Press Release from Tennessee Citizen Action; March 29, 2011:
Constitutional Right to Trial by Jury Under Attack
Nashville, Tenn. (March 29, 2011) — Multi-million dollar corporations are currently asking legislators they helped elect to grant them special immunities from being held accountable. These corporations want to deprive Tennesseans of their constitutional right to a jury trial.
Members of the leadership of the recently-formed special interest lobbying group, Tennesseans for Economic Growth, are associated with repeat offenders that have been repeatedly held accountable by juries for their wrongful conduct.
For example, National HealthCare Corporation, the largest provider of nursing home care in Tennessee, has been involved in numerous cases of resident neglect throughout the state. A fire in a Nashville NHC facility caused the death of 16 elderly residents in 2003, and the company has also been the subject of repeated instances of sexual abuse of its elderly and, in some cases, completely helpless patients. Aside from the poor quality of care, NHC’s profits jumped 160 percent during the fourth quarter of 2010, bringing in $13.2 million for its shareholders, compared to just $5 million in the last three months of 2009.
The leadership of this special interest lobbying group also includes Smith & Nephew’s former president. Smith & Nephew, a multinational medical device maker headquartered in Europe, has had a number of its products recalled in the United States after serious questions were raised about the safety of their products. Smith and Nephew has also been held accountable by juries in cases for making and selling unsafe products in the United States. Interestingly, when Smith & Nephew feels like it has been damaged, it has repeatedly brought its grievances to a jury in the American court system where the company was awarded tens of millions of dollars against rival companies.
“Not surprisingly, the types of special immunities these companies are seeking would still allow multi-million dollar corporations to seek and recover every penny of the damages they incur, while at the same time, they would prevent ordinary Tennesseans from holding the corporations accountable for the full extent of the harm the corporations cause,” stated Mary Mancini, executive director of Tennessee Citizen Action.
Our legislature needs to send a message to these companies that Tennesseans will not tolerate corporate misconduct in our state, no matter what the size of these corporate pocketbooks. Our legislators should be trusted to ensure the constitutional rights of citizens are not taken away.