Pfizer attorney seeks to protect company secrets in Tillery class action

Steve Korris Jun. 7, 2007, 5:00am

Pfiizer attorney Robert Shultz of Edwardsville assured Madison County Associate Judge Ralph Mendelsohn that he could sign a protective order and plaintiff attorney Stephen Tillery of St. Louis would not oppose it.

Shultz was wrong.

Two days after Shultz proposed the order, Tillery associate Aaron Zigler sent Mendelsohn a letter opposing it.

Zigler wrote, "Please be aware that plaintiffs do not consent to Pfizer's proposed protective order and we ask that you set Pfizer's motion for hearing at your convenience."

Shultz's order would have set confidentiality rules in a class action over painkillers Celebrex and Bextra.

Tillery's plaintiffs seek to represent all Americans who paid more for the drugs than they were worth.

Pfizer has moved for transfer, arguing that Pfizer doesn't do business in Madison County.

Zigler wrote in a May 17 pleading, "To say that Pfizer has aggressively defended this action would be an understatement."

Tillery has approached it about as aggressively. He wants to compel Pfizer to share nearly everything the company knows.

His definition of "documents" specifies 50 kinds and adds a section on "graphic or oral records or representations of any kind…"

The definition wraps up with blackberries, palm pilots and "any medium of expression of fixed and tangible form."

Tillery also wants five years of tax returns and backup records from Steven Faulkner of Edwardsville.

He claims Faulkner's records will prove that Pfizer does business in Madison County.

Tillery wants to see all expenses Pfizer reimbursed for Faulkner for five years and all expenses Faulkner incurred "related in any way to deponent's home, office or employment with defendant."

He set a June 12 deposition for Faulkner in St. Louis.

According to Shultz, federal regulations prohibit Pfizer from releasing all the information Tillery wants.

Shultz argues that some data would improperly identify patients.

When he moved for a protective order on May 23 he wrote, "…special protection from public disclosure and use for any purpose other than prosecuting this litigation is warranted."

He wrote that Pfizer anticipated requests for information on finances, competition, trade secrets and science.

He wrote that the information fell within the Illinois Trade Secrets Act and that disclosure would impair the value of Pfizer's work in developing medicines.

He wrote that he had tried since last July to reach accord with Tillery on a protective order.

He wrote that they had not reached an express agreement.

"However, plaintiff's counsel will not oppose the entry of the attached order," Shultz wrote.

At the end he wrote, "The use of confidential information during any trial in this proceeding will be addressed in a later agreement between the parties, or, if they cannot reach agreement, by further order of the court."

He attached a form everyone would sign before seeing confidential information, declaring that they had the order and they understood it.

Before Mendelsohn could sign the order, Zigler stopped him.

Pfizer took Bextra off the market in 2005. Pfizer still sells Celebrex.

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