23andMe: Now Come the Trial Lawyer Sharks and the Tort Lottery Players



The genotype screening company 23andMe received a largely unwarranted nastygram last week from the regulators at the Food and Drug Administration ordering the company to stop marketing its Personal Genome Service. Sensing blood in the water, it was only a matter of time before the trial lawyer sharks began circling. And so now the San Diego Ankcorn Law Firm has filed a class action suit on behalf of new 23andMe customer Lisa Casey.

Ms. Casey just purchased the service in September and it already disappointed her to the tune of $5 million. The winnings would go to her, other distressed customers, and, of course, to her hard-working trial attorneys. Ms. Casey's lawsuit specifically cites the FDA warning letter in her complaint as evidence that the company has falsely and misleadingly advertised its genotyping services.

Just as background, a 2007 study by the Pacific Research Institute estimated that our dysfunctional tort liability system costs each family a "tort tax" of nearly $10,000, totaling about $825 billion annually. Between our regulators and our tort lawyers, it's a wonder any new products make it to market.

Go to Gigaom to review a copy of the lawsuit.

H/T and Update: H&R commenter Raston Bot pointed out that a woman named Lisa is married to name partner David Casey in the personal injury law firm, Casey Gerry Schenk Francavilla Blatt & Penfield LLP. Interestingly, Mark Ankcorn, who filed on Ms. Casey's behalf, is Of Counsel to the same distinguished firm. Happenstance?

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  1. received a largely wholly unwarranted nastygram last week from the regulators at the Food and Drug Administration


  2. Fucking lawyers. This is why everyone hates you, ProL. Especially FoE. He hates you most of all.

    1. Single-payer legal care would prevent shit like this from happening.

      1. We couldn’t do that. It would be People might call it socialism.

        Let’s come up with a better plan that allows people to keep their lawyer if they want to, and everybody pays into a legal insurance fund.

        1. That’s coming soon enough.

          1. Of course, if your current retainer is not comprehensive enough, the government will determine a new schedule of services your lawyer must provide. Along with a new schedule of fees.

            1. If it weren’t for contingency fees, we’d probably have socialized legal services of some sort right now.

              1. All contingency fees will go to the general fund.

    2. And that’s saying something since I hate everyone equally.

      1. Some hatreds are more equal than others.

  3. “Ms. Casey just purchased the service in September and it already disappointed to the tune of $5 million.”

    What is the actual harm that this woman has allegedly suffered?

    1. It turned out she’s not actually a princess.

    2. She found out that she’s a mongoloid. Before, she wore a hat, and had a job, and brought home the bacon, and no one knew, and she was happier than you or me. But now…everyone knows.

      1. They found the Jocko-Homo Gene. In the slimebucket trial attorney.

        1. Are they not men?

          Remember, nobody knows, so let’s find out.

      2. Episiarch is already working on a new children’s book called “Mommy Has Down Syndrome.”

        1. That’s incorrect. The title of the book is Mommy Has Go-Down Syndrome. It’s part of his entree into a new genre of his own making.

          I should know. I’m his agent, assigned to him by a court in an unrelated matter that good taste and ethics forbid me to disclose for free.

          1. Well, here’s my two cents. What can you disclose for that?

    3. What is the actual harm that this woman has allegedly suffered?

      Perhaps, as the article indicates, she is married to a lawyer. In that case, she has it obviously really bad, and all that she needs now is a sympathetic jury, and a defendant who has money.

  4. Between our regulators and our tort lawyers, it’s a wonder any new products make it to market.

    I buy a lot of racing parts and I think about this often. I’ll order some wizz-bang gizmo and wonder how in the hell some guy with a CNC machine in his garage can sell it for so cheap. Then I realize it’s because the poor guy hasn’t been subject to a liability suit yet.

    1. It’s actually the same in medicine. Medical devices are mostly a cottage industry, and cutting edge tools are often designed and built by the surgeons who are pioneering their use.

      1. The bone saw is my favorite cutting edge surgery tool.

        1. I like the guillotine. It’s what 99% of libertarians prescribe for statists.

  5. One wonders if the trial lawyers were at all in contact with FDA officials prior to the ruling. Yes, one wonders, indeed.

    On the other hand, the wizards at 23andMe should have read in her gene tea leaves that the woman was litigious.

    1. Yes, there’s a gene for that!

  6. Why can’t satisfied customers like myself step in and exempt ourselves from the class?

    Even better, where can we internet ridicule this woman for being a fucking greedy cunt?

