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Prescription For Bioterrorism: The Criminal Conspiracy to Terrorize Pfizer’s Scientists

by repost
A Federal trial of injured biotech worker Becky McClain in her suit against Pfizer. Inc has exposed the conspiracy by the company to terrorize their scientists and by a OSHA agency that acted as an accomplice with the company.

Prescription For Bioterrorism
The Cover-up And Criminal Conspiracy to Terrorize Pfizer’s Scientists

By Steve Zeltzer

In the world of biotechnology and pharma, this was a first. Not of a new drug or treatment that could make a company billions of dollars but of the testimony of a former top molecular biology scientist Becky McClain in her suit against the largest drug company in the world Pfizer Inc with revenues of over $44 billion a year.

McClain was an award winning scientist at the Groton, Connecticut Pfizer laboratories who charged in her riveting testimony in mid-March that her effort to protect the safety of herself, other co-workers and the public had led to a campaign of terror against her by this giant and powerful company. She and her biotech team at Pfizer had won the top award at the company competing against 6,000 other world-class scientists at the Global Research and Development Project GRD and were on a roll.

“Science is fun work,” McClain told the federal judge and jury in her case on March 17, 2010. Becky had been hired by Pfizer ten years earlier and had become one of the stars of the company for the development of developing genetic missiles.

“Building Genetic Missiles”

“I was building genetic missiles at Pfizer. We can blow up specific genes and make genetic modifications. I was developing one technology virus that was used to carry material into cells that can permanently incorporated into the host cell genome through transfer of the genetic material into the cells using an infectious agent.”

The work that was done at BL-2 labs at the company was aimed at changing the genetics of the cells to mimic sick cells. Molecular biologists who are doing stem cell research work with genetically engineered viruses and infectious agents designed for various purposes to mix and match to make different viruses. “Every engineered virus is unique for mice, humans and animals,” McClain told the court.

This biotech engineering process is called RNA interference technologies and these molecular missiles were designed by Pfizer molecular biologists like McClain to target the destruction of any gene product de jour. It is also a major moneymaker for Pfizer because they use these technologies as a way to screen for new drugs.

Becky was also assigned at the company to be on the company safety committee to make sure that the health and safety of herself and the public was protected. These safety committees are supposed to monitor the safety conditions at the one of the largest biotech laboratories in the world. Under the law however, McClain learned that safety committee members can be removed unilaterally by the company, and without a union or any other legal protection, workers who complain and are on these committees are in jeopardy. McClain also learned, in fact, that the company had no real interest or concern about protecting the health and safety of their workers, and were plotting at the very time on how to get rid of her.

McClain had taken safety committee job seriously, and began to have growing concerns about potential dangers at the laboratories. The biological experiments required that the scientists be close to their work. The workbenches were located directly next to their desks where they did administrative and clerical work without gloves. At the same time, there was no close clean room where they could eat and drink, and yet be close to monitor and do their experiments. Her co-workers also began to complain that the crowded conditions were becoming problematic since other people were working in other workers assigned areas without knowing what they were working on, and the hallways were general work areas that scientists transferred their material through. The building with several floors had experiments on HIV and other highly infectious diseases McClain testified.

At the same time, McClain’s boss John Hambor, another scientist, testified he was unaware of the need to do “risk assessments” on the material that they were working on, so that they would be aware of the need for extra caution and protection. At Baylor College of Medicine where McClain had worked with other world scientists, risk assessment was a normal and regular part of the work process that allowed the scientists to be aware of these potential health and safety dangers.

“We Don’t Have To Do Risk Assessments”

In testimony under oath at the trial, Eric Utt, who was the Pfizer Biological Safety Officer at the Groton facility, told the court that “We don’t have to do risk assessments.” Despite the many infectious agents being used in genetic engineering projects at one of the largest scientific and biotech research centers in the world, the company’s biological safety officer showed his contempt for the health and safety protection of the staff and the public.

McClain also began to report to the safety committee that the crowded conditions in the laboratory was a concern of her and other workers and that something needed to be done to address this issue. McClain warned that these “dangerous crowded conditions” at the laboratory and that management “stiffened up” when she said something had to be done about these work conditions.

Following this meeting, the company unilaterally removed McClain from the companies health and safety committee, which shocked McClain. “John (Hanbor) approached me and said he had nothing to do with taking me off the safety committee, and he had no intention of bring forward these safety and space issues again.”

Hambor said he was apprehensive about raising these health and safety issues for fear of retaliation by management. In September 2002, the biosafety cabinet in the laboratory began to give off a noxious fume.

Following her dismissal from the committee in January 2002 through June 2002, no more safety committee meetings were even held according to McClain. At the same time, the noxious fumes in her laboratory were found to be emanating from the biological safety cabinet which was supposed to protect them from infectious organisms and other chemicals used in their work.

She also discovered that another scientist Bill Blake was working on her own laboratory bench with an infectious human lentivirus. He was taking the virus and placing it on embryonic stem cells and applying it into other cells where it would release its genetic missile into the new cell infecting it. As McClain understood this was highly dangerous and required strict safety and disinfection precaution and to her horror she found that some of this material created by Ed Guilmette, another scientist working with Blake, had ended up on a counter outside the lab where workers ate and drank.

