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March 2012 Archives

Generic Drugs Deserve No Greater Protection than Name-Brand Drugs

In a recent editorial piece, the New York Times articulated what injured victims and plaintiffs lawyers have been saying for the last year - Congress should not allow generic drug manufacturers special protections when those manufacturers fail to warn patients of the generic drug's dangers. Last year, the United States Supreme Court ruled that although brand-name drug manufacturers could be held liable for failing to warn patients of their drug's risks, federal law preempted claims that patients would have against the maker of the same generic drug. This has caused dozens of suits to be dismissed throughout the county, leaving patients without any legal remedy to pursue against the manufacturers of those drugs that caused injury.

Unregulated Pipelines Lead to Wrongful Deaths

Contrary to popular belief, not all oil and gas pipelines are strictly regulated. In fact, pipelines classified as "gathering" pipelines, which transport gas from well fields to transmission lines, often face less strict safety rules. And depending on how rural their location, such pipelines might not be regulated at all.

Recalled St. Jude's Heart Wires May Have More Risky Defects

According to a recent Bloomberg article, a study found that the recalled St. Jude Medical Inc. ("St. Jude") wires, still in use to connect life-saving defibrillators to the hearts of 79,000 patients, had multiple defects that led to melted conductors, electrical abnormalities, and shocks.

Stanford Class Action to Proceed

At the request of the Securities and Exchange Commission, on February 17, 2009, United States District Judge David Godbey in Dallas issued the first of many orders which, in effect, seized Stanford Financial Group and placed it in a receivership. Thus began a lengthy civil case concerning the assets of the organization, which included various insurance policies. At the time, all civil suits against Allen Stanford himself, or against his employees, were stopped, as well as certain satellite claims against third parties. It is estimated that the firm had 30,000 clients in 136 countries with about $8.5 billion invested.

Fungal Eye Infections Prompt Brilliant Blue G Recall

The United States Food & Drug Administration (FDA) has announced an urgent recall of Brilliant Blue G, distributed by Franck's Compounding Lab in Ocala, Florida. The recall has issued on March 9, 2012. According to the recall notice, Brilliant Blue G has been associated with fungal infections of the eye. According to the pharmacy, lots 08232011@80, 10132011@6, 10112011@82, and 10192011@125 are suspected of fungal contamination. There have been at least twelve reports of eye infections from products sold specifically from the Florida compounding pharmacy. The same pharmacy had a recall in September of 2011.

The Hispanic National Bar Association Participates in Selma-Montgomery March and Takes Action For Civil Rights

Washington, D.C. - On March 7th, the HNBA joined other national partners in a rally and press conference to launch a bus trip to Selma, Alabama from where the groups participated in a historic recreation of the 1965 Selma to Montgomery, AL march led by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Hypertension Drug Recalled Over Concerns of Packaging Practices

GlaxoSmithKline has decided to recall 394,230 bottles of its DynaCirc CR from the United States market. DynaCirc CR, a drug used to treat hypertension, is being pulled from the market due to inconsistent packaging practices. Novartis, the drug's manufacturer, has had issues with the integrity of it packaging out of its Lincoln, Nebraska plant. The packaging problems were identified by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Among the chief concerns cited by FDA inspectors were reports of tablets of certain medicines being placed in bottles labeled for other products. GlaxoSmithKline, a London-based company, said it issued the voluntary recall of all bottles of DynaCirc CR remaining in the United States market from wholesalers, pharmacies, and hospitals. Reports of adverse events do not exist at this point but Glaxo moved forward with the recall as a precautionary measure. As a result of the recall, the drug will not be available to patients, however there are alternative treatments available to patients currently being treated with DynaCirc.

240,000 Miles of Ticking Time Bombs

A recent Associated Press article has shed light on the truth about a major loop hole in federal regulation of natural gas pipelines. The federal government knows nothing about thousands of miles of pipelines that tap natural gas flows released through the drilling method known as fracking.

Texas Teen Drivers Some of the Worst in the Nation

Teen driving is taking a toll - a toll on the lives of the teenage drivers themselves, that is. From January to June 2011, there was an 11 percent increase in fatal car accidents involving 16- and 17-year-old drivers, according to the Governors Highway Safety Association.

