Texas County Files Opioid Lawsuit

America has an opioid problem. The epidemic has resulted in addictions, deaths caused by drug overdose, and economic burden that totals $78.5 billion. Although drug makers have been sued by cities, states, and other agencies, the lawsuit filed by Dallas-based litigation firm Simon Greenstone Panetier & Bartlett in behalf of Upshur County is the first in Texas to hold drug makers responsible for the epidemic.

The lawsuit claims that deceptive practices by drug makers have created a marketplace that is both lucrative and illicit where pharmacy record falsification, prescription forging, and doctor shopping is a common occurrence. It also claims that an increase in heroin use is linked to the widespread use of opioids as addicted users turn to the other due to the unavailability of prescription drugs. The epidemic has also driven resident’s healthcare costs up.

Many residents of Upshur County have also cited opioid addiction as one of the reasons they sought treatment for substance abuse.

Opioid use doesn’t just affect the lives of those who use it, but their family as well. In Upshur County, parental drug addiction has caused a rise in children being placed in child protection agencies.

Dean Fowler, an Upshur County judge, said that the lawsuit’s goal was “to recoup the cost of the opioid epidemic.” The money used to treat opioid addicts come out of taxpayers’ pockets, and that the “cost to the public is very high.”

Jeffrey B. Simon, a Dallas attorney, says in the lawsuit that the epidemic “did not occur by chance.”

The lawsuit names more than 20 defendants, including Abbot Laboratories, Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer, Inc., and Purdue Pharma Inc. These companies manufacture brand-name drugs, such as Avinza (no longer sold in the market), Opana, OxyContin, Percocet, Percodan, Roxicodone, and Vicodin. Generic varieties such as hydrocodone and oxymorphone are being made as well. Some of these defendants also manufacture, market, distribute, and sell prescription opioids, such as fentanyl, Duragesic, Fentora, Ultracet, and Ultram.

The more than 20 defendants named in the lawsuit are all accused of using altering the view of doctors on opioids in the late 1990s and early 2000s through a “well-funded deceptive marketing scheme.” Drug makers use sales representatives and physicians – their “key opinion leaders”– to promote highly addictive opioids through souvenirs and toys that include, among others, bags, coffee cups, notepads, pens, and stuffed plush toys – all these bearing the name of the opioid brand.

The lawsuit also states that drug makers utilized “front groups” to help key opinion leaders negatively tinge continuing medical education programs, medical conferences and seminars, scientific articles, and treatment guidelines – sources that doctors and patients turn to for guidance.

After individual and coordinated efforts, the defendants also convinced doctors that opioids were “required in the compassionate treatment of chronic pain” rather than inform them of it being addictive and unsafe for long-term use.

The lawsuit claims that drug makers even upped their advertising costs compared to the previous decade. One advertisement showed how a writer used opioids to cure osteoarthritis but neglected to mention its risks.

A co-counsel of Simon, Jack Walker of the Martin Walker law firm, plans to file a similar lawsuit in the counties they represent.


How A Change In New Mexico’s Malpractice Rights Might Have Been Determined By Texas Fears

A surgeon from Texas Tech University has been given a pass on a medical malpractice suit filed against him. The gastric bypass surgery performed on a New Mexico woman that ended in misery for the patient and a malpractice suit against the surgeon has been overturned – due to something other than the facts of the case itself. It has been reversed by the Court of Appeals because there is a fear that the underserved area of New Mexico might become even more so if Texas physicians are fearful of being sued.

The appeals court ruled that Montano’s suit will be dismissed without prejudice. The case is causing a stir in both Texas and New Mexico’s medical circles. Doctors from both states came in droves to express their concerns that if the case stands, it could lower the access of care to many New Mexico citizens who are already in need of help that isn’t readily available. Hospitals and doctors’ groups around the nation filed a brief to petition the court to overturn the judgment.

Kimberly Montano, the woman who initiated the lawsuit, insists that if she isn’t allowed to file a malpractice suit, she will not have any recourse to recover for her damages and pain and suffering related to her injuries. The main issue surrounding this case is that Montano had her gastric bypass surgery at a facility in Texas, but was a resident of New Mexico. She wanted to sue in New Mexico, however, because the malpractice laws in Texas are very different. In Texas, you aren’t able to sue any state employee, and the surgeon who performed the gastric bypass was a state employee.

