The following are some of the cases our lawyers are currently concentrating on at this juncture. To learn more, you can visit www.beasleyallen.com. I will give a brief summary below of these cases. Several of the cases will be discussed in more detail in other parts of this issue.
PERSONAL INJURY AND PRODUCTS LIABILITY
Lawyers in our Personal Injury & Products Liability Section 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. Cole Portis heads up this Section and Sloan Downes is the Section Head Administrator. Our lawyers will review any case involving catastrophic injury or death. Contact: Cole.Portis@beasleyallen.com or Sloan.Downes@beasleyallen.com for more information on any of the matters described below.
Takata Airbags Recall – The largest automotive recall in history centers on the defective Takata airbags found in millions of vehicles manufactured by BMW, Chrysler, Daimler Trucks, Ford, General Motors, Honda, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Subaru, and Toyota. The defect results in shrapnel-like metal shards and airbag components being propelled throughout the vehicle interior. This frequently results in lacerations and blunt force trauma that can cause injury or death. Contact: Cole.Portis@beasleyallen.com
Honda Airbag Claims – As mentioned above, millions of vehicles are now under recall due to faulty airbag inflators. Many of these faulty inflators are in Honda vehicles. We are handling Honda airbag cases with smaller injuries that normally would not qualify for claims under our usual review process. Contact: Cole.Portis@beasleyallen.com or Chris.Glover@beasleyallen.com.
Defective Tires – 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. Contact: Cole.Portis@beasleyallen.com or Ben.Baker@beasleyallen.com.
Big Truck Accidents – 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. Contact: Cole.Portis@beasleyallen.com or Chris.Glover@beasleyallen.com.
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. Contact: Cole.Portis@beasleyallen.com.
On-the-job Product Liability – Many times product claims arise from worker’s compensation claims. After we investigate the circumstances that caused the injuries, many times we discover a defective machine may be the cause of the injuries. Contact: Cole.Portis@beasleyallen.com or Kendall.Dunson@beasleyallen.com.
E-cigarette Explosions – We are currently investigating cases involving severe injuries caused by exploding e-cigarette devices and exploding e-cigarette batteries. These explosions have been linked to faulty e-cigarette products, defective lithium-ion batteries, and insufficient warnings for users. With few regulations to ensure their safety, e-cigarette devices have been aggressively marketed and sold in stores throughout the United States. Contact: William.Sutton@beasleyallen.com.
Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect – Nursing homes are supposed to be in the business of providing skilled nursing care to elderly and disabled residents. Unfortunately, statistics indicate residents in nursing homes suffer abuse and neglect more and more frequently at the hands of nursing home corporations. In many cases residents have died or have been severely abused as a result of neglect. They may suffer physical abuse, emotional or psychological abuse, or neglect. Our lawyers are investigating cases involving serious injury or death resulting from nursing home abuse or neglect. Contact: Ben.Locklar@beasleyallen.com
MASS TORTS SECTION
Lawyers in our Mass Torts Section have been very busy in litigation involving the powerful drug industry during the past year and much of that work is going over into 2017. Andy Birchfield is the Section Head and Melissa Prickett is the Section Head Administrator. They can be reached at Andy.Birchfield@beasleyallen.com or Melissa.Prickett@beasleyallen.com. The following are areas where our lawyers in the Section are currently working.
PHARMACEUTICALS AND MEDICAL DEVICES
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 increase the risk of ovarian cancer. In February 2016, a jury found Johnson & Johnson knew of the cancer risks associated with its talc products but failed to warn consumers, and awarded the family of our client $72 million. She died of ovarian cancer after using J&J talc-containing products for more than 30 years. There have subsequently been two more jury verdicts against Johnson & Johnson. Contact: Ted.Meadows@beasleyallen.com or Melissa.Prickett@beasleyallen.com.
