Jere Beasley Report

The Jere Beasley Report February 2024


Alabama Legislature Faces Key Challenges In 2024

The Alabama legislature has work to do when it convenes on March 11. The 2024 calendar is marked by pressing challenges and considerable opportunities to shape our state’s future. Proposed bills to be considered this year are varied and complex, and some could substantially reform many aspects of life and business in Alabama.

Economic development remains a top priority. Improving health care should also be a top priority. As always, the Legislature is expected to cultivate and maintain a conducive environment for business growth and job creation. This includes potentially revising tax policies, investing in infrastructure and fostering an educated workforce. Attracting new industries while supporting existing ones, particularly in rural areas where economic opportunities are often limited, is something Alabama traditionally does very well.

Health care is another critical area. With ongoing debates over Medicaid expansion and the need for improved rural healthcare access, the Legislature must navigate a path that ensures affordable and accessible healthcare for all Alabamians. The mental health system also requires attention, demanding legislative initiatives for better funding and resources.

Education reform is also on the agenda. Addressing issues such as teacher pay, classroom resources, and the digital divide in education is imperative. The Legislature must always strive to enhance educational outcomes, particularly in underfunded and underserved communities. Nothing should be done that would hurt public education. Instead, it should be a top priority during the session. 

Finally, social issues, including criminal justice, violent crime, legalized gambling, and voting rights, are some of the often-controversial matters that the Legislature will likely address. Doing so will require balancing diverse viewpoints and interests to enact policies that promote equity and justice and drive positive change for all Alabamians.

Hopefully, the leadership in both the House and Senate will be able to control the likelihood that national politics will be a divisive factor in the upcoming session. The focus of the session should solely be on what is good for the people of Alabama.  


Talc Litigation Update

Lawsuits against Johnson and Johnson (J&J) alleging perineal use of Johnson’s Baby Powder with talcum powder and Shower-to-Shower body powder caused ovarian cancer are proceeding in both federal and state courts.  

In an effort to divest itself of legal liabilities through a legal loophole called the “Texas two-step,” J&J restructured and concentrated its legal liabilities into a corporation which then declared bankruptcy.  The bankruptcy was ultimately dismissed, as was a second attempt by J&J using a similar maneuver, and on August 11, 2023, all bankruptcy stays were lifted.  In January 2024, J&J entered into a tentative settlement with over 40 U.S. States regarding consumer protection actions involving wrongful marketing practices and failure to warn about possible health risks.  However, this does not affect individual talcum powder cases.  

U.S. District Judge Michael Shipp in the District of New Jersey issued a new pretrial schedule for the six bellwether cases that had previously been selected in the federal multidistrict litigation (MDL).  Expert reports have been submitted, depositions are currently taking place, and all briefings on dispositive and Daubert motions are to be submitted by June 26, 2024.  As of January 2024, there were nearly 54,000 talcum powder and ovarian cancer cases filed in the MDL.  

Trial settings are also underway across state courts.  An amended case management order was issued in Atlantic County Superior Court in New Jersey by Judge John Porto on December 15, 2023, establishing a bellwether selection process for the state’s multicounty litigation.  An initial pool of sixty-three cases has been selected, which will be narrowed to seven cases by July 2024, at which point expert discovery will begin.  Trial dates are anticipated in Fall 2024.  Trial dates are set for Spring 2024 in Florida for two cases involving talcum powder and ovarian cancer.  

Rite Aid, a Pennsylvania-based company and co-defendant in a number of talcum powder lawsuits has declared bankruptcy, staying cases in that state wherein they are a named defendant.  However, other talcum powder cases not involving Rite Aid are proceeding in Pennsylvania state courts, and trials are anticipated in Fall 2024.   

Trial dates for ovarian cancer cases in the JCCP in California are anticipated in November 2024.  There is currently an ongoing trial for mesothelioma resulting from talcum powder in Louisiana state court and a multi-plaintiff trial involving mesothelioma cases set for mid-March in Middlesex County, New Jersey, as well as upcoming cases in Illinois state court.  

J&J investors have filed a class action lawsuit against the company that reflects allegations in the personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits.  The securities fraud claims allege that J&J fraudulently concealed asbestos in talcum powder products and made misrepresentations about product safety and research.  The lawsuit specifies internal company concerns surrounding inadequate testing procedures for asbestos content in talc, while simultaneously promoting product safety.  The class was certified by U.S. District Judge Zahid Quraishi in Trenton, New Jersey on December 29, 2023.    

Beasley Allen has a significant leadership role in leading the MDL bellwether trials likely set in late 2024 and early 2025 as well as in the upcoming trials throughout the state courts.  We are looking forward to presenting the evidence of J&J’s reprehensible conduct to hold the company accountable and obtain justice for the many lives destroyed.

J&J Investors Obtain Class Certification In Talc Concealment Case

A New Jersey federal judge certified a class of Johnson & Johnson investors who accused the company of artificially inflating its stock price by failing to warn consumers about the cancer risk with its talcum powder products. 

U.S. District Judge Zahid N. Quraishi issued the order and opinion last month, certifying a class of anyone who purchased or acquired J&J securities from February 22, 2013, to December 13, 2018. Judge Quraishi also named the lead plaintiff, San Diego County Employees Retirement Association, the class representative, and Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd LLP as the class counsel. 

Judge Quraishi rejected J&J’s attempt to have the certification motion denied. J&J had argued, among other issues, that the investors’ claims related to six corrective disclosures made in 2017 and 2018 were inadequate because they didn’t contain any “new” information. J&J also contended in its argument that the stock price was not impacted by the disclosures that occurred in 2018.

Judge Quraishi found that the investors met all the basic requirements for certification and issued his order. His decision comes one month after another New Jersey federal judge denied J&J’s effort to subpoena communications between nonparty law firms and media outlets regarding J&J’s talcum powder products. 

Johnson & Johnson said in a statement to Law360 that it disagreed with the decision and plans to appeal the judge’s decision to certify the class. 

The investor plaintiffs are represented by James E. Cecchi of Carella Byrne Cecchi Olstein Brody & Agnello PC and Darren J. Robbins, Tor Gronborg, Robert R. Henssler Jr., Nathan R. Lindell, Hillary B. Stakem, Matthew J. Balotta and Joseph J. Tull of Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd LLP.

The case is Frank Hall v. Johnson & Johnson et al., case number 3:18-cv-01833, in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey.

Source: Law360

Beasley Allen Talc Litigation Team

Beasley Allen lawyers Leigh O’Dell and Ted Meadows head our Talc Ovarian Cancer Litigation Team. They have been directly involved in all phases of the talc litigation from the beginning. It has been a tough battle but a necessary one. The team handles claims of ovarian cancer linked to talcum powder and mesothelioma cases. Several key team members continue to focus on Johnson & Johnson’s blatant abuse of the bankruptcy system. That battle is not over. The team continues to fight for our clients in an effort to see that they obtain justice. The following Beasley Allen lawyers are members of the Talc Litigation Team: 

Leigh O’Dell, Ted Meadows, Kelli Alfreds, Ryan Beattie, Beau Darley, David Dearing, Liz Achtemeier, Jennifer Emmel, Lauren James, James Lampkin, Caty O’Quinn,  Cristina Rodriguez, Brittany Scott, Charlie Stern, Will Sutto and Matt Teague.

Charlie Stern and Will Sutton are on the litigation team, but they exclusively handle mesothelioma claims. Charlie and Will are looking at industrial, occupational, and secondary asbestos exposure resulting in lung cancer or mesothelioma and claims of asbestos-related talc products linked to mesothelioma. 


Mediation In Asbestos Litigation

Most lawyers who are litigators are familiar with mediation. If not, they should be because it will certainly be encountered at some time. While mediation can be a useful tool and facilitate settlement, mediations must be strategically planned and scheduled if they have any hope of being effective. This is very true in the context of asbestos litigation for a variety of reasons. 

Asbestos litigation is unique in that many of the defendants are involved in hundreds or even thousands of cases annually. Unlike a modern mass tort or class action, each of the asbestos cases is litigated as its own matter, meaning that a defendant in a case may be facing litigation in dozens of courts and jurisdictions simultaneously. This means that the defendant is facing lawsuits that are at varying stages of litigation. Historically, defendants have prioritized the resolution of those cases that are close to trial. 

Having dispositive and Daubert motions ruled on and denied is always going to help facilitate a successful mediation. But in asbestos, unless the matter is close enough to the trial date, it is likely that the defendants are not seriously reviewing the case because there are dozens of others that are closer to trial that they are focusing on. 

Timing of mediation is critical. Mediation that is close in time to the trial date ensures that you will have more of the defendant’s attention. The defendant and their national coordinating counsel will be familiar with the case and have more authority for higher settlement values. And the actual decision-makers, rather than the defendant’s local counsel, will be present.

In a recent Beasley Allen mesothelioma case, the court preferred that mediation take place early. The court thought that early resolution was possible, but Beasley Allen’s experienced lawyers in the case knew any offers would be minuscule at that point. This was that judge’s first asbestos case. The Beasley Allen asbestos lawyers successfully argued that while early resolution is preferred, the likelihood of that happening was low. The mediation took place closer to the trial date. When it did occur, the defendants’ decision-makers were present, they knew about the case and had sufficient authority. While settlement with every defendant in the case did not occur at that mediation, many high-value settlements did occur.

The timing of the mediation allowed Beasley Allen’s lawyers to get favorable settlements for the client and saved the client as well as the court time and resources. Such insight is necessary in every case to obtain the best results possible. Beasley Allen asbestos lawyers have this insight.

The Beasley Allen Asbestos Litigation Team

Our Asbestos Litigation Team continues to take cases around the country. Case filings in the asbestos litigation have constantly increased nationwide. The Beasley Allen Asbestos Litigation Team is led by Charlie Stern in our Dallas, Texas, office. Charlie has years of experience in asbestos litigation and is a perfect fit to lead the team. Other team members include Will Sutton and Cindy Lopez. Rhon Jones, who heads our Toxic Torts Section, also works with the team. If you need assistance with cases involving asbestos products, contact one of the team members by using the contact form at the bottom of this page.


Camp Lejeune Litigation Update

The Camp Lejeune Justice Act (CLJA) was passed by Congress, lifting barriers for veterans and their families to seek damages from the government over water contamination at the base between August 1, 1953, and December 31, 1987.

There are just under seven months left for service members, their family members, and civilians harmed by contaminated water while living or working at Camp Lejeune military base to file an administrative claim for compensation under the Camp Lejeune Justice Act. 

Before going to court, a claimant must go through the process of filing an administrative claim. The claims process is detailed and requires substantial documentation. Beasley Allen has a team of lawyers handling these claims on behalf of those harmed to ensure their claims are submitted properly and on time. 

The Department of the Navy and Department of Justice recently created an “Elective Option” settlement program to resolve certain claims involving a small subset of injuries. It is essential for a lawyer to understand the options available to their clients so the lawyer can advise the client accordingly. 

In a January 17 webinar, Beasley Allen lawyer Leslie LaMacchia discussed the latest development in the Camp Lejeune Justice Act Litigation and the best path forward for persons who are eligible to file claims. 

A North Carolina federal judge said he expects trials over Camp Lejeune water contamination to begin in late Spring. However, the federal government suggested a later start would be best to spur a possible global settlement. Plaintiffs’ lawyers were pleased with the proposed timeline, but government attorneys were not. 

 Lawyers for the plaintiffs suggested beginning with a single trial for five lawsuits from people who either died or had recovered to some degree from their disease. They said the outcome of that multi-plaintiff trial would give a range of damages that the parties could use for future settlements. They also argued that trying five cases in one trial would save time and money. 

But lawyers for the federal government said they needed additional time to learn more about each case and the diseases the people claim they suffered. They said more time would also allow them to develop a potential global settlement. 

Over 1,500 cases are pending in the Eastern District of North Carolina, which arose from the passing of the Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022. 

Source: Law360

Camp Lejeune: Track 1 Discovery Is Underway

Track 1 discovery is currently underway in the Camp Lejeune Water Litigation in the Eastern District of North Carolina. The first plaintiff’s deposition was taken on January 5, 2024. Under Case Management Order No. 2 (CMO 2), defendants shall be able to take up to three fact depositions in addition to the plaintiff’s treating doctor. Track 1 discovery will conclude on March 4, 2024.

In addition to Plaintiff-specific discovery, Plaintiffs’ Leadership has also served discovery requests on the U.S. Government including, but not limited to, requests to produce documents pertaining to The Department of Veterans Affairs standards for awarding benefits to those injured by the contaminated water and Department of Navy records of third-party vendors/consultants working on water contamination issues at Camp Lejeune. Plaintiffs’ Leadership has collectively served 39 document requests and thus far the U.S. Government has produced hundreds of thousands of pages in response to these requests.

In furtherance of the litigation, both Plaintiffs’ Leadership and the U.S. Government have submitted proposals for conditions to be considered for Track 2, but the court has yet to make a decision. Rhon Jones, who heads up our Toxic Torts Section, serves on the Plaintiffs Executive Committee for this litigation. Rhon and his team are ready to help you with any aspect of administrative claims or lawsuits.

Litigants For Camp Lejeune Seek Lower Causation Standard

Plaintiffs Leadership Group in the Camp Lejeune toxic water lawsuit filed a motion on January 15 requesting that the court adopt a lower causation standard in connecting a plaintiff’s disease to the water exposure while at the Marine training base.

Plaintiffs moved the court to require claimants to establish “general causation” of a disease only, rather than “specific causation.” Thus, a plaintiff would need to establish that exposure to the toxic water was as likely as not to cause their disease. This standard asks whether exposure to a substance is capable of causing a disease in any person, rather than whether exposure to the substance was a cause of disease in a particular person. General causation is a less rigorous standard than specific causation.

According to plaintiffs, if the court requires specific causation, experts will have to testify that the toxic water was the cause of the plaintiff’s disease. Plaintiffs argued that it would be counterproductive and against the statute’s text and purpose to waste time and resources on fact discovery, expert reports, and unnecessary witnesses to prove causation under the Camp Lejeune Justice Act (the Act).

The Act only requires a general causation standard based on group-level analysis, which demonstrates that a person was part of a population exposed to Camp Lejeune water during a statutory time period. The Act borrowed from studies that used group-level evidence associated with general causation, emphasizing that the context of the Act’s creation supports the plaintiff’s argument for a general causation standard.

Additionally, plaintiffs noted that legislation governing how the U.S. Department of

Veterans Affairs designates military injuries also uses a general causation standard, and that was adopted in the Camp Lejeune Justice Act. Under the VA’s system, “sufficiently strong scientific evidence linking a type of injury to military service allows the VA to presume that a veteran’s injury was connected to military service, without individualized causation evidence.”

Plaintiffs further contended that even if the causation standard question is unclear, the court should grant the motion under the Veteran’s Canon, which protects veterans’ interests by construing the statute in their favor when there is ambiguity. Over 1,500 CLJA lawsuits are pending in the Eastern District of North Carolina and over 150,000 administrative claims are pending with the Department of Navy, which have the potential to become lawsuits. 

The case is Camp Lejeune Water Litigation v. U.S., case number 7:23-cv-00897, in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina.

DOJ Warns That Fraudsters Are Targeting Camp Lejeune Victims

The U.S. Department of Justice and the Department of the Navy have warned claimants in litigation regarding Camp Lejeune water contamination to be aware of fraudsters trying to access their personal information. 

The DOJ said that claimants who receive calls or emails from individuals alleging to be with the departments and seeking money for personal information should contact their lawyers to report the potential fraud, citing concerns about reports of fraudulent activity. Claimants who do not have a lawyer should contact the Navy’s Camp Lejeune claim unit.

Neither the DOJ nor the Navy would request money or payment from claimants. Any communication from the departments would be made through their legal counsel and never directly by the Department of Navy. 

The case is Camp Lejeune Water Litigation v. U.S., case number 7:23-cv-00897, in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina.

Source: Law360

Beasley Allen Camp Lejeune Litigation Team

Beasley Allen lawyers on our Litigation team continue to work very hard in the Camp Lejeune litigation. The number of cases being handled by the firm are now in excess of 10,000 with more clients consistently coming in. There are numerous Beasley Allen Camp Lejeune webinars addressing the various issues in this litigation that are available at 

Currently, our firm has 9 lawyers and a large number of staff working on this litigation, including Toxic Torts Section Head Rhon Jones. You can contact any of the lawyers on our litigation team if you need help with a claim or have questions. 

The lawyers include co-leads Leslie LaMacchia, and Julia Merritt, along with Will Sutton, Ryan Kral, Trisha Green, Matt Pettit, Tucker Osborne, Marion Brumma and Khadiga Carr.


