The Center for Justice & Democracy (CJ&D) today called the
Bush Administration “the worst kind of hypocrite” for, on the one
hand, denouncing injured consumers who file lawsuits, while at the same time
filing its own case for civil damages against a manufacturer whose defective
product endangered the President.
It was revealed this week that the secret service purchased for use by high
level officials, including President and Laura Bush, defective bullet-proof
vests from a company called Second Chance Body Armor. In July, the Department
of Justice filed a civil case to collect compensation against the manufacturer
and the maker of the defective fiber used in the vest.
The Bush Administration has made weakening the civil justice system a cornerstone
of its domestic agenda. The President campaigned on the issue and has strongly
supported laws limiting compensation to injured citizens and providing immunity
to negligent corporations, while denouncing those who use the courts.
“As the President must now know, defective products will inevitably make
their way to marketplace, and the irresponsible companies that produce them
must be held accountable in court. In fact, sometimes, lawsuits are the only
way to force a defective product off the market. We hope this President now
ends his reprehensible campaign against injured consumers who go to court to
obtain justice. No one likes a hypocrite,” said Laurie Beacham, Communications
Director for CJ&D.
The Government’s lawsuit alleges that the companies knew, years before
alerting its customers, that the strength, endurance, and bullet-stopping capacity
of the vests were substantially weaker than represented. It only revealed the
problem after a California police officer was shot to death wearing the vest
and a Pennsylvania officer was seriously wounded. The Government is seeking
civil fraud damages under the False Claims Act and common law. A criminal investigation
into the matter is also pending.
The Center for Justice & Democracy is a national consumer organization
that works to protect the civil justice system. It has issued several studies
on so-called “tort reform” proponents who seek to take away consumers’
rights to go to court, but do not hesitate to run to court when they or family
members have been hurt. CJ&D has previously labeled President Bush a “lawsuit
hypocrite” for suing a rental car company for an accident involving one
of his daughters in which no one was hurt.