Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Lawyers Notice AOL Propaganda

Editor's Note: The writer correctly exposes AOL and its flaming baloney. However, the solution is not to censor AOL. Rather, lawyers and writers should continue to bring facts to light. The call for censorship is lame and stupid.

Dear AAJ Member:

I am writing about something which is currently on the America Online (AOL) website titled "Most Outrageous Lawsuits." It appeared in the money and finance section of AOL and is also prominently displayed on the AOL home page.

We have seen this propaganda before. The "crazy lawsuits" they describe come directly from groups like Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse (CALA) and the American Tort Reform Association (ATRA), groups whose sole mission is to dismantle the civil justice system and eliminate accountability for corporate negligence. In the past, when such front groups have provided examples of "cases," they haven't even been real.

AOL is preying on an unsuspecting public that assumes what is posted on its site is news, all to make the case that they, and other negligent corporations, should not be held accountable for wrongdoing in our courts.

There is good reason for AOL to invest its resources in the misinformation campaign to eliminate the right of Americans to seek justice. In the past few years, it is the civil justice system that has been the last resort for shareholders and investors to hold AOL accountable for their negligence. The following are just a few examples of the trouble AOL has gotten in:Just this week AOL agreed to pay $246 million to compensate the University of California for losses to their pension and endowment funds after the company's stock prices plunged in 2001-2002. The University alleged that AOL inflated it stock price prior to its merger with Time-Warner by misrepresenting its sales, revenues and subscriber numbers. On February 26, 2007, Time Warner reached agreements to pay $405 million to settle lawsuits related to past accounting problems at AOL. On February 7, 2007, AOL reached a $105 million settlement with the California State Teachers' Retirement System that claimed that AOL executives and bankers had artificially boosted the value of its stocks prior to buying Time Warner. In December, 2006, AOL settled a securities fraud case for $50 million with the state of Alaska. In September, 2006, AOL members joined together in a class action suing AOL for violating their privacy by posting their search queries online. AOL made public the search queries of over 600,000 members. In January, 2006, AOL settled a class action for $25 million after the company was accused of wrongfully billing its customers. In 2005, Time Warner settled a $2.4 billion securities fraud lawsuit stemming from their misstatement of advertising revenue on the eve of its merger with AOL. In 2004, AOL settled two class actions that claimed it had continued to bill plaintiffs after their subscriptions were cancelled.

The American Association for Justice has made several attempts to get this propaganda pulled from the website but AOL has refused. We will continue to press but I encourage you to take the following steps:If you are a member of AOL tell them to stop running this feature on their website by posting a comment; Call the Chairman and CEO of AOL, Randy Falco, at (703) 265-1000 and ask him to take down the information; Circulate this information to others who will take action; and Send to any legal and political blogs you know of.

If you have any questions or need information, please do not hesitate to contact the AAJ Communications Department at 202-965-3500 x369.

Thank you.
Jon Haber
American Association for Justice


As the world's largest trial bar, AAJ (formerly known as the Association of Trial Lawyers of America) promotes justice and fairness for injured persons, defends the constitutional right to trial by jury, and strengthens the civil justice system through education and disclosure of information critical to public health and safety. With 52,000 members worldwide, AAJ provides lawyers with the information and professional assistance they need to serve clients successfully and protect the democratic values of the civil justice system.

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