Personal Injury News & Developments

Medical Malpractice Guidelines Have Been Lessened

In April, 2015, the Supreme Court of the United States simplified the process of individuals suing the federal government for negligence. This 5-4 decision by the highest court in the land will likely affect military veterans filing claims against the government for medical malpractice.

Ruling on two different cases, the justices said existing deadlines for filing suits can be extended but only if the plaintiff in the case attempted to comply with rules or failed in their capacity to learn about the information needed prior to the deadline.

The majority opinion written by Justice Elena Kagan combined both cases. The ruling upholds the decision by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals which previously stated that deadlines could be flexible when dealing with lawsuits filed against the government. The ruling is in direct opposition to the Obama Administration that had argued it was the intention of Congress that deadlines be firm.

However, Justice Kagan wrote that Congress never clearly indicated that the deadlines outlined in the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) be “iron-clad.” The justice also wrote that the time limits outlined in the act are “just time limits, nothing more.” The Supreme Court majority ruling extends deadlines based on the judge’s discretion. Continue reading

Settlement in Bladder Cancer CasesIn April 2015, a settlement agreement resolving thousands of lawsuits over the diabetes medication Actos was finally reached by its manufacturer Takeda Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd. The pharmaceutical company agreed to provide $2.4 billion of financial compensation to patients and families in the U.S. affected by the medication linked to bladder cancer. Current claimants and litigants who meet specific criteria are expected to receive financial payouts from the settlement fund.

The Actos diabetes prescription medication arrived in the medical marketplace in early 1999 after receiving approval from the FDA (Food and Drug Administration). Within a decade, Actos was one of the 10 most prescribed medications in the U.S. However, in information released at trial, internal studies by the pharmaceutical manufacturer as far back as 2004 linked the drug to an increased risk in bladder cancer.

Though the company has agreed to the settlement, they are not admitting liability and claim all allegations are without merit. While the agreement has been finalized, it only becomes effective when 95 percent of the claimants and litigants opt to accept the settlement. This agreement settles the charges that Takeda had failed to warn patients prescribed Actos of its increased potential risk for acquiring bladder cancer.

The Dangers of Actos

Doctors prescribe Actos (pioglitazone) medication to be used in conjunction with exercise and diet as an adjunct for improving glucose (blood sugar) control in patients suffering from type II diabetes. This is because its anti-hyperglycemic effects are only exerted in endogenous insulin. It is not effective for treating type I diabetes and has not been proven effective or safe for children 18 years or younger.

There are numerous well-known side effects to taking Actos that can occur when beginning the medication, increasing its dosage or stopping the drug altogether. Common dangerous side effects can be severe, requiring immediate medical attention. Other factors that cause problems with use could be related to overall health, gender, weight, age and ethnicity. Some of those serious and life-threatening side effects include:

  • Upper respiratory infection
  • Muscle pain
  • Headaches
  • Sinus irritation or infection
  • Tooth pain
  • Fevers, chills and sore throat
  • Allergic reactions including swelling of the tongue, lips and face
  • Skin reactions including itching and hives
  • Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar)
  • Bladder cancer
  • Lactic acidosis
  • Bone fractures
  • Congestive heart failure

The prescription medication tends to worsen when used with many comorbidity problems or pre-existing medical conditions. The prescription medication should never be prescribed any patient suffering bladder problems, bladder tumors or cancer.

FDA Safety Communication

As far back as June 2011, the Food and Drug Administration released a drug safety communication informing Actos users of the link of pioglitazone and increased bladder cancer risks. At that time, the FDA revised its patient Medication Guide to include the increased risks of developing bladder cancer when taking the diabetes controlling drug.

Withheld Information

Attorneys for the plaintiffs presented evidence at trial that Takeda had for years employed marketing strategies to increase their sales while withholding information from medical professionals of the associated risk of bladder cancer while taking the drug. In addition, the trial jury also heard evidence of how the pharmaceutical manufacturer failed to provide the same adequate warning to patients, some who have since lost their lives to terminal bladder cancer.

Settling Lawsuits

As a part of the terms of settlement, funds will be awarded to claimants at an amount based on a points matrix. The injured victim will receive an amount based on various criteria including:

  • The extent of injuries the patient suffered and the treatment involved
  • The age of the patient
  • The dose of Actos taken
  • The length of time the prescription medication was taken
  • Any associated risk factor like smoking that could have increased the potential of developing bladder cancer

This settlement agreement should resolve more than 9000 pending bladder cancer claims against Takeda. More claims and lawsuits are expected to be filed against the company in the future. Because of the harmful effects and damages caused by Actos, future litigants will likely be eligible to receive financial compensation through a settlement or jury verdict. However, these types of cases are complex and often require the skills of an experienced personal injury attorney who specializes in bad drug cases.

