Thursday, August 7, 2008
David Michaels of SKAPP forwarded me an interesting order I missed the first time around in the welding rod litigation in the Northern District of Ohio. In it, the judge ordered (Welding_rod_funding_order.pdf [PDF]) that both sides disclose the extent of funding provided to the authors of articles, treatises, etc., relied upon in litigation. In total, in this particular sample, the defendants' funding totaled something over $10 million, while the plaintiffs' around $500,000. A Mother Jones article describes the case more.
I'm not sure, incidentally, that the proportionate amounts spent means as much as it might -- i.e., it's not self-evident that spending 20 times more necessarily means more 20 times more wicked conduct or 20 times more intent to buy the science. I would hope that industry is spending a lot more money studying the dangers of their products than plaintiffs' lawyers are.
Now, I'd prefer it to be consistently good work (and the article notes some pretty sketchy sounding stuff), but the fact of spending money doesn't necessarily mean bad work or bad science.
In any event, the outcome of the order -- disclosure all around -- is sound.