Wednesday, February 14, 2007
Judge Jack Weinstein yesterday faulted the attorney, expert, and reporter involved in disseminating confidential documents that were covered by a protective order in the Zyprexa multidistrict litigation. Here's a link to the court's order, and an excerpt from the story in today's New York Law Journal:
A federal judge Tuesday rebuked an attorney, an expert witness and a reporter for The New York Times for violating a protective order in a mass-tort action concerning the health risks of Zyprexa, an anti-psychotic drug manufactured by Eli Lilly.
Eastern District of New York Judge Jack B. Weinstein, said the men -- Alaska attorney James Gottstein; Dr. David Egilman, an expert hired by plaintiffs; and Alex Berenson, of the Times -- had "conspired to obtain and publish documents in knowing violation of a court order not to do so, and that they executed the conspiracy using other people as their agents in crime."
The documents in question were among millions of internal e-mails and files given to attorneys representing 30,000 plaintiffs who sued Eli Lilly over Zyprexa, a schizophrenia drug that patients alleged caused obesity and diabetes. Most of the suits involving Zyprexa have been settled for a total of $750 million, according to reports.
The documents were covered by a protective order, and Weinstein said all three men knew about the order.
The judge alleged, based on testimony from Gottstein, that Berenson and Egilman had devised a way to circumvent the order: Have Gottstein subpoena Egilman for a case in Alaska, and then send the documents to Berenson for an exclusive story.
Berenson relied on the documents for several articles he wrote in December alleging that Lilly played down data that found Zyprexa increased the risk of obesity and diabetes in patients.
Although the court called Berenson's conduct "reprehensible," it imposed its injunction against further dissemination only on Gottstein and Egilman.