Montano maintains that she had to have the surgery in Texas instead of New Mexico because her insurance would not cover it otherwise. She filed her malpractice suit in Albuquerque because that is where she lives. She alleges that she returned after the surgery to complain about severe abdominal pain. Dr. Freeza, the surgeon, told her that the discomfort was completely normal. However, the pain did not subside and she had to be seen at several different facilities as it began to increase.

Finally, Montano had to have another surgery to figure out what was causing the pain. At that time a different surgeon informed her that the initial surgery had been botched and her sutures were a tangled mess that had become infected. She not only suffered extensive pain, but her long-term prognosis and quality of life have been severely altered. She has a significant amount of medical bills, has lost considerable time from work, and she wanted to recover for her pain and suffering.

Freeza’s attorney argued that since Freeza was operating out of Texas and was a state employee, the Texas laws should apply. That would disallow Montano the ability to sue. A New Mexico district judge, however, ruled in favor of Montano, stating that the case should continue forward. It went to the Supreme Court, where it was determined that Montano should not be allowed to sue in New Mexico since the procedure was in Texas, and the Texas courts should have jurisdiction.

The problem is that it has left Montano and many like her no options to sue when they are the victim of malpractice, especially when they are being forced by their insurer to receive care in the adjacent state. Without any options, Montano did not want to have her surgery across state lines but was forced to. When it didn’t go as planned, she was left with no recourse for her pain and suffering or the health consequences of medical malpractice.

According to the ruling, it is in New Mexico’s best interest to not be allowed to file the malpractice suit. If people can file in New Mexican courts for malpractice perpetrated in Texas, then it may limit access options for a very underserved area and do everyone a disservice, leaving many without necessary medical care. The problem is that either way the court ruled, someone would have been underserved. If physicians are not sued for the mistakes that they make and are protected, then who is protecting the victim? It’s a sticky situation all the way around, but for now the ruling stands.


Could Bariatric Surgery Be The Cause Of Personal Injury Suits Due To Child Birth Complications?

Bariatric surgery seemed like the perfect solution for those who are obese and have seemingly tried everything else to lose weight. What seemed like the perfect scenario, however, is beginning to show signs that it doesn’t come without substantial risk. Patients who were considering undergoing the procedure have always understood that the surgery itself, like any other, comes with specific risks. But there is a new complication just being discovered, which may make women of childbearing age think twice about having the surgery to lose weight.

New studies from a team of santa ana personal injury lawyers are coming to light that might put bariatric surgery complications at the forefront of personal injury claims. Scientists have discovered that there might be an increased risk for children born to mothers who’ve had bariatric surgery. A study recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association shows that children who are born to women who have had bariatric surgery within the previous two years (before giving birth) are at risk for perinatal complications.

Bariatric surgery is a medical procedure used to decrease the size of a person’s stomach so that they can’t overeat. A surgeon uses either a gastric band or actually removes part of the stomach to create less space in order to signal to the brain that the stomach is full. There are times when the procedure also reroutes the small intestines so that it flows into the stomach pouch. So, although there are various ways to achieve the same goal, bariatric surgery refers to multiple types of procedures within the same class. It is typically a surgery that is used to reduce a person’s weight when obesity is leading to serious health consequences.

When a woman undergoes bariatric surgery, it isn’t just her stomach and appetite that are affected. Her body undergoes changes in nutrition as well as metabolic and physiological changes, which can result in danger not only to her health, but also to the health of a child born in the immediate future. There is evidence to suggest that a woman who has gone through the surgery may suffer from nutritional deficiencies, and that those deficiencies can negatively affect a growing fetus from getting the necessary nutrients for proper development.

Lack of nutrition can lead to birth complications, which were not an expected outcome, and women who underwent the surgery were not warned about it. Not only are there links to birth complications, but there is also a risk of small gestational age, low Apgar scores and premature delivery. An Apgar score is a test that is performed immediately following birth that measures a baby’s reaction to their atmosphere.

