Most of us have read about the tainted milk crisis in China. Melamine, a chemical substance was found in milk and many milk products sold for human consumption. The chemical was added to watered-down milk to artificially increase the protein content. Melamine is a toxic chemical and dangerous stuff, particularly to young children. It can ruin kidneys and create kidney stones. Babies are particularly vulnerable to kidney stones. In China, over 50,000 children became ill and four deaths were reported from kidney stone complications. All from drinking powdered milk formula. Don’t expect the Chinese government to do much to compensate the victims. China’s citizens have little hope of recovering compensation for harms caused by corrupt business practices. Their civil justice system is run by the Communist Party. As a result, companies that sell tainted products, particularly state owned companies, rarely suffer financial consequences. Lawyers do exist in China and some do make valiant efforts to help citizens recover damages for sickness or injury caused by tainted food products. Unfortunately, the government puts tremendous pressure on these lawyers to turn people away. Making it difficult to obtain a lawyer is the best type of tort reform. It doesn’t matter what rights you have if you have no way to enforce them. Corporations in the United States regularly lobby federal and state legislatures for new laws making it more difficult to sue and recover damages if their products harm someone. Capping what a consumer can agree to pay their lawyer seems to be the latest new tort reform idea being sold to the public. We may soon have more and more in common with the citizens of China.
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