Posts Tagged ‘silicone breast implants’

Steve Chapman on breast implants

As always, worth reading: “In the end, the truth — and personal freedom — prevailed [when the FDA re-approved the devices after 15 years]. But only after a heck of a fight, and only after sustaining some serious wounds.” (“Recovering, finally, from the breast implant panic”, syndicated/Chicago Tribune, Nov. 3). More: Nov. 20, etc.

“FDA ends ban on silicone breast implants”

“The government on Friday rescinded a 14-year ban on silicone gel implants for cosmetic breast enhancement, a decision praised by some for providing women with a better product but criticized by others who still question their safety. … After rigorous review, the [Food and Drug Administration] can offer a ‘reasonable assurance’ that silicone implants are ‘safe and effective,’ said Donna-Bea Tillman, director of the FDA Office of Device Evaluation.” (Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar and Daniel Costello, Los Angeles Times, Nov. 18). Silicone breast implants, available to consumers in most other countries, were driven from the market after a campaign of speculation and misinformation by trial lawyers and allied “consumer” groups, particularly Dr. Sidney Wolfe’s Public Citizen Health Research Group. The campaign resulted in billions in legal settlements over nonexistent autoimmune effects from the devices, none of which had to be repaid even after more careful scientific studies dispelled the early alarms. Chapter 4 of my book The Rule of Lawyers, which tells the story of the silicone litigation episode in detail, isn’t online. The New York Sun has an editorial drawing some of the appropriate conclusions (“Now They Tell Us”, Nov. 20)(& welcome Above the Law readers). More: Second Hand Conjecture channels Virginia Postrel (via InstaPundit).

Oz: “Law firm’s brawl over $1m bonus”

Australia: “Leading plaintiff lawyer Peter Gordon from the firm Slater & Gordon was paid a $1 million bonus he was not entitled to from the profits of a massive class action over faulty breast implants. A disgruntled former partner has alleged the $1 million bonus was paid directly to Mr Gordon despite having been earmarked by the firm as ‘post-settlement expenses’.” The allegations filed in court by the former partner, Paul Mulvany, offer “a rare insight into the inner workings of Australia’s best known no-win, no-fee law firm”. However, the insight-window appears to have snapped shut with great rapidity: “one day after Slater & Gordon was informed The Australian had obtained the court documents, the matter was settled with neither side commenting on the sudden resolution of their dispute.” (Katherine Towers and Dan Box, The Australian, Sept. 15). P.S. Not all will agree with the opinion of the contestants in the brawl that the silicone implants at issue were “faulty”.

But where are the customers’ Lamborghinis?

Houston plaintiff’s lawyer John O’Quinn, famed for his huge fee hauls in asbestos, tobacco and silicone breast implant cases, was the winning bidder at $500,000 at a Labor Day auction of a Lamborghini race car signed by celebrities. O’Quinn “also spent $335,000 on a Batmobile used in the film ‘Batman Forever.’ His other purchases at the auction included $250,000 for a 1938 Cadillac Town Car used by Pope Pius XII and $290,000 for a 1941 Packard limousine used by President Franklin D. Roosevelt.” (AP/Houston Chronicle, Sept. 5; Houstonist, Sept. 5)(title allusion).

Don’t take his money, St. Luke’s

Many Houston doctors are outraged that St. Luke’s Episcopal Hospital is preparing to rename its medical tower, a local landmark, after controversial plaintiff’s attorney John O’Quinn (Apr. 28, 2004, etc.) in exchange for a $25 million gift. O’Quinn was the chief driver of the silicone breast implant litigation, which though decisively refuted in its major scientific contentions inflicted billions of dollars in costs on medical device providers and, not incidentally, plastic surgeons. And just this year O’Quinn’s law firm was singled out for condemnation by federal judge Janis Graham Jack in her scathing ruling on the shoddy business of mass silicosis-screening — “diagnosing for dollars”. Doctors “last week began circulating a petition against [the renaming proposal] and Monday night convened an emergency meeting of the medical executive committee….By late Monday, about 80 had signed the petition. ‘It offends us to have money we earned — and which he took by suing us — going to name after him a medical building in which we work each day,’ says the petition.” The University of Houston law school has already renamed its law library after O’Quinn, a full-length oil painting of whom looms over the students. (Todd Ackerman, “Doctors push St. Luke’s to forgo $25 million gift”, Houston Chronicle, Aug. 9). More: Kirkendall and MedPundit comment; so do GruntDoc and Michigan Medical Malpractice.