It is an acronym for Appearance, Pulse, Grimace, Activity, and Respiration and is linked to several conditions early on in life. In studies, it isn’t until almost four years post-bariatric surgery that the Apgar scores appear not to be affected in children born to women who have undergone the surgical procedure.

The biggest problem is that obesity is one of the barriers that women of childbearing age have, to conception. Many women in the past have undergone the surgery specifically to help them conceive, which is in direct contrast to the risks that the surgery can increase in childbirth. Up until recently, those risks were not identified and certainly were not told to women who were electing to have bariatric surgery, especially for the purpose of conceiving.

Therefore, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists have made recommendations that women who are going to undergo bariatric surgery delay conception until a minimum of two years post-surgery to ensure that there are no risk factors carried over.

Although it’s a great recommendation going forward, that doesn’t address the past complications that have resulted from misinformation of the consequences of bariatric surgery on childbirth. Bariatric surgery has traditionally been an elective surgery undertaken more by women than men, which is why it is so problematic to find that risk factors for childbirth are linked to the surgery.

There are likely to be many women with complications during childbirth who bring forward personal injury cases. Many babies born with complications need extensive therapy, extended stays in the hospital, and can have a host of conditions that follow them throughout their developmental years and beyond. Without the proper warning, many women have found out the hard way that bariatric treatment for conception might not have been as healthy or safe as they were led to believe.


Toddler Dies Caught up in Medicaid Billing Fraud

Medicaid billing schemes are not new; in fact, many have been convicted of committing this crime over the years. However, a recent personal injury lawsuit has caught the attention of a lot of people since a toddler was involved — and even died in the process.

The wrongful death lawsuit claims that unnecessary dental procedures were performed on fourteen-month-old Daisy Lynn Torres as part of a corporate scheme that aims to make money from Medicaid. The toddler’s family is suing dentist Dr. Michael Melanson and mobile anesthesiologist Dr. David Williams, along with Austin Children’s Dentistry and Texan Anesthesiology Association.

Daisy Lynn died on March 29, 2016, while she was going through a dental procedure at Austin Children’s Dentistry. The procedure was performed by Dr. Melanson while anesthesia was provided by Dr. Williams, who works for Texan Anesthesiology Association and was present while the child received the dental treatment.

Daisy Lynn’s mother, Betty Squier, had brought the toddler to Austin Children’s Dentistry to have two of her cavities filled. Squier noted that she was present when her daughter was put under anesthesia but was asked to leave the room afterwards. According to her, Dr. Melanson came out of the room after several minutes and told her they were going to place six crowns on Daisy Lynn’s teeth — four more than what had been originally planned. A short while after that, Squier was informed that her daughter had gone into cardiac arrest.

Forensic dental examiner Dr. Robert Williams worked on the case and reported that “no indication of dental disease or pathology was seen” in Daisy Lynn’s dental X-rays on the day she died. He points out that the child may possibly have had “congenital enamel defects” in her partially erupted teeth, but stated that they did not necessarily require treatments especially considering her age. Dr. Williams noted that there was no evidence that Daisy Lynn was in “any type of pain” due to any dental diseases.

This report was included in the autopsy report filed by the Travis County Medical Examiner’s Office, which was released in July 2016 and ruled that anesthesia was the cause of death of the child. A few months later, in September 2016, Austin Children’s Dentistry filed a libel, defamation, and business disparagement lawsuit against Dr. Robert Williams. The company sponsored national dental experts to independently review the case, and the reviews concluded that the treatments that Daisy Lynn Torres received before her death were “dentally necessary”.

Despite this, the toddler’s parents believe that their daughter wrongfully died and that her death was caused by a scheme that aims to bill Medicaid for unnecessary dental procedures. Betty Squier states that her child’s life “was cut short due to someone’s greed and negligence”, while Daisy Lynn’s father Elizandro Torres wants the case to be heard so it won’t happen to other people. He reminds parents that “they can ask questions” and “get second opinions, third opinions”.

The family’s attorney Sean Breen points out that Daisy Lynn’s case will hopefully highlight the fact that dentists and dental clinics all over the country are committing Medicaid fraud by doing unnecessary procedures and collecting money from them. Breen states that other parents have come out and revealed that their children also received unnecessary dental treatments from Austin Children’s Dentistry.


