Crime and Courts: More 'tort reform' bills coming from the GOP

The Capital Times
Saturday, October 8, 2011

For 15 years Michigan residents and families of loved ones who have been injured or killed by drugs like Rezulin, Accutane and Vioxx have tried to get their day in court. But they've largely been stymied by a state law that shields drug makers from legal liability.

But Wisconsin Republicans want to enact similar legislation that would shield drug makers from lawsuits over FDA-approved drugs. And the proposal here would go further, including immunity for makers of FDA-approved medical devices like automatic external defibrillators, heart valves and artificial hips. They also would be granted immunity from lawsuits if their products had inadequate warnings.

Last January, I wrote an article about how state Republicans, in a sweeping piece of so-called tort reform legislation, sharply curbed citizens' ability to win awards for product liability, nursing home negligence and medical malpractice — all in the name of job creation.

"All those deprivations of rights for the people of Wisconsin resulted in zero job growth," says End. "What jobs have any of those things brought in? All they've done is take away the rights that the people of Wisconsin are entitled to. And this is more of the same."

According to a report by the Center for Justice and Democracy, a national consumer rights group, in the years since former Michigan Gov. John Engler signed the drug company immunity into law, mergers and acquisitions in the industry have resulted in the loss of thousands of big pharma jobs from that state. A PDF of the report is attached to this post.


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