On March 10, 2006, Panish Shea & Boyle LLP founding partner Brian Panish appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee, including then-Senator Jeff Sessions, to testify about defective products and corporate accountability. Mr. Sessions was confirmed as the new United States Attorney General on February 8, 2017.
Mr. Panish obtained a $4.9 billion verdict in 1999 in a case against General Motors involving a defectively designed fuel system. In that case, a Chevy Malibu exploded when it was rear ended by a drunk driver, resulting in catastrophic injuries to some of the car’s occupants. During trial, Mr. Panish presented evidence that General Motors made a deliberate decision to leave the defective fuel system unchanged based on its analysis that it would be cheaper to litigate any wrongful death lawsuits that resulted from a car exploding then it would be to modify the car’s design. He testifies at the committee hearing about the devastating impact that putting profits over safety can have on a family.
The hearing continues as each party testifies, exploring the potential criminal penalties for corporations that produce dangerously defective products as well as appropriate consumer protections.
In further evaluating the issues, Mr. Panish addresses questions posed by Committee Chairman, the late Senator Arlen Spector, and then-Senator Sessions, as to whether the cases the committee has examined are anecdotal, random occurrences, or the issues they present are prevalent among product manufacturers.
To watch the 2006 Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in its entirety, click here.