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Time to End Court Secrecy Over Defective or Dangerous Products

Product recall

A bid has been launched to ensure that information on defective and dangerous products is released to the public.

Earlier this year, California State Senator Connie Leyva (D-Chino), introduced Senate Bill 1149, also known as the Public Right to Know Act, with Public Justice and Consumer Reports as co-sponsors. The bill aims to stop abuses that hide information about a dangerous or defective product, or an environmental hazard that poses a danger to public health or safety.

The Case of Essure

Recently, Leyva wrote an op-ed on this subject saying why she would like to see this bill become state law. She gives the example of Bayer’s Essure, a nonsurgical birth control device, which seriously harmed thousands of women when the metal coils disintegrated leaving shards inside women’s reproductive systems. These implants led to serious injury and harm such as perforated organs and miscarriages.

In spite of 27,000 product liability lawsuits filed by affected women against Bayer, a broad court “protective order” favored secrecy on this matter over public disclosure. It took an extraordinary effort by Public Justice, a nonprofit legal advocacy organization, to intervene and shed light on these products. But by then, much harm had been done. Essure had already caused tens of thousands of serious injuries and at least 23 deaths verified by the Food and Drug Administration.

Information on Dangerous Products Should Be Public

Many of those injuries and deaths could not be prevented because Bayer had used the legal system to its advantage to conceal this information from the public so it could continue selling Essure nationwide. Leyva, in her op-ed, also gives the example of Purdue Pharma, the manufacturer of OxyContin, which used legal schemes to hide the truth from the people about the danger of opioids.

Our product defect attorneys welcome and support this important bill. We need to remove these walls of secrecy that clearly endanger people’s well-being and in many cases, their lives. It is no surprise that a number of corporations oppose SB 1149. We have seen a number of corporations put profits before people.

If a product is dangerous or defective, the public has a right to know about it. The same goes for environmental hazards. Under this law, if a lawsuit uncovers factual information about a defective product, that information will no longer be kept secret. This important step will help hold companies accountable and prevent future injury and harm.



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California Personal Injury Blog