Sunday, April 30, 2006

Big Brother is watching: FBI discloses it secretly sought data on 3,501 residents in 2005…

Even if you’re innocent, the Patriot Act allows the FBI to coerce disclosure of personal records about innocent people without getting approval from a judge. The Bush administration admitted it has done just that with an “administrative subpoena known as a National Security Letter

The Associated Press reports, “
The FBI delivered a total of 9,254 NSLs relating to 3,501 people in 2005, according to a report submitted late Friday to Democratic and Republican leaders in the House and Senate. In some cases, the bureau demanded information about one person from seve.” The FBI reported, “it received a secret court's approval for 155 warrants to examine business records last year under a Patriot Act provision that includes library records.” Alberto Gonzalez had previously denied the use of the Act to get individual library records.

Bush administration continues its spiral downward: Colin Powell asks Condoleeza Rice the same question that John Kerry asked…

Libby Quaid, Associated Press Writer, reports, “Just back from Baghdad and eager to discuss promising developments, Secretary of State, Condoleeza Rice found herself knocked off message Sunday, forced to defend prewar planning and troop levels against an unlikely critic, Colin Powel, her predecessor at the State Department.” Powell asked Rice “whether the U.S. had a large enough force to oust Saddam Hussein and then secure the peace.”

It wasn’t long ago that John Kerry asked the same question: "
The president rushed our nation to war without a plan to win the peace."

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Mr. Morality, Rush Limbaugh, arrested on prescription drug charges…

First there was falafelphilia, Bill O’Reilly. Yesterday, Mr. Morality, Rush Limbaugh, was arrested on prescription drug charges. It’s reported “Limbaugh turned himself in to authorities on a warrant issued by the state attorney's office.” Limbaugh, who is always quick to degrade lawyers, “came into the jail at about 4 p.m. with his attorney Roy Black and was released an hour later on $3,000 bail.” A warrant has been issued for Limbaugh “for fraud to conceal information to obtain prescription.”

Thursday, April 27, 2006

About time: ATLA Fights Back Against U.S. Chamber Attack on Trial Lawyers

The Association of Trial Lawyers of America has launched an advertising and information campaign in retaliation against an attack upon trial lawyers waged by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Institute for Legal Reform. Last year ATLA began remaking itself and refocusing its message. The Chamber says it will continue its "multifaceted and multipronged attack on the plaintiffs' bar," which means an attack on workingmen, workingwomen and working families. Peter Geier, The National Law Journal 04/20/2006 Read Article: The National Law Journal

Money...Money..Money...: Drugmakers Only Concerned With Finding Next Big Blockbuster

The pharmaceutical industry in their search for easy profits has spent more resources on marketing than on research for new drugs. This same strategy has led more consumers to buy drugs they may not need and that can cause serious side effects. Even company sponsored clinical trials have become a ploy to snare new ad slogans that pit their product against a weaker dose of a rival pill. Robert Langreth and Matthew Herper, Forbes 04/26/2006 Read Article: Forbes

Patients Replacing Heart Devices Face Risk of Complications

A study in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that patients replacing implanted defibrillators face significantly high complication rates. The study suggests that doctors should carefully consider when and if a recalled device should be removed. Most experts believe the devices should only be replaced early on in patients that are highly dependent on it. Barry Meier, The New York Times 04/26/2006 Read Article: The New York Times

Blue Cross Blue Shield Under Investigation for Canceling Policies

Two state regulatory agencies are investigating allegations that Blue Cross routinely cancels policies of sick members if there is an inconsistency in their application. The company does not care if it was an inadvertent error or omission, according to a knowledgeable employee. Many patients are therefore stuck with huge medical bills and no health coverage. Lisa Girion, LA Times 04/26/2006 Read Article: LA Times

What about the victims rights: Merck's Best Legal Strategy is to Defend Every Vioxx Case

Merck has won half of the Vioxx cases that have gone to trial, which is a "better than expected win-loss tally" according to Ken Frazier. It is in Merck's best interest to continue fighting these cases because a settlement at this point would be costly. Despite what they say, Merck will not fight all 11,000 cases and will likely propose a settlement after the statute of limitations runs out on October 1st. John Simons, CNN 04/26/2006 Read Article: CNN

GM Sued in Canada Over Defective Gasket

General Motors is facing a lawsuit in Canada over a defective part that causes engines to overheat and seize completely. The lawsuit could include as many as 40,000 car owners in Canada and claims alone could total $1.2 billion. The lawsuit identifies 23 GM models, produced between 1995 and 2003, as having the defective part. Bloomberg, Bloomberg 04/26/2006 .

