Tag Archives: justice

What happens when the economic interest of society is favored over the value of saving human lives?

I just did my morning reading as I ate my breakfast and ran across the word expropriation. I decided to look it up and found its meaning peculiarly and disturbingly relevant to my passion for traffic safety.

Expropriation: (from Wikipedia) The process of expropriation “occurs when a public agency (for example, the provincial government and its agencies, regional districts, municipalities, school boards, post-secondary institutions and utilities) takes private property for a purpose deemed to be in the public interest“.

Is that what happens when a cost/benefit analysis is interpreted in favor of the economic interest of society/industry over the value of saving human lives: Our government (on behalf of We the People) sacrifices human lives for a purpose deemed to be in the public interest?

Equal Justice For All, Legal Reader, artist Neal Angeles
Equal Justice For All, Legal Reader, artist Neal Angeles

‘Thus says the Lord GOD, “Enough, you princes of Israel; put away violence and destruction, and practice justice and righteousness. Stop your expropriations from My people,” declares the Lord GOD. Ezekiel 45:9

Car Safety Wars

Ralph Nader Conference Highlights Tort Law Benefits & Tort Reform’s Assault on Right to Day In Court

I just got back from a Ralph Nader Conference (Breaking Through Power) in DC on Tort Law (September 29). I was privileged to participate as a “Tort Victim” on a panel moderated by Harvey Rosenfield (Consumer Watchdog). Other panel members were Susan Vento, Todd Anderson, and Laura Gipe-Christian.

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Tort Law or Torts, I learned, is the law of compensation for wrongful inflicted injuries and was in existence long  before it was ever practiced here in our country. And tort law has three purposes:

  1. Compensation
  2. Disclosure
  3. Deterrence (therefore making us safer)

I also found out about the assault on tort law or “tort reform” which has convinced the American public that a system of law had somehow broken and needed to be fixed. This battle for the mind has fostered an attitude of cynicism and skepticism in jurors with the subtle messages about (fill in the blank, answers at the bottom of the post):

  1. Frivolous ________________
  2. Runaway ________________ and
  3. Greedy (or ambulance-chasing) __________________

But actually, the result has been that those who have been wrongfully injured find themselves less compensated and all of us are less safe because it diminishes accountability.

In fact, once a person becomes a victim, tort reform makes them a victim all over again–this time of a system that was meant to help the victim but has been sabotaged to leave them even more vulnerable. And I can give you two examples of this:

  1. During the lunch break, I had the opportunity to speak with a member of the audience who was there because, as a nurse midwife, she was interested in what would be said about medical malpractice. She said that what was being presented made a lot of sense. But she then told me about what she sees as victims of the focus on medical malpractice: pregnant women who are too often forced into C-sections (or other medical procedures not of their choosing) due to fear on the part of doctors of being sued. Yet, this is a case, perhaps, of the kind of PR which was mentioned; we have been led to believe that frivolous lawsuits in this area have skyrocketed and resulted in things getting out of control. Is this so?
  2. The second example is out of my own experience. One of the presenters mentioned that too often victims cannot find trial lawyers who are willing to take their case — on a contingency basis — due to the risk of not being able to recover their costs and the concern about whether the case will be successful or be limited by caps on compensation. We have tried multiple times to get someone to take our case without success. By this time, statutes of limitations pose an additional barrier. The end result is just like I was told this week: compensation to victims is barred; disclosure is prevented; and deterrence of future actions is limited. In our case, tort reform, thereby, could have contributed to a situation which allows ongoing opposition and resistance by the industry and regulators to doing whatever it would take to end Preventable Death by Truck Underride. On May 4, 2013, I hit Double Jeopardy! A victim twice over. What will it take to break through this travesty?

Folks, this is a problem. Could it be that tort reform is just one more of the culprits that bear the responsibility for the circumstances that led to my daughters’ deaths in a truck underride crash? If the many layers of leadership in the trucking industry, government regulation, and law enforcement had been held more accountable and liable in the past, might there have been a greater likelihood that AnnaLeah and Mary would still be alive today?

I’ll probably never know for sure. But I can venture a calculated guess. And I can do whatever is within my power to make sure that things get better for someone else.

Here’s to the realization of my dream of a nationwide network of mobilized traffic safety community advocacy groups to educate and empower citizens to take back their right to a day in court as one more strategy to help us realize the vision of moving toward zero preventable deaths and serious injuries from vehicle violence.

 

(And just in case you need the answers to the quiz: lawsuits, verdicts, and lawyers.)