McClain also knew that at other facilities, the biosafety cabinets would be kept in a separate room from their workbenches and desks and her concern grew.

Getting Sick From The Fumes

McClain and other workers including her boss were now also getting sick from the fumes, and they discovered the fumes were coming from the hood of the biological cabinet. After repeated complaints, the company replaced the cabinet with a new one without testing the hepa filter that was contained in the cabinet. According to McClain, they did not want to do a biological test on the HEPA (filters molds, bacteria, viruses and fine particulates down to 0.2 microns) filter of the safety cabinet and instead, told the laboratory workers they would be burying it and removing it from the lab. McClain testified that Pfizer intentionally mis-sampled in order to get no concrete results from the tests. No cause was ever found because of this mis-sampling of the biological hood by never sampling the exhaust duct into the room, which was causing the illness. It was only sampled when the hood was turned off.

At the same time, the exhaust from the contaminated fan with potentially deadly biological organisms was being spread to the Groton air and was never reported to any local, state or government agencies. The internal safety committee inspection made no note of the hood problem despite illnesses reported before and after the inspection from the hood. This was also testified at the trial with no challenge even from Pfizer lawyers and witnesses.

In September 2002, McClain got a serious headache, dry throat and got nauseous. She called environmental health and safety services and could get no response so she then called emergency services.

The Pfizer Health and Safety manager Mary Murphy promised to look into the noxious odor and asked that she contact three individuals who had recently used the biological hood to find out what material they were using in their experiments.

McClain also asked for a meeting with Ellen St. Aubin who was corporate head of Environmental Safety at the Groton facility. The response of St. Aubin was that the company only did what they were required to do under the law. She apologized for the illnesses and said others had complained as well. McClain was now in a growing dangerous and desperate situation and wanted a transfer out of the laboratory to protect her health.

Criminal Effort To Cover Up The Dangerous Working Conditions

She was also unaware that the company and their legal advisors were engaged in a criminal effort not only to cover up the dangerous working conditions but also to force her to stay in this dangerous workplace environment despite the obvious life and death threats to her life and the life of other Pfizer scientists and workers at the facility.

The key to this new threat was the actions of her supervisor John Hambor. They had previously worked together well and had received high awards and recognition for their work, but the company now was putting the heat on Hambor to shut McClain up. He began to tell McClain that he was afraid of her documenting the health and safety issues because it would “affect his job,” according to McClain. She told him that she wanted to get a transfer because of the lab health and safety problems. She and others continued to get sick from the continuing noxious odor now coming out of the new biological cabinet. She told him “it was affecting her work” and she needed a “safer place”.

In late January 2003 she received performance review from 2002 and after she had signed it and later read it carefully, she saw that he had said she could only work on single projects well. This was surprising since McClain had the ability to work on 6 or 7 projects at a time and complete all of them.

He could not give her an example but agreed to meet with her later in the week. She also contacted Pfizer managers Polly Kipp and John McNeish, and they told her there was no problem changing the performance review evaluation.

A week later on the day that the appointment with Hambor to go over the evaluation in the afternoon McClain came to work at 9:45 AM. “When I opened the door, John was standing at the edge of my workspace visibly angry with a red face.” “ Where have you been?” he demanded to know. McClain told him she had to start an experiment and could not talk at that time. He now yelled at her “Are you telling me to fuck off?” McClain said that they could talk about it at 3:00 PM but according to her Hambor was now completely out of control.

“Are you fucking with me? I think coming in late is a performance evaluation problem and I need to know where you are at all times of the day.” He screamed.

“I can put anything I want in your performance review and there is nothing you can do about it.” He then moved inches from her face and blocked her in her cubicle.

"I was against the wall with a phone and I pretended to dial to get help, he had me cornered” McClain testified.

After seeing McClain dial, Hambor left the cubicle and according to McClain, she began to sob. “It was a hostile intimidation and threatened my career. He came back in 5 minutes and apologized but I was shell shocked!”

The meeting at 3:00 PM took place, and at the meeting, Hambor agreed to remove the language but the message was clear that McClain was now the target of the company. She then went to manager John McNeish and told him about the intimidation and threats and that was affecting her health with stress and disruptive sleep patterns.

She also wrote up the incident for Pfizer Employee Assistance and delivered it to Pfizer manager Polly Kipp asking for an immediate transfer. Kipp told McClain that Pfizer manager Jim Heym had just issued a new policy that unless it was an emergency, there would be no transfers, and this was not an emergency. In fact, the company now demanded that McClain take a “Managing Personal Growth” course while no such course was ordered for Hambor. Hambor was reprimanded for this incident 2 and 1/2 years later after OSHA complaints were filed, and the company was seeking to do damage control in any legal action.

She was also ordered to continue to report to Hambor with no reprimand for his behavior.

Targeted For Retaliation And Termination

McClain now was boxed in with an intimidator who had terrorized her, and the noxious odor was still coming out of the new biological safety cabinet. What Becky was unaware of is that she was now being targeted by the company for retaliation and termination. In 2005 McClain was terminated and in 2008, Pfizer hired the national union busting law firm Jackson Lewis for all of its employment labor work. This national law firm conspires with union and non-union companies like Pfizer on how to avoid legal requirements and to legally retaliate against workers who raise health and safety concerns as well as other discriminatory policies by corporate America.