What healthy workforce? More Americans Have No Health Insurance

More than 41 percent of middle-income American workers do not have health insurance, a dramatic increase from the reported 28 percent uninsured in 2001, according to a study by the Commonwealth Fund. Associated Press, The Advocate 04/26/2006 Read Article: The Advocate

Army Corps of Engineers Sued Over Damage Caused by Channel

Five residents of New Orleans have filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for ignoring warnings that a shipping channel they built could cause severe damage. Hurricane Katrina caused a storm surge that traveled up the channel and overwhelmed levees causing severe flood damage. The group has admitted that the channel contributed to the flood and wants to build flood gates to prevent another catastrophe. Cain Burdeau, Houston Chronicle 04/26/2006 Read Article: Houston Chronicle

A man with courage: Democrat Foti Investigates Gas Prices

Democrat Attorney General Charles Foti Jr. said his office is expanding its investigation into rising gasoline prices by demanding answers from major oil companies, distributors and retailers to explain the price increase now and during the weeks that followed hurricanes Katrina and Rita. New Orleans CityBusiness, 04/25/2006

Insurance Crisis: Allstate get 52% increase

Dan Kyle, former legislative auditor, writes a letter to the editor: "There is simply no good reason for our insurance system to be in this poor condition." Kyle points out that last week the Insurance Rating Commission voted to grant Allstate a 52 percent rate increase for its New Orleans policyholders and the acting insurance commissioner was not present at the meeting. "I can't remember a time when leadership was more critical or more lacking.", 04/26/2006

LSU Law Students Have Higher Bar Pass Rate than Tulane

Results of the February bar exam show that LSU law students have a slightly higher pass rate than Tulane students. About 70 percent of the 33 LSU students who took the February exam passed; about 67 percent of the 15 Tulane students passed. The Advocate, The Advocate 04/26/2006 Read Article: The Advocate

Nursing Home Evacuation Plans Discussed

With the approaching hurricane season, officials from the state and the nursing home industry discussed evacuation plans for nursing home patients. The state wants nursing homes to be responsible for the safe evacuation of their residents and patients. Nursing homes want the state to have total responsibility from the time an evacuation is ordered. Marsha Shuler, The Advocate 04/26/2006 Read Article: The Advocate

The right to property: Legislature Likely to Pass Expropriation Bill

Although the Legislature is expected to approve a constitutional amendment to restrict the government's right to take private property for private development, the extent of the proposal is still being hammered out. The bill has now doubled in size. Senate amendments include new rights to trials by jury, new compensation rules for property owners, exemptions for ports and chemical pipelines, and other provisions. Robert Travis Scott, New Orleans Times-Picayune 04/25/2006 Read Article: New Orleans Times-Picayune

Insurance money grab: 400% Rate Increase Requested by Mississippi's Insurer of Last Resort

Administrators of the Mississippi Windstorm Underwriting Association are preparing to ask for a 400 percent rate increase for the state-operated insurer of last resort. It's expected that such a rate increase would raise average premiums in the wind pool from $800 to $3,200 a year. Monroe News-Start, 04/25/2006

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Campaign Against Wal-Mart Evolves into High-Stakes Political Fight

Armed with the tools of a hot political campaign, opponents of Wal-Mart are launching a national attack to get the retail giant to change its business practices. Leading the fight are the Service Employees International Union and the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, creating public issues about Wal-Mart's wages, health insurance, treatment of workers and purchasing goods made outside of the U.S. The unions and Wal-Mart are spending millions and both sides are using top political strategists. Associated Press, New Orleans Times-Picayune 04/24/2006 Read Article: New Orleans Times-Picayune

Practicing Medicine Appealing to Some Doctors and Patients

About 35,000 physicians nationwide no longer accept health insurance. They can set their own fees, spend more time with patients and save in overhead costs. Julius A. Karash, Houston Chronicle 04/25/2006 Read Article: Houston Chronicle

Bush Halts Oil Reserves, Eases Environmental Rules

With mounting political pressure from Democrats and Republicans to relieve oil and gasoline prices, President Bush announced a temporary halt to deposits to the U.S. strategic petroleum reserves. He also announced lifting some environmental rules for clean air standards that would allow refiners to provide greater supplies of oil. Associated Press, 04/25/2006

