Corporate Serial Killers: Courtroom Battles Against America’s Most Terrifying New Criminals
Every year, thousands of police officers, sheriff’s deputies, and FBI agents across the United States search for approximately fifty active serial killers. They pursue those killers with the most advanced scientific and technical support, and with all the vast resources of our federal, state, and local governments.
“You can’t get away with breaking the law, not when you’re killing so many people,” a homicide detective told me. “We will hunt you down.”
But what if they didn’t?
What if there was a new kind of serial killer, slipping past our precautions and our defenses, killing not hundreds, but thousands of people a year?
Not all serial killers take sadistic pleasure in their work. Consider the mafia soldier, the hired hitman, or the gang enforcer. They kill for money, and many of them would prefer not to kill at all, if it doesn’t cost them. It’s not personal, it’s strictly business.
This, too, is how certain corporations have come to act.
I’m a lawyer. I represent the victims. That’s how I got a peek inside those corporations, read their secret documents, listened in on critical meetings.
They used every lawful tactic, and unlawful ones as well, trying to keep me out.
But sometimes I got in.
In bits and pieces, in lawsuits all over the country, the truth came out. That’s how I know that corporations kill many thousands of people each year.
So I can show you the proof. I can show you corporations breaking the law, committing crimes that they know will kill people.
It’s no surprise that big companies sometimes put profit over safety, but this is something new. The few lawyers on the front lines of this battle have seen a staggering change, and yet no one else seems to have noticed: the legal protection for the most massive corporations, and only the most massive, has expanded to the point that even when they get caught, it’s still the money move to commit the killer crime.
It sounds crazy. I know it does. But only because you haven’t yet seen what I’ve seen. Oil companies intentionally breaking worker safety laws, killing dozens. Automakers concealing known defects, killing hundreds. Pharmaceutical companies plotting to sell contaminated medicine, killing thousands. On and on, until the reality of this fearsome new corporate power becomes impossible to deny.
Our most powerful and trusted corporate citizens are caught in serious criminal schemes at a startling rate—and these are only the rare cases where they get caught. Almost always, the crime goes undetected. The vast resources of our federal, state, and local governments are not hunting corporate killers.
And the real shocker is this: not only are corporations likely to get away with their crimes, they don’t have much to fear even if they’re caught. No individual is typically prosecuted or even fired, and the company itself cannot be imprisoned or executed. In almost half these cases, the company doesn’t even pay a criminal fine.
That immunity extends into the civil justice system as well. The United States Supreme Court has created a new “constitutional” right that limits the amount of financial punishment in cases brought by victims of intentional corporate crime. For a real person, or a small business, this limit is more than high enough to deter lawbreaking; but it is far too low to have any effect on the most massive companies.
So they kill.
This is not how it used to be. Our founders and the Americans who followed, especially during the Great Depression and after World War II, built a defensive wall protecting our democracy and our economy from capture—antitrust enforcement, labor protections, anti-corruption laws, along with criminal and civil corporate liability. This wall was just as important to our freedom—and just as fearsome—as our military might. But massive corporations, along with a few predatory billionaires, attacked and decimated the other bricks in the wall just as they did for corporate criminal and civil liability.
As the wall crumbled, our economy crashed into a kind of warlord capitalism. Corporate profits hit the highest level ever recorded, and the wealthiest corporations devoured entire sectors of the economy. They used that wealth to capture political power, to control the rules of the game. That is the true cause of the growing economic inequality in our country, the political paralysis, even the extremism, anger and despair sweeping over so many Americans. And this political power will allow them to enrich themselves further at our expense, in a cycle that will not stop until we understand the new reality, look past our cultural divisions even as our country convulses in crisis, and make common cause against the true threat to our republic.
While the truth about what’s going on was hard enough to get, and the details are scary as hell, what’s coming next, if we don’t stop it, is scarier still. Corporate Serial Killers is also a storm warning to America for what’s about to hit. It includes chapters on my cases in other countries—countries where economic concentration has flowered into true autocracy; where corporations have more than just the power to kill unnamed, unknown thousands, but also the power to target and kill specific individuals. America is further down this path than anyone seems to realize. It’s almost too late to save our democracy.
Corporate Serial Killers will sound the alarm.
That’s the critical first step. The second, of course, is the battle plan. Corporate Serial Killers will give us that too.