Social Media Addiction/Personal Injury Litigation Update

The Social Media Addiction/Personal Injury and School District Product Liability multidistrict litigation (MDL) against the world’s largest social media platforms is moving forward. The defendants include Meta (Facebook and Instagram), Snapchat, TikTok, and YouTube. The MDL is currently overseen by Judge Gonzalez-Rogers in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, Oakland Division. There are currently 223 personal injury cases filed in the MDL. 

There are also 111 school district plaintiffs, 8 local government plaintiffs, and 2 complaints filed by a total of 34 State Attorneys General. In the MDL, the discovery phase has started, and requests for discovery have been issued. Beasley Allen’s Joseph VanZandt has been appointed to the Plaintiff Steering Committee, the team overseeing the process from the plaintiffs’ side.

 Defendants are also facing similar state court consolidated personal injury litigation in California in the Judicial Council Coordination Proceedings (JCCP). The JCCP is overseen by Judge Carolyn B. Kuhl of the Superior Court of California. Here, as well, Joseph VanZandt was appointed to leadership as co-lead counsel in this JCCP. This is great news for our clients, who will have a direct representative in a leadership role. There are currently 566 personal injury cases filed in the JCCP. Additionally, there are 344 claims filed on behalf of school districts and 2 local government plaintiffs. 

Discovery has started in the JCCP as well. Plaintiffs have started working through the implemented Plaintiff Fact Sheets (PFS), while counsel for both sides are working through a proposed Defendant Fact Sheet (DFS). In the most recent Case Management Conference, Judge Kuhl set deadlines in place for working towards the finalized DFS and other related discovery issues, as well as a timeframe for Bellwether Discovery to begin – hopefully, this Summer of 2024. Most recently, defendants filed Master Answers to Plaintiff’s Master Complaint just this week, keeping the momentum of the litigation going.

Beasley Allen lawyers continue to be heavily involved with the federal and state court litigations against the social media companies, representing clients in both courts. Beasley Allen is handling lawsuits for individuals who became addicted to social media as minors and suffered serious mental health consequences, including anxiety, depression, eating disorders, body dysmorphia, ADD/ADHD, self-harm, and suicidal ideation.

Beasley Allen began filing social media personal injury lawsuits nationwide in 2022 for adolescents harmed by social media addiction. Additionally, our lawyers represent numerous school districts across the country in claims of nuisance and negligence resulting from social media’s harmful impact on education systems.

The plaintiffs are represented by Joseph VanZandt from our firm, Emily Jeffcott of Morgan & Morgan PA, and Brian J. Panish, Rahul Ravipudi and Jesse M. Creed of Panish Shea Boyle Ravipudi LLP. 

Judge Denies Meta’s Bid To Dismiss Health Data Suit 

A California federal judge rejected Meta Platforms Inc.’s bid to toss an amended complaint alleging the social media giant used a data tracking tool to illegally harvest sensitive medical information patients shared with their healthcare providers. 

The lawsuit alleges that Meta (Facebook) developed a code snippet disguised as a “first-party cookie” and embedded it in more than 600 healthcare websites. This Pixel code places itself on users’ devices to monitor and log interactions between them and their healthcare providers. The Pixel allegedly allows Meta to gather extensive data about the patients as they communicate with their providers. The company uses the harvested data to tailor its advertising to each patient. 

In its motion to dismiss, Meta argued the data it collected between patients and their healthcare providers came from webpages available to the public. U.S. District Judge William H. Orrick rejected that argument.

The judge trimmed the lawsuit in September 2023, finding the plaintiffs did not identify the specific types of health information Meta collected. He also dismissed the patients’ allegations that Meta violated California’s Comprehensive Computer Data Access and Fraud Act and tossed allegations of negligence, theft, unfair competition and trespass claims.

The judge then allowed the patients to amend their complaint. They filed a revised suit the following month. In the January hearing, Judge Orrick found that the plaintiffs had sufficiently addressed his prior concerns, including identifying the types of medical data Meta allegedly collected. The ruling allows the case to proceed to discovery.

The healthcare plaintiffs are represented by Geoffrey Graber of Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll PLLC, Jason “Jay” Barnes of Simmons Hanly Conroy LLC, Jeffrey A. Koncius of Kiesel Law LLP, Beth E. Terrell of Terrell Marshall Law Group PLLC and Andre M. Mura of Gibbs Law Group LLP.

Meta is represented by Elizabeth K. McCloskey, Abigail A. Barrera, Lauren R. Goldman and Darcy C. Harris of Gibson Dunn & Crutcher LLP, and Michael G. Rhodes, Kyle C. Wong and Caroline A. Lebel of Cooley LLP.

The case is In Re: Meta Pixel Healthcare Litigation, case number 3:22-cv-03580, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.

Source: Law360

TikTok, Meta Can’t Escape Lawsuit Over Health Data Tracking

U.S. District Judge William H. Orrick has refused to dismiss Meta Platforms Inc. and TikTok Inc. from a proposed class action accusing them of illegally collecting personal health information from patients of a telehealth company. The judge found that the tech companies hadn’t shown that the plaintiff agreed to data-gathering or that she had waited too long to file her case. 

In weighing their bid to escape the suit, Judge Orrick referenced a September ruling he made in a similar case claiming Meta of illegally collecting patients’ health data from a Facebook tracking tool. In that ruling, the judge found that the plaintiffs had adequately claimed intent under the California Invasion of Privacy Act. He also found that Meta’s tracking pixel qualified as a device under the privacy statute. 

Meta and TikTok had filed motions to cut plaintiff Jane Doe’s claims for intrusion upon seclusion, unjust enrichment, and violation of the California Invasion of Privacy Act. She claims the companies’ use of tracking technology embedded in Hey Favor’s website, and the app allowed them to gather personal data from patients who used the telemedicine service.

Judge Orrick did dismiss web analytics software company FullStory Inc. from the case. He concluded that the court lacked personal jurisdiction over the Georgia-based company. Plaintiffs were suing FullStory over its use of session replay tracking technology. 

The plaintiff is represented by Eddie Jae K. Kim, Gary F. Lynch, Jamisen A. Etzel and Nicholas A. Colella of Lynch Carpenter LLP and Christian Levis, Amanda Fiorilla, Rachel Kesten and Christopher DeVivo of Lowey Dannenberg PC.

The case is Doe v. Hey Favor Inc. et al., case number 3:23-cv-00059, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.

Source: Law360

Georgia Lawsuit Blames Young Girl’s Suicide On TikTok And Snapchat 

Betty Garland, mother of 12-year-old Breezy Cater who died by suicide, claims Snapchat and TikTok caused her daughter’s death. She alleges in her lawsuit that the social media platforms targeted the child with explicit material and interfered with her sleep schedule, leading her to suffer severe anxiety and depression.  

According to Ms. Garland’s complaint, filed last month in Los Angeles County Superior Court, her daughter began using TikTok at around age 10. The child also started using Snapchat around the same time, which Ms. Garland says she was unaware of. When she found out, Ms. Garland made her daughter delete the app. But Snapchat allowed her to create a new account easily. 

Ms. Garland claims that Snapchat and TikTok targeted her daughter with “user recommendation tools” fueled by artificial intelligence and “feed-based tools” that delivered “harmful social comparison” and explicit content to her. Snapchat and TikTok didn’t provide Ms. Garland with any ways to monitor or prevent her daughter’s access to the platforms. It’s claimed that the child was exposed to disturbing material that she did not seek out herself. Thus, she was held captive, unable to look away from the content or stop using the platforms. 

The child’s use of the social media platform coincided with a “sharp decline” in her mental health. Ms. Garland began to fear for her daughter’s physical safety. Ultimately, the child ended up taking her own life in early January 2022. The lawsuit accuses the social media platforms of strict liability, negligence, wrongful death, sex and age discrimination, and survival action. 

Ms. Garland is represented by Laura Marquez-Garrett, Sydney Lottes, Matthew Bergman and Glenn Draper of the Social Media Victims Law Center. Counsel for Snap Inc. and TikTok was not available.

The case is Beverly Garland v. Snap Inc. et al., case number 24SMCV00011, in the Superior Court of California, County of Los Angeles.

Source: Law360

The Beasley Allen Social Media Personal Injury Litigation Team

Joseph VanZandt, who leads our firm’s Social Media Personal Injury Litigation Team, is co-lead counsel for the Judicial Council Coordination Proceeding (JCCP) for the plaintiffs in California State Court. Joseph is also a member of the Plaintiffs Steering Committee, helping lead the federal social media multidistrict litigation (MDL).

If you need help on a case, or more information on the personal injury part of our social media litigation, contact a lawyer on the firm’s Social Medial Litigation Team by using the contact form at the bottom of this page. Members of the team are:

Joseph VanZandt, who heads the team, Jennifer Emmel, Suzanne Clark, Clinton Richardson, Sydney Everett, Davis Vaughn and Seth Harding. Andy Birchfield, who heads our Mass Torts Section, also works with the team.

Class Actions At Beasley Allen Involving The Social Media Litigation

The class action aspect of the Social Media Litigation is handled by lawyers in our Consumer Fraud & Commercial Litigation Section. Class actions are separate from the personal injury aspect of this litigation. If you need more information, or need help on a class action case, contact Michelle Fulmer, Section Director, by using the contact form at the bottom of this page. She will have a class action lawyer respond to you. 


Judge Rejects Ford’s Bid To Keep Rollover Documents Sealed

U.S. District Judge Clay Land has ordered that nearly all the confidential exhibits from a Ford truck rollover case, which ended in a record $1.7 billion verdict, be made public. The decision came in an ongoing case involving another deadly rollover in an F250 Super Duty pickup truck.

According to Judge Land’s order, all but one of the nine documents Ford tried to keep confidential will be disclosed. The court’s decision came in the lawsuit brought by the children of a couple who sued Ford over an August 2022 rollover crash that killed their parents. Debra Sue Mills and Herman Edwin Mills suffered fatal injuries when the roof of their Ford F-250 Super Duty pickup truck collapsed when it flipped over.

Ford has known for at least 20 years that the roofs of F-series Super Duty trucks made between 1999 and 2016 were dangerously weak. Rollover crash victims and their families have sued the automaker more than 200 times over the same defect. Ironically, just days before the Mills crash, a Georgia jury awarded Kim and Adam Hill $1.7 billion for a similar 2014 rollover crash that killed their parents. 

In denying Ford’s request for confidentiality, Judge Land said that anyone in the courtroom for the August 2022 Hill v. Fordtrial or watching it remotely would have seen the documents Ford wanted to keep sealed. Judge Land also said that Ford failed to clarify what parts of the documents remained concealed during the previous trial. It should be noted that the one document that stayed confidential was not used during the Hill trial.

Source: Law360

Beasley Allen Lawyer Files Lawsuit Against Amazon

Beasley Allen lawyer Mike Crow has filed a highly significant lawsuit against Amazon. Mike’s client was seriously injured when an Amazon delivery truck struck his vehicle while traveling on an Alabama highway. This impact caused the client’s vehicle to leave the roadway and strike a tree, permanently injuring him. The lawsuit, filed on December 12, 2023 in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama, alleges that Amazon negligently entrusted, supervised, monitored and controlled the truck company and the driver through Amazon’s “Delivery Service Program.”

Here’s how this program works. Amazon utilizes a network of transportation and logistics companies as part of its product-delivery process. That practice allows Amazon to contract with outside companies, which then complete deliveries on behalf of Amazon.

The Wall Street Journal published an article recently revealing that Amazon regularly contracts with unreasonably dangerous trucking companies. Many companies awarded contracts with Amazon received safety scores worse than the level at which Department of Transportation officials typically take action, according to the Journal’s analysis.

The study further revealed that “Amazon contractors with problematic scores were twice as likely as other contractors to have a crash while working for the company.” This dangerous practice of hiring unsafe drivers has led to more than 75 deaths resulting from crashes involving trucking companies hauling for Amazon since 2015.

Large companies like Amazon must be held accountable for placing the public in harm’s way on the nation’s highways. Beasley Allen will continue to push for safer roadways across the country for the public.

Trucking Case Settlement In The Northern District Of Georgia

Ben Keen, a lawyer in our Atlanta office, recently secured a settlement in a trucking case in the Northern District of Georgia. Ben’s case involved a negligent tractor-trailer driver who failed to maintain control of his tractor-trailer, resulting in a rear-end collision into the client’s vehicle. Fortunately, the client was also driving a tractor-trailer, which, more likely than not, is the reason he survived the crash. While the defendants initially denied liability, deposition testimony proved their defenses in Ben’s case were without merit. The defendant driver observed and failed to respond to numerous hazards despite his understanding that all present hazards mandated that he slow his vehicle. One hazard being sunlight, which impaired the driver’s ability to see the roadway and the vehicles ahead. 

Utilizing the Federal Motor Carrier Regulations, § 392.14, Ben was able to use this purported “defense” to the plaintiff’s advantage. In part, this regulation mandates that a driver use extreme caution when a hazardous condition, such as sunlight, adversely affects visibility. Extreme caution is exercised by slowing down or stopping if the hazard continues to affect visibility. The download of the vehicle shows that the defendant driver engaged in neither action prior to colliding into the plaintiff. 

Next, the defendants sought to challenge the plaintiff’s injuries, namely focusing on a pre-existing injury that predated the incident by more than ten years and the fact that the plaintiff’s injury was treated through physical therapy treatment and injections.  Ben deposed the plaintiff’s treating provider and the defense expert, successfully rebutting the defendants causation defenses and establishing damages sufficient to settle the matter for $500,000. 

Are Used Tires A Safety Hazard? That Is Often The Case 

Many deal-seekers might purchase used tires for their vehicle because those tires often are the most affordable option. While trying to get a “good” deal is not a bad thing, it is important for a tire purchaser to know of the risks associated with the purchase of used tires.

The type of tire that a person buys is important: statistics released by NHTSA indicated some 11,000 accidents occur every year due to bad tires. So, let’s look further at some of the problems when buying used tires. 

While some used tires show signs of wear and tear that create obvious cause for concern, tire damage can also occur internally or in ways that are harder to detect. For example, knowing the tire history is important – does it have improper repairs or is it too old. Oftentimes, this information cannot be determined without a tire professional’s help. 

The danger, it seems, lies in the fact that a used tire brings with it many unknowns. Because these tires don’t come straight from the manufacturing plant, it is impossible for a purchaser to truly know the history of the tires that he or she is buying. Therefore, tire purchasers should be extra vigilant when they go out to get tires for their vehicle. Doing so protects themselves as well as their friends and family. 

Make sure the tire professional you are dealing with is qualified and has performed a proper inspection of the tires and is aware of their history. Also, be sure that the tires are not too old for service. In many cases, auto manufacturers warn against using tires that are 6 years old or older – no matter the tread depth. 

Sources: NHTSA, U.S. Tire Manufacturers Association

Confirming Rejection And Getting More For A Needy Client: UM And Written Rejection

More often than Beasley Allen lawyers would like to see, our firm has a client who comes to Beasley Allen having received serious injuries in a motor vehicle accident, but with very limited liability insurance coverage for the at-fault driver.  Necessarily that means our lawyers in such a case must fall back on the client’s own insurance coverage to adequately compensate the client for his or her losses.  

You would think in such an instance that an injured person’s own insurance company would want to find every way possible to help its own policyholder after a car accident.  But that rarely is the case when a tortfeasor has limited liability coverage.  Rather it’s in the insurance company’s best interest to claim the lowest amount of uninsured motorist (UM) coverage available.  

A lawyer can’t just take the insurance company’s claim of the amount of coverage available at face value.  Because, if the insurance company has failed to take the proper statutory steps—it could mean there is more money on the table for the client than that which is listed at first glance. 

You may well ask what do I mean? Let me explain. 

Let’s look at Georgia law on the subject.  Insurers in the state of Georgia are required to provide uninsured motorist coverage to policyholders in the amount equal to their liability limits.  The Georgia Uninsured Motorist Act, O.C.G.A. § 33-7-11, maintains that a liability policy in this state cannot be issued without providing uninsured motorist coverage.  Unless a policyholder affirmatively chooses uninsured motorist limits in an amount less than liability limits, the statutory default is that the policyholder’s uninsured motorist coverage equals the policy’s liability limits.  

For example, a client could have $100,000 per person/$300,000 per occurrence in liability coverage.  If the insurance company claims the client rejected UM coverage or elected UM coverage of only $25,000, the insurance company must have that in writing.  If it is not properly in writing, the policy does not comply with Georgia law and therefore the terms of O.C.G.A. § 33-7-11 are the default.  So, in this example, if the client’s insurance company cannot show their written selection of no or lesser UM coverage, the client’s UM coverage by statutory default is then $100,000 per person/$300,000 per occurrence.  

