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Scott Walkers crazy SB1 and SB2 the first day he was in office is what started me on my pursuit for information on the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) .  Unbeknownst to all of us at the time – Walker was being the “poster child” of ALEC with those two pieces of Wisconsin ALEC pro-business legislation.

Last month Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton vetoed ALEC’s pro-business tort reform legislation that was passed by the Minnesota legislature.  At the time he made the statement he was holding up an ALEC publication.

The ALEC pro-business tort reform legislation is passed out to ALEC members in that ALEC publication being held up by Governor Dayton.

The State Legislator’s Guide: Tort Reform Boot Camp

More below the squiggle...

The ALEC pro-business tort reform legislation is passed out to ALEC members in the ALEC publication.

The State Legislator’s Guide: Tort Reform Boot Camp

There’s a lot of pro-business tort reform in that publication – too much for one entry  – but today I want to take a couple of the items and point them toward ALEC’s war on women.

Caps on Non-Economic Damages:  Placing caps on the amount that can be recovered for non-economic losses can be an effective way of rationing damages to avoid excessive awards. ALEC’s Non-Economic

Damages Awards Act would cap non-economic damages at $250,000.

ALEC developed the Reliability in Expert Testimony Standards Act to help states align themselves with the fairer federal standard and to keep junk science from bringing about poor verdicts in state courts.

Class Actions Improvements Act: Class action cases have been a tool for “regulation through litigation,” the use of the legal system to coerce industries to regulate themselves for fear of litigation.

ALEC developed the Class Actions Improvements Act to reign in the abuse of the class action mechanism

My questions on these three items have always been:
If a business causes you irreparable harm – including death:
   *  How much do you think your life is worth?  Is $250,000 what your life is worth?
   *  Who determines what the “real science” is – right wing extremists
       like the Reason Foundation, the Heritage Foundation, or the
       Cato Institute in coordination with ALEC
       corporate profit sector members?
   *  Why should industry not be held “in fear” of the possibility of litigation?  
       If they cause irreparable harm or death – are we suppose to
       let them decide the consequences for their harmful actions?

Well on to the next point.

According to ALEC in a 1998 "Issues Analysis":

The recent failure of the United States Senate to invoke cloture on a modest federal product liability bill, despite bipartisan sponsorship and support, has focused renewed attention on the efficacy of one of the most visible single-issue special interest groups in our nation’s capital, and in most statehouses – the plaintiff bar, better known as trial lawyer.
And what are some of the things these horrible trial lawyers working on?

Just to name a few – I can’t do them all, there’s too many :

Takeda Pharmaceuticals

ACTOS is a prescription medication used with diet and exercise to improve blood sugar (glucose) control in adults with type 2 diabetes.

Several recent studies have shown a much stronger link between Actos and bladder cancer than was indicated during clinical trials.

Roche Pharmaceuticals
Accutane (isotretinoin) is a strong oral medication used in the treatment of severe acne in patients who have not had success with other skin treatments. Initially used as a chemotherapy agent to treat cancer patients, researchers noted the ability of the medication to treat whiteheads, red pimples and blackheads associated with acne.

Serious side effects such as liver disease, depression and ulcerative colitis have been linked to Accutane use.

DePuy (a Division of Johnson & Johnson)
Complications involvingthe DePuy ASR XL Acetabular System total hip replacement and ASR Hip Resurfacing System have prompted hundreds of patients to file lawsuits against DePuy Orthopaedics, the manufacturer of the hip devices
Bayer Pharmaceuticals
Women who have experiencedthe following conditions due to the use of Yaz or Yasmin may be entitled to compensation:
    •Gallbladder disease
    •Heart attack
    •Deep vein thrombosis
    •Pulmonary embolism
Abbott Pharmaceuticals
Depakote, an anticonvulsant commonly used to treat epilepsy, bipolar disorder and other psychiatric conditions, has recently been linked to an increased risk of several birth defects when taken during pregnancy.
Boehringer Ingelheim
Pradaxa® has been prescribed as part of an overall treatment regimen for reducing the risk of stroke and blood clots (systemic embolism) in patients with non-valvular atrial fibrillation since October 2010.