Former Inmate Sues York Correctional Institution for Women for Traumatic Brain Injury

Amy Rolon, who served time in prison for charges of 6th-degree larceny, has filed a $7.5-million claim for medical neglect against the Department of Correction (DOC) due to a traumatic brain injury she sustained while under the custody of York Correctional Institution in Niantic, Connecticut in 2014.

According to incident reports, Rolon repeatedly fell and hit her head during her struggles against heroin withdrawal, which lasted for about 2 days. In a very compelling surveillance video reviewed by supervisor Christopher Brunelle, Rolon is seen falling out of her wheelchair while staff members are just walking by and ignoring to provide assistance. Brunelle writes in his report:

“Inmate crawls out of cell on hands and knees as staff are walking towards her … [Two correction officers] walk past the inmate. Both officers staring at the inmate as they walk past and exit the unit …

“Inmate attempts to get into wheelchair by herself. Staff do not assist.

“Inmate falls out of wheelchair and onto the floor … (E)veryone watches. No staff attempt to help her up.”

Also, those who shared the cell with Rolon from October 30 to 31, 2014 reported to had repeatedly called for medical attention, as they watched Rolon stagger in and out of the bathroom, and then fall and sprawl on the floor. Though she then received methadone and other medications several times from nurses, it was not until the morning of November 1 that she received sustained medical attention after experiencing a violent seizure, with her mouth filling with blood from biting her own tongue. Also, all of these things occurred despite a court order stating that Rolon required detoxification and immediate medical attention upon being admitted to the correctional facility on October 30, 2014.

It took several hours until a psychologist recommended for Rolon to be checked at a hospital, and by the time she was sent to the Lawrence & Memorial Hospital emergency room in New London, she was already found to be in critical condition. She was then transferred to the Yale-New Haven Hospital ICU, where she received surgery for swelling and bleeding of the brain.

As a result of this incident, four officers at the correctional facility have been suspended and two nurses who worked for the Correctional Managed Health Care unit at UConn Health resigned, according to the correctional facility’s officials. Such a medical unit is aid to be holding a controversial, no-bid contract (worth more than $80 million a year) with the DOC to deliver mental and medical services to inmates.

According to Scott Semple, the Correction Commissioner, there was truly a violation to the protocol in the Rolon case, viewing it as a situation that is isolated to the staff members who are being suspended. After learning about how serious Rolon’s injuries were, York supervisors ordered an investigation at the scene where the incident happened, calling on state police investigators to document the chain of events.

Rolon, who is now a 38-year-old mother of five children, is partially paralyzed and is severely cognitively impaired. Needing constant care, she is residing at the Grandview Rehabilitation and Nursing Center.




Physicians Sued for Bowel Injury Resulting from Partial Nephrectomy

A woman, who is 71 years old, underwent an open partial nephrectomy on her right kidney, and during the operation, the surgeon used electrocautery. But a week later, she was taken back to the emergency room due to abdominal pain. The ER physicians then spoke to the original surgeon and residents who gave the nephrectomy to the patient and learned of the use of electrocautery, and then suspected a bowel injury. They then gave her an emergency surgery to resect the injury on her small bowel.

She was discharged after 5 days, but then returned again a couple of days later, as she was still suffering from abdominal pain, and this time nausea and vomiting as well. It was then when she was diagnosed with a partial bowel obstruction, causing her to remain in the hospital for 5 days more. Apart from this, she had 2 additional operations within 2 months.

Because of the circumstances she have gone through, the patient sued the physicians involved with the nephrectomy, alleging the doctors neglected to treat the bowel injury during the initial operation. Her claim includes the doctors knowing of the injury at the time, but failed to tell her family about the injury, failed to take appropriate measures to treat it and failed to document the injury in their report or any medical record. She argued that their failure to treat the original injury made her suffer from life-threatening injuries, subsequently.

The defendants did not dispute her claims, but questioned whether they related to the original operation and the severity and mulled over the frequency of her complaints. As for the jury’s judgment, they awarded the patient with $1.1 million in total damages and $199,000 in interest, totaling nearly $1.3 million.