What’s more: the statutory default is that UM “adds on” to the liability coverage available unless the insured requested “reduced by” coverage in writing.  Again, the burden is on the insurance company to prove your client chose lesser limits. So, in the same case, if the insurance company cannot prove the policyholder’s affirmative choices, you are looking at $100,000 in additional coverage for your client’s injuries. You should look at the law of the state involved in a client’s case. All states won’t be like Georgia.  

This is the bottom line: double check before assuming the amounts of coverage on a policy’s dec page are accurate.  You could be missing money on the table for your client.  So, make sure you have covered all of the bases relating to the available UM coverage.   

Law Enforcement Officers Offering Accident Reconstruction Opinions are Subject To Daubert Scrutiny

In automotive product liability cases, accident reconstructionists can play a vital role in showing the “who, what, when, where, why, and how” of a given wreck. Typically, accident reconstructionists are retained experts whose opinions must satisfy the standards articulated in Daubert and Rule 702. 

But what about unretained law enforcement officers who investigate a wreck in their official capacity and offer opinions about how the wreck occurred? Is the testimony of these individuals subject to the same scrutiny as retained accident reconstructionist experts? The Supreme Court of Georgia – in Miller v. Golden Peanut Company, LLC, 317 Ga. 22 (2023) – correctly answered “yes” to this question.

In Miller, the plaintiffs represented the estate of Kristie Miller, who was killed when her car collided with a tractor-trailer that was pulling onto a two-lane road. An officer with the Georgia State Patrol investigated the wreck and opined that Kristie “was distracted by something and failed to slow her vehicle down to allow for the trailer to clear her lane of travel.” Plaintiffs sought to exclude this opinion and any related testimony as unreliable. 

But the trial judge denied the motion and on appeal the Georgia Court of Appeals affirmed. Both the trial judge and the Court of Appeals relied on the “investigating officer” rule to support their decisions. Under that rule, an investigating officer is a presumptive expert as it relates to the cause of a wreck thereby removing any need for Daubert or Rule 702 review.

The Georgia Supreme Court reversed, holding that the trial court erred in failing to perform any Daubert analysis of the officer’s opinions. The high court reasoned that the officer’s proffered opinions fell within the ambit of expert testimony because they involved “the application of technical or other specialized knowledge.” The Georgia Supreme Court rejected the investigating officer rule, concluding “that when an investigating officer is called to provide an expert opinion, the trial court must perform the same gatekeeping function under Rule 702 that it is required to do with all expert witnesses.”

Automotive product liability practitioners must evaluate law enforcement officers’ opinions about a wreck through the lens of Miller. The Miller decision makes clear that those opinions must pass muster under Daubert and Rule 702. If they do not, an investigating officer’s opinions are subject to exclusion just like any other expert witness.       

The Georgia Supreme Court correctly applied the proper rule for the Miller case and all future cases. Lawyers representing plaintiffs in litigation should feel good about the Miller decision, as should opposing counsel. This rule simply allows an investigating officer to be able to testify to findings. But the officer will also be allowed to give expert opinions when Daubert and Rule 702 requirements can be satisfied in each case. 

Ford Recalls Nearly 1.9 Million Explorer SUVs To Secure Trim Pieces Due To Road Hazard Risk 

Ford Motor Co. is recalling about 1.9 million Explorer SUVs in the U.S. to secure trim pieces. The pieces can fly off the car, creating a hazard for other drivers. The recall covers Explorers from model years 2011 through 2019. 

The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) said the clips holding the trim over the roof supports near the windshield can come loose. If this happens, the trim piece can fly off and cause a crash. 

U.S. regulators launched an investigation into the issue after receiving 164 complaints from consumers. Documents show that Ford had initially decided against recalling the vehicles because the parts were so small. But the company changed its mind after regulators determined that the issue posed a safety hazard to other drivers. 

Ford will notify owners of the recall beginning March 13 to contact a Ford dealer for an inspection. Dealers will check the trim pieces to ensure the clips are engaged and add adhesive to help hold them in place. 

Ford said it knows of 568 consumer complaints and over 14,000 warranty reports claiming the parts were missing or detached. The company said its unaware of any crashes or injuries related to the issue. 

Source: Associated Press

Aviation Litigation

The Boeing 737 Max Problems Continue

Boeing 747 Max 9 jets are back in the news across the country and not in a good way. The midair blowout of a chunk of an Alaska Airlines’ Boeing 737 Max 9 jet. The swift grounding order by regulators following the incident, and further revelations, have raised new concerns over the jets’ assembly and inspection procedures. Authorities are also raising questions about the overall safety of the U.S. aviation industry following a series of mishaps.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is investigating what may have caused the mid-cabin panel blowout and rapid depressurization last month aboard Alaska Airlines Flight 1282 not long after it took off from Portland, Oregon, to Ontario, California. The plane safely returned to Portland with no serious injuries reported among passengers or crew members. 

The incident has forced regulators and Boeing to once again reexamine procedures for assembling and inspecting aircraft, especially given Boeing’s recent troubled history with its 737 Max 8 jets that were involved 5 years ago in two deadly crashes overseas and grounded globally for nearly two years. The 737 Max 8 jets were involved in the October 2018 crash of Lion Air Flight 610 in the Java Sea that killed 189 people and the March 2019 crash of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 that killed 157 people.

Following the Alaska Airlines incident, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) temporarily grounded more than 170 similar 737 Max 9 jets to conduct more in-depth inspections. The NTSB has focused its investigation on the door plug, which fills the space of the optional mid-cabin exit door. The door plug blew off Alaska Airlines’ fuselage and landed in the backyard of a Portland resident. Fortunately, it was recovered. 

The incident has raised concerns about Boeing’s manufacturing and inspection procedures, especially given the company’s troubled history with its 737 Max 8 jets.

This incident and the following investigations have again put Boeing and the FAA under scrutiny. Lawmakers, including Senator Maria Cantwell, are calling for accountability and oversight, expressing concerns about Boeing’s quality control and FAA’s oversight processes.

The Boeing Co. said in a statement that it “will cooperate fully and transparently with the FAA and the NTSB on their investigations.” Since then, the company has made more admissions that are quite troubling. 

Accident investigators are closely examining all aspects of how the door plug was assembled, bolted, fastened or secured onto the fuselage — procedures overseen by Boeing or the manufacturer of the fuselage, Spirit AeroSystems Inc. The 737 Max 9 jet involved in the Jan. 5 incident was a brand-new aircraft delivered to Alaska Airlines in October.

Following the FAA-mandated enhanced inspections, both Alaska Airlines and United Airlines said they discovered loose bolts on door plugs in some of their 737 Max 9 jets, but they did not disclose at that time how many planes were affected.

Boeing, in recent years, has agreed to a series of settlements to resolve the numerous lawsuits and investigations that faulted Boeing for misleading regulators and airline customers about an automated feature that was unique to the 737 Max jets called the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS). As previously reported, MCAS affected the jets’ flight control system. A January 2021 deferred prosecution agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice closed out a more than two-year criminal conspiracy investigation into claims that Boeing defrauded safety regulators about the 737 Max jet.

Source: Law360

FAA Urges Checks On Boeing 737-900ER Door Plugs 

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has advised airlines using Boeing 737-900ER jets to check the security of the aircraft’s door plugs. The agency called on airlines to inspect the bolts that hold the plugs and door panel in place.

The 737-900ER is an older model than the MAX 9 and is more widely used. Both models have the same optional door design that lets carriers add an additional emergency exit door if they choose to add more seats – a configuration common with budget airlines. 

The FAA did not ground any Boeing 737-900ER aircraft because the door plug has not been an issue since Boeing introduced the model more than 15 years ago. The Alaska Airlines MAX 9 jet that lost its door in flight was new, a troubling fact that should continue to draw attention to Boeing’s production and inspection protocols and its safety culture in general. 

Sources: Reuters, ABC News, Seattle Times, Leeham News

U.S. Lawmakers Again Have Their Sights Set On Boeing And The FAA

Congress in late 2020 enacted bipartisan legislation reforming parts of the FAA’s aircraft certification process after the 737 Max 8 crashes exposed gaps in the government’s oversight and jet makers’ outsized role in vetting their own aircraft safety. It certainly appears that Boeing’s safety problems will continue. 

Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., chair of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, has called on the FAA to provide the committee with documents related to the agency’s safety audits of Boeing and Spirit AeroSystems over the past two years. Cantwell said in a letter to FAA Administrator Mike Whitaker:

Recent accidents and incidents — including the expelled door plug on Alaska Airlines flight 1282 — call into question Boeing’s quality control. In short, it appears that FAA’s oversight processes have not been effective in ensuring that Boeing produces airplanes that are in condition for safe operation, as required by law and by FAA regulations.

Sen. Cantwell said in a statement to media outlets last month: 

The American public deserves answers. I am asking the FAA to provide a full accounting of its oversight of manufacturers’ compliance with quality control standards.

It will now be interesting to see what Congress does. Hopefully, it will be more than just issuing news releases. Because of the subject matter, and the serious consequences of a political approach to problem-solving, a bipartisan approach in Congress is badly needed. 

Source: Law360


Beasley Allen Mobile Lawyer Files Tree Stand Wrongful Death Case

Lawyers in our Mobile office continue to focus on product liability claims that involve serious injury or death. Evan Allen, one of our Mobile lawyers, recently filed a wrongful death case involving a tree stand produced by GSM Outdoors LLC. Glen Coker was tragically killed in a deer hunting accident while hunting from an API Marksman tree stand on October 29, 2022, in Putnam County, Georgia. The stand suddenly detached from the tree after the cable attaching the stand to the tree snapped. 

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), the API Marksman stand involved in the incident was under recall due to the cable assembly releasing, which poses a fall hazard like what occurred when Glen Coker used the defective tree stand. 

Evan Allen filed the lawsuit on behalf of Glen Coker’s estate against the Texas based manufacturer of the tree stand in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Georgia. The complaint alleges causes of action under strict liability, negligence, breach of warranty, failure to warn, and for punitive damages.

Sources: Consumer Products Safety Commission, Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, University of Alabama Birmingham, Grandview Outdoors

Home Depot And A Hose Maker Reach $108 Million Settlement With Buyers 

A Georgia federal judge has been asked to approve a settlement valued at over $108 million for a proposed class suing Home Depot Corp. and Reliance Worldwide Corp. If approved, the settlement will resolve claims that the two companies made and sold water heater connector hoses with defective rubber linings. 

The settlement agreement comes after nine months of negotiations and mediation in the pending class action lawsuit. The settlement consists of a $3.8 million common fund for class members who suffered property damage and an offer for replacement hoses for class members, estimated at $105 million. 

The case involves the “Sharkbite” brand connector hoses made by Reliance and sold by Home Depot. The suit claims the hoses contain a defective rubber lining that disintegrates and flakes, leaving a “sludge-like substance” in faucets and other appliances connected to hot water lines. 

The settlement would define class members as those who bought the connector hoses for direct use. It would exclude those who have already resolved claims with Home Depot and Reliance or received a refund or replacement. 

The settlement would provide all class members with up to two replacement water heater connectors of the same type and size per household, regardless of whether the hose has failed. Or, class members can be reimbursed $15 per replacement hose. Approximately 7 million hoses are in service—the hoses retail for over $15. 

Additionally, class members who can show they suffered property damage due to the defective hoses can be reimbursed for the damage from a common fund of $3.8 million. 

The plaintiff is represented by Christopher E. Stiner and Tina Wolfson of Ahdoot & Wolfson PC, Stephanie A. Casey, Aziza F. Elayan and Sabrina Saieh of Colson Hicks Eidson and Andrea Hirsch of The Hirsch Law Firm.

The case is Elder v. Reliance Worldwide Corp. et al., case number 1:20-cv-01596, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia.

Source: Law360

Georgia Lawsuit Filed Against Best Buy Over Recalled Pressure Cookers 

A group of consumers have filed a class action against Best Buy in Georgia federal court over the sale of certain Insignia pressure cookers. The consumers claim that the small appliances have incorrect markings on the inner pot, allowing them to be overfilled. Hot foods can eject from the pot when overfilled, creating a burn hazard for consumers. 

Best Buy recalled roughly 930,000 Insignia multi-function pressure cookers in October due to incorrect markings. The Consumer Product Safety Commission said it had concerns over the pots’ incorrect volume markings, causing hot foods and liquids to eject when the cooker is vented through the “quick release method” or opened when the contents are under pressure. 

The lawsuit, filed last month by Georgia resident George Dean, claimed that he and all others in the U.S. who purchased the appliances from October 2017 to June 2023 were conned by Best Buy into believing the products were safe. However, it’s alleged that the company knew the cookers had incorrect volume markings and weren’t suitable for their intended use. 

Dean said the company had a duty to warn consumers of the potential dangers with the cookers. Instead, Best Buy advised users to rely on the volume markings when using the pot. He seeks to represent a class of all U.S. residents, and Georgia residents who purchased affected Insignia pressure cookers between October 2017 and June 2023.

Plaintiff Dean is represented by Brent Michael Kaufman, Paul J. Doolittle and Blake G. Abbott of Poulin Willey Anastopoulo LLC.

The case is Dean v. Best Buy Co. Inc., case number 4:24-cv-00007, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia.

Source: Law360


Workplace Injuries In Georgia Can Be Compensable Through Civil Litigation

In Georgia, most employees and even many lawyers assume that worker’s compensation is the exclusive remedy for an on-the-job injury against an employer. In making that assumption and not contacting a trial lawyer, many employees lose out on the potential to be fully compensated for their injuries. Worker’s compensation laws allow recovery of medical costs, lost wages, and cost of rehabilitation. However, there is no recovery for pain and suffering or other remedies available under negligence claims. 

Let’s take a look at Georgia law. Generally, while it is true, that in the Peach State law does not permit an injured employee to bring a lawsuit against his or her employer for negligent conduct, other avenues for filing a claim may be available. Conducting a full investigation into a workplace injury may lead to the discovery of a potential claim. 

Ben Keen, a lawyer in Beasley Allen’s Atlanta office, is currently investigating a potential on-the-job injury claim. This case came to our office after the potential client, an employee, sustained significant facial burns while on the job. At the time of the incident, the employee was unhooking a hose containing acid from a truck. Simultaneously, the hose exploded due to pressure build-up, causing serious burns. 

Under these circumstances, an investigation might reveal that the hose was defectively designed, which led to the build-up of pressure and the resulting explosion. In that case, the potential client may have a product liability claim against the third-party manufacturer. 

Moreover, further investigation may reveal that an independent third party such as a contractor or an on-site engineer, may have been the cause of the incident, not the employer. 

When injuries or death are caused by defective machinery or by the actions or omissions of another third party, there are potential claims against those parties that employees and even many lawyers are not aware of. 

Beasley Allen’s lawyers are well-versed in this area of the law. They are knowledgeable about the potential liability claims that fall outside of worker’s compensation laws. 

Insurance Litigation

Merck And Insurers Settle $1.4 Billion Cyberattack Claim  

Merck settled a five-year-long legal dispute with its insurers in January over a June 2017 cyberattack on its computer systems. The malware attack, known as “NotPetya,” damaged 40,000 computers, hurt Merck’s revenues and resulted in losses of $1.4 billion.

Merck filed a claim for the damages under the company’s all-risk property insurance policies. The drug company’s insurers denied the claim, arguing the “hostile/warlike” actions were excluded from coverage.

In  August  2018, Merck filed a lawsuit against 15 insurers and 8 reinsurers, alleging they breached insurance contracts by rejecting claims for losses over the cyberattack. The defendants in Merck’s lawsuit included AIG, Chubb, Liberty Mutual, Zurich and others. Merck alleged that the exclusion in question was intended for traditional, physical warfare, not cyberattacks.

In December 2021, a trial court ruled that the “hostile/warlike” exclusion covers acts of physical warfare only, not malware attacks. In January 2022, a New Jersey Superior Court judge also sided with Merck, finding that the company rightfully anticipated that the hostile/warlike actions exclusion only applied to traditional forms of warfare, such as hostilities between the armed forces of battling nations.

A New Jersey appeals court affirmed those rulings in May 2023, noting the exclusion’s language and how it had been applied in the past. The Supreme Court of New Jersey was about to review the case when Merck and its insurers reached their settlement. The case highlights the complexities of insurance coverage in the digital age, especially regarding cyber threats.