Products we don’t see

“Another measure of the magnitude of the high cost of lawsuit abuse is the number of products and services that have been withdrawn from the U.S. market due to fear of liability, irrationally applied. Volvo, for example, makes an integrated child booster seat that is not sold in the U.S. because of product liability concerns….

“Similarly, fears of silicone implant lawsuits in America caused Japanese silicone makers to quit production of silicone coating for hypodermic needles, which reduces the pain of an injection. The director of one of these firms stated, ‘We’re sure our product is safe, but we don?t want to risk a lawsuit.’…

? Monsanto Company abandoned the planned production of a safe, biodegradable, and effective reinforcing phosphate fiber that would have been a substitute for asbestos.

? Union Carbide decided to forego developing a suitcase-sized kidney dialysis unit and offering intravenous equipment.

? Sunstar, a health-spa manufacturer, decided not to market a safety device due to a liability-related increase in its insurance costs. The product would have set off an alarm every time the cover of a spa was opened. Because the product was a safety device, only one insurance company was willing to write a policy.

— Excerpted from Steven B. Hantler (DaimlerChrysler Corporation), “The Seven Myths of Highly Effective Plaintiff’s Lawyers”, Manhattan Institute Civil Justice Memo #42, Apr. (PDF) (more on paper)

John O’Quinn for Texas governor?

The Houston-based mass tort specialist, who has long played a prominent role in these columns for his exploits in asbestos, tobacco, silicone implants and most recently fen-phen (Apr. 28, Feb. 26 and many more), is now being talked of by activists as a potential Democratic candidate for governor of the Lone Star State. (W. Gardner Selby, “Democrats appear to be in no rush to challenge Perry for governorship”, San Antonio Express-News, Jun. 15). One factor helpful to him: last fall (see, Oct. 25) Texas Democrats elected as their chairman San Marcos attorney Charles Soechting, who happens to practice at none other than the law firm of O’Quinn, Laminack & Pirtle.


More good opinionated reads:

* Author Philip K. Howard, writing last week in the Wall Street Journal on the celebrated decision by the Appellate Committee of Britain’s House of Lords in Tomlinson v. Congleton Borough Council, discussed earlier in this space Aug. 11 and Oct. 3 (“When Judges Won’t Judge”, Oct. 22, reprinted at Common Good);

* Also in the Wall Street Journal (OpinionJournal, Oct. 27), editor Robert Bartley on the vindication of his editorial page in its criticism of hysterical media fads over supposed epidemics of sex abuse at nursery schools (see May 8, 2003, Sept. 4-6, 1999) and autoimmune disease from silicone breast implants;

* Clint Bolick, vice president of the Institute for Justice, strongly supports the nomination of the “strikingly libertarian” California Supreme Court Justice Janice Brown to the D.C. Circuit (“Good judge”, Reason Online, Oct. 27; more on the nomination from David Bernstein, Lawrence Solum).

Archived pharmaceutical and vaccine items, pre-June 2003

Archived entries before July 2003 can also be found here (pharmaceuticals) and here (vaccines).

