Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Doll Wars: This "Runaway Jury Verdict" Is Just Fine

Last week, a federal jury awarded Mattel $100 million in damages against the designer and company of the rival "Bratz" dolls (click on the title of this post to read the article). The jury concluded that the creator of the dolls stole the idea from Mattel while working there (Mattel had asked the jury for over $1 billion in damages).

Isn't this one of those "runaway jury verdicts that the Chamber of Commerce has been crying about for years? In 2004 and 2005, The Chamber, and its legal arm, known as "The Institute For Legal Reform," spent $102 million in lobbying and a never ending public relations campaign for the sole purpose of passing legislation to limit what individuals can recover from juries at the hands of corporate wrongdoers and insurance companies. This never ending campaign (which, in reality began in the 1950's) has launched phrases like "litigation lottery," "jackpot justice," and the all too familiar "runaway juries."

So, on the heels of this monsterous verdict, one would expect The Chamber to express its usual outrage and demand "reforms" on corporate lawsuits like this one. But here's the catch: you won't hear a peep from The Chamber over this verdict. The reason: it involved large corporations' rights to recover lost profits. The lesson? It's perfectly OK, and downright American, for large corporations to spend millions on lawyers to sue when products like childrens' dolls are stolen in the marketplace.

But when you as an ordinary citizen lose a limb or are sentenced to a wheelchair due to an unsafe or recalled product, suddenly it's different. According to The Chamber, we need "limits" and "caps" and "predictibility" and "certainty" from our justice system, or else it's a "litigation lottery."

See how this works? It's a one way street on the hypocrisy highway, and it's yet another reason why the system is tilted against the individual and in favor of big business and insurance companies.

Sometimes you learn the real stench of an interest group's true colors by what it DOESN'T say.

(visit our website at ww.n-wlaw.com)

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