Texas County Files Opioid Lawsuit

Posted in Fraud, Medical Malpractice, Negligence, Products Liability at 3:39 pm by kevin

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.



Could Truck Platooning Be The Road To Safer And More Economical Roadways?

Posted in Products Liability at 10:21 am by kevin

What is truck platooning? It is a driver-assisted technology that uses trucks to control the speed and the braking of all the other trucks on the road. A platoon is when trucks travel in groups and stick together, and a new technology is set to be tested to see if it is a good thing for the roadways, or if it’s a road to disaster. As states are collectively considering platooning, some legislatures are concerned whether it is a good idea or a really bad one.

At the National Governors’ Association meeting this past winter, several governors expressed concerns about platooning technology and the consequences that it could have on roadways. Self-driving technologies are concerning many in the transportation world overall, but when the additional burden of trucks weighing several tons is thrown into the equation, it would make sense that many are nervous about the potential.

Statistics indicate that currently 1.6 million large trucks are being driven on American roadways. That is a whole lot of jobs that are being manned. If self-driving technology is employed, there is the potential that as many as 1.6 million jobs will be eliminated in one fell swoop. The hardships that will be created could lead to economic consequences of significant proportions.

It isn’t just about the safety of self-driving autonomous trucks; it’s also about the plan that is in place to find the former drivers, a new career and meaningful work. If not planned ahead, that is a huge number of unemployed individuals who will be flooding the already-stagnant workforce without the skills to do much else.

Those who support the new platooning technology insist that it is an excellent thing for the environment. Not only will it increase energy efficiency, it will cut down on greenhouse gases that are entering the atmosphere. They also believe that the new way to transport materials will help to decrease traffic and highway congestion.

There are many logistics that need to be worked out before autonomous trucks are even a real thing. Many believe that it isn’t even possible, while some ponder how a large trail of trucks will be a viable option on many roadways around the US. Also, if trucks begin to platoon, how can they still offer front-door delivery? If they have to stick together, that doesn’t seem to be a realistic practice. In spite of the concerns, many states are pushing to test the new technology just to see where it takes the trucking industry.

Currently, many states have laws in place that require that trucks maintain a distance of at least 200 feet between them. Those laws would have to be repealed in order for the testing to begin, but that will affect truckers who aren’t platooning but transporting the traditional way. New bills are springing up, like HB1754, which would allow platooning vehicles to maintain a shorter distance of between 75 and 125 feet.

Supporters believe that the new truck-platooning technology is nothing short of adaptive cruise controls for trucks. The testing phase is not going to take the drivers from behind the wheel just yet. Any trucking company that would like to test the technology will have to register with the highway commission to gain approval and avoid a truck accident lawsuit and free for all.

The federal government is willing to help fund the technology to perfect it. Putting funds into testing and working through the kinks, Pennsylvania State University at State College has already received $3 million in federal funds to work out the bugs and make it a safe technology for roadways.

What concerns many governors is that the technology isn’t reliable enough to replace a human, who can make last-minute decisions and use reasoning before a major accident happens. The potential fallout of a platooning accident is astronomical and can cost not just money, but people’s lives.

Self-driving technology is something that intimidates the average driver; what about less having the prospect of being next to a self-driven platoon of trucks? Although it could be a much less expensive way to transport materials across state lines and a much more environmental practice, it could lead to exorbitant unemployment rates and safety concerns around the nation.



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

Posted in Medical Malpractice, Products Liability at 3:14 pm by kevin

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.



Mother Files a Lawsuit against a Football Helmet Manufacturer

Posted in Products Liability at 5:15 pm by kevin

Almost a year after the demise of her son, a mother sues a helmet manufacturing company Ridell and the Chicago Board of Education. Currently the administrator of her son’s estate, Jeanine Smith filed a wrongful death lawsuit, early October this year, at the Cook County circuit court.

The suit included four counts against Ridell and two counts against the board of education with the family seeking to get awarded unspecified amount of money if they win the case while Brion Doherty of the Chicago firm Motherway & Napleton, LLP represents Smith family.

Andre Smith was a 17-year old football player at Bogan High School when he died from a blunt force trauma to the head. It was on Oct 22, 2015 while playing football at Stagg Stadium in Southside, Chicago when the teenager, whose team was playing against Chicago Vocational, when another player struck him during a kickoff return play.