In March 7, 2002, she wrote another letter to Mary Murphy that she was becoming ill from repeated exposures and on March 18, 2003, one year later, Murphy wrote back that they had bought a new hood and new filter. The old hood and filter was wrapped and placed in the hallway where scientists from throughout the building walked through.

They again talked about burying the hood and filter. The new hood was also emanating exhaust not only back into the laboratory but also to the air in Groton potentially disseminating dangerous unknown biological and chemical material. This of course was no concern of the company and their major work now was to get McClain out of the company.

Phil Vickers, a Vice President of the department above John McNeish, said in his testimony that Becky had brought forward safety concerns but he did not think they were valid concerns. He also told the court that a “safety expert was not needed to determine if they were valid concerns. When asked why the company did not note in the internal safety inspection checklist about the biosafety cabinet (hood) problem making people sick before and after the inspection, Vickers testified that “They were only getting sick some of the time and not all of the time.”

His testimony confirmed the fact that McClain and others had complained about viruses found where they ate and drank with additional storage of human and monkey blood samples or genetically engineered lentiviruses, no risk assessments being done on them before their use.

OSHA Refuses To Do Physical Safety Inspection

After meeting a brick wall at Pfizer, McClain contacted OSHA and met with Federal OSHA instigator Marchee Briant. Briant, according to McClain, indicated a lack of concern about the complaints. This was later confirmed when Briant refused to conduct any physical safety inspections of the laboratory despite the repeated exposures of workers at the site. Briant also refused to visit the site to see if changes had been made in the laboratory to protect the health and safety of the scientists. Instead, she took the word of Pfizer that changes had been made to the laboratory.

At the trial, it was also exposed that Briant had improperly taken 50 pages of client-attorney files from McClain, and later, these notes were used by Pfizer to take out of context and slander McClain’s arguing that she was only suing Pfizer for money and not over the serious health and safety issues.

The failure of OSHA to make a proper investigation of Pfizer is not unique to that company and many other biotech companies throughout the US. In the last ten years according to OSHA records, only two safety complaints are on record for 40,000 Pfizer employees in the United States and Pfizer only reported only two injuries within the last ten years.

Despite Federal requirements that when over 3 people are sickened in a laboratory this must be reported to the government, it came to light under cross examination at the trial that this was blatantly ignored by Pfizer management. The Pfizer Biological Safety officer Eric Utt also told the court that he “had never called OSHA to investigate or report on the injuries and sicknesses at the facility.” The July 1, 2002 incident of illnesses were also never reported to OSHA in uncontested testimony at the trial.

McClain also sought to get obtain genetic coding for genetically engineered lentivirus (HIV) strains used to infect mouse embryonic stem cells that she believed were handled on an open laboratory bench near her office. She believed that the genetic coding (nucleotide sequence) of the lentivirus is an employee exposure record, which should be releasable. Pfizer however asserted that the genetic coding of the lentivirus is a company trade secret and denied her right to these exposure records. This was never verified as a trade secret by OSHA or by the Workmans’Compensation’s Commissioner in Norwich, Connecticut. This leaves her in a Catch 22.

“General Duty Authority” Unused

OSHA under “General Duty Authority” could have required Pfizer to provide these documents and all other possible exposure documents, but they allowed Pfizer to stonewall and sided with the trade secret argument. A genetic map was provided that showed the etiological link to her illness but without further detail required for PCR testing and further treatment.

Not only did OSHA not protect McClain, but also OSHA inspectors and even OSHA managers who have sought to do their jobs have been retaliated against and driven out of the agency.

In fact, former chief OSHA regulatory official Adam Finkel in a statement in support of McClain, points out that he was illegally hounded out of OSHA precisely because of his efforts to blow the whistle on the inhalation of beryllium dust.

The concerted effort to retaliate against OSHA staff that want to do their job has left an agency shattered, and an ineffective vehicle at this point to protect workers and the public.

It is another reason that the new OSHA management and the US Labor Secretary need to reopen the McClain case to investigate the failure of OSHA to do their job. There is also a new proposed bill that would strengthen worker protection called the Protecting America’s Workers Action (H.R. 2067).

Unfortunately however, in a step backward, the OSHA administration is in the process of even reducing protective right to know laws. OSHA is proposing to slash the hazard warning information that chemical manufacturers must provide to workers, customers and other users

Bush Judge

The Federal trial has also exposed the duplicitous and arbitrary role of the Bush appointed Hartford, CT Federal judge Vanessa L. Bryant. Even before the trial began, Bryant had thrown out a count that Pfizer had been had engaged in willful and wanton misconduct by exposing McClain to a virus that caused serious health problems, and prevented her from working.

On the first day of the trial, the judge ordered that McClain was not to mention that she was concerned that these health and safety conditions were a public health and safety hazard, but only about herself and others in the laboratory. For McClain, the health and safety issues have never been just about her own health and safety alone, but the protection of the public as well. In a presentation on 2009 Workers Memorial Day in San Francisco, McClain placed her struggle for health and safety and oversight of the biotech industry in the context of protecting the public’s health and safety.

