There are multiple causes of action in Class Action lawsuits that can be activated against the uncontrolled greed and abuses of conglomerates which mislead consumers to poison themselves and destroy their own micro-environment, including the resources that remain indispensable for our Planet to self-renew and which are inseparable for our own wellbeing.
In most jurisdictions, what is needed to ignite the class action process is to first certify litigation as a class action procedure and make a showing that this legal action will bring “substantial benefits” to the general public. (1)
VARIETY OF CLAIMS
These class action claims can range from wrongful death, products liability, breach of warranty, to false advertisement, fraud, Sherman Anti-trust, consumer protection laws, unjust enrichment, misrepresentation, manslaughter, conspiracy, and, among other causes of action, racketeering (e.g. under the Federal statute called “RICO”, the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act).
In this regard, different class action lawsuits have already been filed invoking some of these causes of legal action. Some have been victorious and while others have not not. Given the pervasiveness of mega-corporation misconduct and criminal malfeasance, the Public should consider the activation of more class action suits and all the more so that they would help to fix the broken Republic while dishing in some extra funds from the collective and punitive damages emanating from mega corporate abuse. (2)
Before doing so and in order to maximize the chances of benefiting from a Plaintiff verdict, it may be useful to know how the system works and what type of legal challenges can surface during litigation.
MOST LEGAL CASES AGAINST BIG BUSINESS ARE LONG DRAWN OUT EXPENSIVE EXPERTISE BATTLES
Most class action lawsuits are based on long drawn out pricy expertise battles regarding which corporate health-care-related and-or products liability Defendants attempt to dissuade any and all Plaintiffs and their attorneys from even considering a lawsuit, given the financial war of attrition that is often used in these cases.
TOBACCO INDUSTRY’S DEFENSE STRATAGEM
Thanks to this attrition strategy, the tobacco industry has historically been largely successful in the litigation process, with the majority of cases being won by the industry. During the first 42 years of tobacco litigation (between 1954 and 1996) the industry maintained a clean record in litigation thanks to tactics described in a R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company internal memo:
“The way we won these cases, to paraphrase General Patton, is not by spending all of Reynolds’ money, but by making the other son of a bitch spend all of his. “ (3).
Once in the litigation arena, Big Tobacco corporate attorneys, just like Big Pharma and Big Agri-business attorneys, often accuse Plaintiffs of being “anti-science” while pleading “scientific doubt” regarding their products (e.g., e-cigarettes, statin drugs, round-up, asbestos, viox, benzene, gmo crops etc), while they continue to willingly disseminate the industry’s misleading propaganda (4) in order to prevail on the basis of a non conclusive preponderance of the scientific evidence. As long as corporate attorneys can introduce an element of doubt in the juror’s mind, they are often exonerated from malfeasance and liability, thanks to which they can reap billions of dollars in sales. Furthermore, just like with Big Pharma and Agri-Business corporations, as long as the Tobacco industry warns the consumer of tobacco’s “side effects” via an understandable disclaimer, Tobacco attorneys are then able to argue that the consumer-plaintiff had full knowledge of what he or she is doing regarding the use of its Government approved products. As a legal consequence, the Defendant attorney can argue that the consumer assumed the side or toxic effects risks.
Today, since 1996, events have evolved and Plaintiff trial strategies have gotten perfected, to the point where the Tobacco Industry has started to lose more of its lawsuits, both individual and class actions, including the last big ones, on civil racketeering, inter alia, filed by the US Department of Justice and most State Attorney generals.