A first, the fall did not really appear fatal as Smith was able to get up right after he fell to the ground. After the incident, he complained of a headache and became unconscious. The young school athlete was rushed to Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn and unfortunately, was not able to regain his consciousness. The incident happened on a Thursday night and he died Friday morning.

According to the six-count lawsuit, Ridell failed to include in its guidelines that the Revolution Speed helmet worn by Smith and his team mates is potentially dangerous if the air bladders inside lack proper inflation.

Allegations also included that the air bladders were supposed to protect the head of the wearer from injuries. As for the suit filed against the board of education, it alleges that the board should have been aware that the air bladders were not inflated enough when worn by the players and should not have allowed Smith and the other football players to wear the helmets in the first place.

According to reports, during the kickoff, Smith tried to tackle another player receiving the kickoff but was blocked from the left side of his helmet. Considered to be as “incidental contact” between the two players, Smith fell on the ground. While he was complaining from dizziness and headache, the young man started to have seizures and became unresponsive even after he was rushed to a local hospital. His CT scan revealed swelling and bleeding near the brain.

According to court records, the helmet worn by Andre Smith was found defective after the air bladder at the crown lost half of the air pressure just five minutes after being inflated and air bladder located at the rear lost almost 10 percent of air pressure just after 10 minutes.

Before Smith transferred to Bogan High School and joined the football team in 2015 when the season started, he studied at Rich Central High School in Olympia Fields. He was staying with a family friend in Chicago while his mother and stepdad were living in County Club Hills.

Meanwhile, Ridell declined to comment about the ongoing litigation while the Chicago Board of Education has yet to reply after a message was sent to them a week earlier.



1st Legalized Marijuana Products Liability Lawsuit

Posted in Products Liability at 4:29 pm by kevin

With more states legalizing pot and making marijuana accessible to a lot of people, it is only logical that safety guidelines should be made in relation to the drug. Unfortunately, pot is still largely considered an illicit drug in the U.S. and federal safety guidelines for growing marijuana is still non-existent. But it is on the basis that there is an approved list of pesticides to be used on pot that the 1st Legalized Marijuana Products Liability Lawsuit was lodged.

In Colorado, two users of marijuana filed a lawsuit against LivWell, a pot company based on Denver, on the grounds that it used an unhealthy pesticide to grow weed. It was discovered that the company used Eagle 20 EW to grow pot, a fungicide that are commonly used on hops and grapes, but is prohibited for use on tobacco, because it can have a dangerous reaction when heated. This led to authorities to quarantine thousands of plants, but were subsequently released after they were tested and found to be at acceptable levels.

The plaintiffs argue, however, that the pesticide used was not on the approved list, which means it can pose a risk to the lives of the users. According to the plaintiffs’ lawyer, Steven Woodrow, “The case is all about making sure that the cannabis industry is safe for consumers”.

But LivWell insists that their products are safe for use. “We have no reason to believe our product is not perfectly safe.” The company’s lawyer also said that there has been no consumer illnesses that were linked to the use of pesticides on marijuana, whether it is in Colorado or other states.

In June of this year, Colorado and Washington, 2 of the 4 states that were authorized to sell pot, were told by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, to apply through special local need registration to have some cannabis-related chemicals approved. The process, however, could take years. The 1st Legalized Marijuana Product Liability Lawsuit not only underscores the lack of guidelines on the chemicals to be used, but also on government oversight. The use of pot may been legalized, but other factors affecting it are yet to be identified or regulated.

This is not the first incident of marijuana recall due to use of unauthorized pesticide, only that no lawsuit has been filed because of the recall. A Seattle attorney, Alison Malsbury, considers the 1st Legalized Marijuana Product Liability Lawsuit to be a harbinger of other similar lawsuits, especially because of the lack of pot regulations. According to her, “States need to develop comprehensive lab-testing requirements and guidelines about what pesticides are OK to use on this product. It’s going to be treated no differently than food or beverages.”

Apart from disagreement over which chemicals to use when growing pot, there is also a growing concern on companies’ improper use the word “organic” when referring to marijuana products. This is why fraud investigator, Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman, has been assigned to carry out reviews.

With more problems on pot popping out of nowhere, the first lawsuit on product liability of marijuana would be followed by second, third, fourth, and so on.



