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Guidant, the maker of heart defibrillators is facing several lawsuits alleging that it knew its defibrillators were defective. Recently a judge ordered that Guidant produce to the plaintiffs various documents which purportedly reveal that Guidant continued to sell the product after they knew of the defects.

The San Jose Mecury News has recently reported that part of the documents to be released include handwritten notes by a Guidant top executive which allegedly reveal that a conscious decision was made to sell off its defective inventory.

If Guidant in fact sold off its defective inventory on purpose, then this would increase the plaintiffs’ likelihood of receiving an award of punitive damages. The purpose of an award of punitive damages to punish the party whose conduct is outrageous, reckless and shows an intentionally disregard for the safety and rights of others. Clearly, corporations cannot police themselves because of corporate greed, so it comes down to the judicial system and juries to send a message that this type of behavior cannot be tolerated. We need to place a higher value on human lives, than on profitability.

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