Acting as a defense attorney for Pfizer, the judge sought to shield them from their criminal activity in covering up the dangerous health and safety conditions, and even preventing McClain from telling the jury she was sickened by the contamination, and unable to work due to neurological illnesses directly caused by the contaminated laboratory that she and others were forced to work in. The conscious terrorism by the company against McClain was also a warning to other Pfizer scientists and staff that even if they were being contaminated they had to remain silent.

Federal Judge Bryant prevented McClain from having an expert who would have provided evidence that Pfizer does not follow national and international biosafety practices, that OSHA did not do a proper physical safety inspection that would have showed the OSHA was colluding with Pfizer to protect Pfizer's interests. Evidence would have showed that while Pfizer engineers are developing dangerous genetically engineered viruses infectious to man, mammals and insects, Pfizer does not biocontain these dangerous agents properly, thereby, threatening not only the workers health and safety but also the public health and safety. Pfizer also does not document the identity of viruses that they are creating and Pfizer purposely hid exposure records to cover up their liability that would link McClains' illness to her biological exposure. The collusion of the judge to protect Pfizer was clearly illuminated as she prevented the jury from seeing critical information about this corporate conspiracy.

At the same time, McClain had gone to the Connecticut Workers Compensation Board and asked them to get her exposure records to show the causes of her injuries. However, she was told that they did not have the power to obtain them from Pfizer. Although the Federal Court had also ordered that they provide these documents, Pfizer had refused to provide them, and been faced with no sanctions from the biased Federal judge. This puts McClain and all biotech workers who have been injured on the job in an impossible situation. If they cannot get their exposure records, they cannot prove that they have been injured on the job, and are therefore unable to take care of their healthcare problems.

This is not only a problem in McClain’s case but injured Agraquest biotech worker David Bell in Davis, California and many others. Their liability costs are being shifted over the Federal SSI and disability, so the public is paying the cost of their injuries. The terror and fear instituted by Pfizer against its' workers that is backed up by a Federal OSHA system which refuses to conduct physical inspections and Federal judges who do damage control for these major corporations is not exceptional.

President Obama and US Attorney General Eric Holder Let Pfizer Off The Hook
Reward CEO With Federal Reserve Board Appointment

President Obama and his Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. even allowed Pfizer to pay a $2.4 billion dollar fine for illegally selling improper drugs to the US public by setting up a fake company controlled by Pfizer to plead guilty to these criminal charges. Pfizer was allowed by Holder to set up the shell company Pharmacia Corporation. The company owns another company called Pharmacia & Upjohn Company, LLC, which, in turn, owns Pharmacia & Upjohn Company, Incorporated. This company pleaded guilty to Pfizer’s crimes, and Pfizer executives were allowed to get off without any criminal penalties that the law required. As Anderson Cooper in the CNN report stated Pfizer seems “too big to nail” and this means that Pfizer bosses are above the law.

In fact, Pfizer CEO Jeffrey Kindler met personally with the Obama administration four times last year at the White House, and negotiated special protection for Pfizer in the new healthcare “reform” bill. On October 1, 2009, Pfizer CEO Jeffrey Kindler was appointed to the Federal Reserve Board by Obama after Pfizer plead guilty to illegally distributing Bextra and paying a $430 million fine.

For Pfizer, which has a Market Cap of $138.33 billion this of course is a drop in the bucket.

Role Of US Media

The role of the media is also significant. With Pharma ads running 24 hours a day on cable and broadcast television pushing drugs, the grip of Pfizer and other companies is extremely powerful. Despite the efforts to get national ABC, CNN, Fox, CBS and NBC to cover the McClain story, there was no interest. Connecticut NPR, which gets tens of thousands of dollars from Pfizer and the drug industry, was unwilling even to do any investigative story of something right in their own back yard. All it received on Connecticut NPR was 1.24 minutes news brief.

Even independent journalist Amy Goodman of Democracy Now programmed on the Pacifica network was not interested in talking with McClain or finding out more about the story. This failure of the media to educate the public about these growing dangers is another part of the serious systemic problems facing biotech workers and the public.

The case of molecular biologist Becky McClain is a sharp example of the dangers to Pfizer workers and the public at large that the incestuous relationship between this industry, the government and the health and safety enforcement agencies is a highly toxic danger.

Systemic Problems

The criminal cover-up of the terrorism against Becky McClain by the company, the Obama administration and the failure of the corporate controlled media to cover the case are further examples of the systemic problems.

Efforts are being made nationally to reopen the Federal OSHA investigation as a result of the malfeasance of the OSHA investigator and their failure to do a proper inspection.

This will be a test for the new leadership of OSHA officials David Michaels, Jordan Barab and the US Labor Secretary, Hilda Solis. It is also another example of the failure of other government agencies to take on new technologies in the workplace. The EPA, the Food and Drug Administration, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Occupational Safety Health Administration and NIOSH are all supposedly required to do oversight and studies of potential dangers in these industries, but systemic failure of these agencies to do their jobs is glaring.

The failure to have enforceable regulations in the biotech and nanotech industry is a growing danger not only to the workers, but also to the public at large. In light of the Obama administration’s failure to enforce the laws against Pfizer and their sell-out to the pharmaceutical industry, it raises very real questions about their willingness to protect Becky McClain and the tens of thousands of workers in new industries like biotech and nanotech.
CCOSH Leader Steve Schrag Speaks For Injured Pfizer Biotech Worker Becky McClain

§Pfizer Groton Laboratories
by repost
These Pfizer laboratories in Groton, CT contain highly contagious and dangerous material that Pfizer has failed to secure and protect the staff.
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Comments (Hide Comments)
by Jennifer Miracle (firstfruits11 [at]
The McClains suit brings to light an enormous gap in our health safety.

