New AAJ Report Explores Hypocrisy of Tort Reform Proponents

Most Illinois birth injury cases are rooted in the law of medical negligence. That is because, as one would expect, when a birth injury lawsuit is filed, it is because the victim believes that their child’s harm was caused by medical mistakes. The errors could occur in a variety of ways, from failing to perform a timely C-section to applying too much force when extracting the child. In all cases, however, the failure of the doctor to perform in a way that other reasonable doctors would is at the heart of the suit.

However victims in those exact cases are the ones for whom many “tort reformers” are working to take away basic legal rights. Medical malpractices lawsuits are the main focus of reform efforts, though many of the biggest corporate proponents are also seeking to take away victims’ rights in a variety of other contexts. It is safe to say that many large companies would have little problem completely insulating themselves from the potential ramifications of their own misconduct. For example, Illinois nursing home abuse victims are at risk of losing their ability to hold negligent long-term care facilities accountable, if changes are made at the federal level to enact a bill known as House Resolution 5. The legislation would force all states to enact a wide range of draconian measures that do nothing more than take away the ability of everyday citizens to file suits against large corporations that cause them harm. It is in many ways an immense abuse of power that must be fought against.

The nature of these advocacy efforts are disturbing. Even more disturbing is the hypocrisy underlying many of these arguments made by powerful corporate interests. At the core of this is an attempt by these interests to maximize their bottom line-not a principled effort to enact legal changes. As a new American Association of Justice report reveals, there is an immense level of hypocrisy behind the efforts of many involved in these efforts. Many corporations have no problems using the civil justice system when they think they have been wronged, but they still work to take away the rights of others in the same position. The latest study into that hypocrisy, entitled “Do As I Say, Not As I Sue” takes a close look at the corporate members of a group at the forefront of effort to take away legal rights from community members-The U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s “Institute for Legal Reform” (ILR).

There are ten corporate ILR board members, and virtually all of them use the legal system in big ways when they feel they’ve been wronged. For example, Honeywell International is one of the most prolific corporate plaintiffs-taking many groups to court for a variety of causes each year. Yet, whenever the shoe is on the other foot, they simply blame the system itself and blame their victims for seeking to hold them accountable for their misconduct. After losing a case in Illinois for their dangerous conduct related to asbestos, the company used the opportunity to publically ridicule the state for its judicial practices. Some of the other corporate board members have been just as hypocritical. Caterpillar, for example, used the justice system to sue Disney because it felt that the depiction of bulldozers in a small-time, straight-to-DVD movie was overly villainous, potentially hurting their bulldozer business. And yet they think victims of life-long, debilitating birth defects should not have the right to go to court?

Our Illinois personal injury lawyers remain proud to help victims in our area that have suffered harm because of the carelessness of others. That is why we stand for all those who use the civil justice system, because it is in many ways the only place where all are on equal footing. The nation’s founders understood this, and that is why they enshrined the system without our national framework. If you or a loved one has been harmed because the medical providers failed to provide you with a basic level of care during the birth of your child, please get in touch with an Illinois birth injury lawyer and learn how the justice system can protect your rights.

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