This must-read New York Times article tells the powerful cautionary tale of what happens when damage caps depress lawyers' incentives to take meritorious product-defect cases: life-threatening dangers persist, with deadly results. The public might have learned of the G.M. ignition-switch problem through litigation as early as 2007, but given caps on damages, the economics of such cases made them unpalatable for plaintiffs' attorneys. As the Times explains:
Today, at least 42 people are known to have died in crashes linked to the defective ignition switch, and both G.M. and federal safety regulators have come under fire for allowing the danger to linger for more than a decade. But the experience of some accident victims and their families shows that other opportunities to raise public alarm bells — through the legal system — were also lost.