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Posts Tagged ‘lawsuits’

By David Arkush and Christine Hines

Jon Stewart, the popular host of Comedy Central’s The Daily Show and “America’s most trusted newsman,”  regularly imparts an astute critique of American political affairs and media.

The comic’s recent two-part exchange with Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly, for instance, elicited – in between the funny jabs – thoughtful, nuanced discussion on policy, politics, and the president. As Daily Show fans though, we cringed a little during his chat with O’Reilly when they briefly discussed so-called “tort reform,” the phrase used by the health industry and big business to advocate taking away your access to the courts

O’Reilly first broached the issue when Stewart was a guest on Fox’s O’Reilly Factor. He complained that President Obama could have worked with Republicans during the health care reform debate by adding “tort reform” to the bill. Stewart shot back that the president said he was willing to compromise on the issue, a priority for Republicans, even though it wouldn’t save much in health care costs. In their second conversation, this time at the Daily Show. Stewart blasted the extent of corruption, in media and finances (financial services?), and then strangely expressed a willingness to offer “right wing tort reform,” as he called it. It wasn’t clear why he mentioned it. Perhaps to suggest he would bargain on the issue in exchange for measures that curb corruption.

We’re with him on the need to end corruption. Government and corporate accountability are at a serious low point; we’ve proposed (more…)

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The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the anti-regulation mega lobby that plans to spend tens of millions of dollars to support corporate candidates in the coming election, has been accused of tax fraud, according to a complaint filed with the IRS on Friday.

The complaint alleges that the Chamber abused the tax-exempt status of its 501(c)(3) charitable organization, the National Chamber Foundation (NCF), by directing NCF funds to the Chamber for prohibited political activities. Further, the complaint alleges, the NCF money was originally a donation from the Starr Foundation, another 501(c)(3) tax-exempt entity led by the former chair of A.I.G., Maurice Greenberg. The complaint charges that the A.I.G.-affiliated Starr Foundation donated $18 million to the NCF, which was then “loaned” to the Chamber for non-charitable purposes, such as training staff and lobbying for legislation that would benefit A.I.G.

The complaint was filed by U.S. Chamber Watch, whose mission is to “promote greater transparency and accountability in American political processes by shedding light on the funding and practices of the largest special interest lobbyist in America, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.” The complaint requests that the IRS assess the proper taxes on NCF and the Starr Foundation for the $18 million in expenditures, and revoke the NCF’s tax-exempt status. You can view U.S. Chamber Watch’s complaint here.

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We got a special preview of Susan Saladoff’s excellent new documentary, Hot Coffee, Monday at Public Citizen. The movie opens with a look at the case of Stella Liebeck, who famously sued McDonald’s after she was seriously burned by a 49-cent cup of the fast food chain’s hot coffee. Of course, Liebeck, who was 79 at the time of the accident, became the butt of jokes and her case became a cause célèbre as exhibit #1 of a justice system overrun with frivolous lawsuits.

If a woman could sue McDonald’s for spilling coffee on herself, was there any limit to what the courts might be forced to rule upon? But as Saladoff shows, the punchlines and misinformation put forward by so-called tort “reformers” didn’t begin to tell the story of Stella Liebeck. The facts are that McDonald’s brewed its coffee at 180 degrees, a temperature hot enough to seriously burn anyone who might spill it on themselves. In fact, Liebeck’s injuries were so serious she required skin grafts. And she wasn’t the first person burned by McDonald’s hot coffee — at least 700 others had reported (more…)

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Army Sgt. Rosa-La Williams thought she was getting a great deal when she bought a used 2002 BMW 325i from a dealer in Honolulu. It wasn’t until a few weeks later that she found out why the dealer had been so eager to sell the car — Williams learned through the manufacturer that a previous owner had crashed the car into a tree and the engine had caught fire. (more…)

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