Attorney Witti Represents 2,000 German Victims - German Newspaper - January 15, 2002

Attorney Witti Represents 2,000 German Victims
German Newspaper
January 15, 2002

Translated from German. Page 22/Sϋddeutsche Zeitung No. 12 Business.

Bayer threatened with a billion dollar complaint concerning Lipobay "Increasing political and legal pressure on the concern" / A law firm from Chicago helping with the class action lawsuit in the U.S.

Berlin - The legal dispute between Bayer AG and the German victims of cholesterol reducer Lipobay is reaching a new level. Munich attorney Michael Witti intends to bring a class action lawsuit in the U.S. on behalf of 2,000 Lipobay patients. "It is a first step," Witti said.

"There can be no second-class or third-class victims in the Lipobay case," Witti said in Berlin. Therefore, the Munich attorney, along with American law firm of Kenneth B. Moll of Chicago, is preparing a class action lawsuit on behalf of the German victims that is now planned to be filed with a court in the U.S. state of Minnesota. In this way, Witti is hoping to obtain the best possible compensation for his clients. Compensatory damage payments are generally higher in the U.S. than in Germany. A total amount "somewhere in the billions" is involved. However, the U.S. judges still have not yet decided whether the affected persons from the Federal Republic will be admitted into the class action proceeding.

Bayer AG, Leverkusen, had stated earlier that a lawsuit in the U.S. is impermissible. According to Bayer, the correct judicial venue is Germany. Bayer asserted that disputes between German citizens and a German company should be litigated before German judges according to German law. Witti and his colleague Moll countered by pointing out that the controversial drug was developed, manufactured and tested by a Bayer subsidiary in the U.S. According to them, there have been precedence-setting cases in the past in which American courts decided to include other citizens in U.S. lawsuits.

The Munich attorney emphasized that he intends, above all, to increase the political and legal pressure on the chemical and pharmaceutical concern. "Bayer must do something for the victims here in this country as well; otherwise, there will be no public peace," he said. In his view, this is also a price of globalization. Bayer had to take the cholesterol medication Lipobay off the market in August, because it had been linked to more than 50 deaths worldwide. Moll stated that the chemical giant had known of deaths and injuries long before the drug was withdrawn and had acted too late.

Moll likewise represents about 2,000 victims, so consequently 4,000 affected persons from 13 countries are not carrying the class action lawsuit. The U.S. court has not yet decided on the permissibility of the complaint. He stated that there would be an initial hearing in February in the case that has brought the German chemical and pharmaceutical giant negative headlines worldwide. (Companies of the day)