Dangerous Records for Mega Bus CompaniesThe recent Megabus crash is the fourth collision that has occurred for the low-cost carrier since October 2014. The recent accident happen just south of Indianapolis, Indiana on Interstate 65. Initial reports indicate that the double-decker bus did not provide adequate time or distance to avoid hitting a semi-truck stopped in the roadway. In addition to the initial collision, subsequent passenger vehicles collided into the wreck causing a chain reaction. No one in the other vehicles suffered any life-threatening injuries.

Megabus is a major transportation provider carrying thousands of passengers to their destinations every day. Throughout every year, the company transports more than 18 million passengers across northern America. The company is owned and operated by Coach USA, a recognized interstate commercial carrier with more than 250 buses in their fleet. As a low cost transportation carrier, the bus line offers one-way tickets for as little as one dollar. Because of that, most of the company’s buses traveling the nation’s interstates are filled to capacity.

Even though the 19 injuries occurring in the April, 2015 bus crash were not serious, important questions have been raised about the company’s procedures on maintaining their buses along with driver training and road safety. While the carrier is able to offer low-fare solutions, they also have the ability to avoid various safety rules because they pick up and drop off customers at curbside locations instead of traditional bus terminals. Continue reading

Resolution Comes in Vaginal Mesh Lawsuit CasesThe sizable number of lawsuits filed against Endo International is to be resolved with approximately $830 million. The women filing these lawsuits have claimed injury caused by vaginal mesh implants made by the company. This new large batch of resolved vaginal mesh lawsuits comes on the heels of the sizable number of cases that were concluded last year by the company. In those settlements, Endo paid out $54 million to lawsuit plaintiffs.

For years, vaginal and transvaginal mesh litigation has been considered one of the nation’s biggest medical mass tort legal issues involving tens of thousands of cases. Once considered a safe medical device, the vaginal mesh began having complications early on. By July 2011, the U.S. FDA (Food and Drug Administration) issued a medical device warning to consumers that there was a potential risk associated with using transvaginal and vaginal mesh products including those manufactured by Endo International, Ethicon, Johnson & Johnson and others.

In early 2014, the FDA announced that it would seek to reclassify many common vaginal mesh devices from its current Class II status to a higher risk Class III status. The reclassification of the device requires manufacturers of the mesh to submit proof of the efficacy and safety of their offered prolapse repair mesh devices before allowing them to be purchased in the medical marketplace. Continue reading

Bad Clutches Results in Major Harley RecallHarley Davidson has had a rough ride with its clutch systems in recent years and has recently announced the recall of 46,000 of its motorcycles citing a problem which is very similar to other recalls issued in the last two years. As the number of Harley Davidson motorcycles with defective clutches continues to mount, it is advisable that any Harley owner who has purchased a bike produced since 2013 investigate whether the recall affects his or her model. In the event that a faulty clutch system had resulted in an accident or injuries, victims may also be entitled to claim compensation for the cost of medical treatment and other costs.

Shifting Focus onto Clutch Systems

In 2013, Harley Davidson issued a recall of over 25,000 Touring motorcycles, citing an issue with the hydraulic clutch system that made it possible for the clutch to fail to disengage due to a lack of lift. The problem with this defect is that riders can find themselves unable to slow down or come to a stop, making it more difficult to avoid an accident or becoming the direct cause of a collision. The recall included a specific “do not ride” notice to owners of the bikes and a notice to dealers not to deliver any more of the vehicles until the issue had been repaired. Continue reading

Ways to Reduce Accidents with Drunk DrivingA study released by the University of Michigan in March 2015 claims that utilizing advancements in technology could prevent 59,000 fatalities caused by drunk driving over the next 15 years. The study indicates that if innovative devices are installed on every U.S. vehicle, the technology could prevent drunk drivers from starting and operating cars and trucks.

Saving Lives and Money

Researchers for the University’s Injury Center and Transportation Research Institute concluded there would be an 85 percent reduction in the total number of traffic fatalities associated with vehicle accidents involving alcohol over the next decade and a half. This technological solution could save a significant amount of lies every year. In 2013, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported that over 10,000 individuals in the U.S. were killed in alcohol-related vehicle crashes.

