$2,025,000 Verdict Involving Consumer Fraud

posted on:
January 11, 2008

author:
Staff

category:
Fraud

March, 1998 – The defendant insurance company was selling insurance to the poor and elderly that was bogus and in many cases worthless. The policies would automatically lapse after 5 years and the plaintiffs and others would be left with no coverage even though they had paid on policies the entire time. The jury awarded this substantial amount to send a message to stop this type of conduct in the future.

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Takata pleads guilty to criminal wrongdoing over unstable air bags

posted on:
February 28, 2017

author:
Staff

Japanese auto parts manufacturer Takata pleaded guilty Monday to a criminal charge stemming from its faulty air bags. The fraud charge is accompanied by $1 billion in penalties for concealing its defective airbag inflators. The Chicago Tribune reports three company executives have also been indicted on charges relating to falsifying documents, and U.S. prosecutors are seeking their extradition from Japan.

In May 2015, the U.S. Department of Transportation announced the recall on Takata air bags after determining its air bag inflators were prone to instability and were responsible for six deaths worldwide, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The initial recall of approximately 35 million air bags has since ballooned to nearly 46 million as the extent of the problem was uncovered, making it the largest recall in United States history.

Due to the unstable chemical used in the inflators, an excessive amount of force when the air bags deploy can spew shrapnel onto drivers and passengers. The Tribune estimates more than 180 people have been injured by Takata’s intentional deception about the inflators’ safety risks.

Last year, Beasley Allen settled four cases stemming from Takata air bag injuries for undisclosed amounts, and each case involved a Takata air bag inflator failing to ensure the protection that was promised to consumers.

As an example of how exploding Takata airbags can injure drivers and passengers, Angelina Sujata was driving her 2001 Honda Civic in 2012 at about 25 miles per hour near Columbia, South Carolina, when the vehicle in front of her slammed on the brakes. The next thing she remembered was a sharp pain in her chest, which was sliced open to the bone. In another case, Jennifer Griffin’s air bag exploded in her Honda Civic while driving in Orlando, Florida, and sent a two-inch piece of shrapnel flying. When highway troopers found Griffin with blood gushing from a gash in her neck, they were baffled by the extent of her injuries.

An investigation into the airbag problems has revealed that, through a series of conscious decisions, Takata risked lives for its bottom line. It opted to use ammonium nitrate, a compound that destabilizes over time, particularly if exposed to high temperatures and humidity, to reduce costs despite other air bag manufacturers refusing to use it over safety concerns. Takata then continued to pursue its use despite internal red flags.

“The heart of the problem is greed. You’ve seen companies who have made the choice to cut corners to save money, and as a result we have unsafe products on the roadways,” said Beasley Allen lawyer Chris Glover on a recent episode of The Beasley Allen Report. “There have been more recalls in the last two years than all of history combined. It’s truly maddening and sad. We should be getting safer. We should be getting past these problems. When you look at what Takata did, people should go to jail, and I do not say that lightly.”

Takata has agreed to pay $850 million in restitution to automakers, $125 million for victims and families and a $25 million criminal fine. Currently, the NHTSA estimates only 13 million affected air bags have been repaired, leaving millions of lives still at risk. To see if your vehicle is under the Takata air bag recall, visit safecar.gov.

Sources:
Chicago Tribune
NHTSA Timeline
Beasley Allen
NHTSA Recall Estimate

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First Xarelto trial set for April; blood thinner linked to severe bleeding risk

posted on:
February 24, 2017

author:
Joseph VanZandt

The first of four bellwether trials for the Xarelto multidistrict litigation (MDL) is set to begin on April 24, 2017, in the Eastern District of Louisiana. This trial was initially scheduled for February, but Righting Injustice reports U.S. District Judge Eldon Fallon and all parties agreed to push the trial back to March, due in part to New Orleans hosting the National Basketball Association (NBA) All Star Game during the same period. Ongoing discovery then resulted in the trial being rescheduled for April 24, 2017.

More than 15,680 U.S. lawsuits have been filed against the German drug manufacturer Bayer AG and Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen Pharmaceuticals, which sells the drug in the U.S. The Jere Beasley Report recently noted that 14,000 of those lawsuits are pending through the MDL in New Orleans.