Drug Co. Patent Agreements Problematic for FTC and Consumers

The U.S Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit reopened the doors for drug companies seeking to keep cheaper generic drugs off the market. Brand name companies can now pay generic drug manufacturers to drop patent challenges, which the FTC says is unfair to consumers. The court found the FTC overstepped its authority when it banned such agreements in the 1990s. Marc Kaufman, The Washington Post 04/25/2006 Read Article: The Washington Post

Jurors Comment on What It Takes to Beat Merck in Vioxx Cases

Merck & Co. face about 11,500 lawsuits that claim its painkiller Vioxx caused death or contributed to an increased risk of heart attacks or strokes. Of six cases that have already gone to trial, some jurors talked about what they need to deliver a verdict for the plaintiff. Heather Won Tesoriero, Wall Street Journal 04/24/2006 Read Article: Wall Street Journal($)

Survivors of NY Fire Sue Over Inadequate Smoke Detectors

First Alert and BRK Brands Inc. must pay $7 million for selling smoke detectors that failed to alert a family of a fire in their home. Two family members died in the fire because the ionization type detectors never went off. The company allegedly knew about the product's shortcomings but continued to market it anyway. Eric Durr, American City Business Journals 04/25/2006 Read Article: American City Business Journals

Federal, State Investigators At Odds Over Levee Flooding in Katrina

A legislative committee heard controversial, conflicting statements from federal and state officials who disagreed whether disastrous flooding in New Orleans was caused by overtopped levees or faulty design and construction. A spokesman for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said a federal report coming out in June will state that high water washed over the tops of levees. The head of Louisiana's state investigation disagreed, saying that faulty design and construction led to levee breaks. Will Sentel, The Advocate 04/25/2006 Read Article: The Advocate

Good guys win: Hawaii Judge Finds for Plaintiff in Seatbelt Defect Case

A 26-year-old man paralyzed after a car crash on Hawaii Belt Road was awarded $16.5 million in his lawsuit against a Japanese seatbelt manufacturer. The lawsuit alleged the seatbelt failed to operate properly, which caused the driver to be thrown from the vehicle. The jury found Takata Corp. was negligent in the design of the defective seatbelt, used in the 1987 Pathfinder the man was driving. Kevin Dayton, Honolulu Advertiser 04/24/2006 Read Article: Honolulu Advertiser

The rubber match is coming: Merck and Plaintiff Attorneys at a Draw in Vioxx Litigation

Neither side has yet to capture an upper hand, which means a global settlement over Merck's Vioxx is not likely. The large number of lawsuits against the company could cost up to $50 billion, but the company is optimistic that its approach will reduce the final tab. Experts believe Merck will not consider settlement talks until it reaches the two-year anniversary of Vioxx's removal from the market. Theresa Agovino, Seattle Post-Intelligencer 04/24/2006 Read Article: Seattle Post-Intelligencer

MT Doctors Face Increasing Pressure from W.R. Grace & Co.

Doctors working at a clinic that treats hundreds of asbestos victims are accusing W.R. Grace of trying to shut the clinic down by discrediting them. Some believe that a legal strategy includes new rules that result in cash flow problems and peer reviews that find flaws. "If they can put out the fact that people are being over-diagnosed, then they reduce the credibility of the doctors," said the vice chairman of the clinic's board. Kirk Johnson, The New York Times 04/24/2006 Read Article: The New York Times

Global Limo's Repairs Were Just Enough to Get By

A forensic mechanical expert believes Global Limo only did the bare minimum to repair problems on the bus that killed 23 elderly Hurricane Rita evacuees. The company erratically took the bus in for service and sometimes decided not to have major repairs made because of time constraints. An attorney for the families of the victims believes the superficial repairs they would occasionally perform and failure to fill out inspection sheets led to the deadly fire. Michael Grabell, The Dallas Morning News 04/24/2006 Read Article: The Dallas Morning News

Punitive Damages in Philip Morris Case Raises Questions

An appellate court in California upheld a $28 million punitive damages award against Philip Morris because of that company's "extremely reprehensible" behavior. The award is 33 times the amount of compensatory damages awarded in the case, which raises concerns that it is not consistent with a previous ruling in State Farm v. Campbell. However, it was found that Simon v. San Paolo allows the company's wealth to be taken into consideration. Mike McKee, 04/24/2006 Read Article:

