Trial Lawyers' Relentless War On Manufacturers Kills Jobs, Lowers Standards Of Living

Tuesday, November 07, 2017

Linda Kelly | Investor's Business Daily | November 7, 2017

Trial lawyers are waging a reckless assault against American manufacturers in pursuit of a fat payday for themselves. If successful, their relentless quest will have enormous consequences for American workers, shareholders, and consumers.

These legal crusaders want you to believe we can't have a strong American manufacturing base and an improved environment. Reality check: Across the board, concentrations of every single major air pollutant have dropped dramatically and will continue to do so.

The U.S. has reduced more greenhouse gases (GHG) than any other nation on earth. Manufacturers have done our part, reducing GHG emissions by 10% since 2005, while our contribution to the economy grew by 19%. Manufacturers are committed to climate action and are actively crafting solutions to this complex global challenge. 

For these lawyers, that's not enough. They want to go farther — to blame you for imperiling our children's future. Are these lawyers doing this out of some sort of civic responsibility? Hardly. They want to line their pockets on the backs of American workers and consumers.

About 10 years ago, enterprising plaintiffs' lawyers and radical activists tried to use the courts to extort money from energy producers under the guise of a climate lawsuit. Climate change is a challenge we take seriously, especially for communities in vulnerable locations. Sadly, the trial lawyers' lawsuit wasn't about solving the problem: It was about money.

In 2008, trial lawyer Matthew Pawa filed suit to get a large share of any award to an Alaskan town, claiming that by making and selling gas for your car and electricity to heat your home, manufacturers had created a "public nuisance."

Not surprisingly, the legal theory was soundly rejected by the courts at every level, including the U.S. Supreme Court.

But trial lawyers are at it again with the help of environmental activists willing to say and do anything it takes to win — this time with the cities of San Francisco and Oakland, again represented by Matthew Pawa. These activists and lawyers are backed by deep pockets with an aggressive, harmful and hidden agenda to again seek monetary damages from manufacturers under a public nuisance theory.

Manufacturers are confident that the courts will once again dismiss these efforts, and see these lawsuits for what they are — legal attacks aimed at punishing an industry they don't like. But manufacturers continue to be harassed by politically-motivated legal officers operating with impunity beyond the reach of the courts.

Frivolous lawsuits instigated by plaintiffs' lawyers like Pawa and his firm and politically motivated investigations are more than just a distraction.

Manufacturers' jobs are on the line when lawyers run up litigation costs that can't go into a worker's paycheck. And every dollar spent defending against meritless attacks is a dollar not spent on innovation and game-changing revolutions that make our world healthier and communities safer.

If this effort to scapegoat the responsible production of the lifeblood of our economy is successful, it will be an invitation to a litigation free-for-all targeting anyone who makes anything in America, seeking to cast blame while extracting a payday.

But the only people who will really pay will be the Americans who make things and the families who rely on the things manufacturers make to enhance their environment and lives.

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