Fresh from two record losses in Philadelphia state court over Prempro, Pfizer is reacting to plaintiffs’ lawyers posting of a video on YouTube. We uploaded a copy of that video in our November 24th blog post, and have embedded it below for your convenience.
The video was posted to YouTube on November 22, after the hormone therapy verdicts had been made public. It features interviews with plaintiffs’ lawyers, plaintiff Connie Barton, plaintiff Donna Kendall, and even the foreman of one of the juries. Watching the video, it is clear that all statements are part of the public record, and most of it has already been reported in the press for the past few years.
A Bloomberg article reports that Pfizer claims that the video is “misleading and aimed at swaying potential jurors in future trials.” They are asking Judge Moss to order removal of the video from YouTube. In 24 days, that video already has 1,474 views.
The reality is that this video is no different from standard press releases issued by law firms across the country after favorable verdicts (in fact, it is no different from statements by Wyeth after trials or appeals they won). The only somewhat unique factor is that there are still more hormone therapy cases on the horizon. However, that is hardly different from any case about a defective product—there are oftentimes going to be more of them, and if lawyers were prevented from telling the public about trials, many consumers would have no knowledge of the defects and access to the courts would be hampered. The Bloomberg article even quotes Oscar Chase, a professor of legal ethics at the New York University School of law: “The danger of jury tainting is outweighed by the public’s right to know.” But, as we have learned, Pfizer is more concerned with their stock prices. The video is bad publicity, and they don’t like it.
This is nothing new for Wyeth (the Prempro manufacturer, which is now part of Pfizer). They have argued against public disclosure of documents affecting the health of its consumers for a long time, particularly in a Florida case. It is inconceivable that they would withhold safety information about their drugs, and is an irresponsible position for any corporation to take.