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Friday, May 21, 2010

For Medtronic, big profits from less jobs and no liability

Medtronic announced a downsizing of 600 jobs in Minnesota, and 1800 worldwide. Overall, at least two-thirds of losses worldwide are in the US. Similar cuts in the last two years have brought a net loss of 500 Minnesota jobs. Despite the company's likely distribution of $900 million in shareholder dividends this year, workers and employees continue to suffer. After the Supreme Court ruling in Riegel v. Medtronic, patients injured by faulty implants and defibrillators manufactured by Medtronic can find no recourse in the courts.

The ruling in Riegel from 2008 is part of a larger trend of rulings that put the interests of big corporations ahead of individuals and consumers. Since Chief Justice Roberts joined the Court, it has taken a much larger number of business cases, from antitrust to securities to shareholder suits – and its sympathy to big business is striking. Forty percent of the cases heard every year by the Roberts Court involve or are significant to big business, up from 30% at the end of Chief Justice Rehnquist’s tenure.

The Supreme Court’s pro-corporate shift is the result of a conservative court packing effort that began during the Reagan administration. A coalition of big business special interest groups engaged in a comprehensive campaign to elevate corporate profits and private wealth over individual rights and personal freedoms as the cornerstones of our legal process. The fruits of their labor have now ripened: of the 30 business cases heard in the 2006-07 term, 22 were decided unanimously in favor of big business, or with just one or two dissenting votes, and against the interests of everyday Americans. In the same term, the conservative U.S. Chamber of Commerce prevailed in 13 out of the 15 cases in which it filed friend-of-the-court briefs representing corporate interests, it highest winning percentage in its 30-year history.

While the Supreme Court may be ruling overwhelmingly in favor of big business at the expense of ordinary Americans, Congress can take action to correct its wrongs . Speedy passage of the Medical Device Safety Act (MDSA), will correct the decision in Riegel v. Medtronic and stop medical device companies from continuing to avoid liability for faulty devices.
Help force Medtronic to put patients before profits: sign our petition urging Congress to pass MDSA.

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