U.S. Chamber’s Institute for Legal Reform Hypocrites?

The Institute for Legal Reform (ILR), an arm of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, has the sole mission of restricting the ability of individuals harmed by negligent corporations to access the civil justice system. According to the multinational corporations that finance ILR, American businesses are hindered by too many lawsuits. Yet these same corporations show no hesitation in liberally using the courthouse themselves.

Caterpillar for instance, one of ILR’s board members, sued Disney because it felt the depiction of bulldozers in the straight-to-video movie George of the Jungle 2 was overly villainous. FedEx, another stalwart ILR board member, took a “stand for justice” by suing a man for making a chair out of FedEx boxes. And Johnson & Johnson used the civil justice system to take on a most unlikely foe – the Red Cross.

However silly these lawsuits may sound, they share one common theme: the company filing the lawsuit had the Constitutional right to do so. What makes their actions shameful and hypocritical is that these companies are members of ILR’s board for the sole purpose of denying Americans this same right, especially when severely harmed or killed by the companies’ products and services.