April 1, 2002
Federal Court Appoints Special Master
in Baycol Products Liability Litigation, MDL 1431 - Limits Bayer's Access to
The United States District Court for the District of Minnesota, presiding
over the national Baycol Products Liability Litigation, this week appointed
Professor Roger Haydock of the Williams Mitchell College of Law as Special
Master pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 53, to insuring that
Bayer (defendants) does not have access to information previously obtained
by Bayer Drug Safety or use this claimant information in this litigation
without an Order from the Court.
The Court Order (Pretrial order No.11) appointing a Special Master and
limiting Bayer access and use of patient information was granted by the
court after an emergency motion was filed by the Plaintiffs' Steering
Committee (PSC) in the MDL immediately after it was learned that Bayer was
sending medical releases and requests for information by certified mail to
Baycol Claimants who had filed adverse incident reports with the company.
Defendants argued this contact was required by the U.S. Food and Drug
Administration (FDA) and that the release of medical information was needed
for compliance with FDA regulation.
The PSC argued this was a violation of the attorney-client relationship,
because it constituted an inappropriate contact with a client who was
represented by counsel. The PSC also contended Bayer's conduct was an
attempt to obtain confidential information without proper authority and
consent, in violation of Rule 23 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.
PSC lead counsel Charles S. Zimmerman said, "This is a big victory for the
claimants and the putative class. Now Bayer cannot communicate and obtain a
blanket release of medical records and use them against the claimant in this
litigation. We now have a neutral, knowledgeable process with the Special
Master, to make sure everything is proper and fair."
To read the Pre-trial Order Number 11, visit http://www.mnd.uscourts.gov/Baycol_Mdl/home.htm.