Merck is represented by Mark W. Mosier, Anna P. Engh and Mark D. Herman of Covington & Burling LLP, and Russell L. Hewit of Dughi Hewit & Domalewski PC. 

The case is Merck & Co. Inc. et al. v. Ace American Insurance Co. et al., case number 088274, before the Supreme Court of the State of New Jersey.

Sources: Law360, Bloomberg Law, Insurance Business Magazine

Class Action Litigation

Fiat / Chrysler Must Face Auto Defect Claims 

Our law firm has filed a lawsuit involving a defect in the Fiat / Chrysler eTorque system in certain Ram and Jeep models. Class members contend that the defect can cause the vehicles to suddenly and unexpectedly turn off while in motion, presenting a serious safety risk. 

In late 2023, Fiat / Chrysler moved to dismiss the class members complaint. After briefing and oral argument, Michigan federal judge Matthew F. Leitman, who is presiding over the case, dismissed some fraud claims. The judge allowed a majority of the claims to move forward, including breach of implied warranty claims and allegations of negligent design and failure to warn, particularly for one Ohio-based plaintiff. 

Judge Leitman rejected Fiat Chrysler’s argument that a contract negates a negligence claim in this case. The particular claims that Judge Leitman dismissed involve claims that FCA knew the defect existed when it sold the vehicles to the plaintiffs. Those allegations largely pivot on two Technical Service Bulletins FCA distributed concerning the alleged defect. 

While Judge Leitman found that seven out of the 11 named plaintiffs purchased their vehicles before the Technical Service Bulletins, four purchased theirs after FCA sent out the notifications, demonstrating the automaker had presale knowledge of the defect. Those four claims will move forward as well.

This is an important case to consumers who all have an expectation of safety when they purchase vehicles. Dee Miles, the Beasley Allen lead lawyer in the case, says: 

We are very pleased with the Judge’s ruling as we are moving forward on all implied warranty claims and most of the fraud claims. We also look forward to proceeding with discovery into the dangerous nature of these Ram trucks and FCA’s inadequate recall, which did not cure these vehicles from shutting down spontaneously during operation.

The class members are represented by W. Daniel “Dee” Miles III, H. Clay Barnett III, J. Mitch Williams and Dylan T. Martin of Beasley Allen Crow Methvin Portis & Miles PC, Mark P. Chalos and Hannah Lazarz of Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein LLP, E. Powell Miller, Dennis A. Lienhardt and Mitchell J. Kendrick of The Miller Law Firm PC, and Patrick Newsom of Newsom Law PLC.

The case is Fisher et al. v. FCA US LLC, case number 2:23-cv-10426, in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan. We will keep our readers posted on any new developments in this class case as the case progresses.

Volkswagen Buyers Get Initial Approval For Settlement In Faulty Brake Lawsuit 

A Missouri federal judge has tentatively approved a settlement to resolve and end a class action claiming Volkswagen Group of America Inc. knowingly sold vehicles with defective collision-avoidance technology that made cars brake suddenly or completely stall on the road.

U.S. District Judge Roseann A. Ketchmark’s order also gave preliminary approval

of class certification for drivers who purchased certain 2011-2023 Volkswagen and Audi vehicles equipped with automatic emergency braking (AEB) systems.

The settlement will provide class members with an extension of their new vehicle’s limited warranty to cover 75% of the cost to replace the system for an additional 12 months or 12,000 miles, whichever comes first. The extension will begin when their original warranty expires.

Additionally, the agreement will also cover 75% of consumers’ expenses for past repairs before the class notice date. Volkswagen must also inform consumers about the “functionality, operation, benefits, and limitations” of their vehicles’ AEB systems/features.

The plaintiffs initially filed the lawsuit in 2020. In January, they filed an amended consolidated class action. They claim that Volkswagen failed to tell drivers that certain Volkswagen vehicles equipped with the AEB system were prone to manufacturing defects and software coding issues, which caused the braking system to suddenly and unexpectedly engage.

The class involves certain Audi models along with Volkswagen Atlas, Jetta, Touareg, Tiguan, and Golf models.

The drivers are represented by Bonner C. Walsh of Walsh PLLC, Tim E. Dollar and Lauren Dollar of Dollar Burns & Becker LC, Matthew D. Schelkopf and Joseph B. Kenney of Sauder Schelkopf LLC, Adam R. Gonnelli of the Law Office of Adam R. Gonnelli LLC, Russell D. Paul, Amey J. Park, Abigail J. Gertner and Natalie Lesser of Berger Montague, Tarek H. Zohdy, Cody R. Padgett and Laura E. Goolsby of Capstone Law APC and Joel D. Smith of Burson & Fisher PA.

The case is Emily Dack et al. v. Volkswagen Group of America Inc., et al., case

number 4:20-CV-00615, in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri.

Source: Law360

Ford Settles Engine Water Pump Class Action

Ford Motor Co. has settled a class-action lawsuit over claims that the automaker sold vehicles with faulty water pumps. U.S. District Judge Laurie J. Michelson dismissed the six-year-old case after Ford and the plaintiffs agreed to a confidential settlement.

The class action, filed in 2018 in a Michigan Federal Court, alleged Ford installed defective water pumps in Ford, Lincoln, and Mercury vehicles with Ford Cyclone Engines. The faulty pumps failed prematurely, well before Ford’s promised 150,000-mile life span for their engines, the class alleged. Inspecting and replacing the water pumps could cost up to $2,500. In some cases, vehicle owners faced engine replacements costing around $9,000.

Ford equipped millions of vehicles with the Cyclone Engine, also known as the Duratec engine, since 2007. The alleged defect lets the pump leak coolant onto vital engine parts, destroying engine components. The coolant may also seep into engine parts or the oil pan, allowing coolant to mix with engine oil. When carried throughout the engine, the oil-coolant mixture destroys the engine.

Despite being aware of this defect, Ford did not recall the affected vehicles or offer compensation to the owners.

The proposed classes are represented by The Miller Law Firm PC, Kessler Topaz Meltzer & Check LLP and Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd LLP.

The case is Roe et al. v. Ford Motor Co., case number 2:18-cv-12528, in the U.S.

District Court Eastern District of Michigan.

Source: Law360

Ineffective Decongestant Cases Consolidated In New York

On September 12, 2023, the FDA’s Nonprescription Drugs Advisory Committee unanimously determined that oral phenylephrine is ineffective. Phenylephrine is listed as an “active ingredient” in many common, over-the-counter cold medications, both those made by major manufacturers and store-brand versions. Some of those products include Sudafed PE, Tylenol Cold & Flu, TheraFlu, Vicks Nyquil, and Dayquil Severe Cold and Flu. Following the FDA vote, the House Oversight subcommittee on healthcare and financial services also announced an investigation into the product, noting that Americans spend an average of $1.8 billion per year on these products.

Since that announcement, several class actions have been filed against the various manufacturers. The JPML consolidated these cases in the Eastern District of New York in front of U.S. District Judge Brian Cogan. At the time the MDL was created, 10 suits were included in the transfer order, but more have followed, and even more are expected. There are more than 70 other cases that could also end up consolidated into the MDL. A similar string of cases—class actions alleging cold medications marketed as “maximum strength”—were not included in the MDL, despite the defendants request to the JPML.

These products are a common sight in American stores and households. Beasley Allen lawyers are investigating these important cases and other cases that seek to hold manufacturers responsible for false and misleading statements in marketing for consumer products. We will keep our readers updated on the status of this important case.

Class Action Lawyers At Beasley Allen

Beasley Allen lawyers remain heavily involved in class action litigation in all parts of the country. Dee Miles, who heads the Consumer Fraud & Commercial Litigation Section, leads the effort. Other lawyers in the section who handle class action cases are:

Demet Basar, Lance Gould, Clay Barnett, James Eubank, Mitch Williams, Rebecca Gilliland, Rachel Minder, Paul Evans and Dylan Martin. They can be reached by using the contact form at the bottom of this page.

If you need help on a case that would qualify as a class action, you can contact one of these lawyers. You can also contact Michelle Fulmer, Section Director, and she will have one of the lawyers contact you.Michelle can be reached using the contact form at the bottom of this page.


Lawyers dealing with disputes between businesses that require filing suit will find that the litigation can be very different from other types of civil cases. Typically, business litigation involves conflict over contracts, misrepresentations, or other business torts. State and federal courts will be involved. In some cases, arbitration will also be involved.

Beasley Allen has a team of highly skilled business dispute lawyers who concentrate on handling such cases. If you have a client involved in this kind of legal battle, you know the stakes involved can be very high.

A few of the business cases Beasley Allen lawyers in our Consumer Fraud & Commercial Litigation Section are handling, or have handled in the past, include:

  • Large businesses and churches that suffered substantial termite damage;
  • Over 4,000 business clients with BP oil spill claims;
  • An engineering business that was sold defective equipment, disrupting plant operations;
  • A wood processing plant that sought damages from major chemical company’s misrepresentations and contract breaches over demands for wood products;
  • A State University’s dispute with a major service company over overcharges for services.

We have a team of experienced business dispute lawyers handling these cases. If you have a client involved in this type of case, you know how much is at stake and how difficult the cases can be to prepare and try. 


Home Healthcare Company Pays Nearly $10 Million In False Claims Act Case

A home healthcare facility operating in Arizona, Atlantic Home Health Care, LLC (AHH), has reached a settlement in a False Claims Act lawsuit with the U.S. government. As part of the settlement, AHH has agreed to pay $9,990,944 to resolve claims that the company submitted false claims to the Energy Occupational Illness Compensation Program (the Energy Program), a healthcare program administered by the Department of Labor (DOL) for Department of Energy and contractors with occupational illnesses.

According to the complaint, the United States alleged that between 2017 and 2021 AHH falsely billed the Energy Program for in-home nursing and personal care services when its employees were not physically present in the patients’ homes. Additionally, the United States also alleged that AHH paid cash payments in amounts up to $5,000 as kickbacks for patient referrals through what the company called its “friends and family program.” Allegedly, AHH also paid in-kind payments for food, internet, travel, and other expenses made to patients and their families. 

The federal Anti-Kickback statute prohibits anyone who participates in a federal healthcare program from knowingly and willfully paying or receiving anything of value in return for referring an individual to, or arraigning for the furnishing of any healthcare services. 

In regard to the settlement, Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Brian M. Boynton stated: 

The department is committed to protecting the integrity of the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program, a vitally important program that addresses the medical needs of vulnerable individuals who sustained injuries or illnesses while performing their official duties for the Department of Energy.

U.S. Attorney Gary M. Restaino for the District of Arizona added these comments: 

Quality care is critical to beneficiaries participating in the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program. The payment of cash kickbacks to induce referrals has no place in our healthcare system. False Claims Act enforcement protects the integrity of federal healthcare programs.

Beasley Allen lawyers have been successful in numerous False Claims Act cases – both when the government intervenes and when they have declined to do so.

Source: Office of Public Affairs

City Of Boston Pays $2.4 Million To Settle Retaliation Case

A high-ranking female police officer has settled a discrimination and retaliation suit against the City of Boston. The settlement came days before the start of her trial. The City agreed to pay the former officer $2.4 million to settle the federal lawsuit she filed in 2020. The settlement value was above the anticipated damages at trial of between $700,000 and $2.25 million, which were estimates based on the officer continuing to receive promotions and acquiring a private sector job upon retirement from the police department.

The officer, who was the deputy superintendent of the department, filed a discrimination and retaliation lawsuit against the City of Boston in 2020, alleging that top officials at the department falsified an accusation that she had an alcohol abuse problem. Further, the lawsuit alleged the officer was placed on administrative leave as punishment after she complained of gender discrimination. The city claimed the officer was placed on medical leave after she said she suffered a panic attack at the police department.

This case was not the first discrimination lawsuit against the City of Boston. In 2021, a federal jury awarded $2 million to a detective with the Boston police department who alleged gender discrimination. The City of Boston and the police officer reached a $2.5 million settlement in that case within days of jury selection. 

The female officer case described above is known as Donovan v. City of Boston, case number 1:20-cv-11976, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts. 

While our firm was not involved in this particular case, Beasley Allen has represented and continues to represent individuals who have suffered discrimination and retaliation by their employers. 

Source: Law360

The Beasley Allen Whistleblower Litigation Team

Beasley Allen lawyers remain heavily involved in the handling of whistleblower cases. Fraudulent conduct in Corporate America continues to cause huge problems in many industries in this country. Due to the case volume, we significantly increased our firm’s healthcare whistleblower practice months ago. Currently, our lawyers are handling cases throughout the country involving fraud against governments at both the federal and state levels. We will give another update in the February issue on the litigation, specifically as it relates to Beasley Allen’s involvement. 

If you are aware of fraud being committed against the federal or state governments, you could be rewarded for reporting the fraud.  If you have questions about whether you qualify as a whistleblower, contact a lawyer on our Whistleblower Litigation Team for a free and confidential evaluation of your claim.  There is a contact form on our website, or you may call or email one of the lawyers on our team who are listed below. 

The experienced lawyers on our Whistleblower Litigation Team are dedicated to handling whistleblower cases. Members of the Team are Larry Golston, Lance Gould, James Eubank, Paul Evans, Leon Hampton, Tyner Helms, Lauren Miles and Jessi Haynes. Dee Mile heads our Consumer Fraud & Commercial Litigation Section and works with the litigation group. The lawyers can also be reached by using the contact form at the bottom of this page.


SEC Freezes Assets Of Miami Real Estate Developer In $93 Million Investors Fraud

On January 3, 2024, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida granted a motion by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to freeze the assets of South Florida real estate developer Rishi Kapoor. The court also unsealed a complaint filed by the SEC against Kapoor and Location Ventures, LLC, the Miami-based development company Kapoor used to operate. 

Kapoor was removed as CEO of Location Ventures in July 2023, after numerous lawsuits were filed by investors, vendors, and the company’s former CFO. The SEC complaint and the motion had been under seal since they were filed on December 27, 2023. The case is Securities and Exchange Commission v. Kapoor et al., Case No. 1:23-cv-24903, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida.

The SEC alleges that Kapoor, using Location Ventures and more than 20 other affiliated companies, raised approximately $93 million from over 50 investors from January 2018 to March 2023. Location Ventures offered “passive investment opportunities” in the company, as well as development projects. As part of the pitch, Kapoor and his partner claimed to have contributed $13 million in cash to the company, but the investment never occurred. According to the SEC, Kapoor used a “web of companies subsidiaries, and affiliated entities” to conceal the $13 million deficit in the company books.

According to the complaint, Kapoor made further misrepresentations to investors about his background, his executive compensation, corporate governance, and the use of investor funds. The SEC also alleges that Kapoor cooked pro forma budgets provided to investors. Construction costs and other expenses were understated so that returns would appear higher. Thereafter, when actual costs exceeded the budgets, Kapoor and the companies hid the information from investors by revising or removing financial data from reports and meeting minutes.

In all, the SEC alleges Kapoor and other insiders misappropriated over $6 million in investor funds, including $4.3 million Kapoor funneled to himself. Over this time Kapoor used these funds to live the high life—purchasing a 68-foot yacht for $5 million, leasing a $250,000 McLaren sports car, and paying a private chef $10,000 per month.

Another major allegation against Kapoor is noticeably absent in the SEC’s filings. According to the complaint filed against Kapoor by Location Ventures’ former CFO, Gerg Brooks, Kapoor and Location Ventures were paying $10,000 a month to Miami Mayor Francis Suarez as a consultant. According to a report by the Miami Herald, Location Ventures has paid Suarez at least $170,000 since September 2021. The potential for ethical conflicts of interest is obvious, considering that Suarez, as mayor, has influence over property development regulations and projects in Miami-Dade County. Both Location Ventures and Mayor Suarez deny that there was anything improper about the consultancy agreement or the payments.

In its motion, the SEC seeks to freeze all of Kapoor’s assets, stating that the “likely disgorgement award of at least $4.3 million is in excess of Kapoor’s total assets.” According to the complaint, Kapoor invoked his Fifth Amendment privilege when asked about his sources of income. The motion notes Kapoor owes approximately $20 million to one investor pursuant to a buyout agreement and that his residence is the subject of a foreclosure action filed in Miami-Dade County Circuit Court.

Over the years, we have reported on investment fraud related to trucking companies, CBD sales, biofuels, hedge funds, financial services, clean energy technology, and real estate development, among others. The lesson investors must learn from this is that fraudsters will always invent new ways to part investors from their money. Investors must always be vigilant in deciding where to put their savings, but sometimes even the most financially savvy individuals can become victims of these fraudulent schemes.

Our Consumer Fraud and Commercial Litigation Section has lawyers experienced with securities regulation and litigation.

