Frivolous Lawsuits Against Scientific Innovation Are Just Another Form Of Socialism

By Jeff Stier, The Federalist

Unjustified and outsized verdicts harm society by discouraging investment in innovative products, yet they’re becoming startlingly common.

Only 51 percent of Americans think socialism would be a bad thing for the country, according to a Gallup poll released in May. Although the 2020 election will be a big test for whether socialism gains a foothold, freedom-lovers should be worried more broadly than at the polls.

The slide towards socialism is taking root not only at the ballot box, but also from the jury box. Plaintiffs’ lawyers are having wild success in their campaign to redistribute wealth from innovative companies to sympathetic clients—all while taking a healthy cut for themselves, of course.

Unjustified and outsized verdicts harm society by discouraging investment in innovative products. Researchers at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business and Tilburg University recently aggregated data from more than 40,000 lawsuits filed between 1996 and 2011 and found that “frivolous lawsuits tended to focus on highly innovative businesses,” costing the average defendants $1.1 million each year. They found that the cases were, in effect, a disproportionate tax on innovation.

Consider the recent $2 billion jury verdict against Bayer AG (which acquired Monsanto) for allegations that its Roundup herbicide, made with glyphosate, caused cancer in plaintiffs. This was the third verdict for plaintiffs in California in the last year, with more than 13,400 cases pending nationwide.

Yet the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, under Democrat and Republican administrations alike, has thoroughly and repeatedly evaluated glyphosate and found that it is not a carcinogen and it poses, “no risks to public health from the current registered uses of glyphosate.” The risk-averse European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) similarly does not classify glyphosate as carcinogenic. Australian and Canadian regulators reached the same conclusion.

But plaintiffs’ lawyers are making bank on a controversial report issued by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), an affiliate of the scandal-ridden World Health Organization. In all but one of its 900 evaluations, IARC’s flawed methodology led it to identify a chemical (Caprolactam), as “not” carcinogenic to humans.

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PHOTO CREDIT: Chris Potter [CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D