TorteDeForm

Kia Franklin

If the courts are terrified, imagine how the people must feel…

Foreign courts are "terrified" by punitive damages imposed by U.S. courts against foreign companies, according to the NYT. The issues at stake in many of these cases, however, reveal the far more terrifying implications involved in not adequately punishing corporations for cutting corners and jeopardizing people's safety, financial security, or rights.

In the global context, other countries offer better protections, tighter regulations, and better enforcement than the U.S. does. But in the U.S., the waning efficacy of federal regulatory agencies, which may or may not be (all up) in corporate America's pockets, means that we need something that's going to hold corporations accountable.

I went to a great conference today on Justice and the Role of Class Actions in which a variety of perspectives-- from die-hard public interest lawyers to equally fervent pro-business tort "reform" suporters --were represented. One dynamic speaker made the insightful point that corporations can't have their cake and eat it too--have lax regulations on the front end and lax punishments on the back end of their negligent and often reckless actions. And not only that, but equally important is that individuals who suffer because of corporate misconduct actually have access to redress for the personal costs they incurred as a result of that negligence or reckless conduct.

While tort system debaters go back and forth about "enterprising" plaintiffs lawyers and evil corporations, and while the newspapers give human emotions to the ("terrified," "shocked," for example) courts, one has to wonder: what about the actual human beings whose quality of life is at stake here?

The NYT does a better job than others. They present a few perspectives that contemplate the interests of the actual victims in this debate over punitive damages. And they at least show the photo of the woman who for two decades fought a recalcitrant corporation that refused to pay, despite a court ruling, for designing and selling an ineffective helmet that contributed to the death of her 15-year-old son.

Kia Franklin: Author Bio | Other Posts
Posted at 7:45 PM, Mar 28, 2008 in Civil Justice | Corporate v. Human Citizenship
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Comments

Think of a world where business can do as they please and the masses will become drones. The goal of the pro degulation crowd is a bid to have people classified as a cog in the wheel. We are then expendiable. But corporate greed is short sighted. A few make all the money, but buy little. The poor buy goods but because of low wages, they have less to spend. Eventually, very few can afford goods and services. Aaha they say, borrow moneys to buy the goods. This increases debt, to be paid later, but what happen with increase debt, there is less resource to buy good & service. This create an imbalance between supply & demand. Supply increases, because there is less demand because the people lack buying power. We need more regulation on business, more control over corporations that hide money in off shore accounts & we desperately need a wage increase.

Posted by: niel james | March 29, 2008 5:04 PM

If I remember economics, corporations are owned by shareholders. Corporations have employees and we tax the exployees income to support our government. We tax the income of the shareholders as well. When we buy American products, we support those that are employed by the corporation and those that are employed by it. This is how we fund our government. Now, lets make it more and more appealing to move our corporations out of America. The shareholders can keep their income overseas (free of taxes), and American employees lose thier jobs. This decreases the tax dollars, results in a worsening trade deficit and leads to recession. As you are well aware, this is going on right now.

Foreign courts have a right to be terrified, what has happened to America could happen to them. Lets continue to try to find deep pockets for everything, (Great White case) and drive every business out of America!

Posted by: throckmorton | March 29, 2008 7:54 PM

Only a self-defeating entity would start a business or hire an employee in the US. All productive entities should expect hundreds of frivolous lawsuits by land pirates in the US. It would be just for Iraqi civil justice to reach the assets of the US lawyer run government. To deter.

This scapegoating mother should be cross sued by the estate of the dead knucklehead kid for failure to supervise, and allowing the knucklehead to have a motorcycle. The judge who permitted the ridiculous claim should be removed, and investigated if it accepted campaign contributions from the plaintiff bar. The Italian court should investigate, as allowed. They then should try to collect from the US lawyers for the costs and damages to the Italian company from the frivolous lawsuit. 15, unsupervised, on a motorcycle bought by this irresponsible bitch. Why did his face smash the pavement? Are 15 year olds allowed on any road on a motor vehicle? If he broke the law by riding on a road, there should be a ruling of negligence per se on his part. It is possible this verdict rewarded a crime.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | March 30, 2008 11:16 AM