Potential Airbag Lawsuit for Takata

Posted in Products Liability at 2:45 pm by kevin

Airbags are supposed to be one of the safety features of a car, but it has never been completely safe, especially for children who might incur injuries what with the amount of force used when an airbag is deployed. But what is more alarming is the fact that 34 million vehicles are cruising down the road with a defective frontal airbag, based on the airbag lawsuit for Takata investigation.

In the United States, millions of vehicles manufactured by 10 different car makers were recalled so that frontal airbags can be replaced, whether it is on the driver’s side, passenger’s side or both. The airbags were made by a major parts supplier to automobile companies around the globe – Takata. The problem was that the airbags deploy forcibly and explosively, which causes injury or even death.

Because of this, a class action lawsuit has been filed in federal court. What was supposedly a potential airbag lawsuit has become a full blown one.

The real story behind the lawsuit for Takata

Originally, Takata was supposed to use the compound tetrazole as propellant for inflating airbags, which was dubbed as reliable, effective and safe. But the company suddenly switched to an alternative formula that uses ammonium nitrate, which is cheaper but very dangerous. Ammonium nitrate becomes combustible when exposed to moisture and changes in temperature.

Despite this knowledge and objections from the engineers at Takata, the company still pushed through with the production of the airbags. Takata even went as far as to cover up an incident when an airbag ruptured and sprayed metal shrapnel to the car driver. Through a series of covert tests, Takata found out that the steel inflators rupture when the airbag is deployed. Instead of alerting the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) regulators, they ordered the testing data deleted and the ruptured inflaters thrown in the trash.

However, it was only years later that the lawsuit for Takata was made when a reporter from the New York Times uncovered the tests that were deleted. If not for the scrutiny raised by the New York Times, NHTSA would not have reopened an earlier investigation into the company that was inconclusive.

Now that the airbag lawsuit for Takata is in full swing, the company has appeared four times before congressional committees, with lawmakers throwing harsh criticisms at them, especially with the increasing rise of recalls. During a June hearing, U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut has urged the company to start a compensation program for victims and affected individuals.

The lawsuit for Takata has also been brought against auto manufacturers that used the potentially defective airbags. Honda, in particular, is pinpointed as not recalling airbags fast enough. Apparently, they have been aware of the problem in 2004, but only made the first recall of a series of recalls in 2008.

If no one discovered the problem with the Takata airbags, many lives could have been lost before anyone would be held liable. It is only right that the Japanese auto supplier be sued for their wrongdoing.

In line with this, consumers are urged to check if their vehicles have defective air bags. They can enter their vehicle identification number into the online VIN-lookup tool of the NHTSA.



Xarelto Drug Lawsuits

Posted in Products Liability at 5:26 pm by kevin

Xarelto is a blood thinning agent manufactured by Janssen Pharmaceuticals and Johnson & Johnson. It was primarily prescribed as treatment for atrial fibrillation, but patients with deep vein thrombosis are also targeted. Manufacturers claim that a patient taking Xarelto can forego regular blood monitoring and dietary restrictions, which is why it gained worldwide popularity. In 2013, the makers earned $1.3 billion in sales, and continued to do so before the lawsuits were filed. During its release, it was touted as a replacement for Warfarin or Coumadin, and a very good one at that.

Unfortunately, patients prescribed with the drug experienced major side effects which led to a filing of the Xarelto lawsuit, an on-going multi-district litigation (MLD). What is worse, Xarelto has no known antidote in case a counterbalancing coagulant would be required.

What led to the filing of a lawsuit against Xarelto?

Based on detailed research and worldwide adverse reports collected by the plaintiff, there are alleged 72 reported cases of death in Germany that are associated with Xarelto. According to reports in Der Spiegel, a German newspaper that highlighted the story, there are 968 reports about patients experiencing side effects, 58 of which led to deaths. This raised the red flag or “safety signal” on the blood thinning agent.

There are also reports of post-operative pulmonary embolism or blood clots in the lungs, a condition that Xarelto was supposed to treat. Apparently, treatment of the drug is supposed to be discontinued if there is a risk of bleeding associated with surgical or other procedures, and then restarted afterwards. Depending on the urgency of the situation, there should be a 24-hour delay from the last dose of Xeralto to the surgery.

