Give Up the Right to Sue for Personal Injuries Caused by Defective Products? Not a chance.
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Give Up the Right to Sue for Personal Injuries Caused by Defective Products? Not a chance.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008By Richard Alexander

It is unconscionable for the Mercury News to devote its editorial page to the mythology that citizens who sue wrongdoers who have ruined their lives should give up their rights to aid the economy. The Mercury is guilty of publishing the propaganda of Lawrence McQuillan, the darling of right-wing crazies, without a shred of fact or reality checking.

Even in the opinion section of the newspaper, lying should be discouraged and certainly not perpetuated without an appropriate warning. But, that's to be expected after the Mercury lost its corporate memory when it fired nearly all of its experienced writers and reformulated itself to compete with the National Enquirer in supermarket checkout lanes.

The Mercury op-ed throws around alleged statistics and studies that have absolutely no relevance to reality.

The Mercury's bogus views of our tort system fly in the face of the truth.

A report recently released by the Department of Justice's Bureau of Justice Statistics deflates the myths that so-called "tort reformers" use to condemn our civil justice system.

But you wouldn't know that from reading the Mercury News.

The Mercury is right there with the Republican scream machine using tort reform to justify the criminal acts of corporate and government leaders.  What an embarrassing patsy.

If the Mercury truly wants to help the economy it can focus his attention on the corporate criminals that make daily headlines stealing with impunity from the American people.

Tort reform is a "get-away-free" card for the most heinous criminals on our planet. If a criminal steals a loaf of bread three times in the wrong way, he can get life. Corporate criminals, abuse the public, steal millions and walk away with golden parachutes.

And where is our government?

Does anybody really believe the Food and Drug Administration will protect them? We have salmonella from our tomatoes or peppers, mad cow disease from our cattle, and nobody knows what coming from China to poison our children.

But don't offend China. As of December 2007, China's Treasury securities holdings were $406 billion, accounting for 17.2% of total foreign ownership of U.S. Treasury securities and making China the second largest foreign holder of U.S. Treasuries after Japan, according to China's Holdings of U.S. Securities: Implications for the U.S. Economy. CSR Report to Congress, February 28, 2008.

But what is especially galling about the Mercury's op-ed page is that it attempts to correlate tort reform with loss of jobs in California: "entrepreneurs opt for states with balanced tort systems that discourage excessive litigation . . . ."

That's not the law.  It doesn't work that way.

Anyone who puts his or her products into the stream of commerce is subject to being sued for a defective product in the state where it is sold. Ford cannot mandate that you can only sue in Detroit for deaths or injuries caused by its outrageously defective Explorer in Colorado.

Silicon Valley was built by entrepreneurs before corporate plans to deny citizens the right to sue ever existed. The loss of business in California is not because of our litigious nature, it is because corporations would rather pay starvation wages by exporting production to China, Indonesia and Mexico, where environmental controls don't exist, unions do not advocate for safe working conditions, fair pay and an 8 hour day and the Occupational Safety & Health Administration does not exist.

The Mercury even goes so far as to claim that Volkswagen, Hitler's favorite car company, did not market its three-wheeled green car that goes over 46 miles per gallon because of potential lawsuits.

Obviously the Mercury has been living under a bushel basket.

Since 1969 U.S. Federal Motor Safety Standards have mandated that gas tanks not leak in crashes, passenger compartments doe not crush in expected crashes and that roofs of passenger vehicles survive a rollover. Many foreign cars cannot meet those standards. That is why, for example, you don't see new Peugeots on our roads.

By the way, a Prius gets 46 miles per gallon and it has air bags.

We have seen the likes of the corporate criminals who say "greed is good." They sell tobacco to drag our youth into the pit of cancer, paint their toys with lead, put asbestos in cribs, and formaldehyde in trailer homes.

They would prefer that families devastated by these crimes have no recourse. The tort system is the only chance for justice for many people.

When O.J. Simpson killed is wife, it was the tort system that provided justice. When a child suffered brain damage due to his mother being exposed to toxins, it was the tort system that provided justice. When corporate criminals knowingly hurt other people, it is the tort system that provides condemns the wrongdoing and makes the bad buys pay.

Finally, the biggest and most positive changes in the health care industry are the result of the tort system. The escalating cost of healthcare is not because of litigation, it is because of the enormous greed by insurance companies, HMOS, pharmaceutical companies and doctors.

Experts agree that our health care system is riddled with inefficiencies, excessive administrative expenses, inflated prices, poor management, and inappropriate care, waste and fraud.

The next time the Mercury News gives up its opinion page to a one sided diatribe it should not refuse to print opposing views.

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Onward,

Richard Alexander

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