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Earlier this month, the US Chamber of Commerce continued its campaign to distort the truth and to distract consumers from the real problems facing the American court system. The Chamber of Commerce is a lobbying group for some of the country’s biggest corporate entities, and devotes much time and energy to various schemes designed to limit consumers’ access to the courts. The most recent spin campaign came in the form of a list published as the “10 most egregious examples of frivolous and abusive litigation”. The Chamber published this list to try and lend credence to their perennial claim that the court system is full of frivolous lawsuits, and that the cost of such litigation is devastating to small business owners in America.
Consumers’ rights watchdog group Public Citizen looked into the 10 cases mentioned, and found that in fact not a single one of them was filed against a small business. Beyond that, it turns out that eight out of the ten had been dismissed or withdrawn from the courts almost immediately. And to top it all off, not a single case from the list had resulted in an award to the plaintiff. Public Citizen’s Taylor Lincoln wrote a terrific blog about this which you can link to here. The little bit of fact-checking that Public Citizen did easily put the lie to the Chamber’s ridiculous claims. Our court system recognized that these 10 cases were frivolous, and they were weeded out accordingly in short order. None of the 10 “most egregious” lawsuits had been filed against small businesses to begin with, and none of them had the “devastating impact” on society that the Chamber of Commerce claims. Taylor Lincoln rightly points out that the true intent of this list must have been to serve as “a sideshow intended to distract people from the most important abuses in the courts…for example, the unprecedented flood of fraudulent filings by mortgage servicers…..that deliberately falsified paperwork they submitted to the courts in order to unjustly kick people out of their homes”.
The Chamber’s list of “ridiculous lawsuits” is part of an ongoing campaign to make average citizens believe that our court system is overrun with frivolous lawsuits that burden our courts and harm small businesses. When citizens fall for this disingenuous argument, they vote to enact “tort reforms” designed to infringe on our basic rights as American citizens. When those citizens later find themselves the victim of physical or economic damages as a result of corporate wrongdoing, they may find that they have been duped by propaganda into voting away their own rights and have no legal recourse. To point out that ten court cases were filed in a given year which seemed absurd on their face, and were then dismissed or withdrawn from the courts, does nothing to prove the Chamber’s point about meritless litigation and its costs to society. It just goes to show how desperate the corporate entities that make up the US Chamber of Commerce are to deny Americans their right to seek justice in the courts. That the Chamber of Commerce has invested untold sums of money and years of public relations work into these deliberately misleading ”spin” campaigns speaks volumes about their true goal, and about how much they would pay to attain it. That goal is nothing less than the harsh infringement, if not complete elimination, of American consumers’ legal rights.