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The Story of Sylvia and Her Lawyer:

A young lady named Sylvia was seven years old nearly two decades
ago and recovering from a near fatal prescription drug reaction
occasioned by the treatment of her urinary tract infection.  The matter
was referred to Zena Crenshaw, an African American woman
distinguishing herself in East Chicago, Indiana at the time as an
attorney and litigator. After investigating, researching, and considering
the case for more than a year, Zena filed suit against the doctor who
prescribed “Bactrim Suspension” (Bactrim) to treat Sylvia, the
pharmacist and pharmacy that over-filled his prescription, as well as
an emergency room physician who initially mis-diagnosed Sylvia’s
adverse reaction.  

Zena also sued Hoffmann-LaRoche, Inc. (LaRoche), part of an
international company that manufactured and marketed the drug Sylvia
was prescribed, though the pharmacy dispensed a generic version of
the medication which was administered to Sylvia by her mother.  Zena
reasoned that neither of them would have received this synthetic
combination of Trimethoprim and Sulfamethoxazole (TMP-SMZ)
under a brand name or as a generic if LaRoche adequately persuaded
doctors to prescribe a less potent antibiotic for children suffering their
first, uncomplicated urinary tract infection.  Despite her years of
earning academic distinctions and gradual recognition as a skilled
lawyer in the small region of her hometown, Zena never imagined she
was launching with Sylvia and her mother a “David versus Goliath”
story-gone-bad.

A local pediatrician advised Zena that she would need a pharmacologist
to prove the doctor’s negligence in his use of TMP-SMZ to treat
Sylvia.  Zena researched and verified the limited circumstances in
which a pharmacologist has been able to establish the requisite
standard of care for physicians.  She retained an accomplished
pharmacologist to do the job for Sylvia and her mom.  In fact, their
expert witness was then a pharmacologist and toxicologist, heading
the “Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology” for the “School of
Pharmacy and Pharmacal Sciences” at the West Lafayette, Indiana
campus of Purdue University.  He had lectured for three decades on
pharmacology to second year classes of the Indiana University
School of Medicine.  

Among other things, Zena’s expert detailed by affidavit his
recommended course for using one or more antibacterial agents which
Sylvia’s doctor had not come close to pursuing.  While the procedure
“. . . may not have stopped Sylvia from experiencing a serious allergic
drug reaction . . .”, the witness opined, it would have “. . . reduced
the likelihood . . .” of such an occurrence and “. . . better assured
(Sylvia) of prompt medical care.”  His report and conclusions made
Sylvia’s primary doctor seem to Zena the most egregious of all
defendants involved.  Yet her research and analysis confirmed for her
that each exposed Sylvia and her mom to unnecessary risks and
avoidable damages for which they were rightly sued.

As it would be difficult to impossible to quantify how much they
exacerbated her clients’ harm, Zena arranged for a modest settlement
with the referenced pharmacist and pharmacy and ultimately
determined to dismiss the emergency room physician with no
exchange of funds.   The trial court resisted her novel claims against
LaRoche, but Zena did not initially fret.  After all, the theories exposed
brand-name drug manufacturers to liability for the ingestion of generic
drugs by patients under certain foreseeable circumstances.  The
implications were serious and to the extent they suggested new law
needed to be forged in Indiana, Zena understood that a trial judge may
want to leave such a task to higher courts.  

It was not until the Indiana Supreme Court declined to review the
matter and thereby allowed Sylvia’s prescribing doctor and LaRoche
to escape liability on dubious technicalities and the trial court ordered
Sylvia, her mother, and Zena to reimburse LaRoche more than
$14,000.00 in legal fees did the scales of justice seem to Zena,
inexplicably unbalanced.  She suspected the outcome perpetrated an
apparent trend in the response of local courts to relatively complex,
potentially lucrative personal injury claims prosecuted by minority
attorneys.  Some of the area’s most seasoned, African American
litigators reportedly shared her suspicion.  The local bar association of
African American attorneys, individual lawyers, civil rights and
religious leaders, local and state politicians, as well as private citizens
formed a loose, local coalition called the “Struggle for Justice” and
rallied to denounce the situation.  For strategical reasons, Zena
focused on the judgment for fees imposed against her and her indigent
clients and publicly requested various state authorities to investigate
the sanction as unlawful bias.                            

Writing for the Roger Williams University Law Review in 2004,
professor Carl T. Bogus described "a culture of quiescence" in which
criticism by lawyers of American government and particularly courts
is considered ". . . professional treason . . . punished by both courts
and colleagues".  Interestingly, it allowed Zena and her clients to avoid
paying thousands of dollars to the very wealthy LaRoche.  The
corresponding sanction was reversed on appeal with the
appellate court noting a “. . . variety of novel theories accepted in
some jurisdictions which would have imposed liability on Hoffmann
regardless of whether (Sylvia) used or consumed a product Hoffmann
actually sold or manufactured.”  Zena pressed in federal court her
claim that such novelty was unavailing for Sylvia and her mother
because of institutional bias against African American and/or female
lawyers in Indiana.  The only person extensively investigated and
prosecuted as a result was Zena.

Pending before the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh
Circuit as appeal number 06-2046 is
Crenshaw v. Antokol et al. which
should be totally briefed by the parties as of mid-July 2006.  The full
record of that appeal chronicles Zena’s exhaustive effort to vindicate
all those allegedly caught in the backlash of her trying to expose the
likely risks of TMP-SMZ in relation to children suffering initial
episodes of urinary tract infection.  Not a single jury has heard any
portion of the convoluted saga which has been dismissed by one judge
after another.  According to Zena, plausible health risks for children
remain unexplored due to court orders derived without thorough
discovery, expert testimony, and/or sound logic.  
Relevant Federal Litigation

Crenshaw v. Dywan, et al.
No. 2:98-cv-522-RL-2 before the
U.S. Dist Ct, N. Dist of IN at
Hammond

Crenshaw v. Baynerd, et al.
No. IP98-569-C-H/G before the
U.S. Dist Ct, S. Dist of IN at
Indianapolis

Crenshaw v. Baynerd, et al.
No. 98-3156 before the
U.S. Court of Appeals, 7th Circuit

Crenshaw v. Baynerd, et al.
No. 99-349 before the
U.S. Supreme Court

Crenshaw v. Hodgson, et al.
No.  01-2045 before the
U.S. Court of Appeals, 7th Circuit

Crenshaw v. Dywan
No. 01A72 before the
U.S. Supreme Court

Crenshaw v. Antokol, et al.
No. 1:02cv02215 before the
U.S. Dist Ct, Dist of Columbia

Crenshaw v. Antokol, et al.
No. 3:04-cv-00182-PPS/APR
before the U.S. Dist Ct, N. Dist of
IN at Hammond

In re Crenshaw, Petitioner
No. 04-3712 before the
U.S. Court of Appeals, 7th Circuit

Crenshaw v. Antokol, et al.
No. 06-2046 before the
U.S. Court of Appeals, 7th Circuit
Court Links
U.S. Dist Ct, N. Dist of IN at
Hammond

U.S. Dist Ct, S. Dist of IN at
Indianapolis

U.S. Court of Appeals, 7th
Circuit

U.S. Supreme Court

U.S. Dist Ct, Dist of Columbia
The Affidavit of Sylvia's
Expert w/o attachment

Roger P. Maickel, Ph. D.
Zena D. Crenshaw

resume
of
Zena D. Crenshaw

profile
of
Hoffmann-LaRoche, Inc.

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