Wiping out our ability to sue

Discussion in 'Computer Information' started by THEOLDONE, Sep 17, 2004.



    Wiping out our ability to sue

    By Cory Franklin. Cory Franklin is an emergency room physician at Stroger
    Published September 17, 2004

    Imagine for a minute a corporation manufacturing a product that has the
    ability to render everyday items heat resistant. The company produces large
    amounts of the compound and incorporates it into routine use so that it
    becomes a ubiquitous part of the American household.

    But there are clouds on the horizon. Indications arise that, after years of
    use, those involved in the manufacture of the compound develop crippling
    lung disease and unusual cancers that cause slow, painful death. When
    suspicions are confirmed internally, the company makes a fateful
    decision--it suppresses the information, concealing it from its own workers
    and the public.

    For the next 20 years, millions are exposed to the compound until public
    health studies reveal the cause and effect. Ultimately the company, which
    grew wealthy and powerful on the strength of the compound, must face
    thousands of lawsuits and is forced into bankruptcy. In the meantime,
    thousands of people have died, exposed to a product originally thought to be

    This, of course, is the 20th Century story of asbestos.

    But now imagine a twist in the story that never actually happened. What if,
    early on, when it appeared asbestos was a miracle compound, there had been a
    Food and Drug Administration? (Much of this occurred before the FDA was
    created.) And what if, before most of those cancers and pulmonary problems
    had come to light, the FDA--with the backing of the U.S. government, the
    primary consumer of asbestos--declared it to be safe? Is it possible the
    public would still be facing asbestos exposure today?

    It is important to revisit the asbestos story, with the hypothetical FDA
    scenario, because if the Bush administration has its way, there will be no
    lawsuits and limited public discovery about the dangers of prescription
    drugs and medical devices that initially appear safe but ultimately carry
    serious long-term dangers. Lawyers for the U.S. Department of Justice
    recently argued in court that if the FDA has approved a product, people are
    not eligible to recover damages. If a designation of safety by the FDA
    provides an absolute defense against lawsuits, the government is essentially
    bestowing the Holy Grail on pharmaceutical and medical product companies,
    defense lawyers and the insurance industry. No greater gift could come their

    Yet the FDA is not now and never can be the ultimate arbiter of product
    safety for a very simple reason--it can never see into the future. At best,
    the FDA can give only a reasonable indication of a product's current status.
    Completely removing the threat of lawsuits leaves the public vulnerable to
    all sorts of malfeasance and misfeasance.

    Within reason, the government argument has merit. Frivolous litigation does
    discourage companies from introducing new products. Companies forced to
    contend with different rules in different states face increased costs and
    confusion. Clearly, the public is ill-served if new products cannot be made
    available because of litigation fears. Venal attorneys and greedy plaintiffs
    looking for favorable venues and unjustifiable damages will always be with
    us. But all of this simply does not create an imperative for an overly
    expansive policy on legal immunity, especially when a government agency,
    subject to political winds, has the final word on safety.

    If we are meant to understand this new FDA proposal, what Bush officials are
    saying, with an absolutely straight face, is this: "I'm here from the
    government and I can assure you that the medical product you depend on is
    safe. There's no need to worry."

    Strange words coming from a Republican administration. And words that not
    even the most devoted pro-business, anti-trial lawyer,
    medical-innovation-promoting, diehard Chamber-of-Commerce-loving capitalist
    could really believe.

    Copyright © Sept. 17, 2004, Chicago Tribune

    Now their checking the Dangers of using Aspertame and Teflon... and if they
    find that you have put your health and life in jeopardy, you will not be
    able to sue the bastards
    THEOLDONE, Sep 17, 2004
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