Thursday, November 5, 2009

Hazards to the Public Remain Secret - American Roulette & Red Collar Crime

For the irony, I have posted a report that I converted from a PDF file, 
"Skeletons in the Courthouse: Hazards to the Public Remain Secret". Download PDF

The report is pasted in after a few notes about these "situations" and after
a few excerpts form

                        "Red Collar Crime"

While the average American (and or war hero) can become a criminal
because they are homeless, the average corporation appears to be practically
immune from criminal prosecution for the reckless homicides that they commit.
There is one exception that I have found and believe that every District Attorney
in our country needs to be aware of.

Corporations are very rarely even charged in a criminal court. It seems that most 
District Attorney's are unaware that they can convict corporations of reckless 
homicide.  Michael McCann was a longtime district attorney in Milwaukee 
County, (retired 12 / 31 / 2006 ). McCann is best known for prosecuting   
Jeffrey Dahmer and had also prosecuted more than ten corporations 
for reckless homicide, over the last two decades.   

But still, the game foes on:

American Roulette;  
"Forget the revolver. We use products and services"

American Roulette - based on "Red Collar Crime".

Please note the section half way down the page of "Red Collar Crime" titled 

The Political Fallout of Criminal Charges Against Corporations:
The Failings Of Campaign Financing.

at the censored and Archived copy of "Red Collar Crime"

Excerpts from: "Red Collar Crime"

Industry has know for over fifty years that it has been poisoning 
us and paid out millions to settle cases and seal the records (26).  
A book titled "Toxic Deception" documents how industries 
manipulates science, bends the law and endangers our 
health (81, a book review).

 A Congressional Report states that of the 1,400 chemicals 
known to cause cancer, less than 6% are tracked (145B). The 
huge transnational companies that produce toxic chemicals 
found in pesticides, herbicides and industrial and household 
products profit not only from the sale of these products, 
but also from the symptoms and chronic illnesses that they 
can trigger (157).

157 = a censored report titled
"POISON FOR PROFIT" by Ashley Simmons Hotz
 PDF copy posted in reference material of "Toxic Revelations" sub-chapter
The Toxic Lotto as Poison_for_Profit.pdf > Download


One well documented example of the "Political Fallout" of 
trying to use criminal charges against a corporation are the 
"Earth First" activists and any that would aid them.

Charles Hurwitz, owns Pacific Lumber. The corporation that 
has been opposed by Earth First and brought Julia Butterfly" 
Hill into public attention for her tree sitting activism against 
Pacific Lumber.

The story about Pacific Lumber (owned by Charles Hurwitz
financing a recall campaign against the Humboldt District 
Attorney in the hundreds of thousands of dollars (G1), after 
the D.A. filed "fraud charges" against Pacific Lumber. You 
would think that there would be laws against that ? So what 
are Campaign Contribution Laws, anyway ?

So far, the California Attorney Generals Office has refused 
to even investigate a homicide complaint that I filed against 
the Pacific Lumber Co. 

A logger was FILMED threatening Earth First Activists that 
were documenting the fraudulent manner PL was cutting 
trees. The logger starting falling trees at them" as he had 
threatened to. A protester was killed and the Humboldt 
District Attorney says that they "do not have enough 
evidence to convict".

The story about Pacific Lumber financing a recall against 
the Humboldt District Attorney in the hundreds of thousands 
of dollars (G1) should give you a clue that we are not talking 
about "pocket change", here. It has been estimated that Pacific 
Lumber has made millions of dollars from fraudulently harvested 
trees. But I do not have an exact or substantiated figures and that 
estimate is based, so far, on "hear say". Not that I would want 
Pacific Lumber to file a slander suit against me. Activists that 
were trying to document some of this were charged with 
"trespassing" in what have become known as the

Another story documents break in's at the DA's home (G2).

David "Gypsy" Chain was murdered while documenting 
crimes of fraud that amount to RICCO violations that has 
brought illegal profits to Pacific Lumber CO in the millions 
of dollars

There is no way that anyone could say that the Humboldt 
County District Attorney's Office is not under undo influence 
or " impartial" not to prosecute the Pacific Lumber CO for 
the "reckless homicide" of David "Gypsy" Chain.