The advancing ability to create re-mixed dangerous life forms has far outpaced our old Bio-Lab's Guidelines for safety procedures.
If a scientist is not afforded the personal protection against bio-engineered viruses then no one is safe….. Will the public notice this?

Big Pharma must listen to it’s own Scientist and ensure safety first. Cleaning up accidents rather than preventing them is profitable and dangerous.

The word NOVEL was chosen to represent the new type FLU which recently put us to test , this was our eye opener. It should not be NOVEL to see protection afforded to all Americans by protecting the rights of Bio-Lab workers from Big Pharma Agenda’s.

We should be as concerned about this case as we are about terrorism. The potential to unleash catastrophes are as great and as in the McClain case shows us, as likely from own Government and Big Pharma Laboratories as it is from foreign and domestic enemies.

If you did not like getting vaccinated for the NOVEL FLU, take a moment and write your Senator about the lack of adequate protection in Bio-Safety Labs. Call your local newspaper to see why this trial is not the LEAD NEWS STORY or get in line for your next NOVEL FLU SHOT. Your eyes have already glimpsed the NOVEL FUTURE …

Evil flourishes when good men do nothing, in this case it is an infectious evil that can result in the deaths of millions . You may even be one of them.

What is not NOVEL is the fact that true homeland security is in the heart’s and actions or inactions of it’s citizens. If this case ends negatively and quietly for the McClains, we must demand that Pharma Bio-Labs through the country be added to the bio-terror list by Homeland Security for a lack of safety concerning bio-threats as told to us by known reliable sources, our own Scientists.

Hats off to the McClains for standing up to the Giants for us. The test is continuing, you the citizen hold the key to life and democracy for all of civilization , you must speak up now.
Demand that Whistle Blowers be protected… Demand a safety overhaul in Bio-labs… No Novel Hell for us….. No Novel BIO -END !!
Jennifer Miracle
by VERY concerned
What is most concerning is (my understanding) is Judge Bryant had ORDERED Becky McClain NOT to say one word about, "PUBLIC HEALTH AND SAFETY" throughout her trial against Pfizer - as well as eliminating McClain's Constitutional right's to due process by not allowing her to speak of and submit medical document's that evidenced her horrify illness IS the a result of her employment in the unsafe work environment at Pfizer. Judge Bryant would not allow McClain's expert witness testimony. How is this "due process"?

Was this an attempt by Judge Bryant NOT to let the jury know that there WAS and STILL IS a threat to "PUBLIC HEALTH AND SAFETY" and ALL biotechnology employees who conduct research on their premises? This seems to be the "norm".

Scientist's, such as Becky McClain, who work in the biotechnology industry don't just sit at their computers all day and do "research" by reading peer reviewed scientific documents. These scientist's are "HANDS ON EMPLOYEES" who conduct EXPERIMENTS on living organism/s; bacteria, fungi, virus's etc.

Who is to say that the surrounding community was not affected by fume's that were emitted from the Pfizer Groton research center? Who can say what the ill effect's will be years down the road?

It is time that ALL biotechnology "research and development" companies be held accountable for what they are doing to OUR environments; air, land, and sea.

United States courts should not be able to exclude ANY evidence what-so-ever when it applies to ANY phase of a case and should afford fairness to all parties in the case. NO Judge should have the authority to decide what can and cannot be admitted into evidence.

The United State's court's and the officer's of these courts make their own determination/s as to what WE, THE PEOPLE need to know. If you give me a book don't take out any chapters. Give me the book, in it's entirety, and let ME make MY OWN OPINION of it's contents.
Venting of possible virus at Pfizer labs causes clash as jury starts deliberations on discharge of molecular biologist Becky McClain
Venting of possible virus at Pfizer labs causes clash as jury starts deliberations
By Lee Howard

Published 03/31/2010 12:00 AMUpdated 03/31/2010 04:12 PM

Hartford – Attorneys for Pfizer Inc. and a former company scientist whose whistleblower complaint is the subject of a lawsuit in U.S. District Court clashed today over the importance of the pharmaceutical giant's decision to vent air that had made people sick into the atmosphere near its Groton research center.

Pfizer's attorney, William Anthony, told jurors during closing arguments in the three-week trial that references to the incident from attorneys for former company scientist Becky McClain of Deep River amounted to a "shameless attempt to incite you."

But McClain's attorney, Steve Fitzgerald, argued in a rebuttal that the decision to vent air with a noxious odor – which backers of McClain claim could have contained a dangerous experimental virus – "speaks to Pfizer's approach to safety issues." He added that "there's a corporate culture at Pfizer" that "we decide what's safe … [and] the measure of what's safe is what's legal."

McClain, who has claimed she was infected by a dangerous virus while working at Lab B313 on Pfizer's Groton campus, said in her federal suit that Pfizer retaliated against her for filing safety complaints with the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). She is also maintaining that her free-speech rights were violated because she was fired after raising safety concerns about the lab layout in Groton, in which desks where scientists type and benches at which they conduct experiments are side by side.

