Corporate Crime Supported by a Whirligig of Legal Favoritism

Jim Hightower Author, Commentator, America’s Number One Populist

Corporate Crime Supported by a Whirligig of Legal Favoritism

This is odd: America's laws to deter corporate crime actually force victims to help subsidize the criminals.

Follow the bouncing ball here: First, a court orders a corporation to pay punitive damages to a victim of its criminal acts; second, the corporate offender pays up, then merrily subtracts a big chunk of that payment from its income tax, effectively taking money out of our public treasury; third, while the criminal is counting its tax break, the victim is notified that the punitive damage money he or she received from the corporation will be taxed as "regular income;" fourth, that means a big chunk of the victim's payment effectively goes to replenish the public money the corporate villain subtracted.

Bad enough that corporate-financed lawmakers legalize such encouragement of criminality, but corporate-coddling judges are playing the same disgraceful game by drastically reducing the amounts that juries order corporations to pay. In a Montana case, for example, a jury awarded $240 million in punitive damages to the families of three people, including two teenagers, killed in a car crash. The deaths were blamed on a steering defect that South Korean automaker, Hyundai, was found to have known about and "recklessly" ignored for more than a decade. But a district judge has since supplanted the jury's ruling with her own. While declaring that Hyundai's "reprehensibility" certainly warrants a sizeable punishment, she cut the corporation's punitive payment down to $73 million.

Hello – that's not punishment to a $79 billion a year car giant, it's pocket change. Why would Hyundai executives quit putting corporate profits over people's lives if that's their "punishment?

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This has been reposted from Jim Hightower's website.

National radio commentator, writer, public speaker, and author of the book, Swim Against The Current: Even A Dead Fish Can Go With The Flow, Jim Hightower has spent three decades battling the Powers That Be on behalf of the Powers That Ought To Be – consumers, working families, environmentalists, small businesses, and just-plain-folks. Twice elected Texas Agriculture Commissioner, Hightower believes that the true political spectrum is not right to left but top to bottom, and he has become a leading national voice for the 80 percent of the public who no longer find themselves within shouting distance of the Washington and Wall Street powers at the top. He publishes a populist political newsletter, “The Hightower Lowdown.” He is a New York Times best-selling author, and has written seven books including, Thieves In High Places: They’ve Stolen Our Country And It’s Time To Take It Back; If the Gods Had Meant Us To Vote They Would Have Given Us Candidates; and There’s Nothing In the Middle Of the Road But Yellow Stripes and Dead Armadillos. His newspaper column is distributed nationally by Creators Syndicate.

Posted In: Allied Approaches, From Jim Hightower

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