- The Washington Times - Saturday, June 16, 2001

When people cast stones at injured plaintiffs, they are directly attacking the country´s legal system and the rights and protections everyone in this nation expects and enjoys. They are assaulting every citizen who serves on a jury.

Meanwhile, commentators such as Commentary columnist Paul Campos often look the other way when companies knowingly harm consumers (“Sending logic up in smoke,” June 12).

Documents used in the Richard Boeken case in California against Philip Morris revealed industry deception about cigarettes, addictiveness and the health effects of smoking. If the Boeken case had been about a defective product such as a hand tool, a drug or a baby stroller and company documents had revealed a similar pattern of international deceit, the closure of the case would have initiated a product recall.

When a tobacco company loses a case, the defective and hazardous product remains on the market, where its sales continue to benefit the manufacturer.

While almost every headline-grabbing large jury verdict is reduced by the trial judge, on appeal or in a post-verdict settlement, it is clear that the California verdict in the case against Big Tobacco expressed the jury´s outrage at the industry´s misconduct.

I would remind those who attack our legal system and those who attack the decisions of our neighbors who serve on juries and hear all the facts that legal rights exist for everyone regardless of status, wealth or political persuasion. As Justice Richard B. Sanders, a Republican judge on the Washington State Supreme Court has written, “hen we start compromising the legal rights of our less worthy´ neighbors, there may be no end until finally our own rights are swept away as well.”


FREDERICK M. BARON

President

Association of Trial Lawyers of America

Dallas

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