July 11th, 2008


Sometimes I understand people who hate lawyers

I am not, as a rule, opposed to class action suits. I think the hurdles of pressing a claim against an orgainzation/corporation which has lots of money, and lawyers on retainer make it really difficult to get redress.

Add the relative costs (a million dollars, hell half a million, would change my life hugely; ConAgra would be coughing up pocket change) and the ability to impose conditions on settlements (gag-orders) and massive action is sometimes the only thing which can change the behavior of a company (can we say Ford Pinto?... I knew we could).

So the ads for people to sign onto such suits are things I am conflicted about (because I know the lawyers make a whole lot more money for enrolling more people, and the people seem to get less).

Today, however, I saw one which I think is frivolous, was for Steven's Johnson's Symndrome.

Steven's Johnson's is nasty. It's horrible. It's disfuguring, and can be fatal. I have some familiarity with it.

Here's the thing... it an allergic reaction. Yes, it's more common than is often understood, and when it shows up it's often not undertstood, and can be missed until serious damage is done.

However, it's not as if this is something the drug companies (since I don't think a class action suit against individual doctors is going to bring much money) can be blamed for. It's not common. It's not something I expect to have shown up as a real risk in trials.

It's not linked to any specific drug (though some drug's are more prone to causing it... drugs like the sulfa family, in which the usaal allergic reaction is dermal inflammation). There are no obvious predispositions.

So this is probably a bullshit suit, a scam to convince people who are really suffering (imagine large chunks of your skin sloughing off, or becoming blind, losing your sense of smell, etc.) that it was some act of tortuous negligence which deserves compensation.

It's something which a jury will be sympathetic too (children are more strongly affected when afflicted), so the companies might be willing to settle on; even though they aren't, IMO, though IANAL, culpable.

And, I'll wager none of them, if a settlement is reached, will see more than a couple of thousand dollars. It's selling false hope to people who are suffering, and using them to line the lawyers pockets.