Homeowner Hits Insurance Company for $8 Million

According to the Los Angeles Times, a California jury recently awarded over $8 million to an elderly homeowner whose home was nearly destroyed after a dump truck crashed into the home, rupturing a gas line, and causing an explosion. Residence Mutual Insurance Co. had insured Robert Christopher's home for more than fifty years. According to Christopher's attorney, Mark Geragos, "The insurance company did everything possible to try and torpedo this World War II veteran's case."

Keystone XL Pipeline Extension

Today at a press conference in Cushing , Oklahoma, President Barack Obama agreed to accelerate approval on the Keystone pipeline extension as a way to deflect criticism regarding his delay of the full project earlier in the year which since then has influenced increased gas prices across the country. In the past month United States gas prices have jumped close to 30 cents making the average gas price to $3.87 a gallon. Obama previously rejected the pipeline permit because the State Department did not have enough time to review its permit or safety and health issues related to the pipeline.

Fatal Crash Causes the NTSB to Suggest Changes to Helicopter Design & Maintenance

As noted by the New York Times and Associated Press, on November 24, 2010 the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) recommended a redesign and modification of some portions of the Sikorsky S-76C helicopter, as a result of a January 4, 2009 helicopter crash which resulted in numerous fatalities.

Another Insurance Rate Increase from Allstate

According to an article in the Dallas Morning News, The Texas Department of Insurance Commissioner, Eleanor Kitzman, has again approved Allstate Insurance Company's request for increased premiums for homeowners coverage. The increase includes a hike between three and one-half percent and seven percent in the Dallas area. All three of the state's major home insurers (Allstate, Farmers and State Farm) have now received approval from The Texas Department of Insurance in recent months to increase their homeowners rates. Alex Winslow of Texas Watch criticized the recent rate decisions by Kitzman. "More than half of all homeowners have seen their insurance rates go up recently - many by double-digit percentages. What are insurance customers getting for these higher prices? Junk policies that cost more but cover less," Winslow said. For residents along the Texas Gulf Coast, increased rates while being provided less coverage is nothing new. In addition to continuously increasing rates, the major insurers have routinely denied thousands of claims following catastrophic losses like Hurricanes Rita and Hurricane Ike. Not only are premiums going up, but so are the deductibles homeowners must pay if they file a claim.

Gas Leak Scare in Terminal C of Bush Intercontinental Airport

This morning around 8 am, Houston firefighters and HazMat crews responded to an emergency call regarding a gas odor in Terminal C of George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston. Both crews and the Houston Airport System were in search for the smell of gas within the terminal but determined that a gas leak did not exist. They searched all three floors of the terminal before reaching this conclusion.

Volvo Introduces World's First Pedestrian Airbag

Volvo has always been known as an innovator when it comes to driver safety and now this commercial car builder is also creating technology designed to protect pedestrians. According to recent reports, more than 47,700 pedestrians were killed and more than 688,000 were injured last year in collisions with automobiles. In an effort to decrease these numbers, Volvo introduced the world's first pedestrian airbag system last week at the Geneva Motor Show.

Oil & Gas Boom Extends into Nevada

Nevada-focused U.S. Oil & Gas announced to investors today that Nevada Bureau of Land Management has agreed to approve a permit allowing for the drilling of its first exploration well, Eblana #1, located on the firm's Hot Creek Valley property. Major Oil International, a wholly owned subsidiary of U.S. Oil & Gas, was awarded with the Application for the Permit to Drill (APD). The company plans to immediately begin preparing the drill site and will give an official spud date for the well in due course.

"Top Screwups Doctors Make and How to Avoid Them"

A new book written by Joe and Teresa Graedon concludes that 500,000 people are killed in the United States every year from errors that occur in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions. Their book, "Top Screwups Doctors Make and How to Avoid Them", attempts to educate the reader about the most common errors and mishaps that occur in hospitals, clinics, doctors' offices, pharmacies, and even in our own homes.

Drilling Can Lead to Water Pollution

A consensus has recently been reached by state regulators, some energy companies, academics, and environmentalists that natural gas drilling has led to several incidents of water pollution; this is not due to fracking, which is a common method used for oil and natural gas extraction. Instead, wells that have been improperly or poorly built is a contributing factor to some water contamination cases. In instances like these, the wells were not accurately sealed with subterranean cement, and as a result, causing contaminants to travel from the underground up the well bore and into shallow aquifers that provide drinking water.

