The connections between civil justice and a fair economy are clear in the many cases involving individuals and communities availing themselves of the courts to fight back against egregious acts of wrongdoing by powerful companies. On the pages that follow, four representative case studies present important themes regarding the relationship between civil justice and economic fairness, its significance, and its uncertain future:
- First, each involves wrongful actions by powerful companies, the resulting harms of which disproportionately burden disadvantaged members of our society.
- Second, the harms in each of these case studies occurred despite the existence of federal and state regulations meant to avert them.
- Third, the lawsuits have provided – or have the potential to provide – some measure of compensation and deterrence against wrongful actions in the future.
- Fourth, many of the case studies illustrate how legislators and court decisions continue to block access to the courts, preventing plaintiffs from pursuing civil justice.
Taken together, the lesson of these case studies is that if our nation is to make progress on achieving a fair economy, it is essential that the country fix the broken aspects of civil justice to ensure that citizens have meaningful access to the courts to vindicate their rights.