Personal Injury Awards – $1.2M Settlement for Worker Who Slipped Out of Unsafe Harness

September 19, 2014

The plaintiff, Christopher Connors, had a safety belt around his waist that was supplied by Big Joe Manufacturing Company, which designed and manufactured the lift. But the belt was loose and slipped off over his head when he fell from the platform.

Connors, who was 29 at the time, suffered severe spine and back injuries. The lawsuit alleged Big Joe, the defendant, was negligent in that it failed to mandate the use of a full body harness as a fall protection system and provided Best Buy with unsafe instructions and warnings.

via $1.2M Settlement for Best Buy Worker Who Slipped Out of Unsafe Harness.

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Fraud – Court Finds Defendants & Defense Law Firm Hid Evidence

September 17, 2014

This is epic! There are often times when I suspect a defense firm of playing not entirely by the rules, but those suspicions always remain at the suspicion stage and do not end up translating themselves into actual proof of malfeasance–although it is not the result of a lack of trying, it is just that either we are overly suspicious or those who do this sort off the rules acts are just very good at it. This finding however, makes me feel that perhaps I am not overly suspicious… Read on!

Last week, an extraordinary decision was issued by the federal Third Circuit Court of Appeals in an asbestos case, which really should rock the corporate defense bar. In the case, Kimberlee Williams, et al. v. BASF Catalysts LLC, et al., asbestos victims provided evidence to the court that “that BASF and [‘the New York law firm that defended it for years in asbestos cases, Cahill Gordon & Reindel LLP’] systematically collected and destroyed or hid evidence of asbestos-contaminated products produced by a BASF predecessor, Engelhard, in order to evade liability and forge quick settlements.” See more here. It was enough evidence to revive a fraud case against BASF and its law firm for “lying about the toxic material, then depriving those injured by it of their day in court.”

This federal decision comes in the wake of fraud allegations made against a company called Garlock Sealing Technologies, which makes asbestos-containing gaskets. In that case, victims’ lawyers were initially accused of withholding certain information from Garlock – an absurd claim because, as I wrote in an earlier post, the supposedly “withheld” information was already in the company’s possession. If I were accused of committing fraud when I did no such thing, I’d start looking into it. And that’s exactly what happened, leading to a brief filed in June by Caplin & Drysdale, finding a ton of evidence proving the exact opposite to be true; that Garlock was the party that “violated [the judges’] discovery orders, hid evidence from the bankruptcy court and presented false testimony …. ‘Garlock has committed a fraud upon the court,’ the accompanying memo said in its first sentence.'” It’s a brutal brief, which you can read here.

via Corporate Lawyers Breaking Bad | Joanne Doroshow.

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Personal Injury Trial – Court Orders Defendant to Show Why Records Should Remain Sealed

September 15, 2014

secret

Secret

They say Democracy dies in secrecy and transparency helps promote it. Unless we are talking about protection of trade secrets (an am trying to be as lenient as possible) I see no reason why the Public should not have access to the documents that have been filed in Court and should presumably be open for the public’s scrutiny.

In United States ex rel. Harman v. Trinity, a federal whistleblower case involving dangerously defective highway guardrails, the court has ordered Trinity Industries, Inc. to show why records in the case should remain sealed from public view after the trial. Over the course of the case, dozens of key briefs and pleadings were filed under seal without any showing that secrecy was warranted, in violation of the public’s presumptive right of access to court records. The secret documents may contain important information on the safety of Trinity’s guardrails, which have been linked to numerous deaths and serious injuries.

The court’s order was issued in response to a motion to intervene and unseal filed by Public Justice on behalf of two non-profit safety groups, the Center for Auto Safety and The Safety Institute. The nonprofits are seeking to open the records because of the serious safety risks posed by hundreds of thousands of guardrails that have been installed in all fifty states – with federal financial assistance – to protect people in highway crashes. U.S. District Judge Rodney Gilstrap denied the motion to intervene on Sept. 4, but at the same time he affirmed the groups’ contention that Trinity must justify why these important records are shielded from public view.

Judge Gilstrap wrote: “the Court takes seriously the public’s right of access regarding trials and evidence presented in judicial proceedings, as well as the Court’s role in enforcing such access. Accordingly, following the trial and return of a verdict in this case, the Court will enter an Order requiring the parties to show good cause why previously sealed testimony, evidence or other material should remain under seal.”

via Court Orders Defendant in Guardrail Whistleblower Case to Show Why Records Should Remain Sealed | Public Justice.

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Product Liability – $2.2 Billion in Drug-Marketing Settlement

November 4, 2013

Health-care behemoth Johnson & Johnson will pay $2.2 billion to resolve civil and criminal allegations involving the marketing of off-label, unapproved uses for several prescription drugs, Justice Department officials announced Monday.The cases include allegations of kickbacks to doctors and pharmacies to promote usage of the anti-psychotic drugs Risperdal and Invega, and a heart-failure drug, Natrecor.

