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Paul N. Ford
Paul N. Ford
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Salmonella Tainted Peanut Butter and Trial Lawyers

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The New York Times published an interesting article today about the peanut butter plant in Blakely, Georgia, owned by Peanut Corporation of America of Lynchburg, Virginia, responsible for the salmonella tainted peanut butter outbreak resulting in hundreds of people being sick and 7 deaths. No doubt someone will say something negative about greedy trial lawyers, but thank goodness we have trial lawyers. The Times article is proof enough.

The plant has been repeatedly inspected and on multiple occassions has been found to be in non-compliance with health and safety regulations. The repeated inspections were all a part of the the Food and Drug Administration system in place to insure a safe food supply for all of us. Unfortunatley, the system of inspections and violation reports are not enough. Despite the knowledge of the repeated violations, they continued. And now, tragically, lives have been lost because of the negligence of this company to comply with safety regulations.

What is my point……while safety regulations are great and necessary, they are not enough. Our founding fathers knew that a system of government needed a system of checks and balances. They were so right. Notice it is a "system" and checks and balances are in the plural sense, not singular. This is where trial lawyers come in.

When a corporation fails to comply with safety regulations in place for the safety of its customers, those injured customers are not left to hope that government inspections and regulations will resolve the problem. They may turn to the legal system to seek due compensation for their injuries and/or death. That right has been a fundamental aspect of our system of law and order. Despite the fundamental and essential nature of seeking legal redress in a trial by jury, the system is under attack. It is under attack because it works.

Corporations and individuals should be held accountable for their actions that injure others. Yet, as sad as it is to say, many well organized corporations and individuals seek to limit and avoid that accountability by a constant and continued attack on our system of laws. Yes, that’s right. It is called Tort Reform.

Trial lawyers, though constantly vilified and insulted, stand in the fight against this well organized foe to protect the rights of those who are not organized. Fighting to protect the rights of the families left behind after 7 needless deaths were caused by salmonella tainted peanut butter. Fighting to hold corporations accountable for such unacceptable behavior. So the next time you hear someone insult a trial lawyer, know they are really attacking you and the rights of you and your family to hold corporations such as this accountable for their actions.