$20,709,000 Verdict in Federal Court in Pollution Case

posted on:
January 15, 2008

author:
Staff

category:
Environmental | Landmark Verdict

August, 2004 – A federal court jury in Opelika awarded $20,709,000 to the City of Columbus, Georgia, Action Marine, Inc., and two individuals in an air pollution lawsuit filed against Continental Carbon and its parent company, China Synthetic Rubber Corporation. The jury verdict consisted of $1.9 million in compensatory damages, $1.294 million in attorneys' fees and expenses and $17.5 million in punitive damages. The case was tried under Georgia law since all of the damages occurred in Georgia even though the polluting emissions came from the plant located in Phenix City.

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Petrochemical workers’ benzene exposure risk likely higher after Hurricane Harvey

posted on:
October 16, 2017

author:
John Tomlinson

category:
Environmental

john tomlinson Petrochemical workers’ benzene exposure risk likely higher after Hurricane HarveyAs Hurricane Harvey tore through Texas in August, the focus was on the more immediate effects. Now that the waters have subsided and clean-up and rebuilding efforts are underway, the longer-term effects have taken center stage.

Among them is the heightened risk petroleum industry workers face of being exposed to the carcinogen benzene. The occupation is already at a high risk of exposure, which is a cause for cancers of the blood including Acute Myeloid Leukemia, Myelodysplastic Syndrome, lymphomas and aplastic anemia, as Beasley Allen had explained.

More than a dozen petrochemical plants reported “damaged storage tanks, ruptured containment systems and malfunctioning pressure relief valves” because of the natural disaster, according to the Houston Chronicle. The full impact of the damage may not be completely realized for months.

In the meantime, experts are concerned that recent budget cuts to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA’s) budget slashed the number of inspectors, effectively reducing the available resources necessary to inspect companies for worker safety violations. The agency is a section of the U.S. Department of Labor, which officially halted workplace inspections in Harvey-affected areas with no indication of when the inspections will resume.

Experts are also concerned that normal procedures will be lax during the “emergency situation.” Those procedures include measures designed to help reduce workers’ benzene exposure.

Benzene is a sweet-smelling toxic chemical, and exposure occurs when the toxin is inhaled or absorbed through the skin or eyes. Petroleum refining and extraction workers are at an increased risk of exposure because the chemical is a byproduct of the oil-refining processes, the National Center for Biotechnology Information explains.

Prolonged exposure to benzene can cause Myelodysplastic Syndrome (MDS), which is a group of bone marrow disorders that can progress to Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML). A person may experience AML symptoms gradually and, initially, they may not connect the symptoms to AML, but blood tests may reveal a reduced red cell count, sometimes with a reduced white cell count and/or reduced platelet counts. These tests, along with bone marrow tests, are used to diagnose AML.

* * *

If you would like more information about benzene exposure and benzene-related cancers such as AML, you can contact John Tomlinson, a lawyer in our Toxic Torts Section. He can be reached at 800-898-2034 or by email John.Tomlinson@beasleyallen.com. You can also find more information at www.benzene-exposure.com.

Sources:
Houston Chronicle
Beasley Allen
National Center for Biotechnology Information

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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.

Whistleblower’s False Claims Act case jumps arbitration hurdle

posted on:
October 13, 2017

author:
Archie Grubb

category:
Fraud

archie grubb1 Whistleblower’s False Claims Act case jumps arbitration hurdleA whistleblower suing a Nevada pediatric therapy chain on behalf of the U.S. scored a victory earlier this month when the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals refused the defendant’s motion to force the dispute into arbitration.

The Ninth Circuit denied a motion to compel arbitration by My Left Foot Children’s Therapy LLC, a small, family-owned company that provides functional therapy to children in the Las Vegas area.

The Las Vegas-based company is being sued by a former employee of My Left Foot under the whistleblower provisions of the False Claims Act (FCA). The whistleblower alleges the company submitted fraudulent claims to Medicaid for reimbursement. Both the U.S. and the state of Nevada support the claims.

On October 19, 2015, the defendants moved to compel arbitration of the whistleblower lawsuit pursuant to the Federal Arbitration Act and the company’s arbitration agreement with the whistleblower, which she signed as a condition of employment. The plaintiff, the U.S. government, and State of Nevada opposed the motion.