College Student Indicted for Intoxicated Manslaughter Following Fatal Drunk Driving Accident

We recently wrote a blog post about how the consequences of DWI can be life changing. That holds true for all involved in drunk driving accidents, especially when those accidents prove to be fatal.

Subaru Recalling Forester SUVs as Rear Seatbelt May Not Securely Hold Child Safety Seat

According to an article recently published by the Associated Press, Subaru of America, Inc. is recalling more than 275,000 Forester SUVs from four different model years after learning that the rear seat belts may not hold a child seat securely in place.

Dixie Pipeline

On Thursday, February 10, 2011, The First Court of Appeals in Houston handed down a decision that affirmed a previous ruling won by our firm, denying the defendants in a pipeline explosion case the opportunity for a rehearing, and simultaneously providing clear direction in future choice of law debates.

Increased Exploration Leads to Increased Vehicle Crashes

Often over looked during oil and gas booms is the negative effect the increased traffic can have on local residents or any other drivers on the road. With increased oil exploration, come more 18 wheelers, fatigued drivers, fatigued workers, and often increased drinking and driving. The results are often catastrophic. Drilling rigs are transported from one drill site to the other by 18 wheelers. Sometimes the weight of the loads can exceed 100,000 pounds which can make the potential accident more dangerous for all parties involved. Typically these loads are being hauled on small country roads with little room for the trucks to maneuver. If the truck driver is not paying attention, misses his location, or falls asleep behind the wheel the wreck that follows usually leaves people dead or permanently disabled.

FDA Recalls RegenErect

On February 24, 2012 the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced a nationwide recall of RegenErect, which was produced by Regeneca, Inc., previously known at Ethos Environmental, Inc. This product was marketed as a male enhancement pill. According to the company, RegenErect contains Tadalafil, which is an approved drug to treat male Erectile Dysfunction (ED). Unlike Tadalafil, RegenErect has been distributed over the internet and given as samples at public events in the United States and in Puerto Rico.

San Bruno Accepts $70 Million Settlement from 2010 Explosion

On Monday, March 12th, the city of San Bruno, California agreed to receive a settlement of $70 million from Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E), the owner of the pipeline explosion in 2010. This settlement was a result of a natural gas pipeline explosion that occurred in the Crestmoor residential neighborhood in San Bruno on September 9th, 2010. Following the explosion a fire with flames of three hundred feet high erupted which burned many nearby homes and injured many civilians. A total of eight people were reported killed in this incident and a total of thirty eight homes were destroyed.

Justice Department Blocks Texas Voter ID Law Over Hispanic Impact

The Department of Justice rejected a new Texas voter ID law, stating that the state failed to show how its photo-ID requirement would not discriminate against minority voters, particularly Hispanics.

Delta 737 Rolls Off Taxiway

Around 5 a.m. (ET) today, a Delta Air Lines plane rolled off a taxiway and down an embankment on the east side of the Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta, Georgia. This Boeing 737-700 was undergoing maintenance and engine testing by two Delta mechanics this morning when an issue arose with the plane's braking system causing the plane to move and eventually roll off Taxiway E into a nearby embankment.

DePuy Orthopaedics VP's E-mail Confirms Knowledge of Defect

An August 2009 internal e-mail from DePuy Orthopaedics, Inc.'s vice president confirms that Johnson & Johnson and its subsidiary (DePuy Orthopaedics, Inc.) were well aware of the FDA's refusal to approve the metal-on-metal ASR hip replacement and resurfacing systems a year prior to issuing the now-famous recall. In August of 2010, Johnson & Johnson and DePuy recalled both the ASR XL Acetabular System and the ASR Hip Resurfacing System, after data revealed that both DePuy ASR hip replacement products have excessively high failure rates. Both companies now face thousands of lawsuits from patients that received these implants. Recently, thousands of documents were produced and released under seal in the multidistrict litigation (MDL), one of which is an e-mail from DePuy Orthopaedics vice president, Pamela Plouhar.

New PG&E Gas Safety Plan Proposes Its Customers Foot The Bill

In an effort to prevent a disaster as horrific as the deadly San Bruno pipeline explosion from occurring again, Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) is proposing a $5 billion gas safety plan that will increase pipeline safety throughout California.

New Health Claims Fund for BP Settlement

As a part of the BP settlement from the massive Gulf oil spill, a new system and fund is being set up for monitoring all concerns and compensating people for illnesses found to have a relationship to the disaster later on. Although there have not been any studies indicating significant evidence of spill related illnesses, experts agree there remains a question later down the road for victims exposed to the spill contents.