End of excerpts from:

The Political Fallout of Criminal Charges Against 
Corporations: The Failings Of Campaign Financing.

at the censored and Archived copy of  

                        "Red Collar Crime"


Below is a copy / paste of a converted
PDF document report. Please note that
some changes to the laws have been made,
since this censored report was published
in 2002. Namely the "Sunshine Laws"
dealing with consumer protection. The
"Sunshine Laws" can be used to open
"sealed court cases" that were sealed
as a condition of an "out of court
settlement" - TR


Skeletons in the Courthouse:
Hazards to the Public Remain Secret
April 2002
Coalition for Consumer Rights
407 South Dearborn, Suite 1345
Chicago, Illinois 60605
312/939-4849 (fax)

Coalition for Consumer Rights Skeletons in the Courthouse, Page 1
Skeletons in the Courthouse: Hazards to the Public Remain Secret
Table of Contents
Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2
A History of Secret Settlements . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3
Car Seats . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . 4
Zomax . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . 4
Water Slides . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . 5
GM Fuel Tanks . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5
Bjork-Shiley Heart Valves . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5
BIC Lighters . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . 6
Chrysler Fuel Tanks . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6
Asbestos . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ... . . . . . 6
Corvair . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ... . . . . 7
Dalkon Shield . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ... . . . . 7
School Lunch Tables . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8
Table 1. The Legacy of Secret Settlements . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8
Current Tragedies Highlight Need for Court Secrecy Reform . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . 10
Ford/Firestone Tire Tread Separation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10
Collapsing Cribs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10
Workplace Hazards . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . 11
Lead . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ................ . 11
Unknown Toxins . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ............. . 12
Recommendation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13
Sunshine in Litigation: Let the People Know . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13
Endnotes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . 15