 

 

CBA Victim Cost Benefit Analysis Victim

2 crash deathsCar Safety Wars

If only

Instead of like this:

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Truck Underride Timeline by IIHS at the Underride Roundtable, May 5, 2016

As always, I am after the truth of the matter and I hope that you are, as well.

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VBS craft by Mary in Michigan, Summer of 2007

“Money At Root of Takata’s Tragic History”

Talking about SAFETY becomes meaningless when no one really values human life over making a profit. When will we get that and say that we have had enough?

Latest email from Lou Lombardo:

Dear Care for Crash Victims Community Members:

NY Times publishes an excellent article on victims of vehicle violence due to air bag defects known for more than a decade.

“In the late 1990s, General Motors got an unexpected and enticing offer. A little-known Japanese supplier, Takata, had designed a much cheaper automotive airbag.

G.M. turned to its airbag supplier — the Swedish-American company Autoliv — and asked it to match the cheaper design or risk losing the automaker’s business, according to Linda Rink, who was a senior scientist at Autoliv assigned to the G.M. account at the time.

But when Autoliv’s scientists studied the Takata airbag, they found that it relied on a dangerously volatile compound in its inflater, a critical part that causes the airbag to expand.

“We just said, ‘No, we can’t do it. We’re not going to use it,’” said Robert Taylor, Autoliv’s head chemist until 2010.

Today, that compound is at the heart of the largest automotive safety recall in history. At least 14 people have been killed and more than 100 have been injured by faulty inflaters made by Takata. More than 100 million of its airbags have been installed in cars in the United States by General Motors and 16 other automakers.

Details of G.M.’s decision-making process almost 20 years ago, which has not been reported previously, suggest that a quest for savings of just a few dollars per airbag compromised a critical safety device, resulting in passenger deaths. The findings also indicate that automakers played a far more active role in the prelude to the crisis: Rather than being the victims of Takata’s missteps, automakers pressed their suppliers to put cost before all else.”

NY Times also publishes a useful article on what consumers can and should know and do.

“Defective airbags made by Takata have been tied to at least 14 deaths and more than 100 injuries. The ensuing recall — the largest in automotive history — has turned out to be messy, confusing and frustrating for car owners.”

http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2016/business/takata-airbag-recall-guide.html

These stories need to be widely shared.  They give us all useful information on the root of vehicle violence: money.

Lou
Life & Death11wjd2
What can the American people do about this?
Safety is not a priority 002

Somebody has to take personal responsibility & be accountable for the danger of the trucking industry.

“At some point, somebody has to take personal responsibility & be accountable for the danger of this industry. More truck drivers are killed on the job than any other occupation. More than 500 truck drivers are killed every year in truck crashes. . . I don’t know any other industry where that’s allowed .  .  . and people are looking the other way.

“We need to have this prosecuted at the industry or company level, because that’s where the problem lies. . . The industry drives them harder and longer than they should. The result is catastrophic death and injury all across the country

“If we could get a change in some of the laws. . . to the point where company executives are criminally responsible for the violations of their drivers’ Hours of Service, you would see a lot of things change in the industry. You might see some changes that are long overdue,”  says Jeff Burns, Truck Litigation Attorney.

Jeff Burns, National Transportation Counsel for the Truck Safety Coaltion, discusses the issue of truck crash prosecutions and the challenges facing victims of truck crashes. Prosecutors across the country are choosing not to prosecute those responsible for deadly truck crashes. Furthermore, drivers and companies are facing only minimal fines, much less than a speeding motorist, for reckless driving that results in an accident and/or death. Visit www.trucksafety.org for more information on how you can help in the fight to make our highways safer for everyone. June 14, 2011

Some previous posts which I have written on the issues of justice related to truck crashes:

Responsibility

 

What is justice as it relates to traffic safety?

Here is a timely article by Ralph Nader on the topic of Justice:

Suing for Justice Your lawsuits are good for America

He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly [circumspectly] with your God? Micah 6:8

Mary walking fence holding AnnaLeah's hair

Distracted & Drowsy Driving; A Matter of Personal AND Social Responsibility–NOT Either/Or

I have been thinking about this for some time now. Having lost my two youngest daughters, AnnaLeah (17) and Mary (13), two years ago due to a truck crash, I have thought a lot about things like drowsy driving and distracted driving. What it has gotten me to also do is think a lot about the answer to these problems.

http://annaleahmary.com/driver-fatigue/

http://annaleahmary.com/2014/07/our-crash-was-not-an-accident/

Actually, I don’t think that there is just one answer to decreasing these behaviors that are all-too-often resulting in people dying. I think that the answer lies in a combination of personal and social responsibility.

Yes, people need to wake up and realize that they could be the next one responsible for someone dying. Not that they would have ever meant to. Not intentionally. But a behavior that could have been avoided is reckless when it leads to a death that could have been prevented.

