American Tort Reform Association (ATRA)

The American Tort Reform Association (ATRA) was founded in 1986 and for many years was at the vanguard of the tort reform movement. Documents released in accord with the Tobacco Master Settlement revealed that ATRA was initially beholden to the tobacco industry, which provided as much as half of the organization’s total budget.

In more recent times ATRA has relied on the largesse of a broader spectrum of big business interests, including corporations such as Dow Chemical, Exxon, General Electric, Aetna, Geico, State Farm, Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson and Nationwide. As much as 20 percent of its budget comes from the executives of its stealthy benefactor, the Civil Justice Reform Group (CJRG).

With help from the giant public relations firm APCO Worldwide, ATRA was heavily involved in Astroturfing – creating fake grassroots campaigns – for tort reform. The regional Astroturf groups Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse (CALA) and Sick of Lawsuits were a direct result of this strategy.