Coalition for Consumer Rights Skeletons in the Courthouse, Page 2


In 2001, millions of Americans driving Ford Explorers equipped with Firestone tires learned that they
had entrusted their safety on the road to a potential death trap. Even worse, they discovered that
numerous lawsuits had already uncovered the trouble with Firestone tires but the information had
remained hidden due to court-approved secrecy agreements. All too often, lawsuits related to products
that endanger the health and safety of the public remain secret, despite the future harm they may cause
to unsuspecting consumers.
The secrecy which surrounded the Ford/Firestone defective tire settlements is a glaring example. Over
eight years, these companies settled dozens of cases and then forced the victims to stay silent about the
damage they suffered and the dangers posed by Ford trucks and Firestone tires.1
Secrecy agreements often prevent victims or attorneys from sharing any documents obtained in the
course of a lawsuit, disclosing the size of damage awards, alerting governmental agencies, or speaking
to the press. These limitations effectively force every plaintiff to start litigation from scratch.
To prevent future debacles like the Ford/Firestone litigation, Illinois must enact a Sunshine in Litigation
law to prevent court concealment of public hazards. At present, sixteen states have enacted some
form of Sunshine in Litigation laws or judicial rules. Such laws respect valid privacy concerns and still
protect trade secrets, benign sensitive personal information, and juvenile justice matters. But, when
defective products injure or kill a consumer, Sunshine in Litigation ensures that future users of the
product will not be kept in the dark.
It is unfortunate that the Illinois General Assembly cannot pass any sort of anti-secrecy legislation,
despite the fact that this state’s citizens overwhelmingly support Sunshine in Litigation. The Coalition for
Consumer Rights’ 2001 Annual Survey of Illinois Voters found that 90.8% of the state’s registered
voters felt that nobody should be allowed to conceal information about dangerous products that is
uncovered in a lawsuit.
This report details court secrecy’s legacy of unnecessary suffering and death, one that has involved
products ranging from auto parts, child safety products, and medical devices to cigarette lighters and
children’s toys. It illustrates why Sunshine in Litigation is long overdue in Illinois.
Coalition for Consumer Rights Skeletons in the Courthouse, Page 3
A History of Secret Settlements
Secrecy in the courts has a long and painful history. In product liability cases, corporations often
demand that information turned over to injured consumers and their lawyers be kept absolutely secret,
even when the product is defectively designed or otherwise hazardous and remains for sale to the
public. From mislabeled car seats to deadly arthritis medications, corporations force confidentiality
agreements on consumers as a precondition to settling a case. As a result, regulatory agencies, the
media, and the public are kept in the dark about dangerous products. Not only must every consumer
injured by the same product must build his or her legal case from scratch, but other consumers who
own and use that product have no way of protecting themselves from injury. By leaving everyone in the
dark, court secrecy allows corporations to continue to profit at the expense of their customers’ life and
The Mechanisms of Court Secrecy
At various points during a lawsuit, a corporation can insulate its wrongdoing from public scrutiny. These
methods of concealment include the following:
• Before trial: Injury victims have a right to discover evidence that may be in the defendants’
possession prior to trial. Often, defendants refuse to honor victims’ rights to obtain this
evidence unless they agree not to divulge the evidence to others, including governmental
watchdog agencies. In these circumstances, defendants will ask the judge to issue protective
orders to regulate the use of evidence they provide to victims.
• At the conclusion of the trial: Even after defendants have been found liable by a civil jury, they
can and often do request that the case records be sealed. If the judge issues sealing orders,
usually because defendants plan to appeal, the records are closed off from public review.
• After trial: If defendants agree to settle a claim before a verdict is rendered or even after a
verdict, even though they plan no further appeals and were found liable, they can still demand
that victims maintain silence about the dispute. These confidential settlements can be written
to prevent victims from cooperating with federal regulatory authorities, speaking to the media
about the nature of their injuries, or even admitting that there was ever a dispute at all.
In all of these ways, the public is denied an opportunity to critically evaluate the risk of highly dangerous
products. Federal oversight agencies such as the Consumer Product Safety Commission, the National
Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and the Food and Drug Administration are unable to protect the
public. Other manufacturers are denied the knowledge that a practice they might engage in may be
harmful. Years may pass before widespread problems come to light.
Coalition for Consumer Rights Skeletons in the Courthouse, Page 4
The following are examples of corporations’ insistence on secrecy agreements and the
consequent danger to the public. They clearly illustrate court secrecy’s human costs in terms of time
