The Worst Judges On

Worker & Consumer Rights

Conservatives know that weakening worker and consumer protections is unpopular, so they have confirmed judges who will do it for them. The Trump Administration is selecting judicial nominees who have fought for the wealthy and powerful and advocated for allowing corporate interests to evade accountability when they injure, kill, or defraud American consumers and workers.
Below are 15 Trump judges who, at the time of their time of confirmation, had deeply troubling records when it comes to protecting the wealthy and the powerful over everyday Americans.

Daniel Collins (Ninth Circuit) repeatedly defended the interests of corporations sued under the Alien Tort Statute for alleged human rights violations, including child slavery. As an attorney for Big Tobacco, Collins fought health protections for consumers and helped tobacco companies avoid liability for injuries inflicted on victims of fraudulent advertising.

Allison Eid (Tenth Circuit), while on the Colorado Supreme Court, dissented from a decision holding that a woman who fell and injured herself at work was entitled to workers’ compensation; said workers’ compensation should not cover injuries “where the cause is not known,” even if the injury occurred at work. Eid participated in numerous tort cases on the Colorado Supreme Court, consistently ruling in favor of protecting corporations and limiting recovery for harmed plaintiffs.

Neil Gorsuch (U.S. Supreme Court), on the Tenth Circuit, repeatedly denied critical remedies to many workers wronged by their employers. He was the only one of seven judges who would have ruled against Alphonse Maddin, the “Frozen Trucker,” by ignoring a law to protect the health and safety of transportation workers and allowing Mr. Maddin’s employer to force him to choose between his job and saving his own life. In another case, Gorsuch ignored clearly established law and allowed an employer to deny a professor who was recovering from cancer an accommodation to work from home when her doctor told her that, if she returned to work during a flu epidemic, she would die. Gorsuch has also argued that securities fraud class actions should be more difficult to bring. While on the Tenth Circuit, he held that a medical device company is immune from liability for harm caused by its product when it sells that product for a use that has never been approved by the FDA and never found to be safe and effective. In another case, he held that the Consumer Product Safety Commission could not ensure children are safe from certain toys.

Britt Grant (Eleventh Circuit) assisted with an amicus brief arguing that the Supreme Court should overrule Abood v. Detroit Board of Education, arguing public sector unions should not be able to collect fees from non-members in the workplace although non-members benefit from unions’ ability to secure better working conditions.

Gregory G. Katsas (D.C. Circuit) supported the Supreme Court’s decision in Wal-mart v. Dukes, which made it more difficult for thousands of Walmart employees who were victims of sex discrimination to hold their employer accountable.

Brett Kavanaugh (U.S. Supreme Court), while on the D.C. Circuit, routinely ruled against workers and their families. In SeaWorld of Fla., LLC v. Perez, he called OSHA protections “paternalistic” and would have overturned a fine for SeaWorld following the death of a trainer who was killed by a whale after SeaWorld failed to adopt sufficient safety measures. Kavanaugh also wrote an opinion upholding Department of Defense (DOD) regulations that undermined the collective bargaining rights of hundreds of thousands of DOD civilian employees. Kavanaugh sided with a company fighting workers’ attempts to improve working conditions, arguing that, contrary to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), other judges, and prior Supreme Court precedent, the workers’ vote to join a union was invalid because of some of the workers’ immigration statuses. Kavanaugh also wrote opinions supporting the decision of a hotel to ask the police to issue criminal citations against union demonstrators who were protesting legally; supporting CNN when the NLRB found it had discriminated against union members in hiring and needed to recognize and bargain with a worker’s union; and in favor of Verizon’s decision to prohibit union members from displaying pro-union signs in their cars while at work. While on the D.C. Circuit, Kavanaugh argued the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is unconstitutional. Kavanaugh also sided against the FCC’s net neutrality rule.

Kenneth Lee (Ninth Circuit) criticized the “surge of wage-and-hour class action lawsuits” in California, including a case where Walmart had “to pay $172 million in damages for failing to provide 30-minute meal breaks to its employees in accordance with California labor law.” In his writings, he supported making it more difficult to hold corporations accountable when they act illegally and harm the American people.

Eric Miller (Ninth Circuit) worked to shield a corporation from liability when a Boeing employee was exposed to asbestos at work and later died from mesothelioma. Miller also defended corporations against employment discrimination claims by women alleging harassment and a hostile work environment. Miller criticized a court decision that held that manufacturers of complex surgical devices have a duty to warn hospitals that perform surgeries with those devices about their potential dangers.

Mark Norris (Western District of Tennessee) pushed legislation that has made it far harder for workers to pursue compensation claims in Tennessee, including barring the cases from trial courts. He also advanced legislation that overturned living wage laws. Norris championed legislation which limited the amount an injured plaintiff could recover for noneconomic damages and capped punitive damages in all civil cases while preventing punitive damages in most product liability actions. The act also prohibits lawsuits under the Tennessee Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) for securities fraud, prohibits consumer-class action lawsuits, and prohibits lawsuits filed under the TCPA by individuals.

Andrew Oldham (Fifth Circuit) argued the entire Department of Labor is unconstitutional. Oldham has questioned the legitimacy of all federal regulations, which would include consumer protections.

Michael Park (Second Circuit), after New York City issued an emergency order to improve work conditions for low-income nail salon workers, sued on behalf of salon owners, fighting efforts to protect workers. Park was also involved in efforts to make it more difficult for workers injured by asbestos to hold corporations accountable. On behalf of the Chamber of Commerce, Park fought FTC enforcement action against LabMD, a medical-testing laboratory, after the company’s inadequate data security practices allowed sensitive private medical and financial data for 9,300 patients to be exposed.

Neomi Rao’s (D.C. Circuit) former office, OIRA, allowed revisions to Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) protections that would allow certain employers to conceal workplace injuries.

Chad Readler (Sixth Circuit) defended the Trump Administration’s decision to stop the Obama Administration’s overtime rule, which would have made four million workers eligible for overtime pay.

Lee Rudofsky (Eastern District of Arkansas) fought the Obama Administration’s overtime rule, which would have made about four million workers eligible for overtime pay.

Lawrence VanDyke (Ninth Circuit) fought the Obama Administration’s overtime rule, which would have made about four million workers eligible for overtime pay. VanDyke also sued to invalidate the Dodd-Frank Act.