$10,000,000 Settlement Involving a Business Dispute

posted on:
January 16, 2008

author:
Staff

category:
Business Litigation | Landmark Verdict

$10,000,000 settlement involving a business dispute.

July, 2001

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Johnson & Johnson, DePuy Orthopaedics hit with $1 billion verdict in third hip implant bellwether trial

posted on:
December 1, 2016

author:
Staff

Texas jurors deliberated for less than a day before returning a verdict finding Johnson & Johnson and its DePuy Orthopaedics Inc. unit liable for injuries related to the Pinnacle metal-on-metal hip implant. The jury awarded the six Plaintiffs in the bellwether trial $1.04 billion, which includes between $4 million and $6 million per plaintiff in damages for physical injuries and pain and suffering, and $1 million each to four spouses for loss of consortium. The verdict also includes more than $504 million in punitive damages against both DePuy and Johnson & Johnson.

Punitive damages are intended to punish a company for misconduct by hitting them where it hurts – in the pocketbook. The message is to prioritize patient safety before profits.

The lawsuit alleged the metal-on-metal hip design caused trillions of microscopic metal particles to shed with every step, which Plaintiffs say led to bone erosion, tissue damage, infection, inflammation and blood poisoning known as metallosis. The cobalt-chromium alloy socket-and-ball-head hip implant system has been under scrutiny since patients who had received them noticed that their new hip was failing at an alarming rate – some as little as five years. Artificial hips made from other materials can last up to 20 years or more.

Jurors found DePuy and Johnson & Johnson each liable for negligent design defect, negligent failure to warn, strict liability failure to warn, failure to recall, negligent misrepresentation, intentional misrepresentation and fraudulent concealment. Law 360 reports, “J&J was also found liable for aiding and abetting DePuy in each of the seven causes of action. The jury found J&J did not conspire with DePuy on the design defect claim, but did find J&J liable for conspiracy on the other six claims.”

This was the third bellwether trial in a multidistrict litigation (MDL) involving the Pinnacle metal-on-metal hip implant. The cases are consolidated under Judge Ed Kinkeade in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas.

J&J won the first bellwether trial, which involved one plaintiff from Montana. A group of five Plaintiffs won the second bellwether trial, with a jury awarding a whopping $502 million verdict. However, because those Plaintiffs were from Texas, that verdict was reduced by almost two-thirds to $150 million because of a cap on punitive damages under Texas law. The six Plaintiffs in this latest trial are from California, so the verdict is not subject to a punitive damages cap.

The next bellwether trial is scheduled to begin in September 2017, with 10 Plaintiffs from New York. The MDL is In re: DePuy Orthopaedics Inc. Pinnacle Hip Implant Products Liability Litigation, case number 3:11-md-02244, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas.

Source: Law360

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Safety tips to prevent battery explosions and fires this holiday season

posted on:
December 1, 2016

author:
William Sutton

It is a festive time of year for many. A time to enjoy decorations adorning homes, shopping centers and city landscapes. The time of year when the latest and greatest gadgets eagerly await, and start flying off store shelves to become holiday gifts of cheer.

Most of these gifts and decorations will be powered by lithium-ion batteries. The recent news stories about exploding lithium-ion batteries in devices such as smartphones, electronic cigarettes and hoverboards should spark caution throughout this season. These fiery incidents remind consumers that regardless of size, batteries can be dangerous.

Flameless candles are the latest item on a growing list of exploding devices powered by lithium-ion batteries. Marketed as safer alternatives to traditional wax candles, these devices are frequent substitutes in many decorations. A community center in one small Canadian town witnessed the damage even a dime-size lithium-ion battery can do under the right conditions. The center had to temporarily close after a decorative flameless candle caught fire and damaged part of the building.

Experts recommend the following tips to keep the holiday season happy and bright:

  • Read the owner or operator’s manual for any product purchased.
  • Use the battery and battery charger that comes with the device. The device, battery and charger were specifically designed to work together. Never use a third party charger, which may be cheaper, but could also be dangerous.
  • Never store batteries with exposed positive or negative leads.
  • Before disposal, always cover the battery in plastic tape to avoid possible short circuits.
  • Always recycle batteries properly.
  • Keep all batteries out of the reach of children. Swallowing or mishandling a battery could be fatal.

