$700,000,000 Settlement Involving PCBs

posted on:
January 11, 2008

author:
Staff

category:
Environmental | Landmark Verdict

August, 2003 – Environmental and legal experts from around the country are characterizing the $700 Million global settlement of the PCB damage claims of over 20,000 current and former residents of Calhoun County, Alabama as the most significant settlement of toxic tort damage claims in American history. Three months of settlement talks spearheaded by Beasley Allen and the Cochran Firm in their 17,000 plaintiff Federal court case, eventually led to a global resolution of not only that case, but also the long-running state court trial in Gadsden, Alabama that involved more than 3,000 additional plaintiffs.

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Judge grants preliminary approval to VW emissions cheat settlement; Beasley Allen lawyer appointed Class Counsel

posted on:
July 27, 2016

author:
Staff

category:
Fraud

U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer has granted preliminary approval to the settlement reached June 27 between Volkswagen and owners of about half a million diesel-powered VW vehicles over the German automaker’s emissions cheat. The settlement is expected to cost VW about $14.7 billion, including $10.033 billion set aside to cover vehicle buybacks and fixes, $2 billion for “green energy” funds and $2.7 billion to offset diesel emissions. Judge Breyer is overseeing the consolidated litigation. The final approval hearing is set for Oct. 18, 2016.

Beasley Allen is one of the law firms chosen to litigate the Volkswagen case on behalf of plaintiffs harmed by the automaker’s emissions cheat. Beasley Allen Principal W. Daniel “Dee” Miles, III, who heads the firm’s Consumer Fraud section, was one of the 22 attorneys appointed by Judge Breyer to the Plaintiffs Steering Committee. Miles and the other attorneys on that committee have now been appointed as Class Counsel for this litigation as it proceeds. This is believed to be the largest automobile settlement in history.

“This historical settlement, which has just been granted preliminarily approved by the court, is now the new benchmark for consumer class actions in terms of meaningful relief for consumers, the government, and, specific to this case, the global environment,” Miles said. “While there remains more work to do with regard to the 3.0 liter engines, the fact that the parties and the government were able to achieve this multi-faceted settlement in less than 10 months is quite remarkable.”

The settlement will compensate owners of some 482,000 model-year 2009-2015 VW and Audi vehicles with two-liter diesel engines. Under the agreement, vehicle owners would be allowed to choose whether to sell their vehicle back to VW or have it repaired. According to the terms of the settlement agreement, cash compensation offered to each car owner could range between $5,100 and $10,000 and total compensation will depend on the cars’ value before Volkswagen admitted to the emissions cheat.

Volkswagen installed the emissions cheat on 10.5 million diesel-powered vehicles worldwide, including the half million U.S. vehicles — all while promoting “clean diesel” as an alternative to electric and hybrid vehicles. The defeat device enables the vehicles to detect the special parameters of an emissions drive cycle, which prompts the vehicle’s computer to turn on emissions controls, thereby making the vehicle fully compliant with EPA rules during testing.

The software also senses steering, throttle, and other variables unique to real-time driving, which cues the computer to turn off emissions controls, allowing the vehicle to release extremely high levels of nitrogen-oxide emissions. These toxic emissions are up to 40 times higher than federal limits allow.

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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.

Hospice providers pay $18 million to resolve alleged False Claims Act violations

posted on:
July 26, 2016

author:
Lance Gould

Recently, the Department of Justice announced Evercare Hospice and Palliative Care have agreed to pay $18 million in order to settle alleged False Claims Act (FCA) violations. These allegations purported that the providers were receiving Medicare reimbursement for patients placed in hospice care, even though the patients were not eligible for hospice. Hospice care is an end-of-life care reserved for those who are terminally ill.

According to Medicare, for one to be terminally ill, and thus eligible for hospice care, their life expectancy must be six months or less. Once a patient is placed in hospice care, Medicare no longer covers customary medical care designed to help the patient recover. After a patient decides on hospice care, efforts are focused on quality of life instead of curative measures.

The government’s complaint against these hospice providers alleged that the providers’ business practices maximized the number of patients for whom they could bill Medicare, regardless of whether the patients needed or were eligible for hospice. The complaint further asserts that the providers discouraged doctors from discharging ineligible patients from hospice care.

