6. Reaching Out
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58 6 Reaching Out Weinberg called Joe Salgado in February 1992, not long after telling the corporate lawyers to stick their ten-thousand-dollar settlement offers, and briefed him on what was happening. Salgado was president of the Hemophilia Association of New Jersey (HANJ), which was among the best organized, independent, and forward thinking of the state hemophilia advocacy groups. Its executive director, Elena Bostick, was a highly competent woman and well respected by the membership. Bostick was supported by a good board of directors, most of whom were people with hemophilia or who had hemophilia in their families. HANJ also was sophisticated in the political arena, and Bostick had recruited several key legislators to be on her board. They were successful at fund-raising and suspicious of the National Hemophilia Foundation’s agenda and motives. HANJ guarded its independence closely. Since Salgado had been rebuffed when he wrote to the companies, urging them to compensate hemophiliacs on a voluntary basis, he knew the only way the community would see any money was through the courts. He was at heart still a trial lawyer. “My sense is the case can be won and should be litigated,” Weinberg told him. “You’re going to need help,” Salgado replied. “No question. There are law firms that might get involved,” Weinberg said. “I’m going to talk to some because this will be a vast project, far too difficult for just me to handle.” REACHING OUT 59 “Why would big law firms get involved in this?” Salgado asked. “They’re going to look at the track record of the litigation and be skeptical, Eric, don’t you think?” “Yes, I agree. That’s why the litigation needs a new direction.” “How many clients do you have?” Salgado asked. “I’ve been contacted by about a dozen families. Ten have signed retainers, and the others will.” “Do you think more would help?” “You mean would firms see opportunity if there were more clients?” Weinberg asked. “They just might.” Salgado took a leap. “I think you should meet with Elena Bostick, the executive director,” he said. “If Elena feels comfortable with you, she will introduce you to the HANJ board. That would help spread the word about your work to the New Jersey hemophilia community. Once you’ve got entrée to the community, it would probably mean more families would retain you.” “I’m agreeable to that,” Weinberg said. “I’m committed to this litigation , Joe.” “Let me call Elena,” Salgado replied. “I’ll tell her what I’m thinking, and get back to you.” A day later, Salgado called with Bostick’s number. Weinberg contacted her immediately, and they had a brief and somewhat guarded conversation . She agreed to meet him at her office in East Brunswick, about ten minutes from him, on a day in February 1992. The HANJ offices were on the first floor of a drab two-story office building off Route 18, a cluttered highway running through East Brunswick and eventually toward what once were the farmlands of Middlesex and Monmouth Counties. The main office was a large room with a half dozen desks arranged in rows. A few smaller offices lined the back wall. One was Bostick’s and another belonged to the agency’s social worker, Julie Frenkel. As Weinberg walked in, Salgado greeted him and led him to Bostick and Frenkel. “We’ve heard nice things about you from Andrea, Ron, and Sallie,” Bostick said. “That’s good to hear,” Weinberg replied. “So tell us why you’re here.” BLOOD ON THEIR HANDS 60 “Bottom line? What happened to your community is an extraordinary case. I’ve been investigating it since last summer,” Weinberg said. “This is hard, but I win hard cases. I’m not afraid of them. And I think the community needs me. There aren’t a whole bunch of law firms knocking down the doors to get in. I’m focused on proving something wrong happened here, and the fractionators should pay.” “How can you help? Aren’t you in practice by yourself?” Weinberg heard the anxiety in Bostick’s voice and understood. She was responsible for the interests of people who were just now waking up to the awful dimensions of an epidemic. The New Jersey community felt betrayed by the drug companies, with whom they had developed what they thought were strong relationships. They knew the company representatives , so the dynamic was complicated. “I...


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