On June 13, 2016, the U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada denied the Defendants’ motion to compel arbitration on the grounds that the agreement did not extend to the U.S. or Nevada, which owned the underlying FCA claims.

The Court found that the FCA suit wasn’t necessarily connected to the whistleblower’s employment and that she would have been able to bring the FCA suit regardless of whether she was employed by the defendants.

Similarly, just because the employee observed the fraudulent conduct while employed does not mean that the observation was related to her employment because she could have made the same observations in a non-employee capacity,” the Ninth Circuit found.

The False Claims Act authorizes whistleblowers to file suit on behalf of the U.S. government. In light of that, the whistleblower’s complaints is in this case are not an employee’s personal dispute with the employer as much as they are the government’s complaint.

Accordingly, the Ninth Circuit concluded that the FCA claims were not arbitrable on this basis … because the “underlying fraud claims asserted in a FCA case belong to the government and not to the relator.”

* * *

Are you aware of fraud being committed against the federal government, or a state government? If so, you may be protected and rewarded 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: Complaint

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.

Fall protection violations head 2017 OSHA employer citation Top 10 list

posted on:
October 12, 2017

author:
Kendall Dunson

kendall dunson Fall protection violations head 2017 OSHA employer citation Top 10 listThe preliminary results are in: fall-protection violations are the most common reason employers received a citation from the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) in 2017. The findings continue to highlight the potentially grave consequences of not properly training and protecting employees.

In OSHA’s preliminary Top 10 Most Cited Violations report for fiscal year 2017, which ended Sept. 30, a total of 6,072 violations were issued for general requirement fall protections. Fall protection violations were followed by 4,176 hazard communication violations, 3,288 scaffolding violations, 3,097 respiratory protection violations and 2,877 lockout/tagout violations to round out the top five, according to the National Safety Council’s Safety + Health magazine. Other violations on OSHA’s top 10 list include ladder, power industrial truck, machine guarding, fall-protection training requirements, and electrical wiring method violations.

“One thing I’ve said before in the past on this is, this list doesn’t change too much from year to year. These things are readily fixable,” Patrick Kapust, deputy director of OSHA’s Directorate of Enforcement Programs, said when the numbers were announced at the 2017 National Safety Council’s Congress & Expo.

Indeed, the order of last year’s top five list and 2015’s list and 2014’s are mirror images of this year’s top 5 list. The next year with order variation is 2013, and that’s for the No. 5 position.

The fact that the same fixable violations are included repeatedly on the list should be a cause for concern. Employees have the right to work in a safe environment, and these repeated violations point to systemic issues that threaten worker safety.

It should come as no surprise with fall protections leading the violation list that most of the deaths in the construction industry in 2015, the latest year data is available, occurred due to falls. That is not a random coincidence. It proves the need for employee safety regulations.

In the midst of deregulation and budget cuts, workers are the ones who truly suffer. It’s easy to forget that OSHA regulations are in place to ensure workers make it home unharmed each evening. When employers violate OSHA laws, it’s employees who pay the price.

OSHA’s Top 10 Most Cited Violations report with 2017’s confirmed data will be published in the December edition of Safety + Health magazine.

* * *

If you have any questions about whether a serious work-related injury could qualify for compensation, please contact Kendall Dunson, an attorney in our Personal Injury section, for a free and confidential evaluation of your claim. He can be reached at 800-898-2034 or email Kendall.Dunson@beasleyallen.com.

Sources:
National Safety Council’s Safety + Health
Beasley Allen Law Firm

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.

Litigation alleges GSK profits off billions in Zofran sales, subjects parents to unnecessary loss

posted on:
October 11, 2017

author:
Liz Eiland

liz eiland Litigation alleges GSK profits off billions in Zofran sales, subjects parents to unnecessary lossThe loss of a child is unfathomable and, in 1988, President Ronald Reagan proclaimed October as National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month to recognize the loss, the event’s official website explains. The loss is intensified when the conditions that contributed to the child’s death were unnecessary and completely preventable. Such is the case for many families who have suffered the loss of a child due to in utero exposure to Zofran, which is manufactured by pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline (GSK).