lost, death, and injury.
Car Seats
On March 12, 1989, Michael Wright suffered a broken neck in a car accident, paralyzing him from the
waist down. Sixteen-month-old Michael, at 22 pounds, was the appropriate weight for the car seat as
indicated by the manufacturer, Kolcraft Enterprises. However, other car seat manufacturers and the
National Highway Transportation Safety Administration recommended that children under 30 pounds
not use that style of car seat. Three months after Michael’s accident, Kolcraft raised the advertised
recommended minimum weight for its booster car seats to 30 pounds.
Kolcraft agreed to a settlement that reportedly could reach eight figures, but only under terms of a
confidentiality agreement requiring, among other things, that Kolcraft not be named, and that any media
contact be promptly reported to its lawyers. The family’s attorney, an outspoken critic of companies’
insistence on confidentiality agreements, said, “in the end, I agreed, because my job is to secure proper
care for my client. And I deemed it inappropriate for the confidentiality agreement to stand between
my client and the settlement.”2
McNeil Laboratories manufactured an arthritis pain reliever called Zomax that caused severe and
sometimes fatal allergic reactions in many consumers in the early 1980's. Court secrecy kept this
dangerous drug under wraps for five years. McNeil knew the drug was in wide distribution and
potentially dangerous. Yet, in repeated lawsuits filed in 43 states, McNeil insisted on protective orders
and confidential settlements, keeping information secret that could have sounded the alarm to potential
Zomax users. By the time the FDA recalled the drug in 1985, the agency believed that Zomax was
probably a factor in 14 deaths and 403 life-threatening allergic reactions.
One lawyer, representing several clients who settled confidentially, stated “what they are trying to do is
not be accountable to the vast majority of the public for what they’ve done.... They paid my clients a
ton of money for me to shut up.” Another attorney said, “the problem is that they have a gun to our
head. The client is concerned with being compensated in full. The lawyer must abide by the concerns
and wishes of his client...not the fact that [information will remain secret or] other victims may be
injured.” Devra Davis, a toxicologist who nearly died from using Zomax, said court secrecy hampers
“free scientific inquiry and the right of the public to know specific information about drugs it
Coalition for Consumer Rights Skeletons in the Courthouse, Page 5
Water Slides
In 1991, while sliding on a yard toy called the Slip ‘N Slide, Bill Evans broke his neck. He is paralyzed
from the neck down, wheelchair bound, and requires 24-hour-a-day care. Believing something was
defective about this product, Evans sued the manufacturer, Kransco. Evans’ lawyer discovered that
there had been at least seven other broken necks involving the Slip ‘N Slide and found a videotape that
was sealed as part of a confidential settlement in an earlier case. The video showed that Kransco knew
exactly how adults might be severely injured using the Slip ‘N Slide.
Evans reached a confidential settlement with the manufacturer, but he wanted to alert other consumers
by issuing a press release about the dangers of the Slip ‘N Slide. Evans was told that if he did this, the
deal would be off and he would have to return the settlement money. Evans sued for the right to speak
out, and Kransco capitulated.4
GM Fuel Tanks
Between 1973 and 1987, General Motors manufactured approximately 9.6 million pickup trucks
equipped with unsafe fuel tanks that resulted in at least 750 fire-related deaths. The company knew
very well it was dangerous to use this fuel tank design. In fact, a 1973 document, authored by GM
engineer Edward Ivey, evaluated the cost to GM of these expected “burned deaths.”
When victims of these fiery crashes first sued, GM disclosed documents and settled cases only on the
condition that plaintiffs and their lawyers would agree to complete secrecy.5 Due to such agreements,
the risks of driving these trucks were not made public until nearly 15 years after the design was first
Bjork-Shiley Heart Valves
The Bjork-Shiley heart valve, first put on the market in 1980, contained severe defects. In many cases
the heart valve would suffer fractures, causing fatal injuries about two-thirds of the time, while many
other instances led to serious injury. The FDA finally removed the valves from the market in 1986. As
of January, 1990, the company had reported a total of 389 fractures and 248 deaths (numbers
generally agreed to be greatly understated due to the limited number of autopsies taken). Because of
the manufacturer’s insistence on confidential settlements and protective orders during early litigation, the
valve’s defects remained undercover and more heart patients received the valve.
The husband of one victim stated “I learned that many [victims’] families had filed lawsuits against [the
Coalition for Consumer Rights Skeletons in the Courthouse, Page 6
manufacturer and its parent company]. I also learned that documents and information obtained in those
lawsuits were never made public because of agreements or court orders which kept the information
secret. I learned that Shiley had settled every fracture case out of court and in each settlement required
that the victims keep the settlements confidential.”6 Because of these confidential settlements, six years
