEREAS the judiciary, as an equal and independent branch of government, must have the right to control the use of its funds as it sees fit in order to avoid being placed in a position where the judiciary must bargain away the court’s autonomy with the legislature in order to secure adequate and sufficient resources to ensure the proper operation of the courts at all levels;
now, therefore, be it
RESOLVED that the Congress and the legislatures of the respective states must adequately and fully fund the federal and state judicial branches of government without imposing restrictions on how the judicial branch uses its funding so that the judiciary as a co-equal branch of the government is preserved.  (January 24, 2015).