PHARMACEUTICAL AND BIO-TECH CLASS ACTIONS LAWSUITS
The Bio-Tech Merck corporation’s executives have also argued “scientific doubt” while misrepresenting the facts and perpetrating corporate fraud. In this perspective, via a federal antitrust class action, Plaintiff attorneys have shown that Merck corporation’s executives have known for a decade that its mumps vaccine is “far less effective” than it told the government while having falsified test results and sold millions of doses of “questionable efficacy,” fooling the public while it continued to flood and monopolize the market. To attempt to vindicate its rights, an Alabama-based Chatom Primary Care sued Merck on the basis of a federal antitrust class action based on the testimony of Merck virologists who “witnessed firsthand the improper testing and data falsification in which Merck engaged to artificially inflate the vaccine’s efficacy findings.” (6)
GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), another pharmaceutical corporation, has been shown to abuse the law by illegally marketing drugs, forging drug safety data, bribing doctors to promote dangerous and expensive drugs, conducting health-care fraud upon Medicare and Medicaid, and lying about the effectiveness and safety of drugs. As a consequence, GSK recently pleaded guilty to criminal charges and paid 3 billion dollars in damages and fines via a government promoting settlement. The settlement also includes civil penalties for improper marketing of a half-dozen other drugs like Paxil, Wellbutrin and avandia. (7)
The BioTech-pharmaceutical drug giant Pfizer has also used similar Tobacco strategies. According to one lawsuit based on monopolistic market practices (filed by five US retailers – pharmacies), Pfizer conspired to prevent generic versions of its blockbuster cholesterol drug Lipitor from entering the market. This was done to protect billions in profits while making sure patients did not have access to more affordable cholesterol drugs. According to Reuters news agency, Pfizer has been accused of obtaining a fraudulent patent, engaging in sham litigation, entering a price-fixing agreement to delay cheaper generics and entering arrangements with pharmacy benefit managers to force retailers to buy more Lipitor (alias, atorvastatin calcium) ( 8 )
Abbot Laboratories were also accused of abusive marketing of its anti seizure drug Depakote. They settled for 1.6 billions while Johnson & Johnson’s off label promotion of an an antipsychotic drug (risperdal) has been legally challenged as has its Children’s Motrin. (9)
MONSANTO’S LEGAL AND MARKETING STRATEGY
Monsanto Corporation has also used much of Tobacco’s defense strategy and marketing techniques, smearing experts like Dr Oz who dare question their products while arguing “scientific doubt” regarding any toxicity that could come from its products. As a result, this conglomerate continues to defy the scientific community with its GMO toxicity while misleading the public about the harmlessness of its Roundup weed killer by claiming that Roundup’s active ingredient, glyphosate, targets an enzyme, the EPSP synthase only found in plants and not in humans or animals. Even when the facts show that this EPSP synthase enzyme is also found in mammalian microbiota. (Exhibit A). By killing the weeds’ EPSP enzyme, Roundup also kills gut bacteria which need this enzyme to thrive and without which mammalian digestion, metabolism and immunity can not function properly. Forcing via injunctory relief Monsanto to cease and desist with the sale of its toxic products and then litigating on damages via class action suits would be a way to attenuate the chemical and genetic war against Nature.
CONCLUSION: THE SOCIAL NECESSITY OF CLASS ACTION AND INDIVIDUAL LAWSUITS AGAINST TOXIC CORPORATIONS AND HOLISTIC JUSTICE INSTITUTE’S MANDATE
In this Age of accelerated toxicity-based and post-industrial decadence, there are a lot of potential class actions suits that can be envisioned and activated thanks to which the broken American Republic may be able to be repaired. Because of the obstacles mentioned above, many potential good class actions never see the light of the day. And when they do, the corporate’s financial war of attrition makes closure difficult and all the more so that many of those in charge of the Government’s regulatory agencies like the FDA, DEA, EPA and even USDA are often reluctant to prosecute corporate fraud.
However, as we have shown above, there have been partial victories, including monetary settlements and fines. Yet, tobacco, pharmaceutical and agribusiness risks and toxicity are still legally allowed by those who control the Government. The central reason being that most mainstream politician-lawmakers refuse to have laws that can effectively prosecute corporate criminal malfeasance. If they did, these politicians-law-makers would not get sufficient corporate electoral campaign funds to get re-elected.
