5 Ways Corporations Get Away With Selling Products That Can Kill—Part 1

People often find it extremely difficult to believe that it is “legal” for corporations to sell products “if they can cause kill/cause cancer.” So how do they do it? At first I wanted to make the list and give it in one fell swoop. It grew too long and so I ended having to split it up. Therefore, this is the first in a 5-part installment on how Corporations can get away with selling products that can kill. I hope it is informative!

1. Paying for Your Own Scientific Evidence

In the world of toxic torts (lawsuits involving toxic substances, generally defined), we hear a lot about how a certain chemical can cause a certain illness. In fact, it is generally accepted that certain chemicals are harmful and should not be in a consumer product—a fact which is admitted in many cases of cancer caused by a consumer product.

Yet many times, corporations beat consumers in court even after a consumer shows he/she used a product with a specific carcinogen and that this carcinogen causes the consumer’s specific illness. This is a primer on how they do it.

a. The Analogy- 2005 Scott Peterson Trial

Everybody knows who Scott Peterson is, right? No one saw him kill his pregnant wife Laci Peterson, yet he was convicted in large part because Scott Peterson’s scientific expert, Dr. Charles March, was discredited by the prosecution.

At first, Dr. March was very impressive to the jury. He was an excellent speaker, and the jury paid close attention to him. During the break following his direct examination, the defense was confident in an acquittal.

After the break, the jury saw that Dr. March based his testimony exonerating Scott Peterson on only anecdotes. Dr. March was crushed by this admission and the jury started rolling their eyes at him. He was finished.

Imagine if Dr. March had relied on hard evidence or even valid scientific research? The jury would have had no reason to disbelieve him. The California state prosecutors would have not a much weaker line of questioning. It is generally agreed that this was the turning point of the Scott Peterson trial.

b. Corporations creating evidence for other Corporations

In reality, corporations can pay for scientific evidence that is useful to them in court using these 6 easy steps:

  1. Chemical Corporations pay a scientific-sounding corporation to create scientific studies saying their product containing benzene/asbestos/diacetyl/beryllium/etc. does not increase risk for causing an illness.
  2. Chemical Corporations sell the product containing benzene/asbestos/diacetyl/beryllium/etc. to a consumer.
  3. Consumer gets sick.
  4. Consumer sues corporation.
  5. Corporation points to the scientific studies to say their product is safe.
  6. Corporation wins and Consumer loses!

c. Moral of the story: Only impartial science is good science

In the old days, there was a requirement that scientific studies be conducted by an uninterested party to assure accuracy and lack of bias. Today, more and more scientific studies are bought and paid for because a corporation wants to get away with something it should not. Therefore, be careful what you rely on—it may not be worth the paper it was printed on.