In a recent article on Forbes entitled The Supreme Court Must Stop The Trial Lawyers’ War on Innovation, Theodore H. Frank argues that trial attorneys are stifling company innovation. Frank misses the mark in his corporately-funded argument in that these litigations are actually, and should be, fueling innovation, rather than stifling it.
There is a case soon to be reviewed by the U.S. Supreme Court called Sears v. Butler. The case concerns product defects in Whirlpool front-loading washing machines which have been found to produce mold in certain instances. Frank uses the case to bolster his feeble argument and coddle American corporations by saying that “invitations for class action lawsuits on behalf of the uninjured would devastate product creators of all kinds and leave no company anywhere eager to innovate in the United States.”
Let’s say we do live in Frank’s insane world and that assertion is true; companies would then be ignoring a golden opportunity to spend more on research and development to ensure production and sale of a rock-solid, defect-free product.
But no matter, that should be the case regardless of what reality we live in, Frank’s Twilight Zone or otherwise. That extra expenditure could possibly save companies from having to fork out millions to billions on lawsuits birthed from their own negligence. As the corporate fatties say, “you have to spend money to make money,” right? But rather than do that and avoid potential lawsuits, companies sling under-researched and underdeveloped products onto the market.
And speaking of spending money, The Manhattan Institute of Policy Research (MIPR), the organization for whom Theodore Frank is an adjunct fellow, has received some handsome donations from ExxonMobil, Earhart Foundation, and none other than the Koch Brothers. From 2006 to 2010, the MIPR received over $1.3 million from corporate donors. In short, Frank is nothing but a pen-puppet for Corporate America.
Frank is blathering what the corporations, who are paying the MIPR, want the public to believe. Corporate America wants the public to buy its empty proclamations that they are looking out for the best interests of the consumer. But they have been outed time and time again for reckless greed, whether it be willfully putting out products without proper, self-conducted testing or skirting dangerous medications or medical products by the Food and Drug Administration, dodging proper approval.
Joshua de Leon is a writer and researcher with Ring of Fire.