We have been asked by a number of our readers to write on some of the specific areas of litigation that lawyers in the firm are currently working on. I will set out some of these areas below.
BP Oil Spill
The settlement claims center has now started processing business claims again under the new matching rules set out by the Claims Center. Claims can still be filed under the settlement. Any business not excluded in the settlement in ANY part of Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana, or the west coast of Florida may qualify for compensation. More than $5 billion has been paid out to date under the settlement. Lawyers in our Toxic Torts Section have been working very hard to process claims and to get them paid.
We continue to focus on accident cases involving automobiles, heavy equipment and consumer products. Some of these auto cases involve single-vehicle crashes, while others involve multiple-vehicle accidents. We will review any case involving catastrophic injury or death.
As we have mentioned previously, a single case sometimes can be developed into a class action. We are handling numerous class actions involving consumer products from automobiles to baby powder as well as financial and insurance products. If you have a potential class action case, please allow us to review the matter.
Lawyers in our Consumer Fraud Section are handling and investigating whistleblower claims of government fraud ranging from Medicare/Medicaid to military contracts, and any other type of fraud involving a government contract. Under the False Claims Act (FCA) the whistleblower is entitled to a percentage of the recovery. Studies show that as much as 10 percent of Medicare/Medicaid charges are fraudulent. Common schemes involve double-billing for the same service, inaccurately coding services, and billing for services not performed. Additionally, the Commission on Wartime Contracting has warned that the lack of oversight of government contractors has led to massive fraud and waste.
GM Defective Ignition Switch
General Motors (GM) recalled about 780,000 2005-07 Chevrolet Cobalt and Pontiac G5 vehicles on Feb. 13. Twelve days later, it expanded the recall to include an additional 590,000 model-year 2003-07 Saturn Ion, Chevy HHR, Pontiac Solstice, and Saturn Sky vehicles. It was later expanded again to include model-year 2006-2011 Chevy HHRs. The recall now encompasses 17 million vehicles. GM knew about the ignition switch problem as early as 2001. The company originally linked 31 crashes and 13 deaths to the faulty ignition switch, but an independent study commissioned by the Center for Auto Safety indicates the death toll exceeds 300.
Takata Air Bags Class Action And Personal Injury Cases
Lawyers in our Consumer Fraud Section are involved in class action lawsuits for economic loss related to the devaluation of certain motor vehicles because of an air bag defect. The air bag was manufactured by Takata Corp. Affected vehicles span 2000-2011 year models by manufacturers including BMW, Chrysler, Ford, General Motors (GM), Honda, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Subaru and Toyota. The class representatives are from the following states: Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky, Louisiana and Arkansas. Lawyers in our Personal Injury/Products Liability Section are also handling cases involving deaths or serious injury caused by the exploding Takata air bags.
Heavy Truck Product Liability Claims
Tractor trailer and other heavy trucks are not required to contain many of the same protections for occupants as smaller passenger cars. They can contain dangerous defects putting the truck driver or passengers at risk of serious injury or death. These trucks many times have particularly weak roofs that crush in rollovers. The passenger compartments are often not protected by effective cab guards, and this allows loads to shift into the truck cab. We will review any case involving catastrophic injury or death.
There are significant differences between handling an interstate trucking case and other car wreck cases. It is imperative to have knowledge of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations, technology, business practices, insurance coverages, and to have the ability to discover written and electronic records. Expert testimony is of utmost importance. Accidents involving semi-trucks and passenger vehicles often result in serious injuries and wrongful death. Trucking companies and their insurance companies almost always quickly send accident investigators to the scene of a truck accident to begin working to limit their liability in these situations. Our lawyers, staff and in-house accident investigators immediately begin the important task of documenting and preserving the evidence. We would like to review any case involving catastrophic injury or death.
Tire failure can result in a serious car crash and even a vehicle rollover accident, causing serious injury or death to vehicle occupants. Air, heat and sunlight can cause the rubber in tires to break down. When a tire is defective, potentially serious problems like detreads and blowouts can occur long before the tire would be expected to wear out. If the tire failure is the result of design or manufacturing defects, and the manufacturer is aware of the problem, they have an obligation to alert consumers to the potential danger.
