Today, pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson voluntarily agreed to pay a $2.2 Billion Dollar settlement to resolve both criminal and civil claims over allegations that they marketed three drugs for uses that were never approved. Some of the claims alleged against the publicly traded company involved paying “kickbacks” to physicians who prescribed the drugs to patients like you and I.
Now, I want you to think about this for just a minute. A major, billion dollar corporation just freely admitted that it has been paying licensed medical doctors financial incentives to distribute drugs to the public for treatments they were never approved for!? I hope that concerns you at a very core level because this is a prime example of corporate greed. This is the same type of conduct Ford was guilty of when it knew that the Explorer was a dangerous vehicle, but decided to place “profits over safety.” So, why do these corporations keep pressing the boundaries of safety and ethics, regardless of the criminal or civil consequences? After dealing with billion dollar insurance companies for more than a decade, I am convinced it is because they see the public’s disdain of the jury system — the last utility that actually protects the public’s well being.
Unlike politicians who are paid millions in annual campaign contributions from major corporations, the jury is the only real “checks and balances” utility left in our government today. The jury system is so fundamental to keeping the public safe, it was expressly protected by our forefathers in the Constitution. Think about that for a minute. What other public safety mechanisms have been individually safeguarded by the express text of the Constitution? Off the top of my head, I can only think of two. The right to vote and the right to a jury trial. My hopes in sharing this is for you to see the importance of a civil jury system and what a true blessing it really is.
Today’s courtroom has become the modern day Elah valley, where an otherwise insignificant “David” can take on the corporate-funded “Goliath” and actually have a chance of winning. Large corporations do not fear lawsuits. To them, it’s a cost of doing business. What they really fear, and have taken steps to eradicate, is the civil jury system. Why? It’s the only neutral entity that can hold them financially (and criminally) accountable for acts of corporate greed that otherwise, pose a direct threat to public safety.
If you see the importance of the civil jury system and want to take steps to protect the public, please participate in the process when you are called upon at a State or Federal level. As a juror, learn what the law is and make every effort to follow the law (even when you disagree with what the law is). Hold corporations (and individuals) accountable for any acts or omissions that endanger the public. If you don’t, there will be nothing that stops them from going further and hurting more people. The civil jury system is the only way a greedy corporation is held accountable to the public. As the public, we should do everything in our power to protect this very precious gift.
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