Wiping out our ability to sue

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Wiping out our ability to sue
By Cory Franklin. Cory Franklin is an emergency room physician at Stroger Hospital Published September 17, 2004
Imagine for a minute a corporation manufacturing a product that has the ability to render everyday items heat resistant. The company produces large amounts of the compound and incorporates it into routine use so that it becomes a ubiquitous part of the American household.
But there are clouds on the horizon. Indications arise that, after years of use, those involved in the manufacture of the compound develop crippling lung disease and unusual cancers that cause slow, painful death. When suspicions are confirmed internally, the company makes a fateful decision--it suppresses the information, concealing it from its own workers and the public.
For the next 20 years, millions are exposed to the compound until public health studies reveal the cause and effect. Ultimately the company, which grew wealthy and powerful on the strength of the compound, must face thousands of lawsuits and is forced into bankruptcy. In the meantime, thousands of people have died, exposed to a product originally thought to be safe.
This, of course, is the 20th Century story of asbestos.
But now imagine a twist in the story that never actually happened. What if, early on, when it appeared asbestos was a miracle compound, there had been a Food and Drug Administration? (Much of this occurred before the FDA was created.) And what if, before most of those cancers and pulmonary problems had come to light, the FDA--with the backing of the U.S. government, the primary consumer of asbestos--declared it to be safe? Is it possible the public would still be facing asbestos exposure today?
It is important to revisit the asbestos story, with the hypothetical FDA scenario, because if the Bush administration has its way, there will be no lawsuits and limited public discovery about the dangers of prescription drugs and medical devices that initially appear safe but ultimately carry serious long-term dangers. Lawyers for the U.S. Department of Justice recently argued in court that if the FDA has approved a product, people are not eligible to recover damages. If a designation of safety by the FDA provides an absolute defense against lawsuits, the government is essentially bestowing the Holy Grail on pharmaceutical and medical product companies, defense lawyers and the insurance industry. No greater gift could come their way.
Yet the FDA is not now and never can be the ultimate arbiter of product safety for a very simple reason--it can never see into the future. At best, the FDA can give only a reasonable indication of a product's current status. Completely removing the threat of lawsuits leaves the public vulnerable to all sorts of malfeasance and misfeasance.
Within reason, the government argument has merit. Frivolous litigation does discourage companies from introducing new products. Companies forced to contend with different rules in different states face increased costs and confusion. Clearly, the public is ill-served if new products cannot be made available because of litigation fears. Venal attorneys and greedy plaintiffs looking for favorable venues and unjustifiable damages will always be with us. But all of this simply does not create an imperative for an overly expansive policy on legal immunity, especially when a government agency, subject to political winds, has the final word on safety.
If we are meant to understand this new FDA proposal, what Bush officials are saying, with an absolutely straight face, is this: "I'm here from the government and I can assure you that the medical product you depend on is safe. There's no need to worry."
Strange words coming from a Republican administration. And words that not even the most devoted pro-business, anti-trial lawyer, medical-innovation-promoting, diehard Chamber-of-Commerce-loving capitalist could really believe.
Copyright Sept. 17, 2004, Chicago Tribune
Now their checking the Dangers of using Aspertame and Teflon... and if they find that you have put your health and life in jeopardy, you will not be able to sue the bastards
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IMO, both sides of the issue are flawed. Your product gives me a health problem, I'd expect compensation. OTOH, if it caused the death of a relative, what is fair? Enough to cover burial expenses? Probably not enough. $20,000,000? Ridiculous.
Keep in mind the company does not pay the damages, nor does the insurance company. The money comes from us, the consumer, in one form or another. Higher premiums and higher prices for all.
Just as the federal government is not helping the hurricane victims, we are. It is our tax dollars that are going to them. Doctors especially pay very high insurance premiums to cover claims. Yes, they should pay if negligent and perhaps lose their right to practice, but a multi-million dollar award is coming from our pockets.
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So, what is the value of your life? $100? $1000? $1,000,000?
Bob
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I don't know. The projected income to my normal expected death? Surely, not 20 million.
IIRC, insurance companies do have guidelines they assign to loss of various limbs or death.
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wrote in message

So you accept that the insurance companies can put a price on your life? I'm not sure I could be so accepting.
Bob
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I said they do it. I did not say I accept it.
In any case, money does not bring a life back. A young father would be a greater financial burden on a family that lost him that say, a 65 year old woman that lived alone. My point is that a family should be compensated, not "rewarded" for a death.
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Edwin Pawlowski wrote:

You SHOULDN"T be able to sue them, assuming they're using reasonable care. The reason the asbestos (and tobacco companies) are.ought to be liable isn't because their product turned out to have health issues, but because they *KNEW* that the product had health issues, and suppressed the information.
Every product produced has the potential to kill someone, somewhere, under certain circumstances. Corporations shouldn't be liable for any bad thing that ever happens to you that involves their product. They should only be liable for either failing to take *reasonable* precautions, or failing to inform you of
risks that you have no way to anticipate, but they do.
--Goedjn
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And a jury should be the one to determine whether the corporation was reasonable. That is why the right to sue is essential. It is part of the free market system. Corporations are careful because they know they can be sued.

