Paging Ralph Nader. Ralph Nader You are Needed in Tennessee

A CIVIL JUSTICE & CONSUMER PROTECTION PRIMER

Before Ralph Nader ran for President, he was an advocate for consumer protection and civil justice. He still is. Remember Unsafe at Any Speed, the book that moved the responsibility for automobile safety from the consumer to the manufacturer? Yeah, that was him.

Well, if Mr. Nader’s not busy, we could surely use him in Tennessee right now because the Tennessee Consumer Protection Act – which has protected Tennessee Consumers since 1977 – is under fire in the General Assembly.

What is Civil Justice?
Victims of fraud and abuse seek civil justice by filing lawsuits against responsible parties in order to be compensated for the damages incurred as a result of the fraudulent or abusive act.

The consequences of such acts often extend beyond the act itself leaving victims disabled with unpaid bills and loss of wages, and families of victims without a breadwinner. Civil justice lawsuits holds large corporations accountable for their actions and the damages awarded not only help the victim but also act as a deterrent to repeating the fraudulent or abusive act.

Think the Ford Pinto exploding car situation.

What is Consumer Protection?
The goal of consumer protection and consumer protection laws is to protect the rights of hardworking Americans from fraudulent or abusive business practices.

Think the Tennessee Consumer Protection Act. Think Bernie Madoff would get off with a slap on the wrist in Tennessee if we didn’t have it. Think of having no legal recourse if your insurance company fraudulently refused to pay your flood insurance even though you followed the rules and had paid for your bill on time for decades.

What’s at Stake for the Hardworking People of Tennessee?
Someone has declared open season on the Tennessee Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). These are only TWO of the bills making their way through the General Assembly that will begin a slow but steady dismantling of the Tennessee Consumer Protections Act.

SB 1522/HB 2008 “Tennessee Civil Justice Act of 2011. We don’t care how cleverly worded the title seems in a bizarro world, this bill dismantles many of the consumer protections that have served the people of Tennessee so well.

Example: If passed, it would leave the victims of ponzi schemes without the legal means to recover their losses. Ken Whitehouse of the Nashville City Paper has more about a local ponzi scheme case.

HB 1189/SB 1912 This bill would take ALL insurance claims out from under the Tennessee Consumer Protection Act. In other words, if passed insurance policyholders would no longer considered “consumers” and therefore they could not file suit under the TCPA against insurers who refuse to pay claims or an unlicensed agent who stole their money.

Example: Say you’re a widow trying to make a claim on your husband insurance policy after having faithfully paid the premium for decades. You file the claim. Your insurance company looks at the cost of the payout and it’s really, really expensive. They hide evidence and then make up a reason to deny your claim. Under this bill, the widow would not be considered a “consumer” and would no longer be protected under the Tennessee Consumer Protection Act. Being able to sue under the TCPA also acts as a deterrent so that large corporations will think twice before they deny a claim based on hidden or made up evidence.

Facts About Civil Justice & Consumer Protection

Lawsuits are not the issue.

  • The civil justice system promotes accountability by holding large corporations and their CEO’s accountable for the harm they cause others.
  • The 7th amendment of the Constitution protects the right to a jury by trial. We have a justice system in this county, we should let it work.
  • Caps on non-economic damages disproportionately affect hardworking mothers, children, the disabled, and seniors.
  • Non-economic damages compensate for physical disfigurement, loss of mobility, loss of ability to complete simple tasks like brushing your teeth, driving, and preparing family dinners.

HARDWORKING TENNESSEANS NEED PROTECTION FROM THE ABUSIVE BUSINESS PRACTICES OF LARGE CORPORATIONS.

  • Now more than ever. That is all.
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