“What we’re learning is that money doesn’t deter corporate malfeasance,” said Eliot Spitzer, who, as New York’s attorney general, sued GlaxoSmithKline in 2004 over similar accusations involving Paxil. “The only thing that will work in my view is C.E.O.’s and officials being forced to resign and individual culpability being enforced”. (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/03/business/glaxosmithkline-agrees-to-pay-3-billion-in-fraud-settlement.html)
Even Courts refuse to condemn these companies into bankruptcies by considerably reducing Jury approve verdicts and other ways. (5)
Thanks to the pervasiveness of corruption in corporate maisntream culture, Monsanto’ GMO crops and weed killers continue to be spread all over the world, notwithstanding Roundup’s glyphosate World Health Organization’s characterization as “probably carcinogenic” (10 ) by the IARC (international agency for research on cancer, (part of the W.H.O) in Lyon France. The American Cancer Society quickly followed suit, also listing glyphosate as a Group 2A carcinogen (11) while the Environmental Protection Agency confirmed the above, before it changed its position in favor on Monsanto (12).
Because of a lack of class actions suits against the excesses of Pharmaceutical, BioTech mega corporations and Big Medicine, the Nation’s public health system will stay what it has become, a sick-care system. And because of too much deregulation among State and Federal agencies, there is no motivation to find a durable and sustainable health-care solution in sight.
As a consequence, given the insufficiency of the Government in this regard, it is up to the People and non profit organizations like HJI to contribute in the promotion of legal accountability regarding health destroying mega-corporations whose executives continue their agenda to maximize profits at the costs of health, environmental and even economic havoc. Without which the Republic can not be fixed. Just recently, Big Banks were also shown to be in violation of the Law that carried with it huge economic costs to consumers and the public finances. Yet, they too have escape jail and deterring fines (13) as they have avoided serious inquiry from the US Attorney General’s office (14). To the point where different independent observers have talked about collusion and corruption between certain politician-lawmakers and the dark side of Big Business. (15) Even if hefty, the damage verdicts and fines these corporations are condemned with are too weak, hence the recidivism. (16)
In this perspective it remains the Holistic Justice Institute belief that class action lawsuits can be a significant tool for progressive change, as not only they help to raise the awareness of corporate abuse, but they can become a significant element in the political debate, thereby constituting a warning that without a responsible and alert pro-active citizenry, “special interests” corporations will continue to destroy the fabric of the Nation’s wellbeing and its Constitution.
“In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military industrial complex. The potential for a disastrous rise of misplaced power exists, and will persist. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry, can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defence, with our peaceful message and goals.” – Dwight Eisenhower, Former Five Star General and President of the United States (Exhibit B).
Christian Joubert. Director of Holistic Justice Institute. Former Law professor, Gonzaga Law school and Paris, France and human rights activist, with over ten years of tobacco, products liability and medical malpractice litigation experience.
(1) In which case Plaintiffs usually can be entitled to attorney fees.
(2 The federal whistle-blower law, officially the False Claims Act, dates to 1863 and was originally envisioned as a check on war profiteering after the Civil War. Whistle-blowers get a share of any money recovered by the federal government. So far, according to Patrick Burns, spokesman for the whistle-blower advocacy group Taxpayers Against Fraud, at least $10 billion has been agreed to in settlements this fiscal year, which ends in September. For non related whistle blower issues, the billions coming from fines can be invested in solutions.
(3) Stephen E. Smith, “‘Counterblastes’ to Tobacco: Five Decades of North American Tobacco Litigation”, Windsor Review of Legal and Social Issues, vol. 14, Nov. 2002, pp. 1-32.