Patrick and Valerie Reagan’s daughter, Molly, was just 3 days old when she died, the Consumer Justice Foundation says. The Reagans believe Molly’s fetal exposure to Zofran caused her birth defects that led to her death. Valerie was prescribed Zofran to help treat morning sickness while she was pregnant.

Similarly, Holly L. Estapa was also prescribed Zofran for the same condition during her pregnancy. She and Martin W. Hauger filed suit shortly after the birth of their twins, B.A. and B.B. One of the twins, B.A., was stillborn while the other twin B.B. was born with a heart defect that may require future surgeries, as well as monitoring and treatment. They also argue that the in utero exposure to Zofran was the cause of B.A.’s death and B.B.’s heart defect.

They are not alone.

The U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict litigation reports that 415 lawsuits have been consolidated in the Zofran multidistrict litigation (MDL) established in the U.S. District for the District of Massachusetts. Beasley Allen has previously explained that the underlying claim is that Zofran causes birth defects in babies born to women who used the drug while pregnant. Often, women are not told of the potential dangers Zofran presents to their unborn children.

The Food and Drug Administration approved Zofran, which contains the drug ingredient ondansetron, in 1991 to treat nausea and vomiting in cancer patients receiving chemotherapy. It has never been approved to treat morning sickness, yet GSK’s profits from Zofran alone were more than $1 billion because of the prevalent off-label use to treat morning sickness during pregnancy.

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) claimed GSK directly marketed Zofran to obstetricians and gynecologists with unsupported claims about its safety during pregnancy, according to the Legal Herald. Although it is legal for doctors to prescribe drugs for off-label use, it is not legal for drugmakers to market drugs for such uses. The company also paid illegal kickbacks to doctors, encouraging the doctors to promote and prescribe Zofran more frequently, according to the DOJ. GSK pled guilty and agreed to pay $3 billion to settle criminal and civil fraud charges for illegal promotion of Zofran and other drugs.

Zofran is now available as an inexpensive generic and continues to be prescribed regularly for pregnant women suffering from morning sickness. The Jere Beasley Report describes recent studies that have linked in utero exposure to Zofran with an increased risk of birth defects. Two studies have shown a doubling of the risk of certain congenital heart defects in babies whose mothers took Zofran early in pregnancy. A third study showed a doubling of the risk of cleft palate for babies whose mothers took Zofran.

* * *

Lawyers in our firm’s Mass Torts Section continue to investigate cases involving children born with a heart defect or cleft palate after in utero exposure to Zofran. If you would like more information about this litigation, or if you or someone you know has had a family member who suffered from a congenital heart defect or cleft palate as a result of prenatal Zofran exposure, contact Roger Smith or Liz Eiland, lawyers in our firm’s Mass Torts Section, at 800-898-2034 or by email at Roger.Smith@beasleyallen.com or Liz.Eiland@beasleyallen.com.

Sources:
October15th.com: Remembering our Babies
Consumer Justice Foundation
U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation
Beasley Allen
Legal Herald
Jere Beasley Report (March 2016)

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.

Jury awards $1.9 million to man fired after suffering amputation on the job

posted on:
October 10, 2017

author:
Staff

category:
Fraud

A jury in the Circuit Court of Montgomery County, Alabama, awarded plaintiff Leon Battle $1.9 million for retaliatory discharge and for an amputation injury he suffered on the job – he was fired for hiring a lawyer. Mr. Battle was represented by Beasley Allen lawyers Larry Golston, Leon Hampton, Jr., Kendall Dunson and Warner Hornsby, along with Montgomery lawyer Tamika Miller.

In April 2014, Mr. Battle lost four fingers on his left hand while working to repair a hydraulic hose on a chicken dumpster machine at Koch Foods in Montgomery when the machine suddenly started operating when it should have been shut down. After his injury, the plant safety manager told Mr. Battle he could come back to work because Koch Foods knew Battle didn’t do anything wrong, but if he hired a lawyer, he would be fired – an obvious attempt to cover up the company’s wrongdoing. Mr. Battle hired a lawyer and was subsequently fired.