    1. If you exempt yourself you’ll lose the $1.53 the lawyers were going to send you.

        1. I got something about a class action against a video store chain, and I was offered some sort of coupon. The lawyers made $50 million or something silly like that. Scam or biggest scam possible?

        2. “Free appetizer at chilis, with entree purchase.”

    2. While I’m not saying Lisa Casey is a dirty, dirty slut, it is possible that others are saying that. Perhaps many, many others. I just don’t know.

      1. Does she fuck goats? Can I get pix?

      2. We have no evidence that she is one way or the other!

  7. As a libertarian I understand the importance of a robust civil court. (it’s better than shooting each other over disagreements, right?)

    But our system needs some serious reform. If things were up to me, it would be very difficult to prove liability, and if you lost, you would have to pay the bills of whoever you sued.

    In fact, I would go so far as to say that if you walked into a grocery store, and slipped on a puddle of water right inside the door, and fell and broke your leg. That you would have to prove that the owner of that store specifically put that water there to specifically target you for a fall in order for the store to be liable. Call it the “life is dangerous, pay attention” clause.

    1. (it’s better than shooting each other over disagreements, right?)

      Depends on the disagreement.

    2. The problem is it is not the tort system that needs to be changed for this to happen.

      Our problem lies with juries feeling empathy for the “injured” parties and deciding someone should have to compensate them for their losses and even if the company couldn’t realistically have been at fault they at least have the money to help that poor person feel better.

      1. This!

        My ex-wife once went to court against the insurance company of another woman who rear-ended our car. My ex had a soft tissue injury (whiplash), and because she was a young mother of 2, blah, blah, blah, the jury awarded her $104,000.

    3. All civil cases should be “loser pays”. That’s ONE thing Europe has right.

    4. “…if you lost, you would have to pay the bills of whoever you sued.”

      Yep. That & limit the cut of any award that goes to the legal teams. Our civil court system is supposed to be about making sure everyone plays fair & is held accountable to agreements, not running up legal fees while lawyers on both sides go through endless depositions.

  8. Ankcorn site:

    Mark frequently works as co-counsel with firms across the nation and is Of Counsel to the distinguished San Diego firm of Casey Gerry Schenk Francavilla Blatt & Penfield LLP.

    So a plaintiff’s attorney’s wife is the lead plaintiff. This is my shocked face 😐

    1. RB: Thanks for digging into this – Just checked the Casey Gerry et al. site, and Lisa does in fact appear to be married to name partner David Casey.

  9. So…. 23andMe seems to be a good company, providing a good, innovative service, for not a lot of money, and lawyers seeing all of this working well thought, like all criminals, we deserve a piece of that.

    & since we don’t have any integrity within our legal system against frivolous law suits, nor true enforcement mechanisms against legal system abusers, nor trust that lawyers will clean up their own (they’ll never be disbarred), this behavior from these “lawyers” will continue to grow as they will continue to win big in a small percentage of cases (giving incentives for more stupid suits, combined with lack of any punishment mechanism….).

    & due to our system – all of this will be considered legal, instead of being considered what it is, extortion.

    Not to mention how much better might this DNA product become, if not for all the resources which will be redirected to deal with this?

    There’s an idea – John? Pro L? I want to sue trial lawyers association, ABA, etc, etc – for the billions (class action) lost to consumers annually?

  10. I just mailed 23andMe my spittle yesterday. I’m curious about if/when I’ll ever get the results. If I don’t, can I sue someone for interfering with my voluntary and legal (attempted) transaction for no good reason?

  11. Jackpot awards are few & far between. The celebrated McDonald’s coffee lawsuit lady wound up getting far less than the headline amount, and anyone who hasn’t looked at the full story should go check it out. Limiting the amount of settlements only looks at part of the cost. Lawyers on both sides of every lawsuit are looking to get paid.

    We need to lower the amount that lawyers on both sides of our litigious society carve out of the economy. Let’s not pretend that the lawyers who defend corporations don’t enjoy a good revenue stream any less than the guys who sue those companies. Our laws are designed to drag out the process, allowing billions in attorney fees to pile up. Fixing that incentive could do more than limiting jury awards.

    The Pacific Research Institute pads their number by assuming that money spent on legal fees & settlements would have been used to generate revenue through marketing & research, rather than taken as profit. Not sure how they figured out that number. I’ve seen the direct cost of lawsuits put at $250 billion. Still a big number.

    I’m more curious how they came up with $10,000 per family. There were about 110 million families in the US at the time of the study. Do the math. Simple fact failures like that don’t help the argument.

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