Toys to Toxic Waste: New Report Details Corporations that Skirt Responsibility and Shun Consumer Safety to Save Money

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For Immediate Release: October 28, 2009

Contact: Jen Fuson
202-965-3500, ext. 8369
media.replies@justice.org

Toys to Toxic Waste: New Report Details Corporations that Skirt Responsibility and Shun Consumer Safety to Save Money  

Washington, DC—As the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform holds their annual summit – an event dedicated to championing corporate misconduct and evading accountability – a new report released today details true stories of corporations that knew their products were dangerous, yet failed to act and protect consumers.

“They Knew and Failed To” details numerous examples of medical devices, prescription drugs, and other consumer products that remained on the market after critical safety concerns had been raised within the company, while using all means necessary to avoid being held accountable for their misconduct.

In one example, police officer Tony Zeppetella of Oceanside, Calif. had paid $313 to “upgrade” his standard bullet proof vest.  The Ultima body armor Zeppetella had purchased was widely used by law enforcement, military personnel, and even worn by the President and Mrs. Bush.  Unfortunately, Zeppetella was shot and killed on a routine traffic stop in June 2003, when a bullet penetrated his vest.

Second Chance, the manufacturer, had known as early as 1998 that heat and sunlight caused the material to degrade, making the vests penetrable. Internal corporate memos from 2001 revealed an executive at the company had recommended notifying customers about the products’ defect, saying, “Lives and our credibility are at stake.”  It was not until September 2003 that the company eventually recalled 130,000 vests, three months after Zeppetella was shot.  The company had known for five years there were problems with their vests, but failed to notify consumers, putting law enforcement and service members’ lives at risk.  Several years later, Second Chance recalled another 98,000 vests.   

“While most businesses act in good faith to serve their customers and communities, unfortunately some corporations recklessly put lives at risk for the sake of profit,” said American Association for Justice President Anthony Tarricone.  “While front groups like the Chamber stage events practically celebrating corporate misconduct, this new report convincingly illustrates the importance of holding wrongdoers accountable.”

The full report, “They Knew and Failed To,” is available at: www.justice.org/clips/TheyKnewAndFailedTo.pdf.

 

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