Read more: Johnson & Johnson agrees to pay $2.2 billion in drug-marketing settlement – The Washington Post.

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Personal Injury law – Supreme Court Gives Immunity to Pharmaceutical Corporations

June 24, 2013

The Supreme Court of the United States has issued its opinion in the Mutual Pharmaceutical v. Bartlett case and in the words of the dissenting opinion, it has achieved an astonishing coup in favor of the pharmaceutical corporations:

[T]he majority effectively makes a highly contested policy judgment about the relationship between FDA review and state tort law—treating the FDA as the sole guardian of drug safety—without defending its judgment and without considering whether that is the policy judgment that Congress made.

Congress adopted the FDCA’s premarketing approval requirement in 1938 and then strengthened it in 1962 in response to serious public-health episodes involving unsafe drugs. See Future of Drug Safety 152. Yet by the majority’s lights, the very act of creating that requirement in order to “safeguard the consumer,” United States v. Sullivan , 332 U. S. 689, 696 1948, also created by operation of law a shield for drug manufacturers to avoid paying common-law damages under state laws that are also designed to protect consumers. That is so notwithstanding Congress’ effort to disclaim any intent to pre-empt all state law. See supra, at 4. The majority’s reasoning thus “has the ‘perverse effect’ of granting broad immunity ‘to an entire industry that, in the judgment of Congress, needed more stringent regulation.’ ”

via ThePopTort: Supreme Court to Injured People: “Get Off My Lawn!!!” Er, “Steps!!”.

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Property Damage – Sandy-Damaged Vehicles Hit 230,000 Mark

November 28, 2012

The losses from Sandy keep piling up. On Nov. 26, AIR Worldwide substantially raised its estimate of total insured losses to between $16 billion and $22 billion, while the National Insurance Crime Bureau NICB revised its projections about the total number of vehicles swept away by Superstorm Sandy.

Based on claims information provided from the Insurance Services Office, Inc. ISO, a subsidiary of Verisk Analytics, the NICB now estimates that at least 230,000 vehicles were damaged in the storm. Not surprisingly, New York logged the most damaged vehicles, with 130,000 claims. Meanwhile, New Jersey has reported 60,000 auto claims.

The remaining 40,000 claims analyzed and reviewed by insurers were filed by insureds in Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, and West Virginia.

via Sandy-Damaged Vehicles Hit 230,000 Mark | PropertyCasualty360.

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Product Liability – Restore Legal Rights to Victims of Generic Drug Gain Support Amongst Attorney Generals Across US

May 29, 2012

A group representing state Attorneys General across the country has backed a proposed Senate bill that would allow the makers of generic prescription drugs to update safety labels on their products if they become aware of new dangers and side effects from taking them.

According to a statement from the National Association of Attorneys General NAAG, the bill proposed by Senators Patrick Leahy and Al Franken would give all users of prescription drugs the same legal rights if they suffer a side effect from taking it that’s not expressly noted on safety information included with the drug. Under current federal law, makers of generic drugs are blocked from updating the safety labels on the copies of name-brand drugs they manufacture and distribute until the company that makes the name-brand drug makes changes. If a patient is prescribed or dispensed a generic drug and suffers a side effect, they are unable to file any legal actions against the makers of the generic drug, which is exempted from facing lawsuits for hiding side effects of that drug.

This law gained attention when the Supreme Court was presented with the case PLIVA Inc. vs. Mensing in which the high court ruled that federal law only granting permission to makers of name-brand drugs to independently update the safety labels on drugs prevented those who’ve been injured by generic prescription drugs from seeking any legal actions against the makers of it.

NAAG states that more than 70 percent of all prescriptions filled in the U.S. are for generic drugs and that’s likely to increase as patents for top-selling drugs expire, as the one for the cholesterol drug Plavix has recently done. In that case, seven companies have been permitted to make copies of Plavix to be sold under its generic name.

via The Trial Lawyer Magazine – State Attorneys General Support Bill to Restore Legal Rights to Victims of Generic Drug Side Effects | The Trial Lawyer Magazine.

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Work Injury – Product Liability – Doctors Remove 3.5-inch Nail from Worker’s Brain

March 20, 2012

workplace injuryWhat came to my mind was a question about safety of the nail gun used. As lawnmower have what is commonly referred to as a “dead-man’s switch” which cuts of the engine to the mower if the operator lets go of the handle, I am surprised that a nail gun could still fire without anyone holding it. Here, the accident occurred when the worker let go of the nail gun and it fell on his head! I like to hear about what causes of action, aside from the obvious worker’s compensation claim resulting from the workplace injuries, an attorney looking at the facts and the details could come up with. Off the top of my head, I see a potential product liability case here.

Autullo was standing on a ladder, reaching over his head to drive nails into the top of a wall, when he lost his grip on his nail gun. The recoil swung the gun back and pressed it against his skull. From the outside, it appeared to be a minor scrape, but just below the skin was the head of a nail.

via Doctors remove 3.5-inch nail from man’s brain – chicagotribune.com.

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