Holding corporations accountable
To the Editor:
Headlines from the last month have been dominated with examples of corporations letting profits trump basic consumer protections: runaway cars, a mine collapse, an exploding oil rig, and a financial institution shepherding the collapse of America's economy.
From each tragedy, three messages surface: Corporations knowingly put profits ahead of public safety. Federal agencies lack the resources to adequately protect and safeguard the American people. And when the first lines of defense fail to protect the safety of consumers, only the civil justice system can hold negligent corporations accountable and restore justice.
Once these scandals fade away, lawmakers will likely continue with their fixation on "tort reform" - or handing out immunity to the very same corporations responsible for injuring consumers in the first place. Today, these calls are not only illogical, but tone-deaf as well.
Millions of dollars have been spent by corporations (or their hired guns at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce) to demonize trial lawyers. But at the end of the day, it's trial lawyers - not the corporations that put profits ahead of safety - that speak for the interests of these families and consumers, and the tort system that is, and has been, a vehicle for affecting change, enhancing safety, and holding wrongdoers accountable.
Paul Gagliardi is the President of the Wisconsin Association for Justice, the state's largest statewide voluntary bar organization. WAJ is committed to a fair and effective justice system for all, not just the privileged and wealthy.