|So Called ‘Reforms’ Put Consumer, Small Business Rights at Risk|
|Wednesday, February 01, 2012|
ST. PAUL, MN – Legislators are moving swiftly to pass a package of bills that will have a devastating effect on consumers’ and small businesses’ ability to seek justice. Four bills to be heard today and tomorrow are sponsored by big insurance and big business special interests in the form of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), Minnesota’s legislators are introducing cookie-cutter bills written in D.C. and claiming them as their own.
“On the heels of the biggest economic downturn since the depression—fueled by fraudulent business practices which robbed Minnesota’s hardworking, honest consumers of their houses, jobs and pensions—our legislature wants to reward these wrongdoers by passing legislation that will allow companies to cheat consumers; hurt small businesses by shifting costs to private health insurers and remove Minnesotan’s constitutional right to remedy when harmed by negligent wrongdoers and fraudulent business practices,” said Brian Wojtalewicz, President of the Minnesota Association for Justice.rm efforts are unreasonable, unfair and unconstitutional.”
Wojtalewicz added, “We have heard a lot about the constitution the last year and a half, but you can’t pick which parts of the constitution you like and which parts you don’t. These refo
Four of the so called ‘reform’ bills that reward the wrongdoer:
SF 149/HF 211 would eliminate the ability of consumers and business to hold companies accountable for fraudulent and deceptive acts and dramatically changes Minnesota’s long standing consumer protection legislation.
SF 373/HF 654 would rob innocent victims, including victims of sexual violence of the time they need to recover for the damages they suffered.
SF429/HF 747 would restrict the ability of citizens to hold companies accountable for any discriminatory, fraudulent, and employment related wrongful conduct and would affect 300 statutes that require awards of attorney’s fees to prevent wrongful and/or illegal conduct.
SF 530/HF 770 is a windfall for insurance companies by creating an incentive to avoid paying claims owed to consumers and thereby increasing their profits.
Reacting to the swift passage of this legislation, Carla Ferrucci, executive director of Minnesota Association for Justice, said the proposed changes in law are “frivolous ‘reform’ bills with pithy titles, flimsy facts and obscure the truth about the civil justice system.” She went on to say that “if the bill sponsors were truthful they would admit that personal injury and medical malpractice case filings have gone down 40% since 1997; Minnesota has the lowest medical malpractice premiums in the country; Minnesota’s auto insurance premiums have gone down approximately 14% since 2003 and, our court rules and procedures are the envy of the every other state in the country. Indeed, concerned Minnesotans will surely wonder why these bills are being brought forward. The only reasonable conclusion is to reward big insurance and big business at the expense of working families.”
Ferrucci said it is imperative that Minnesotans understand just how drastically these proposals will affect the rights of consumers and small business to obtain justice when unscrupulous business come into our state and prey on senior citizens and other vulnerable communities. “Minnesotans need to let their legislators know that these are not reforms; they are protectionist laws that will enable an unregulated insurance industry to charge excessive premiums and encourage bad businesses to operate freely in Minnesota,” she added.
The Minnesota Association for Justice (MAJ) is a professional association of attorneys who represent Minnesotans wrongfully harmed or injured in person, property or human rights. MAJ defends the rights guaranteed by the Constitutions and laws of the United States and Minnesota, foremost among them the right to a trial by jury and advocates for public policy to enhance consumer rights and protection.
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