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Karen Bartlett

Illuminating Injustice Award Bestowed Upon Karen Bartlett

The Public Justice Foundation recognized Karen Bartlett with its new Illuminating Injustice Award and presented her with a $25,000 award at its Gala and Awards Ceremony. Mrs. Bartlett is a client of Shaheen & Gordon attorney Christine Craig. Together with their legal team, Mrs. Bartlett challenged a pharmaceutical maker for injuries she suffered from taking the drug sulindac. The case went up to the United States Supreme Court.

The Illuminating Injustice award was created to help those who have suffered a significant injury, but have received only a limited recovery. The award highlights just one of the many seriously hurt clients who have suffered a catastrophic injury but were unable to get the just compensation they deserved.

At the awards ceremony, Janet Varnell, member of the selection committee, spoke about the common childhood dream of growing up to be a hero. In presenting the award to Mrs. Bartlett, Varnell pointed out that even heroes sometimes can't win in the justice system. “With all the right lawyers, with all the right arguments, the good guy loses because the free reins of our justice system are no longer in our hands. Public Justice's newest award shines a spotlight on how, despite all of your best efforts, the justice system is slipping from our hands,” Varnell said.

In 2004, Karen Bartlett took a generic medication, sulindac, which burned two-thirds of her body. She was diagnosed with Stevens-Johnson syndrome, a rare and sometimes fatal drug reaction. She was left disabled and legally blind. A team of terrific lawyers including Christine Craig, Keith Jensen, Eric Roberson and David Frederick, fought for her. They sued the drug maker and a New Hampshire jury awarded Mrs. Bartlett $21 million for her pain,suffering, loss of enjoyment of her life, and for the serious medical expenses. But in 2013, the United States Supreme Court, in a 5-4 decision, decided to let the generic drug maker off the hook because of Federal Preemption.

Justice was stolen from Mrs. Bartlett with the Supreme Court decision. But at the awards ceremony Varnell encouraged the audience to see Bartlett’s heroism as the spark that “ignites a fire among us, with the wisdom and the will, to ensure that this never happens again.”

The Public Justice Foundation is a not-for-profit, 501(c)(3) charitable membership organization that supports Public Justice's litigation and educates the public about the critical issues it addresses. The Foundation's membership includes leading trial lawyers, appellate lawyers, consumer advocates, environmental attorneys, employment lawyers, civil rights attorneys, class action specialists, law professors, law students, public interest advocates, and other people who care about justice.

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