passed before the public was notified of the danger and hundreds of heart valves were implanted into
unsuspecting victims.
Bic Lighters
In the 1980s, Bic Corporation quietly settled a number of lawsuits stemming from butane cigarette
lighters that would explode and either burn to death or severely wound users. Bic routinely demanded
that victims return all company documents provided during discovery in exchange for settling the case.
Not until 1987, after several years had passed and newspapers began reporting that 10 deaths had
been linked to these lighters, did Congress begin investigating. They found that Bic and other popular
brand lighters were so unsafe that they sometimes failed to meet the industry’s own voluntary safety
Chrysler Fuel Tanks
After her husband burned to death when his 1971 Dodge Demon was hit and burst into flames, Shirley
LoPrest sued Chrysler. She alleged that, because of the car’s fuel tank design, there was a serious risk
that fire would enter the passenger compartment on impact. In 1987, responding to LoPrest’s
discovery requests, Chrysler obtained a protective order from the judge that limited access to the
company’s documents to only the parties and their attorneys, consultants, and expert witnesses.
Consequently, Chrysler’s crash test results and other company safety documents were kept secret.
The case settled confidentially and the Chrysler files are still secret nearly thirty years later.8
In 1933, the Johns-Manville Company settled with an attorney for 11 former Manville employees, all
asbestosis victims. The attorney received $30,000 for the victims, in exchange for a written promise
that he would not “directly or indirectly participate in the bringing of new actions against the
Corporation.” This fact did not come to light for more than 45 years. In the meantime, the company
avoided damage suits. Had the public known about this settlement, it is likely that the hazards of
asbestos would have come to light decades earlier.
As recently as October 17, 2000, a Louisiana jury returned a multimillion dollar verdict in favor of the
families of two men who started working at an Exxon refinery in the 1940's and later died from cancer
Coalition for Consumer Rights Skeletons in the Courthouse, Page 7
caused by exposure to asbestos. “The jury was obviously shocked at what Exxon knew and when it
knew it,” according to attorneys for the plaintiffs. Exxon was apparently one of the first companies to
learn of the dangers of asbestos, but hid that knowledge while thousands of workers were fatally
exposed. Among the exhibits presented was a 1937 Exxon report stating that dust concentrations at
the refinery “are considered too high for working without adequate protection.”9
These asbestos cases also show that an employer’s insistence on secrecy can be costly. By concealing
known hazards, they often pay in the long run. For instance, after James Hutcheson worked as a
roofer for the Shell Wood River Refining Company, he developed cancer from exposure to asbestos.
The court issued a default judgment on issues of liability and damages against Shell Wood for failure to
turn over documents which indicated the company’s knowledge of the cancer hazard as early as 1945.
The jury ruled in favor of the the retired roofer, holding Shell Wood liable for millions of dollars in
In 1962, a man who drove his General Motors Corvair more than 100 miles each day for work
developed permanent brain damage. Unlike other cars, the Corvair used the same air that cooled the
engine to heat the passenger compartment, allowing the driver to breathe deadly carbon monoxide.
GM settled his claim, but demanded both that the settlement be kept secret and also that he amend his
original complaint to say that the car was defectively manufactured, not that it was defectively designed.
A design defect could trigger other individuals’ claims since it would apply to all Corvairs, while a
manufacturing defect would only apply to a single car. As a result, other Corvair drivers were not
warned about the risk of breathing engine-heated air.
Dalkon Shield
After eleven deaths and 209 spontaneous abortions, the FDA suspended use of the intrauterine birth
control device known as the Dalkon Shield. Attorneys for the product’s manufacturer, A.H. Robins,
reached numerous confidential settlements and even tried to extract promises from plaintiffs’ attorneys
to never take another Dalkon Shield case.11
A.H. Robbins knew that the device could cause Pelvic Inflammatory Disease but released it to the
public anyway. 3.6 million women worldwide have used the Dalkon Shield, approximately 2.2 million
of whom were American. In the first fifteen years of its use there were thousands of reports of injuries
but A.H. Robbins continued to market the Shield and forced consumers to stay silent through secret
Coalition for Consumer Rights Skeletons in the Courthouse, Page 8
School Lunch Tables
Certain lunch tables in use at schools in Illinois and other states have a tendency to collapse. Such
tables are believed responsible for six deaths and fourteen injuries. The mother of a Schaumburg boy
who was killed reluctantly agreed to a confidential settlement in an effort to put the tragedy behind her.
The lunch tables were not recalled and many remain in use at schools.
As the following summary (Table 1) indicates, court secrecy has taken an enormous toll on American
lives. The number of deaths and severe injuries that could have been prevented had the public known
about the dangers posed by these products is staggering.