If you would like more information about lithium-ion batteries, you can contact Will Sutton, a lawyer in Toxic Torts Section. He can be reached at 800-898-2034 or by email at William.Sutton@beasleyallen.com.

Sources:
Richmond News
Fox19 News
Beasley Allen

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At Beasley Allen, there is never a fee for legal services, unless we collect for you. Contact us today by filling out a brief questionnaire, or by calling our toll free number, 1-800-898-2034, for a free, no-cost no-obligation evaluation of your case.

Beasley Allen named to Executive Committee in Wells Fargo ERISA litigation

posted on:
November 30, 2016

author:
Staff

category:
Fraud

Lawyers at Beasley Allen have been appointed to the Executive Committee in litigation filed on behalf of Wells Fargo employees claiming that the bank’s fake-account scandal is jeopardizing their retirement accounts. Wells Fargo employees have seen the value of their 401(k) retirement plan plunge during this disaster because the plan is heavily invested in the bank.

“The fake-account fraudulent scheme Wells Fargo imposed on consumers ultimately caused harm to its own employees,” said W. Daniel “Dee” Miles, III, head of Beasley Allen’s Consumer Fraud section. “Many of the same people responsible for the fake-account fraudulent scheme also managed the Employee Benefit plan. Those responsible for the Wells Fargo Plan invested Heavily in Wells Fargo stock on behalf of the plan, despite having knowledge of the fraudulent scheme. When the scheme was revealed the stock tanked, causing harm to Wells Fargo employees who participated in the plan. This class action we’ve filed seeks to rectify that harm to those employees.”

The lawsuit alleges the Wells Fargo fraud violated employees’ rights under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA). Wells Fargo’s 401(k) matching funds are in the form of Wells Fargo stock. The lawsuit alleges Wells Fargo hid the truth from its employees and violated fiduciary duties owed to the plan participants.

In September, Wells Fargo agreed to pay the U.S. $185 million in penalties and $5 million to customers it defrauded by pressuring employees to meet sales quotas by opening fake customer accounts. The scheme was so common that it led to the creation of more than two million checking, savings, and credit card accounts using customers’ personal information without their consent. The bank then charged customers fees for maintaining the accounts.

Beasley Allen is one of only six firms appointed to a leadership role in the entire Wells Fargo litigation. There are a number of other lawsuits filed in relation to the fraudulent activities.

• A class action was filed on behalf of consumers against Wells Fargo for opening unauthorized accounts, and the Los Angeles City Attorney filed a complaint as well. Another class action was filed in Utah District Court on behalf of consumers who were victims of the Wells Fargo scheme. The 2015 cases settled, but the consumer case in Utah is still ongoing.
• Another set of cases brought by Wells Fargo employees deal with employees who were fired or demoted over the last 10 years for refusing to open bogus accounts to meet Wells Fargo’s aggressive sales goals.
• Wells Fargo shareholders filed suit in California alleging Wells Fargo misled investors about its financial performance and the success of its sales strategies causing stock to trade at inflated prices. The suit alleges violations of the 1934 Securities and Exchange Act, including allegations of insider trading.

The ERISA lawsuit was filed by Beasley Allen Crow Methvin Portis & Miles P.C., along with Lockridge Grindal Nauen PLLP, Grant & Eisenhofer P.A., and Elias Gutzler Spicer LLC. The case is Allen v. Wells Fargo , D. Minn., No. 0:16-cv-03405, complaint filed Oct. 7 in the United States District Court for the District of Minnesota.

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More smartphone fires, injuries reported after lithium-ion batteries overheat, explode

posted on:
November 24, 2016

author:
William Sutton

Lithium-ion batteries continue rearing their ugly and dangerous heads.

Last Tuesday, freshmen at Staley High School in Kansas City, Mo., were forced from their classroom and into the library after the lithium-ion battery in one student’s Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge caught fire. The smartphone is not the model that was recalled this fall, but according to media reports, it is the same series and generation.

As discussed in an earlier Beasley Allen website post, lithium-ion batteries are placing more consumers in danger as the batteries struggle to meet consumers’ overwhelming demands. Even a microscopic defect can make a batter volatile. Mobile phone industry representatives warn that getting the battery wet, charging it too long, and charging the phone with a generic charger can also lead to explosion, fire or both. They also believe charger manufactures should be scrutinized to determine any link between chargers and exploding electronic devices.

