audiece that if they could do one thing to change the federal rules, they would END DISCOVERY IN MOST CASES! Complying with discovery requests is just too much trouble for companies that do bad things, it seems.(Sorry for all the caps, but these are the views of FEDERAL JUDGES!)
But I have to say, this shocking revelation is at least a good reminder of the importance of discovery. When someone is injured, violated, defrauded or killed, the responsible party has the information and evidence establishing their culbability, not the victim. Unless the victim has access to this information through discovery, they can’t prove anything. No discovery means no liability. We get it.
The same concept applies to laws requiring companies to warn the public of dangers that the company creates or at least knows about. Only they have that information, but many times, they don’t tell people – who then get hurt. It comes up a lot.
For example, it was reported this week that the family of Parker Waldridge, one of five people killed last January in an Oklahoma gas well explosion, in their wrongful death lawsuit that the drilling company, Patterson-UTI Drilling, “ignored multiple warnings that safety equipment … was malfunctioning.”
The lawsuit alleges that at least two days before the explosion, the rig superintendent, manager and several other Patterson employees received email results of a laboratory test warning of problems with the rig's accumulator, a piece of safety equipment that closes part of the well to prevent an uncontrolled release of fluids. The warnings even came with a "skull and crossbones graphic (literally)," the lawsuit said.
(BTW, no doubt this evidence was obtained during discovery, as is true for all the misconduct we’re writing about today.)
Another company that way too often violates its duty to warn customers of dangers is Johnson & Johnson, the world’s largest health-care products company. Bloomberg, Johnson & Johnson has begun settling consumers’ claims that it sold artificial hips knowing they were defective, marking the first settlements in the seven-year-old litigation.” But in addition,
J&J is set to face a trial Jan. 14 in Dallas where five recipients of the Pinnacle hip will press claims that failed to warn customers about the devices’ risks. A similar 2016 case produced a for multiple plaintiffs.…
The hip recipients argued DePuy officials rushed the Pinnacle hips to market with little testing and misled doctors about the device’s safety profile, assuring them there was little risk of metal poisoning or tissue damage. J&J has denied these claims and said it developed and marketed the hips responsibly.
Speaking of drug companies, a U.S. Supreme Court argument is coming up in a brought against Merck over its osteoporosis drug Fosamax, which ironically causes bone fractures. (See our earlier coverage :
in the years before Fosamax’s label correctly warned against very serious “atypical femoral fractures,” many people suffered this injury. Merck could have and should have updated its label earlier than it did regarding this problem. But instead, it went to the FDA asking that the agency approve a new label warning against minor “stress fractures.” The FDA said no to this obviously inadequate request. Merck says that rejection was “clear evidence that the FDA also would have rejected a warning about atypical femoral fractures.” That’s ridiculous. But that’s the issue before the Supreme Court.
Bottom line: warnings matter. And it’s a company’s job to make sure that vulnerable consumers and patients receive them.