Cary Silverman: Defender Of Big Tobacco?
Cary Silverman, who is forging a David vs. Goliath race against Ward 2 Council member Jack Evans, was called "a gun industry lobbyist" in a news release last week by Evans's campaign.
The release attacked lawyer Silverman's comments at a debate between he and Evans, held at the Phillips Collection auditorium and sponsored by the Dupont Circle ANC and the Dupont Circle Citizens Association.
At the debate when moderator Davis Kennedy asked about the city's strict gun laws and the Supreme Court ruling against a longtime handgun ban, Silverman replied that he supported businesses having guns, particularly if residents were allowed to have them. For protection, he said.
Turns out Silverman's law firm, Shook Hardy and Bacon, represents gun manufacturer Smith & Wesson, not to mention other big interests, like pharmaceutical giant Merck and tobacco giant Philip Morris.
Silverman said while his law firm represents those clients, he does not. In litigation or lobbying, he said.
But in 2005, he certainly was defending big tobacco.
He co-wrote a 72-page article published in the Kansas Law Review, which questions whether state consumer protection laws go too far.
The article uses lawsuits against tobacco companies as an example, particularly claims filed against the companies regarding the harm of "light" cigarettes after a multi-billion settlement the industry made with states in 1998.
As the article Silverman co-authored noted: "After receiving billions in attorneys' fees as a result of the multi-state settlement of lawsuits aimed at forcing the industry to pay for smoking-related health costs incurred through Medicaid, the legal industry built around such suits needed a new way to attack the unpopular tobacco companies. Class action lawsuits asserting claims under consumer protection statutes provided this new tool."
Silverman said in an interview today that he used the industry as an example but maintained that he has not personally represented the tobacco or gun industries in litigation or as a lobbyist. "It's one of a lot of examples that we use in that article," he said.
D.C. Wire noted that the example before the light cigarettes argument is about suing McDonald's for obesity. That example is titled: "McLawsuits."
Silverman also said that his article, which comes to the defense of large industries often viewed as unpopular, applies to small businesses, too.
Apply it to the District, he said, recalling the infamous pants suit in which a D.C. administrative law judge used the city's consumer protection laws to sue a dry cleaners for $54 million for losing his pants.
Updated at 3:09 p.m.
Nikita R Stewart
August 14, 2008; 12:55 PM ET
Categories: 2008 District Election , D.C. Council , Nikita Stewart
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