Last week, the Detroit Free Press published an op-ed by Sally Pipes, CEO of the Pacific Research Institute, actually supporting pharmaceutical giant Wyeth’s claim in the Supreme Court case, Wyeth v. Levine. Interestingly, Ms. Harris draws a connection between Wyeth, arguably the most important consumer rights case to be heard this term, and Democratic ties to the tort bar. While we are hardly surprised by the attempt to smear both the Democratic Party and tort lawyers, the case has little to do with their relationship.
Ms. Levine sued Wyeth pharmaceuticals herself, without any nudging from the tort bar or the Democratic Party. She did so originally, not to push an agenda, but simply to hold Wyeth responsible for the tragic loss of her arm, and her livelihood. It wasn’t until Wyeth, with the support of conservative groups like the Chamber of Commerce, attempted to have the case dismissed under the guise of federal “preemption,” that Ms. Levine took up the cause, fighting for the protection of all consumers and their freedom to hold corporations accountable for their actions.
Ms. Pipes would have you believe that all liability suits are simply ways for greedy tort lawyers to squeeze money out of defenseless businesses. While that might play well in her circles, the truth is that many of these lawyers are the only line of defense for average Americans, harmed by products marketed by these corporate titans. And while the Food and Drug Administration is responsible for ensuring a minimum level of safety for medications, like the one at issue in this case, it simply does not have the resources to bear that responsibility alone.
Ms. Pipes suggest that Wyeth is an opportunity to rein in a society that has become overly litigious. In reality, it is simply an effort by conservatives to provide blanket immunity to their favorite donor base, big business. And if successful, it is us, regular Americans, like Diana Levine, who will pay the ultimate price. Watch our film, Access Denied, to learn more about Ms. Levine’s story, and sign our petition to ensure corporate accountability. Make sure that Ms. Levine, and all of us, do not have the doors of justice slammed shut before us.