September 17, 2013

Can a lawyer dismiss a potential juror just because he’s gay? That’s the legal issue that a federal court will be grappling with. While the problem may seem a little lawyerly, the symbolism is not. At question is whether sexual orientation carries the same legal weight as race and gender

The case involves a dispute between two drug companies,Abbott and GlaxoSmithKline, over antitrust concerns. GSK claimed that Abbott jacked up the price of one of its HIV drugs, Norvir, in order to preserve the sales growth of a different HIV drug, Kaletra. During jury selection, GSK claims, Abbott dismissed one potential juror because he is gay and therefore would be unhappy with Abbott because of its pricing strategy. Abbott denies that claim. (The final verdict in the trial was mixed: GSK won a modest $3.4 million instead of the $571 million it was seeking.)