Louisiana native Joseph Boudreaux’s case will be the first MDL trial and the first Xarelto trial in the nation. Mr. Boudreaux filed suit in December 2014 after using Xarelto for less than a month and suffering a severe gastrointestinal bleed that landed him in the hospital and forced him to endure several blood transfusions.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) first approved Xarelto in July 2011 to prevent blood clots following orthopedic surgery and to prevent strokes for patients with atrial fibrillation. In 2012, Xarelto was approved to treat deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism.

Less than three years after Xarelto’s initial approval, the FDA issued black box warnings because of the Xarelto’s significant risk of severe, uncontrolled internal bleeding, which occurs most frequently in patients’ gastrointestinal tracts and brains. Unlike its predecessor warfarin, Xarelto does not have an antidote to reverse the blood thinning process. Moreover, Plaintiffs allege that the Defendants have mislead doctors in the U.S. regarding the ability to measure Xarelto’s effect on patients’ blood through laboratory testing.

* * *

Lawyers in Beasley Allen’s Mass Torts Section are investigating injuries suffered by patients who took Xarelto. Injuries include gastrointestinal, rectal and brain bleeds, and deaths caused by major bleeding events. If you would like more information, contact Joseph VanZandt, a lawyer in the Mass Torts Section. You can reach him at 800-898-2034 or by email at Joseph.Vanzandt@beasleyallen.com.

Sources:
Jere Beasley Report, December 2016
Righting Injustice

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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.

Tire size is critical to proper vehicle handling

posted on:
February 23, 2017

author:
Benjamin E. Baker

Most can relate to driving an interstate littered with shredded pieces of rubber, the remnants of a tire someone was depending on to get them to work or to school, and the cause for a day gone unexpectedly sour. Good ways to prevent a tire from ruining your day include heeding good advice from a tire service center and ensuring tires are the proper size for your vehicle.

In the driver’s side door of your vehicle, a tire label states what the ideal tire size is for your car. It is the tire size for which your vehicle was specifically designed. For example, the handling of your car is designed specifically for the size tire listed on that label.

Increasing a tire’s size, known as plus-sizing, too far from the manufacturer recommendation can cause risks. Consumer Reports states plus-sizing can sacrifice ride comfort and traction in inclement weather conditions such as snow or rain. Larger tires can increase grip, which also increases tipping risk, because the wheels are “sticking rather than sliding under hard cornering forces and also during emergency road maneuvers – a major reason some auto manufacturers advise owners to stay with the tire size and type the vehicle came with,” Consumer Reports cautions.

Again, check with a tire professional when considering plus-sizing or if you are in need of any tire-related advice for your vehicle. Ensuring your tires are within manufacturer standards is a simple, time- and cost-effective way to ensure everyone in your vehicle makes it to their destination.

* * *

Beasley Allen lawyer Ben Baker practices in our Personal Injury section. He handles injury claims related to by improper tire size or bad tire design. He can be reached at 800-898-2034 or ben.baker@beasleyallen.com. Ben recently authored a book that is available free for lawyers, Tire Litigation: A Primer. To order your copy or download a digital copy, visit www.benbaker-law.com/book.

Source: Consumer Reports

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Zimmer Biomet recalls Comprehensive Reverse Shoulder System due to excessive humeral tray fractures

posted on:
February 21, 2017

author:
Staff

On Feb. 16, 2017, Zimmer Biomet initiated a Class I Recall of its popular Comprehensive Reverse Shoulder System due to an excessive number of fractures in the humeral tray component. Unlike traditional total shoulder arthroplasty systems, the Comprehensive Reverse Shoulder System swaps the humeral head (ball) and glenoid (cup) to the opposite sides of the glenohumeral joint in hopes of achieving greater range of motion in patients undergoing total shoulder arthroplasties. The humeral tray holds a polyethylene cup at the top of the humerus bone as shown below:

zimmer biomet shoulder system 179x210 Zimmer Biomet recalls Comprehensive Reverse Shoulder System due to excessive humeral tray fractures

The recall is limited to joint systems containing 300 specific lot numbers distributed between October 2008 and September 2015, and encompasses approximately 3,600 of Zimmer Biomet’s shoulder systems. The recall states that patients who experience humeral tray fractures may need surgeries to revise the failed shoulder arthroplasty, and could suffer “permanent loss of shoulder function, infection, or rarely, death .”

Zimmer Biomet began contacting patients who received the devices subject to the recall in late December.

If the Zimmer Biomet Comprehensive Shoulder System was used in your total shoulder arthroplasty and you have since experienced complications, call Beasley Allen at 800-898-2034 or contact Matt Munson, a lawyer in our Mass Torts section, at Matt.Munson@beasleyallen.com.