Minority Investors Get $18.3 Million In Unfair Sears Deal 

The Delaware Chancery Court awarded over $18.3 million to minority stockholders of Sears Hometown and Outlet Stores (SHOS) in a case that helps clarify the fiduciary responsibilities of controllers to minority stockholders. The 2019 suit centered on billionaire investor Edwin Lampert’s role in liquidating a poorly performing segment of SHOS and replacing two directors with those less likely to oppose him. 

Lampert and his hedge fund, ESL Investments, acquired most of Sears Holding Corp.’s assets out of bankruptcy for $5.2 billion in 2019. They also acquired SHOS for $2.25 per share. SHOS spun off from Sears Holdings in 2012 and was not part of the latter’s 2018 bankruptcy. SHOS filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in December 2022.

The court had previously awarded stockholders $3.1 million from three directors for breaching their duties in approving the deal. This latest decision addressed Lampert’s liability, finding that he owed duties of good faith and care. Vice Chancellor J. Travis Laster emphasized that a controller must not harm the corporation or its minority stockholders intentionally or through gross negligence.

While the court found Lampert acted in good faith to protect the company, he and stockholders with voting power received disproportionately higher proceeds than minority shareholders from the Outlet sale: Lampert got 91% despite owning only 55% of the company.

This ruling clarifies issues of fiduciary fairness and a controller’s obligations to minority shareholders under Delaware law where there is no clear standard, Vice Chancellor Lampert found. Where some see no fiduciary duty in such cases, others do, but without guidelines. The decision holds that even when a controlling shareholder believes they are acting fairly, they can still be held accountable if their decisions don’t benefit all shareholders proportionately.

The co-lead plaintiffs are represented by Ned Weinberger, Mark Richardson, Michael C. Wagner, Jiahui (Rose) Wang, David Schwartz and John Vielandi of Labaton Keller Sucharow LLP, Peter B. Andrews, Craig J. Springer, David M. Sborz and Christopher P. Quinn of Andrews & Springer LLC, and Samuel L. Closic, Seth T. Ford and Robert B. Lackey of Prickett Jones & Elliott PA. The co-lead plaintiffs executive committee is represented by Donald J. Enright and Elizabeth K. Tripodi of Levi & Korsinsky LLP.

The case is In re Sears Hometown and Outlet Stores Inc. Stockholders Litigation., case number 20190798, in the Court of Chancery of the State of Delaware.

Source: Law360

Securities Litigation Team At Beasley Allen

Beasley Allen’s Consumer Fraud and Commercial Litigation Section has a skilled group of lawyers dedicated to handling cases where individuals become victims of fraud, including securities fraud.  Lawyers on the Securities Litigation Team at Beasley Allen are actively involved in multiple securities fraud actions in courts around the country and in FINRA arbitration proceedings.  If you need more information or have comments, contact James Eubank. James, who worked for years as a securities regulator with the Alabama Securities Commission, is leading the Securities Litigation Team and securities fraud investigations.   

Lawyers in the section who handle these claims welcome any opportunity to investigate suspected practices and are blessed to be able to engage with both new and established colleagues in federal securities law and state securities litigation. 

You can contact a member of our Securities Litigation Team concerning any securities cases or issues. The team includes the following lawyers: James Eubank, who heads the team, along with Demet Basar, Rebecca Gilliland and Paul Evans. Dee Miles, who heads the section, also works with the team. The team members can be reached by using the contact form at the bottom of this page.


Philips CPAP Litigation – Status Update

The litigation against Philips Respironics related to its recalled sleep and respiratory care devices continues to move forward.  Approximately 750 individual personal injury cases are currently pending before Judge Joy Flowers Conti in the United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania.  The personal injury cases and several class action cases are part of Multidistrict litigation as ordered by the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation.  A very small number of cases are pending in state court in Middlesex County, Massachusetts.

In addition to the personal injury plaintiffs that have filed suit, a large number of individuals have been included on what is being referred to as the Census Registry.  Rather than filing a lawsuit, individuals may elect to be included on the Census Registry while continuing to investigate their potential personal injury claim in exchange for submitting certain information to Counsel for Philips.  Once an individual is included on the Census Registry, the statute of limitations on their claims is tolled, or paused.  Once on the Census Registry, an individual may elect to file suit after providing notice to Counsel for Philips.  As of December 14, 2023, 56,397 individuals were included on the Census Registry.

Discovery related to the personal injury claims is progressing.  Leadership for plaintiffs is currently reviewing millions of pages of internal company documents produced by Philips.  Additionally, plaintiffs’ leadership has conducted at least nine depositions of current and former employees of Philips.  At least nine more depositions are scheduled to take place in January and February, and numerous other depositions will follow in the months to come.

At the court’s monthly status conference in December, Judge Conti ordered Counsel for plaintiffs and Counsel for Philips to inform the court whether the parties intend to select bellwether plaintiffs and, if so, what the process for selection will be.  Counsel informed the court that the parties are currently working out the details of this plan and will be able to present this to the court very soon.  Judge Conti specifically instructed that Counsel inform the court as to whether the parties believe mediation of potential bellwether plaintiffs might be productive.

Beasley Allen lawyers are currently investigating claims related to the devices recalled by Philips where users have developed lung cancer, asthma, chronic respiratory injuries, or kidney disease.

Sources:  Transcript of Proceedings, In re: Philips Recalled CPAP, Bi-Level PAP, and Mechanical Ventilator Prods. Liab. Litig., MDL No. 3014 (W.D. Pa. Dec. 14, 2023), Drugwatch 

Infant Formula Litigation Update

Necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) is a serious and often fatal condition of the intestinal tract.  It results in the degradation and subsequent perforation of the bowels, and is found most commonly in premature, underweight infants who were fed cow’s milk-based formula.  Studies clearly show that these premature, underweight infants are at a much higher risk of this often fatal condition when given infant formulas like Enfamil and Similac.  Despite the overwhelming science, and the fact that virtually every pediatric medical organization worldwide recognizes the heightened risk of NEC from these formulas, the manufacturers of these products offer no warning whatsoever on their products about the risk.  

Presently the federal litigation is consolidated in Chicago.  A national multi-district litigation (MDL) court has been established in the Northern District of Illinois with the Honorable Rebecca Pallmeyer presiding.  Late last year, the parties in the MDL selected four initial bellwether cases, which will be the first to proceed to trial. In December, Judge Pallmeyer entered an updated scheduling order, which outlines the process leading up to trials.  This scheduling order allows for expert discovery throughout most of 2024, with summary judgment and Daubert motions in late 2024 and trials to begin in early 2025.

Beasley Allen lawyers have also filed cases in Madison County, IL.  Those cases are presently stalled as the defendants appeal several jurisdictional decisions by Presiding Judge Dennis Ruth.  All briefs have now been filed with the appellate court, and our lawyers await the appellate court’s ruling.  Those appeals should be resolved soon. Then Beasley Allen lawyers can resume our trial schedule in 2024.  In the meantime, experts are being deposed and discovery continues.

Novo Nordisk Pays U.S. Doctors To Promote Ozempic And Wegovy For Weight Loss

A Reuters special report found that Novo Nordisk paid U.S. health professionals at least $25.8 million between 2013 and 2022 for consulting, speaking, and other expenses related to its diabetes and weight loss drugs like Ozempic and Wegovy. At least $12.38 million of that was paid to speakers to promote Wegovy or similar drugs. Novo Nordisk concentrated its money on groups of obesity specialists, who then advocated for prescribing the drug to tens of millions of Americans for both Type 2 diabetes management and weight loss. 

The ongoing promotion of drugs like Ozempic and Wegovy is a subject of fierce debate after studies have consistently shown an increased risk for gastrointestinal issues such as severe gastroparesis, ileus, and bowel obstruction requiring surgery or other medical intervention. Sadly, some individuals have died from complications related to these injuries. Despite these known risks, Novo Nordisk continues to promote these drugs to physicians and their patients. 

Beasley Allen lawyers in our Mass Torts Section are investigating cases involving brand-name Ozempic, Wegovy, and Rybelsus users who were subsequently diagnosed with gastrointestinal issues or suicide.

Source: Reuters

New Investigation Reveals That More Than 580 Floridians Died From Kratom

The Tampa Bay Times has released results from its new investigation that found that more than 580 people in Florida have died from kratom-related overdoses during the past decade. “Hundreds died using kratom in Florida. It was touted as safe,” reads the title of Part 1 of the Tampa Bay Times investigation. The journalists reported that most of the deaths were caused by a fatal mixture of kratom and at least one other substance, but 46 people overdosed solely on kratom. The Times also released its methods for determining these numbers, which shows a reliable step-by-step process wherein the Times examined numerous medical examiners’ decisions.

Researchers and medical professionals have linked kratom to seizures, organ failure, overdoses, and deaths. Kratom comes in either as a pill or liquid extract. The liquid extracts are usually more potent than the pill form. Kratom is currently illegal in Alabama, Arkansas, Indiana, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Wisconsin. Kratom is widely popular in many states, however, such as Florida and Georgia. Kratom is usually available in those states right by the counter at the local gas station. The problem is that kratom is not adequately labeled in many respects.

Beasley Allen lawyers Roger Smith, Ryan Duplechin, Jennifer Emmel, and Mary Cam Raybon are currently litigating a products liability case involving kratom in Fulton County, Georgia. That case involves a former nurse who suffered a severe seizure and brain injury due to kratom companies failing to warn about such severe risks and side effects. 

Beasley Allen lawyers will continue representing people who seek to hold kratom companies accountable for their deceptive marketing and sales practices, which has led to serious injuries to many individuals who were unaware of its dangerous side effects.

Source: Tampa Bay Times

Hair Relaxer Litigation Update

Aigner Kolom, a Beasley Allen lawyer in our Mass Torts Section, says we can expect the hair relaxer litigation to continue progressing this year. Last year, Judge Mary Rowland denied the defendants motion to dismiss on multiple counts. On December 19, 2023, Judge Rowland entered the PFS Implementation Order. This order sets out various dates that the PFS is due in previously filed cases, as well as cases that have not been filed yet.  

The order states a PFS is due 45 days after service of short form complaint and receipt of the first defendant’s responsive acknowledgment for any case that is filed after December 19, 2023. The order also sets our various PFS filing deadlines for cases that were filed prior to December 19, 2023. 

The first deadline is coming up rather quickly. The order notes that the PFS is due for any case filed on or before June 30, 2023, 45 days after December 19, 2023.  You can see the PFS Implementation Order for other important due dates. The hair relaxer PFS is close to 30 pages long and contains multiple authorizations clients will need to complete. 

Currently, there are more than 8,000 cases filed in the MDL by women due to manufacturers of hair relaxers advertising, manufacturing, and selling toxic hair relaxer products that caused them to develop cancers and other injuries. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) found women who frequently used chemical hair straightening or hair relaxer products were more likely to develop uterine cancer. 

Plaintiffs Push To Consolidate Ozempic And Wegovy Lawsuits

On December 1, 2023, lawyers representing multiple plaintiffs alleging injuries from taking drugs such as Ozempic and Wegovy filed a Motion to Transfer and consolidate the cases to the Western District of Louisiana.  The Motion contends there are questions of law and fact common to all cases and that informal coordination among the parties is impractical.

Several other plaintiffs filed subsequent motions to transfer the cases. Many plaintiffs supported consolidation to the Western District of Louisiana, while others lobbied for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania and the Eastern District of New York.  Defendant Novo Nordisk also supported consolidation but said the Middle District of North Carolina was the more appropriate forum.  

Defendant Eli Lilly opposed consolidation but argued the Southern District of Indiana would be most appropriate if consolidated.  

Oral arguments on whether and where to consolidate the Ozempic and Wegovy litigation took place on January 25th in Santa Barbara, California. Our lawyers are awaiting a decision by the court. 

Ozempic and Wegovy cases developed after studies consistently showed an increased risk for gastrointestinal issues such as severe gastroparesis, ileus, and bowel obstruction requiring surgery or other medical intervention.  Sadly, some individuals have died from complications related to these injuries. Despite these known risks, Novo Nordisk and other manufacturers continue to promote these drugs to physicians and their patients. If you have watched any television, recently, you have seen the high volume of ads promoting the products and they are very effective from a marketing perspective.  

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is looking into reports of hair loss and suicidal thoughts in people taking popular prescription diabetes and weight loss medication. Sold under the brand names Ozempic, Mounjaro, and Wegovy, the drugs are in a class known as GLP-1 receptor agonists. These drugs work by mimicking a hormone in the body that slows the passage of food through the stomach. 

The FDA is evaluating whether regulatory action is necessary after its adverse event reporting system received a growing number of reports of people who used the medications and experienced side effects, such as alopecia (hair loss), aspiration (accidentally breathing in food or liquid), and suicidal thoughts.

If the FDA determines there is a risk between the drug and the reported side effects, it may take civil actions in the courts, such as requiring drug makers to make label changes or develop a Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy program to help ensure the drug’s benefits outweigh its risks. 

GLP-1 agonists have also been linked to serious digestive problems, including stomach paralysis, pancreatitis, and bowel obstructions. The American Society of Anesthesiologists recently recommended that people who use these drugs stop taking them a week before surgery to reduce the risk of gastrointestinal problems, such as nausea and vomiting.

European regulators are already investigating whether these drugs cause users to experience suicidal thoughts. American regulators should do the same. The investigators should look at the whole scope of this problem area. 

Beasley Allen lawyers in our Mass Torts Section are investigating cases involving brand-name Ozempic, Wegovy, and Rybelsus users who were subsequently diagnosed with gastrointestinal issues or suicide.

Source: In re: Glucagon-like Peptide-1 Receptor Agonists (GLP-1 RAs) Products Liability Litigation, MDL No. 3094, Doc. 1-1; CNN

Tampa Bay Times Releases Groundbreaking Investigation Into Kratom Industry

The Tampa Bay Times has published a multi-part series detailing the multitude of shady conduct by the kratom industry, as well as the lives that have been affected. The Times released its three-part series in December 2023. 

Part 1 was titled, “Hundreds died using kratom in Florida. It was touted as safe,” which told the stories of many Floridians who lost their lives as a result of kratom. 

Part 2 was titled, “As dangerous kratom products go unregulated, lobbyists write the laws,” which discussed how many lobbyists are constantly trying to influence laws on behalf of a very lucrative kratom industry. 

Part 3 then discussed the many companies and individuals behind O.P.M.S. Kratom, which is one of the most popular kratom brands in the United States.

The Tampa Bay Times was able to obtain several witness statements and documents to give a unique behind-the-scenes look at O.P.M.S. Kratom and their business enterprise, from international shipments to company coverups. Since the Tampa Bay Times investigation was released, the Florida legislature has introduced two new bills seeking additional oversight over the kratom industry.

O.P.M.S. Kratom is the same product at issue in the lawsuit filed by Beasley Allen

lawyers in Fulton County, Georgia. While the Tampa Bay Times has already received backlash from those behind the kratom industry, all of us at Beasley Allen applaud their fearless efforts to speak the truth about kratom.

Source: Tampa Bay Times

Suit Blaming J&J Sunscreen For Teen’s Death Advances Toward Trial

Johnson and Johnson (J&J) can’t escape a personal injury lawsuit filed by a father whose 14-year-old son died from leukemia after years of frequent sunscreen use. The father blames Neutrogena sunscreen products containing excessive and unsafe levels of benzene, an organic chemical compound known to cause cancer, for his late son’s illness. 

In his order, U.S. District Judge Frank D. Whitney said the amended lawsuit is “well-pleaded” and contains enough factual allegations to proceed to trial. Johnson and Johnson asked the court to dismiss the complaint, claiming it lacked enough detail to overcome the motion to dismiss. 

Dory Braylan Hux received a diagnosis of acute myeloid leukemia on April 15, 2021. He died just a week after he and his family learned of his illness. The boy’s father, Dory Brendan Hux, sued Johnson & Johnson in April 2023. 

According to the lawsuit, the boy was a promising soccer player who displayed a talent for the sport at age three and played competitively for most of his life, up until the days leading to his death. 

Dory’s parents used spray-on sunscreen made by the Neutrogena Corporation on him for years. Specifically, the products were Neutrogena Beach Defense, Neutrogena Cool Dry Sport and Neutrogena Ultra Sheer aerosol sunscreen. The sunscreen was applied to Dory up to three times per practice and game. 

Johnson & Johnson spun off its Consumer Health division, including Neutrogena, into a new company called Kenvue last summer. Despite its attempts to reorganize itself out of consumer lawsuits, J&J and Neutrogena remain defendants in the ongoing case. 

