Friday, June 12, 2015

UPDATE: Duty to clients? Secret settlements concealing dangerous products put the public at risk

Heavy duty

A former US federal judge writes:

Defense lawyers justify their participation in these secrecy agreements which are not in the public interest by asserting their duty to their clients. Obviously publicizing a major defect will affect future sales and encourage further litigation. Plaintiffs and their lawyers are often given the choice of accepting a satisfactory settlement conditioned upon confidentiality or going to trial and choose the former as preferable.
What is needed is an ethical rule that prohibits lawyers from demanding or accepting confidentiality as a condition of settlement if there is a good faith belief that a product is defective and dangerous. If the agreement is good for the client but bad for the public, the public interest should prevail. Lawyers should not be party to concealing dangerous products and putting the public at risk.

Question: When Toyota's defense lawyers get to the pearly gates, what will they say to the guardians there?