Table рез
The Legacy of Secret Settlements

Product Years kept secret Death and injury toll

Zomax, McNeil Laboratories 5 14 deaths, 403 life
threatening allergic

General Motors Fuel Tanks 15 At least 750 deaths

Bjork-Shiley Heart Valves 6 At least 248 deaths

Bic Lighters 7 10 deaths, total burn
injuries unknown

Asbestos 40+ Total deaths and injuries
Edit note: Case still on going 2009. Deaths now estimated has grown dramatically.
See the "Cold Truth" blog for an excellent journalist that has been following
the case at
Example of a "Cold Truth" blog of the criminal trial March 12, 2009
End of edit note - TR

Dalkon Shield, A.H. Robins 15 11 deaths, 209 septic
abortions, thousands of
reported injuries


Coalition for Consumer Rights Skeletons in the Courthouse, Page 9
Recent Tragedies Highlight the Need for Sunshine in Litigation
Ford/Firestone Tire Tread Separation
After recalls of faulty tires from Saudi Arabia to Venezuela, Americans finally became aware of
the chronic tire tread separation problems present in certain lines of Firestone tires that were standard
equipment for Ford vehicles. For eight years, Ford and Firestone quietly and confidentially settled
lawsuits without admitting liability. Meanwhile, the death toll mounted.12 The Ford/Firestone debacle
has put a glaring spotlight on the atrocities committed by negligent corporations.
Many of the documents proving that Firestone had knowledge of tire tread separation are online at One letter, dated February 14, 1999, underscores the
explicit way in which a Bridgestone official was notified of the problem. In the letter, the national
service director of a Saudi Arabian auto dealership writes a senior Bridgestone engineer regarding an
accident in which tire tread separation occurred over the complete circumference of a tire while the tire
remained inflated. The service director concluded that “the tread separation cannot have been caused
by being run flat or impact damage” and service records indicated appropriate prior maintenance.
Combined with earlier tire related accidents, the service director goes on to state “you have a very
serious problem on your hands” and the fact there had been no deaths or serious injuries to date “is
simply sheer luck.”
As we now know, Firestone took no concerted actions to look into the problem or check production
runs for defects. Instead, Firestone settled suits over accidents resulting in deaths and injuries and
chose to seal court documents instead of taking action to protect consumers and save lives.
Collapsing Cribs
In 1993, after three deaths, Kolcraft/Playskool Travel-Lite Portable cribs were finally recalled, yet
children are still at risk because of ineffective recall strategies. For example, between 1996 and 1998,
32 children per year died because of crib-related injuries.13 Due to the limited authority of the
Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) to mount recalls, Kolcraft halfheartedly attempted to
alert the public to the dangers of Travel-Lite cribs, but thousands still remain unaccounted for, each one
a potential trap for a young child. While Travel-Lite cribs are designed to fold up at the midpoints of the
top rails to allow for storage, they also have a tendency to collapse unexpectedly, causing injury or
In 1998, five years after the recall, 16-month-old Danny Keysar died in a licensed, recently inspected
Chicago day care home when a Travel-Lite crib strangled him. While Danny’s parents first thought it
Coalition for Consumer Rights Skeletons in the Courthouse, Page 10
was just a freak accident, they soon learned that four other children had died in similar accidents. After
a protracted lawsuit against Kolcraft, Danny’s parents finally settled the case for $3 million in
December, 2001. One of the largest settlements in a case involving a defective children’s product, the
case is notable because Danny’s parents chose to make the settlement and the record of the case
public. They resisted Kolcraft’s attorneys’ insistence on a confidential settlement agreement, and as a
result they are able to tell the story of Danny’s death to the world. Hopefully, this will result in more
concerted efforts to ensure that no more children die in Travel-Lite cribs.
While Kolcraft could have prevented Danny’s death by acting in good faith when faced with the CPSC
recall order, Danny’s parents have courageously resisted corporate pressure and have taken the lead in
promoting awareness of dangerous children’s products. As the co-founders of Kids in Danger, they
have worked tirelessly to save other families from similarly tragic circumstances, and have shown that
consumers do not have to cave in to corporate interests in order to obtain justice and redress for their
Workplace Hazards
Often, workers will unwittingly take home toxins endangering spouses, children, and others with whom
they are in contact. For instance, when Antoinette Trotter noticed significant behavioral changes in
Shawn, her six-year-old son, she was dumbfounded over what could be wrong. After she took him to
the doctor, she was shocked to learn that his blood contained four times the level of lead acceptable for
children. She was even more stunned to learn that the boy was being poisoned by her husband’s job.
Shawn’s father came into contact with lead in his work repairing and rebuilding batteries. The family’s
lawsuit alleged that, upon returning home from work, lead on the father’s clothing and body would
create a toxic bath when Shawn would play with or hug his dad.
Shawn, now 13, suffers from permanent learning disabilities and other behavioral problems due to
exposure to lead on his father’s work clothes and on the furniture and rugs in his home.14 The family’s
lawsuit settled out of court for an undisclosed sum. The agreement requires that the family not disclose
the employer’s name. Since the settlement, the parents have struggled with their desire to make other
families aware of the danger. Antoinette Trotter says of the situation “employees, they don’t know the
danger. They don’t know they can bring this stuff home.”
Unknown Toxins
Coalition for Consumer Rights Skeletons in the Courthouse, Page 11
Industries such as nuclear medicine, lead smelting, chemical manufacturing, farming, medical research,
