How are corporations avoiding liability in these bills?
Limiting Damages for the Loss of Your Child, Spouse, or Parent
One of the corporate-politician proposals of ALEC would limit the ability of a family to recover for emotional damages due to the death or injury of a loved one. (LINK) This type of legislation basically makes working class or poor people's lives--as well as the elderly--worth less to their families because any damages for pain and suffering due to the death of a child, spouse, or parent would be limited to an amount equal to twice their loved one's lost earnings and medical expenses. These kind of corporate provisions try to prevent a jury of YOUR peers from awarding you damages for all you have lost or suffered AFTER a jury finds that your loved one's death was the result of corporate negligence, misconduct, or greed.
Is a local legislator who was elected to represent YOU actually protecting the profits of global corporate wrongdoers through such legislation instead of YOU and YOUR FAMILY?
Barring Corporate Liability for Killing Your Dog or Cat
In addition to limiting the rights of people injured by corporations, under the guise of limiting "frivolous" litigation, one of the proposals from 2006 would make it harder for you to obtain any compensation from a company whose negligence killed your family pet.(LINK) In 2009, Americans learned that many U.S. pet food companies had shipped the production of food for their four-legged companions overseas and that Chinese contractors had contaminated the pet food with melamine in order to increase profit margins, resulting in death and serious injuries to numerous dogs and cats in the U.S.
If passed in your state, ALEC's corporation-backed proposal would make it very difficult for YOU to recover any damages for the loss of your beloved animal companion due to corporate negligence or misconduct in manufacturing pet food.
Oh, the Hypocrisy!
Despite ALEC's efforts to limit the rights of injured Americans to vindicate their losses through personal injury lawsuits, ALEC Executive Director Duane Parde brought a tort lawsuit against his orthopedic surgeon for malpractice in 2002, according to the American Association for Justice. Parde demanded $250,000 in damages, alleging he "suffered permanent injury and damage, sustained and continues to sustain conscious pain and suffering, loss of quality of life, and otherwise incurred and continues to incur losses and expenses."
Did You Know about these Bills?
Some of this Corporate Agenda Has Already Become Law
Wisconsin Governor (and ALEC alum) Scott Walker’s first action upon taking office was to push "tort reform" measures from the ALEC corporate wish list to protect corporations from lawsuits.
This bill, Wisconsin Act 2
, passed on a party-line vote and was signed into law by Walker in January 2011. It incorporates several "tort reform" bills supported by ALEC corporations. For example, it:
- Adopts parts of the ALEC "Punitive Damage Standards Act," limiting the ability to hold corporations accountable for outrageous acts of negligence or recklessness.
- Draws liberally from the ALEC "Product Liability Act," giving corporations free rein to manufacture shoddy products that can wound or maim so long as the product is approved by a regulatory agency (and even though corporations routinely work to water-down regulatory safety standards), even if the corporation knew the product was dangerous. See also the ALEC "Regulatory Compliance with Liability Act."
- Draws from elements of the "Comparative Fault Act" and "Joint and Several Liability Act" in changing the standards for apportioning fault to corporations.
- Extends liability protections to the nursing home industry (which supported Walker in the election), similar to ALEC bills such as the "Non-Economic Damages Act," limiting awards in cases involving for long-term skilled nursing home providers.
- Adopts the ALEC "Reliability in Expert Testimony Standards Act" verbatim, imposing federal rules corporations favor for determining who can testify as an expert witness in the state court.
After Governor Walker changed the rights of injured Wisconsin residents as ALEC corporations had called for, ALEC publicly applauded Walker's actions.
To see a marked-up version of Wisconsin Act 2 noting the relevant ALEC bills, click here.
To read more about this story, click [(link to Brendan's tort article) here]
More Helpful Resources
Additional resources on ALEC's corporate agenda:
- ALEC Funding, PRWatch (2011)
- American Legislative Exchange Council and other related articles, SourceWatch (2011)
- Ghostwriting the Law for Corporate America, American Association for Justice (2010)
- Climate Denial Report on ALEC and Exxon Funding for ALEC, Greenpeace (2011)
- Governing the Nation from the Statehouses, Progressive States Network (2006)
- Wolves in Sheep's Clothing, Common Cause (2006)
- Prison Economics Help Drive Ariz. Immigration Law, NPR (2010)
- Exposing ALEC, blogging group, Daily KOS (2011)
- ALEC: The Voice of Corporate Special Interests In State Legislatures, People for the American Way (2011)
- Corporate America's Trojan Horse in the States, Defenders of Wildlife and the Natural Resources Defense Council (2002)
- The Attack on Trial Lawyers and Tort Law, Commonwealth Institute (2003)
- Wisconsin's Cronon Affair: The Power of a Simple Fact, The Nation Magazine (2011)
- Ghostwriting the Law, Mother Jones (2002)
- ALEC Behind Voter Disenfranchisement Efforts, Center for American Progress (2011)
- ALEC Report, Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice (2011)
- ALEC Exposed: Business Domination Inc., The Nation Magazine (2011)