This WSJ article covers the upcoming Supreme Court preemption case Wyeth v. Levine, and its safety and fairness implications. The preemption issue is absolutely essential to the corporate lobby's tort "reform" agenda of securing protection against the legal consequences of making and selling dangerous products to unsuspecting people. That's why big business groups are spending the big bucks to strengthen their implied preemption shield. According to the article:
The chamber [of Commerce], which has helped drive the pre-emption and tort-reform campaign, intends to raise $40 million for political candidates this year.
Much of this money will be used to secure a critical mass of politicians and judges who will support the tort "reform" campaign. But this is only to reinforce the stronghold. Preemption has already been established as part and parcel of the Bush Adminstration:
The Bush administration has over the past few years circumvented Capitol Hill by weakening regulatory agencies' safety rules and adding introductions, called preambles, to public-safety regulations that effectively prohibit plaintiffs from suing at the state level, where safety standards can be tougher than those at the federal level.
The article's prominent photo of Diana Levine--a former guitarist who lost her right arm to gangrene she contracted from a bad injection--reminds us that the preemption issue affects real people with real, legitimate claims. Since the FDA is seriously under-resourced and not effective at regulating these products, the courts are the last means for holding corporations accountable for letting dangerous products into the market and into our lives.
So the battle lines are not just between the corporate lobby and the trial bar. It is really about protecting the people who buy these products, undergo these medical procedures, take these prescriptions, and otherwise participate in the marketplace in good faith that the things they consume have been reasonably screened for safety.
Perhaps the issue is framed as one between trial lawyers and the corporate lobby (corporate lawyers, corporations, and politicians funded heavily by corporate supporters) because ordinary citizens, the ones whose health and safety are truly at stake, have not mobilized enough around their right to access the courts. Or perhaps it's because it's more convenient for tortdeformers to say "those darn trial lawyers" oppose tort "reform," than to admit that ordinary citizens and their safety/security are the real stakeholders in the battle.