Concerning the settlement, the Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Benjamin C. Mizer stated, “Today’s settlement reflects the Justice Department’s continuing efforts to combat health care fraud and protect the nation’s elderly and most vulnerable citizens. Our seniors rely on the hospice program to provide them with quality care, dignity and respect when they are terminally ill and need end-of-life care. It is, therefore, critically important that we hold accountable those hospice providers that bill for medically unnecessary services in order to get higher reimbursements from the Medicare program. Such abuses threaten a vulnerable population and jeopardize this important benefit for others under the program. The Justice Department will continue to protect taxpayer dollars and ensure that this critical benefit is available for Medicare patients who truly need it.”

When a person defrauds the government, they are stealing funds from critical federal programs that are financed by taxpayers. In this war against fraud, ordinary citizens are using the FCA to aid the government in recovering defrauded money.

The FCA provides an avenue for citizens to sue on behalf of the government when they know of someone defrauding the government. This avenue is known as the qui tam provision, and not only does it provide an avenue, but the qui tam provision also offers incentives for citizens to step forward as whistleblowers. These incentives include 15 to 30 percent of the monies recovered by the government.

The case against Evercare Hospice and Palliative Care was originally brought under the qui tam provision of the FCA by former employees of the providers. These former employees are now entitled to receive up to $5.4 million for their part in the case.

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: U.S. Department of Justice

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Beasley Allen attorneys honored at annual AAJ Convention

posted on:
July 25, 2016

author:
Staff

2016 aaj award winners 250x140 Beasley Allen attorneys honored at annual AAJ Convention

Jere L. Beasley, C. Gibson Vance and Danielle W. Mason were recognized by the American Association for Justice (AAJ) with three individual awards

MONTGOMERY, ALA. (July 25, 2016) – Three Beasley, Allen, Crow, Methvin, Portis & Miles, P.C., attorneys were honored at the recent American Association for Justice (AAJ) meeting for their outstanding performance in the profession of law.

Principal & Founder Jere L. Beasley was selected as a 2016 recipient of the AAJ Tonahill Award. The award is presented in recognition of outstanding and dedicated service to and support of consumers and the trial bar. The Tonahill Award is named in honor of Joe Tonahill, a respected defender of the civil justice system.

Principal C. Gibson Vance was selected as a 2016 recipient of the AAJ Wiedemann & Wysocki Award. The award is presented annually to lawyers who demonstrate a deep commitment to the highest standards and who are passionately committed to the principles of the civil justice system and the mission of AAJ – “to promote a fair and effective justice system and to support the work of attorneys in their efforts to ensure that any person who is injured by the misconduct or negligence of others can obtain justice in America’s courtrooms, even when taking on the most powerful interests.”

Principal Danielle Mason was selected as a 2016 recipient of the AAJ F. Scott Baldwin Award. According to AAJ, “The award was established to honor and recognize F. Scott Baldwin of Marshall, Texas, a world-renowned trial lawyer, whose efforts have produced outstanding awards for injured victims and their families. The award is presented in recognition of the legendary degree of excellence and compassion that Scott Baldwin has brought to the profession and the significant time he has invested in training, preparing and encouraging lawyers to the profession of trial law.”

“At Beasley Allen we encourage our attorneys to give back – to their community and also to the service of the legal profession and the civil justice system as a whole,” said Beasley Allen Principal & Managing Attorney Tom Methvin. “Jere, Gibson and Danielle are deserving of these awards. I am proud to know that my law partners’ dedication to and love of the judicial system has been recognized by such a prestigious organization.”

The award was presented during the AAJ Annual Convention in Los Angeles on July 23.

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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 Magic Moments to make a boy’s Disney dream come true

posted on:
July 20, 2016

author:
Staff

category:
Community

magic moment family Beasley Allen joins Magic Moments to make a boy’s Disney dream come true

TJ with his family, mom Marianne, Dad Tim, and sisters Jessica and Christine Esco

Beasley Allen lawyers and staff had the opportunity to provide a Magic Moment for a 6-year-old Tallassee, Ala., boy on July 19, when they presented him with a trip to Disney World for him and his family! Magic Moments is a charitable organization that relies on the generosity of donors to make dreams come true for children living in Alabama with chronic life-threatening diseases. Beasley Allen Principal Greg Allen serves on the organization’s Board of Directors.

TJ Esco has been battling leukemia since July 2015. TJ has not been able to start school and has spent every holiday since his diagnosis in the hospital. During his time in the hospital, TJ has seen many commercials for Disney World and has asked to go for his Magic Moment.