On-the-job Product Liability
Many times product claims arise from incidents initially viewed as only a workers compensation claim. After we investigate the circumstances that caused the injuries, many times we discover a defective machine may be the cause of injuries sustained. Currently we are handling a number of cases involving an injured worker in an on-the-job accident.
Talcum Powder And Ovarian Cancer
As many as 2,200 cases of ovarian cancer diagnosed each year may have been caused by regular use of talcum powder. Talc is a mineral made of up various elements including magnesium, silicon and oxygen. Talc is ground to make talcum powder which is used to absorb moisture and is widely available in various products including baby powder and adult products including body and facial powder. Talc products used regularly in the genital area could increase the risk of ovarian cancer if the powder were to travel through the vagina, uterus and fallopian tubes to the ovaries. A jury recently found consumer health care products manufacturer Johnson & Johnson knew of the cancer risks associated with its talc products but failed to warn consumers.
In April, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) urged doctors to stop using a medical device called a power morcellator, because studies showed the device may spread cancer. An estimated 1 in 350 women develops uterine sarcoma – a type of uterine cancer – after undergoing a morcellator procedure. Morcellators are typically used to grind away uterine growths such as fibroid tumors, and in hysterectomies. They became popular as a less invasive surgical alternative. The FDA conducted a formal review of the devices in July and announced that its concerns with the morcellator were confirmed. During this time, Johnson & Johnson announced it would stop selling the surgical tools.
The FDA has approved updated drug labels for Actos, usually prescribed to treat Type 2 diabetes. The new label states that the use of the drug for more than one year may be associated with an increased risk of bladder cancer.
The FDA has issued an updated safety communication warning doctors and patients that the placement of surgical mesh through the vagina to treat pelvic organ prolapse may present greater risk for the patient than other options. This is also called transvaginal mesh. According to the FDA, reported complications from using the mesh include the mesh becoming exposed or protruding out of the vaginal tissue, pain, infection, organ perforation and urinary problems.
Lipitor is a statin drug to treat high cholesterol. It was approved by the FDA in 1996 and is one the best-selling prescription medications in the world. Recent studies have found a possible link between Lipitor and the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. A University of Massachusetts study found a potential link in postmenopausal women, particularly those who had a Body Mass Index (BMI) less than 30. Of the 153,840 women evaluated, more than 10,000 had developed Type 2 diabetes by the end of the study.
Testosterone Replacement Therapy
Testosterone Replacement Therapy (TRT) products for men have been linked to an increased risk of death, heart attack and stroke. Researchers found men who used testosterone therapy were 30 percent more likely to have a heart attack, stroke, or die after three years of use. A second study found that men had a significant increase in risk of heart attack and stroke in just the first 90 days of testosterone therapy use. Furthermore, men who started the study with clear, unobstructed coronary arteries were just as likely to have a heart attack, stroke or die as men who entered the study with established coronary artery disease. Testosterone therapy, such as the prescription topical treatments Androgel, Testim and Axiron, are used to help boost testosterone levels in men who have a deficiency of the male hormone. Symptoms of low testosterone include decreased libido and low energy.
A preliminary study indicates the erectile dysfunction drug Viagra (sildenafil) may increase the risk of developing melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer. The study, published in the JAMA Internal Medicine journal, analyzed data from nearly 26,000 men, 6 percent of whom had taken Viagra. The men who used Viagra at some point in their lives had about double the risk of developing melanoma compared to men who had never taken the drug. Men who were currently taking Viagra were at an 84 percent greater risk of developing melanoma. We are currently looking at cases involving men who are taking or have taken Viagra and were diagnosed with melanoma.
Risperdal, an atypical antipsychotic drug used to treat schizophrenia and certain problems caused by bipolar disorder, has been linked to the development of gynecomastia in boys and young men. Gynecomastia is a condition that causes boys to grow breasts. The drug is manufactured by Johnson & Johnson.