The family is represented by Brett E. Dressler Sellers Ayers Dortch & Lyons PA and David P. Matthews and Mark E. Chavez of Matthews & Associates.

The case is Hux v. Neutrogena Corporation et al., case number 3:23-cv-00215, in the United States District Court Western District Of North Carolina Charlotte Division.

Source: Law360

Delaware Court To Open Early Round In Massive Zantac Litigation

A significant battle unfolded last month in a Delaware courtroom over whether to allow expert testimony related to thousands of claims linked to the heartburn drug ranitidine (Zantac) as testimony in upcoming trials. Superior Court Judge Vivian L. Medinilla will oversee this “master case,” which includes about 75,000 claims alleging that the drug caused 10 different types of cancer.

Laboratory testing revealed ranitidine could potentially break down into a cancer-causing ingredient called NDMA. Although the FDA found the risk of cancer was relatively low, the FDA issued a voluntary recall. There have been a huge number of lawsuits filed. 

Plaintiffs claim that Zantac’s link to cancer is the reason for the FDA recall. They say that the court should not deny the rights of cancer victims to hold drug companies accountable. Pharmaceutical companies have contested the scientific basis for the claims and challenged the reliability of expert testimony.

The Delaware case represents a critical juncture in a complex legal battle with significant financial implications for both the pharmaceutical industry and consumers. Drugmakers GlaxoSmithKline LLC, Pfizer Inc., Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals Inc., and Sanofi U.S. Services Inc., face liability in litigation estimated to range from $10 billion to $20 billion.

Some believe the court’s dismissal of federal multidistrict litigation in Florida in December 2022 may have lowered expectations somewhat. However, there are still state court lawsuits being filed. A trial was scheduled to begin in California this month, focusing on Zantac’s link to bladder cancer. Settlements were reached in October 2023 for four breast cancer cases chosen as bellwethers in California.

Lead Delaware counsel for the plaintiffs are Raeann Warner of Collins Price & Warner, Stephen T. Morrow and Joseph J. Rhoades of Rhoades & Morrow LLC and

Bernard G. Conaway of Conaway Legal LLC.

Lead national counsel for the plaintiffs are Jennifer A. Moore of Moore Law Group PLLC, R. Brent Wisner of Wisner Baum LLP, and Justin Parafinczuk of Parafinczuk Wolf.

The case is In re: Zantac (Ranitidine Litigation, case number N22C-09-101, in the Superior Court of the State of Delaware.

Source: Law360


Macon County Landfill Case Update

Beasley Allen lawyers have filed a lawsuit on behalf of local landowners against defendants, including Stone’s Throw Landfill, located near Tallassee, AL., after the landfill released PFAS into central Alabama water supplies. Stone’s Throw Landfill pollutants have exposed Ashurst Bar-Smith residents and landowners to hazardous chemicals and compounds. The landfill releases pollutants into Gleeden Branch and Mill Creek, Chewacla Creek, its tributaries, and the Tallapoosa River. The pollutants have contaminated water, including creeks and groundwater, in southern Tallapoosa and northern Macon Counties.

Leachate, which is formed when water seeps through landfill material and takes on the chemical characteristics of the waste through which it passes, is a black, foul-smelling liquid generally containing pollutants like heavy metals, pathogens, and Per- and polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS). Two types of PFAS, PFOA and PFOS, cause multiple health problems, including thyroid disease, cancer and weakened immunity.

Stone’s Throw Landfill produces leachate containing PFAS at levels well above recognized health advisory levels and other toxins. These high levels pose a serious threat to the health and safety of the residents surrounding the landfill, especially where leachate leaks into the water supply. The defendants were aware that pollutants from their landfill were entering the local water table and flowing to nearby residents’ properties. The defendants also knew they needed to repair the landfill to prevent contamination and failed to do so, needlessly risking human and environmental health.

Elizabeth Weyerman, Gavin King, David Diab, Matt Griffith, Elliot Bienenfeld, and Jeff Price, lawyers in our Toxic Torts Section, are handling this case for the landowners. 

The case is Herbert Mason v. GFL Environmental Services USA, Inc. et al., filed in the Circuit Court of Tallapoosa County, Dadeville Division, case number 62-CV-2023-900011.00.

Public Water Systems Class Action Settlement Update 

In June 2023, 3M and DuPont announced monumental settlement agreements attempting to resolve all claims brought on behalf of public water systems for PFAS contamination caused by the chemical manufacturers. Plaintiffs in the AFFF MDL 2873 struck the settlement as a class action settlement. The deadline for public water systems to opt out of this class action came in December 2023. Class members also had the opportunity to submit objections to the settlement.

On December 14, 2023, the court held its final fairness hearing for the Dupont settlement. On December 18, the plaintiff’s lead counsel filed a Motion for Final Approval of Class Settlement and for Final Certification of the Settlement Class for the DuPont settlement. The notice administrator requested an extension until January 3, 2024, to complete his report. 

DuPont and its subsidiaries had until December 22, 2023, to exercise their walk-away rights based on the number of opt-outs from the class. But in a DuPont press release, it was stated:

The Companies have sufficient insight into this process to determine that they remain in favor of the settlement and do not intend to exercise that right.

The 3M Company faces similar deadlines in 2024 with the court’s final fairness hearing scheduled for February 2, 2024. The court has also established deadlines for class members who opted out of the settlement to withdraw their opt-out and accept the terms of the settlement. Those deadlines are February 2, 2024 for the 3M settlement and March 1, 2024 for the DuPont settlement.

More Veterans Join $6 Billion 3M Earplug Settlement

More than 30,000 U.S. military veterans and current service members have agreed to a $6 billion settlement with 3M to resolve claims over allegedly defective combat earplugs. The claimants were preparing to take their cases to trial in Florida and Minnesota when they gave their support to the sweeping settlement agreement 3M had previously reached in August with more than 200,000 other plaintiffs.

The 3M Combat Arms Earplug Products Liability Litigation, considered to be the largest mass tort multidistrict litigation in U.S. history, centers on allegations that 3M’s Combat Arms Earplugs v2, or CAEv2, failed to protect the ears, leading to hearing loss and tinnitus.

This latest agreement is significant because it brings participation to the 98% threshold needed from the 276,000 claimants for the landmark $6 billion settlement to be valid. It also prompted 3M to make a payment of $253.1 million to the claimants in January, which was ahead of schedule. The company also made a payment of $250 million on December 26 to more than 30,000 plaintiffs who agreed to release their claims.

3M plans to fund the settlement with a combination of cash and $1 billion in stock. The company will distribute the payments in phases through 2029. Payments totaling over $250 million started being paid out last month. 

Despite ten losses in 16 bellwether trials, 3M maintains that the earplugs, produced by its subsidiary Aearo Technologies and used by the military from 1999 to 2015, are safe when used correctly. The last of the bellwether trials ended in June when a Florida federal jury awarded a former soldier $77.5 million.

The service members are represented in the MDL by Aylstock Witkin Kreis & Overholtz PLLC, Clark Love & Hutson PLLC and Seeger Weiss LLP, among other law firms.

The case is In re: 3M Combat Arms Earplug Products Liability Litigation, case number 3:19-md 02885, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida. 

Sources: Law360, Star Tribune, Tennessean

Paraquat Litigation In The News

The Paraquat Products Liability Litigation MDL currently has just over 5,000 cases pending in the Southern District of Illinois before Chief Judge Nancy J. Rosenstengel. As the parties anticipate the court’s ruling on Daubert, several news outlets have covered the link between paraquat and Parkinson’s disease in investigative programs. “The Pesticide Playbook”, which was aired on Al Jazeera’s Fault Lines investigation series on December 13, 2023, can be found at That show revealed: 

Paraquat is banned in more than fifty countries, including Brazil and China. It’s also prohibited in Switzerland, where Syngenta is headquartered, but not the United States, where its use has doubled in the past decade.

The Al Jazeera’s investigation also revealed that “a decades-long effort by [Syngenta] to control the science, silence its critics, and influence regulators to protect its pesticide.”

The ABC News series Nightline aired a two-part series, “Paraquat Under Probe” beginning on November 28, 2023. The series reveals that Syngenta “has sold at least one billion dollars’ worth of paraquat,” and that “internal documents show the manufacturer has been aware of concerns for decades” and has done nothing. The two-part series can be viewed at:

  • (Part 1)
  •  (Part 2)

Beasley Allen lawyer, Leslie LaMacchia, is a member of the Plaintiffs’ Executive Committee on the Paraquat MDL. Our Paraquat Litigation Team members will be happy to answer any questions about the status of this litigation or the intricacies of the intake process, including the Plaintiff’s Assessment Questionnaire. 

Beasley Allen lawyers are continuing to accept cases where clients applied paraquat and have Parkinson’s disease or Parkinson’s-like symptoms. You can contact Beasley Allen if we can be of assistance to you in your paraquat applicator cases. 

AFFF Litigation Update

The Aqueous film-forming foam (AFFF) litigation continues to move forward. Since December 2023, 351 new claims have been added to the litigation and are currently pending before the Honorable Judge Richard Gergel in the United States District Court of South Carolina.

As individual personal injury claims increase, it is evident that the court’s top priority is bringing water contamination cases and progress toward bellwether trials. On December 14, 2023, Judge Gergel held a fairness hearing in an effort to finalize DuPont’s $1.18 billion settlement for municipality water suppliers. The Judge cautioned about the susceptibility to decades of subsequent litigation should Dupont continue to object to settlement terms and conditions. Another Fairness Hearing is scheduled for early February for the $10.3 billion 3M settlement payout to address similar issues.

Last month, the Parties filed a motion to formalize the initial personal injury bellwether discovery pool. A total of twenty-five plaintiffs were selected, which included eight claims alleging hypothyroidism and thyroid disease, four claims of ulcerative colitis, eight asserting testicular cancer and five kidney cancer claims. On January 1, 2024, Judge Gergel granted the parties joint motion to extend the discovery deadlines, giving the parties until January 31, 2024, to resolve any outstanding discovery disputes.

During this transition, plaintiffs’ lawyers remain positive that the mounting pressure to bellwether trials will encourage a global settlement in 2024. Beasley Allen lawyers in our Toxic Torts Section are currently investigating claims related to occupational AFFF exposure where individuals have developed cancer, kidney disease, fertility issues, ulcerative colitis, thyroid disease, and reproductive issues.

Opioid Litigation Update

At our press time, the U.S. Supreme Court appeared ready to overturn the Purdue Bankruptcy resolution. Oral argument in the case was held in December of last year. The Sackler family, owners of Oxycontin manufacturer Purdue Pharma, received a liability shield for their own wrongdoing. That was in return for a contribution of $6 billion to the bankruptcy estate, which ultimately will be paid out to victims of the opioid crisis. While it is somewhat galling to extend this shield to the family that essentially created the opioid crisis, without their $6 billion contribution there may be little to nothing left of Purdue to pay the thousands of Perdue’s tort claimants.

Chief Justice Roberts raised the specter of the “major questions doctrine” in oral argument – a fairly recent and controversial judicial doctrine that Congressional grant of authority must be clear when an administrative agency is making a decision of vast political or economic significance. Of course, bankruptcy courts aren’t administrative agencies and the liability shield in question has been used by bankruptcy courts for well over 30 years.

It seemed significant that only Justices Kavanaugh and Kagan seemed sympathetic to the bankruptcy plan. The challenge is being led by the United States Trustee, a government watchdog for the bankruptcy court, not an actual creditor of the estate. The liability shield, a “nonconsensual release of third-party claims,” extinguishes creditor’s claim against a person or entity that did not file bankruptcy without that creditor’s permission. In this case, close to 100% of the creditors of the estate voted to permit the nonconsensual release in return for the 6-billion-dollar contribution.

Although there is no express statutory provision for such a release, the Bankruptcy Code allows “appropriate relief” in certain circumstances. Such releases are a longstanding practice in Bankruptcy Court. However, such a release extinguishes personal property rights – the rights of injured persons to have their day in court, raising serious Constitutional concerns, since the Sacklers are not part of the bankruptcy. On the other hand, it empowers, at least in the instant case, a few loan dissenters to torpedo a 10-billion-dollar settlement.

Monsanto Hit with $2.25 Billion Verdict In Philadelphia Roundup Trial

There was another major development in the roundup litigation last month. A Philadelphia jury sent a loud-and-clear message to the makers of the weedkiller on Friday, Jan. 26, hitting the chemical company Monsanto with $2 billion in punitive damages in addition to $250 million in compensatory damages. John McKivison, the Pennsylvania man who brought the lawsuit, claimed Monsanto failed to warn users that the weedkiller contained cancer-causing chemicals. The man said using the product contributed to his non-Hodgkin lymphoma diagnosis. 

The McKivison lawsuit was the third bellwether trial in the Philadelphia-based mass tort. The first two trials ended with separate $3.5 million and $175 million verdicts against Bayer AG subsidiary Monsanto by Philadelphia juries. 

Because the verdict came down on Friday, Jan. 26, we have not had an opportunity to learn very much about the trial. But the amount of the verdict got our attention. We will write more on this case in the March issue.

The McKivisons are represented by Thomas R. Kline and Tobi L. Millrood of Kline &Specter PC, and Jason Itkin of Arnold & Itkin LLP.

The case is McKivison v. Monsanto et al., case number 220100337, in the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania. 

Sources: Law360, CNN

J&J Agrees To $150 Million Settlement Ending Washington Opioid Litigation 

Johnson & Johnson has agreed to pay nearly $150 million to end a lawsuit with Washington state accusing the company of pushing sales of its highly addictive opioid painkillers while downplaying the risks. 

The settlement agreement requires J&J to put $123.3 million into a fund that will be split evenly between the state and participating local governments. The money would be earmarked for opioid addiction treatment programs and to curb the public health crisis of the opioid epidemic in the state. 

Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson said the settlement is about $50 million over what they had expected to receive had they accepted the 2021 settlement that attorneys general from New York, California, and five other states reached with the drug company and three of the country’s largest drug distributors. 

Washington sued J&J and several of its subsidiaries, including Janssen Pharmaceuticals Inc., in state superior court in 2020 over claims the companies had “aggressively supplied and marketed what was essentially an uncontrolled experiment on the American public.” 

The settlement adds to the number of states, including Alabama, that have gotten sizeable payouts in settlements from J&J over the opioid crisis. 

Source: Law360


Does Cummins’ Diesel Cheat Settlement Signal The End Of Lax Oversight?

The diesel engine manufacturer Cummins has agreed to pay a record $2 billion to settle allegations that it developed emissions cheats in the engines of more than 600,000 Dodge Ram pickup trucks. Many legal experts believe the fine – the largest Clean Air Act fine in U.S. history – signals the end of an era in which manufacturers like Cummins could violate environmental laws and regulations with relative impunity.

The shift in the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) approach to polluters comes less than six months after President Joe Biden installed David Uhlmann as the Environmental Protection Agency’s new enforcement chief. Mr. Uhlmann spent nearly two decades prosecuting big polluters for environmental crimes for the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ). He has been a longtime critic of the EPA’s lax enforcement.

Many legal experts see the Cummins penalty as a warning to other companies, highlighting the Biden administration’s increased focus on environmental compliance. The EPA’s new strategy prioritizes reducing climate change culprits like nitrogen oxides, central to the Cummins case. Additionally, the DOJ’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance is now also concentrating on climate change mitigation.

Last month, the EPA said that its tests at the National Vehicle and Fuel Emissions Laboratory uncovered emissions defeat devices in Ram pickups with Cummins engines. These tests, initiated after the Volkswagen emissions cheat scandal, employed unconventional driving cycles and conditions to mimic regular vehicle use during testing. While the trucks met standard emissions benchmarks, they emitted excessive nitrogen oxides during regular driving. 

In a statement, U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland highlighted the real-world impact that emissions defeat devices have on the environment and human health. The devices allow engines to release unlawful amounts of greenhouse gasses that go unnoticed during emissions tests. The Attorney General described the settlement as the largest Clean Air Act settlement in history and the second-largest environmental settlement. Only the $20 billion penalty BP agreed to pay for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill was larger.

The emissions devices affect about 960,000 2013-2019 RAM 2500 and 3500 pickup trucks. Cummins said it has started recalling many of the vehicles but did not set out any details about the problem or solutions as of this writing. Other major car manufacturers caught installing emissions defeat devices in the past have implemented the cheat with hardware, software, or a combination of both. Past recalls have included vehicle buyback programs or compensation to owners.

Separately, in Michigan, Cummins and Fiat Chrysler face a proposed class action alleging they defrauded consumers over vehicle emissions performance. That lawsuit also accuses the manufacturers of rigging engines to emit airborne pollutants above legal limits.

