Update: judge quashes Seidel subpoena

[Bumped on breaking news: A federal court in New Hampshire has quashed the subpoena and ordered attorney Clifford Shoemaker to show cause why he should not be subjected to sanctions. Also: Orac. Earlier Monday post follows:]

Autism blogger Kathleen Seidel reports that the online free speech project at Public Citizen has agreed to provide her with legal assistance in responding to vaccine lawyer Clifford Shoemaker’s subpoena (see earlier coverage here, here, and here). One way to read this is as a fairly devastating commentary on just how weak Shoemaker’s position is, since there is ordinarily no more potent public presence on behalf of the plaintiff’s side in pharmaceutical litigation than Public Citizen. Seidel also has discovered that as a Shoemaker target she is in distinguished company:

I learned that on March 26, 2008 — the same afternoon that I was greeted at my doorstep with a demand for access to virtually the entire documentary record of my intellectual and financial life over the past four years — Dr. Marie McCormick, Sumner and Esther Feldberg Professor of Maternal and Child Health at the Harvard School of Public Health, and Professor of Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School, was subjected to a similar experience at her Massachusetts home.

From 2001 to 2004, Dr. McCormick chaired the Immunization Safety Review Committee of the Institute of Medicine (IOM), charged with analyzing and reporting on data regarding the safety of vaccination practices. …As a result of her voluntary work on the committee, Dr. McCormick has found herself a frequent target of suspicion by plaintiffs, their attorneys and advocates, and opponents of vaccines, who disagree with its conclusions, and whose legal and political positions are not supported by its reports.

McCormick’s lawyers are likewise seeking to quash the subpoena. Much more here (& Beck & Herrmann, Orac, Pharmalot).


  • What are the possibilities for the recipients of the third party subpoenas to recover their attorneys’ fees? Would the district court where the subpoenas issued have jurisdiction over Rule 30 sanctions, or would that be for the district court considering the original lawsuit?

  • dcuser,

    I would imagine that it is indeed possible to recover attorneys’ fees, though I have no idea how likely it is for the court to impose such a sanction. A case like this one should be a no-brainer, but then again, I’m not a federal judge.

    As to your other question, my guess would be that the court from which the subpoena was issued has jurisdiction consider sanctions and not the court in which the original suit is filed.

  • As the parent of an Aspergers child (now 16 years old), I was solicited repeatedly to include him as a member of this class. I couldn’t be happier to have declined.

    This is such egregious behavior, it ought to be dealt with in the most aggressive fashion possible.

  • Rule 11 sanctions are not enough. Shoemaker needs to spend time in jail for this egregious harassment.

  • SIDEBAR (?) –

    As part of an update on this, at all the news? we find that the people who started the `vaccine=autism` scare are accused of serious professional misconduct and at least one has admitted his “evidence” was – at least in part – a fraud.