Suspected Witness Tampering in the Dallas DePuy Pinnacle Trial
Hi, this is Stuart Talley here to do another update on the ongoing Pinnacle metal-on-metal hip trial. This is the trial that’s currently going right now in Dallas, Texas on behalf of six individuals who all reside in New York. The case is proceeding as expected, sort of along the lines of the other trials that have gone forward, but there has recently been some controversy regarding a potential witness in the case. There is a doctor, a treating surgeon from New York, who was scheduled to testify in the case. He actually performed revision surgeries on three of the plaintiffs, and the day before his testimony he reported a very interesting conversation that he had with a DePuy sales rep. I’m not sure if many people know this but DePuy sales reps are very involved in surgeries that occur when someone has a hip surgery. The sales rep is usually in the operating room with the surgeon. They usually bring in most of the different hardware and parts that are going to be used during the surgery, and they have typically very good relationships with the surgeons that they work with. Well what happened was the sales rep, who was supposed to testify in the case later on, spoke with the surgeon and according to the surgeon the sales rep looked very upset. He was disheveled and seemed anxious, and what the sales rep told the surgeon was that he had been grilled by DePuy attorneys the night before and that they were pressuring him to give apparently good testimony for DePuy. But what was really sort of striking and interesting was that the sales rep told the surgeon that the surgeon needed to be careful about what he testified to in Dallas and that if he didn’t testify the right way it could impact his career. Now let me read to you exactly what was said. It says, according to an affidavit by the surgeon, he says: “On Friday October 13th, while I was scrubbing in for surgery at the Montefiore Hospital, I met with my DePuy sales representative, Glen Schwager in connection with the procedure that required his involvement. Mr. Schwager looked terrible and appeared stressed, so I asked him what was going on. He said the day before, he had been contacted by the DePuy lawyers, and that discussion made him anxious. He said the lawyers were, quote: ‘On him like crazy,’ end quote. They were putting quote, ‘big-time pressure on him,’ end quote. Mr. Schwager told me that as a result of the conversations with the DePuy attorneys, he was worried there could be ramifications for me and my practice in connection with my upcoming Dallas testimony.” This issue was brought to the judge’s attention, and the judge was not happy. What this does is it implicates the potential that there was witness tampering, an effort by DePuy to impact the testimony of the surgeon. The judge was not happy, indicated that he was going to contact the U.S. Attorney’s Office, and have FBI agents begin an investigation. He actually brought the surgeon on the stand, had the surgeon confirm that this in fact did happen, under oath, and offered to give the surgeon access to an attorney free of charge to help them in connection with the investigation, because the FBI would be investigating. The eventual outcome of this situation remains unclear. There are many remedies that the judge can impose should he find that there was an effort to tamper with the witness. There are things like striking the answer to complaint, or allowing the surgeon to testify without any cross-examination, or giving instructions to the jurors about what occurred, but at this point it’s too early to know what the judge will do, and a lot of it will have to do with the outcome of this investigation that the FBI is engaged in. So, this is something that almost never happens in civil trials. I’ve never been involved in a case where something like this has happened. So, it is a very unusual set of circumstances. How it will eventually wash out at the end of the day remains unclear but stay tuned and we’ll keep you updated on what happens here. If you have a Pinnacle metal-on-metal hip, you have any questions, feel free to give us a call. You can reach us at the phone number on the screen, you can contact us through our website and a lawyer will call you right back.