Friday, July 20, 2007

O'Quinn Arbitration Ruling

Overlawyered has the O'Quinn arbitration ruling [PDF].  The whole thing is worth reading as it addresses the significant challenges in the management of funds in mass tort litigation.

In particular, it's got a fascinating discussion of O'Quinn's use of client funds to pay for what is referred to as "the Baylor study," though it's not actually associated with Baylor.  As the (partial) dissent puts it:

O'Quinn fashioned the funding of a Baylor Medical Study in somewhat less than a straightforward manner.  [Several industry studies suggested no causation.]  O'Quinn set out to fund a study to counteract these medical study findings. . . .

The name "CAPS" is found in the article as the entity funding the Baylor study.  CAPS is an acronym for a group in support of the "women" in their battles with the manufacturers.  [Ed. note: not sure why the scare quotes are there around "women."]  O'Quinn used client money to fund the Baylor study through donations to CAPS.  The method of funding is as follows:

O'Quinn would cut a check from the General Expense Fund to a designated breast implant client.  The client would then send a check out of the client's account to CAPS.  CAPS would in turn send the money to the Baylor study group.  Medical studies ethics require that a statement of disclosure be made in every medical article or study as to who the individuals and/or entities are that are funding the study.  This study at Baylor, funded in this deceptive way, nowhere states the study was being funded by plaintiffs' lawyers or O'Quinn.  This was a deceptive practice involving clients' money.  The clients were personally involved in the misrepresentation of the true funding of the Baylor study.

O'Quinn's business accountant testified that the method of funding was a "subterfuge."

Yet another consequence of Daubert and, I suppose, the more general desire to avoid bias challenges, and perhaps another reason to permit (and pursue) some discovery into the publication of relevant scholarship.

--BC

http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/tortsprof/2007/07/oquinn-arbitrat.html

Experts & Science, Products Liability | Permalink

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