“Mr. Battle, and every employee, should expect their employer to take the proper actions and follow the procedures designed to keep them safe on the job,” Golston said. “Instead, Mr. Battle’s employer deliberately created a situation that put workers in danger, and tragically and needlessly resulted in his permanent injury. Then, to make matters worse, his employer tried to intimidate him into forfeiting his right to a jury trial by threatening to fire him if he hired a lawyer, and then carrying through with that threat.”

During the trial, the jury learned that the safety gate surrounding the machine was tampered with so that it could not operate as designed. The gate should have cut power to the machine when it was opened by a worker entering the area near the machine. However, Koch instructed its workers to insert a metal pole into the gate that allowed the machine to continue operating while the gate was open, placing Mr. Battle in danger and resulting in the loss of his fingers.

The verdict included $851,400 in compensatory damages and $1.05 million in punitive damages.

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.

A wake-up call: more horror stories from inside nursing homes

posted on:
October 10, 2017

author:
Chris Boutwell

 A wake up call: more horror stories from inside nursing homesThe absence of a national database that collects and compiles data about elder abuse and the lack of standardized data reporting and collection across states only intensifies the difficulty of assessing the full extent of abuse and neglect in America’s nursing homes. Coupled with the underreporting of such events, as Beasley Allen previously discussed, many nursing home residents are forced to suffer in silence.

Research and anecdotal evidence including two high-profile incidents that occurred during recent hurricanes, as described by Beasley Allen, however, should serve as a wake-up call to the country’s aging population, their caregivers and especially nursing home regulators and owners.

For example, the Nursing Home Abuse Center reports that in “[a] study of 2,000 nursing facility residents an abuse rate of 44 percent and a neglect rate of 95 percent” were indicated. Similarly, a 2014 report from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Inspector General (OIG) showed that 33 percent of nursing home senior residents experienced adverse or temporary harm events and 59 percent of those incidents were preventable. Infections and physical abuse round out the top causes of such events. And, according to CNN, sexual abuse is also a growing concern for those in nursing homes and long-term care facilities (LTCFs).

Infections
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that infections are a major cause of hospitalization and death for residents in LTCFs. It explains that 1 million to 3 million infections occur in LTCFs every year and cause as many as 380,000 deaths annually. All of which could be prevented with the proper precaution, attention and care by nursing home staff.

However, the Journal of Gerontology & Geriatric Research (JGGR) says that 90 percent of the facilities are understaffed and cannot provide adequate care to the residents. Infection control professionals warn that the problem has become even more serious because one out of four nursing home residents is colonized with drug-resistant bacteria, such as E. coli., according to Science Daily. It cites a study released in May by the American Journal of Infection Control, which discovered the significant presence of drug-resistant bacteria in nursing homes and warned that it “demonstrates the need for heightened infection control prevention and control measures in nursing homes.”

Physical Abuse
The JGGR also says that one out of three U.S. nursing homes is cited every year “for causing serious bodily injury or death to a resident.” In February, a federal jury awarded the families of three deceased nursing home patients $5.2 million in compensatory and punitive damages after finding Blue Ridge Health Care Center, Care Virginia Management LLC and Care One LLC responsible for the deaths, Righting Injustice reported.

The wrongful death lawsuit claimed that patients were able to remove ventilator or tracheotomy tubes repeatedly without medical staff intervention. The alarms on the tubes that were to alert medical staff of removal “were either turned off automatically or manually by staff.” Additionally, patients suffered multiple falls and developed numerous infections because of substandard care.

In March, Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall indicted three former Cherokee County nursing home employees, charging them each with one count of second degree elder abuse/neglect, Righting Injustice reported. An 84-year-old woman confined to a bed suffered from approximately 100 ant bites when she was left unattended for hours at the Cherokee Health and Rehab nursing facility in Centre.

Although the employees recorded that they entered the woman’s room to check on her several times, surveillance video revealed that none of the nurses checked on her for 11 hours. The nursing home reported incident and an investigation revealed the intentional neglect likely contributed directly to the resident’s injuries.

