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Marler Blog Providing Commentary on Food Poisoning Outbreaks & Litigation

Lawsuit juries harder to find

If you think it’s hard to get a fair trial in Texas, read Andrew Tilghman’s article “Lawsuit juries harder to find” published in the Houston Chronicle.

In a drug-injury lawsuit brought by a terminally ill woman against Wyeth-Ayerst Laboratories, which makes the controversial drug fen-phen, state District Judge Elizabeth Ray reportedly summoned a pool of 93 prospective jurors to her Houston court but still couldn’t find an impartial group of 12.

“They stood and said, `I hate lawsuits, I hate plaintiffs’ lawyers and I hate plaintiffs, and I don’t think they should even be at the courthouse.’ – Ray said. “I thought, `Uh-oh. I can’t have that guy because he can’t be fair.’ –

“To some people, this is jackpot justice,” said George Fleming, the attorney representing the terminally ill woman in Ray’s court last week. “People have listened to enough of the debate in Harris County to where they are taking views into the courtroom that are not consistent with the way the law is in Texas.”

Pain and suffering at the hands of drug companies, according to Tilghman’s article, is taking a back seat in consumer’s minds to how big money awards will drain their own pockets.

“Jurors are more sophisticated. They start to think: `How does this affect me? If I give this guy $1 million, that is going to affect my cost of living,’ – said Dallas lawyer Tom Fee, who handles civil defense.

It’s unfortunate that so much of the American public has been poisoned into believing it’s better to let corporations get away with injuring and killing our mothers, brothers and children rather than hold these companies financially responsible for their actions. Sadly, putting these companies in the public eye and tarnishing their images, as well as their bank accounts, through litigation is often the only way to get deadly drugs off the market.

I hope there never comes a day when I have to face a jury of tainted Americans who feel the corporations poisoning, often killing, children I represent in foodborne illness lawsuits are in the right by default. The families of these kids aren’t in it for the “jackpot,” and it’s difficult to put a price tag on a toddler’s lost kidneys or, worse, a child’s life.