Unfortunately, the law is not so easily changed to reflect that and so, all-too-often, there is not a legal deterrent with teeth to change behavior–in time to make a difference for someone’s loved one. Distracted driving and drowsy driving are not usually defined as RECKLESS and therefore do not receive a stiff penalty. (After all, it could be me or someone I know that could end up in jail.) I wrote about this in great detail here:  http://annaleahmary.com/2014/08/law-enforcement-with-justice-for-all-balancing-truth-love/

Yet, I have also given much thought to the fact that it is foolish to put all of our eggs in one basket and depend on the individual to always do the right thing. This is why it is also important to address this as a social issue with multiple solutions, including changing laws, law enforcement, safety technology, and holding the manufacturers of products accountable for doing their part to make us all safer on the road.

I have not actually delved into the possibilities very thoroughly. But I want to throw out this question: Should the producers of electronic communication devices bear some responsibility for innovatively contributing to making them less easily abused when it comes to matters of life and death?

Safety is not a priority

Safety Is Not A Priority

How a Truck Crash Changed the Month of May; or What Happens When Nobody Takes Responsibility?

I used to love May; it was my favorite month with moderate temperatures in my home state of Michigan–freshly-green growth and the sweet fragrance of blossoming trees.

Not so much anymore. When an underride truck crash, on May 4, 2013, robbed my two youngest daughters of life, my pleasure in the month of May quickly dissipated.

And the problem is that it is not just that day–when AnnaLeah died–but the days following May 4 as I learned of her death and recovered in a hospital two hours away from where Mary lay dying in another hospital and our family was scattered around the country struggling to grapple with the terrible tragedy we faced.

Then there came the day when Mary died: May 8, followed by days of planning funerals and headstones and travel arrangements–struggling to strive for normalcy in the celebration of four college graduations and a wedding. We too-quickly faced what would have been AnnaLeah’s 18th birthday on May 15, and not so many days later we gathered together, on May 18, for the first of two funerals for the girls–this time in Midland, Texas.

We went home for the first time since the crash on May 19 –a desolate, empty feeling when we arrived at the house they had left behind expecting to return themselves at about that time, their belongings awaiting the arrival that never happened.

The rest of the month was the beginning of learning to live without them and planning for their second funeral in Grand Rapids, Michigan, on June 8. So, basically, the month has become one reminder after another of what we have lost. Is is any wonder that I no longer look forward to May?

Today for example, is May 2, but it is also the first Saturday in May, which is the day of the week when we started out on our fateful road trip to Texas from North Carolina which ended abruptly (for AnnaLeah and Mary) in Georgia. Even this day has me in turmoil.

53g Mary withsiblings3 WarsawINFilmPhotographer_MIMemoria_Film_101

The grief is complicated by the many things which I have learned about highway safety and the growing awareness that, way too often, nobody really takes responsibility for the countless and potentially-preventable deaths which occur on the roads of our country year after year.

Until that May, I had never heard of an underride crash–too often due to an underride guard that did not prevent a car from riding under a truck and resulting in horrific injuries and deaths. Recently I have read many reports of the problems with defective cars and the fatal crashes which have occurred as a result. Who takes responsibility for these deaths? And when will they come to an end?

For example, here is a report on recent activity with GM recalls:

“. . . the company took its taxpayer-funded bailout agreement and turned it around on millions of consumers unlucky enough to own compact cars with ignition switch defects who had accidents before July 10, 2009, the date when the agreement became effective. Invoking a liability shield negotiated by the Obama administration,GM won a ruling from a bankruptcy judge that is now on appeal, avoiding billions in damages for injuries, deaths, and the lost resale values of vehicles with the defect. The judge took the view that when the ‘old GM’ went bankrupt, the ‘new GM’ got a fresh start, even though all but 15 of the executives and managers involved in the ignition switch fiasco remain ensconced in the company’s iconic skyscraper in Detroit. GM won this counter-intuitive relief even though a report it commissioned from former U.S. Attorney Anton Valukas revealed that senior executives knew about the problem as early as 2005 but dragged their feet on notifying consumers until 2014. ‘Although everyone had responsibility to fix the problem, nobody took responsibility,’ he wrote.”  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rena-steinzor/gm-and-its-no-good-very-bad_b_7191124.html

Why Not Jail? makes a compelling argument for criminal prosecutions of executives who tolerate noncompliance and endanger public health and the environment.’”  http://www.acslaw.org/acsblog/white-collar-crime-and-justice

Careless Attitudes Can Contribute to Unnecessary Deaths

Over and over, I hear the litany: “Yes, that is important (fixing a design flaw), but what we really want to do is stop crashes.”

