She gave him their standard confidentiality agreement, and he looked it over quickly and signed. "Let me give you some case background. I'm working on a large consolidated litigation against Mason Pharmaceutical Corporation, or MPC for short. Their drug called Celix is used to treat migraines, but MPC should have known through its testing that the drug actually leads to brain tumors. MPC failed to warn the public and medical professionals about this danger. We represent the individuals who took Celix and formed tumors, or the estates of victims in cases where the tumors led to death."
Landon nodded. "Sounds like a typical case against Big Pharma."
"You're right. But I had a brief meeting with an MPC employee named Ellie Proctor yesterday. She was very secretive when it came to setting up the meeting. She didn't want to talk on the phone or come to my office."
He raised an eyebrow. "What did she tell you?"
"That's the thing. She didn't divulge much specific information at all. She claims she's a senior R&D scientist at MPC, but she seemed paranoid and shifty. Maybe even strung out on something."
"You're questioning her reliability?"
"Of course, but I also wonder if there's anything to what she said. It was clear to me that she believed something was going on. She said the case was much bigger than any of the lawyers realized, and that I needed to look beyond Celix to examine other drugs."
"You think that means that other MPC drugs also have dangerous side effects?"
"That was my thought. I'm obviously not sure, but it's enough to make me curious."
He scribbled down some notes. "Where did the two of you leave the discussion?"
"I'm going to meet her tomorrow after work at Piedmont Park."
"You want me to start doing the deep dive on her?"
"Absolutely. Here's a copy of the business card she gave me." She slid the copy over to him. "I need you to figure out if she is who she says she is and gather any information you can about her. I haven't scared you off yet, have I?"
A slight grin crept over his lips. "No, ma'am. I don't scare easily."
"You can call me Kate."
"Sorry. It's a habit."
"Were you in the military?" That wasn't in the brief bio that was sent over, but from the way he carried himself, he had a strong military vibe. And he was built more like a soldier than an investigator.
Before she could say anything else, he shifted the conversation back to business. "With people like Ellie, credibility is everything. Whistle-blowers can either be completely legitimate or just disgruntled employees."
She ran a hand through her hair. "She said I needed to get my hands on the testing documents. I'll have to rely on the document discovery process to get access to those."
He continued to take notes. "And can you explain what you mean by that?"
"In litigation, we have a phase called discovery. Each side has to turn over documents to the other side, respond to written requests, and we also have depositions of witnesses. All of that takes place under certain rules of discovery, and we're on a specific timetable for getting it done. The stakes are very high in this case, with huge implications."
"What kind of implications?"
"We're talking about thousands of people who died from brain tumors or are currently sick. I'm fighting for those people and their families. They deserve justice, and MPC shouldn't just get away with it."
He set down his pen. "I can get right on it."
"This has to be completely discreet. I don't want MPC to fire Ellie because she came to me."
Landon nodded. "This could all be a big mistake or misunderstanding on her part. Sometimes employees think they hear or see something, and then their imagination goes wild. Or she could have an ax to grind—being passed over for a promotion or a raise will do that to people."
"Yeah. I'm taking all that into consideration and trying to keep an open mind. I need to run down every lead to do the best I can for my clients. I hate to put added pressure on you, but I need you to find out the facts as quickly as possible."
"Understood. I'll call you as soon as I have something."
"Thanks for making this a top priority. I look forward to working with you."
"I can see myself out. I know you have other work to get to." Landon rose from his chair and left.
He seemed on top of things and ready to get started, which was exactly what she needed. While she would be anxious to hear the results of his investigation, she couldn't allow herself to become too preoccupied. She had her own work to get done to prepare for the discovery phase of the litigation. Because once that started, it would be nonstop.
This excerpt ends on page 20 of the paperback edition.
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