Cummins denied wrongdoing in a statement relating to the settlement and said it expected to spend $2.04 billion to resolve the allegations and other related matters.

Sources: Law360, U.S. Department of Justice, Cummins

Amazon To Face Suit For Suicide Drug Sales

King County Superior Court Judge Brian McDonald has ruled that Amazon must face claims of negligence and extreme conduct for continuing to sell a chemical it knew was being used for suicide.  As a result of the ruling, families of teens and young adults who ended their lives after consuming sodium nitrite purchased on Amazon can proceed with claims of outrage against the e-commerce giant and claims of negligence under the state of Washington’s Product Liability Act. 

Judge McDonald dismissed some other claims, including alleged violations of Washington’s Consumer Protection Act, stating that better warnings about the chemical would likely not have prevented the intentional purchases of it for suicide.

Amazon has known for years that people were buying sodium nitrite through its website for the purpose of ending their lives but did nothing to stop it. The families pointed to a website that encourages suicide and hosts forums for would-be victims to discuss suicide methods. 

That website drove sodium nitrite sales to Amazon for several years, and Amazon knew it. Other online retailers, such as eBay and Shopify, stopped sales of the drug after learning of one death. 

Amazon withheld what it knew about sodium nitrite and suicide from third-party vendors who supplied the product, unaware of its controversial uses. Amazon thereby deprived vendors of the opportunity to stop the sales for ethical reasons, as many others had done.

The families are represented by Corrie Yackulic of Corrie Yackulic Law Firm PLLC and Carrie Goldberg and Naomi Leeds of C.A. Goldberg PLLC.

The case is Peter Janus Jr. et al. v. Inc. et al., case number 23-2-14460-1, in King County Superior Court.

Sources: Law360,, The New York Times


The Structure Of Beasley Allen Is Set Up To Work For Clients

Beasley Allen is now in its 46th year as a plaintiff law firm, having just had our 45th Anniversary. The firm has grown from its start-up in 1979 as a one-lawyer firm to a very large firm today. We have explained how the division of the firm into sections came about. The separate litigation sections concept has worked very well since the significant change was made. The section concept continues to work well on behalf of our clients. 

 Beasley Allen lawyers have handled all sorts of litigation for plaintiffs in civil litigation. However, that changed when the structure was changed in 1998, resulting in the firm operating in five separate sections. The Administrative Section supports the four litigation sections that could be described as “mini-firms” within Beasley Allen. Those four litigation sections are the Mass Torts Section, the Toxic Torts Section, the Consumer Fraud & Commercial Litigation Section and the Personal Injury & Products Liability Section. 

Each section has a team of lawyers and support staff working closely together, creating efficiency and case expertise within each section. The lawyers and staff develop expertise in the area of law handled by the section. Successful section performance leads to better firm performance overall, allowing us to expand our resources and enabling firm growth. Year after year, we believe our approach has allowed us to help more of those who need it most. 

The Mass Torts Section

Andy Birchfield heads our Mass Torts Section, while Melissa Prickett serves as the Section’s Director. With over 50 years of combined legal experience, Andy and Melissa lead the firm’s largest section in the medical devices, medication and other practice areas. The section currently handles cases involving acetaminophen, CPAP devices, hair relaxers, heavy metals in baby food, NEC baby formula, social media and talcum powder.

The Toxic Torts Section

Rhon Jones leads our firm’s Toxic Torts Section with Section Director Tracie Harrison’s assistance. The section focuses on toxic exposure cases. Recent cases involve Camp Lejeune water contamination, mesothelioma, paraquat and firefighting foam.

The Consumer Fraud & Commercial LItigation Section

Dee Miles is the Section Head of our Consumer Fraud & Commercial Litigation Section. Michelle Fulmer is the Director and assists with Business Litigation, Class Action, Consumer Protection, Employment Law and Whistleblower cases.

The Personal Injury & Products LIablity Section

Cole Portis heads our Personal Injury & Products Liability Section with Sloan Downes serving as the Director of the Section. The section handles auto accidents, aviation accidents, defective tires, negligent security, on-the-job injuries and truck accident cases.

The Administrative Section

Finally, the Administrative Section includes Accounting, Operations, Human Resources (HR), Information Technology (IT) and Marketing. Michelle Parks is the Director of Accounting, Michelle Fulmer is the Director of Operations, and Kimberly Youngblood serves as the Director of HR, IT and Marketing.

Since we reorganized the firm’s structure, our record speaks for itself. As previously stated, I am convinced the structure, as set up in 1998, has contributed greatly to our firm’s success. Section Heads and Directors have been able to concentrate on the cases in their section, and they quickly recognize when additional resources are needed. Lawyers in each Section have been able to focus on clients within their specialty and on achieving favorable client results. The efficiency and teamwork generated by the sections concept has resulted in our firm being recognized as one of the best litigation firms in the country. This has been for the benefit of the folks we represented. 

The Latest Look At Case Activity At Beasley Allen

Our website provides the latest information on the current case activity at Beasley Allen. The list can be found on our homepage, the top navigation, or the practices page of our website ( The following are the current case activity listings for the Beasley Allen Sections.


  • Business Litigation
  • Class Actions
  • Consumer Protection
  • Employment Law
  • Medical Devices
  • Medication
  • Personal Injury
  • Product Liability
  • Toxic Exposure
  • Whistleblower Litigation


The cases in the categories listed below are handled by lawyers in the appropriate Litigation Section at Beasley Allen. The list can be found on our homepage, on the top navigation, or on the Cases page of our website. 

  • Acetaminophen
  • Auto Accidents
  • Aviation Accidents
  • Camp Lejeune 
  • CPAP Devices
  • Defective Tires
  • Firefighting Foam
  • Hair Relaxers
  • Kratom
  • Mesothelioma
  • NEC Baby Formula
  • Negligent Security 
  • On-the-Job-Injuries
  • Ozempic
  • Paraquat
  • Social Media 
  • Talcum Powder
  • Truck Accidents 

We will give a brief explanation for each category below:

  • Acetaminophen
    Beasley Allen lawyers handle cases of mothers who took acetaminophen while pregnant and gave birth to a child later diagnosed with autism or ADHD. Cases also include children treated with the drug during the first 18 months of life who developed autism or ADHD. 
  • Auto Accidents
    Our lawyers handle life-altering and deadly automobile accident cases caused by defective products and driver negligence. Crashes may involve single vehicles, multiple vehicles, motorcycles, recreational vehicles, transit vehicles or trucks. 
  • Aviation Accidents
    Lawyers investigate aviation accidents resulting from mechanical failures, human error and other causes. Crashes injure hundreds, sometimes thousands, of victims onboard aircraft and on the ground every year.
  • Camp Lejeune 
    Our firm handles cases of victims exposed to contaminated water supplies at U.S. Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune between 1953 and 1987. Exposure to toxic water caused serious injuries, including cancer, adult leukemia, Parkinson’s disease, major cardiac birth defects and others.
  • Defective Tires
    Defective tires can lead to automobile accidents resulting in injury or even death. Beasley Allen lawyers investigate these accidents caused by blowouts, tread separation and other tire failures. 
  • Firefighting Foam
    Beasley Allen investigates cases of Aqueous Film Forming Foam exposure. This firefighting foam contains highly toxic PFAS chemicals that can lead to cancer, liver damage, decreased fertility and other health risks.
  • Hair Relaxers
    Our lawyers handle cases for women injured by toxic chemicals in hair relaxers. Women who frequently use hair relaxers may develop uterine cancer, endometriosis, uterine fibroids or breast cancer.
  • Kratom
    Beasley Allen is investigating cases of serious adverse effects experienced by individuals who have consumed products containing Kratom.
  • Mesothelioma
    Our lawyers handle cases of asbestos exposure resulting in malignant mesothelioma, a type of cancer that can lay dormant for years. Millions of U.S. workers may have been exposed to asbestos decades ago.
  • NEC Baby Formula
    Our firm investigates cases of premature babies who developed necrotizing enterocolitis after consuming infant formulas manufactured by brands like Enfamil and Similac. Necrotizing enterocolitis is an intestinal disease that can lead to long-term complications and even death.
  • Negligent Security 
    Establishment owners and managers are responsible for maintaining safe premises. When someone is injured or killed as a result of negligent security, Beasley Allen lawyers hold owners and managers accountable.
  • On-the-Job-Injuries
    We investigate workers’ compensation cases, often finding that defective industrial products are to blame for workers’ injuries or deaths. Quite often, the incident results in a product liability case. Industrial products include manufacturing, farming, construction or other types of equipment.
  • Ozempic
    We investigate cases of gastroparesis, intestinal obstruction, deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism related to the use of diabetes and weight loss drugs like Ozempic, Wegovy and Mounjaro.
  • Paraquat
    Our firm handles cases for victims injured by paraquat, a popular herbicide linked to Parkinson’s Disease that has been banned or partially banned in at least 92 countries. Paraquat remains legal in the U.S., risking the health and safety of workers on over 2 million U.S. farms.
  • Social Media 
    Our youth are facing a mental health crisis caused by social media addiction. Beasley Allen advocates for these youth who have suffered harms, including anxiety, depression, eating disorders, body dysmorphia, ADD/ADHD, self-harm and suicide.
  • Talcum Powder
    Beasley Allen handles cases for women diagnosed with ovarian cancer after regular use of talcum powder. For decades, companies like Johnson & Johnson knew that talcum powder might cause cancer but failed to warn consumers. 
  • Truck Accidents 
    Our firm handles accident cases involving tractor-trailers, commercial vehicles and other large trucks. These cases often involve multiple, well-funded defendants and complex insurance issues.

Resources to Help Your Law Practice

From the firm’s beginning in 1979, Beasley Allen has been a litigation firm representing only plaintiffs. This means the firm only represents individuals, companies and governmental entities that have been wronged and have suffered damages due to the wrongdoing of another. Our lawyers do not handle any defense work, whether civil or criminal, and there are no exceptions. The only time we represent companies in Corporate America is when they are victims of wrongdoing and are plaintiffs in civil litigation. This has been our policy since the firm’s establishment in 1979, and it will never change.

We are honored and humbled that our firm has been consistently recognized as one of the leading law firms in the country for representing sole claimants involved in complex civil litigation. Being trial lawyers representing only victims of wrongdoing is a privilege for us. Our firm has been truly blessed.

We understand the importance of sharing resources and collaborating with our peers in the legal profession. We are committed to investing in resources that can help our fellow trial lawyers in their work. We have compiled a list of our most popular resources for those seeking to work with us, or seeking information to help their law firm with a case.

Co-Counsel E-Newsletter 

Beasley Allen sends out a Co-Counsel E-Newsletter specifically tailored with lawyers in mind. It features case updates, highlights key victories achieved for our clients, and informs readers about the firm’s latest resources. You can get it online by visiting our website, and clicking the Articles link.


Beasley Allen hosts a variety of webinars. These webinars feature lawyers in the firm and cover topics related to Beasley Allen cases. Continuing legal education (CLE) credits for Alabama or Georgia are often available for presentations. To register for upcoming events or access past webinars on-demand, visit the website and click on the Events and Webinar page.

Recalls Update

We try our best to stay current on the latest significant consumer recalls. Contact our JLB Report Team at [email protected] if you have any questions or believe we may need to include a recall.

The Jere Beasley Report

We also consider The Jere Beasley Report a service to lawyers and the general public. We provide the Report at no cost monthly, both in print and digitally. Visit our website, and click the Articles link.


Suzanne Clark, the Beasley Allen lawyer who leads the firm’s efforts relating to e-discovery, wrote an excellent piece on discovery for this issue. Let’s see what Suzanne has for our readers. 

“Generative AI is a type of artificial intelligence technology that can produce various types of content, including text, imagery, audio, and synthetic data.” ~ George Lawton

As fellow travelers in this new era of Generative AI, what should we as attorneys be considering as we dip our toes (or dive headfirst) into this burgeoning technology? This article covers the use of Generative AI to support legal work, precautionary measures to take and warnings to heed, proceeding with caution and reaping benefits, a view from the bench, and a look to the future.

Gen AI to Support Legal Work

Lawyers can use Gen AI for legal research and writing, drafting, summarizing, and reviewing documents. To begin, enter a prompt, and the Gen AI tool will produce an output.

Legal Research:

  • Prompt: Enter details about the legal issue, parties, thing in controversy, relief sought, and jurisdiction into the chat.
  • Output: A legal memo with an answer, analysis, case law citations, and links.


  • Prompt: Enter the type of information you want, for example, to generate a deposition outline, give details about the deponent, type of litigation, and other facts.
  • Output: Drafts of initial deposition outlines, letters, memorandums, motions, and other work product.


  • Prompt: Upload the document you want summarized and request a summary with the level of detail you need.
  • Output: A Summary of the Document you uploaded.


  • Prompt: Upload the document you want reviewed and enter questions about the content of the document.
  • Output: An answer to your question (if there is one), which directs you to the page numbers and citations to the document content that answers the question. 

Precautionary Measures to Take and Warnings to Heed 

When embarking on the use of Gen AI in legal practice, keep in mind the ethical duties of client confidentiality, competence, and supervision, as well as data security, privacy, and reliability. My experience with using Generative AI is through a license to software that has a closed environment supported by a case law database. Therefore, the documents uploaded and thought processes inputted into the chat are not shared with other users or used to train the algorithm, and the algorithm is not searching the internet and unreliable information sources; rather, it is searching case law. Also, because caselaw citations and links are provided, the user can check the case law to ensure the analysis is accurate. The basic idea is to treat the AI as a subordinate attorney or paralegal that needs supervision. The work product will need to be verified and likely edited, revised, and supplemented. 

Significant concerns are presented with using public Generative AI tools, for example, putting client data or attorney work product into a tool that is not secure, protected, or private. Additionally, a major pitfall of Generative AI is that it can hallucinate, and lawyers have been sanctioned for using fake cases in a legal brief that were an output of a free Generative AI tool. Therefore, a private tool with a case law database that you go behind to check and verify is essential for ethical use of Generative AI. 

Proceeding with Caution and Reaping Benefits

As long as you vet the Generative AI software for data security, privacy, and accuracy and conduct a risk-benefit analysis, you can make a determination as a legal professional whether certain, vetted, tested Gen AI software is a tool you can reasonably use in your practice. An example would be using Generative AI within a vetted and secure eDiscovery platform. If the platform is vetted as secure for hosting your client’s ESI or the ESI produced to you from the opposition, would it not also pass the test for the use of Generative AI to “review” and answer questions about the documents and ESI hosted there? Whether to use Generative AI in legal practice is a question worth asking and an analysis worth conducting because of the potential countless benefits Generative AI can provide (to you, and if not to you, to your opposition). 

A View From the Bench

Some judges are now requiring disclosure and/or certification that if Generative AI was used in a court filing, a human checked the accuracy using print reporters or traditional legal databases. The U.S. Supreme Court also addressed AI in the “2023 Year-End Report on the Federal Judiciary,” and while Chief Justice Roberts does not state that lawyers should not use AI in their practices, he cautions against potential risks such as privacy concerns, dehumanization, bias, and due process issues. These are important issues to keep in mind.

Judge Xavier Rodriguez has written a thought-provoking academic article on “Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the Practice of Law,” (going beyond Generative AI and discussing all types of AI). In this article, Judge Rodriguez covers the potential benefits of AI for lawyers and addresses the risks and potential limitations of AI, as well as legal issues. Judge Rodriguez calls for further study and potential rule changes by state bars, courts, and rules committees, and stresses the need for attorneys to monitor regulatory and statutory AI developments. 

Gen AI is Here to Stay

We use AI in so many routine ways all the time. We use spellcheck and conduct internet searches for synonyms when we are drafting. To forbid the use of Gen AI in court filings may not be possible. For example, what if Generative AI is used to create a template motion, and then that template is reused by other lawyers on other cases? The filing attorney might not even know Generative AI was used. The reasonable and ethical way forward is to continue to always check our citations and confirm our arguments, whether using forms and templates, being supported by law clerks and paralegals, or when using Generative AI. In the end, Generative AI will seep into our work product, making eliminating it altogether impossible. Furthermore, it is a helpful tool. Still, there is much more to consider and learn about this topic, and I plan to tune in as the future unfolds. 

Sources: TechTarget, The Sedona Conference, Supreme Court, JDSupra, IBM, U.S. District Court Northern District of Texas, Reuters


Attorney Spotlight

Brittney Banks

Brittney Banks is a Legal Secretary in our firm. She works in the firm’s Personal Injury and Products Liability Section. There she helps LaBarron Boone, a lawyer in the section, with his cases. Brittney is responsible for providing administrative support, which is pivotal to success in cases. Her duties include preparing correspondences, researching, organizing files, reviewing documents, managing calendars and scheduling, and providing additional administrative duties where needed. 

