Judicial Elections Have Consequences, Especially If You’re Injured

In the 1980s, Ohio enacted a law allowing workers who have been injured in the workplace to sue employers who intentionally harm them or expose them to “a condition or practice almost certain to cause injury.”

Seems reasonable. Twice (in 1991 and 1999), the Ohio Supreme Court struck down business-and-insurance-company-sponsored changes to that law that would have made it more difficult for injured workers to bring their cases. Recently, the Court decided to ignore this precedent and uphold virtually the same law, passed in 2005. Now, knowingly putting a worker in harm’s way will not expose an employer to liability.

What a difference a corporate-funded judicial election campaign makes! Almost immediately after handing down a 1999 decision striking down as unconstitutional Ohio’s 1996 broad and brutal “tort reform” law, an insurance-industry front-group called “Americans for Job Security” began a viscous media campaign attacking Ohio Supreme Court Justice Alice Robie Resnick. (See more background here.)

In 2004, Citizens for a Strong Ohio said it raised close to $3 million to support GOP candidates for judgeships in Ohio. Of the $3 million, the Chamber’s national Institute for Legal Reform contributed $1 million; the American Insurance Association, $375,000; Nationwide Insurance, $200,000; and Procter & Gamble, $160,000. (More background here.) In that year, the money worked. Republicans won four Ohio Supreme Court races in 2004, giving them six of seven seats on the state Supreme Court. The legislature then repassed their unconstitutional “tort reform” package, and in 2007, the Court ignored their own precedent and upheld the law.

This fall, vote for Judge Mary Jane Trapp and Judge Eric Brown to help restore some balance to the Ohio Supreme Court and some protection to Ohio’s injured citizens.

Categories: Blog

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