Magic Moments is based in Birmingham, Ala., where it was started in 1984 by two moms, Shelley Clark and Buffie Marks. On their website, they describe their inspiration for the organization:

“The inspiration behind our creation started when Shelley and her daughter saw a story on television about a boy in the hospital whose dream was to ride in a fire engine. While he was in the hospital, his family arranged for the local fireman to drive a fire engine to the hospital to tell him he would get a ride in it as soon as he was well enough. The pure joy that Shelley saw on this little boy’s face and the hope for this dream she saw in his eyes so profoundly inspired her that she thought, ‘We have to do this in Birmingham; we have to give children in Alabama struggling with illness this kind of hope and lift of spirit.’

magic moment 149x210 Beasley Allen joins Magic Moments to make a boy’s Disney dream come true

Pictured are Beasley Allen Principal Greg Allen, Beasley Allen Human Relations Liaison Willa Carpenter and Beasley Allen Principal & Founder Jere Beasley with TJ Esco

They partnered with community leaders and activists, as well as medical professionals, in order to help make their dream – and the dream of thousands of children – a reality. Today Magic Moments has fulfilled “dreams-come-true” for more than 4,200 children in every county of Alabama.

Beasley Allen raised $6,585 for Magic Moments. Of that amount, $4,500 will be used to pay for TJ’s trip and the remainder will help another child.

For more information about Magic Moments or to make a donation, visit www.magicmoments.org.

 

Related News

WSFA – Magic Moments Grants Child’s Wish

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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.

Lawyers Render Service to State and Municipal Governments

posted on:
July 20, 2016

author:
Staff

category:
Fraud

One of the practice areas our Consumer Fraud section covers involves litigation on behalf of state and municipal governments. In many of these cases, individuals are barred from bringing a consumer fraud claim, but a claim can be filed on behalf of the state government or municipality affected by the fraud.

One example of this type of claim is the firm’s work on behalf of state governments in the Average Wholesale Price (AWP) / Medicaid Fraud litigation, which alleges a number of pharmaceutical companies were overcharging state Medicaid programs for prescription drugs. An examination of the pharmaceutical company price lists demonstrates the difference in the AWP and Wholesale Average Cost (WAC), which are the prices provided by the manufacturers for reimbursement, and the actual price or cost of the drug. In some cases, the published AWP price was more than 2500 percent higher than the actual price, and the WAC price nearly 600 percent higher. Beasley Allen has recovered more than $1.5 billion in settlements and jury verdicts for the states we have represented in these claims.

This is just one example of our work in this area. We have represented states in a number of Medicaid fraud contexts since AWP. For example, we have represented states in lawsuits where Medicaid paid for defective drugs that injured citizens and/or did not work. We have represented states where providers have submitted false claims for services they did not provide and/or billed the state for more than what they provided. We represent states that have over-reimbursed for Medicaid prescription drug reimbursements as a result of the fraudulent reporting of drug prices by health care providers, such as major chain pharmacies.

Our firm has also represented states in natural disaster and contract dispute litigation (BP Oil/Exxon, etc.) Similarly, we represent cities, towns, counties and municipalities when they have been injured and they require complex litigation to be made whole.

For more information about litigation in this area, please contact Dee Miles, Principal & Consumer Fraud Section Head, at Dee.Miles@beasleyallen.com, or Principals Roman Shaul, Roman.Shaul@beasleyallen.com, or Alison Hawthorne at Alison.Hawthorne@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.

For What It’s Worth: Vehicle owners file class action lawsuits to recoup losses from auto defects

posted on:
July 19, 2016

author:
Staff

category:
Fraud

A vehicle is one of the major purchases a person will make. A lot of time is usually invested in researching the best deal, finding a good warranty plan, and making sure the vehicle is suitable for the driver’s needs. A new vehicle purchase also has a lot of emotional attachment. People want to love what they drive. But above all, they need to rely on the vehicle.

When a manufacturer creates a defective vehicle, the bond of trust between the consumer and the manufacturer is broken. The car may lose value, making it impossible to resell, or incurring uninsurable repair costs. In short – the consumer isn’t getting what he paid for, or what he was promised.

Beasley Allen is currently working on a number of auto defect class actions in an effort to secure compensation for economic losses related to the defective vehicles. Some cases we are working on include:

Soy-Based Wiring

A growing number of consumer reports and complaints are raising concerns that automotive wiring made from soy and other biodegradable food-based materials is transforming car engines into the ultimate bed and breakfasts for rodents, usually causing extensive and costly damage.

