Many in Wisconsin are upset over tort reform bills in consideration under a special legislative session that is intended to focus on jobs creation. Why Governor Scott Walker included these bills under jobs creation is difficult to understand. The bills do not create jobs or help the public in any way.
According to the JSOnline, the online publication from Milwaukee’s Journal Sentinel, Sen. Rich Zipperer (R-City of Pewaukee) submitted the bills in question. He proposes that pharmaceutical and manufacturing companies involved in marketing defective medical devices and drugs should be immune from lawsuits as long as the FDA approved the medical products. He also wishes to put a cap on attorney fees.
Those who support the bills, including the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), say consumers can file lawsuits against doctors, drug companies and medical device manufacturers too easily. Opponents see the tort reform bill for what it is – another way for big corporations and insurance companies to evade justice when they injure patients.
Bills Favor Drug and Medical Device Companies, Put Consumers at Risk
One bill includes a proposal that would grant manufacturers of drugs and medical devices immunity from lawsuits when the drug or device in question was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The opposition points to the numerous FDA-approved products that have injured and killed patients. Such a law would be recklessly unfair to injured patients, barring them from compensation.
The FDA’s bias towards approving devices and drugs under manufacturer pressure is well documented. The law would remove the only fallback available for patients who suffer from weaknesses in the FDA approval system.
Mike End is president of the Wisconsin Association for Justice, a group representing plaintiff’s attorneys. He points out that the FDA recalled more than 30 drugs for safety reasons between 1980 and 2007. Under the proposed bill, those injured or killed by the defective drugs would have had no right to compensation for their injuries.
“This bill brings zero jobs,” noted End. “All that it’s doing is preventing people injured by defective products from even getting into the courthouse doors if they have been approved by the FDA.”
Zipperer also wants to limit attorney fees charged to an opposing side. He suggests a cap of three times the compensatory damages. Such a proposal would make it impossible for consumers to file suit on smaller complaints. Sarah Orr, director of the Consumer Law Clinic at the University of Wisconsin Law School, said it best. “If attorneys can’t get paid …the consumer is going to be left out of the court system.”
If you or someone you love has been injured due to a defective medical product, you may be eligible to receive compensation for your suffering. Contact our experienced attorneys right away to receive a free consultation of your case. The time to file a claim is limited, so act now.