But Anthony said Pfizer did not retaliate against McClain. Instead, he argued, Pfizer executives thanked McClain for her safety complaints and eventually offered her a transfer to another lab – an offer McClain's attorneys have disputed.

Anthony said Pfizer begged McClain to come back to work but she refused.

"Pfizer didn't abandon her," he said. "Ms. McClain didn't want to come back."

Fitzgerald, however, said McClain's employment came to an effective end after she filed an OSHA complaint in January 2005. He charged that her supervisor had threatened to falsify McClain's review and that her subsequent poor appraisal rating demonstrated Pfizer management had conspired against her.

McClain's claim for lost wages and benefits totals more than $2 million, but the jury could add to the total if it decides to award punitive damages as well. By midafternoon, the jury had received instructions on the law and its duties from Judge Vanessa Bryant and was considering its verdict.
That's RIGHT ON Lars!
Steve and many others will keep at it until all contaminated toxic corporations are exposed like Downey, Tesla, Kaiser, Pfizer and Agraquest. AND WHo are you to critique anyone who dares to speak about what is really going on?
One way or another, Steve has the courage to expose the truth about toxins, unlike "others" who should but don't.
Remember THAT those who dared to go after the truth about Downey were vindicated in a Slapp suit, that Tesla VP of Communications, Ricardo Reyes was made aware of, in Tesla's headquarters in San Carlos, Ca., because the Plaintiff of the SLAPP SUIT, Stuart Lichter, refused to answer depositions concerning Downey.
Ex-Pfizer scientist wins $1.37 million in federal lawsuit For Retaliation And Violation of Free Speech
Ex-Pfizer scientist wins $1.37 million in federal lawsuit
By Lee Howard

Published 04/01/2010 12:00 AMUpdated 04/01/2010 05:15 PM
Hartford — Becky McClain, a Deep River scientist who claims to have been infected by an experimental virus while working at Pfizer Inc.'s Groton laboratories, was awarded $1.37 million today by a U.S. District Court jury.

Workers' rights organizations immediately hailed the verdict, in which Pfizer also was ordered to pay McClain's attorneys' fees. They said the outcome of the federal civil suit was a major milestone for biotech and nanotech workers everywhere.

"If this could happen at the biggest drug company in the world, it could happen in other plants," said Steve Zeltzer, chair of the California Coalition For Workers Memorial Day, a group that advocates for employees hurt on the job. "It's a vindication of the courage shown by Becky to confront the need to do a proper oversight of the biotech industry."

The suit, argued during a three-week trial before Judge Vanessa Bryant, has been closely followed by labor organizations, attorneys and members of the medical and research community because it is the first federal case involving a biotech worker who claims to have been harmed by a novel virus on the job.

Workers' rights groups have criticized Judge Bryant, however, for throwing out McClain's major claim shortly before the trial began. The claim was that Pfizer engaged in willful and wanton misconduct in exposing her to a dangerous work environment that led to health problems that included bouts of temporary paralysis.

McClain, a molecular biologist who filed her suit about three years ago in New London Superior Court, had claimed that Pfizer violated whistleblower laws. A former member of the company's safety committee, McClain also charged that Pfizer violated her freedom of speech by terminating her after she pressed complaints with the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

McClain's attorney, Bruce E. Newman of Bristol, previously called the case precedent-setting because there are few government standards regulating the bioengineering field. Backers of McClain said they hoped the scientist's victory in court would send a notice to companies everywhere that a safe working environment is paramount to those who work in biotech specialties that deal with potentially lethal organisms.

Pfizer continues to deny all of the suit's charges and said today that the company is considering its options for appeal.

"We are disappointed with the verdict and do not believe the facts of this case warrant the conclusion reached by the jury," Pfizer said in an e-mailed statement.

"Pfizer is committed to protecting the health and safety of our colleagues and the communities in which we operate," the statement continued. "In addition to our commitment to full compliance with environmental, health, and safety laws and regulations, we have company-wide policies, standards, and programs combined with site-level management systems and initiatives tailored to the particular safety issues and needs at each location."

Pfizer previously said it had thoroughly investigated McClain's health and safety claims and found them to be untrue.

McClain, who worked at Pfizer for nearly a decade before being terminated in 2005, was employed in Groton's embryonic stem cells program when she said she became ill after being subjected to repeated noxious fumes coming from the hood of a device at Lab B313, according to her suit. She said her supervisor also became ill, but later conspired to cover up the incident, warning her that she "would lose her job if she made too big an issue out of lab safety," the suit said.

McClain said she asked for a transfer out of Lab B313 because of ongoing health concerns. Later, she developed chronic fatigue symptoms, according to the suit, and discovered that a co-worker had been working next to her with a "dangerous lentivirus material (similar to the AIDS virus) and embryonic stem cells on an open lab bench without biological containment."

McClain later went on medical leave, according to testimony, but continued to raise safety concerns until she received a termination notice during her absence.

Backers of McClain said OSHA denied her workplace complaints largely because federal worker-safety laws have not kept pace with the rising hazards in U.S. laboratories. They have called for OSHA to reopen its investigation of the McClain case, a cause that may have received a boost from the six jurors whose verdict was read in court today.

