From the desk of the President: PLF's weekly litigation roundup

June 08, 2012 | By ROB RIVETT

President Rob Rivett again. There were exciting developments this week in two important PLF cases. I’ll tell you all about them after the jump.

Free Enterprise – Tort Reform

The Texas Supreme Court handed down this victory for consumers and drug manufacturers in Centocor v. Hamilton, a case where PLF filed this amicus brief. The decision is an affirmation of the “learned intermediary” doctrine, meaning that drug manufacturers need not provide warnings directly to patients when they provide those warnings to the patients’ doctors. Because doctors have greater expertise in assessing both a patient’s needs and the side-effects of any particular drug or array of drugs a patient may be taking, drug manufacturers should not be liable when they provide information and warnings about a drug to a patient’s doctor, rather than directly to the patient. PLF pointed out that even in this era when patients can become educated about illnesses and drugs on the web, “it would be the rare patient who is as well-informed as her physician.” Moreover, the expense of providing warnings directly to patients would likely not translate into either better patient education or drug affordability. For more information on the implications of the decision, visit our blog here, or for background on the case visit our website on this page.

Property Rights – Washington State

The Washington State Supreme Court denied review this week in Olympic Stewardship Foundation v. Western Washington Growth Management Board. This case involves Jefferson County’s requirement that property owners within a river valley must preserve 100% of their vegetation as a condition for any new development. As outlined previously on the PLF Liberty Blog, however, this rule is contradicted the County’s own scientific studies. After the Court of Appeals found that the county need only “consult” its own studies and not follow their recommendations, PLF attorneys filed this petition for review on behalf of the landowners to the Washington Supreme Court. Not only is this week’s denial unfortunate for the landowners in Jefferson County, it also reflects a growing sense of chaos in the Washington courts over contradictory land use rules that has been exacerbated by the Court’s refusal to take several recent cases brought to it for review. For an analysis of the implications of the denial, visit this week’s blog post.