Xarelto – Lawsuits filed against Johnson & Johnson subsidiary Janssen Pharmaceuticals and Bayer Corp. over the blood thinner Xarelto have been consolidated in Louisiana federal court. Xarelto has been linked to serious side effects including internal bleeding, gastrointestinal bleeding, brain bleed, and death. The Xarelto lawsuits come on the heels of the recent $650 million Pradaxa settlement. Researchers linked Pradaxa, also a blood thinning medication, to more than 500 deaths. Xarelto blood thinner litigation has been consolidated before U.S. District Judge Eldon Fallon in the Eastern District of Louisiana, who presided over suits against Merck & Co. over its medication Vioxx. The Vioxx litigation resulted in a $4.85 billion settlement in 2007. Contact: Andy.Birchfield@beasleyallen.com, David.Byrne@beasleyallen.com or Melissa.Prickett@beasleyallen.com.
Invokana – Approved in March 2013, Invokana (canagliflozin) is an SGLT2 Inhibitor used to treat adults with Type 2 diabetes, manufactured by Janssen Pharmaceuticals, a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson. SGLT2 inhibitors work by preventing high blood sugar by helping the patient’s kidneys remove excess sugar through their urine. In May 2015, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a warning the drug has been linked to cases of ketoacidosis, a serious condition where there is too much acid in the blood. Complications of diabetic ketoacidosis include difficulty breathing, nausea/vomiting, abdominal pain, confusion and unusual fatigue or sleepiness. The condition can lead to diabetic coma and/or death. Contact: Melissa.Prickett@beasleyallen.com.
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. Contact: Matt.Teague@beasleyallen.com or Melissa.Prickett@beasleyallen.com.
Viagra – 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 JAMA Internal Medicine, 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 investigating cases involving men who are taking or have taken Viagra and were diagnosed with melanoma. Contact: Melissa.Prickett@beasleyallen.com or Frank.Woodson@beaselyallen.com.
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. Contact: James.Lampkin@beasleyallen.com or Melissa.Prickett@beasleyallen.com.
Zofran – Manufactured by GlaxoSmithKline, Zofran (ondansetron) was approved to treat nausea during chemotherapy and following surgery. Zofran works by blocking serotonin in the areas of the brain that trigger nausea and vomiting. Between 2002 and 2004, GSK began promoting Zofran off-label for the treatment of morning sickness during pregnancy, despite the fact the drug has not been approved for pregnant women and there have been no well-controlled studies in pregnant women. The FDA has received nearly 500 reports of birth defects linked to Zofran. Birth defect risks include cleft palate and septal heart defects. Contact: Roger.Smith@beasleyallen.com or Melissa.Prickett@beasleyallen.com.
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 metal-on-metal include, but are not limited to loosening, metallosis (i.e.: tissue or bone death), fracturing, and/or corrosion and fretting of these devices, which require revision surgery. Many patients that require revision surgery due to these devices suffer significant post-revision complications. 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 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 “38mm” and M2A-Magnum hip replacement systems, which have not been recalled. Reported problems include pain, swelling and problems walking. Contact: Navan.Ward@beasleyallen.com or Melissa.Prickett@beasleyallen.com.
3M Bair Hugger – The 3M Bair Hugger is a forced hot air warming blanket, used primarily to help maintain a patient’s body temperature during surgery. The 3M Bair Hugger pushes warm air through a flexible hose into a blanket draped over a patient. However, warming blankets can recirculate contaminated air over a patient’s body, including over an open surgical site. This may result in infections like MRSA or sepsis. In particular, patients undergoing knee or hip replacement surgery are at risk of infections deep in the joint, which are very difficult to treat. Complications from these infections include hospitalization, implant revision surgery, limited mobility, permanent disability, amputation and death. Contact: Melissa.Prickett@beasleyallen.com.
IVC Filters – Retrievable IVC filters are wire devices implanted in the vena cava, the body’s largest vein, to stop blood clots from reaching the heart and lungs. These devices are used when blood thinners are not an option. Manufacturers include Bard, Cook, and Johnson & Johnson. While permanent IVC filters have been used since the 1960s with almost no reports of failure, retrievable IVC filters were introduced in 2003, promoted for use in bariatric surgery, trauma surgery and orthopedic surgery. Risks associated with the retrievable IVC filters include migration, fracture, and perforation, leading to embolism, organ damage and wrongful death. Contact: Melissa.Prickett@beasleyallen.com.
