Tort Reform

Justice Denied: 71 ALEC Bills in 2013 Make It Harder to Hold Corporations Accountable for Causing Injury or Death

At least 71 bills introduced in 2013 that make it harder for average Americans to access the civil justice system resemble "models" from the American Legislative Exchange Council, or "ALEC," according to an analysis by the Center for Media and Democracy, publishers of ALECexposed.org.

Echoing ALEC's Playbook, the Real Story of Walker's Tort "Reform"

Scott Walker, Wisconsin Is Open For BusinessOn New Year's weekend in 2011, many Wisconsinites were focused on the Badgers' return to the Rose Bowl or whether the Green Bay Packers would beat the Detroit Lions and get another shot to win the Super Bowl, but the incoming administration of Governor Scott Walker had other, bigger contests on its agenda. In mid-winter, while many in the state were worried about who would win or lose the big games, Walker's team was preparing to change state law in numerous ways, including making it easier for corporations to win big cases and limit the damages paid if their products or practices kill or injure people in Wisconsin.

Rick Perry's Big Health Care "Oops"

I did exactly what the doctor told me to do. Unfortunately, I'm not feeling a bit better. Maybe even a little worse.

Last week, Dr. Michael C. Burgess, tweeted this directive: "Mark your calendars: Rick Perry will join Health Caucus' Thought Leaders Series next Wednesday, December 7 @ 5 p.m."

Texas Governor Rick PerryEager to hear what thought leadership the Texas governor and presidential candidate would be imparting, I marked my calendar as Dr. Burgess prescribed. Imagine my dismay when I learned yesterday morning that Perry would be sharing his thoughts behind closed doors. The media and public, it turns out, had been disinvited.

ALEC Politicians Spin Special "Interest" Bill to Protect Corporate Wrongdoers as "Job Creation"

For years, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), has been itching to protect big corporations from high interest rates charged in cases where corporations have killed or injured Americans. Now, Wisconsin politicians serving on key ALEC task forces are pushing a bill embracing this idea as part of ALEC alumnus Scott Walker's latest effort to force the ALEC agenda into law based on claims that doing so will help "job creators."

Join Us For a Special Screening of "Hot Coffee" Tonight in Madison With The Filmmaker!

We are joining the Wisconsin Association for Justice to welcome filmmaker Susan Saladoff for a special screening of her powerful and illuminating documentary, "Hot Coffee." It's about how corporations are distorting the truth and the law to limit the rights of people hurt by corporations. We think it is a must-see film!

If you've been following our reporting on the American Legislative Exchange Council, you know that the first bill ALEC alumnus Scott Walker signed into law this year was far-reaching, so-called "tort reform" legislation that echoed some key ALEC model provisions and limited the rights of Wisconsin citizens injured or killed by corporations. Recent ALEC award winner Rick Perry, Texas governor and GOP presidential candidate, is touting similar changes he signed into law that protect corporate wrongdoers at the expense of injured Americans.

ALEC and "Tort Reform"

On October 23, 2009, Harrison "Harry" Kothari celebrated his second birthday by blowing out candles on a cake decorated with a giant airplane. At age two, Harry could ride a tricycle, stack blocks, and say words like "mama," "airplane," and "thank you." A month earlier, surgeons at a Houston hospital had removed a benign cyst from Harrison's head without problems. In follow-up visits, nurses drained cerebrospinal fluid to test for infection, and following normal protocol, wiped the area around the drain with what they assumed were sterile alcohol wipes. On December 1, Harry was dead, his tiny brain swollen by a Bacillus cereus infection apparently caused by contaminated alcohol wipes.

Lone Star State "Reform" a Texas-Sized Distortion

When Republicans talk about how the American health care system should be reformed, they typically mention two things: allowing insurance firms to sell policies across state lines, which I wrote about last week; and malpractice reform.

Wendell Potter, former VP of PR for CIGNANewly-elected Republican governors, like Bill Haslam in Tennessee, are also pushing malpractice reform at the state level. They contend that such reform — favored by businesses and medical associations — would not only bring down the costs of health insurance premiums, it would also bring doctors flocking to their states to practice. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who is considering another run for the White House, has touted malpractice reform as one of the primary "solutions" he would pursue if elected president. He claimed during a GOP-sponsored panel last week that malpractice reform would nearly eliminate unnecessary care that results from all those tests doctors order and drugs they prescribe just because they fear being sued. "The cost of defensive medicine," he claimed, "is $800 million a year."

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