Ambrose Bierce in The Devil’s Dictionary famously defined a corporation as “An ingenious device for obtaining profit without individual responsibility.” No matter how many Supreme Court decisions say otherwise (such as the latest one related to corporate campaign financing), a corporation is not a person, it is a machine, a machine for making money. As a machine, it has no heart, no brain, no soul, and no conscience.
You might say, “Wait, a corporation has a conscience–it is the combined conscience of all the people who work there.” Yes, and no. As a corporation grows, it becomes increasingly specialized. One person designs a widget, someone else obtains the components, someone else puts them together, someone else tests the widget, someone else designs the packaging, and someone else writes the ad copy. Someone takes orders for the product (as the widget, artfully packaged and marketed, is now described), someone else puts the product on the trucks, and someone else drives the trucks.
Once a corporation reaches a particular size, it tends to obtain a person or people with a very special talent and a very specialized job. The talent is often described in terms such as business acumen, toughness of mind, or clarity of vision, and their job is to be the conscienceless command center for the corporation. Somewhere along the way, someone hired them because they had the ability to “make the hard decisions.” The hirer doesn’t actually ask what these decisions are, partly because it is part of this person’s job to insulate everyone else from thinking about these decisions, such as the decision to continue marketing a fan whose motor is known to cause fires (without implementing the available fix), putting police officers in a car with an inherent fire risk, or concealing the heart attack risk associated with a diabetes drug. This person’s job is very important, because each one of these decisions can mean billions of dollars for the corporation, enough to help it keep consuming and growing and developing new specialized parts to increase its ability to obtain more money.
The only way to stop corporations from obtaining a conscienceless command center is to make this component unprofitable. By making a corporation pay for every injury it causes through a product liability or drug injury lawsuit, we can increase the cost of making these kinds of “hard decisions,” so that the right decision for protecting people from injury becomes the right decision for protecting corporate profits.
Now you might object, “A corporation is such an ingenious device for obtaining profit that it just passes the cost of lawsuits onto the consumer, increasing the price we all pay.” True. And appropriate. Because one of us got paid to design that widget, another of us got paid to assemble it, and one of us got paid to write the ad copy. And if you feel the cost, it’s because you bought a product from a company with a conscienceless command center. The best way to avoid this cost is to stop doing business with companies that hurt people.
The two parts work together. Lawsuits expose and publicize corporate misconduct, and in their detailed investigations provide enough information for us, as consumers, to decide who we will and will not deal with. All it takes is for us to look at the information, using our hearts, our brains, our souls, and our consciences to supply what corporations lack. It is easy to think of corporations as huge and terrible juggernauts, unstoppable by frail human flesh, but each of us holds the lever, and it only takes our collective will to grind the consuming machine to a halt.
If you have been hurt by a dangerous product or drug, you deserve compensation for your injuries, and the company that profited from the dangerous product deserves to pay. The product liability lawyers of Robert W. Kerpsack, CO., LPA may be able to help you. Please contact us today for a free case evaluation.