Americans depend on our civil courts to keep the economy on a fair and firm foundation, but a decades-long campaign to limit access and tamp down awards to injured parties has left courts with diminished power. In an era of rising economic insecurity and inequality that has left many individuals and communities struggling to overcome disadvantages beyond their control, we need legislators and policymakers at all levels of government to take action to promote greater access to justice.
Comments to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau re its proposal to limit the use of forced arbitration from Martha McCluskey, Thomas McGarity, Sidney Shapiro, James Goodwin, and Mollie Rosenzweig, August 22, 2016.
In recent years, efforts to rein in excesses of corporations have run head-long into an assault on individuals' right to bring suit against manufacturers whose products or activities cause them harm. This push for what its backers call “tort reform,” has been driven by a seemingly endless stream of thinly fact-checked anecdotes about frivolous lawsuits and by a brazen effort to blame the rising costs of health care on malpractice lawsuits. CPR’s Member Scholars have conducted extensive research on the implications of "tort reform," and in a series of reports have debunked most of industry’s claims about the need for such measures.
Letter to Secretary of Agriculture Ann Veneman asking her to "correct the public record with respect to misleading statements contained in USDA’s December 30 press release on Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (mad cow disease) and to ask [her]to take more effective action to protect U.S. consumers from the risk of contracting variant Creutzfeldt-Jacob Disease."
CPR Member Scholars Rena Steinzor and Sidney Shapiro's letter to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee re the failure of the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration to address in a timely fashion engineering failures in certain Toyota models
Letter to OMB re EPA's Integrated Risk Information System database, responding to American Chemistry Council letter calling for submission of all current IRIS evaluations to be submitted to the National Academy of Sciences, in an effort to "grind this process to a slow walk."
Thomas McGarity's July 31, 2013, testimony before the Senate Environment and Public Works committee about the Chemical Safety Improvement Act's preemption provisions.
CPR Comments on FDA Generics Rule, the Food and Drug Administration’s proposal to revise its regulations governing the procedures for changing product labeling to reflect certain types of newly acquired information in order to extend to generic drug manufacturers the same opportunities afforded “brand name” drug manufacturers.
Rena Steinzor's July 16, 2015, testimony before Committee on Science, Space, and Technology Subcommittees on Oversight and Environment on the Status of Reforms to EPA's Integrated Risk Information System
The Truth About Torts: Regulatory Preemption at the Federal Aviation Administration, CPR Paper 1608, by CPR Member Scholars Thomas McGarity, Nina Mendelson, Sidney Shapiro, and CPR Senior Policy Analyst James Goodwin and CPR Policy Analyst Mollie Rosenzweig
CPR joined dozens of other national consumer organizations calling on House leadership to support the Forced Arbitration Injustice Repeal Act (FAIR Act). The bill would prevent companies from forcing aggrieved workers, consumers, servicemembers, nursing home residents, and small businesses into secretive, company-controlled, rigged, private arbitration systems to settle disputes.
CPR Perspective: The Trade-off Myth of Livestock Grazing on Public Lands: Protecting Public Lands from Overgrazing, by Joe Feller. CPR's Perspectives Series is a set of monographs by CPR Member Scholars on timely and important health, safety, and environmental topics. Each Perspective provides a thumbnail sketch of the competing arguments concerning a substantive or procedural principle for developing appropriate health, safety and environmental policies, and closes with the Member Scholar-author's proposed approach to the issue.
CPR Perspective: 'Tort Reform: The Role of Litigation in Protecting Against Threats to Health, Safety and the Environment. CPR's Perspectives Series is a set of monographs by CPR Member Scholars on timely and important health, safety, and environmental topics. Each Perspective provides a thumbnail sketch of the competing arguments concerning a substantive or procedural principle for developing appropriate health, safety and environmental policies, and closes with the Member Scholar-author's proposed approach to the issue.