Jury Awards Family of TX Man Who Took Vioxx for One Month

The family of a 71-year-old man was awarded $32 million after a jury determined the painkiller Vioxx caused him to suffer from a heart attack. The man had a 20-year history of heart disease and suffered the fatal heart attack within a month of taking the drug. A state law would cap the family's recovery at $7.75 million. Lynn Brezosky, 04/24/2006 Read Article:

Officials Urge Caution to Avoid Fires in FEMA Trailers

Four FEMA trailer fires in three weeks in Terrebonne Parish have officials issuing safety warnings about possibly overloading electrical outlets. Other FEMA trailer fires have been reported in Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. Houma Courier, 04/23/2006

Entergy Records Leaked: Show Customers Charged for Execs' Jet Flights

Entergy customers are being charged to fly company executives for 99 flights between Baton Rouge and New Orleans at an hourly average cost of $2,781, according to company records leaked to Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell. Entergy has the highest utility rates in the South and is the only company regulated by the PSC that charges customers for the cost of operating airplanes. Campbell said he would release Entergy records that show more than 3,300 flights between 2002 and 2006, including international trips. Mark Ballard, The Advocate 04/22/2006 Read Article: The Advocate

St. Bernard Residents Worried about Environmental Hazards

A number of angry St. Bernard Parish Louisiana residents left a public meeting, upset with a lack of response to their concerns about the environmental safety and health of their communities. Federal and state authorities were to update residents on the cleanup and testing of area air and soil, including the million-gallon Murphy Oil spill in Chalmette. Amy Wold, The Advocate 04/24/2006 Read Article: The Advocate

Insurance Rates on the Rise for Many Louisiana Homeowners

Many Louisiana residents will soon see a dramatic increase in their homeowners policies, which insurers say is the result of catastrophic hurricane loss last year. Allstate Indemnity rates will go up an average of 20.6 percent for about half of its Louisiana policyholders; Allstate Insurance—9 percent increase; State Farm—3.3 percent average increase; Louisiana Farm Bureau Mutual—49.15 percent; Lafayette Insurance Co.—37.9 percent; and American Reliable Insurance—34.36 percent. Policyholders throughout the state will have to pay a 13 to 18 percent assessment of their premium to help finance the Louisiana Citizens Property Insurance Corporation. New Orleans CityBusiness, 04/22/2006

Monday, April 24, 2006

Checkbook Democracy: VP Cheney’s Tax Return Shows Katrina Tax Benefits for Non-Katrina Charitable Contributions

When I was a kid, my Sicilian grandfather used to joke that Republicans were people who couldn’t enjoy a meal unless they thought someone was hungry. And, with a Republican Vice–President like Dick Cheney, it’s no surprise many think Republicans are the epitome of greed. It’s one thing for a guy like Cheney to live on the “cush” for decades, camouflaging income from government contracts as legitimate labor. But, it’s entirely different to profit from another man’s misery, especially when you’re their elected leader. It appears Cheney did just that.

TaxProf Blog reports that Michael S. Kirsch, professor of law at Notre Dame, examined Cheney’s tax return. It appears the Republican VP was a “major beneficiary of the Hurricane Katrina tax relief act.” He claimed “$6.8 million of charitable deductions” or 77% of his adjusted gross income, well in excess of “50% limitation that would have applied absent the Katrina legislation.”

But, none of Cheney’s contributions went to “Katrina-related charities.” Although the legislation was hawked to the public as “as providing relief to Katrina victims,” it allowed the wealthy - the “haves and haves more…the elite,” otherwise called the Bush-Cheney base, to benefit from the Katrina tragedy without helping Katrina victims.

Cheney’s tax maneuvers bring new meaning to the term “gross income.”

Government of the people?

"It is a government of the people by the people for the people no longer it is a government of corporations by corporations for corporations” Rutherford. B. Hayes

Friday, April 21, 2006

Study on Juries Highlights Flaws in Peremptory Challenges

A study by professor Samuel R. Sommers found that a multiracial jury is more deliberative than a homogenous one. However, some prosecutors have used nonracial reasons for peremptory challenges that are actually motivated by race. Justice Stephen G. Breyer suggests that the practice of peremptory challenges be abolished altogether to ensure that someone is excluded based on evidence of prejudice or ties to a witness or defendant. Los Angeles Times, LA Times 04/20/2006 Read Article: LA Times