Yes, I want to stop/prevent crashes as well. That is very important to me. But, it seems to me, such an attitude displays a lack of commitment to fixing design flaws and indicates a disregard for lives lost due to delays and inadequate improvements.

In other words, Safety Is Not REALLY a Priority and so–in my mind–there are too many people whose actions contribute to unlawful deaths. I am not trying to imply that they act knowingly & intentionally. But the end result is the same: preventable & tragic deaths.

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Unfortunately, “they” apparently don’t see it that way. However, I’m quite sure that they would get it if one of their loved ones was killed by a “defective product”; money would not be an object and they would be searching day and night–just like me–to find a solution to the problem. And, just like me, designing the best possible protection as quickly as possible would become their goal.

headstone

This has been my opinion for awhile now (months which are turning into years following that tragic day: May 4, 2013)–ever since I was in a truck crash which I survived and my daughters did not (the underride guard did not prevent them from going under the truck). And I have written about it before:

But every time I run across this attitude again, it creates fresh pain and frustration. It leads to hopelessness about things ever truly changing to prevent further heartbreak, like in a phone call which I had recently where I heard it again: “We want to do something about [this defect] but we really want to prevent crashes.” I do, too. But that does not negate the importance of making vital improvements in order to make crashes–when they inevitably do occur–less likely to end in death.

Let’s not allow product liability to be treated lightly. [http://tinyurl.com/o69fgua] Somebody needs to be held responsible for NEGLIGENCE which leads to horrific injury and/or death. Before it is too late. . .

For example, read this account of the recent $150 million settlement in the death of a child, Remington Cole Walden, in a Chrysler Jeep Cherokee:

When manufacturers are not held responsible legally or ethically for identifying and providing the best possible protection but are allowed to look the other way–sweeping the problems under a rug–then no one is truly held accountable for deaths. The result–too often–is that there is no change or the change is too little or comes too late for too many loved ones.

This careless attitude is seen in those whose reckless actions–with a disregard for the lives of others–end in crash fatalities for other reasons as well. What will it take to shake us out of our complacency? Government regulations, law enforcement, stiffer consequences for those held responsible? Death of a loved one?

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AnnaLeah and Mary had their lives abruptly ended–like so many others. That is not natural. Were it not for the reckless actions of others, they, too, like Abraham and Job could have died “a ripe old age. . . and satisfied with life.” (https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Genesis+15%3A15&version=NKJV  and  https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Genesis+25%3A8&version=NASB )

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Sign & Share our Vision Zero Petition:   http://www.thepetitionsite.com/417/742/234/save-lives-not-dollars-urge-dot-to-adopt-vision-zero-policy/

Truck Crashes: Who Pays The Price?

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Just saw an article about a state trooper who was injured in a truck crash. He is pushing for a stiffer charge against the trucker. Finding resistance to his attempt. . .

Imagine that.

http://www.chicagotribune.com/suburbs/aurora/ct-trooper-news-conference-met-0128-20150127-story.html

In a related link, it is clear that attempts to hold trucking companies responsible for the actions of their drivers also too often fall short. Who pays the price?

http://www.chicagotribune.com/suburbs/naperville-lisle/chi-naperville-trucking-company-wins-ruling-to-return-to-road-20140416-story.html

Unless things change in a major way, there will continue to be countless, similar cases where enforcement is compromised and accountability is absent. I have addressed the issue of justice previously: http://annaleahmary.com/tag/justice/

Justice: Up close and personal

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Have you ever had to struggle with the meaning of justice in your life? Up close and personal?

Who, if anyone, should be held accountable for the loss of innocent life? (I am thinking of not only this one case, but also of the 4,000 truck crash fatalities each year—on average—although not all the fault of the truck driver.) And what should be the consequences of their actions?

(I have addressed this issue to some extent in a previous post, “Our Crash Was Not An Accident”: http://annaleahmary.com/2014/07/our-crash-was-not-an-accident/ .)

Pray for us to have wisdom and peace as we face this question and the opportunity to communicate to a judge by way of a Victim Impact Statement. May we plant seeds which will have far-reaching impact.

(Note: A plea offer has been made with a possible hearing in Georgia on September 22—which we plan to attend.)

“Give the king Thy judgments, O God,
And Thy righteousness to the king’s son.
May he judge Thy people with righteousness,
And Thine afflicted with justice.

He will have compassion on the poor and needy,
And the lives of the needy he will save.
He will rescue their life from oppression and violence;
And their blood will be precious in his sight;…

And let them pray for him continually…”
Psalm 72:1-2, 13-15

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