Editor’s Note: It is time we examine those who we allow to represent our local governments. Dogan & Wilkinson has represented the Jackson County Board of Supervisors, Cities of Moss Point, Pascagoula, Ocean Springs, and Gautier, and currently represents Singing River Health System. The events of this two-part story take place before Roy & Brett Williams left their old firm and joined with Dogan & Wilkinson, bringing SRHS as a client.
If you were watching the Republican debate a few weeks ago, you saw the topic of vaccines and autism take center stage. Such was the case at Dogan & Wilkinson way back at the turn of the millennium.
In March of 2001, the Dallas based Waters & Kraus announced they were filing suit against Abbott Laboratories. They alleged that mercury in vaccines was causing childhood autism. As is usual in these cases, Waters & Kraus recruited other law firms to assist in litigation. One of those firms was Dogan & Wilkinson.
There is nothing unusual about law firms joining forces. This case was a bit of an oddity because Waters & Kraus represents individual plaintiffs against major corporations while Dogan & Wilkinson usually represents those corporations.
In this case the partnership went beyond an oddity and pushed ethical boundaries.
At the same time Dogan & Wilkinson was teaming up with Waters & Kraus to sue pharmaceutical companies, Dogan & Wilkinson was defending hundreds, if not thousands, of asbestosis and mesothelioma lawsuits brought by Waters & Kraus.
To the insurance companies that hired Dogan & Wilkinson, it looked as if they were sleeping with the enemy. The insurance companies issued an ultimatum: get out of the vaccine suits or lose our business. Dogan & Wilkinson dropped out of the vaccine litigation.
It turned out to be a stroke of good luck for the firm, as those who attempt to link vaccines and autism are now regarded with the same disdain as members of the Flat Earth Society.
This would not be Dogan & Wilkinson’s last time to join forces with the plaintiffs’ bar in search of fortune. The next time they would proceed with more discretion and cross ethical bright-lines.
Part two of this story is forthcoming. If you enjoy the work that SRHS Watch does, please consider donating to organizations that support independent journalism and advocate for open government.