A Simple Apology Can Work Wonders for Doctors

Insurance defense lawyers and insurance companies have advised doctors to refrain from apologizing when they make a medical error. The "Sorry Works" coalition in Illinois believes the exact opposite would help stem the number of lawsuits filed because many who sue are mad about how they were treated after the injury. The University of Michigan Health System is a good example of how the practice of full disclosure can benefit doctors and patients. Margie Peterson, The Morning Call Online 04/21/2006 Read Article: The Morning Call Online

And you thought OSHA was unnecessary! Hotel Companies Increasing Maids' Workload and Injury Rates

As hotel companies add amenities to their rooms it forces maids to take on heavier workloads. Studies have found that housekeepers suffer from an increasing amount of arm, shoulder and lower back injuries. The hotel workers' union, Unite Here, is concerned that the workload endangers housekeepers. Steven Greenhouse, The New York Times 04/21/2006 Read Article: The New York Times

Study Attributes Drivers' Accidents to Distraction or DrowsinessA

A study in the Washington area found that nearly 80 percent of crashes involved drowsy or distracted drivers. Distracted drivers contributed to three times more wrecks than the government had estimated. About 20 percent were caused by fatigue during daytime hours. Dina ElBoghadady and Steven Ginsberg, The Washington Post 04/21/2006 Read Article: The Washington Post

9/11 Police Officer's Death Could Be Early Warning Sign

An autopsy has linked the death of a police officer to dust at the World Trade Center. City and federal officials claim it is too early to tell whether this is the start of a rising death toll. Experts say that it could take up to 20 years to determine whether the dust clouds at the site caused workers to develop cancer. Devlin Barrett, The Washington Post 04/21/2006 Read Article: The Washington Post

The shady world of Drug Companies: Many Experts Working on DSM Had Ties to Drug Makers

A recent study found that over half of the psychiatrists working to develop a diagnostic manual for mental disorders had financial ties to drug companies. These experts had often received money for research but the study could not prove if this influenced the manual's development. The manual is used by more than 400,000 mental health workers in the U.S. Benedict Carey, The New York Times 04/20/2006 Read Article: The New York Times

Plaintiffs Across Several States Seek to Consolidate Teflon Suits

Plaintiffs in 15 different states are seeking class action status for a lawsuit accusing DuPont Co. of failing to warn of the health risks associated with Teflon-coated products. An attorney from Iowa said the $5 billion lawsuit will not focus on injuries as a result of using the products. Dupont objects to the class certification because it involves "different people who bought different cookware at different times and used it differently for a host of different reasons." David Pitt, Seattle Post-Intelligencer 04/21/2006 Read Article: Seattle Post-Intelligencer

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Fungus Infection Forces Contact Wearers to Switch to Glasses

Health authorities believe that most of the victims of a recent outbreak of an eye fungal infection were using Bausch & Lomb's ReNu-MoistureLoc eye solution. The stock price for the company has taken a significant hit, and many stores and optometrists are pulling the product from shelves. Associated Press, USA Today 04/19/2006 Read Article: USA Today

DHB Subsidiary Settles Zylon-Related Lawsuits

Point Blank Body Armor and Protective Apparel Corporation of America will replace bullet-resistant vests containing zylon as part of a class-action settlement. The replacement is estimated to cost about $45 million. The company also must conduct tests on its used body armor and make the data available to consumers. James Bernstein, Newsday 04/19/2006 Read Article: Newsday

Viagra Users Sue Pfizer for Failing to Warn of Sudden Vision Loss

Pfizer faces at least 17 lawsuits alleging the drug maker failed to warn Viagra users that the drug can cause vision loss. According to the FDA, at least 43 men have reported vision loss after taking the drug. The first cases will be heard in St. Paul, Minn., in about a year. Bloomberg News, LA Times 04/19/2006 Read Article: LA Times

A man’s home is his castle….Editorial: Be Cautious with Land Seizure Issues

Editors write: "We believe the barriers to the taking of private property for development by private interests should be extremely high. The Legislature, in recent years, has been much too generous in giving economic development entities the right to take private property. This trend should be reversed." Editors, The Advocate 04/19/2006 Read Article: The Advocate

You’re in good hands, maybe…Expect to See Homeowners Insurance Costs Rise...

