Before journalists wrote about it, before NHTSA investigated it, before Congress was concerned about it, the civil justice system was working to unveil the truth about tire tread separation tragedies.
The enormous power of our civil justice system to discover the truth and protect consumers was soundly demonstrated when victims of the Firestone/Ford tire tread separation accidents began seeking justice in the courts. The civil justice system sounded the alarm on the problem, began the process of holding the companies legally accountable for their actions, compensated victims, and by forcing the companies to come forward, prevented even more tragedies from occurring. Consider the following:
IT WAS THE CIVIL JUSTICE SYSTEM THAT FIRST ALERTED AMERICA TO THE PROBLEM.
The first lawsuits were filed in 1992, serving notice to Ford and Firestone that others knew there was a serious problem. Over the course of a decade, victims' lawyers unearthed and worked to expose documents - which Firestone and Ford fought to keep secret - that are now being used to warn drivers around the world of these defective tires and to alert all concerned about the companies' knowledge of the dangers.
IT WAS THE CIVIL JUSTICE SYSTEM THAT FIRST HELD WRONGDOERS ACCOUNTABLE.
By January 2000, Firestone had paid at least $3 million to deal with its lethal tire tread separation problems. The amounts paid by Ford are as yet unknown, but one thing is certain - lawsuits brought by crash victims have hit the companies where it hurts - their profits.
IT WAS THE CIVIL JUSTICE SYSTEM THAT FIRST TOOK CARE OF VICTIMS.
The civil justice system forced Ford and Firestone to compensate those who had been injured by the companies' irresponsible behavior. Settlements paid by the companies have already helped devastated victims get their lives back in order - and have given them a measure of justice.
IT WAS THE CIVIL JUSTICE SYSTEM THAT FIRST PREVENTED FURTHER TRAGEDIES.
No one outside of Ford and Firestone had publicly tracked incidents of tire tread separation, and those companies chose not to share that information with the American people or their government. Without the lawsuits filed by victims, a pattern of accidents might never have emerged, the press might never have reported on the danger to consumers, and America's drivers might never have been alerted to these lethal hazards on the road.
THE BOTTOM LINE
An unfettered civil justice system roots out dangers, holds people and corporations accountable for creating those dangers, compensates those victimized, and prevents others from being hurt by those dangers. Knowing the power of the civil justice system to protect consumers, why would anyone want to 'reform' it? Could it be that Ford and Firestone, and other corporate behemoths just want to hide the truth and protect their profits from the people they hurt?
WITHOUT THE CIVIL JUSTICE SYSTEM CONSUMERS WOULDN'T HAVE KNOWN THE TRUTH
Republished with the permission of the Association of Trial Lawyers of America.