I just saw the movie “Puncture,” and, as both a Miami dangerous medical device attorney and movie lover, I am not sure how I missed this incredible film. The movie, based on a true story, accurately depicts how two young Houston, Texas personal injury lawyers, Mike Weiss and Paul Danziger, take on a case that is bigger and far more complicated than either could have anticipated.
Mr. Weiss, played by the talented Chris Evans, somehow practices plaintiff’s personal injury law while in the throes of a hard core drug addiction. His law partner and long time friend, Paul Danziger, is trying to control both his drug addicted partner and their law practice while undertaking a huge defective medical conspiracy case. Everything goes spiraling out of control.
When the film starts, it appears that Weiss and Danziger have a somewhat typical personal injury law firm, handling mundane car crashes, slip and falls, and the occasional employment dispute. One day, however, they get an inquiry by a local emergency room nurse, who was stuck with a contaminated needle while trying to care for a psychotic patient. Weiss, passionately, begins to look deeper into her case and learns that there is a conspiracy between Hospital Group Purchasing Organizations and pharmaceutical companies to keep a new syringe, with a retractable needle, off the market. This new syringe is designed to prevent healthcare workers from accidentally getting stuck with contaminated needles, which can transmit HIV/AIDs, hepatitis, and other potentially fatal diseases. Both emergency room nurses and doctors support the use of the new syringe, and the National Institute of Health provided a grant to the inventor to refine the device.
The theme of this movie, like most of the cases in our Florida law medical malpractice law firm, is “corporate greed over lives.” In “Puncture’s” case, it is the very lives of hospital employees who are stuck by infected needles, as well as, the millions who have contracted HIV/AIDs through cross needle contamination.
I think this movie is one that every law student should see. It vividly shows the compassion and fearlessness of an advocate fighting, not just a defendant with unlimited resources and his law partner, but his own demons, in his pursuit of justice for his client. Sadly, Mr. Weiss died at only 32, before the case could be resolved, from an apparent drug overdose. He did not live to see the fruit of his labor but I will not ruin the ending for you.
Another highlight is seeing real life Texas Super Lawyer, Mark Lanier, playing himself. Mr. Lanier creates a striking contrast between his successful litigation style and the out of control life of Mr. Weiss.
I truly wish that Mr. Weiss had been able to beat his addiction, because I have rarely encountered a lawyer of such immense talent and commitment to justice. Mr. Weiss’s conduct, outside the courtroom should not be admired, but it can be understood and perhaps even pitied. However, given the weight of his addiction, his work in the courtroom was even more spectacular. I never had the opportunity to meet Mr. Weiss, but I hope that his message inspires others to take on fights, of this proportion, for people, the only thing that really matters.
Needle-Stick Injury Facts
Each year healthcare workers suffer an estimated 800,000 accidental needle-stick injuries in U. S. hospitals.
Over 1,000 victims of needle sticks become infected with HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis B and C and other deadly blood-borne diseases.
Worldwide, needle reuse and needle-stick injuries result in an estimated 1,300,000 death from HIV/AIDS infections annually.
In November 2000, President Clinton signed the Needle-stick Safety and Prevention Act, which calls for the use of “safety-engineered” needle devices to protect workers.