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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.

New York Court denies NFL bid to dismiss individual concussion suit

posted on:
February 21, 2017

author:
Staff

category:
Fraud

At the end of last month, the National Football League (NFL) released its injury data for the 2016 football season. Last year, the NFL recorded that 244 concussions occurred in practices and games in the 2016 preseason and regular season, down from a five-year high of 275 concussions in 2015.

The impact of concussions on NFL players has been a hot topic in sports over the last few years, with a number of lawsuits stemming from claims linking concussions and degenerative neurological conditions.

Recently, a judge denied a request by the NFL to dismiss one such individual suit Beasley Allen, along with attorneys from Leiff Cabraser and Tom Sinclair of Sinclair Law Firm, filed on behalf of the son of a deceased NFL player who was diagnosed with Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE), a degenerative brain disease.

Justice Manuel J. Mendez of the Supreme Court of New York State denied the NFL’s motion to dismiss the complaint filed by deceased NFL player Arthur DeCarlo Sr.’s son, ruling he had sufficiently asserted his claims of fraud, concealment and negligence for the wrongful death suit to move forward.

Art DeCarlo Sr. was drafted by the Bears in the 1953 draft, but began his professional career with the Pittsburgh Steelers. For the next two years, though, he served in the military and returned to play for the Washington Redskins in 1956. Ultimately, he retired from the Colts. While playing for the Colts, DeCarlo played in back-to-back championships in 1958 and 1959, including the game dubbed “The Greatest Game Ever Played.”

According to the complaint, he suffered numerous concussive and sub-concussive blows during his years playing professional football. In his later years, and as a result of what we now know to be stage IV out of IV CTE, DeCarlo suffered a slow decline in his cognitive abilities.

Unfortunately, no way to diagnose CTE exists before a postmortem autopsy can be performed.

That fact, that CTE cannot be diagnosed until after death, is a major part of why Judge Mendez denied the NFL’s motion to dismiss. In making the ruling, Judge Mendez described the disease as being akin to asbestos because “damage caused by both can take up to 20 to 40 years to manifest.”

“If plaintiff was suffering from a latent condition, and the ability to diagnose the condition is not available until the death of the injured party, then under the discovery rule the cause of action arises upon the discovery of the latent disease, i.e., at the time an autopsy is performed,” the judge said.

The discovery rule, combined with the latent nature of CTE and that the rule was designed exactly for these types of injuries, meant the claims were not time-barred.

The denial of the NFL’s motion to dismiss is a win for the DeCarlos and all those with cases involving latent injuries. The DeCarlos’ case will now proceed in New York state court.

Source: Law360

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Cab guard case prompts warning labels on products

posted on:
February 17, 2017

author:
LaBarron Boone

If “heavy truck cab guard” is searched on Google, more than 1.5 million results appear. And, at least on the first page, none of those results will tell you that many of them—if not most—do not work, although a majority of trucks on the road use the devices.

What does it look like when a cab guard, which as its name suggests, is intended to protect the truck cab during a crash, fails to do so? It usually results in severe injury and often death. This was the scenario in a case filed on behalf of Larry Albritton’s family. He was killed Oct. 7, 2013, while driving a log truck when his load shifted, causing the log truck to roll over and crash. When the load of logs shifted forward in the crash, they breached the truck’s cab and struck Mr. Albritton, resulting in his death.

Few people know the aluminum guards are often too weak to save a driver’s life. Thousands of log trucks use cab guards that are worthless for protection.

The guards attach to the backs of 18-wheelers pulling flat beds, trailers and log trailers and should function to prevent shifting cargo from hitting the cab of large trucks. However, as I discovered, that’s not the reality. Many are not strong enough to withstand the movement of even one log on a log truck, much less the scores that are usually placed on them.

In a quest to increase profits, cab guard manufacturers often choose to use aluminum rather than something stronger like steel, which would not sacrifice safety, without accurately testing the consequences of the decision. For instance, one brand of cab guard available for purchase through the “heavy truck cab guard” Google search states, “All Cab Racks are tested to uniform static resistance.”

In technical terms, it is saying its ability to protect a driver was tested while the truck was not moving. No wreck is static; one log could cause a failure. Cab guard manufacturers’ shortcuts continue to prove costly for consumers who believe they are protected.