McClain's lawsuit claimed her continued exposure to genetically engineered viruses had led to a condition that leads to periodic paralysis, joint pain and fatigue. The attacks, which were particularly severe before the 52-year-old McClain started taking massive amounts of potassium, have dissipated in recent months, according to Mark McClain, the plaintiff's husband.

But McClain has said there is no known cure for the condition, and claims that Pfizer has refused to hand over exposure records that might help her identify the virus that infected her. She said Pfizer has claimed exemption from laws requiring health records to be handed over based on other laws that protect patent information.
by st
I applaud Becky McClain in her fight against Pfizer and exposing the NASTY TRUTH of corruption within the biotechnology industry.

This is a GREAT DAY for all that have been injured, are sick, getting sick and/or have died at the hands of the unscrupulous politics; that are on the side of the UNETHICAL and UNSAFE biotech employer/s.

NOW..... let's see if the US government will do right by the American Worker - the BACKBONE OF THIS COUNTRY and start protecting everyone who goes to work each day.

The law's in which an injured worker can sue his/her employer have been taken away by the UNJUST American Workers' Compensation System.

ALL the workers' compensation system does is HIDE the INJURIES/ILLNESS'S/DEATHS and the MISDEEDS of an unsafe working environment under THE UMBRELLA OF PROTECTION within the very system that was meant to protect the worker. The past, present and future employee's of unsafe employer's, as well as the public... NEVER HEAR THE TRUTH.

OSHA agencies, in every state in America, needs to be held accountable for NOT protecting EVERY American worker; our constitutional rights to health and safety on the job.

McClain spoke for all of you... on your behalf. She WOULDN'T take a settlement because she didn't want this case to be gagged. She wanted the "truth" to be known. You TOO need to find your voice and stand up against crime and corruption in the workplace.,0,5405241.story

By EDMUND H. MAHONY The Hartford Courant

April 2, 2010

HARTFORD — - A former Pfizer scientist who claims that she has been paralyzed by inadvertent exposure to a virus engineered at the pharmaceutical company's laboratories in Groton was awarded $1.37 million Thursday by a federal jury in Hartford following a trial that raised questions about safety practices in the dynamic field of genetic engineering.

The jury also gave molecular biologist Becky McClain of Deep River yet-to-be-determined punitive damages to cover the costs of litigation and fees to her two Connecticut lawyers, Bruce E. Newman and Stephen J. Fitzgerald.

In her lawsuit, she said that in 2002 or 2003 she was exposed through work by a former Pfizer colleague to a genetically engineered form of the lentivirus, a virus similar to the one that can lead to acquired immune deficiency syndrome, or AIDS. Medical experts working for McClain said they believe that the virus has affected the way her body processes potassium and that it has created a condition that causes paralysis as many as 12 times a month.

McClain claimed that she was fired by Pfizer in 2005 in retaliation for her repeatedly expressed concern about lab safety practices — practices that she believes contributed to her condition and forced her to take an extended medical leave.

Ultimately, the jury was not permitted to hear evidence supporting McClain's claim of a causal link between her disability and the cutting-edge virus research done at the laboratory in Groton.

Days before the two-week trial began, U.S. District Judge Vanessa L. Bryant ruled that McClain lacked the evidence to meet the legal requirement to argue to the jury that her disability was the result of a lab exposure. Bryant also ruled that such claims should be made to the state Workers' Compensation Commission.

The jury based its verdict on evidence concerning McClain's two remaining claims — that her dismissal violated Connecticut's whistle-blower law and her right to free speech. Her lawyers contended that a safety complaint McClain made to the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration was a whistle-blower complaint and that her discussion of safety issues with fellow workers amounted to protected speech.

McClain was awarded $685,000 on each count to cover past and future earnings losses and quality-of-life deterioration due to stress.

Although there was no direct testimony linking safety and McClain's health, jurors learned that McClain's medical leave was linked to her work. The jury also examined an exhibit that referenced McClain's belief that her medical condition was the result of workplace exposure.

Workplace safety advocates, who contend that advances in biotechnology have outstripped the federal government's ability to enforce laboratory safety, have closely followed McClain's case.

"We are going to make sure down here in Washington that this verdict gets OSHA's attention, right at the top of the agency," consumer advocate Ralph Nader said Thursday. "And they are going to have to start staffing up for this kind of toxic hazard in laboratories."

Steve Zeltzer, chairman of the San Francisco-based California Coalition For Workers Memorial Day, said: "Becky McClain's case is not over for us and many others and our struggle will continue to protect injured workers."

Pfizer has contended throughout the litigation that McClain was fired after the quality of her work deteriorated and she refused to accept a variety of reassignments that the company offered during her medical leave. Pfizer defended its laboratory safety practices and argued that there was no connection between McClain's disability and work done at the laboratory.

Pfizer spokeswoman Elizabeth Power said Thursday: "We are disappointed with the verdict and do not believe the facts of this case warrant the conclusion reached by the jury. We are now considering our post-trial options."

"Pfizer is committed to protecting the health and safety of our colleagues and the communities in which we operate," Power said. "In addition to our commitment to full compliance with environmental, health and safety laws and regulations, we have company wide policies, standards and programs combined with site-level management systems and initiatives tailored to the particular safety issues and needs at each location."

As a molecular biologist at Pfizer, McClain studied human cells on a molecular level, manipulating genetic codes in an effort to develop vaccines.

