If the U.S. Supreme Court decides to uphold two lower court rulings, it would provide immunity from product liability lawsuits to major corporations including cigarette and drug companies and auto manufacturers. According to this article, the cases in question particularly involve lawsuits over Philip Morris’ so-called “light” cigarettes and injuries caused by Wyeth’s Phenergan, a nausea medication which caused a Vermont woman’s arm to be amputated after she was injected with it.
What happens if the Supreme Court decides in favor of these giant corporations? Thousands of people suing over serious injuries and deaths caused by defective drugs, lead-tainted toys, deceptive advertising and defective auto products, will lose the right to have their cases heard in court.
We hope the U.S. Supreme Court will think long and hard about these cases and decide to rule in favor of the consumers. A decision for the corporations will seriously hurt consumers and their rights. If the high court rules in favor of the companies, they will get the immunity from litigation that they have long dreamed of. As long as they can pay their high-priced and high-powered lobbyists to convince governmental regulatory agencies to approve their products, they would be free of any liability to consumers. And that would hold true irrespective of what they knew or should have known about the faulty products or the harm done.
Had this ruling come a year ago, pharmaceutical giant Merck would have been totally free of liability for Vioxx. Can you imagine the plight of those who suffered heart attacks or strokes because of this defective drug that Merck eventually pulled off the shelves? This ruling would be stretched to every industry with government regulations – certainly with disastrous consequences.
As personal injury attorneys who’ve been fighting for consumers’ rights over the last three decades, we will see those consequences first hand. What will happen to those hurt by defective auto products – the Ford Explorers, Excursions, Expeditions, the “death-trap” 15-passenger vans, defective seatbelts, seatbacks, airbags and tires, just to mention a few. For example, if a vehicle meets minimum government standards – even if those standards are completely outdated and do nothing to ensure the vehicles protect their occupants – the auto maker would be free of any liability to consumers.
What happens when things go horribly wrong in your life, you need money to pay medical bills for injuries caused by these defective products? Be assured that these large corporations who put these products in the market to fill their coffers will hide behind these rulings and thumb their noses at consumers.
We also wholeheartedly support our friends at Trial Lawyers for Public Justice who are working hard to prevent these rulings from going in favor of the major corporations.