Proton Pump Inhibitors – Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) were introduced in the late 1980s for the treatment of acid-related disorder of the upper gastrointestinal tract, including peptic ulcers and gastrointestinal reflux disorders, and are available both as prescription and over-the-counter drugs. Beasley Allen is currently investigating PPI-induced Acute Interstitial Nephritis (AIN), which is a condition where the spaces between the tubules of the kidney cells become inflamed. The injury appears to be more profound in individuals older than 60. While individuals who suffer from AIN can recover, most will suffer from some level of permanent kidney function loss. In rare cases individuals suffering from PPI-induced AIN will require kidney transplant.
Contact: Roger.Smith@beasleyallen.com or Melissa.Prickett@beasleyallen.com
Taxotere – Taxotere (docetaxel) is a chemotherapy drug approved in the treatment of breast cancer along with other forms of cancer. It is administered intravenously, and is a member of a family of drugs called taxanes. In 2007, manufacturer Sanofi-Aventis issued a press release touting the efficacy of Taxotere based on a clinical study. However, Sanofi-Aventis failed to inform the FDA, health care providers, and the public that permanent hair loss was observed in a number of the patients taking Taxotere. In December 2015, the FDA announced it had ordered Sanofi-Aventis to change Taxotere’s label to warn patients of the risk of permanent hair loss. While hair loss during chemotherapy is expected, patients undergoing chemotherapy with Taxotere were not warned they could potentially experience permanent hair loss. Permanent hair loss is an extremely debilitating condition, especially for women. We are currently investigating claims for women who suffered permanent hair loss following chemotherapy with Taxotere for breast cancer. Contact: Beau.Darley@beasleyallen.com or Melissa.Prickett@beasleyallen.com.
CONSUMER FRAUD & COMMERCIAL LITIGATION SECTION
Lawyers in our Consumer Fraud & Commercial Litigation Section are working on a number of areas. Dee Miles heads up the Section and Michelle Fulmer is the Section Head Administrator. They can be reached at Dee.Miles@beasleyallen.com or Michelle.Fulmer@beasleyallen.com. The following are areas where our lawyers are working.
FRAUD AND GENERAL LITIGATION
Life Insurance Fraud – Our lawyers have uncovered alleged fraudulent accounting practices by life insurance companies concerning premium increases. The accounting method may result in the policyholders being charged excessive insurance premiums. A client who has a life insurance policy and has been notified of a substantial increase in premium payments, or if they have been told their policy’s “cost of insurance” has increased, may have a valuable legal claim. Contact: Dee.Miles@beasleyallen.com, Andrew.Brashier@beasleyallen.com or Rachel.Boyd@beasleyallen.com.
Self-funded Health and Pharmacy Insurance Plans – Third Party Administrators and Pharmacy Benefit Managers may have been charging unauthorized fees to self-funded insurance health and pharmacy benefit plans. These extra fees may be in violation of the contracts with the self-funded plan and a breach of fiduciary duty under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA). We are looking into these cases on behalf of self-funded plans. Contact: Rebecca.Gilliland@beasleyallen.com.
Pharmaceutical Pricing – Our lawyers are continuing to handle claims involving chain pharmacies falsely reporting their generic pricing transactions to state Medicaid agencies. This misconduct has led to millions of dollars in overpayments by Medicaid agencies for generic drugs to the chain pharmacies. Contact: Roman.Shaul@beasleyallen.com, Alison.Hawthorne@beasleyallen.com, or Rebecca.Gilliland@beasleyallen.com.
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. Contact: Roman.Shaul@beasleyallen.com, Clay.Barnett@beasleyallen.com, or Rebecca.Gilliland@beasleyallen.com.
Auto Defect Class Actions – We are continuing to work on numerous auto defect class actions against many of the major automobile manufacturers like VW, Toyota, General Motors, Ford and even some suppliers like Takata. These cases continue to be filed because of corporate misconduct in designing and manufacturing unsafe vehicles that are purchased by consumers, corporations and state agencies. We continue to investigate these automobile problems for class relief treatment. Contact: Dee.Miles@beasleyallen.com, Archie.Grubb@beasleyallen.com or Clay.Barnett@beasleyallen.com
Antitrust – We 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. Contact: Archie.Grubb@beasleyallen.com, Roman.Shaul@beasleyallen.com or Alison.Hawthorne@beasleyallen.com.
Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) – We are working several cases involving Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) violations. The FLSA cases are brought on behalf of clients whose job title is misclassified by their employers so that employees are not compensated for overtime worked. Cases may also involve unequal pay, where women are paid less for doing the same job as men. Contact: Lance.Gould@beasleyallen.com or Larry.Golston@beasleyallen.com.
State and Municipalities Litigation – Our firm has represented numerous states throughout the country. These cases have been handled through the Attorneys General and have involved various civil actions. Many times, individuals are barred from bringing a consumer fraud type claim but the state government is not. We recently concluded litigation in six of eight states for a recovery dealing with medical fraud, with still two states remaining. For more information, contact Dee.Miles@beasleyallen.com, Roman.Shaul@beasleyallen.com or Alison.Hawthorne@beasleyallen.com.
Employment Law – We are handling employment cases. Situations that may be addressed in this area include minimum wage and overtime pay, unfair labor practices, all types of discrimination, employee benefits, and whistleblower claims. Contact: Larry.Golston@beasleyallen.com
False Claims Act – Whistleblower Litigation – Our lawyers 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. Contact: Lance.Gould@beasleyallen.com, Larry.Golston@beasleyallen.com, or Andrew.Brashier@beasleyallen.com.
TOXIC TORTS SECTION
Lawyers in our Toxic Torts Section are working on cases in a number of important areas. Rhon Jones is the Section Head and Sandra Walters is the Section Head Administrator. They can be reached at Rhon.Jones@beasleyallen.com or Sandra.Walters@beasleyallen.com. The following are some of the areas our lawyers are working on.
TOXIC TORTS LITIGATION
Mesothelioma – Mesothelioma is a highly aggressive and rare form of cancer usually affecting the lining of the lungs (pleural) or abdominal cavity (peritoneal). Occasionally, it also may affect the lining of the heart (pericardial). The only known cause of mesothelioma is exposure to asbestos. About 2,000 new cases of mesothelioma are diagnosed in the United States each year. For years, asbestos was widely used in many industrial products and in building construction for insulation and fire protection. When asbestos is broken or disturbed it can release microscopic fibers that can be inhaled or ingested, posing a health risk, including the development of asbestos diseases and mesothelioma. Contact: Rhon.Jones@beasleyallen.com.
Benzene – Benzene is widely used in a number of industries and products, yet many people remain unaware of the toxic danger of this chemical substance. Exposure to products containing benzene, whether through inhalation or skin absorption, can cause life-threatening diseases including Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML), Myelodysplastic Syndrome (MDS), lymphomas and aplastic Anemia. Some of these diseases do not manifest themselves until several years after exposure to benzene. Due to certain statute of limitations for bringing a claim of this nature it is important to contact an attorney as soon as possible if you believe your condition is a result of benzene exposure. Contact: John.Tomlinson@beasleyallen.com
Severe Lung Disease – Our lawyers are investigating numerous cases involving severe lung disease, including where a client has received any of the following diagnoses: any interstitial lung disease, pulmonary fibrosis (whether idiopathic or not), silicosis, black lung, bronchiolitis obliterans, sarcoidosis, berylliosis or chronic beryllium lung disease, metal lung disease, hypersensitivity pneumonitis, pneumoconiosis, and non-smoker’s lung cancer and emphysema. These are grave diseases that oftentimes result in either death or a lung transplant, and they are frequently caused by exposure to dusts, fibers, metals, chemicals, vapors, food flavoring additives or other tiny particles in the workplace or as a result of a defective product. Often overlooked by some lawyers, these can be very good cases. Contact: Chris.Boutwell@beasleyallen.com
Roundup / Glyphosate Litigation – Our firm is actively investigating cases where landscapers, farmers, groundskeepers or commercial gardeners used commercial grade Roundup and developed Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma (NHL). Plaintiffs across the country have filed lawsuits after having been diagnosed with NHL after using Monsanto’s herbicide. Contact: Rhon.Jones@beasleyallen.com and John.Tomlinson@beasleyallen.com.
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