Thanks to the civil justice system, hundreds of thousands of lives have been saved and injuries prevented because wrongdoers have been forced into changing their bad behavior. Because of those who courageously exercise their Constitutional right to a day in court, unscrupulous corporations have been forced to make their products safer and take dangerous ones off the market.
The Center for Justice & Democracy’s 2016 Guide to Lawsuits That Protect Us All states “One of the hallmarks of the jury system is that jurors are randomly chosen and then fade anonymously back into the community. They are immune from the kind of influence-peddling that can infect the political system and the other branches of government. That is why, for two centuries, civil jurors have provided a check on official or arbitrary misuse of power, corporate abuses that threaten the public welfare, violations of civil liberties and civil rights and even the actions of violent criminals when, as often happens, the criminal justice system fails victims.”
It’s in that spirit, then that consumer attorneys pressure corporations to improve their products by fighting for financial compensation for victims who were harmed through little or no fault of their own. Litigation helps to illuminate safety issues and shoddy manufacturing while forcing improvements and getting dangerous products off the market.
Here are some of the products made safer because of the civil justice system.
Families Push Government Watchdogs to Take Action on Opioid Crisis
As thousands of moms, dads, sons, daughters, sisters, and brothers died from opioid-related overdoses – estimated at roughly 70,000 people yearly – family members were left to pick up the pieces. Many turned to local, state, and tribal governments for help, which prompted legal action against the drug makers, pharmacies, consultants, and individuals profiting from billions in opioid sales.
A settlement reached with Purdue Pharma dissolved the company and transferred all its assets to a trust organization dedicated to treating opioid addiction. Internal documents uncovered during the trial of Purdue Pharma showed that the company continued to mislead regulators, doctors, and patients about the addictiveness of OxyContin even after several executives pleaded guilty to defrauding the public.
Dietary Supplement Causes Life-Threatening Stroke
In December 1998, 31-year-old Todd Weger, a career soldier and Gulf War veteran, collapsed on a treadmill at a local health club in Texas and suffered a massive stroke after periodically using Ultimate Orange – a dietary supplement containing the central nervous system supplement ephedra – for almost two years. He underwent three major brain surgeries in four days, during which time he lapsed into a coma, and later had a substantial portion of his brain removed, leaving him permanently disabled.
As part of a $4 million settlement, Next Proteins agreed to remove from its
promotional materials all claims or inferences that Ultimate Orange had been
approved by the FDA and all references that Ultimate Orange should be combined with other products to enhance its stimulant effects. Next Proteins also agreed to replace Ultimate Orange’s label with simple accurate language about its ingredients. In addition, as part of the settlement, Next Nutrition agreed to test incoming raw ingredients for ephedrine compounds and “change the label and promotional materials of the ephedrine-containing products to reflect an appropriate warning of the potential dangers of heart attack and stroke.” Three months after settling the suit, Next Nutrition stopped selling Ultimate Orange.
Anti-Arthritis Drug Caused Debilitating Illnesses or Death
Eli Lilly & Co. began to sell Oraflex abroad in October 1980 and in the United States
in May 1982. After 61 reported deaths in connection with the drug, British officials banned it on August 4, 1982. When the FDA approved Oraflex on April 19, l982, Eli Lilly failed to tell the agency that company executives knew of over 30 overseas deaths linked to the drug.
In one case, 81-year-old Lola Jones died after taking Oraflex. Preliminary court papers revealed that Dr. Ian H. Shedden, former Lilly vice president and chief medical officer, knew of 29 overseas deaths associated with Oraflex yet withheld this information from the FDA. At trial, Lilly Chairman and CEO Robert D. Wood admitted that the company knew of at least five European deaths but denied any misconduct. However, Wood had conceded to stockholders that the drug’s promotional campaign went “beyond the bounds of good practice” in making claims of safety and efficacy. The jury awarded $6 million to Jones’ son.
As a result of this lawsuit, Lilly and its executives were held criminally responsible.
In cooperation with the Department of Justice, Lilly pleaded guilty and Shedden pleaded no contest to misdemeanor charges of mislabeling and failing to report fatal side effects and illnesses related to Oraflex. Lilly and Shedden also agreed to a $40,000 fine.
Standing Strong for Your Constitutional Rights
Civil lawsuits are one of the best tools to fight outrageous conduct, help change the law, and make the world a safer place. Our right to accountability through the Seventh Amendment exists to expose those responsible and help all of us begin our long national journey toward healing and recovery. If you’re ready to take a stand and wish to discuss the specifics of your case in a free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer, please contact us today.