People taking Pradaxa® may have suffered from an increased risk of serious bleeding events, heart attack or acute coronary syndrome. The FDA recently announced its ongoing analysis of a possible link between Pradaxa® and an increased incidence of serious bleeding events based on post-marketing adverse event reports.

Although Pradaxa® continues to remain on the shelves of drug stores in the United States, the drug is under an ongoing investigation by the FDA. The European Medicine Agency is also conducting its own evaluation of the risk of serious bleeding events associated with Pradaxa® based on adverse event reports since the drug's launch.

I’ve bolded and italicized the companies that have been found to be affiliated with ALEC.

And then there are these little bits of relevant information that are directly related to the lawsuits above and pertain to women.

Diabetes:The prevalence of diabetes is at least 2 – 4 times higher among African American, Hispanic/Latino, American Indian, and Asian/Pacific Islander women than among white women.  The risk for diabetes also increases with age. Because of the increasing lifespan of women and the rapid growth of minority populations, the number of women in the United States at high risk for diabetes and its complications is increasing.

Severe Acne:  For many women, acne can be an upsetting illness. Women may have feelings of depression, poor body image, or low self-esteem. But you don't have to wait to outgrow acne or to let it run its course. Today, almost every case of acne can be resolved. Acne also can, sometimes, be prevented. Talk with your doctor or dermatologist (a doctor who specializes in treating skin problems) about how you can help prevent acne and if treatment would help you.
Hip Replacements:  Arthritis is the leading cause of joint replacements. And because women have higher rates of arthritis than men, some 60% of joint replacement surgeries are performed on women.

Pregnancy: 100% women
Stroke:  •425,000 women suffer from stroke each year, 55,000 more than men.
Blood Clots:  Men may actually have a higher overall risk of thrombosis than women, but women have risks due to pregnancy, birth control and postmenopausal hormone therapy that men do not. These risks are generally attributed to estrogen, a key ingredient in birth control pills, patches, and rings, and in postmenopausal hormone therapy.
Then you have these quick snips about people who seek medical care:
It may come as a complete surprise to you to find out that women pay much more for the same health insurance coverage than men of the same age.

Some studies – cited by health insurance companies – show that women aged 19 to 55 are responsible for needing much more healthcare than men of nearly any age group.

Ironically, because women are more conscious of their healthcare and visit doctors more regularly than men, health insurers charge that they cost more to insure than men.

Therefore it could be deduced that because women go to the doctor more often they  will be prescribed pharmaceuticals and medical devices earlier than men and more than men – because women seek medical care more often.

I hope that what has been posted above will help to illustrate with facts and examples the statements that were posted today in an opinion piece on Reuters.

Although I am only giving you snips from the article - I strongly recommend you take the time to read the whole thing.

The secretive corporate outfit behind ‘Stand Your Ground’
By Joanne DoroshowApril 13, 2012

In fact, preventing access to the civil courts for everyday Americans is a pervasive theme that runs through ALEC’s entire, corporate-backed agenda. ALEC has an entire division devoted just to preventing injured people from holding wrongdoers accountable in court. Its very active Civil Justice Task Force is co-chaired by Victor Schwartz, general counsel of the American Tort Reform Association, a corporate group seeking to limit the liability of its corporate members.

The problem with these laws is not only that they allow wrongdoers to escape accountability for what they do. They also discriminate on the basis of race, gender, age and income,   ...  

When a bill passed Congress in 1996 that would make it more difficult to bring negligent product manufacturers to court (similar to various ALEC bills), President Bill Clinton vetoed the bill, stating that the legislation’s focus on non-economic damages was “especially unfair to senior citizens, women, children, who have few economic damages, and poor people.”

Women are also disproportionately harmed by ALEC “tort” legislation. Some ALEC bills would go even further than federal bills and completely immunize the pharmaceutical industry for manufacturing unsafe drugs and medical devices, which they’ve brought to market under lax government rules. .

University of Buffalo law professor Lucinda Finley, who has written extensively about jury verdicts, found that: “Reproductive or sexual harm caused by drugs and medical devices has a highly disproportionate impact on women, because far more drugs and devices have been devised to control women’s fertility or bodily functions associated with sex and childbearing than have been devised for men.”