Sexual Abuse
The dire results from the lack of comprehensive national reporting and monitoring are best demonstrated through the woefully inadequate sexual abuse data in nursing homes. Although there is no national, uniform system for tracking sex abuse allegations, the Administration for Community Living has collected 20,000 complaints of sexual abuse in the last 20 years, according to the Miami Herald, but it is far from complete. Further, all forms of abuse are lumped together and sexual abuse is not categorized separately. The lack of data, especially detailed data, makes it difficult to prevent and respond to the abuse when it occurs.

Additional systemic deficiencies further complicate the efforts to protect residents.

Federal funding and other business incentives entice nursing home owners to conceal abuse. Residents’ aging and health issues often reduce their credibility as witnesses. Botched investigations including mishandled or destroyed evidence and “half-hearted investigations by facilities and regulators” also leave residents defenseless against sexual predators masquerading as caretakers.

In its review of state and federal data, CNN found that “more than 1,000 nursing homes have been cited for mishandling suspected cases of sex abuse.” It also found that “nearly 100 of these facilities have been cited multiple times during the same period.”

CNN highlighted several cases of sexual abuse including that of an 83-year-old Walker Methodist resident in Minnesota – Sonja Fischer. Fisher could not speak, move or even cry out when she was raped by George Kpingbah who was a certified nursing assistant at the facility. It wasn’t the first time he was investigated for sexual assault allegations while working at Walker Methodist. Kpingbah was suspended three previous times by the facility while it investigated the accusations. One investigation took place just seven months before Fischer was raped. Yet, neither the facility nor state investigators substantiated any of the prior incidents, and, therefore, the law prohibited the state from revealing Kpingbah’s identity. Fischer’s family had no way to know she was in danger.

“She was as vulnerable as an infant when she was raped,” Maya Fischer told CNN of her mother.

Another unsettling and growing concern for residents and their loved ones regarding sexual abuse is the misuse of cell phones and other tech devices as well as social media. Righting Injustice reported that a survey by the public interest group ProPublica identified 65 cases of nursing home and assisted living facility employees posting unauthorized photos and videos of residents on social media since 2012.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is working with state health departments to ensure all nursing homes have policies that protect residents from such violations. Yet, the issue remains unregulated, and while forced arbitration clauses remain on the bargaining table for the nursing home industry, residents and their family members and caregivers have little recourse to hold bad employees and facilities accountable.

* * *

If you need more information on nursing home litigation contact Chris Boutwell at 800-898-2034 or by email at Chris.Boutwell@beasleyallen.com. Chris handles nursing home litigation for our firm, and he will be glad to talk with you.

Visit BeasleyAllen.com Oct. 17 for the final installment in our Nursing Home Series.

Sources:
Beasley Allen
Nursing Home Abuse Center
Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General
Center for Disease Control and Prevention
Jere Beasley Report
Journal of Gerontology & Geriatric Research
Righting Injustice
Miami Herald
CNN

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.

Lung-related awareness days highlight environmental and occupational toxic exposure issues

posted on:
October 9, 2017

author:
Rhon Jones

category:
Environmental

 Lung related awareness days highlight environmental and occupational toxic exposure issuesThe month of September came to an end with two awareness days that shared a common message: What’s in the air we breathe matters.

Sept. 25 marked the first World Lung Day, and Sept. 26 marked the 13th annual Mesothelioma Awareness Day. Both days aimed to bring awareness to environmental and occupational lung diseases. Unfortunately, our lungs carry a heavy burden when it comes to toxic exposure – often carrying the brunt of the issues it causes.

“World Lung Day is a rallying point for advocacy related to respiratory health and air quality,” a release from the Forum of International Respiratory Societies (FIRS) stated. “Lung disease is the only major chronic disease group that does not yet have a World Day. World Days can be important reminders of things we take for granted – we cannot live without breathing, and air quality is critical to our health and well-being.”

Mesothelioma Awareness Day carried a similar message but related it specifically to the risks surrounding asbestos exposure. Asbestos fibers were once used in a variety of construction and manufacturing processes before its carcinogenic properties were well known, leading to both occupational exposure and the secondhand exposure of family members who interacted with clothing and other materials from contaminated job sites.