Cases That Can Lead to Medical Personal Injury Lawsuit

A special kind of personal injury, medical malpractice is brought against hospitals, doctors, nurses, emergency medical technicians (EMTs) and other medical personnel. This is a form of professional malpractice that applies only when a person is injured during some form of medical treatment or care. People who suffer from an injury due to this malpractice could hold the medical providers responsible for it under special rules that apply to this kind of professional negligence.

However, a victim could only hold the provider responsible if he or she can prove even one of the essential elements of a medical malpractice claim. These are: a) the health care provider had a duty to the patient; b) there was a breach of duty; c) some kind of harm was caused directly by breach of duty; and d) the injury may be compensated. If any of these elements are not present, then the victim may not make a malpractice claim.

Like any other personal injury case, the burden to prove the case will be on the plaintiff, and the doctor will not have to prove he was not. The standard of proof that will be used in assessing whether a plaintiff has proven his or her case is the evidence standard preponderance.





Indianapolis VA Sued

A 10-year veteran of the Marine Corps is suing an Indianapolis VA hospital for “medical battery” and unspecified damages. This on the heels of the investigation into the Veteran’s Administration hospital in Phoenix, AZ.

According to the IndyStar, “Tony Yeary had trouble urinating, so he went to see a doctor at the Roudebush Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Indianapolis.

“What happened once he got there in May 2012 is recounted, in gruesome detail, in a lawsuit that the 60-year-old Marine Corps veteran filed against the VA last week in federal court in Indianapolis.

“The Indianapolis resident’s lawsuit describes a medical experience with scenes that harken to medieval times. Little or no painkillers used during a painful medical procedure. Brute force from doctors trying to insert objects in a body cavity. A blood-spattered patient left to fend for himself.”


South Carolina Hospital Charged in Baby Gender Lawsuit

In South Carolina a hospital is being charge with irreversibly changing the gender of a baby. The lawsuit is being brought forward by the advocacy group, Southern Poverty Law Center and Advocates for Informed Choice.

According to Advocate.com, “The 16-month-old child, identified as M.C., was born with an intersex condition, where the child’s reproductive or sexual anatomy does not fit typical male or female classification. Most children with these conditions eventually develop as male or female, but M.C.’s phallus was removed in an attempt to make the child a girl, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center and Advocates for Informed Choice …

“… At the time of the surgery, M.C. was under the state’s care but living with guardians. The lawsuit charges that the doctors performed medical malpractice by failing to provide adequate information before proceeding with the surgery. M.C.’s guardians reportedly were not made aware of the significant risks of the surgery or the alternative of not having surgery at all. Currently, doctors and advocates recommend that intersex children be assigned a gender at birth, but are encouraged to hold off on any unnecessary surgery until they are old enough to self-identify with a gender.”

Man Gets $2 Million in Colonoscopy Lawsuit

A Philadelphia jury decided that two doctors were at fault and rewarded a 62-year-old man $2 million in a colonoscopy gone wrong case. According to the case, the man had perforations in his colon due to the initial colonoscopy and the follow up colonoscopy.

The jury decided that the doctors had overinflated the patient’s colon and as a result had to remove over 24-inches of his lower intestine in this medical malpractice case.

According to post-gazette.com, “A 12-member Philadelphia jury deliberated for eight hours over two days before finding this month that Michael Resnick, who performed the colonoscopy on Richard McCade, was 60 percent negligent for Mr. McCade’s perforated colon and resulting surgeries. The jury found Lawrence M. Wald was 40 percent negligent for allegedly further perforating Mr. McCade’s colon during follow-up procedures to fix subsequent complications from the initial tear.”

Because of the perforations, the patient had to seek emergency care on two different occasions. The initial CT scan showed no perforation, but a CT scan a few days later confirmed that there was a perforation in the patient’s colon.

Mother Sues Hospital Over Son’s Staph Infection Death

In New York, the mother of a 12-year-old boy who went to Bedford-Stuyvesant elementary school, is suing the local hospital over the death of her son. According to the allegations, emergency room doctors at the Kings County Hospital were negligent in failing to diagnose a serious staph infection known as MRSA.

The doctors gave the child Benadryl and sent him home with his mother. The mother is suing for $25 million on the heals of what may be a localized outbreak of this kind of infection. Unconfirmed reports also state that a couple other students at different local schools have also been infected.