History shows that many such drugs and devices were made safer only after women and their families filed lawsuits against those responsible. Immunizing the pharmaceutical industry means that women will no longer have any recourse. The same can certainly be said for the increasingly medicine-dependent senior citizen population.

About this time last year - ALEC sent out a letter to their state chairs noting members of the DK Exposing ALEC and Abolish ALEC groups as "radical opponents".  I wear that title proudly and I hope each and everyone of you will continue to join us in being radical opponents to the heinous and despicable organization – ALEC.

In closure I would like to snip and rephrase an earlier ALEC quote as the focus of our attention:

 …  one of the most visible multi-issue special interest groups in our nation’s capital, and in most statehouses – the American Legislative Exchange Council, better known as ALEC.

Originally posted to MNDem999 on Fri Apr 13, 2012 at 05:45 PM PDT.

Also republished by American Legislative Transparency Project.

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Comment Preferences

  •  ALEC has declared war on people.. (8+ / 0-)

    we should return the favor.

    This Rover crossed over.. Willie Nelson

    by Karl Rover on Fri Apr 13, 2012 at 05:56:20 PM PDT

  •  Thank You - N/T (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    "Upward, not Northward" - Flatland, by EA Abbott

    by linkage on Fri Apr 13, 2012 at 08:12:54 PM PDT

  •  Nice post MNDem999. Getting the word out (3+ / 0-)

    in articles like this helps illuminate the vast scope and breadth of ALEC anti-consumer and anti-Citizen activity.

    The more information that gets out about ALEC, the worse they look to American VOTERS, who hold the ultimate power of the ballot box to eliminate ALEC legislative members.  Only a mass removal of ALEC Legislative Members at the polls will sap the power of ALEC over our nation's citizens.  ALEC has a 38 year head start over those of us who oppose ALEC and its insidous tenacles into every aspect of American life.

    They have 39 years in business putting anti citizen legislation into 50 state capitols and the Capitol in Washington.  It is time to first end ALEC's influence, then end ALEC.

    Republicans are like alligators. All mouth and no ears.

    by Ohiodem1 on Fri Apr 13, 2012 at 11:22:36 PM PDT

    •  Mass removal of ALEC Legislative Members ... (4+ / 0-)

      Re-election of ALEC members is not an option - I don't care who they are or what their past record has been.  They are ALEC and that is all they are.

      To me - that is the only goal.  If there are no legislators to wine/dine and hand pro-business legislation to - - ALEC's purpose ceases to exist.  Cause for now... the profit sector members of ALEC can't write "model legislation" and get it passed at the state and federal levels -  without having legislators acting as "circus monkeys" jumping/dancing around to their pro-business tune.

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

  •  I'm not sure (0+ / 0-)

    that you can really chalk this all up to a (conscious) war on women, but the issue you raise is very real.  Full disclosure, I previously worked at a subsidiary of one of the firms you mentioned.  The structure of regulation in the RX sector is such that there's a reliance on litigation to deal with these issues. Litigation is the flipside of an under-powered system of government regulation, and it limits action to those who can afford it.  Thus, if your product primarily impacts those who can't afford to take private action.

    This is a highly dysfunctional system.  Trial lawyers play an important role here in providing access to low-income groups through contingency fees, however the system relies on a lot of chance events coinciding in order for product issues to be caught before they've done a lot of harm to a lot of people.

    As the regulatory system (for example the FDA) works now the focus is on catching companies when they've: 1) have put out a bad product, and 2) have become aware that consumers have had an issue with this product.  Absent that second factor, "becoming aware" the range of action that is available to regulators is limited.  The real issue is that understaffing and overwork in the section of corporations that deal with customers dramatically reduce the probability that they will "become aware" of an issue.  

    Refocus regulation on strengthening the operations of corporations that allow them to "become aware" of product issues, and you allow them to be handled in house by government regulators instead of outsourcing regulation to trial lawyers. Moreover, you mitigate products issues before they cause harm to consumers instead of compelling litigation as the only way to hold firms accountable.

    by ManfromMiddletown on Sat Apr 14, 2012 at 11:10:01 AM PDT

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