Ex-Employee’s Lawsuit Against Pfizer Fizzles Before Trial
A pharmaceutical mega-corporation creates a secret virus in its labs and accidentally exposes one of its workers to said virus. After exposure to the virus, the employee develops strange, unexplained medical conditions, like temporary paralysis. All this sounds like a plot to an old X-Files episode, but it is not.
The trial between pharmaceutical giant Pfizer and a scientist [Becky McClain] who claims to be intermittently paralyzed by a virus she was exposed to while working at the [company] . . . began Monday.
McClain believes that a colleague accidentally exposed her to an engineered form of a lentivirus, a virus which is similar to the AIDS virus. McClain claims that the virus altered her body’s ability to regulate potassium, resulting in on-and-off paralysis. (source)
From what the NBC affiliate (and others) reported, this had the potential be to a very exciting trial.
But the NBC affiliate got the case totally wrong. It completely failed to report that the Court threw out all of the claims relating to McClain’s alleged exposure and her illness. Judge Vanessa L. Bryant’s rulings are here and here. Not surprising, nearly every article and blog post since then has repeated the error. (See e.g., here, here, and here). They fail to note that this case is no longer about her alleged exposure and bizarre illness. McClain lost those claims on summary judgment. The case is now only about retaliation and free speech.
The lawsuit, nevertheless, raises questions about safety practices in the field of genetic engineering. And it highlights that there are few safeguards in place to protect workers and the public from accidental exposure to viruses engineered by these companies. The case also demonstrates that OSHA is probably ill-equipped to handle complaints about highly-technical subject matters like this.
But perhaps the most interesting takeaway lesson is that pharmaceutical companies are creating new viruses under the guise of research, and there is very little regulation overseeing any of this. Even Siouxsie is spooked by this.
Bonus Video: Plaintiff McClain discussed how sloppy pharmaceutical companies are with their man-made viruses.