(4) In December 1953 the Tobacco industry also agreed to form the Tobacco Institute Research Committee purported to study the health impact of smoking while in fact, this Institute was used to disseminate propaganda information about the industry’s products in order to create the false impression that there was a dispute among scientists as to whether cigarettes caused harm. This way, cigarette customers would not abandoned the product. In this perspective, The Tobacco industry, in January 1954 put ads in 454 newspapers across the country of a “Frank Statement” that said the industry considered its customers’ well-being to be “paramount” and included a vow to research the link between smoking and disease. The advertisement added, “We believe that the products we make are not injurious to health.” As evidence of conspiracy, a Tobacco Institute document that said the industry titans should work together.”What affects one affects all,” it said. “A united industry is our most potent P.R. tool.” http://www.cnn.com/2004/LAW/09/21/tobacco.lawsuit/
(5). In February 2005, midway through the trial, a federal appeals panel handed the industry a huge win, ruling that the government could not pursue a claim for $280 billion in profits under the RICO law. In fact, the court ruled, civil RICO could not be used to punish past wrongdoing, but only to stop present or future acts of fraud. http://articles.latimes.com/2006/aug/18/nation/na-smoke18
(9) ( ) http://www.courthousenews.com
(13) http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/30947-matt-taibbi-world-s-largest-banks-admit-to-massive-global-financial-crimes-but-escape-jail-again. Five of the world’s top banks will pay over $5 billion in fines after pleading guilty to rigging the price of foreign currencies and interest rates. Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, Barclays and Royal Bank of Scotland pleaded guilty to conspiring to manipulate the price of US dollars and euros exchanged in the five trillion foreign exchange – $5 trillion foreign exchange spot market. UBS pleaded guilty for its role in manipulating the Libor benchmark interest rate. On Wednesday, US Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced the deal.
(15) http://www.commondreams.org/views/2015/05/22/big-banks-are-corrupt-and-getting-worse. For UBS’s part, the list of settlements that it has to answer for keeps getting longer. In 2009, it entered into a deferred prosecution agreement with the Justice Department after helping Americans hide assets and avoid taxes, paying $780 million to resolve the case.
(16). The DoJ noted that four of the banks – Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, Barclays and the Royal Bank of Scotland – have been forced to plead guilty to antitrust violations in the foreign exchange market, after they allegedly worked together to enhance their profits by manipulating the $5-trillion-a-day foreign exchange market to $10 billion. (http://theantimedia.org/big-banks-fined-5-7-billion-after-pleading-guilty-to-global-currency-conspiracy/). Yet they were only condemned to pay 5.7 billions dollars with no individual felony prosecution. As a consequence, the anti trust violations brought to these banks billions of dollars of profit, in all impunity. The problems is the same with the other firms we have talked about, from Tobacco, to pharmaceutical, agribusiness, petro-chemical and all of the other ones whose activities tend to be more destructive of the common good than helpful. These firms, which tend to be huge, should be broken down to smaller sizes and be motivated to significantly change its fraud-based corporate culture.
Entropy 2013, 15(4), 1416-1463
Glyphosate’s Suppression of Cytochrome P450 Enzymes and Amino Acid Biosynthesis by the Gut Microbiome: Pathways to Modern Diseases†
Anthony Samsel 1 and Stephanie Seneff 2,*
Glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup®, is the most popular herbicide used worldwide. The industry asserts it is minimally toxic to humans, but here we argue otherwise. Residues are found in the main foods of the Western diet, comprised primarily of sugar, corn, soy and wheat. Glyphosate’s inhibition of cytochrome P450 (CYP) enzymes is an overlooked component of its toxicity to mammals. CYP enzymes play crucial roles in biology, one of which is to detoxify xenobiotics. Thus, glyphosate enhances the damaging effects of other food borne chemical residues and environmental toxins. Negative impact on the body is insidious and manifests slowly over time as inflammation damages cellular systems throughout the body. Here, we show how interference with CYP enzymes acts synergistically with disruption of the biosynthesis of aromatic amino acids by gut bacteria, as well as impairment in serum sulfate transport. Consequences are most of the diseases and conditions associated with a Western diet, which include gastrointestinal disorders, obesity, diabetes, heart disease, depression, autism, infertility, cancer and Alzheimer’s disease. We explain the documented effects of glyphosate and its ability to induce disease, and we show that glyphosate is the “textbook example” of exogenous semiotic entropy: the disruption of homeostasis by environmental toxins” (C.C).
2015. Copyright. All rights reserved. Christian Joubert. But it’s ok to share this post via the buttons below, or use extracts of this article provided the author and this blog are mentioned in the attribution. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited as indicated above.
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