Judge Potter queried both sides as to whether there had been a settlement; the lawyers claimed universally that this was not the case. The words didnt seem to ring true; and, as it turned out, they werent.
The case went to the jury for a decision without the Oraflex evidence being presented. The jury narrowly acquitted Lilly. The drug maker immediately touted the verdict as evidence that other complaints were also invalid without disclosing that a secret settlement had taken place.
It has since emerged that a substantial pre-verdict settlement took place between the plaintiffs and Lilly. (See Day of Reckoning, Freedom, Volume 29, Issue 2.) In September 1996, after receiving evidence of the secret payoffs, Judge Potter turned investigation of the matter over to the Kentucky Attorney Generals Office, empowering it to subpoena and interview witnesses under oath.
In March 1997, Lilly finally admitted what it had denied for more than two years: That there had been a secret settlement with the plaintiffs in the Prozac case. Judge Potter had suspected all along that his court had been fraudulently used by Lilly for public relations advantage. He changed the judgment from not guilty by reason of jury verdict to case dismissed as settled.
But there was still the question of how much Lilly had paid the victims of Wesbecker. Lilly appealed to the Kentucky Court of Appeals, again seeking to prevent the truth in this case the settlement amount from becoming public knowledge. The disclosure of that remains in contention and although the money paid to the plaintiffs may never emerge as an official statement from the drug manufacturer, knowledgeable estimates put it in eight figures and possibly as high as $20 million or the equivalent of three days profits from Prozac.
And in April 1997, the Kentucky Court of Appeals allowed the Kentucky Attorney Generals Office to proceed with its probe, specifically charging it with determining whether the parties in the case deceived Judge Potters court. Later that year, the matter was assigned to another judge for further investigation.
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