Louisiana Citizens Property Insurance, which writes homeowners policies for Louisiana residents in high-risk areas, developed a deficit of $825 million as a result of Hurricane Katrina. To cover the claims, Louisiana Citizens billed 146 private insurance companies $40 million. The Louisiana Department of Insurance says the private insurers plan to recover their share of the bill by increasing premiums. Shauna Sanford, WWW-TV, Thibodaux Daily Comet, 04/18/2006

You’re in good hands, oops….Rating Commission Approves Allstate Homeowners Rate Increase

The Louisiana Insurance Rating Commission approved allowing Allstate's two major homeowners insurance companies to increase rates. Allstate Indemnity Co. received approval for an average 20.6 percent rate increase. Allstate Insurance received approval for a 9 percent average increase. Some Allstate Indemnity customers may receive rate reductions of as much as 11.2 percent, but other customers in the southern portion of the state may see their rates rise by as much as 52 percent. Allstate is the state's second largest insurer. State Farm, Louisiana's largest insurer, said in February that it won't add new customers in the area of the state south of Alexandria. , The Advocate 04/19/2006 Read Article: The Advocate

Go head, make my day: Committee Approves Bill Giving Civil Immunity to Homeowners Who Kill Intruders

Louisiana: The House Committee on Civil Law and Procedure endorsed HB 1097 that protects an individual who uses deadly force in self-defense from being sued for civil damages. A companion bill, HB 89, would change the justifiable-homicide law. Mark Ballard, The Advocate 04/19/2006 Read Article: The Advocate

Monday, April 17, 2006

Dysfunctional conservatives: Nebraska moves toward segregated schools…

The bizarre conservative circus that began performing in the 80s has reached its desired crescendo. With the help of Ernie Chambers, the only African-American in its legislature, Nebraska moves toward segregated schools:

“Nebraska's 49-member, nonpartisan Legislature approved the measure by a vote of 31 to 16, with Mr. Chambers's support and with the votes of 30 conservative lawmakers from affluent white suburbs and ranching counties with a visceral dislike of the Omaha school bureaucracy. Gov. Dave Heineman, a Republican facing a tough primary fight, said he did not consider the measure segregationist and immediately signed it.”

The measure calls for “dividing the Omaha public schools into three racially identifiable districts, one largely black, one white and one mostly Hispanic.”

Watch out! Here comes, Jim Crow!

Profiles in courage: Boeing WhistleBlowers Raise Concerns Over Safety of Jets...

A whistleblower lawsuit against Boeing Co. highlights numerous problems with parts obtained from supplier AHF Ducommun. The parts did not fit correctly and workers had to force the parts into place or drill extra holes to attach them. Boeing allegedly knew about the defects but allowed them to be installed anyway and retaliated against those who did raise questions about the "unapproved" parts. Florence Graves and Sara Kehaulani Goo, The Washington Post 04/17/2006 Read Article: The Washington Post

Insurance Bad Faith Protected by pro-insurance federal courts: MS Court Allows Insurers to Exclude Flood Damage...

A federal judge was asked to decide whether the entry of water in a plaintiff's home should be covered when a policy contains an exclusion for damage attributable to inundation. Plaintiffs claimed that the exclusion was "ambiguous" and therefore unenforceable. The court concluded that the exclusion is valid and covers "wind-driven" or "storm surge" damage. Andrew G. Simpson, Jr., Insurance Journal 04/17/2006 Read Article: Insurance Journal

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Jury Finds for Victim of Botched Surgery

A gynecologist must pay $28 million for allegedly botching an operation on a woman's urethra. The woman can no longer urinate naturally and must catheterize herself twice a day for the rest of her life. The doctor's attorney believes the amount is "exorbitant" because she can still work, does not require pain medication, and her life was not shortened. Associated Press, Daytona Beach News Journal 04/13/2006 Read Article: Daytona Beach News Journal

NJ Officials Are Unsure About Criminal Probe of Merck

A spokesman for Attorney General Zulima Farber said they are leaving the matter of a state criminal investigation in the judiciary's hands. A jury ordered Merck to pay $9 million in punitive damages, which means they can also refer the case for an investigation of a possible "criminal act." This law was passed 11 years ago as part of a tort reform act. George E. Jordan & Ed Silverman, Newark Star Ledger 04/13/2006 Read Article: Newark Star Ledger

Merck Sued for Failing to Provide Warning on Fosamax Risks

A 59-year-old woman has filed suit against Merck for allegedly withholding warnings that the osteoporosis drug Fosamax can cause jawbone tissue death. The lawsuit seeks to represent more than 10 million Fosamax users. A spokesman for Merck said jawbone tissue death is an "exceedingly rare" side effect and a warning was already added to the label back in July 2005. Bloomberg News, LA Times 04/13/2006 Read Article: LA Times

