Did you or someone you know take Vioxx and have an adverse reaction? What about being involved in an automobile accident where serious injuries were sustained? If you live in Michigan you are out of luck when trying to hold the pharmaceutical industry or the negligent driver accountable for their actions, and you have Senator Mike Bishop and Senator Wayne Kuipers to thank.
Let’s start with Senator Wayne Kuipers, representative of the 30th District. Senator Kuipers is one of the biggest shills for the drug companies in Michigan evidenced by his refusal to allow the Michigan Senate to vote on a bill that would repeal drug company immunity. This law only exists in Michigan, and bars any and all lawsuits against a drug manufacturer for complications or negligence caused by a medication.
According to Senator Kuipers
A drug manufacturer that goes through a rigorous screening process by the FDA and receives approval should not be subject to litigation contesting whether a product is defective or dangerous. If FDA approval is not good enough what is?
Vioxx received FDA approval, but Merck & Co. pulled the painkiller in 2004 after determining it doubled the chances of heart attacks and strokes and settled for $4.85 billion to all claimants. Unless you live in Michigan. Or what about drugs for irritable bowel syndrome, heart surgery, or painkillers? All of these drugs received FDA approval but were later determined to be harmful to consumers, and there are plenty more drugs on that list. The sheer volume of drugs taken off the market contradicts Senator Kuipers assertions that FDA approval is enough.
So what is Senator Kuipers doing to help Michigan residents who have been harmed by dangerous medications? Nothing. But what can he do; he’s only one senator, right? Kuipers is the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, where a bill is currently pending to overturn pharmaceutical immunity, and he is refusing to allow a vote on the bill even though it has already passed the Michigan House of Representatives. As only one person, Senator Kuipers is doing a lot to protect drug manufacturers in harming Michigan residents. Too bad he is not looking out for his constituents, who have to fight drug immunity laws all the way to the Supreme Court.
But what about Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop? He’s not carrying water for drug manufacturers. Rather, he is working hard for AAA, Progressive, Auto-Owners, Citizens, and State Farm, to name only a few. Thanks to all of his hard work, people involved in automobile accidents in Michigan have a significantly diminished chance to recover for injuries related to an accident in which the other driver was at fault.
Michigan law provides for recovery of damages related to pain and suffering resulting from an automobile accident under three categories. These categories were designed by the legislature to prevent whiplash and other minor injury claims from tying up courtrooms across Michigan. The categories are “death, serious impairment of body function, or permanent serious disfigurement.” Death and disfigurement are fairly easy to sort out, but serious impairment is not as straightforward. The Michigan Supreme Court answered the question in the case of Kreiner v. Fischer, and the short answer is recovery for significant injuries is now in doubt.
If you have sustained a vertebral, leg, or other fracture, required months of skilled nursing care, had metal screws and plates surgically implanted, or been unable to walk or work for months due to an automobile accident, your ability to recover is in jeopardy. According to the Courts in Michigan, those injuries are insufficient to justify recovering damages for your pain and suffering. The Kriener decision helps protect drunk drivers and other negligent drivers from being held responsible for the damage they cause.
But what can be done about this? Doesn’t the Court have the final say on the law? This is true, unless the legislature passes a law that overturns the decision of a court. The Michigan House of Representatives has passed such a law and it is being help up by Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop. This proposed law, referred to as the “Kreiner fix,” would go along way to helping people injured in automobile accidents recover damages. The people affected by the Kreiner decision are not looking for a handout, they are people deserving of compensation because they were seriously injured through no fault of there own. Senator Bishop claims to represent the 12th district, but failing to act on this piece of legislation, which was passed by the House of Representatives in February 2007, is an insult to his constituents.
If you believe that drug companies deserve to have absolute immunity or that automobile insurers deserve a break from paying claims for serious injuries, then Senators Bishop and Kuipers are the Senators for you. And if that’s true, then I suspect you work for a drug manufacturer or an auto insurer. On the other hand, if you believe in personal responsibility and want to help hold the pharmaceutical industry and negligent drivers accountable, Senators Bishop and Kuipers are not representing you or your views.
To help make sure your views are represented, contact Senator Mike Bishop and Senator Wayne Kuipers to discuss your views about drug immunity and automobile negligence. Remember, they represent you and not the drug manufacturers or automobile insurance industry.
recently named in the 2009 edition of Best Lawyer's In America, David Mittleman has been representing seriously injured people since 1985. A partner with Church Wyble PC—a division of Grewal Law PLLC—Mr. Mittleman and his partners focus on medical malpractice, wrongful death, car accidents, slip and falls, nursing home injury, pharmacy/pharmacist negligence and disability claims.