and radiator repair present family members with possible exposure to mercury, radioactive material,
lead, asbestos, PCB’s, pesticides, and arsenic.15 Too often, workers are not aware of the hazards,
employers do not provide adequate safety measures, and when a court challenge is mounted, the
potential to increase awareness is often thwarted by forced secrecy agreements.
In Illinois, for example, the Amoco Research and Development facility in Naperville recently settled
cases related to brain tumors suffered by its employees. Although the amounts of the settlements were
released, there was no information as to the possible causes of the tumors. Other workers at this same
facility have developed tumors, but will not be able to review these court records to determine their
own health risk. This type of secrecy is a disservice to those working at similar facilities around the
world who might benefit from possible preventative measures.
Coalition for Consumer Rights Skeletons in the Courthouse, Page 12
Sunshine in Litigation: Let the People Know
In the Coalition for Consumer Rights’ 2001 Annual Survey of Illinois Voters, 90.8% of those
interviewed opposed hiding information about dangerous products through the use of secret
settlements. A Sunshine in Litigation law can help end the history of suffering and death that such secret
agreements have produced in Illinois and the rest of the United States. Typical anti-secrecy measures
do not affect the confidentiality of criminal records, divorce or other family court matters. Trade
secrets, medical records and other proprietary information would not be opened to the public.
However, the public would be protected in instances where a product poses a safety hazard.
In the aftermath of the Ford/Firestone tragedies, Senator John McCain shepherded an auto safety bill
through Congress calling for criminal sanctions for defective goods. McCain’s bill included civil
penalties as well as criminal sanctions for failure to recall, and required manufacturers to provide
detailed records of problems related to defective parts, was passed out of committee. Unfortunately,
the bill ultimately passed by Congress did not have many of these provisions. A major weakness of the
final bill, as noted by Joan Claybrook, president of Public Citizen and former head of the NHTSA, is
that “it allows the Secretary of Transportation to keep safety information secret.”16 The bill called for
disclosure only after a case-by-case determination by the secretary that it is needed. Clearly, state antisecrecy
legislation is needed to protect Illinois consumers and citizens across the country.
At the state level, anti-secrecy legislation has made little or no progress in the Illinois General Assembly.
Sixteen other states, however, have taken steps to ensure that public safety risks are not hidden from
public view. These states include:
Arkansas Georgia Michigan Oregon
California Idaho New Jersey Texas
Delaware Indiana New York Virginia
Florida Louisiana North Carolina Washington
While California has not adopted an official Sunshine in Litigation law, the state’s judiciary has insituted
rules that put the public’s right to know above a corporation’s drive to hide dangerous practices via
secrecy agreements. Rules adopted by the California Judicial Council prohibit the sealing of any
records filed in a court case merely upon agreements of the parties. Under the new rules, sealing of
Coalition for Consumer Rights Skeletons in the Courthouse, Page 13
court-filed documents will be frowned upon unless there is an overriding interest that outweighs the
public’s right to access court records could documents be sealed. The public also has the right to
request that previously sealed records be opened. Bills have also been introduced in the California
legislature which would extend these right-to-know protections to information contained in settlement
As of this year, Sunshine in Litigation bills are also being considered in Rhode Island and
With the public outrage over the Firestone scandal, the time is right to pass a life saving Sunshine in
Litigation Act in Illinois to allow regulatory agencies, retailers, and consumers to be warned of defective
goods. With such an act in place, Illinois citizens will have a greater chance to protect themselves and
their families from the dangerous products that all too frequently enter the marketplace undetected.
Coalition for Consumer Rights Skeletons in the Courthouse, Page 14
1. Davan Maharaj, “Tire Recall Fuels Drive to Bar Secret Settlements,” Los Angeles Times,
September 10, 2000.
2. Dick Dahl, “Strictly Confidential,” Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly, January 11, 1993.
3. Eye to Eye with Connie Chung, CBS News, October 10, 1994; Benjamin Weiser & Elsa Walsh,
“Drug Firm’s Strategy: Avoid Trial, Ask Secrecy,” The Washington Post, October 25, 1988.
4. Eye to Eye with Connie Chung, CBS News, October 10, 1994.
5. Elsa Walsh & Benjamin Weiser, “Court Secrecy Masks Safety Issues,” The Washington Post,
October 23, 1988.
6. Diane Jay Weaver, “Secrets That Can Kill Have No Place in Our Courts,” Toxics Law Reporter,
June 19, 1991; Staff Report for the Use of the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations of the
Committee on Energy and Commerce, U.S. House of Representatives, “The Bjork-Shiley Heart
Valve: Earn as You Learn,” February 1990, p. 2, 3.
7. Barry Meier, “Deadly Secrets System Thwarts Sharing Data on Unsafe Products,” Newsday, April
24, 1988. See also, Daniel C. Carson, “‘Hired guns’ aim to keep veil of secrecy on product dangers,”
San Diego Union-Tribune, May 4, 1991.
8. Ralph Nader and Wesley Smith, No Contest: Corporate Lawyers and the Perversion of Justice
in America, p. 73, 1996.
9. Liability and Insurance Weekly, Vol. 15, Iss. 40, October 23, 2000.
10. Illinois Jury Verdict Reporter, Issue No. 00, May - June 15, 2000 (Case No. 99L-450, tried
May 8-19, 2000).
11. Davan Maharaj, “Tire Recall Fuels Drive to Bar Secret Settlements,” Los Angeles Times,
September 10, 2000.
12. Id.
13. Consumer Product Safety Review, Vol. 6, No. 3, Winter 2002.
14. Stephanie Armour, “Workers Unwittingly Take Home Toxins,” USA Today,
October 5, 2000.
Coalition for Consumer Rights Skeletons in the Courthouse, Page 15