Pharmaceuticals, 2003:‘Diet drug litigation leads to fat fees’” (fen-phen, ephedra), May 30-Jun. 1; “Courtroom assault on drugmakers“, May 27; “Mississippi investigation heats up“, May 7; “Jury clears Bayer in cholesterol-drug case“, Mar. 19; “New Medicare drug benefit?  Link it to product liability reform“, Mar. 10-11. 2002:Fen-phen settlement abuses: the plot thickens“, Sept. 27-29 (& Dec. 16-17, 2002Feb. 25-26, 2002, Dec. 28, 2001, Aug. 18, 1999); “Ignominious wind-down to Norplant campaign“, Sept. 9-10 (& Aug. 11 & Aug. 27, 1999); “You mean I’m suing that nice doctor?” (Propulsid), Aug. 1 (& see Sept. 6-8); “‘Tampa Taliban’ mom blames acne drug“, Apr. 18 (& Feb. 1-3); “Pharmaceutical roundup” (fen-phen, contraceptive Pill, Viagra, psychiatric drugs), Apr. 16-17;  “‘Can pain treatment survive our addiction to law?’” (OxyContin), Apr. 10 (& Aug. 27, May 30, Jan. 23-24, 2002, Aug. 7-8, July 25, 2001)(& letter to the editor, Apr. 11); “Omit a peripheral defendant, get sued for legal malpractice” (tetracycline), Feb. 15-17; “‘Companies may be liable for drugs used in rapes’“, Jan. 25-27.  2001:Texas jury clears drugmaker in first Rezulin case“, Dec. 19 (& update Jan. 9-10, 2002: it loses second trial); “For client-chasers, daytime TV gets results“, Dec. 18; “Bioterror unpreparedness“, Nov. 28; “Cipro side effects?  Sue!“, Nov. 1; “Suit blames drugmaker for Columbine“, Oct. 24-25; “‘Plaintiff’s lawyers going on defense’” (Scruggs represents Sulzer Orthopedics), Oct. 9; “Propulsid verdict; ‘Robbery on Highway 61’“, Oct. 1; “Antidepressant blamed for killing spree” (Paxil), June 13; “Mississippi’s forum-shopping capital” (Fayette), May 4-6 (& see June 22-24 (Amity Shlaes)); “Anti-Ritalin lawyers still acting out“, Apr. 13-15 (& Sept. 18, Sept. 22-24, 2000); “Target: Alka-Seltzer” (PPA), Apr. 6-8 (& see Sept. 10); “The malaria drug made him do it“, Mar. 28.  2000: Turn of the screw” (pedicle screw lawsuits), Oct. 24 (& see “Fee fights“, Aug. 2, 2001); “‘Controversial drug makes a comeback’” (Bendectin may be reintroduced in U.S.), Sept. 27-28 (& July 21, 1999); “Australian roundup” (Copper-7 IUD), Sept. 6-7; “‘Lilly’s legal strategy disarmed Prozac lawyers’“, May 8.  1999:World according to Ron Motley” (drugmakers among next targets of earth’s richest lawyer), Nov. 1; “Rhode Island A.G.: let’s do latex gloves next“, Oct. 26.

Breast implants, 2002:Pharmaceutical roundup” (silicone implants popular in Canada), Apr. 16-17.  2001:Fee fights“, Aug. 2. 2000:O’Quinn a top Gore recount angel“, Dec. 15-17; “‘Hush — good news on silicone’“, Nov. 29; “No breast cancer link“, Oct. 23; “From our mail sack: hyperactive lawyers“, Sept. 22-24; Feds file Medicare recoupment lawsuit over silicone implants“, April 6; “Study shows breast implants pose little risk“, March 20. 1999:No spotlight on me, thanks” (John O’Quinn obtains gag order against lawyers for dissatisfied clients), August 4; “Never saying you’re sorry”, July 2.

Vaccines:Trial lawyers vs. thimerosal“, Dec. 20-22, 2002 (& Jun. 18-19, 2003); “Vaccine industry perennially in court“, Nov. 7-8, 2001; “Lawsuit fears slow bioterror vaccines“, Oct. 22; “Study: DPT and MMR vaccines not linked to brain injury“, Aug. 31-Sept. 2, 2001; “Vaccine compensation and its discontents“, Nov. 13, 2000.

Other links: Breast implants:

Gina Kolata, “Panel Confirms No Major Illness Tied To Breast Implants”, New York Times, June 21, 1999.

National Institute of Medicine 1999 study

Reason magazine “Breaking Issues” 

Food and Drug Administration update

Breast Implant Litigation Page (Prof. David Bernstein, George Mason U.)

Marcia Angell, “Science on Trial: Medical Evidence and the Law in the Breast Implant Case“, Manhattan Institute Civil Justice Memo, August 1996.

