The Wall Street Journal has published an opinion piece by a trial lawyer making the case for product liability trial attorneys who help keep manufacturers of defective products on their toes.
In the wake of the Toyota scandal, this much is clear. American consumers can expect little protection from agencies charged with the responsibility of keeping them safe. These agencies including the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the Consumer Product Safety Commission and the Food And Drug Administration are supposed to monitor defective products, and pressure companies to pull them off the market as soon as manufacturers become aware of such defects.
All that is in theory. In reality, these agencies battle a wide range of problems that include funding shortages, staffing crunches, agency infighting and disagreement, allegations of corruption, conflict of interest and other symptoms of malaise that limit their abilities to protect the American consumer.
Take how the NHTSA has responded to the problem of unintended acceleration in Toyota vehicles. The agency has had numerous opportunities to recall models that were being linked to complaints of sudden acceleration. Complaints involving sudden acceleration have not surfaced over the past year. They have been steadily streaming in over the past five years at least. It was only after the death of four people in a Lexus accident in California last year that the agency finally seemed to wake from its slumber.
Similar lax attitudes have permeated the Food and Drug Administration, and the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Unsafe pharmaceutical drugs and defective medical devices have injured thousands of people over the past few years. Dangerous lead-tainted toys manufactured overseas have been allowed to reach the hands of children, causing several injuries and fatalities.
These agencies need plenty of funding and resources to help them discharge their duties properly. It’s fair to say those resources will not be arriving soon, as the federal administration grapples with a recession and a budget deficit. In a situation like this, it becomes the responsibility of trial lawyers in Atlanta and around the country to champion the cause of consumer justice, and protect consumers from dangerous products. That is an argument that even the tort reform lobby will not be able to refute.