Today, Congressman Jerrold Nadler (NY-10), a veteran member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and the House Judiciary Committee, re-introduced the Sunshine in Litigation Act. This legislation would prevent companies, such as General Motors, from concealing evidence of wrongdoing that puts our public health and safety at risk.
“For years, America’s number one automaker, General Motors, was able to hide a defect in its cars which lead to at least 13 deaths. A company should not be allowed to use courtroom settlements to keep lifesaving information from the public,” said Congressman Nadler. “Current federal court rules make it too easy for defendants subject to lawsuits to protect their profits over saving lives. Were there a requirement to inform the public about a product’s deadly safety flaws, we would have been able to save lives and GM’s manufacturing mistake would have been corrected much sooner.”
Major corporations and manufacturers use protective orders to broadly shield vast amounts of information, vital to health and safety, from public scrutiny. Defendants also often require, as part of settlement agreements, that documents or other records revealing critical dangers uncovered during litigation be kept secret.
“As early as 2005, GM reached settlements with victims that required the parties to keep the issues confidential. If the critical safety information had been disclosed to the public, as would be required by the Sunshine in Litigation Act, many lives likely would have been saved,” said Congressman Nadler.