Would you be surprised to learn there is a powerful lobby working to limit your access to the legal system? It happens to be the same lobby working to convince the American people that all lawsuits filed against corporations are frivolous and take away jobs. If you’ve heard propaganda like this, chances are it was funded by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce; specifically, the powerful corporations that make up its Institute for Legal Reform (ILR).
In a new eye-opening report “Do As I Say, Not As I Sue,” the American Association for Justice (AAJ) shows the hypocrisy of 10 of the largest and most influential corporate members of the ILR. These are companies that regularly use the legal system to advance their own agendas (often through lawsuits that would be judged as frivolous by any standard), while at the same time advocating legislation that would close the courthouse doors to anyone seeking to hold major corporations accountable for their own wrongdoing.
Some of the examples we found particularly amusing and egregious:
- FedEx sues man who built furniture such as a bed and a chair from their boxes.
- Caterpillar, one of ILR’s board members, sued Disney because it felt the depiction of bulldozers in the straight-to-video movie George of the Jungle 2 was overly villainous.
- Johnson & Johnson used the civil justice system to take on the Red Cross for using the red cross symbol on disaster relief kits.
These lawsuits can sound ridiculous, but they have one thing in common: the companies that are filing them have a Constitutional right to do so. The hypocrisy of these companies is that even as they file these lawsuits, they are members of the ILR’s board, whose sole purpose is to deny regular people their jury trial rights, especially when they are severely harmed or killed by the companies’ products and services.
If you’d like to get the full story, and not just the version the Chamber of Commerce has paid money for you to hear, we encourage you to read the AAJ’s report.