Limit secrecy in courts to prevent injuries, deaths

Les Weisbrod, AAJ President
Excerpted from op-ed for the National Law Journal

“Court secrecy is an issue that has been around nearly as long as litigation has existed. But now more than ever, corporations are using secrecy agreements to hide their negligence when their products have harmed, injured and even killed unwary consumers.” He adds, “When wrongdoers settle cases involving their irresponsible conduct, they often force injured consumers to agree not to reveal any of the details of the case – even if the product remains on the market and the information could warn the public of a potential health hazard. In fact, manufacturers of faulty products regularly insist that any and all information turned over to injured consumers and their attorneys be kept secret.” He says in light of the recent AstraZeneca documents that were made public, exposing the dangers of the drug Seroquel, “Limiting secrecy in our civil justice will help prevent more people from being injured or killed by known defective products.” Concluding, he says, “Congress has a lot to deal with, considering the recent economic downturn, but protecting the public’s interests by shedding a light on safety issues should remain a top priority.”

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