Note: This press release was updated on March 10, 2017, to reflect the fact that the bills listed passed the U.S. House of Representatives.
March 10, 2017
Corporate Interests Give Tens of Millions to Dismantle Legal Rights of Consumers and Patients
Lobbying Disclosures Reveal Undermining Accountability Is a Top Priority for Big Business
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Big business spent tens of millions to push extreme legislation intended to block victims’ legal rights to seek justice against corporate recklessness and medical malpractice, a new Public Citizen fact sheet shows.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce led the corporate assault against individuals’ legal rights. The U.S. Chamber and the U.S. Chamber's Institute for Legal Reform reported spending as much as $107 million in the 114th Congress (2015 and 2016) on lobbying including on legislation to undermine victims’ rights.
Other big business spenders that lobbied for legislation to weaken people’s right to hold corporations accountable in court include the National Association of Manufacturers, America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), Honeywell International and Procter & Gamble.
The bills, which House Republicans this week passed, include:
- H.R. 985, the “Fairness in Class Action Litigation Act.” Introduced by U.S. Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), this legislation would raise significant barriers to certifying class actions, making it more difficult to bring cases against toxic polluters and rendering it virtually impossible to bring race and gender discrimination class actions.
- H.R. 906, the “Furthering Asbestos Claim Transparency” (FACT) Act. Introduced by U.S. Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-Texas), this legislation would make it more difficult for victims suffering from lethal diseases caused by asbestos exposure to receive compensation.
- H.R. 720, the “Lawsuit Abuse Reduction Act.” Introduced by U.S. Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), this legislation would make litigation more complicated, costly and inaccessible to consumers and employees.
“Corporate interests are lobbying for legislation to hamstring consumers, workers, small businesses and others from receiving their constitutionally guaranteed day in court and to handcuff judges and juries from doing their jobs,” said Susan Harley, deputy director of Public Citizen’s Congress Watch division. “This is a shameful attempt by big businesses to rig our justice system to benefit themselves while blocking average individuals from achieving justice.”
“These bills present members of Congress with a stark choice: Side with big corporations and the health-industrial complex, which spend tens of millions on campaign contributions and lobbying and against the victims of their wrongdoing; or stand with everyday Americans who deserve and expect the right to go to court when they are injured or ripped off by giant corporations or injured due to medical negligence,” said Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen.
Read the fact sheet.
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