At dinner one night, when our son was little, he told a story about how a company had made a toy that did not perform as expected. He concluded his tale with an indignant “They don’t care about us; they just want our money”. From the mouths of babes, right? We all laughed but the sad truth is that every day in the headlines we see where corporations put profits over safety. To some, financial growth is the sole objective. So what can be done?
- Be a whistleblower. If you see something unsafe or illegal happening, report it. Tennessee and federal laws provide legal protections for whistleblowers. Earlier this week, internal Boeing documents were released which contained profanity laced tirades about Lion Air wanting simulator training for their pilots on the 737 MAX and how Boeing talked them out of it because of the cost and because it undercut a major selling point (that no training was necessary because the plane was similar to a model already in use). Of course, a Lion Air 737 MAX crashed within a year of these discussions and lack of training and the pilots’ lack of knowledge about the flight control feature that malfunctioned were the cited causes of the crash. I can’t help but wonder if the 737 MAX crashes could have been prevented if someone at Boeing who knew about all this had simply spoken up.
- If you are in a management position, instill a culture in your company that elevates safety. If you think you cannot afford to make safety a priority, simply consider Boeing’s 737 MAX unprecedented debacle. The plane has been grounded for months and its return is questionable. Layoffs have been considerable for component suppliers. The company’s stock has been affected and Airbus, Boeing’s leader competitor is more than doubling Boeing’s airplane delivery. Leadership has been given the boot. In other words, Boeing’s failure to instill a culture of safety has cost the company a lot of money and its reputation. The additional training would have been infinitely cheaper.
- Demand better from companies. For instance, consumers are constantly presented with documents to sign that contain language that eliminates all liability for the company. For example, your child is going to camp and, as part of the enrollment, the camp wants you to sign forms which says they are not responsible for anything that happens. Speak up. Talk to management. A lot of times, the company has simply used boiler plate language presented to them (from some dang attorney) without thinking it through. Even if they did intend for that language to be there, if more and more potential clients object and go elsewhere, the better the chance at having the company rethink their unreasonable position. And to be sure, it is unreasonable. If you are going to undertake a business, you should be willing to take responsibility for your actions and inactions. You do not have to protect yourself by contractually avoiding and denying responsibility. Instead, you can protect yourself by buying insurance so that if anything does happen, then your customer is not the one to bear the brunt of your mistake. One more thing on this point, many releases signed on behalf of minors are not enforceable so be sure to have an attorney review it if you think you have a claim.
- If you have been injured by a company or their product, hold them accountable. File a claim or suit. Report it to the media. Tell friends, family and neighbors (be accurate in your account, of course) In short, if some companies are going to insist on putting profits over safety, the only way to effectuate change is to make it unprofitable for them to do so. Successful lawsuits not only take money out the pockets of a negligent or reckless company, but it can also lead to reduced sales if the case receives media attention.
Please don’t put us in the group of people who think all corporations or businesses are evil and so are the people who run them. We do not believe that and in fact we know better. But there are some number of businesses who seem to make the decision to put profits ahead of safety and human life. When that happens, the courts and the government need to hold them accountable, if for no other reason than to deter future misconduct by themselves and others.
If you or a loved one has been injured by the unsafe or illegal practices of a company, our award-winning attorneys can help hold them accountable. We handle all injury and death cases on a contingency basis and we only get paid if we are successful. To get started with a free initial consultation, give us a call at one of the numbers below.
* Quote attributed to Edward Abbey