Family of Austin man killed in gas explosion suing Texas Gas Service

Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for pipeline explosions to occur after a resident has reported the smell of gas to the utility company and the company fails to properly respond. That is precisely what happened at a house in Austin, Texas earlier this year in January. In late November, the resident called the gas company, complaining of a gas smell. The company came to investigate, but said it could not make any repairs without a permit from the city. Six weeks later, the man's house exploded, killing him.

Tort Reform Doesn't Save Money

According to a new study from the Center for Progressive Reform, medical tort reform won't provide significant savings. The article explains that the costs of malpractice insurance and paying injured patients amounts to only 0.3 % of total healthcare costs each year. The authors blame the insurance companies, saying the focus on tort reform and alleged costs of "defensive medicine" is nothing more than "a politically expedient straw man, allowing policymakers and the insurance industry to ignore or obscure the real drivers of rising medical costs, including the high costs of prescription drugs; the high demand for, and increasing use of, state-of-the-art technology; the growing incidence of chronic diseases; and an aging population that lives longer and consumes more medical care."

Are a Large Number of Wrongful Deaths Never Being Acknowledged? Part II

In our last blog post, we wrote about how a recent report revealed that autopsies in hospitals have virtually disappeared. And it is believed that many autopsies are not being performed because the healthcare facilities and their physicians are concerned that open up the hospital to medical malpractice.

Pipeline Safety Grants Now Available

The U.S. Department of Transportation's PHMSA division announced that they will be accepting applications for grants of up to $50,000 to help communities be better informed about the role of pipelines in their community. There is a total of $1 million dollars to be awarded. The projects in the past have included technology solutions, public awareness programs, and converting maps into electronic format.

Chrysler Recalls 210,000 Jeep Liberty Vehicles

Chrysler recently announced plans to recall nearly 210,000 Jeep Liberty vehicles because of a dangerous auto defect that may result in a loss of vehicle control by the driver. According to documents filed with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the recall affects certain SUVs from model years 2004 and 2005 which may be equipped with rear lower control arms that can experience a rear suspension lower control arm fracture due to excessive corrosion caused by road salt used in certain states. Chrysler reported that it is not aware of any accidents or injuries related to the issue.

Off Shore Drilling Expanding to Arctic Ocean

According to an article by Dow Jones & Co., Inc., Shell remains confident it will be able to start exploring for oil in the Arctic Ocean. Shell has been seeking permits to drill off the north coast of Alaska for several years. The company has already spent more than $4 billion to prepare for exploratory drilling. Shell still needs to cross several more regulatory barriers before it will be permitted to begin drilling in July. It also faces opposition from several environmental groups.

Study Highlights Concerns Over Fewer Hospital Autopsies, Part I

ProPublica recently published a widely-read report about the declining use of autopsies in hospitals. Many medical experts say action to correct this problem is long overdue.

Foreign Drug Trials - Are they Exploiting the Poor?

A recent report published by NBC News opened with Rambha Gaijre who became desperate as her family faced eviction from their cramped, tin-roof hut if she did not repay loans soon that she used to cover life-saving medical treatment for her son. To make the money they needed, she signed up to be a human guinea pig in drug trials for foreign pharmaceutical companies.

"Small" Collisions Sometimes Produce Serious Damages

When a collision occurs that seems to be "minor," sometimes those involved fail to take the appropriate steps to investigate and document the incident. This can lead to major problems when the injuries from a motor vehicle accident are more severe than anticipated.

Federal Pipeline Safety Agency Sued Over Deadly Pipeline Explosion

In a bit of twist on the 2010 pipeline explosion that rocked San Bruno, the San Francisco city attorney recently filed a lawsuit against the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA).

Hazing Death Lawsuit Filed Against Bus Company and Driver

Back in December we blogged about how Florida A&M University was being sued for their role in the hazing death of one of the traveling marching band members. Now the family of the deceased student has also filed suit against the charter bus company.

Texas Tech Coach Involved in Investment Fraud

Texas Tech head football coach, Tommy Tuberville, his partner, and the investment company the two own, TS Partners, have been named defendants in a financial fraud lawsuit. The lawsuit was filed in a federal court in Montgomery, Alabama, and alleges more than $1.7 million in damages.

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