The Toyota Prius is just one of dozens of vehicle models whose soy-based wires tend to attract rodents, but it seems to be the source of most complaints. One partial list of “cars that taste good” to rodents compiled by synthetic lubricant company SynLube shows that rodent damage to wires has been reported in more than a dozen types of Toyota vehicles.

Honda also is facing a federal class action lawsuit representing vehicle owners in three states who claim soy-based electrical wire coatings have caused rats, mice, rabbits, and squirrels to munch on Honda engines like snacks, causing severe and costly damage.

It is likely that more than a dozen other automakers will face similar claims after they started using soy-based plastics to cover wiring because they are cheaper and more environmentally friendly than traditional petroleum-based plastics.

Takata Airbags

Beasley Allen lawyers, along with co-counsel, have filed a class action lawsuit for economic losses related to potentially defective airbags manufactured by Takata Corporation. The lawsuit represents those who own certain model Honda vehicles that contain the Takata airbags, which may deploy with excessive force, propelling metal fragments into the vehicle and potentially killing or injuring the driver and passenger.

To date, more than 34 million vehicles with Takata-manufactured airbags have been recalled due to defects. Among those are more than 5 million Honda vehicles, including the following makes and model years:

  • 2001- 2007 Honda Accord
  • 2001 – 2005 Honda Civic
  • 2002 – 2006 Honda CR-V
  • 2003 – 2011 Honda Element
  • 2002 – 2004 Honda Odyssey
  • 2003 – 2007 Honda Pilot
  • 2006 Honda Ridgeline
  • 2003 – 2006 Acura MDX
  • 2002 – 2003 Acura TL/CL
  • 2005 Acura RL

Any person in the United States who purchased or leased a Class Vehicle equipped with the defective Takata airbags is eligible to participate in this class action litigation.

The recall is both the largest automotive recall ever announced as well as the largest recall of any consumer product. It is very likely class action lawsuits will be filed on behalf of consumers against additional auto manufacturers with vehicles that contain the defective Takata airbags.

Volkswagen

Beasley Allen is one of the law firms chosen to litigate the Volkswagen case on behalf of plaintiffs harmed by the automaker’s emissions cheat. Volkswagen installed the emissions cheat on 10.5 million diesel-powered vehicles worldwide, including the half million U.S. vehicles — all while promoting “clean diesel” as an alternative to electric and hybrid vehicles.

The defeat device enables the vehicles to detect the special parameters of an emissions drive cycle, which prompts the vehicle’s computer to turn on emissions controls, thereby making the vehicle fully compliant with EPA rules during testing. The software also senses steering, throttle, and other variables unique to real-time driving, which cues the computer to turn off emissions controls, allowing the vehicle to release extremely high levels of nitrogen-oxide emissions up to 40 times higher than federal limits.

A settlement was reached June 27 between Volkswagen and owners of about half a million diesel-powered VW vehicles is worth more than $14 billion, including $10.033 billion set aside to cover vehicle buybacks and fixes, $2 billion for “green energy” funds and $2.7 billion to offset diesel emissions. The settlement is pending approval of U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer, who is overseeing the consolidated litigation.

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.

Exploding e-cigarettes result in serious burn injuries

posted on:
July 19, 2016

author:
Staff

There has been a lot of controversy surrounding the safety of e-cigarettes, but most of it has been about potential health risks related to inhaling the nicotine liquids, or “vaping.” However, there is another health risk associated with the vaping devices – serious burn injuries that result from e-cigarettes exploding while in users’ hands or mouths.

Increasing e-cigarette related injury reports coming in from emergency rooms and burn centers across the country coincide with the rising popularity of vaping. Many users believe e-cigarettes are a healthier alternative to traditional tobacco products, although no studies have been done to prove the safety of this form of smoking. In fact, recent studies raise concerns that diacetyl, a flavoring agent used in many vaping liquids, may lead to serious lung disease.

E-cigarettes have the potential to explode as a result of overheating lithium-ion batteries. According to the U.S. Fire Administration, “When the battery seal ruptures, the pressure within the e-cigarette cylinder builds quickly and instantly ruptures, usually at the end. “As a result of the battery and container failure, one or the other, or both, can be propelled across the room like a bullet or small rocket.”

Sources:
Righting Injustice
U.S. Fire Administration
Harvard School of Public Health

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.

