WASHINGTON, D.C. – When American soldiers sustain battlefield injuries from faulty military hardware, should they be allowed to sue the hardware manufacturers? According to one Congressman, “No.” And this has civil rights groups accusing the Defense Dept. and defense industry of collusion.
Congressman Mike Acheron, (D) San Bernardino, Calif., recently introduced a bill that would eliminate a soldier’s ability to sue companies that manufacture defective battlefield munitions. Titled, “The Safe Munitions Act of 2020,” the bill would forbid personal injury lawsuits against private companies that supply defective military hardware. Acheron explained, “The Affordable Care Act resulted in affordable healthcare, and the Safe Munitions Act will result in safe munitions.”
Instead of suing companies like General Dynamics, Lockheed, or Halliburton, servicemen and women alleging injuries from defective munitions would be required to file a claim with the Defense Dept. Administrative Office — which would then process soldiers’ claims — but with no judges, no juries, and no red tape. Said Congressman Acheron, “Instead of encouraging sue-happy soldiers, the Act creates a more streamlined process to facilitate the needs of our young men and women who may sustain injuries on those rare occasions when they may encounter allegedly defective munitions.”
But some veterans groups say that battlefield injuries from “defectively designed” explosives are more common than we’re led to believe. One group, Veterans Injured by Negligent Explosives, (“VINE”), says that battlefield injuries from defective munitions often go unreported.
VINE claims that defense contractors minimize the extent of battlefield injuries caused by defective explosives. VINE Founder, Rebecca D. Estrella, says, “The Army has a reporting system for injuries caused by defective munitions, but reporting is not required, so what’s the point? Nobody ever talks about defective explosives that kill and injure our troops.” Estrella adds, “They want to keep it all hush-hush.”
PFC Audra Murphy, argues: “There’s no such thing as a safe explosive.” While serving in Kandahar, Pvt. Murphy lost her right leg in an incident involving an allegedly defective landmine made by Alliant Techsystems. Pvt. Murphy says: “If we can’t sue these corporations for their unsafe explosives, then there’s no incentive for them to make their explosives any safer.”
The Trump Administration enthusiastically supports the proposed ban on suing defense contractors. A source within the Defense Dept., who wished to remain anonymous, was quoted as saying: “America’s battlefield munitions are both safe and effective when used as directed.”
But according to firebrand civil rights attorney, T. Matthew Phillips, the proposed law is unconstitutional. “The Seventh Amendment guarantees the People’s right to lawsuits and jury trials,” said Phillips, adding, “C’mon!—if these battlefield explosives were truly safe, like the industry claims, then there’d be no need for Congress to immunize the industry from personal injury lawsuits in the first place!”
Phillips compares the proposed law to the Vaccine Injury Act of 1986, which forbids personal injury lawsuits against vaccine makers. “I can’t even dance around it—all battlefield explosives are unavoidably unsafe, okay?—just like all vaccines are unavoidably unsafe—both are weapons of war!” exclaims Phillips.
Phillips warns that the proposed bill elevates the defense contractors to an untouchable status — above the federal government — much like the vaccine makers. “This is crazy! Soldiers can sue the federal government, but not defense contractors?! Seriously? First vaccine makers, now defense contractors! To learn who rules over you, simply find out who you are not allowed to SUE!”
The proposed bill is now in the Senate Armed Services Committee.
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Copyright 2020 – by T. Matthew Phillips, Esq.
“Freedom means nothing if you can’t
keep the government out of your body.”
~~T. Matthew Phillips, Esq.