Kendall Harrison

With nearly a century of experience under its belt, the IADC has a vital perspective to share on matters concerning the civil justice system. But how best to get the organization’s voice heard? One good way, though certainly not the only way, is through amicus briefs.  

As you may know, or can now surmise, the IADC has a Committee dedicated to that effort. Roughly a decade old, the Amicus Curiae Committee is responsible for vetting requests and filing “friend of the court” briefs in cases that may have a significant impact on the defense bar and its clients. A month ago, I took the Committee reins, accepting the challenge of attempting to fill former chair M.C. Sungaila’s large shoes. 

Over the last two years, the IADC has filed 17 briefs in courts ranging from the United States Supreme Court to the Supreme Courts of Massachusetts and California. Copies of the briefs can be found on the IADC website (

Just last month, the IADC submitted a brief to the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts in a case where a plaintiff had sued a brand-name drug manufacturer for failure to warn, even though the plaintiff had never taken the manufacturer’s drug (but instead had taken a third-party manufacturer’s generic version). Suffice it to say, the IADC has an interest in snuffing out that theory of liability. 

More recently, at the end of last week, we received a request to weigh in on a certiorari petition to the United States Supreme Court on a Ninth Circuit case involving whether an employer’s outside counsel counts as an “employer” who can be sued under the Fair Labor Standards Act for retaliating against the employer’s employees. The Committee is weighing potential involvement in that matter at this moment. 

Requests to file an amicus brief can come from any IADC member. If you have a case that you believe warrants IADC involvement, please bring it to our attention. There is a form on the IADC’s website ( an IADC Amicus Curiae Brief) requesting an IADC Amicus Curiae Brief, but an email to Executive Director Mary Beth Kurzak ( or myself (, with an overview of the legal issues and the rationale for IADC participation, will suffice. Those materials are then sent to the Committee members and an initial decision is made. If the Committee wishes to go forward, it then makes a recommendation to the Board of Directors, which has the final call on whether to participate.

The Committee is always looking for members to write briefs. While the IADC cannot pay full freight, it does provide honorariums to authors for their work. If you might be willing to consider preparing an amicus brief at some point down the road, by all means, let me know.  

Finally, if you have any thoughts on the Committee’s operations or on how the Committee can better serve the broader organization, I’m all ears: or (608) 284-2627. 

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