Glyphosate, commercial grade Roundup exposure linked to increased cancer risk

posted on:
July 18, 2016

author:
Kurt Niland

category:
Toxic Torts

Every year, U.S. farmers, professional gardeners, greenhouse workers, and lawn and road maintenance crews spray about 250 million pounds of glyphosate – the active ingredient in brand name Roundup – on crops, nurseries, lawns, parks, and golf courses, making it the most widely used herbicide in the country. But decades of heavy reliance on glyphosate may be coming with an equally heavy price.

After decades of glyphosate use, real-life circumstances seem to corroborate independent studies that have linked glyphosate exposure to cancer, namely Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma (NHL), in addition to a number of other human-health and environmental concerns.

Glyphosate was first developed by the Monsanto Corporation in 1970 and brought to market as a broad-spectrum herbicide in 1974. The sodium-based chemical forms the active ingredient in Monsanto’s herbicide Roundup. Today, glyphosate makes up more than 83 percent of the chemical herbicides used in the U.S.

Along with Roundup, Monsanto has also genetically engineered plants for resistance to glyphosate herbicide, thereby allowing crops to withstand applications of the weed-killing herbicide. Today, Monsanto has a monopoly on the U.S. soybean market; more than 90 percent of soybean crops are genetically engineered to survive Roundup applications.

In 2014, a study by French scientists linked occupational exposure of glyphosate to NHL, finding that people who work with or around the chemical were twice as likely to develop NHL. The World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) last year designated glyphosate as probably carcinogenic to humans, with NHL being the most likely form of cancer promoted by glyphosate exposure.

Because NHL encompasses a broad range of malignancies with multiple subtypes, diverse characteristics, and numerous actual and potential etiologies, further studies of glyphosate as a risk factor of NHL are being conducted to help determine which particular subsets of the cancer are associated with exposure.

Monsanto, of course, has disputed these scientific studies associating its herbicide with cancer, even going so far as hiring its own team of researchers to come up with different results. Two laboratories conducting glyphosate safety studies for Monsanto were cited for “routine falsification of data” and other offenses that cast a dubious show on their credibility.

A number of lawsuits against Monsanto have been filed by farmers and other workers alleging occupational exposure to Roundup caused them to develop NHL. In one case brought by three Nebraska farmers and an agronomist, all of whom developed NHL, the plaintiffs allege Monsanto “concealed or systematically sought to discredit” the dangers of Roundup.

“Monsanto championed falsified data and has attacked legitimate studies that revealed Roundup dangers,” the lawsuit alleges, adding that the corporation Monsanto led “a campaign of misinformation to convince government agencies, farmers and the general population that Roundup is safe.”

Monsanto has moved to dismiss the lawsuits as preempted under the Federal Insecticide Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA). However, in May, a federal judge in California rejected the motions, finding that the “mere fact that the EPA has approved a product label does not prevent a jury from finding that that same label violates FIFRA.

Sources:
Medical Daily
Reuters
Jere Beasley Report

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.

Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML) diagnosis: Were you exposed to benzene?

posted on:
July 15, 2016

author:
Staff

category:
Toxic Torts

A cancer diagnosis is perhaps one of the most devastating events a person can face. Amid the many questions is sure to be, “How did this happen? Why did I get cancer?” For patients diagnosed with Myelodysplastic Syndrome (MDS) or Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML), the answer might be benzene exposure.

Exposure to toxic chemicals, including benzene, is a risk factor for the development of MDS and AML. According to the MDS Foundation, “Long term exposure to certain environmental or industrial chemicals, such as benzene, can also trigger MDS.”

Chemical exposure also is listed as a risk factor for the development of AML by the American Cancer Society, which reports, “long-term exposure to high levels of benzene is a risk factor for AML. Benzene is a solvent used in the rubber industry, oil refineries, chemical plants, shoe manufacturing, and gasoline-related industries, and is also found in cigarette smoke, gasoline and motor vehicle exhaust, and some glues, cleaning products, detergents, art supplies, and paints.”

John Tomlinson, an attorney with Beasley Allen Law Firm, works with clients who are suffering from MDS or AML as the result of chronic exposure to toxins like benzene. He says most people don’t immediately draw a connection between their cancer diagnosis and the toxic exposure.

“Unfortunately, in a number of cases I investigate the victim or the family of the deceased victim wait too long after the date of diagnosis or date of death to contact us about a potential connection between benzene and AML,” Tomlinson says. “After a certain period of time, their right to bring a legal action in court is time-barred.”