Walter Olson, review of Marcia Angell, “Science on Trial” (National Review, November 11, 1996) 

Other links: Contraceptives:

Marc Arkin, “Products Liability and the Threat to Contraception” (Manhattan Institute Civil Justice Memo, February 1999).

Archived Canadian items, pre-July 2003

‘Father files suit after son fails to make MVP award’” (hockey, New Brunswick), Nov. 8-10, 2002.

‘Sorry, Slimbo, you’re in my seats’“, June 7, 2001 (& updates Dec. 15-16, 2001, Oct. 25-27, 2002); “Obese fliers“, Dec. 20, 2000; “Welcome Toronto Star readers” (Jason Brooks column, disabled rights), Sept. 27-28, 2000. 

Personal responsibility, 2002:Skating first, instructions later” (Edmonton), Sept. 25-26; “‘Woman freezes; sues city, cabbie’” (Winnipeg), Sept. 18-19; Personal responsibility roundup” (social host alcohol liability), Sept. 12; “Paroled prisoner: pay for not supervising me“, Jan. 4-6.  2001:Don’t rock the Coke machine“, July 20-22; “‘Gambling addiction’ class action” (Loto-Quebec), June 20 (& update May 20-21, 2002; “‘Woman who drove drunk gets $300,000’” (Barrie, Ont.), Feb. 7-8; “By reader acclaim” (sues alleged crack dealers over own addiction), Jan. 11.  2000:Not my fault, I” (woman who murdered daughter sues psychiatrists), May 17; “Blue-ribbon excuse syndromes” (Metis Indian defendant allowed to cite cultural oppression as defense to stabbing charge), Feb. 12-13. 

Cash demanded for drug users and panhandlers inconvenienced by film crews” (Vancouver), Aug. 23-25, 2002. 

Activist judges north of the border“, May 31-Jun. 2, 2002 (& letter to the editor, Jun. 14). 

Flowers, perfume in airline cabins not OK?“, May 17-19, 2002; “Scented hair gel, deodorant could mean jail time for Canadian youth“, Apr. 24, 2000. 

‘Unharmed woman awarded $104,000’” (Manitoba chemical exposure), May 6, 2002. 

‘Targeting “big food”‘” (Lemieux, National Post), Apr. 29-30, 2002. 

Pharmaceutical roundup” (silicone implants popular), Apr. 16-17, 2002. 

Web speech roundup” (flag logo on website), Mar. 25-26, 2002. 

Tribulations of the light prison sleeper“, Mar. 25-26, 2002; “Prison litigation: ‘Kittens and Rainbows Suites’” (cellmate’s smoking violates rights), Jan. 11-13; “Paroled prisoner: pay for not supervising me“, Jan. 4-6, 2002. 

Couldn’t order 7-Up in French” (suing Air Canada for $525,000), Mar. 18, 2002; “Gotta regulate ’em all” (Quebec official upset that Pok?n cards not in French), Dec. 16, 1999. 

Stop, they said” (Manitoba: stop sign too vague?), Feb. 4-5, 2002. 

Planners tie up land for twenty years” (plus B.C. land use story), Jan. 18-20, 2002. 

Family law, 2002:‘Avoiding court is best defence’” (Dave Brown), Jan. 14-15.  2001:‘Crying wolf’” (Christie Blatchford on sexual abuse charges), Oct. 30; “Why she’s quitting law practice” (Karen Selick), Aug. 13-14; “Canadian court: divorce settlements never final“, May 15; “‘Victim is sued for support’“, Feb. 9-11; “Solomon’s child” (Donna LaFramboise), Jan. 26-28.  2000:Pilloried, broke, alone” (LaFramboise on “deadbeat dads”), April 10.  1999:Down repressed-memory lane: distracted when she signed” (Ont. judge voids separation agreement), Dec. 29-30. 

Front-row spectator sues ‘reckless’ exotic dancer” (B.C.), Jan. 7-8, 2002; “Embarrassing Lawsuit Hall of Fame” (injured by exotic dancer in Ottawa), Aug. 14, 2000; “‘Toronto Torch’ age-bias suit” (stripper in Brantford), May 23, 2000. 

Overlawyered schools roundup” (challenge to Ontario standards), Dec. 7-9, 2001. 

