Product Liability

Public health and safety often sacrificed for pro-business legislation

What’s good for business isn’t always good for the average American taxpayer.

Ken Sobel, a civil attorney and a member of the Florida Justice Association’s Board of Directors, recently wrote an editorial for South Florida’s Sun-Sentinel, calling attention to a number of bills pending in the Florida legislature that favor corporate interests at the expense of public safety and taxpayer money.

According to Sobel, in the bills currently being considered by the Florida legislature, “corporate responsibility gets reduced, people get injured, and the state’s tax payers are being called upon to pay for the increased medical expenses that will follow.”

One such bill would legalize the pre-incident release forms parents sign so that their children can participate in certain activities. If the bill passes, parents will be stripped of their right to take legal action and seek compensation in the event their children are injured, even if negligence is clearly a factor.

As Sobel says, “consider the carnival operator who, shielded from liability, doesn’t check the rollercoaster cables as often or the go-kart operator who doesn’t check for broken lug nuts on the cars’ wheels.”

“Even summer camps that hire known pedophiles will be exempted from accountability. When these amusements hurt Florida’s children, who will pay to take care of them? More often than not, our tax dollars will foot the bill in the form of Medicaid,” Sobel added.

Other profits-over-safety legislation would give car companies such as Toyota and others lots of incentive to make their cars less safe. One bill would allow the inclusion of standard safety devices in automobiles, such as airbags, to effectively preempt the consumer’s right to be compensated in the event he or she is injured, even when the safety device proves to be defective.

Another bill would allow businesses to stop implementing safety protocols, such as regular floor sweeps and inspections, presumably so they can save money.

In tough economic times, everyone, including companies, craves the security a little extra money can bring. But some legislators have been fooled into believing that the benefits businesses receive by being let off the hook in matters of safety and liability will somehow trickle down to the consumer in the form of jobs and job security. Unfortunately, excusing companies from liability only allows companies to harm and kill everyday Americans with impunity, and in the end the American government and taxpayer are stuck with the bill.