While the Kansas City incident did not injury anyone, it is not the first Galaxy S7 smartphone to explode. Amarjit Mann, a Canadian mechanic suffered second degree burns on his hands and a spark from the phone burned his face – just missing his eye. Mann was driving when he noticed the phone getting warm in his pocket. He took it out and it immediately exploded. Mann will be out of work for approximately two weeks while he heals. In describing the smartphone he said “it’s like a bomb you carry.”

The online technology blog Tech Times notes that several Apple iPhone consumers have reported their iPhone 7 smartphone has exploded, caught fire or both. A pregnant Australian woman, Melanie Tan Pelaez, suffered second degree burns on her arm after accidently falling asleep on her iPhone 7 while it was charging.

If you would like more information about lithium-ion batteries, you can contact Will Sutton, a lawyer in Toxic Torts Section. He can be reached at 800-898-2034 or by email at William.Sutton@beasleyallen.com.

Sources:
Ozarks First
BeasleyAllen.com
Fortune

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At Beasley Allen, there is never a fee for legal services, unless we collect for you. Contact us today by filling out a brief questionnaire, or by calling our toll free number, 1-800-898-2034, for a free, no-cost no-obligation evaluation of your case.

Implied False Certification Theory: Recognized basis for FCA liability

posted on:
November 22, 2016

author:
Andrew Brashier

On June 16, the United States Supreme Court unanimously held that an implied false certification theory is a basis for liability under the False Claims Act (FCA).

In Universal Health Servs., Inc. v. United States, 136 S. Ct. 1989 (2016) (Escobar), a teenager was prescribed medication for bipolar disorder and suffered an adverse reaction including seizures. After the reaction, the teenager’s parents learned few of the employees at the counseling center were actually licensed to provide mental health treatment and the center had minimal supervision of its counseling and mental health services. Additionally, the counseling services were misrepresenting staff qualifications and regulation compliance in order to obtain reimbursement from Medicaid.

The parents filed a qui tam suit in 2011 alleging Universal Health Services had violated the FCA under an implied false certification theory of liability. The court granted Universal Health Services’ motion to dismiss because none of the regulations violated were a condition of payment. However, the First Circuit reversed on the basis that each time a party submits a claim the party implies it conformed to the relevant program requirements entitling it to payment.

The Supreme Court affirmed, ruling the theory of implied false certification was valid to hold a provider liable under the FCA in certain circumstances when the misrepresentation of compliance would be material.

Though the FCA does not itself define false or fraudulent acts, the Supreme Court found Congress intended to use a common-law definition of fraud, which includes misrepresentations by omission as well as actively providing false information. Misleading claims or other half-truths are material and actionable under the FCA when they fail to include information related to compliance with regulations and the noncompliance is significant enough the government would likely have acted differently if the information was known.

To prove the misrepresentation was material under the FCA, it must be shown the government would likely have denied payment had they known of the noncompliance.

The Escobar decision clarifies that the implied false certification theory is acceptable to create liability under the FCA, opening up the potential for additional claims.

Are you aware of fraud being committed against the federal government, or a state government? If so, the FCA can protect and reward you for doing the right thing by reporting the fraud. If you have any questions about whether you qualify as a whistleblower, please contact an attorney at Beasley Allen for a free and confidential evaluation of your claim. There is a contact form on this website, or you may email one of the lawyers on our whistleblower litigation team: Archie Grubb, Larry Golston, Lance Gould or Andrew Brashier.

Source: Universal Health Servs., Inc. v. United States, 136 S. Ct. 1989 (2016)

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At Beasley Allen, there is never a fee for legal services, unless we collect for you. Contact us today by filling out a brief questionnaire, or by calling our toll free number, 1-800-898-2034, for a free, no-cost no-obligation evaluation of your case.

