Sunday, March 16, 2008

Birmingham, the world is watching. ~ Federal Breast Implant Judge, Samuel C. Pointer Dies

Banner courtesy of Judith Patience, Photo by Kathy Nye

Judge Pointer is dead. Here is a Birmingham article on his passing.

As his loved ones mourn his loss, we also mourn the loss of justice for hundreds of thousands of women harmed by faulty breast implants who received little or no compensation, much based on his ill fated, so called, science panel.

His rulings that gave, in our opinion, almost a free ride to the manufacturers, made sense when upon his retirement as a judge.

Pointer went to work for Lightfoot, Franklin, & White ... a veritable Who's Who of Corporate America, whose clients include Bristol Myers Squibb and Baxter (both former implant makers) as well as tobacco and pharmaceutical and oil giants (to name but a few).

After several of us made a peaceful protest on the courthouse lawn and attended hearings of his Science Panel in 1999, Sally Kirkland and I published this piece to him.


U.S. District Judge Sam C. Pointer, Jr., Federal Courthouse,
Birmingham, Alabama
May 5, 1999

Birmingham, the world is watching.

To The Honorable Judge Pointer,

After witnessing Dr. Hulka under cross examination in your courtroom April 21st, the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute right around the corner was a fresh breath of hope.

In the early 60's, equality for our black citizens also seemed but a dream. Equally, justice for breast implant victims presently appears to be anything but imminent. You, Judge Pointer, can change that and protect millions of medical consumers from faulty medical devices.

As the sign in that historical museum read, "Birmingham, the world is watching."

Judge Pointer, the world is watching you, your courtroom and your National Science Panel. Regrettably though, Benjamin Franklin's words ring loudly,

"It's such a pity that our legal system has so little to do
with justice."

After reading much of the testimony revealing manufacturer influence at so many turns, and the basic lack of curiosity of the researchers to even look in medline beyond "breast implants" to "silicone," we can't help but paraphrase:

"It's such a pity that our science panel has so little to do with science."

The responsibility you have to the health of millions of women and their offspring is awesome. In the bookstore of this Martin Luther King Museum, we had a conversation with the 20 year old clerk. He shared that at 18, his former girlfriend had gotten implants as a graduation gift from her surgeon father. Her little sister is receiving this same "gift" this year.

Judge Pointer, undoubtedly, this surgeon ~ as scores of thousands of other physicians around the world ~ has been mislead into believing that silicone and breast implants are "safe." Your Panel is continuing to disseminate this rumor to the world. Do you not feel your personal responsibility in issuing false assurances to the millions with disintegrating and leaking implants in place and those who purchase their first implants from now on?

At a FDA / Medical Devices meeting last week, the FDA could not designate what they felt an "acceptable rupture rate 3 was. You did not even instruct your NSP to investigate this serious, usually inevitable event that often results in multiple invasive surgeries. How could this have been ignored?

While widely accepted that early detection is one of the key factors in limiting the devastation of breast cancer, nowhere was the definite obstruction of good mammography by all implants even addressed. This consequence of breast implants alone, makes their presence highly unsafe.

Judge Pointer, please tell us, what can the women do to get your attention off these worn manufacturer bought, teeny, skewed, short, lopsided "studies" whose purpose was to obfuscate litigation, and onto their serious health problems?

When we heard Dr. Hulka defend the design of the Mayo study as "excellent" when she couldn't even say whether any of the control group of Mayo patients (might that bias alone not tell volumes?) had implants, or why women with one month old implants were included in a "study" investigating systemic disease, I realized that your courtroom was just very expensive
theatre. She seemed to find the concept of "latency" almost trivial.

Women spent thousands of their own dollars to have their medical records included in their cases, yet, to date, this staggering evidence of autoimmune diseases and infections and multiple surgeries is under lock and key while the Mayo and Harvard studies are yet again being presented as Commandments 11 and 12.

Millions of women with leaking and disintegrating and ruptured implants are being lulled into false assurances by your panel. Plastic surgeons are implanting between 500-750 new sets of implants every day.

What if only 10% of the women were to become ill from these never FDA approved devices? Or 25%? Or 40%?

Judge Pointer, when we conducted our peaceful Rally in from of your courtroom April 21st, we had mounted police surrounding us for our protection and your Court's.

Where is the protection for the implanted women past, present and future?

And their offspring?

What science has ever said that it is safe to gestate and nurse babies born of implanted women?

We all know that answer is sadly, "none."

Please study the records of the nearly half a million women involved in these lawsuits. And please, recognize the bias of your Panel, and re-consider the Plaintiff's Motion for their dismissal.

Judge Pointer, the world is watching.


Ilena Rosenthal
Director, Humantics Foundation for Women
San Diego, CA

Sally Kirkland
Kirkland Institute for Implant Survival Syndrome
West Hollywood, CA