Brittney joined the firm in May 2022 and does an outstanding job. We are fortunate to have her with us!

Brittney shares that she grew up as an only child in a small rural area in Perry County, Alabama. Although some resources were limited in the area where she grew up, she says she never felt constrained as her mother equipped her with everything she needed, and ensured she was exposed to different places outside their hometown. Brittney is a graduate of Alabama State University with a bachelor’s degree in Computer Information Systems. Brittney says she also enjoys traveling (which she attributes to her mother), college football, crime podcasts, thrifting, movies, concerts, and spending time with friends and family. She also enjoys giving back to her community through volunteer work with her sorority, the Selma Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.

Brittney says her favorite things about working at Beasley Allen are the work environment and growth opportunities. She adds: 

Beasley Allen fosters a collaborative atmosphere where colleagues help one another and communicate effectively.

Tierra Huntt

Tierra Huntt is a Paralegal in the firm’s Toxic Torts Section, where she has worked since joining the firm in April of 2022. She assists lawyers in the section on several litigations, including Camp Lejeune, RoundUp, Paraquat, and other environmental cases. Tierra is a tremendous asset to her team and the firm, and we are very thankful to have her with us!

Tierra was born in Atlanta, Georgia, and raised in Savannah. To be closer to family, she eventually moved to Alabama, where she now lives in the Montgomery area. She has one son, Ty, who is five years old, whom she describes as an amazing, smart, and loving young boy! Tierra graduated from East Tennessee State University with a bachelor’s degree in Criminology.  She is also a Middle Tennessee State University graduate with a master’s degree in Criminology.  Tierra enjoys spending time with her family and friends the most. She also enjoys crafting and experiencing new foods, places, and museums.

When asked what her favorite thing about working at Beasley Allen is, Tierra said:

It is the opportunity to help others and work with all the staff and attorneys in the firm. Beasley Allen employees are great people who do great things!

Caty O’Quinn

Catherine “Caty” O’Quinn is a lawyer in Beasley Allen’s Mass Torts Section, where she is working on the Johnson & Johnson talcum powder litigation. The litigation has discovered that a tremendous number of women have died of ovarian cancer caused by talc products. Before joining the firm, Caty worked for private practice lawyers handling social security disability claims and working on probate and family law cases.

Caty graduated from Mississippi College with a bachelor’s degree in history and a minor in Spanish. She earned her law degree from Samford University’s Cumberland School of Law in 2012. While in law school, Caty worked as a law intern at the Alabama Appleseed Center for Law and Justice, a nonprofit organization working to achieve social justice and equity for all Alabamians. She specifically worked on the organization’s Poultry Worker Safety Initiative and the Alabama Constitutional Reform Project. When asked why she chose to become a lawyer, Caty said:

I first heard the calling in eighth grade when I went to work with my mom at a special needs school for developmentally disabled children. I was awestruck at how sweet, kind, and innocent the children were, and I recall the immediate desire to help them somehow. As I progressed through high school, my interpretation of a vulnerable person expanded to encompass millions. I vowed to do my small part to protect those who needed protection and to advocate for the people taken advantage of and forgotten by society.

Caty is a member of the American Bar Association (ABA) and is involved in the group’s Law Practice Division, which provides pro bono services. She serves on the Marketing & Communications Team for the ABA’s Young Lawyers Section and is a member of the Alabama State Bar, Montgomery County Bar Association, Birmingham Bar Association, Tuscaloosa Bar Association, and National Organization of Social Security Claimant Representatives (NOSSCR). She is a Board Member At-Large for the Montgomery County Bar Association Women’s Section. She also volunteers with various animal welfare organizations in the Tuscaloosa and Montgomery areas, including the Full Life Ahead Foundation.

Fighting for her clients and being able to speak for those who can’t speak for themselves is Caty’s favorite part of practicing law. She says: 

My goal is not just to do my job as a lawyer, but to do my job as a person. My clients know we are a team, and I am fighting for them. This assurance calms any uneasiness and allows them to trust me, which is the best way I can help them.

On a related note, Caty says that the zealous and unrelenting advocacy for those who need it most, regardless of how large the opponent is, makes Beasley Allen unique as a firm.

Caty is a native of Tuscaloosa. She is a new aunt to two nephews born in the last year. Her family is involved in the health care industry throughout Alabama, including her mom, a school nurse in Tuscaloosa; her brother, a chiropractor in Birmingham; and her sister, a nurse in Huntsville. In her time away from the office, Caty enjoys reading and politics and is currently learning to cook and play the piano. She also has an adorable cat named Azreal.

Caty is a tremendously talented lawyer. She does outstanding work and is highly committed to seeking justice for her clients. We are truly blessed to have her at Beasley Allen.

Charlie Stern 

Charlie Stern is a lawyer in the firm’s Toxic Torts Section, where he focuses his practice on representing plaintiffs who have been exposed to asbestos and developed life-threatening cancers, including mesothelioma and lung cancer. In addition to representing similar plaintiffs in the past, he also handled pharmaceutical and product liability cases. Before joining Beasley Allen, Charlie worked for another plaintiffs’ law firm, where he fought for the rights of individuals who were injured by the actions of others. He also served as Assistant District Attorney for the Griffin Judicial Circuit in Spaulding County, Georgia.

Charlie says he became a lawyer to help people. He said it was in the 7th grade

that he became inspired by Harper Lee’s depiction of Atticus Finch in the 1960s novel

To Kill a Mockingbird. Charlie explains further: 

In that novel, he took on an insurmountable task and represented Tom Robinson. Tom was already assumed to be guilty of the charges brought, and no one in the community would advocate on his behalf. Atticus’ dedication to Tom’s rights and helping him struck me. I wanted to be a lawyer after reading that book because I wanted to do what Atticus did.

Since 2019 The National Trial Lawyers organization has named Charlie a “Top 40 Under 40” lawyer, which is “extended solely to the select few of the most qualified attorneys from each state who demonstrate superior qualifications of leadership, reputation, influence, stature and public profile measured by objective and uniformly applied standards.” Charlie is a member of the State Bar of Georgia and the State Bar of Texas. He is also an active member of the Dallas Bar Association, Texas Trial Lawyers Association, and the Dallas Association of Young Lawyers.

Charlie grew up in Dallas, Texas, before heading to Georgia to attend the University of Georgia, where he majored in history. After attending the University of Texas in Austin for law school, he moved back to Dallas where he and his wife, Bo, live. Bo and Charlie love spending time with their families and their dog, Chunk. 

Charlie says his favorite part of practicing law is his clients. He says:

I have always loved getting to know and helping my clients and my relationships with them are long-lasting even after the case is over.” When asked what makes Beasley Allen a unique law firm, Charlie replied: “We advocate, and we care. Our clients are not just numbers at Beasley Allen. We do everything in our power to help them.

Charlie is a talented lawyer who works very hard and is dedicated to seeking justice for his clients. We are blessed to have Charlie as a lawyer and principal in the firm. He is a definite asset. 

Kirsten Warren

Kirsten Warren, a Paralegal in the firm’s Mass Torts Section, has worked in the Section since joining the firm in July of 2022. She assists Joseph VanZandt, a lawyer in the section, with the social media litigation. Kirsten says she fell into the right place at Beasley Allen and really enjoys her work. We could not agree more – we are thankful to have Kirsten, a talented and hardworking employee, with us! 

Kirsten is the oldest of five children and was born and raised in Houston, Texas, where most of her family still resides. She and her husband, June, and their niece, Diamond, reside in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where June attends law school. Kirsten shares that they have a very close-knit family and enjoy spending time together whenever they can travel back home for visits. Kirsten says she loves good food and company, so trying new restaurants and foods whenever possible is always on the list of things to do! She also loves staying home watching the latest movies and catching up on reading.

Kirsten says her favorite thing about working at Beasley Allen is her team. She says: 

Everyone has been extremely welcoming and has treated me like an important part of the Beasley Allen family!


Several lawyers and staff employees who are being featured this month share their favorite Bible verses in this issue.

Caty O’Quinn

Caty O’Quinn offers three of her favorite bible verses. The first one reminds her that she is also not alone. Regardless of her own trials and tribulations, she is on the winning team so there is never a need to worry. She posts this throughout her home to remain faithful to his word.

In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. John 16:33

Caty shares another verse, saying, “For me, this has two of the greatest benefits. The renewal of my mind from the evil in the world. And the privilege to experience God’s will – his good, pleasing, and perfect will that is always exactly what I, and those around me, need.”

Do not confirm to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12:2

Caty says the following verse is another reminder that when things get overwhelming that she is on the winning team no matter what happens.

So do not fear, for I am with you; for not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10

Brittney Banks

Brittney Banks, who provided Jeremiah 29:11, one of her favorite passages, says:

I usually would become very discouraged with myself when certain things wouldn’t work out the way I envisioned it to. As I grew older, I understood more when people used to say, “Want to make GOD laugh? Just tell him your plans.” I learned that in HIS timing all things would work out for my good. I just had to continue to keep the faith and trust in his word. I may not be able to see where I’m headed right now, but I trust and know the Lord will always prepare a table for me just as long as I am leaning on his everlasting word.

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11

Kirsten Warren

Kirsten Warren shares three of her favorite bible verses. She says the first serves as a daily reminder for her that the things that happen in life are not always about what we can see coming and how we can plan for them, but ultimately, if we allow our faith to lead us, God will work everything out in His time. If you trust Him and His process, it will always work out for your betterment.

For we live by faith, not by sight. 2 Corinthians 5:7

For the second verse provided, Kirsten says this verse serves as another daily reminder that God has a plan that we may not be able to see or understand, but if you trust in Him, it will work out in your favor. Many times, we are not sure which way to go, but if you allow yourself to trust God’s process and the things He is working out in your life, you don’t need to worry about the next steps because He will lead you in the right direction.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5-6


Researchers Identify Toxins In Air As Threat Responsible For Half Million Deaths In 2021

The European Environment Agency (EEA) has identified the cause of death for nearly a half million people in 2021, finding the cause to be toxins in the very air they breathed. That should be alarming for all people, who have not recognized the severity of this matter.  This includes a number of politicians who have largely ignored the air pollution problems

About 253,000 “early deaths” were blamed on fine, inhalable particles known as PM2.5 in levels that surpassed the World Health Organization’s (WHO) maximum limits. Others were due to excessive levels of nitrogen dioxide and ozone. 

Air pollution, often called the “silent killer,” is one of the biggest health concerns since tobacco, according to WHO. It contributes to higher risks of health problems, including respiratory infections, heart disease, asthma, and cancers. 

According to an investigative report by the Guardian, 98 percent of people in Europe were breathing air containing pollutants that exceed WHO guidelines. And it’s not just the air in Europe, WHO said. Nearly the entire planet’s population is plagued by air pollution, leading about 6.7 million people worldwide to an early grave. 

What’s being done about air pollution? Here in the U.S., the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has taken steps in recent years to minimize pollution from two of the biggest contributors to air pollution — large industrial facilities and transportation. States and local municipalities can help reduce air-polluting gases by transitioning to clean energy, like solar and wind energy. 

Air pollution is a worldwide problem that can no longer be ignored. Persons in leadership roles in government at every level in this country must start leading in the ongoing battle to control air pollution. Our nation’s future, in large part, depends on our leaders leading, but in the right direction. But are our political leaders – especially those in Congress – listening? 

Source: The Cool Down

NRA Leader Resigns Days Before Trial Over Funds Alleged To Have Been Stolen

Wayne LaPierre, longtime leader of the National Rifle Association (NRA), has resigned, effective January 31. His announcement came just days before a civil trial over claims he diverted millions of dollars from the NRA to pay for personal travel, security, and other benefits.

It appears LaPierre lived “very well,” using funds donated to the gun rights powerhouse. I seriously doubt that donors, who would be classified as “working men and women,” had any undertaking what all their hard-earned money was being used for by LaPierre and others at the NRA. 

The lawsuit, filed by New York Attorney General Letitia James against LaPierre, the NRA, and other former NRA executives, began on January 8. LaPierre was called to testify. The trial is expected to last for several weeks. 

LaPierre’s testimony is a focal point in the civil trial. He and other top NRA officials are accused of exploiting the organization as their own “personal piggy bank” and of using the NRA for their own personal gain. While they were telling folks “Obama is coming to get your gun,” they were also living the high life with their money. 

James’ lawsuit alleges that LaPierre and other NRA executives illegally diverted tens of millions of dollars from the NRA and spent the funds on personal trips and other questionable expenditures. The lawsuit targets LaPierre for spending millions of NRA funds on private jet trips to the Bahamas for himself and his family, luxury car services, and personal security. The lawsuit also accuses him of accepting expensive gifts from vendors, such as the use of a 107-foot yacht, and the financing of African safaris. 

A majority of the accusations are linked to the fact that the NRA operates as a non-profit organization, subject to rigorous state and federal regulations regarding expenditures. How the funds were being used by the NRA will be hard to explain at trial. 

The lawsuit alleges that the present and past leaders of NRA established “a culture of self-serving, poor administration, and careless supervision” that resulted in personal gains for themselves, their family members, associates, and preferred vendors, causing the politically powerful organization to suffer a loss of over $63 million within three years.

On January 5, New York Attorney General Letitia James announced that former NRA chief of staff and executive director of general operations Joshua L. Powell had reached a settlement of $100,000 with her office. In the settlement, Powell admitted to the allegations of wrongdoing.

In a statement on January 5, Attorney General James said that Powell’s admission of wrongdoing and Wayne LaPierre’s resignation confirm the allegations of financial corruption that have been made against the NRA and its senior leaders for years.

The suit claims that some of the organization’s excessive spending was under a secretive arrangement with the NRA’s former advertising agency, Ackerman McQueen. The advertising firm would cover the cost of LaPierre and other NRA executives and then send money to the NRA for “out-of-pocket expenses.”

The lawsuit, which started in trial on Jan. 8, is ongoing at press time. LaPierre has testified, and he admitted to some extremely damaging activities related to spending. Stay tuned!

Sources: and CNN


The following are the monthly reminders for all of us at Beasley Allen. These reminders are put in the Report for a purpose, and that purpose is for them to be applied both in the workplace and at home. The remedies are recommended for all at Beasley Allen and to our readers outside Beasley Allen, including our political leaders. In fact, any person in a leadership role should read the quotes and apply the lessons learned from them in their daily lives. 

If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land. 

2 Chron 7:14

All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.

Edmund Burke

Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.

There comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe nor politic nor popular, but he must take it because his conscience tells him it is right.

The ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad people but the silence over that by the good people.

Martin Luther King, Jr. 

Get in good trouble, necessary trouble, and help redeem the soul of America.

Rep. John Lewis speaking on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, on March 1, 2020

Ours is not the struggle of one day, one week, or one year. Ours is not the struggle of one judicial appointment or presidential term. Ours is the struggle of a lifetime, or maybe even many lifetimes, and each one of us in every generation must do our part.

Rep. John Lewis on movement building in Across That Bridge: A Vision for Change and the Future of America

The opposite of poverty is not wealth; the opposite of poverty is justice.

Bryan Stevenson, 2019

I see in the near future a crisis approaching that unnerves me and causes me to tremble for the safety of my country….corporations have been enthroned and an era of corruption in high places will follow, and the money power of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the people until all wealth is aggregated in a few hands and the Republic is destroyed.

U.S. President Abraham Lincoln, Nov. 21, 1864 


As all of America now knows, Alabama Football Coach Nick Saban has retired. While this came as a surprise to most everybody in the country, the reality of this legendary coach’s retirement is now really sinking in. The initial shock is slowly fading away. 

As most of you know, I am an Auburn man. While I have tried my best to dislike Nick Saban, I just couldn’t do it. I have to admit that I have come to really like the man. That’s because the record-setting coach is a good man. 

Coach Saban has done things the right way both as a coach and as a man. He has been very good for college football and has also been good for the State of Alabama. Actually, the legendary coach has been good in many ways for the entire country. That’s because of the positive attention brought about due to Coach Saban’s record-setting performance and the manner in which he has achieved greatness. 

However, I must also confess that when it comes to Auburn football, I am really glad Coach Saban is no longer Bama’s coach. The playing field is now level for the first time in years for the teams that play in “The Iron Bowl.” 

I pray that Coach Saban will enjoy his retirement. It will be interesting to see how that develops. I have to believe that he will handle it well. 

God has blessed Nick Saban, “Miss Terry” and the Saban family. My prayer is that they will continue to be blessed!

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