Metal-on-Metal Hip Replacement Parts
The FDA has ordered a review of all metal-on-metal hip implants due to mounting patient complaints. Problems with the metal-on-metal devices include loosening, fracturing and dislocating of the device caused by inflammation in the joint space. We are investigating all cases involving metal-on-metal hip implants, including the DePuy Orthopaedics ASR XL Acetabular System and the DePuy ASR Hip Resurfacing System, recalled in August 2010; the Smith & Nephew R3 Acetabular System, recalled in June 2012; the Stryker Rejuvenate and ABG II modular-neck stems, recalled in July 2012; the DePuy Pinnacle, the Zimmer Durom Cup, the Wright Conserve, and the Biomet M2A and M2A-Magnum hip replacement systems, which have not been recalled. Reported problems include pain, swelling and problems walking.
GranuFlo® and NaturaLyte® are products used in the dialysis process. On June 27, 2012, the FDA issued a Class 1 recall of GranuFlo® and NaturaLyte®. A Class 1 recall is the most serious FDA recall, reserved for situations in which the FDA deems “there is a reasonable probability that the use of or exposure to a violative product will cause serious adverse health consequences or death.” Use of these dialysis products has been linked to an increased risk of cardiopulmonary arrest and sudden cardiac death. The manufacturer, Fresenius Medical Care, was aware of the dangers and injuries associated with these products but failed to warn patients and doctors until 2012. Lawyers in our Mass Torts Section are currently investigating death claims as well as claims of heart attack, cardiopulmonary arrest or any other serious injury.
Mirena® is an IUD that was originally approved by the FDA as an intrauterine contraceptive. It was later approved as a treatment for heavy menstrual bleeding. It works by slowly releasing a low dose of levonorgestrel (a synthetic progestin hormone) directly into the uterus. Serious adverse side effects and potentially life-threatening complications have been reported following the implantation of the device. These complications include organ perforation, migration of the IUD to outside the uterus, expulsion of the IUD, and embedment in the uterus, among others.
Byetta And Januvia
Byetta and Januvia are two drugs used to treat Type 2 diabetes. The FDA approved Byetta in 2005 and Januvia in 2006. These drugs have been prescribed to millions of people in the United States. Since approving the medications, the FDA has issued several warnings about links between Byetta and Januvia to complications related to pancreatic diseases. Recent studies have linked these two drugs to acute pancreatic cancer.
Lawyers in our firm are handling claims related to the violation of federal and state antitrust laws. We are currently involved in claims alleging a wide array of anticompetitive conduct, including illegal tying, exclusive dealing, monopolization, and price fixing.
Health Care Fraud
Our lawyers are looking into cases of fraud within the health care industry. These may include cases dealing with pricing, off-label prescriptions, or other health care abuse.
Syngenta Corn Class Action
Lawyers at Beasley Allen are pursuing claims on behalf of those who were harmed by Syngenta Corporation’s market conduct resulting in depressed market prices for farmers in the corn export market. China and other countries are turning away American-grown genetically modified corn.
Predatory lenders target consumers who historically do not have access to mainstream lending institutions. This group of consumers includes minorities, the economically disadvantaged, the elderly and the uneducated and members of the military. Predatory loans harm borrowers by making it difficult or impossible for them to keep up with their payments, by such methods as charging the borrowers higher rates of interest, requiring credit insurance products, exorbitant up-front fees and pre-payment penalties.
If you would like more information on any of these areas of litigation or you need to talk with a lawyer about a potential client, feel free to contact one of the lawyers in the section that deals with your request. The Sections of our firm are: Personal Injury/Products Liability, Consumer Fraud, Toxic Torts, and Mass Torts. You can get more information on these sections by going to our website www.BeasleyAllen.com or by calling 800-898-2034 and asking for Kathy Eckermann. She will put you in contact with a lawyer working in the specific area relating to your request.
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