Every day we make choices as consumers, and at times, despite our best efforts to carefully research our options, the purchases we make simply do not work as intended or worse, end up harming or injuring us in some way. In these cases, product liability law is often a consumer’s best friend – providing the means to hold manufacturers, retailers, distributors, and suppliers accountable when their products cause harm to their consumers.
From GM’s defective ignition switches and exploding gas tanks, to Dow Corning’s faulty silicone breast implants to Phillip Morrisand the harm caused by tobacco, there have been tens of thousands of cases brought against a range of companies for harm.
And the result?
Not only justice in many cases for those injured – but also a degree of protection for other consumers. Each time a company is held accountable for a defective product – that product is either removed from the market or improved so as to make it safe.
So why is there trouble ahead?
The new Trump Administration and their Republican allies in the Congress are expected to soon present a number of bills designed to favor businesses while weakening consumer rights. The effort is called “tort reform” and will not only provide cover to companies selling defective products but also seek to put new limits on settlements entered into by the Department of Justice and the Environmental Protection Agency, and require more disclosures for things like claims by asbestos victims who seek compensation from bankruptcy trusts.
Many of the bills are already on Speaker Paul Ryan’s (R-Wis.) “must pass menu.”
Predictably – businesses are thrilled by this development. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has recently said the bills represent the “most important comprehensive legal reform opportunity in a decade, and we’re confident that these issues are clearly on lawmakers’ radar.”
“Legal reform” – or consumer rip off?
What proponents of tort reform often fail to admit is that tort reform will significantly impair an victim’s ability to receive fair, just and reasonable compensation for injuries caused by negligent or intentional acts. As any economist will tell you, in the business world, everything is measured in dollars and cents. If there are fewer legal risks attached to manufacturing unsafe products, then corporations will worry less about the safety of their products.
Sadly – this “business initiative” comes at a time when corporate wrongdoing is rampant. From big drug companies knowingly selling drugs known to cause serious harm (think Purdue Pharma, Bayer, etc.) to car manufacturers knowingly selling vehicles with serious safety defects (think GM, Ford, etc.) to toy companies making and selling products known to be dangerous (think Mattel and others) – removing costs for bad behavior will only increase bad behavior and harm consumers.
What can you do?
If you are worried about protecting your consumer rights – call your Congressman and U.S. Senator and let them know you are watching and that you care. In a democracy – activism trumps big money and powerful lobbyists most of the time. Do your part to protect your rights before it is too late.
If you or a loved one has been injured by a defective product, call a qualified Connecticut product liability lawyer. A knowledgeable product liability lawyer can help to ensure that your rights are protected. What’s more, our product liability lawyers have received local and national recognition for our handling of cases like these.
We have a great team of legal experts dedicated to product liability cases in Connecticut. Please contact us if we can help you. The consultation is free and there is no obligation of any kind.