CPR Perspective: Medical Malpractice: Looking Behind the Tort Reformers' Myths, by Doug Kysar. CPR's Perspectives Series is a set of monographs by CPR Member Scholars on timely and important health, safety, and environmental topics. Each Perspective provides a thumbnail sketch of the competing arguments concerning a substantive or procedural principle for developing appropriate health, safety and environmental policies, and closes with the Member Scholar-author's proposed approach to the issue.
Writing for the Regulatory Review, CPR's Wendy Wagner observes that "Meaningful communication is vital to most legal processes. So when sellers withhold key information from customers, such as high service fees on a cell phone contract, or when companies conceal key information about public health or financial risks from regulators, the law is generally swift to sanction them." So, what happens when sellers disclose information, but do it in a way that's incomprehensible to their customers, as in all those online "terms and conditions" we all click through mindlessly? Wagner has a proposal.
Despite 40 years of regulatory effort, chemical regulation in the United States has been a dismal failure, and our current law – the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) – deserves much of the blame for this regulatory dysfunction. When Congress enacted TSCA, the final legislation reflected a deal under which chemicals then on the market were “grandfathered” in, while new chemicals would be subject to a quick review by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). But experience shows that a vast majority of those reviews are based on inadequate data.
In his 2011 book, Legally Poisoned: How the Law Puts Us at Risk from Toxicants, published by Harvard Univesity Press, CPR Member Scholar Carl Cranor offers up a scientifically rigorous legal analysis arguing that just as pharmaceuticals and pesticides cannot be sold without pre-market testing, other chemical products should be subject to the same safety measures. Cranor shows, in terrifying detail, what risks we run, while making clear that it is entirely possible to design a less dangerous commercial world.
Reasonable people disagree about the reach of the federal government, but almost everyone believes the government should protect us from such dangers as bacteria-infested food, harmful drugs, toxic pollution, crumbling bridges, and unsafe toys. And yet, the agencies that shoulder these responsibilities are in shambles; if they continue to decline, lives will be lost, money wasted, and natural resources squandered. In their 2010 book, The People's Agents and the Battle to Protect the Public: Special Interests, Government, and Threats to Health, Safety, and the Environment, Rena Steinzor and Sidney Shapiro take a hard look at the tangled web of problems that have led to the dire state of the American regulatory structure.
Writing on the Center for American Progress website, Tom McGarity observes that seven months into the discovery of Mad Cow disease in a Washington state cattle herd, it's time for the Bush Department of Agriculture to have a comprehensive plan. But the so-called "firewalls" it touts are more about public relations than food safety.
Writing for AL.com, Heather Elliott calls on the Alabama Director of the Bureau of Pardons and Paroles to resume holding parole hearings amidst the coronavirus pandemic, and to do so electronically, in light of the governor's order waiving face-to-face hearing requirements. She notes that an outbreak of coronavirus in a prison setting could lead to many unnecessary deaths.
Writing for Food Safety News, Rena Steinzor describes an effort by corporate heavyweights to scuttle the "responsible corporate officer" doctrine established by the Supreme Court, which seeks to hold to hold executives accountable for harm done by dangerous food or products, if the executives failed to take sufficient care to ensure safety.
Writing for Huffington Post: The Government Accountability Office (GAO) reiterated its conclusion that EPA’s regulation of toxic chemicals is in crisis, unable to deliver badly needed protection to the American people. These benighted programs are among a couple of dozen of “high priority” failures that cause serious harm to public health, waste resources, or endanger national security, and Congress is giving the report red carpet treatment, with House and Senate hearings on the report scheduled the very day it was released.
David Driesen, writing in The Hill, discusses the implications of the Supreme Court's decision in the Seila Law case, over President Trump's firing of the head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau for political reasons. Driesen writes, "Astonishingly, Chief Justice John Roberts’s majority opinion associates the president’s ability to use political firing to instill fear in government employees with the preservation of liberty."
In July 2020, a group of 136 law professors from across the United States, including 31 Center for Progressive Reform (CPR) Member Scholars, wrote to congressional leaders urging them to “ensure that our courthouse doors remain open to all Americans for injuries they suffer from negligence during the COVID-19 pandemic.”