Printer Friendly

BREAST IMPLANT CONTROVERSY UNDERSCORES HOW 'GAG ORDER' CASES PROMOTE PRIVATE PROFIT OVER PUBLIC SAFETY

 BREAST IMPLANT CONTROVERSY UNDERSCORES HOW 'GAG ORDER'
 CASES PROMOTE PRIVATE PROFIT OVER PUBLIC SAFETY
 PHILADELPHIA, Feb. 10 /PRNewswire/ -- "So-called 'Gag Order' cases inevitably promote private profit over public safety," said Stuart R. Silver, a partner in the law firm of Bernstein, Bernstein & Harrison.
 Silver commented on what he sees as legally sanctioned "criminality."
 "By sealing the court file after a verdict is rendered, or after a case is settled (often for a large sum), information which might prevent future injuries and death caused by dangerous products or incompetent medical providers is effectively blocked by law," Silver continued.
 "Since negligent manufacturers and medical professionals can remove from public view all evidence of their wrongdoing," the attorney pointed out, "they have no incentive to change their faulty products or harmful medical practices.
 "As a result," said Silver, "the same dangerous products, the same incompetent physicians and hospitals, may continue to harm -- and even kill -- countless other innocent victims. This is a perverse use of the right of privacy, one that endangers public safety again and again."
 Personal injury attorneys find themselves in a "Catch-22" situation, according to Silver. "We are legally and ethically bound to work in the best interest of our clients, who can't afford to say no to a large settlement," Silver explained. "Our clients are usually dependent upon that settlement money to economically recover from injuries or the loss of a family member. And so they agree to remain silent about a harmful product or medical practitioner.
 "The victims may be monetarily compensated, but the larger public, in cases involving settlement hinging upon a secrecy agreement, will be left ignorant of their risk of injury," Silver said.
 "A good case in point is the history of silicone gel breast implants. First, a 1974 lawsuit in which the victim claimed personal injury from the implant was settled by the manufacturer of the product. The settlement was made available only if the victim and her attorney agreed not to disclose the facts of the case. And the court record, usually open to the public, was sealed.
 "More recently," Silver continued, "a similar verdict in California led to evidence now being cited by the Food and Drug Administration in its investigation of these implants. Evidence of infection and disease caused by leakage of silicone resulted in last month's FDA moratorium on the sale of silicone implants. Because of the terms of the settlement agreement in 1974, the potential dangers in using silicone gel breast implants were kept hidden for nearly two decades from women who elected to undergo implantation."
 Silver said he hopes Pennsylvania will enact a law similar to that recently passed in Texas. In Texas, a trial judge must weigh the public's right to know against the right of privacy claimed by the parties to the lawsuit -- before the court approves a secrecy agreement. "This is a positive step," said Silver. "Prior to this model, no one was in a position to legally assert the public's interest. The victim justifiably wants to be compensated. The manufacturer or professional wants the defect or harmful practice to be hidden. And the plaintiff attorney is there to act in the best interests of the victim."
 Silver brought up another aspect of the Texas statute, in which, he said, "Notice must be given to the public when court files are about to be sealed. This allows public interest groups to object when sealing court records might endanger the public welfare. The court may determine that the public's interest in safety must override the willingness of a wrongdoer to offer substantial amounts of money in settlement in order to keep their wrongdoing secret."
 Silver has successfully litigated numerous product liability and medical malpractice cases where substantial settlements were paid to his clients on condition of confidentiality. And while he said he is gratified by the results achieved on behalf of his clients, he said he is saddened when courthouse secrecy is allowed to promote private profit over public safety. "If the public is denied knowledge of hazardous products and incompetent physicians," Silver said, "society as a whole will continue to be exposed to risks that ought to be remedied, for public safety.
 "I would actively support the passage of a law in Pennsylvania," he added, "similar to the one recently enacted in Texas. The public's right to know has been compromised far too long."
 /delval/
 -0- 2/10/92
 /CONTACT: Ellen Toplin of Toplin & Associates, 215-886-4644, for Bernstein, Bernstein & Harrison/ CO: Bernstein, Bernstein & Harrison ST: Pennsylvania IN: SU:


JS-MK -- PH025 -- 8409 02/10/92 15:12 EST
COPYRIGHT 1992 PR Newswire Association LLC
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1992 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Feb 10, 1992
Words:762
Previous Article:COOPER TIRE SETS SALES AND EARNINGS RECORDS FOR 1991
Next Article:HORIZON AIR OFFERING NEW DISCOUNTED FARES TO CALGARY
Topics:


Related Articles
SILICONE BREAST IMPLANTS: THE FDA BANS THEIR USE. NOW WHAT?
FDA CALLS FOR TEMPORARY MORATORIUM ON SILICONE GEL BREAST IMPLANTS
PLASTIC SURGEONS PLEDGE COOPERATION WITH IMPLANT MORATORIUM; DEMAND RELEASE OF NEW INFORMATION
CALIFORNIA PLASTIC SURGEONS TAKE SECOND LOOK AT FDA ACTION REGARDING SILICONE GEL BREAST IMPLANTS
AESTHETIC PLASTIC SURGEONS SAY FDA PANEL RECOMMENDATIONS WILL LEAVE WOMEN CONFUSED AND CONCERNED
FDA ANNOUNCES SILICONE BREAST IMPLANT DECISION
AESTHETIC PLASTIC SURGEONS SAY FDA DECISION ON SILICONE GEL IMPLANTS IS 'TOO LITTLE, TOO LATE'
SALINE BREAST IMPLANTS -- CALL FOR DATA
FDA PROPOSES CALLING FOR DATA ON TESTICULAR IMPLANTS
WOMEN'S IMPLANT INFORMATION NETWORKHAILS LIFTING OF FRENCH MORATORIUM ON SILICONE GEL IMPLANTS

Terms of use | Copyright © 2016 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters