Class Action Alleges Baby Bottles Pose Dangerous Health Risks

March 26, 2007,

The five leading manufacturers of plastic baby bottles and the retailers who sell the bottles were hit with a class action lawsuit March 12 based on allegations that a chemical used as part of the manufacturing process poses dangerous health risks to infant children.The complaint alleges that unsafe levels of a chemical called Bisphenol-A, or BPA, are found in the plastic products of baby bottles, 'sippy' cups, and other plastic children's items.The effects of BPA are most pronounced on an unborn fetus.The complaint provides more information about this interesting case.

Insurance Industry Posts Record Profits

March 24, 2007,

Looks like delay, deny, defend is really working for the insurance industry.

"(AP) - State Farm Insurance, the nation's largest insurer, said Thursday that profits climbed 65% in 2006 as claims dipped amid a relatively tranquil year for hurricanes and other natural disasters.
The Bloomington-based insurer posted earnings of $5.3 billion, up from $3.2 billion the year before when payouts soared after a flurry of hurricanes including Katrina, the costliest disaster in U.S. history.

State Farm said catastrophe losses dipped by $4.1 billion from 2005, when the company paid out a record $6.3 billion for claims and expenses in the aftermath of Katrina, Rita and other tropical storms."

Read the full article in Crain's Chicago Business.

Problems WIth ADHD Drugs Continue

March 22, 2007,

Last month the FDA directed all manufacturers of drugs approved for the treatment of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) to develop Patient Medication Guides alerting patients to the potential risks of the drugs.In addtion to past risks, the Medication Guides are intended to warn of possible cardiovascular events and adverse psychiatric events.

It seems that we are routinely hearing about new concerns and warnings regarding ADHD drugs. Considering the millions of people that take these drugs, the FDA should take a hard look at the benefits vs. risks of each drug in the class.

The full FDA news release may be found here.

Gamblers Sue Ameristar Casino Over Rewards Program

March 20, 2007,

"Seven upset gamblers sued the Ameristar Casino of St. Charles today, saying the casino cheated them out of money, food and points they could have earned in the casino’s rewards program.
St. Louis attorney Arthur G. Muegler Jr. filed the lawsuit in St. Charles County Circuit Court. The suit also names Ameristar’s Las Vegas parent company.

If it is certified as a class action lawsuit as Muegler hopes, it could affect as many as 100,000 to 300,000 casino customers, he said. They are seeking $150 million in actual and punitive damages."

Read the full article in the St. Lous Dispatch.

How Do You Defend The Indefensible?

March 10, 2007,

This week two Florida doctors that got hammered with a $217 million medical malpractice verdict are turning the table: on their own attorneys.Claiming that the attorneys failed to properly advise them of $1 and $3 million dollar settlement offers by the plaintiff, the doctors suing for professional negligence, fraudulently concealing information, and failing to properly advise.

Of course, the doctors would have quickly settled the case, but the defense lawyers are not paid by the doctors, they are paid by the insurance company.The insurance company absolutely refused to settle.One doctor has stated that he was pressured by attorneys to essetially perjur himself on the stand or his case woud be "indefensible and that he would be looking at a $20 million judgment against him.

You can read the facts here, but the doctors committed gross negligence and the case should never have gone to trial.However, the medical liability insurance company involved in the case stuck to the industry standard of delay, deny, and defend. Unfortunately, the defense attorneys in the case performed as essentially lackeys for the insurance company, and were forced to try the case.Big mistake.Now they are looking down the barrel of their own malpractice suit.Nonetheless, the malpractice insurance carrier committed the real malpractice and fraud in refusing to settle the claim.

Death Case Involving Ford Truck Fire Settles

March 8, 2007,

"An eastern Iowa man whose wife died in a fire he said was caused by a Ford pickup truck has settled a lawsuit with the auto manufacturer.
Earl Mohlis, 78, said Monday he still cries over the loss of his wife, Darletta Mohlis, 74, who died May 2, 2005, after a fire spread from their attached garage into their Westgate home.

Mohlis and his three grown children, Jeff Mohlis, Carolyn Howe and Kathy Brady, filed the lawsuit on Oct. 20, 2005. They claimed a cruise control deactivation switch in a 1996 Ford F-150 pickup started the fire.

Four months before the fire, in January 2005, Ford recalled nearly 800,000 vehicles because of a cruise control switch problem. It wasn't until four months after the Mohlis fire, in September 2005, that the company expanded the recall to include 3.8 million pickups and sport utility vehicles from the 1994-2002 model years."

Read the full article in The Insurance Journal.

$750,000 Florida Jury Award for Nursing Home Rape Victim

March 6, 2007,

"A $750,000 jury award against a Jacksonville nursing home where a 77-year-old woman was raped by a repeat sex offender has the daughter elated about the outcome, but not because of the money.
I don't care if it was $1, it was all about the ... verdict," Sandra Banning said Friday.

Banning is happy because she thinks Thursday's verdict in the civil case will help reignite legislation to protect people from sex offenders in nursing homes. She said she wants a law to prevent what happened to her mother from ever happening again.

In 2002, police said, Banning's mother was living in the Southwood Nursing Center in Arlington when an 83-year-old man raped her in her room, the Times-Union reported then."

Read the full article in the The Florida Times-Union.

Jury Finds Merck Failed to Warn of Vioxx Risks

March 4, 2007,

"A New Jersey jury found Friday that Merck failed to warn about the cardiovascular risks of the painkiller Vioxx in the case of a man who had a heart attack in 2001.

But the same jury found that Merck did properly warn of Vioxx's heart risks in the case of a second man, who had a fatal heart attack in 2002.

The jury also found Merck violated a New Jersey consumer-protection law, but hasn't yet assessed damages.

The trial in Atlantic City, N.J., now moves onto a second phase to determine whether Vioxx was a primary cause of Frederick Humeston's heart attack in September 2001. If the jury finds in Humeston's favor, it can award compensatory and punitive damages. In Friday's verdict in favor of Humeston, who survived his heart attack, the jury concluded that Merck failed to warn his prescribing physician of Vioxx's risks."

Read the full article at WSJ.com.

Favorable Verdict in Prempro Retrial

March 2, 2007,

"A jury on Tuesday awarded $3 million to an Ohio woman who claimed a hormone replacement drug made by Wyeth caused her breast cancer.
Jennie Nelson, 67, of Dayton, was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2001 after taking Prempro for five years to treat symptoms of menopause. Her lawyers said Wyeth knew for decades the drug could cause breast cancer, but failed to warn patients.

More than 5,000 women have sued New Jersey-based Wyeth over its hormone drugs Premarin and Prempro. Wyeth has won two cases and lost two cases, which have been heard in Arkansas and Philadelphia.

Both drugs remain on the market and carry the approval of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and both continue to be prescribed annually to hundreds of thousands of menopausal women."

Read the full article at NJ.com.

Lilly Settles With 18,000 Over Zyprexa

February 28, 2007,

Here's interesting news about Zyprexa:

Eli Lilly agreed yesterday to pay up to $500 million to settle 18,000 lawsuits from people who claimed they had developed diabetes or other diseases after taking Zyprexa, Lilly's drug for schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

Including earlier settlements over Zyprexa, Lilly has now agreed to pay at least $1.2 billion to 28,500 people who said they were injured by the drug. At least 1,200 suits are still pending, the company said. About 20 million people worldwide have taken Zyprexa since its introduction in 1996.

Supreme Court Overturns $79.2 Million Dollar Punitive Verdict Against Philip Morris

February 20, 2007,

Today, the United States Supreme Court overturned the Oregon Supreme Court's determination that a $79.2 million dollar punitive award was appropriate. The facts and procedural wranglings in the case can be read in the Wall Street Journal, but I thought the opinion deserved some comment.The Court reasoned that the award essentially penalized the cigarette maker for harms to those other than the plaintiff, and was not directed at the "reprehensibility" of Philip Morris' conduct.

Let's forget for a moment that a $79.2 million penalty to a company like Altria (formally Philip Morris) is the equivalent of a parking ticket.In a case like this, how do you not consider the harms to a society when determining the penalty to the wrongdoer?As Justice Stevens writes in his dissent, "A murderer who kills his victim by throwing a bomb that injures dozens of bystanders would be punished more severely than one who harms no one other than his intended victim."

Delay, Deny, Defend

February 18, 2007,

CNN's Anderson Cooper recently performed an investigation into the insurance claims practices of America's largest insurers.What did he find?Not to our surprise: insurers put profits over people.The investigation focused on way insurers like Allstate and State Farm actively reject claims made by those injured in automobile accidents.The insurers make it their policy to employ the "three D's", Delay, Deny and Defend, for all cases not involving serious collisions.With Allstate one must ask, are you in good hands?Only if you are the upper brass of the company.

The transcript may be read in its entirety at CNN.com and the accompanying article may be found here.

Voters Turned Victims: Supporting Tort Reform Is Coming Back to Haunt Victims of Med Mal

February 16, 2007,

People in 'tort reform' states, such as Texas and Illinois, are coming to realize their folly. In Texas, tort reform measures were voted on by the public. Insurance companies spent millions to misinform the public, and the public supported the measure. Now, it is coming back to haunt them. Below is an excerpt from the Austin Chronicle:

"Back in 2003, 71-year-old Alvin Berry of Copperas Cove went to the doctor for a routine prostate screening. He was told his antigen levels were elevated, so his doctor referred him to a urologist for a follow-up. The urologist, however, told Berry not to worry. Seven months later, Berry's antigen levels had skyrocketed – he had developed prostate cancer, and it was too late, the cancer had already spread to his bones. He was given five years to live. Unfortunately, reports the consumer-advocacy group Texas Watch, in 2003 Berry had also voted in favor of Proposition 12 – the sweeping "tort reform" package that severely limited the ability of individuals to avail themselves of the legal process and to sue in cases of medical negligence (what tort reformers – read, insurance companies – prefer to call "frivolous lawsuits") – and with its passage, discovered that now he was left without the ability to seek legal redress for his doctor's deadly oversight. 'We'd voted on something,' Berry told Texas Monthly in 2005, 'and we really didn't know what the facts were.'"

Deadly Problems With Merck's RotaTeq Vaccine

February 14, 2007,

"The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is notifying health care providers and consumers about 28 post-marketing reports of intussusception following administration of Rotavirus, Live, Oral, Pentavalent vaccine (trade name RotaTeq), manufactured by Merck and Co., Inc. Intussusception is a serious and potentially life-threatening condition that occurs when the intestine gets blocked or twisted. One portion of the intestine telescopes into a nearby portion, causing the intestinal obstruction. The most common site is where the small intestine joins the large intestine."

Read the FDA's full news release here.

Recall of HoMedics Heating Pads

February 10, 2007,

"HoMedics, Inc announced today a voluntary recall, to the consumer level of approximately 292,108 of its heating pads which were produced in 2001 and subsequently shipped to retailers in 2001 and 2002.
These heating pads were sold nationwide to Walgreens as well as to drug stores, discount stores and department stores.

It has been determined that some of the heating pads contained an inadequate connector crimp, which lead to a high resistance connection that generated excessive heat, thereby posing a risk of burn injuries, fire or damage to the heating pad itself or to materials (like bedding and furniture) that could come into contact with the pad.

Read the FDA's Press Release here.