Friday, October 26, 2012

Catch Us If You Can

Trey Smith

One of the headlines of recent weeks has been in regards to the outbreak of meningitis and the implications against a particular company -- New England Compounding Center (NECC) -- which allegedly distributed tainted steroid injections thought to be responsible for 24 deaths and climbing. While NECC has closed its doors over the scandal, that hasn't stopped surviving victims and the family of those who have died from filing suit. But, as it turns out, these civil suits face a big obstacle as lawyers for the plaintiffs expect NECC "to declare itself bankrupt."

Bankruptcy has become a tool for corporations to evade legal responsibility for all sorts of bad behavior. They reap tremendous profits from peddling defective products or steering people in the wrong direction and then, when they get caught, they dissolve the company! A bankrupt business makes it that much more difficult -- in some cases, impossible -- for the victims to receive much of any compensation for their pain and suffering.

This is how these kinds of scenarios tend to play out. The big bad corporation and its bigwigs get filthy rich while jeopardizing the health, safety and/or financial wellbeing of consumers or the general public. The government -- supposedly the watchdog on behalf of the people -- turns a blind eye. People start getting sick, dying or losing their financial shirts. The bad headlines spur some arm of the government "all of a sudden" to investigate.

As the situation grows worse, our nonexistent watchdogs spring into action. First, they work to minimize their own culpability and, in some instances, try to shield the guilty corporation from as much culpability as possible. If this doesn't work and the situation grows more dire, the scumbag enterprise bails on everybody. Too often, the company bigwigs get out of the game before they have to face the music, only to resurface barely unscathed to run the same gambit again in a different guise.

The victims -- those poor saps who, through no fault of their own, are now sick, broke or dead -- are left holding the proverbial bag. The hapless watchdogs announce some new law or policy that will prevent such heinous things from ever happening again, yet the new law or policy ends up NOT preventing much of anything. Before we know it, we have another such scandal on our hands...with yet another corporation making off like bandits

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