Beasley Allen welcomes Alabama attorneys for 10th Annual Legal Conference

posted on:
November 16, 2016

author:
Staff

Beasley, Allen, Crow, Methvin, Portis & Miles, P.C., hosted its tenth annual Legal Conference & Expo at the Renaissance Montgomery Hotel & Spa at the Convention Center on Thursday, Nov. 17, and Friday, Nov. 18. The event provides continuing legal education (CLE) credits and is open to all Alabama lawyers in private practice. The conference has grown steadily each year, from about 400 lawyers in 2007 to close to 1,400 in attendance this year. It is one of the top five legal conferences in the United States.

“The Beasley Allen Law Firm has successfully coordinated a unique conference for the last ten years, and I applaud their efforts,” said Dawn Hathcock, Vice President of the Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce Convention and Visitor Bureau. “Lawyers from all over the state have been given the opportunity to see everything Montgomery has to offer as a destination but that is just the beginning. Hosting nearly 1,600 attendees at the state’s largest legal conference provides a huge economic impact in the River Region estimated to be roughly a million dollars.”

Practice areas addressed at the conference included Product Liability, Business Litigation, Consumer Fraud, Medical Device and Drug litigation, as well as a section on Legal Ethics. Special programs include a presentation by Beasley Allen Principal & Founder Jere Beasley on the importance of trial lawyers in the judicial system; a panel discussion with Alabama Supreme Court Justices James Allen Main and Tommy Bryan; and remarks from Ken Riley, President of the Alabama Association for Justice; Cole Portis, President of the Alabama State Bar; Clay Hornsby, Deputy Director of the Alabama Law Institute; Shane Smith, Chairperson, Family Law Section of the Alabama State Bar; Allen Estes, President, Alabama Defense Lawyers Association; and Tony McLain, General Counsel, Alabama State Bar.

At the Legal Conference Expo, vendors provided demonstrations of products and answered questions about how attorneys can best enhance their practice. Event platinum sponsors for 2016 were Jackson Thornton Valuation & Litigation Consulting Group, Freedom Reporting and Virage. Legal and community groups also participated in the event to provide information about their programs and services to participants. This year included the Alabama State Bar Volunteer Lawyer Program, Alabama State Bar Lawyer Referral Program, Alabama Law Foundation, Alabama Civil Justice Foundation, Alabama Association for Justice as well as Cumberland School of Law.

“The Beasley Allen Legal Conference is a great way for our attorneys to meet peers from across the state and develop relationships to expand their understanding of the field,” said Beasley Allen Principal & Managing Attorney Tom Methvin. “This is a unique opportunity for lawyers and we are honored to be able to offer this event for Alabama attorneys.”

For more information, visit expo.beasleyallen.com.

Free Legal Consultation
At Beasley Allen, there is never a fee for legal services, unless we collect for you. Contact us today by filling out a brief questionnaire, or by calling our toll free number, 1-800-898-2034, for a free, no-cost no-obligation evaluation of your case.

CFO awarded $1.9 million in Sarbanes-Oxley anti-retaliation case

posted on:
November 15, 2016

author:
Andrew Brashier

Earlier this month, Greg Becker was awarded $1.9 million in his Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) whistleblower anti-retaliation case. Becker, the chief financial officer (CFO) for Rockwood Clinic, was fired for refusing to file false financial reports. The clinic pressured Becker to project the company’s 2012 losses at $4 million instead of $12.8 million, which Becker had estimated. Becker refused to project the losses at $4 million because doing so would violate federal financial reporting laws and mislead investors. Thereafter, he was forced to resign.

Sarbanes-Oxley provides retaliation protection for those blowing the whistle on fraud against shareholders and violations of securities laws. In order to file an anti-retaliation case under Sarbanes-Oxley, the complaint must be filed with the U.S. Department of Labor within 180 days of the adverse action. Under Sarbanes-Oxley, recovery can include: reinstatement, back pay, special damages, and attorney fees. Front pay has also been accepted as a possible remedy under Sarbanes-Oxley in circumstances where reinstatement would not be appropriate.

Becker was awarded front pay, back pay, special damages, and attorney fees. Specifically, the judge awarded Becker $341,380 in back pay and almost $1.5 million in front pay. Becker was also awarded $15,000 for reputation damage, attorney fees, and cost. The $1.9 million awarded demonstrates the significance of the case.

