The Courier-Journal in Louisville, Kentucky has an article on an amazing lawsuit in Kentucky in yet another derivative claim of the fen-phen litigation. Plaintiff claims that her lawyers told her that her echocardiogram showed that her heart was “like a tire that might burst” as a result of the use of fen-phen.
The claim made by a former paralegal of the law firm handling the case is beyond stunning: medical tests were altered to show more heart damage than expected and destroyed test results that were not consistent with plaintiffs’ lawyers’ theory of the case.
The law firm did what a lot of plaintiffs’ law firms do in product liability cases where there is a chance of significant recovery: they offer plaintiff a medical test at no charge which is characterized as an independent medical exam. In this case, the test was an echocardiogram.
As many good stories do in 2009, this one also involves sex and (audio) tape. Plaintiff’s lawyer is accused of telling his client that she needed to “spend some time on [her] back” with him (later in the conversation he said he was kidding), that he wanted to touch her breasts, asking her how many people she had had sex with, and the like. Plaintiff taped the conversations because – get this – her husband did not believe her. The article gives the impression that Plaintiff never really voiced objection to these comments.
Who do you root for in a case like this? Not the lawyer who, on his best day, acted inappropriately in the case. Bar counsel in Kentucky has put on hold its evaluation until after the case, but eventually these claims are going to be heard. But it also hard to root for a Plaintiff who claims the lawyer and his law firm damaged her “mentally and emotionally” and “caused her a great deal of humiliation.” Exactly how much money are allegations like this worth? There is no question that the allegations are very serious. But there is an incredibly important difference between making allegations of serious misconduct and allegations of serious injury.