Sufferers also filed Xarelto lawsuits against the manufacturer and marketers for failure to warn patients of the risk of internal bleeding, which is fatal, considering that Xarelto has no antidote for when such an event occurs. Use of the drug also raises the risks of bleeding following an injury. As a blood thinner, even a small cut can prove fatal because of the lack of an antidote. This led to doctors having no way of stopping the bleeding. Xarelto is known to cause several types of bleeding — from the rectum, in the brain, hemorrhaging, and intestinal or abdominal bleeds.

One of the plaintiffs also experienced firsthand the damage that Xarelto can do to an unsuspecting patient. He started treatment in January 2013 upon the advice of his physician. 2 years and a few months later, he was hospitalized due to internal bleeding which Xarelto has no known antidote. He also alleged that the manufacturers knew or should have known that the drugs have associated risks, yet they failed to properly warn patients and physicians of all the dangers linked with the drugs.

Because multiple claims is often necessary to effectuate maximum exposure of defendants in product liability cases involving prescription drugs, the plaintiff made further claims, including negligence, fraud, violation of consumer protection laws and punitive damages. The very idea that they misrepresented their product is also part of the numerous claims filed against the defendants.

The motion to centralize the MLD 21 Xarelto lawsuits was approved on December 12, 2014. Claims were consolidated into MDL and the Eastern District of Louisiana was chosen as the appropriate venue. The case was finally settled in May 2014 for $650 million.

Now, as new blood thinning agents are out in the market, similar lawsuits are seen to be filed, especially now that patients are more wary of such drugs and are fully aware of their rights in personal injury lawsuits.





Meningitis Lawsuit Brought by Minnesota Woman

Posted in Products Liability at 11:32 am by kevin

The recent U. S. meningitis outbreak has been blamed by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) on a compromised steroid compound. A Minnesota woman who had received such steroid injections for neck pain is now suing the pharmaceutical company who manufactured the drug.

The woman has not contracted fungal meningitis, but had to undergo a painful spinal tap in order to check for the disease after being informed by the state health agency about the meningitis outbreak. The litigation sets the stage for a class action lawsuit.

The New England Compounding Center, the company that manufactured the steroid, won’t comment on the impending case. To date, 14 people have been killed by the outbreak of fungal meningitis and 170 have been sickened by the disease.


Four Loko Lawsuits Pile On

Posted in Products Liability, Wrongful Death at 4:28 pm by kevin

Recently a couple of lawsuits have been raised against the drink Four Loko or “blackout in a can” by the family of a Florida man who committed suicide and a woman who lost her hand in a car accident. In addition, the Attorneys General of several states including Washington and California have asked the FDA to ban Four Loko.

Four Loko comes in a 23.5 ounce can and contains 12-percent alcohol with a high dosage of caffeine (three times as much as a cup of coffee). The FDA has already issued warnings to Phusion Projects, Inc. the makers of Four Loko stating that a beverage containing both alcohol and caffeine is unsafe.

The family of the Florida man is suing Phusion Projects (the makers of Four Loko) for wrongful death of their son, a 20-year-old college student who binged on the drink, then later shot himself in the head. The 20-year-old woman in Florida who lost her hand said that she wouldn’t have gotten into her friend’s car if she had known how drunk her friend was before the car crash.

The effects of Four Loko and other similar drinks that combine alcohol and caffeine are reported to mask the effects of the alcohol, so the person drinking the concoction and the people around them may not immediately be aware of the impairment.


Toyota Class Action Products Liability Lawsuit Imminent

Posted in Products Liability at 6:07 pm by kevin

A group of lawyers representing those injured or killed by Toyota cars are filing a nation-wide class action lawsuit against the world’s largest automaker. This products liability lawsuit concerns a document that says Toyota new about the unexpected acceleration of its Camry vehicles as early as 2002.

The document also counters the claim by Toyota that the unexpected acceleration was caused by faulty floor mats or sticky gas pedals. According to the Toyota technical service bulletin, dealerships were notified in 2002 about a problem with the Engine Control Module.

Toyota has continued to deny this was the problem. If this were to be the problem, the estimated cost of repair would be around $500 per vehicle, putting the total costs into the billions of dollars. Another reason that Toyota has pointed towards in the rapid acceleration is “driver error”.

If Toyota is found responsible in a court of law, then the costs could also be in the billions of dollars. The attorney representing the case will appear in San Diego later this week and make an appeal with the courts to combine the 88 individual lawsuits into one class action suit.

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