Until a terrible injury happens to you or a family member because of someone else’s carelessness, you probably give little thought to the civil justice system that holds wrongdoers accountable in American courts. Except for a nagging thought that maybe there are a lot of frivolous lawsuits out there.
That anti-lawsuit thought is planted in people’s brains courtesy of the massive public relations machine of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce (which happens to be a few blocks from my own office in downtown Washington).
Now a new report documents how the Chamber really feels about lawsuits: They love them! WIth one qualifier: The Chamber aggressively uses lawsuits to cow government agencies or otherwise implement the agenda of the big corporations that fund the Chamber. They never side with the little people who get injured by indifferent or careless corporate activity.
One of the items on the Chamber’s agenda is restricting the rights of patients to file malpractice actions against doctors and hospitals.
Here’s an excerpt from the new report from the American Association for Justice:
On one hand, the Chamber spends an unrivaled amount of money lobbying to restrict access to the courts for ordinary Americans. On the other, it files copious lawsuits and briefs in defense of the likes of AIG, Wal-Mart, Firestone and a slew of pharmaceutical and insurance companies.
In almost every case, the Chamber’s litigation on behalf of corporations has come at the expense of Americans’ health or financial security. The Chamber has:
• justified the actions of Wall Street banks that drove the country’s economy into turmoil;
• defended the most conceited and worst behaved CEOs and their most extravagant excesses;
• tried to force workers, instead of employers, to pay for their own safety equipment;
• filed numerous actions opposing any move to combat climate change;
• sought to shield pharmaceutical executives who skirted safety procedures that ultimately killed 11 children;
• opposed measures allowing workers to receive a rest period during a full work day;
• fought on behalf of lead paint manufacturers found to have poisoned thousands of children;
• defended corporations that discriminated on the basis of race and disability;
• and spent years defending big tobacco, asbestos companies and chemical companies found to have contaminated water and air.
Read the whole report here.