There is also a significant financial savings to the preventable serious injuries and fatalities. Conclusions by the study indicate the major loss of alcohol-related accident deaths over the next 15 years would have a direct cost of over $340 million. The report suggests that installing ignition interlock technology with save significantly more money after just three years than the expense of purchasing and installing the device. Continue reading

The McDonald's Coffee Cup Case

Introduction to an Infamous Personal Injury Lawsuit Controversy:

A normal woman in a small town drives up to a McDonald’s and orders a cup of coffee. The rest is history. In the weeks and months to follow this encounter, great controversy would swirl around this woman and her latte. Television shows, pundits, and politicians across the country debated the matter vigorously. A documentary was even produced depicting the incident (called Hot Coffee). Yet, what actually happened?

On February 27, 1992, Stella Liebeck, 79 years old, pulled into the drive-through of a McDonald’s restaurant in Albuquerque, New Mexico and ordered a cup of coffee. It only cost her 49 cents but it serving her that drink would cost the restaurant a lot more than that when it was all said and done. Stella was not actually driving; her grandson, Chris, was driving his 1989 Ford Probe. Politely, Chris pulled into a parking space so that his grandmother could add cream and sugar to her coffee. In the process, some of it spilled out of the cup and onto her groin, burning her butt and thighs. She was only wearing cotton pants and they did not effectively guard her from the high temperatures of the coffee (said to be over 180 °F). Quickly, she was rushed to the hospital where doctors determined she had suffered third-degree burns on a small part of her body. She stayed at the hospital a little over a week where she received skin grafting. The incident left her with significant weight loss, permanent disfigurement, and disability for years to come.

Continue reading

Poor Sterilization Can Lead to OutbreakIn 2013, the Park Ridge Advocate Lutheran General Hospital experienced a harmful superbug outbreak that affected patients at the facility. Deadly bacteria was directly associated with a device use by medical staff to treat digestive conditions. Since then, the facility implemented new protocols in sterilizing procedures to minimize the potential of further contamination of its instruments.

The harmful superbug was isolated as carbapenem-resistant enterobacteriaceae, a bacteria commonly referred to as CRE. The bacterium is considered deadly because of its high resistance to the most advanced “last defense” prescription antibiotics. Since the outbreak incident in October 2013, there have been no additional cases at Lutheran General Hospital.

Chicagoland and Other Locations

The outbreak was not just isolated in the Chicagoland area. Starting in 2012, hospitals in Pittsburgh and Seattle also experienced a CRE superbug outbreak. After the deadly scare at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and Park Ridge Advocate Lutheran General Hospital, the facilities began using EtO gas sterilization processes to make sure all CRE bacteria on the facilities instruments are destroyed. The new cleaning processes are thought to completely sterilize the instruments.

Continue reading

Dangers in Construction SitesBeing a construction worker is one of the most dangerous jobs in the world. When an accident causes serious injuries and death, it is especially horrific. In March 2015, three workers assisting in the construction of an office building in downtown Raleigh North Carolina lost their lives. Another worker suffered serious injuries after the exterior lift system they were riding detached from the structure.

The accident occurred at a new Charter Square building located on Fayetteville Street. At the time of the incident, the men were taking apart a portion of the elevator system. The mobile scaffold platform ripped away from the structure and plummeted to the ground killing three men and injuring another. The falling platform crushed one of the workers while he was exiting a portable restroom below.

Injured and Deceased Victims

An unidentified individual at the worksite called 911, claiming a construction crew was aboard the elevator platform at the time of its collapse. The deceased men have been identified as Durham residents Anderson Almeida, 33 and José Erasmo Hernandez, 41 along with Clinton resident, 33-year-old José Luis Lopez-Ramirez. The injured worker Elmer Guevara, 53 was transported to WakeMed.

Continue reading

Knee Replacement RecallPortions of the Persona total knee replacement system is being recalled by its manufacturer. In February 2015, Zimmer, a leading orthopedic company, notified customers of its Class 2 FDA recall. The knee replacement system by Zimmer was the primary driver in increased sales for the company in 2014. The recall affects more than 11,500 patients worldwide. The move by Zimmer and the FDA is expected to produce a negative profit outcome for the company.

The orthopedic company’s Persona Trabecular Metal Tibia Plate is being recalled because of increasing “complaints of radiolucent lines and loosening.” Apparently, the unit’s design creates an ineffective “seat for the plate” that can produce poor patient outcomes because it can generate significant knee pain.

The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) disclosed Zimmer’s issued recall notice in March 2015. The released disclosure stated a recall notice was sent to healthcare providers and hospitals on February 16, 2015 with directions to locate and quarantine all effective knee products immediately. A Class 2 recall is issued when products cause medically reversible or temporary adverse consequences to a patient’s health. However, the medical problems associated with the knee replacement system still have the potential of causing multiple complications.

Continue reading