Fundamentally Un-Fair

I remember reading that one of the reasons for the 1773 Boston Tea Party was the idea of “taxation without representation.”  It sounded unfair when I heard about it as a kid (probably because of the way the teacher presented it) and I regard it, still, as a Fundamentally un-fair way to govern.

Fast-forward to the second half of the twentieth century when product liability laws were enacted. I am not a lawyer but my understanding is that these laws essentially say: 1) the product will perform as advertised and 2) will not harm the purchaser if used in the manner intended.

Enter the Obama administrations handling of the Chrysler bail-out/marriage to Fiat.  Basically, Obama is saying that the need to keep Chrysler going trumps all the injuries cause by an alleged faulty product.

From WCVB-TV in Boston:

An aspiring model, Donia Kerrigan, of Scarborough, Maine, is just learning she won’t have the right to sue Chrysler. Her left arm was amputated in a crash. She claims a defective seat belt and air bag in her Jeep are to blame.

Each year Chrysler pays about $250 million to settle lawsuits brought by accident victims — like the owners of Jeeps that suddenly went into reverse after being put into park. But in the bankruptcy deal fast tracked by the Obama Administration, the victims are considered unsecured creditors, receiving no special treatment.

“(They are) the most vulnerable group that really needs help and they are being (crossed) out of this completely,” product safety expert Sean Kane said.

In Washington, victims and consumer groups expressed their outrage. Jeremy Warner’s two legs were burned off when an allegedly defective plastic brake fluid container on his Jeep Wrangler caught fire.

“I had a pending personal injury product liability law suit against Chrysler that, due to the way the bankruptcy plan was written, has been eliminated,” he said.

If you buy a product and you get injured using it, you should have your day in court.  Maybe you were wrong in your usage or maybe the product was defective.  At any rate, elemental fairness dictates that we let a judge and jury decide.

Anything less weakens our respect for the rule of law.  It undermines our respect for all elements of government just as much as the Bush administration and all the neo-cons did with their torture enhanced interrogation techniques and extrordinary rendition.

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