Monday, November 2, 2009

HUD Complaint: Tracking the political money trail of homelessness criminalization - HUD Inspector General Fraud Complaint

Blog posting - update
The contact information to make a HUD fraud complaint
is given
at the end of this post:

Tracking the political money trail of homelessness criminalization

The San Francisco Chronicle newspaper ran a story that stated, "general assistance rolls for the homeless have been slashed by 73 percent a story titled,

About 800 homeless move inside with Care Not Cash
Monday, May 2, 2005 San Francisco Chronicle
By Kevin Fagan, Chronicle Staff Writer Page B1

And the homeless number of people has been and is increasing
with the foreclosures of homes.

Foreclosures Force Ex-Homeowners to Turn to Shelters
Published: October 18, 2009 New York Times

The above New York Times article is partially based on reports and
research posted at the
National Coalition for the Homeless. Such as their
that lists and ranks the meanest cities (towards the homeless) in America;
Homes Not Handcuffs: The Criminalization of Homelessness in U.S. Cities
Updated September 2009 [download as pdf]

Please note that "if" a community were to turn and "do the
right thing" and repeal their criminalization laws against
homelessness, they would probably be over run with people
seeking "sanctuary". While I have been "in and out of the
street" (homeless) since I was 15 and am now (November 2009)
50 years old, I just happen to know a few things about how
such things usually work. I strongly believe that the best way
to undo this mess is to demand that HUD declare it to be
fraud for a community to accept HUD money to help the
homeless, while having laws that make it a crime to be
homeless. With hundreds of major American cities having
such homeless criminalization laws, a "grace period" will
be needed from HUD, to allow time for such legislation's to
be changed or the funding to that community will be halted,
and placed in escrow.

That should get their attention.

And like the HUD Inspector General say's;

If you are aware of fraud, waste, and abuse in HUD programs
and operations, report it to HUD's Inspector General Hotline!

You can submit your complaint ( to the HUD )one of 4 ways:

Online, through e-mail. Remember:if you submit your complaint online
(through e-mail), it is possible - though unlikely -
that others could read it since the internet is not

Call toll free: 1-800-347-3735
TDD: (202) 708-2451

By Fax: (202) 708-4829

By mail:

HUD Office of Inspector General Hotline, GFI
451 7th Street, SW
Washington, DC 20410


Also see the blog of;

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Censored Homeless Solutions