Bill would raise stakes in product liability cases

Business Insurance
Monday, September 18, 2000

Helen G. Kirsch, a partner at Washington law firm Reed Smith Shaw & McClay and general counsel for the Coalition for Uniform Product Liability Law, said: ''Sen. Specter's proposal is an understandable reaction to the Firestone problem. However, we already have agencies in place to regulate consumer products, including the Consumer Product Safety Commission, which has the power to impose criminal sanctions, and the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, which is responsible for overseeing problems in the tire and auto industry.
''We prefer to see Congress enact product liability legislation that comprehensively addresses the shortcomings and inconsistencies existing in the multitude of state product liability laws,'' Ms. Kirsch said.
But an opponent of tort reform says that if the measure suffers from any defect of its own, it's that it would be too easy on wrongdoers.
''It's appropriate. The situation (Sen. Specter) is describing is no less a homicide than if someone takes a gun and shoots someone else,'' said Joanne Doroshow, executive director of the Center for Justice & Democracy in New York.
''In fact, it's probably worse, because of the number of casualties typically involved in these corporate crime situations. If there's any problem that I see in this bill, (it) is that it doesn't specify more severe penalties. What they should include is a corporate death penalty option, which basically involves revoking the charter of the corporation that murders someone through defective products,'' Ms. Doroshow said.
For a copy of the complete article, contact CJ&D.

Join Our Fight!

The Center for Justice & Democracy is the only national consumer organization in the country exclusively dedicated to protecting our civil justice system. If you'd like more information, please contact us.

Connect with us