Lawyers embracing Facebook in client pursuit

Finding plaintiffs for medical lawsuits has dramatically evolved, leaving pharmaceuticals outraged.

Locating pharma victims just got a whole lot quicker and cheaper with the advance of data compiled from Facebook, marketing firms and public sources by so-called digital bounty hunters.

Tim Burd’s San Francisco company was hired by a firm for a lawsuit in relation to a device used in hysterectomies, allegedly causing the spread of ovarian cancer.  According to reports, women over 55 are most likely to contract the cancer, and using Facebook, the company was able to target women within a particular age bracket that ‘like’ and ovarian cancer support group.

Burd’s company provided the names of around 10,000 women to personal injury lawyers in recent years, using CDC data, Facebook and other information.  The names for which Burd says the lawyers will pay around $3,000 each, were potential plaintiffs for a lawsuit against the pharmaceutical company which made transvaginal mesh implants, resulting in health complications for many women. 

“We use age, gender – its only women that qualify, age typically 40 and up.  It’s happened to a lot of parents because after they had a kid, that messed up their insides,” he told Bloomberg Business.  “So we cast a wide net, really, and then narrow it down from there, from whatever does well.”  Facebook reportedly declined to comment.

Johnson & Johnson is now facing more than 24,000 lawsuits over the vaginal mesh implants.

According to Bloomberg, Bayer has paid out about $1.92 billion in the U.S. to settle some 9,600 claims saying its contraceptives caused blood clots, despite never making an admission of guilt in the settlements. 

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