Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Who's making factually incorrect statements

at the University of Minnesota?

Readers should understand that, contrary to Dr. Elliot's assertions, the University did not sue Mary Weiss. Ms. Weiss brought suit against the University and others. Following the conclusion of any civil case in Minnesota courts, the prevailing party is entitled to recover certain out-of-pocket costs (not including attorney’s fees) as determined by the court. In this case, the University prevailed and its costs were submitted to the court for review in accordance with routine civil court procedure. Subsequently , when the parties determined that there would be no further court proceedings, the University voluntarily withdrew its claim to recover its costs before any award was made by the court.
Mark Rotenberg, General Counsel

Correspondence to Mary Weiss from  Pearson, Randall & Schumacher PA

Please see attached the Univ of Minn notice to assess costs of $ 57, 535.96.  In a move that I have never seen in the 14 years I have been practicing law, the Univ of Minn is requesting-without a hearing, to assess costs against Mary to punish her for bringing the case against the U. The law permits the prevailing party to get costs, but this is never done with the type of law I practice.  (We will be fighting the notice, and request a hearing on the costs)  
I respectfully recommend that we forward the U's assessment of costs to the press so they see how vicious and uncaring the University of Minnesota has been towards Mary. 


Added later 

A regular reader has sent an important comment via email which may clarify this situation:

The statute does entitle a prevailing party to recover his out of pocket expenses.  Minn. Stat. 549.04. 
The prevailing party in litigation usually does seek to recover those expenses.  The prevailing party files a notice of taxation of costs and disbursements with the court administrator (clerk of court).  If the other party files an objection, the administrator will make the decision in the first instance. 
If a party does not agree with the decision of the administrator, then that party may appeal the decision to the district court judge.  Rule 54.04 of the Minnesota Rules of Civil Procedure.
The University did agree to withdraw its request for costs and disbursements, but it was on the condition that Mary Weiss agree not to appeal the decision of the district court dismissing the claim against the University.  So the University was playing hardball with the mother of the deceased patient. 
It used its claim for costs and disbursements as a club to end the litigation. 
There may also have been a secondary purpose of giving a warning to others of the financial costs in making claims against the University for adverse events in clinical trials.  Mary's attorney also mentioned this possible secondary purpose to Professor Elliott.  See the final paragraph of his article.

 The university agreed to drop the lawsuit against Mary only when she agreed not to appeal the judge's decision. "Maybe they want to chill anyone who might think of challenging the university, even if her child had died," Pearson said. "It gave me a sick feeling."

(Pearson was an attorney for Mary Weiss.)

Mr. Rotenberg's version of these events thus still appears to be incomplete and less than transparent. 


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