Tobacco, tort reformers, and a guy named Tiger
Monday, December 14, 2009
The tobacco industry pays good money for its friends.
The American Tort Reform Association is preparing to release its annual report on “Judicial Hellholes,” detailing what it considers to be the nation’s “most unfair civil court jurisdictions.” The report quotes the head of the organization, Tiger Joyce. He contends lawsuits have “a negative impact” on health care system.
What about the negative impact on the health care system that Joyce’s patrons have had?
Joyce’s organization doesn’t go out of its way to present itself as a pro-business advocacy group. But it does make what it calls a “sample list” of its members available on its website. You won’t find a consumer-oriented organization on the list, but you will find plenty of powerful interests with motivation to keep the consumer from getting a fair shake in the courtroom: the American Medical Association, the American Petroleum Institute, DaimlerChrysler, Big Insurance (CNA, Doctors’ Company, State Farm), Big Pharma (Pfizer, Wyeth, Johnson & Johnson).
Then there’s Altria, the company formerly known as Philip Morris, the world’s largest cigarette maker. In the archives of the University of California, San Francisco’s Legacy Tobacco Documents Library we find this warm 1996 letter from Philip Morris to its friend, Tiger Joyce:
Business interests, even the tobacco companies, have a right to advocate for their point of view. But the rest of us need to keep in mind whose interests are served by the laws and policies they advocate.
Tobacco is the leading cause of death, killing 443,000 Americans annually, as the Centers for Disease Control says here. That’s what some might fairly call a “negative impact” on the health care system.