According to the MDS Foundation, MDS are a group of diverse bone marrow disorders in which the bone marrow does not produce enough healthy blood cells. MDS is often referred to as a “bone marrow failure disorder”. MDS is primarily a disease of the elderly (most patients are older than age 65), but MDS can affect younger patients as well. For roughly 30 percent of the patients diagnosed with MDS, this type of bone marrow failure syndrome will progress to AML.

The National Cancer Institute describes AML as a type of cancer in which the bone marrow makes abnormal myeloblasts (a type of white blood cell), red blood cells, or platelets. Leukemia may affect red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. There are different subtypes of AML.

In the early stages of MDS, patients may not have any symptoms, but blood tests may reveal a reduced red cell count, sometimes with a reduced white cell count and/or reduced platelet counts. Signs and symptoms of adult AML include fever, feeling tired, and easy bruising or bleeding. Tests on the blood and bone marrow are used to diagnose AML.

If you have recently been diagnosed with MDS or AML and suspect toxic exposure to benzene may be to blame, it is important to talk with a lawyer to determine if you have a claim. Due to certain statutes of limitations for bringing a claim of this nature, it is important to contact an attorney as soon as possible if you believe your condition is a result of benzene exposure.

For more information on this subject, contact John Tomlinson at 334-269-2343 or John.Tomlinson@beasleyallen.com. There is additional information at our website, www.benzene-exposure.com.

Sources:
MDS Foundation
American Cancer Society
NIH National Cancer Institute

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.

Appeals Court ruling opens GM to hundreds more ignition switch complaints

posted on:
July 14, 2016

author:
Kurt Niland

General Motors (GM) cannot use its 2009 bankruptcy as a shield against personal injury, wrongful death, and economic loss claims over its defective and potentially deadly ignition switches, the 2nd U.S. Court of Appeals in Manhattan ruled.

The ruling comes as a major victory to hundreds of plaintiffs who had been barred from seeking damages from GM simply because the automaker reorganized in June 2009, letting the “New GM” off the hook for the “Old GM’s liabilities.”

Bankruptcy Judge Robert Gerber last year issued an order enforcing a “free and clear” provision of the Old GM’s assets, effectively shielding GM’s new incarnation from the liabilities of its former version, including an ignition switch defect that could accidentally cut power to the engine, killing power steering, anti-lock brakes, and airbag protection.

Judge Gerber’s decision meant that anyone injured or killed as a result of an ignition switch malfunction in vehicles made prior to GM’s bankruptcy filing on June 1, 2009, wouldn’t have legal recourse against the company.

The 2nd Circuit Court’s ruling will allow hundreds of plaintiffs to move forward with their complaints against GM. Lawyers representing plaintiffs blocked by the previous ruling successfully argued that while bankruptcy would normally protect a company from liability, GM knew before it filed for Chapter 11 that its ignition switch defect would turn into major debacle, and companies cannot use bankruptcy to sever ties with its misdeeds.

“GM claimed because of their bankruptcy rights, they had a right to walk away or at least be insulated from any liability that occurred before the bankruptcy,” said Beasley Allen Principal & Founder Jere Beasley. “The plaintiffs’ position, one we supported and fought for, was GM would normally be correct, but they knew before the bankruptcy that the ignition switch defect was going to be a problem, and you can’t use bankruptcy for that purpose. Therefore, because GM knew of the issue and never told the purchasers of the cars with the defect, the purchasers were denied Due Process under the law.”

General Motors’ knowledge and alleged cover-up of its faulty ignition switches spanned a decade. The automaker continually denied the existence of a defect until a wrongful death case of Georgia nurse provided proof that GM knew of the problem and had secretly tried to correct it.

It wasn’t until February 2014 that GM began recalling vehicles affected by the bad ignition switches. When it finally did, the automaker sought to enforce the bankruptcy liability shield Judge Gerber’s order provided. Those claims, however, did not exempt the claims based on misconduct by the New GM after it had acquired the Old GM’s assets.

In its Wednesday ruling, the appellate court said that “Due process applies even in a company’s moment of crisis.”

GM has paid about $2 billion in criminal and civil penalties and settlements involving its ignition switches, including a $900-million penalty for its unlawful handling of the problem. The ignition switch defect has been linked to 124 deaths and 275 injuries.

Sources:
Reuters
Law.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.
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