Many whistleblower provisions include anti-retaliation provisions. Where the provision under Sarbanes-Oxley requires the complaint to be filed in 180 days, the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010 (Dodd-Frank) permits whistleblowers to file in federal court within two years of the adverse action. Dodd-Frank also permits the recovery of double back pay, special damages, attorney fees, and reinstatement under the same section.

Are you aware of fraud or securities law violations involving a publicly traded company? If so, there are anti-retaliation provisions that can protect you when reporting the violations. Moreover, many provisions, including the False Claims Act and SEC whistleblower program rewards whistleblowers with a percentage of the overall recovery of any successful government action.

If you have any questions about whether you qualify as a whistleblower, please contact an attorney at Beasley Allen for a free and confidential evaluation of your claim. There is a contact form on this website, or you may email one of the lawyers on our whistleblower litigation team: Archie Grubb, Larry Golston, Lance Gould or Andrew Brashier.

Source: The Spokesman-Review

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At Beasley Allen, there is never a fee for legal services, unless we collect for you. Contact us today by filling out a brief questionnaire, or by calling our toll free number, 1-800-898-2034, for a free, no-cost no-obligation evaluation of your case.

Beasley Allen joins other firms in filing class action alleging additional VW emissions cheats

posted on:
November 11, 2016

author:
Staff

category:
Fraud

Beasley Allen has joined with additional law firms to file a new class action lawsuit after it was revealed that Volkswagen used an emissions cheat device in Audi vehicles equipped with 3.0-liter gasoline engines and a specific ZF model 8HP55 transmission. Subject vehicles include the A6, A8, Q5 and Q7. In October, VW settled similar claims affecting vehicles with 2.0-liter diesel engines, agreeing to pay out nearly $15 billion to affected vehicle owners, believed to be the largest automobile settlement in history. Claims related to the VW’s 3.0-liter diesel vehicles remain unresolved.

“Apparently, Audi did not limit it’s ‘cheat device’ scheme to the diesel engine market, as we now have discovered that some Audi gasoline engines contained a similar device,” said Beasley Allen lawyer W. Daniel “Dee” Miles, III, head of the firm’s Consumer Fraud section. “Like the devices found in diesel vehicles, it turned off the emission system under certain driving conditions, which in turn produced illegal levels of carbons that were released into the environment unbeknownst to the consumer. This class action lawsuit we have filed addresses this problem and provides a remedy, much like the diesel engine class we filed previously.”

This additional software, like the 2.0 diesel cheat software, monitors steering wheel input and holds the vehicle in “low power” mode until the steering wheel is turned. However, this cheat software is programmed into the vehicle’s transmission control module, whose job is to select shift points necessary to maintain vehicle speed over variable driving conditions.

Specifically, when a subject vehicle is cranked, its transmission engages a “low CO2” program, shifting gears early to maintain artificially low engine revs and emissions. Once the driver inputs 15 degrees of turn into the steering wheel, the subject vehicle deactivates the program and shifts into its normal, more pollutant fashion that consumes more fuel, delivers more power and produces more CO2. Audi designed this software to fool emissions testing equipment and personnel.

According to the latest investigation into the issue, U.S. Environmental authorities in California reportedly discovered certain Audi gasoline and diesel models with the ZF 8HP55 AL 551 automatic transmission were equipped with a separate cheat software to fool emissions tests.

Beasley Allen has filed the class action lawsuit in Federal District Court in the State of Minnesota on behalf of plaintiffs in Minnesota, Missouri, Pennsylvania, Florida and owners nationwide. Lawyers representing the plaintiffs in this class include Beasley Allen lawyers Dee Miles, Clay Barnett and Archie Grubb; Adam Levitt with Grant & Eisenhofer, Bryan Bleichner of Chesnut Cambronne, Marc Dicello of Dicello Law and Tom Young of Tom Young Law Office.

For more information about this litigation, contact Dee.Miles@beasleyallen.com, Clay.Barnett@beasleyallen.com or Archie.Grubb@beaselyallen.com, or call us at 800-898-2034.

Source: Bloomberg

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At Beasley Allen, there is never a fee for legal services, unless we collect for you. Contact us today by filling out a brief questionnaire, or by calling our toll free number, 1-800-898-2034, for a free, no-cost no-obligation evaluation of your case.