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You're right, but it is a flawed system. Too many people that make up the jury think it is their right and obligation to punish the big business because they make a profit.
This is somewhat offset by defense attorneys that will try to make the worst people (and corporations) in society a victim rather than a criminal.
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Edwin Pawlowski wrote:

This is 100% true. I know the phrase "jury of your peers" comes from the criminal side of the judicial system rather than civil, but if you extend the concept it becomes apparent that corporate defendants have no "peers". The jury system is 100% biased for "the little guy".
And if you subscribe to the notion that "juries are made up of people too dumb to get out of jury duty" (not always, but more often than not, IMHO) then you can see how jury members don't understand the "big picture" when they punish a company with a huge financial penalty. It raises prices at best, puts the company out of business at worst case. Lost jobs. Lost tax revenue. All because the brainless juror is blindsided by pity for the poor individual.
--
The real Tom Pendergast [ So if you meet me, have some courtesy,
aka I-zheet M'drurz [ have some sympathy, and some taste.
  Click to see the full signature.
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I don't subscribe to that stupid theory.

And not because a company didn't think out their product in a reasonable manner? Are the companies always innocent? I don't think so. If a product turns out to kill people, isn't a company responsible for determining that before marketing the product?
Bob
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Following your logic, the automobile never would exist. People get killed by them or using them.
The available technology in the 1920's was not the same as it is today. Does that mean we should not have been driving with no seatbelt, those tiny little tail light, poor defrosters?
If you mean out and out negligence, yes, the has been and always will be some, but there is also a risk in everything we do. Should we ban fish because people have choked on fish bones?
I'm still pissed at Ralph Nader for destroying the Corvair. It was a great car and I wish I still had mine. Was it a dangerous car? Nope, it was one of the safest in handling, IMO, and when I got broadsided by a Mack truck, I walked away.
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Every statistic I have seen shows them declining or staying steady.

They almost NEVER lose their right to practice.

And there is a flip side - changes that save money are brought about as well.
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THEOLDONE wrote:

[...]
Good.
The damage done to our society by trial lawyers is far, far greater than the damage done by allegedly flawed products.
For example, breast implants. Millions of women and men have been deprived of their benefits (though the benefits obviously differ), Dow Chemical in bankruptcy, significant loss of employment, All for the benefit of trial lawyers. There has not been ONE peer-reviewed study claiming ANY connection (causal or otherwise) between Silicon and health problems.
There has not been ONE peer-reviewed study showing ANY relationship between commercial products containing Asbestos and any health problem. Not one.
We can't ban personal injury lawers, but we can put a fence around the watermelon patch.
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You may be right but they put it on the market without testing it for safety and that is where they screwed themselves.

Irrelevant. It is the factory workers who did the sueing..... not consumers.

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Talking about asbestos and trial lawyers, here in NJ we have a law firm that has been running an ad on TV to drum up business for at least a year now. It makes me chuckle every time I see it. The ad is looking for new clients who are victims of asbestos and in the ad the spokesperson says, "mesothelioma, a malignant form of cancer...."
So, these lawyers are supposed to be experts in this field of medical litigation and they don't know the simple fact that all cancer is malignant?
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Especially the ones who founded the country. Clearly the founding fathers were liberals and that is an unacceptable system.

lol... just for the trial lawyers huh? Guess you will argue for smoking, mercury as an essential nutrient, and asbestos as a therapy.

LMAO... when you can't win an argument, just make shit up.

Hey, here is a better idea. If you hate America and the system that distinguishes it, try another.
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news:XoOdneVW3sVdGtbcRVn-

Of course, there is a disease named after asbestos. I wonder why?
Bob
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made ill. If asbestos is in your home and not disturbed, it is perfectly safe. Asbestos is a good fire-proofing material that helped save lives. Ed
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How about the lives cut short because one works in areas exposed to it all the time? As chunks of this miracle product flake off the underside of steel decks and I-beams while I hang transformers inside of electrical closets or install new electrical circuits or data lines, am I in no danger?
If I drill through 2 layers of asbestos-impregnated floor tile, are there particles in the air for my breathing pleasure?
Aren't the cubicle dwellers we have so much fun "prarie dogging" exposed when above that nice, clean 2x2 layin ceiling, is an airspace called a plenum return- which we've just snaked lines through and installed conduits and within which, for a couple of hours afterwards, looks like a dry farm on a hot summer day which just had a plow run through it?
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