“Given the long latency of mesothelioma, for thousands of Americans, the damage has already been done – the asbestos has been inhaled,” the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation stated. “Now it is our responsibility to invest in prevention research, and to make sure that if they develop mesothelioma, life-saving treatments and a cure are waiting for them.”

While asbestos exposure is closely linked to mesothelioma development, it can also cause scar tissue on the lungs and lung cancer. World Lung Day highlighted some of those other lung-related diseases associated with environmental and occupational exposures: chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma, pneumonia and tuberculosis.

The FIRS estimates occupational lung diseases affect more than 50 million people worldwide “and workers continue to breathe in sickening mineral dusts, bioaerosols and fumes.” That’s not including occupational exposures due to benzene and other toxins that cause Acute Myeloid Leukemia, other types of cancers and other health issues not related to the lungs.

Each person affected by any occupational disease could have been spared. Remove the toxins, and you remove the risk for millions around the world.

* * *

Lawyers in Beasley Allen’s Toxic Torts Section are investigating cases of occupational lung disease related to a number of chemical exposures, as well as mesothelioma and asbestos exposure. For more information, contact Rhon Jones, Toxic Torts Section Head, at 800-898-2034 or Rhon.Jones@beasleyallen.com.

Sources:
MyMeso
Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation
@curemeso
Forum of International Respiratory Societies (FIRS)
CHEST: American College of Physicians

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.

Monopoly Man appears at Equifax, Wells Fargo hearings

posted on:
October 6, 2017

author:
Staff

category:
Fraud

monopoly man equifax hearing Monopoly Man appears at Equifax, Wells Fargo hearingsSenate hearings on the Equifax data breach and Wells Fargo scams were photobombed by a woman dressed as the “Get out of Jail Free” Banker Man that appears on the corner of the classic board game Monopoly.

Videos of the Senate Banking Committee’s Equifax hearing Wednesday show the Monopoly character Rich Uncle Pennybags in a top hat, suit, mustache and monocle seated behind Equifax CEO Richard Smith. At one point, Mr. Smith turns around and looks at the Monopoly character, appearing a little uneasy and confused.

Mr. Smith was at the hearing to give his perspective on the Equifax data breach that delivered the credit information of more than 145 million Americans to the hands of unknown hackers. The information included names, addresses, birthdates, Social Security numbers, and in some cases credit card info and other info that could be used for identity theft.

In Tuesday’s hearing before the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Mr. Smith said he sincerely apologized for the breach. “The company failed to prevent sensitive information from falling into the hands of wrongdoers.” He offered much the same testimony in Wednesday’s Senate hearing.

Equifax Wells Fargo Get Out of Jail Free card e1507302748438 Monopoly Man appears at Equifax, Wells Fargo hearingsAccording to CNBC, the Monopoly man was at the hearing to draw attention to corporate fraud and to protest how banks and other giant companies are using arbitration to get away with corporate wrongdoing. The Senate is currently pushing a bill that would roll back a rule issued by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) in July that would curtail the use of arbitration clauses.

Amanda Werner of Americans for Financial Reform and Public Citizen was the person who donned the Monopoly man garb and sat behind Mr. Smith with a sack full of big fake money, which she used to dab her forehead occasionally.

Ms. Werner was also at the Senate Banking Committee’s hearing Tuesday on the Wells Fargo scandals in which CEO Timothy J. Sloan testified the bank’s fake account scams and other misconduct that harmed consumers. Both Mr. Smith and Mr. Sloan were handsomely rewarded by their companies with massive bonuses despite the errors and fraud.

“Arbitration is a rigged game,” Werner said in an emailed statement from her office. “Bank lobbyists and their allies in Congress are trying to overturn the CFPB’s rule so they can continue to rip off consumers with impunity.”

At both hearings, Ms. Werner was present in costume to hand out “get out of jail free” cards resembling those from the board game. The large cards had the Equifax and Wells Fargo logos on them along with the message “Forced arbitration lets financial institutions escape accountability for wrongdoing.”

Sources:
Coalition for Sensible Safeguards
Americans for Financial Reform
Public Citizen

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.

