The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is an organization whose stated mission is to “advocate for pro-business policies that create jobs and grow our economy.”
Apparently – that mission also includes restricting the ability of consumers harmed by negligent corporations to access the civil justice system (something corporate America likes to call “tort reform.”)
You see – in 1998, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce created a little-known satellite organization called the Institute for Legal Reform.
The mission of the Institute?
To “reduce excessive and frivolous (remember that word – you will see it again later) litigation while restoring fairness and balance to the nation’s civil justice.”
So that mission implies that corporations are under siege from litigation happy consumers and consumer advocates who are causing unreasonable harm to American businesses large and small.
Interesting claim. What’s the reality?
According to the Wall St. Journal, federal and state records “show that fewer than two in 1,000 people—the alleged victims of inattentive motorists, medical malpractice, faulty products, and other civil wrongs—filed tort lawsuits in 2015, an analysis of the latest available data collected by the National Center for State Courts shows.”
And that number has been trending down sharply for nearly three decades.
So why would a business organization like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce create and fund an organization to limit access consumers harmed by the actions of others have to the court systems of this nation?
Interesting question, particularly when their business members file four times the number of such lawsuits annually.
A report released by the organization Public Citizen found that businesses and their attorneys are actually 69 percent more likely than consumer tort plaintiffs and their attorneys to be sanctioned by federal judges for filing frivolous claims or defenses.
As a representative for Public Citizen put it, “Corporations think America is too litigious only when they are on the receiving end of a lawsuit.”
So why the push for “tort reform?” And why the very large Chamber investment in the Institute for Legal Reform?
Could it be that some simply want the unfettered freedom to sell defective products, harm patients, and pollute our air and our water without accountability?
After all – accountability is bad for profits… and profits are all that matters – right?
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