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One problem with the pharmaceutical industry and its regulation (or lack thereof)

There’s a huge problem with the way the U.S. justice system handles problems with prescription drugs. It was demonstrated again today by news of a $486 million class action settlement wherein Pfizer pays its stockholders for hiding the fact that the drugs Bextra and Celebrex were killing thousands of Americans and creating huge financial liabilities for Pfizer.

Instead of jail time, Pfizer’s executives used company money to handle the inconvenient truth that Pfizer had been knowingly killing patients. In 2008 Pfizer agreed to pay $894 million to settle claims by people who suffered strokes and heart attacks caused by Bextra and Celebrex. Experts said the drugs doubled the risk of cardiovascular problems, and probably caused thousands of deaths. Worse, the evidence showed that Pfizer had known about the risks but didn’t disclose those risks to patients, doctors, the FDA or its own investors.

How many people went to prison to pay for these thousands of deaths? Only one, Scott Reuben, a doctor who admitted he faked all his research. Although Reuben faked studies on such a massive scale that the “Scientific American” journal referred to Reuben as the medical equivalent to Bernie Madoff, Reuben was sentenced to only 6 months in prison. It’s so rare that anyone goes to prison for killing people via defective prescription drugs that Scott Reuben has his own Wikipedia page. The Pfizer executives who knew of the risks and concealed them were not even indicted.

Today, Pfizer agreed to pay $486 million to Pfizer investors who claimed Pfizer executives failed to inform the investors of the financial risks associated with the two drugs. This comes after a 2009 settlement with the government, in which the company agreed to pay $2.3 billion to settle a U.S. Department of Justice probe into its marketing of Bextra and other drugs. Last year, Pfizer also settled another related investor’s suit for $400 million.

A spokesman for Pfizer said that the company and all defendants deny any wrongdoing.

All I can say is that Pfizer has paid a lot of money for a company that engaged in no wrongdoing.

Michael J. Evans, Attorney,  enable javascript

Michael J. Evans, Attorney, Professional/Business Update July 2016

A lot has been happening since I last spent time blogging about legal subjects.

In 2015 I began splitting my work time between legal projects such as AmericanLegalAlliance.com and more entrepreneurial projects involving Internet technology, mobile applications, and digital communications. I’ve actually been spending time in both areas since I put up my first website in 2000, but now I’ve formalized it more by creating a limited liability company to handle the tech projects. American Legal Alliance, LLC (“ALA”) will continue handling legal matters. CoLawborate, LLC(SM) will handle mobile app and legal tech development.

The planned addition of at least 1,000 lawyers nationwide to our ALA lawyer network has taken longer than anticipated, but is still in development.

I have stopped blogging here for a period of time in order to use time that would have been spent blogging on my current projects.  Given the fact that I enjoy blogging and this domain has my name on it, I plan to keep this  domain and resume blogging when my other work permits.

In August 2013 I stopped blogging at AttorneyMarketingOnline.com about legal marketing ethics, best practices and technology. I enjoyed keeping lawyers up-to-date with trends in online attorney marketing, including ethics issues, but I became too busy to continue updating the website. At the time the site was active, it got a lot of traffic and ranked high in Google for the search term “attorney marketing.” I decided in 2013 that it would probably be a good idea to sell the domain to a legal marketing company and focus my efforts elsewhere. I am just now getting around to putting the website up for sale.

I plan to list the AttorneyMarketingOnline.com website for sale on Flippa.com. If you’re spending marketing dollars on Google AdWords to get potential clicks for the search term “attorney marketing,” or if you’re spending time and money on SEO trying to rank high in Google for that term, you may be able to save money and get more traffic by buying the website that has “attorney marketing” as the first two words in the domain name.

I urge legal marketers to consider bidding on the website.. The site doesn’t rank highly in Google now, in July, 2016, but that’s because I haven’t added content or done anything else with the site for 3 years (August 2013).

AttorneyMarketingOnline.com really is a golden opportunity for the right legal marketer.

If you are interested in collaborating or partnering with me on a current legal, mobile app or digital communications project, or if you wish to contact me about buying AttorneyMarketingOnline.com before it appears for sale at Flippa, you may email me at  enable javascript

For those of you who have followed this blog and who are familiar with my work and projects, many of you have worked with me before. I plan to be adding a few additional members to my projects. If you’re interested in the ALA project, or mobile app development and other new technologies, I have some time before August 1, 2016 to talk or correspond with interested lawyers, others in the fields of technology or entrepreneurship who have the skills to innovate in the field of mobile apps and digital communications, and potential qualified investors. This is not a public offering and no securities are registered or currently expected to be sold.

I can be contacted by email at  enable javascript . Please explain the nature of your interest in your email.

I hope your have a productive and happy 2016.

Michael J. Evans, Lawyer & CEO of American Legal Alliance, on Law 3.0.