However, as a result of Mr. Albritton’s case, which resulted in a $16.8 million verdict from a Lowndes County, Alabama, jury in January 2016, two of the cab guard manufacturers now say on their websites that cab guards should not be used as safety devices on log trucks. In fact, when clicking on a cab guard on one company’s website, a warning box appears stating the device will not prevent serious injury or death. The warnings are a welcome step in the right direction for protecting unsuspecting log truck drivers who think they are safe.

* * *

For more information on heavy truck cab guards and their defects, contact LaBarron Boone of Beasley Allen’s Personal Injury/Product Liability Section by email at LaBarron.Boone@BeasleyAllen.com.

Sources:
Google
Southern Injury Lawyer – Cab Guards
Beasley Allen

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J&J and Jansen Pharmaceuticals look to expand uses for Invokana despite growing lawsuits

posted on:
February 16, 2017

author:
Danielle Mason

As lawsuits move forward over Johnson & Johnson’s Type 2 diabetes medication Invokana, the pharmaceutical giant’s subsidiary Jansen Pharmaceuticals, which manufactures the drug, hopes clinical trial results will be enough to earn it clearance later this year for use in treating diabetic patients’ heart problems.

Invokana is a prescription medicine that is used along with diet and exercise to lower blood sugar. It is normally taken in combination with another drug, like Metformin or Glucophage, to decrease insulin resistance, because Invokana alone does not lower blood sugars enough to make it an effective single agent for the treatment of diabetes.

When the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Invokana in 2013, it required Jansen to conduct a randomized controlled trial evaluating Invokana’s cardiovascular risks. Jansen launched that clinical trial seven years ago, called Canagliflozin Cardiovascular Assessment Study (CANVAS/CANVAS-R), which is expected to wrap up later this year, according to ThePharmaLetter. The trial includes as many as 10,000 patients living with Type 2 diabetes.

One part of the trial has measured the effect of Invokana on patients’ major adverse cardiovascular events including cardiovascular death, non-fatal myocardial infarction and non-fatal stroke. Janssen hopes that the results will allow it to add an indication to reduce the risk of cardiovascular death in adult patients with Type 2 diabetes, like Jardiance (another drug in the same class as Invokana).

The cardiovascular indication may be a pipe dream for Janssen. Invokana squeaked through the FDA approval process by an 8:7 vote. The FDA Advisory Committee was concerned that during the first month of clinical trials for Invokana, 13 participants receiving the drug had a heart attack or stroke, compared to only one in the placebo group.

Invokana has also been associated with a number of other serious side effects, including diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA). DKA is a type of acidosis that develops when insulin levels are too low or during prolonged fasting that can lead to difficulty breathing, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, confusion and unusual fatigue or sleepiness. A recent edition of the Jere Beasley Report noted that from March of 2013, when the FDA approved it, to October of 2015, the agency received 101 reports of confirmable cases of acute kidney injury, some requiring hospitalization and dialysis. In approximately half of the cases, the acute kidney injury occurred within only one month of starting the drug.

In December, the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation consolidated 55 cases from across the U.S. into a Multidistrict Litigation (MDL). It also appointed U.S. District Judge Brian R. Martinotti to preside over the MDL that is pending in New Jersey federal court. The cases allege Jansen failed to properly test the Type 2 diabetes drug and warn of the risks and consequences of using it. Beasley Allen lawyer Danielle Mason was appointed to the Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee and will help guide the process of pursuing justice for those suffering from J&J and Jansen’s failures.

* * *

Lawyers in Beasley Allen’s Mass Torts Section are investigating claims on behalf of individuals and families injured by Invokana and Invokamet, specifically cases involving diabetic ketoacidosis, acute kidney injury, heart attack and stroke. If you would like more information, contact Danielle Ward Mason, a lawyer in our Mass Torts Section. She can be reached at 800-898-2034 or by email at Danielle.Mason@beasleyallen.com.

Sources:
ThePharmaLetter
Seeking Alpha
Jere Beasley Report

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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.

False Claims Act civil penalties increased

posted on:
February 15, 2017

author:
Archie Grubb

The False Claims Act (FCA) provides a means by which whistleblowers may file suit on behalf of the United States to recover for fraud committed against the federal government. Earlier this month, the Department of Justice (DOJ) announced the penalties under the False Claims Act would once again increase.

