States across the country pushing anti-secrecy legislation

Associated Press
Thursday, June 7, 2001

A 10-month-old girl suddenly suffers a seizure. Her frantic parents call 911.

The ambulance driver gets lost, the paramedics forget the key for the medicine cabinet, and precious time is lost. By the time she gets to the hospital, the girl has suffered severe brain damage.

Years later, the ambulance company agrees to pay her family $10.2 million.

But there is no further investigation, no probe to see if the company or its employees violated protocols or should be punished for their mistakes.

Public health officials don't even know the name of the company, or the

A confidential settlement bars anyone involved from revealing anything about the case, including the name of the family or the company or where the original lawsuit was filed.

And some say that puts the public at risk.

Massachusetts is one of about a dozen states across the country where lawmakers are considering bans on confidential settlements in cases that
compromise public safety.

A public outcry over deaths attributed to faulty Firestone tires on some Ford Explorers - and indications the company knew years earlier about the problems but kept them quiet - has reignited debate over secret settlements.

"There's a feeling that both companies were able to prevent this information from reaching the public for years by forcing people to enter confidential settlements," said Joanne Doroshow, executive director of the Center for Justice and Democracy, a New York-based public advocacy group.

For a copy of the complete article, contact CJ&D.

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