When I began practicing law over thirty years ago, I did what had been traditional for many years: I began as a lawyer with little practical legal knowledge or skills, and learned how to actually practice law by watching and helping my mentors.

As soon as I passed the bar exam, I took a job as an associate lawyer at a small trial law firm that represented both civil plaintiffs and defendants. I stayed with the firm a little over three years before I felt qualified to quit to go into my own solo practice.

I can’t imagine what my law practice (and life) would have been like without the years I spent working under two really great mentors at my first law firm.

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Michael J. Evans, Lawyer & CEO of American Legal Alliance, On Gun Control

I think I should first point out that this is simply my personal opinion. It is not the position of the American Legal Alliance. We have lawyers affiliated with the American Legal Alliance who are anti-gun control, pro-gun control, and somewhere in the middle. This is simply my personal story and my personal opinion.

I grew up in rural Alabama hunting animals with guns, and I’ve owned guns my whole life. Many years ago I stopped hunting because, frankly, it made me sad when an animal died. I loved everything else about the hunt, and hunting is a sport with much to love. But, even as a teenager, I would feel a slight tweak of sadness whenever the animal I shot shuddered and died. I told myself to toughen up and continued hunting until middle age, but I finally gave the hobby up.  Even after I quit hunting, I continued to own guns for personal protection.

Before I started the American Legal Alliance in 2000, I was a lawyer for people who had been injured or defrauded by corporate wrongdoing. During the 1990s, a defendant I had sued made a credible threat to sneak up on me and slit my throat before I could do anything about it. This man had served time in prison for assault with intent to kill, and he was out on bond for breaking into his current wife’s house to try to kill her. I confirmed these facts with the local authorities, and was told that there was really no practical way to prevent him from making good on his threat to cut my throat.

At the time, my 17-month=old son had recently died in an accident. My wife and daughters were going through the most heart-wrenching, depressing period of their lives. I reflected on the thug who threatened my life and (I distinctly remember this thought), concluded, “My wife and daughters have been through too much grief for some idiot to kill their Daddy.” I went and bought a 9-millimeter Glock semiautomatic pistol, along with a smaller pistol to serve as a backup weapon.

I carried two pistols with me everywhere I went for two years; until the man who swore he would kill me was no longer a threat. I can’t speak for everyone who carries a pistol for personal protection, but I can speak for me. And I will tell you this, carrying a gun and being prepared to kill a man (even under justifiable circumstances) changed me.

While and after carrying a gun I became less concerned about the widespread availability of guns in our country. I took it for granted that everyone in this country had a right to carry a gun, and I believed this would and should never change.

But over the years my opinions about guns have changed again. One reason is that I enjoyed watching the second Iraq war on TV, and the violence didn’t bother me. After watching the war nearly around the clock, I was so accustomed to seeing live violence on television in my den that it seemed as if I had walked into my den as one man and walked out as another–a man who no longer felt the same love for humanity. I found that I could not pray for weeks. I finally realized that I needed to repent of my enjoyment of the violence and my disregard for the innocent lives lost as we advanced on Baghdad. Pastor Brian Zahnd has written an excellent book about Christians and violence called, “A Farewell to Mars: An Evangelical Pastor’s Journey Toward the Biblical Gospel of Peace.” I highly recommend it to anyone who wishes to think about Second Amendment issues from the standpoint of Christianity.

Another thing changed my opinion about guns. I read that, statistically, guns in the home cause more deaths from accidents and suicides than they result in self-defense killings. After reflecting on this, I rounded up all the guns in my house and took them to one of my brothers-in-law who was in law enforcement and asked if he would keep them in his gun safe for me. He has had custody of my guns since that time.

Now I want to make the point that caused me to start this blog post. I saw one of the TV “experts” on CNN recently saying that we can only reduce the number of guns in this country if we authorize much tougher policing. He said we would need to use “stop and frisk” to take guns away from people. He would be correct if we wanted to reduce the number of guns in this country by the end of 2015. But we probably can’t reduce the number of guns by the end of 2015 to make a significant difference in gun violence this year no matter how many people we stop and frisk.

This country has been around more than 200 years, and I figure we will probably be around for a lot longer. Now, at the age of 63 with seven small grandchildren, I’m starting to think about the kind of country this will be in twenty, thirty and forty years. If we restrict gun sales and put reasonable gun laws in place, we may not be able to see an immediate reduction in the number of gun crimes. But we can do a lot to reduce gun violence in twenty years if we begin now to take reasonable steps to reduce gun ownership. We should do it for our children and our grandchildren.

The pro-gun lobby loves to argue that, because we can’t reduce the number of guns in America, the solution is to sell more guns so that people can defend themselves. This argument has the advantage of increasing the gun lobby’s business, but it makes no sense if you’re willing to take the long view for America. We can, and we should, begin reducing the number of guns so our children and grandchildren will live in a safer world.

Michael J. Evans
Lawyer and CEO
American Legal Alliance, LLC

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