Beasley Allen opening Atlanta office

posted on:
November 10, 2016

author:
Staff

Beasley Allen will open an office in Atlanta. Since 1979, our law firm has had one location. Although we work with lawyers from all over the country, and in courtrooms throughout the U.S., our offices have always been in Alabama’s Capital City. We are excited about expanding our reach to handle more cases in the state of Georgia and especially in Atlanta. This office is scheduled to open no later than January 2017.

We are glad to be partnering with noted Atlanta attorney Lance Cooper, who handles product liability cases. Lance actually uncovered the General Motors ignition switch scandal through his great work in the Melton case. You will recall, this case started the massive recall of GM vehicles, which has saved countless lives. Lance is a former president of the Georgia Trial Lawyers and is very well respected in the Atlanta area, Georgia, and throughout the nation. He will be a Principal in our firm and will also maintain his own practice.

We are also grateful that our longtime Principal, Chris Glover, will be moving to Atlanta to run this office. Chris is an experienced attorney, particularly in the area of trucking accidents. He recently wrote a book on the subject, An Introduction to Truck Accident Claims: A Guide to Getting Started, which is available free to lawyers. Likewise, longtime Principals LaBarron Boone and Gibson Vance will be heavily involved in the Atlanta office. Both LaBarron and Gibson are members of Beasley Allen’s Executive Board.

We will be handling primarily products liability cases and truck accident cases, which include:

  • Auto crashworthiness;
  • Single vehicle accidents;
  • Defective consumer products;
  • Defective tires;
  • Heavy truck rollovers (normally where a truck driver is injured);
  • Cab guard cases (where loads shift in vehicles and injure the driver);
  • On-the-job products liability cases;
  • Honda airbags / Takata airbags.

We will also be handling cases in our normal practice areas, which you can find on our home page in the “About Us” section.

We look forward to working with you should the need arise in the Atlanta area or in the state of Georgia. Please contact Chris Glover at chris.glover@beasleyallen.com or call us at 800-898-2034 to discuss any cases of interest or to get more information.

Free Legal Consultation
At Beasley Allen, there is never a fee for legal services, unless we collect for you. Contact us today by filling out a brief questionnaire, or by calling our toll free number, 1-800-898-2034, for a free, no-cost no-obligation evaluation of your case.

Emerging technology promises safer lithium-ion batteries

posted on:
November 10, 2016

author:
William Sutton

Increasing demands on lithium-ion batteries and their unstable and often volatile reaction under pressure are leading some to question whether the power source is outdated.

Mounting reports of spontaneously combusting electronic devices powered by lithium-ion batteries have raised safety concerns for experts and consumers alike. These reports have also sparked a national conversation about emerging technologies that promise to produce safer lithium-ion batteries.

Scientists and manufacturers are redefining this power source and transforming it to meet the ever-growing demands.

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) funds numerous research projects nationwide in an effort to identify a safer alternative power source. University of Maryland researchers used DOE funding to create a lithium-conducting ceramic disc that can handle thousands of degrees without catching fire. Researchers say it is a safer alternative to the current lithium-ion battery that is coated in a naturally combustible carbon-based solution. They expect it will be mass produced in the future and will replace the current, more dangerous lithium-ion batteries that power many electronics including smartphones.

In October, Japanese automaker Toyota announced it reinvented the lithium-ion battery for its hybrid and electric cars. Toyota modified the manufacturing process to remove more microscopic fragments that can cause battery failure. Its new, proprietary monitoring system can also turn off a defective unit without affecting the rest of the battery. The result is a safer battery with increased capacity that has relatively maintained its compact size.

Reliance on mobile devices and the demand for additional applications requiring more power will continue to rise. Technological advancements are key to meeting these demands and, more importantly, they are critical to protecting consumers.

If you would like more information about lithium-ion batteries, you can contact Will Sutton, a lawyer in Toxic Torts Section. He can be reached at 800-898-2034 or by email at William.Sutton@beasleyallen.com.

Sources:
BeasleyAllen.com
AutoRevolution
CBS News
Nanotechnology Now

Free Legal Consultation
At Beasley Allen, there is never a fee for legal services, unless we collect for you. Contact us today by filling out a brief questionnaire, or by calling our toll free number, 1-800-898-2034, for a free, no-cost no-obligation evaluation of your case.
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