Recent natural disasters heighten fraud awareness

posted on:
October 6, 2017

author:
Andrew Brashier

category:
Fraud

andew brashier1 Recent natural disasters heighten fraud awarenessIn the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, what is now known as the National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) was established. The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) partnered with various law enforcement and regulatory agencies to form this national coordinating agency, operating within the Criminal Division of the DOJ. The NCDF was created “to improve and further the detection, prevention, investigation, and prosecution of fraud related to natural and man-made disasters, and to advocate for the victims of such fraud.”

Since its inception in 2005 there have been more than 70,000 complaints from over 50 natural and man-made disasters. There were 1,370 disaster fraud cases charged in connection with Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

On Sept. 22, in the wake of the recent natural disasters stemming from catastrophic hurricanes, the Deputy Attorney General circulated a memorandum on disaster fraud for all U.S. Attorneys and DOJ Litigation Components. This memorandum instructs all U.S. Attorney Offices to follow certain steps to more efficiently coordinate with the NCDF in handling disaster fraud after hurricanes Harvey and Irma.

The False Claims Act (FCA) protects the Government from false or fraudulent claims for payment or approval. In the case of disasters, federal emergency relief funds are established with taxpayers’ dollars. Therefore, any fraudulent claims for disaster relief funds would be in direct violation of the FCA.

The FCA includes a right of private action, known as a qui tam provision, or whistleblower provision. This allows a private person, known as a relator, to bring a civil action for violation of the FCA for the private person and the U.S. Government. The FCA does provide incentive for whistleblowers. These incentives include protection against retaliation and 15 to 25 percent of funds recovered.

* * *

Are you aware of fraud being committed against the federal government, or a state government? If so, you may be protected and rewarded 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.

Sources:
31 U.S.C. § 3729-30
U.S. Department of Justice

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.

Jury awards $140 million to Plaintiff in testosterone replacement therapy litigation

posted on:
October 5, 2017

author:
Staff

testosterone treatment increases risk of heart attack stroke death Jury awards $140 million to Plaintiff in testosterone replacement therapy litigationA jury in Illinois federal court awarded Plaintiff Jeffrey Konrad more than $140 million in litigation involving testosterone replacement therapy (TRT). Mr. Konrad sued AbbVie, the maker of AndroGel, after suffering a heart attack while using the gel, alleging the drugmaker failed to warn the product was linked to an increased risk of adverse cardiovascular effects. Additionally, the lawsuit alleged the company falsely marketed the drug as a treatment for age-related low testosterone, when the drug had never been approved for this purpose.

The verdict includes $140,000 in compensatory damages and $140 million in punitive damages. This is the second Plaintiff win in multidistrict litigation (MDL) involving a number of testosterone treatment manufacturers. The first verdict also involved AbbVie, and ended in a $150 million verdict for the Plaintiff for punitive damages. Jurors in that case held the company liable for aggressive marketing for unapproved uses.

AndroGel and testosterone replacement products in general are only for men with low levels of testosterone due to injury or disease, a condition called hypogonadism. However, testimony in the first two bellwether cases say AbbVie promoted its testosterone gel directly to men through direct-to-consumer advertising by fabricating a condition called “Low T” to treat symptoms such as low libido, weight gain and muscle loss.

Studies have linked testosterone replacement therapy to an increased risk of heart attacks, strokes, blood clots and death, especially in older men.

The MDL dates back to 2014 and names drug companies such as AbbVie, Besins, Eli Lily and GlaxoSmithKline, and includes products AndroGel, Testim and Axiron, among others. The lawsuits were consolidated in the U.S. District Court for Northern Illinois in Chicago under U.S. District Judge Matthew F. Kennelly. About 6,000 cases are now pending in the MDL, 4,200 of which name AbbVie’s top selling AndroGel.

The case is Konrad v. AbbVie Inc., case number 1:15-cv-00966, and the MDL is In re: Testosterone Replacement Therapy Products Liability Litigation, case number 1:14-cv-01748, both in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.

Beasley Allen lawyer Matt Teague is handling testosterone replacement therapy litigation for the firm, and serves on the Plaintiffs Steering Committee for the MDL. For more information, call 800-898-2034 or email Matt.Teague@beasleyallen.com.

Source: Law360

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