Columnist-fest” (asylum policies), Nov. 27, 2001; “Opponents of profiling, still in the driver’s seat” (Air Canada), Nov. 2-4; “Security holes: to the North…” (anti-terrorism security), Sept. 14-16, 2001. 

‘Hate speech’ law invoked against anti-American diatribe“, Oct. 17-18, 2001; “Most unsettling thing we’ve heard about Canada in a while” (hate speech laws), Dec. 17-19, 1999. 

‘Hama to sue bridge owners over her daughter’s fall’” (Capilano Suspension Bridge, Vancouver), Oct. 8, 2001. 

Fear of losing welfare benefits deemed coercive” (N.S.), Oct. 3-4, 2001. 

Zero tolerance, etc.:John Leo on” (Halifax: snowball-like gestures banned), Aug. 15, 2001; “Fateful fiction” (Cornwall, Ont.), Jan. 30, 2001; “Hug protest in Halifax” (school’s no-physical-contact policy), March 2, 2000; “Zero tolerance roundup” (Windsor: 11-year-old’s fictional school essay), Dec. 27-28, 1999. 

Why she’s quitting law practice” (Karen Selick), Aug. 13-14, 2001. 

Welcome readers“, June 26, 2001. 

‘Dead teen’s family sues Take Our Kids To Work’“, May 31, 2001. 

Holiday special” (misconduct by N.B. lawyer), May 28, 2001. 

‘Insect lawyer ad creates buzz’” (Torys, Toronto), May 23, 2001; “‘Not-a-Lawyer’” (Vancouverite’s business card), Feb. 10-11, 2000. 

Columnist-fest” (Mark Steyn on Indian residential schools), May 1, 2001; “Bankrupting Canadian churches?“, Aug. 23-24, 2000. 

Canada’s secret legal aid“, April 10, 2001. 

Putting the ‘special’ in special sauce” (alleged rat in Big Mac”, March 29, 2001. 

Saves her friend’s life, then sues her“, Jan. 3, 2001. 

Canada reins in expert witnesses“, Nov. 22-23, 2000. 

Malpractice outlays on rise in Canada“, Oct. 2, 2000. 

‘Mother sues over lack of ice time for goalie son’” (Quebec), Sept. 11, 2000. 

‘Mugging victim “stupid”, judge says’” (Winnipeg case), Aug. 2, 2000. 

‘Skydivers don’t sue’“, May 26, 2000 (update July 6: Canadian diver prevails in suit against teammate). 

Cash for trash, and worse” (“Vancouver solution” for Microsoft?), June 26, 2000. 

Welcome Montreal Gazette readers” (columnist Doug Camilli cites this website), June 7, 2000; “Trop d’” (we are recommended by the Gazette), Oct. 18, 1999. 

‘More lawyers than we really need?’” (aftermath of Walkerton, Ont. E. Coli outbreak: columnist cites this website), June 2-4, 2000. 

Less suing = less suffering” (Sasketchewan no-fault auto study), April 24, 2000 (& update June 26). 

Swissair crash aftermath” (Peggy’s Cove disaster in U.S. courts), March 14, 2000; “Montreal Gazette ‘Lawsuit of the Year’” (bagpipers sue Swissair for lost income), Jan. 17, 2000. 

‘Girl puts head under guillotine; sues when hurt’“, March 8, 2000. 

Ontario judge okays hockey-fan lawsuit“, Jan. 12, 2000; “Spreading to Canada?” (hockey fan sues Alexei Yashin), Oct. 20, 1999. 

Update: toilet of terror” (Canadian tourist visits Starbucks in NYC, sues), Dec. 8, 1999; “Starbucks toilet lawsuit“, Dec. 1, 1999. 

Mounties vs. your dish” (satellite regulations), Nov. 1, 1999. 

Sensitivity in cow-naming“, Oct. 21, 1999; “Weekend reading” (Bugs Bunny television complaint), Aug. 21-22, 1999. “You may already not be a winner” (prisoner suit over sweepstakes entry), Aug. 23, 1999.

For a discussion of the loser-pays principle, which Canada has retained to a considerable extent in its courts, see our loser-pays page