The increases are pursuant to The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015. The Act requires annual re-indexing of FCA penalties for inflation. On Feb. 3, 2017, the minimum per-claim penalty increased from $10,781 to $10,957, and the maximum per claim penalty increased from $21,563 to $21,916. These adjusted civil penalty amounts are applicable only to civil penalties assessed after Feb. 3, 2017, whose associated violations occurred after Nov. 2, 2015.

Increasing the FCA’s civil penalties strengthens the government’s negotiating position in FCA cases. This strengthened position helps the government secure additional settlements and larger civil penalties. The penalty increase does more than keep up with inflation; it also is a vital tool that returns additional taxpayer money to the Treasury so it can be spent in the way it was intended.

The war on fraud is fought not by soldiers, but by ordinary citizens. The FCA provides citizens the opportunity to combat fraud accompanied with monetary incentives and statutory protection. Whistleblowers who file FCA claims are eligible for a reward up to 30 percent of the amount recovered by the government. Additionally, the FCA provides protection from retaliation against whistleblowers.

* * *

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: Office of the Federal Register

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Beasley Allen welcomes new attorney, Dr. Margaret M. Thompson

posted on:
February 13, 2017

author:
Staff

Beasley, Allen, Crow, Methvin, Portis & Miles, P.C., is pleased to announce the addition of Dr. Margaret M. Thompson, Of Counsel in the firm’s Mass Torts Section, where she primarily focuses on the talcum powder litigation. More than 27 studies have shown that the genital use of talc significantly increases the risk of ovarian cancer. Thousands of cases are filed in federal and state courts around the country with the number expected to grow. As a former OBGYN with more than 25 years’ experience, Dr. Thompson incorporates her clinical experience and medical expertise in her legal practice.

Dr. Thompson joined the firm in December 2016. After leaving her private medical practice in 2008, she began her legal career in transvaginal mesh litigation. Dr. Thompson has also worked as a medical and legal consultant, focusing on obstetrics and gynecology; reproductive law and policy; and the regulation of medical devices.

Dr. Thompson is a graduate of the Duke University School of Medicine, where she also completed her residency and was named Outstanding Surgical Resident. After years of a successful medical practice in Austin, Texas, Dr. Thompson graduated from the University of Texas School of Law with her Juris Doctorate and from the University of Texas School of Public Health, where she earned a master’s degree in public health policy.

She has received numerous medical awards, including Texas Monthly’s Super Doctor, and was named Entrepreneur of the Year by Ernst and Young.

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.

California clear to place health warning label on Roundup

posted on:
February 10, 2017

author:
John Tomlinson

category:
Toxic Torts

In 2014, farmers sprayed almost a pound of glyphosate—the active ingredient in brand name Roundup weed killer—on every acre of cultivated farmland in the United States. It is by far the most widely used herbicide in America, according to recent data findings, and its popularity could pose potential health risks.

At the end of last month, California’s Environmental Protection Agency (Cal/EPA) cleared a major hurdle in its quest to list glyphosate as a human carcinogen, according to U.S. News & World Report. A state judge ruled against Monsanto, the manufacturer of Roundup, saying the state can require it to label its weed killer as a possible cancer threat.

Glyphosate, a phosphonate compound that has no color or smell, has been linked to cancers, particularly non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and other health and environmental concerns, prompting Cal/EPA’s action. However, Monsanto insisted throughout court proceedings that it poses no risk to humans and the proposed label would have “immediate financial consequences for the company,” according to U.S. News.

Monsanto sued California saying officials illegally based their decision for the warning label on the International Agency for Research on Cancer’s (IARC) classification of glyphosate as a “probable human carcinogen.” The agency is a branch of the U.N. World Health Organization based in Lyon, France, which the suit claimed violated the state constitution by delegating authority to an unelected foreign body, according to the news source. However, the state maintained the IARC is the “gold standard” for identifying human carcinogens and is used by other states and the federal government as a source for health information.

Cal/EPA is waiting until the judge officially issues a formal decision, but if the proposed label is carried out as expected, California would be the first state in the U.S. to order the label be placed on Roundup, and Monsanto, which is expected to challenge the ruling, would have a year to comply.

* * *

Beasley Allen lawyer John Tomlinson, a member of our Toxic Torts section, is actively investigating cases where landscapers, farmers, groundskeepers or commercial gardeners used commercial grade Roundup and developed non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. He can be reached at 800-898-2034 or john.tomlinson@beasleyallen.com.

Sources:
Environmental Sciences Europe
U.S. News & World Report
IARC
EcoWatch

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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.
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