Tort Reform, Corporate Liability and the Rights of Injured Americans

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Escaping Responsibility for Corporate Products or Practices that Injure or Kill Americans

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

Click here for a zip file of bills relating to Tort Reform, Corporate Liability, and the Rights of Injured Americans

For a full list of bills from this section, click here

For descriptions of some of these bills, scroll down or click here.

Some of the corporations in ALEC are also in the tobacco library, where you can find archived documents about companies, people, and issues related to what corporations have dubbed "tort reform," trade, or other issues. For example, a search for Koch Industries--a long-standing funder of ALEC--in the tobacco database reveals numerous documents that may be of interest to you.

Search the Documents Archives of the Tobacco Industry
Legacy Tobacco Documents Library:

(Searching in this database will take you to a different website not connected to ALEC Exposed.)

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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 corporations undermine the rights of injured Americans

The bills try to change American's rights by:

To see a full list of these bills, click here

Governor Scott Walker's "Tort Reforms"

Wisconsin Governor and ALEC alumni 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 ALEC's "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 his actions.
To see a marked-up version of Wisconsin Act 2 noting the relevant ALEC bills, click here.

Did you know about ALEC and . . .

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. 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. These kinds 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 ALEC resolution from 2006 supports making it harder for you to obtain any compensation from a company whose negligence killed your family pet. 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 to increase profit margins, resulting in serious injuries and death 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's then-Executive Director, Duane Parde, brought a tort lawsuit against his own 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."

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Additional resources on ALEC's corporate agenda:

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