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Tort Reform, Corporate Liability and the Rights of Injured Americans

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ALEC Corporations' Efforts to Escape Responsibility For Causing Death or Injury

Tort Reform, Corporate Liability and the Rights of Injured Americans
Through the corporate-funded American Legislative Exchange Council, global corporations and state politicians VOTE BEHIND CLOSED DOORS to change the laws to limit the rights and remedies of Americans injured or killed by corporations. These so-called "model bills" erode the rights of an injured person, or that person's family, who files a complaint alleging that a corporation caused injury or death and should be held responsible for all the damages its actions caused. Through ALEC, corporations have "a VOICE and a VOTE" on specific changes to the law that are then proposed in state legislatures. Do you?

READ the "Model Bills" HERE

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EXPOSE ALEC'S ROLE IN YOUR STATE HOUSE. Read these corporate-backed "model bills" NOW and cross-check them with bills in your state legislature. Ask your local media to report on what you have found and write your local newspaper.
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Learn MORE about the "Model Bills" ALEC Corporations Are Backing to Rewrite YOUR Rights

The Center for Media and Democracy analyzed the bills ALEC politicians and corporations voted for. More analysis is available below and also at ALEC Exposed's sister sites, PRWatch and SourceWatch.

How are corporations undermining workers through these bills?

The bills corporations and their politician allies VOTED on behind closed doors through ALEC try to change American's rights by:

To see a full list of bills, click here.

Wisconsin Governor (and ALEC alum) Scott Walker’s first action upon taking office was to push "tort reform" measures from the ALEC corporate wish list to protect corporations from lawsuits. This bill, Wisconsin Act 2, passed on a party-line vote and was signed into law by Walker in January 2011. It incorporates several "tort reform" bills supported by ALEC corporations. For example, it:
  • Adopts parts of the ALEC "Punitive Damage Standards Act," limiting the ability to hold corporations accountable for outrageous acts of negligence or recklessness.
  • Draws liberally from the ALEC "Product Liability Act," giving corporations free rein to manufacture shoddy products that can wound or maim so long as the product is approved by a regulatory agency (and even though corporations routinely work to water-down regulatory safety standards), even if the corporation knew the product was dangerous. See also the ALEC "Regulatory Compliance with Liability Act."
  • Draws from elements of the "Comparative Fault Act" and "Joint and Several Liability Act" in changing the standards for apportioning fault to corporations.
  • Extends liability protections to the nursing home industry (which supported Walker in the election), similar to ALEC bills such as the "Non-Economic Damages Act," limiting awards in cases involving for long-term skilled nursing home providers.
  • Adopts the ALEC "Reliability in Expert Testimony Standards Act" verbatim, imposing federal rules corporations favor for determining who can testify as an expert witness in the state court.

After Governor Walker changed the rights of injured Wisconsin residents as ALEC corporations had called for, ALEC publicly applauded Walker's actions.
To see a marked-up version of Wisconsin Act 2 noting the relevant ALEC bills, click here.
To read more about this story, click [(link to Brendan's tort article) here]

ome of this Corporate Agenda Has Already Become Law

Limiting Damages for the Loss of Your Child, Spouse, or Parent

One of the corporate-politician proposals of ALEC would limit the ability of a family to recover for emotional damages due to the death or injury of a loved one. (LINK) This type of legislation basically makes working class or poor people's lives--as well as the elderly--worth less to their families because any damages for pain and suffering due to the death of a child, spouse, or parent would be limited to an amount equal to twice their loved one's lost earnings and medical expenses. These kind of corporate provisions try to prevent a jury of YOUR peers from awarding you damages for all you have lost or suffered AFTER a jury finds that your loved one's death was the result of corporate negligence, misconduct, or greed.

Is a local legislator who was elected to represent YOU actually protecting the profits of global corporate wrongdoers through such legislation instead of YOU and YOUR FAMILY?

Barring Corporate Liability for Killing Your Dog or Cat

In addition to limiting the rights of people injured by corporations, under the guise of limiting "frivolous" litigation, one of the proposals from 2006 would make it harder for you to obtain any compensation from a company whose negligence killed your family pet.(LINK) In 2009, Americans learned that many U.S. pet food companies had shipped the production of food for their four-legged companions overseas and that Chinese contractors had contaminated the pet food with melamine in order to increase profit margins, resulting in death and serious injuries to numerous dogs and cats in the U.S.

If passed in your state, ALEC's corporation-backed proposal would make it very difficult for YOU to recover any damages for the loss of your beloved animal companion due to corporate negligence or misconduct in manufacturing pet food.

Oh, the Hypocrisy!

Despite ALEC's efforts to limit the rights of injured Americans to vindicate their losses through personal injury lawsuits, ALEC Executive Director Duane Parde brought a tort lawsuit against his orthopedic surgeon for malpractice in 2002, according to the American Association for Justice. Parde demanded $250,000 in damages, alleging he "suffered permanent injury and damage, sustained and continues to sustain conscious pain and suffering, loss of quality of life, and otherwise incurred and continues to incur losses and expenses."

Some of this Corporate Agenda Has Already Become Law

Wisconsin Governor (and ALEC alum) Scott Walker took a cue from the ALEC corporate wish list and introduced a radical bill in February 2011 to cripple public employee unions. Wisconsin Act 10 inspired months of protests and has been subjected to a series of legal challenges.

There is no ALEC bill that exactly mirrors Walker's proposal, but the Wisconsin bill does comport with ALEC's sweeping anti-union agenda, which includes decades of support for "Right to Work" and "Paycheck Protection" legislation and other measures to disempower and defund unions. On collective bargaining, ALEC's "Public Employee Freedom Act" declares that "an employee should be able to contract on their own terms" and "mandatory collective bargaining laws violate this freedom." This ALEC bill and the "Public Employer Payroll Deduction Act" prohibit automatic payroll deductions for union dues, a key aspect of the Walker bill. To learn more about this story, PLACEHOLDER.

Have any of these bills been introduced or enacted in YOUR state?</div>

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Additional resources on ALEC's corporate agenda:

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