One issue not resolved at trial — and one that lawyers believe will probably remain unresolved — is McClain's effort to compel Pfizer to give her precise information about the DNA sequencing of the engineered lentivirus that she suspects infected her. McClain contends that without the sequencing information, she is unable to attempt to design what could amount to a cure for her conditions.

At the conclusion of an often-hostile series of pretrial exchanges, Pfizer said, in effect, that it had given McClain all the information it has.

In a statement released by her lawyers Thursday, McClain said she would continue her efforts to obtain the sequencing information.

"I am disappointed ... that I have not yet received from Pfizer the exposure records that will help me get directed medical care, but I will continue to advocate for myself and others who have suffered workplace harm," she said. "I hope this verdict opens a national discussion on the dangers of exposure in the biotechnology workplace and the lack of biotech worker rights to a safe environment. I especially hope it will bring about changes which will afford injured biotech workers the right to obtain the exposure records necessary for their health care."
by California Coalition For Workers Memorial Day
CCWMD Press Statement On The Victory Of Becky McClain In Her Suit Against Pfizer Inc.

Statement Of California Coalition For Workers Memorial Day CCWMD On The Victory Of Becky McClain In Her Suit Against Pfizer Inc.

The US Federal Court victory in Hartford CT of Pfizer molecular biologist Becky McClain who was fired for for making health and safety complaints at the company is not only a victory for McClain alone. The jury agreed that Becky was punished for her free speech rights regarding the health and safety hazards and fired by this company for making health and safety complaints which is illegal under Federal law.
McClain is certain to become one of the most famous scientists in the United States for standing up to the criminal corporate executives that run the largest Pharma company in the world. Hundreds of thousands of other biotech workers in the United States need to know that they can speak up about health and safety problems in these laboratories without having to fear being retaliated against by their employer.

The fact that the largest drug company in the world has such contempt for the protection of their thousands of scientists is a stark warning that the present protective laws are not being enforced and need to be seriously strengthened. This case has shown that Pfizer has consciously terrorized their scientists so that they will not speak up about their health and safety. What does that say about worker rights and health and safety rights in the United States.
McClain even after her injuries was unable to even get her exposure records including the cloning and production records despite her illness. The CCWMD calls for the elimination of protection of patent and secrecy laws when any US worker is injured in the United State. These laws were used by Pfizer and by thousands of other companies to shield them from healthcare liabilities and also to prevent the public from becoming aware of the serious systemic health and safety problems particularly in biotech and the nanotech industries. We also call for the elimination of secrecy agreements for health and safety settlements with workers on the job.

We also support an appeal of the ruling of Federal Judge Vanessa L. Bryant that excluded a count for the wanton disregard of health and safety by Pfizer. It is crystal clear based on evidence submitted to the jury that in fact this companies arrogance and contempt for the protection of the health and safety will not only be legally culpable but also a criminal act.
The failure of the top company officials to even report to OSHA and other government agencies that many workers were getting sick numerous times in their laboratories although this is required by the law is inexcusable and we call for the US Attorney in Hartford and OSHA Federal attorneys to begin a criminal investigation into the cover-up by Pfizer and OSHA officials of these serious violations of legal health and safety protections. Their contempt for laws and rule and regulations to protect the workers and public is a hazard to the people of the United States and must be promptly dealt with. The act of forcing their scientists to work in contaminated laws or be fired for making health and safety complaints are acts of bioterrorism and unacceptable to the American people.

We are today also calling for US Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, Deputy Secretary of Labor David Michaels and OSHA manager Jordan Barab to reopen the OSHA investigation of Pfizer in the Becky McClain case. The apparent malfeasance by an OSHA investigator in this case and the collapse of a serious investigation without even a physical safety inspection of Pfizer's laboratories after repeated health and safety complaints by Pfizer scientist and health and safety advocate Becky McClain shows that there were systemic problems that need to be exposed and illuminated for the agency and for the public so that these failures will never happen again.

This also raises the serious question of who is in charge of oversight in the production of new genetically engineered organisms. We believe the fact that Pfizer did not even do Risk Assessment Studies of the genetic and biological material that they were working on requires new criminal penalties for this "wild west" method of operation. These products can potentially wreak havoc not only on the biotech workers but on the community and the world. Just in this case we learned that potentially dangerous biological organisms were vented into the air in Groton, CT.
The officials who failed to do their jobs and conspired with Pfizer to cover up their criminal activity need themselves to be held accountable legally and charged with felonies for covering up this dangerous health and safety hazard at Pfizer. This is part and parcel of making every OSHA official and investigator clear that the failure to follow the law in protecting workers health and safety and conspiring with employers to cover-up criminal activity will mean that they will be held personally responsible for their actions.

McClain's case is not over for us and many others and our struggle will continue to protect injured workers. It is also not over for the case of California Agraquest biotech worker David Bell who was contaminated on the job by the owner Pam Marrone. He was also refused healthcare using the same games that were used against McClain.
Our committee with the support of other worker health and safety advocates from throughout the United States and internationally will continue to follow through on McClain's case and at this year's Workers Memorial Day on April 28, 2010, Becky McClain will be recognized around the world as scientist who stood up for the protection of biotech workers and the public at large.

California Coalition For Workers Memorial Day
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