Tobacco Industry Attacks $590 Million Jury Verdict

Plaintiff attorneys Russ Herman and Stephen Murray say their case against the tobacco industry did not hinge upon the products liability law but instead focused upon a jury's findings that the industry committed fraud and conspiracy. Attorney Phillip Wittmann for R.J. Reynolds told a panel from the Louisiana 4th Circuit Court of Appeal that the jury's verdict came after numerous errors during the trial. Wittmann said the jury found that the industry committed fraud against smokers but that is no reason to hold the industry responsible under the state's products liability law. The jury ordered the tobacco industry to pay $590.9 million for a variety of smoking cessation programs. If the companies lose the appeal, then the verdict could be $1 billion after interest is applied. Associated Press, The Advocate 04/13/2006 Read Article: The Advocate

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Honor among thieves: Entergy Arkansas Sues Union Pacific Railroad

Entergy Arkansas filed a lawsuit, claiming that Union Pacific Railroad deliberately held back deliveries of coal to Arkansas power plants in an effort to drive up the cost and increase its profits. The railroad claims bad weather delayed shipments. Entergy Arkansas is part of the New Orleans-based Entergy Corp. that operates in several states. Associated Press, New Orleans Times-Picayune 04/12/2006 Read Article: New Orleans Times-Picayune

Stall -Mart: Wal-Mart Releases Employment Data Requested by Shareholders

Several shareholder groups asked Wal-Mart to publicly release employment data that it regularly provides the EEOC. According to the report, women accounted for more than 60 percent of their workforce and held 39 percent of the managerial positions. The Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility said, "In publicly disclosing how women and people of color advance within the company and what opportunities they have, the impetus for continued progress in this area becomes more tangible." Reuters, Reuters 04/12/2006 Read Article: Reuters

No medical malpractice? Right! Local FL Doctor Sued for Misdiagnosing Woman

A jury awarded a grieving husband $10 million for his wife's death. According to the lawsuit, her physician failed to diagnose her with Neutropenia and sent her home after telling her she had the flu. Her doctor maintains that he did not cause her death and plans to appeal the jury's decision. Yahoo News, Yahoo News 04/12/2006 Read Article: Yahoo News

The good guys win: Jury Finds Merck Misled FDA About Dangers of Vioxx

A jury awarded a heart attack victim $9 million in punitive damages after having taken Vioxx for four years. The verdict will automatically cause the case to be referred to the state attorney general for a criminal investigation into Merck's activities. This victory is likely to draw more cases against Merck, which will have a hard time proving that they didn't hide potential risks or act with wanton disregard for patients taking the painkiller. Alex Berenson, The New York Times 04/12/2006 Read Article: The New York Times

Like a good neighbor: Judge Allows MS Attorney General to See State Farm Documents

MS Attorney General Jim Hood is investigating State Farm for allegations that the company manipulated engineering reports to deny thousands of claims. The reports were turned over to Hood's office, which State Farm attorney Robert Galloway argues is a conflict of interest. Gabrielle Bonne, Forbes 04/12/2006 Read Article: Forbes

Pharmaceuticals at it again: Company Funded Studies Fail to Provide a Bigger Picture

Drug manufacturers often pit their products against competing drugs, but these head-to-head trials may be biased in design and interpretation. For example, studies on antipsychotic drugs often show that the company funding the study has the best drug. These studies also fail to answer questions that doctors need answered before prescribing medications for patients. Shankar Vedantam, The Washington Post 04/12/2006 Read Article: The Washington Post

Report Links Contact Solution to Eye Infections

Experts are concerned that a popular cleaning solution for contact lenses may be causing a fungal infection. The CDC has received 109 reports from patients who developed the infection, which causes inflammation and ulceration of the corneas. The contamination stems from bottles of Bausch & Lomb's ReNu with MoistureLoc. Leigh Hopper, Houston Chronicle 04/12/2006 Read Article: Houston Chronicle

Reform that Bush Built: Tort Reform in TX Shortchanging Patients for Higher Profits

The insurance industry and special interest groups have been successful in blocking legitimate medical malpractice claims in TX. There is no evidence that patients are any safer now because of reform and a recent HealthGrades report suggests that medical errors are actually on the rise. A Pflugerville family's traumatic experience highlights how badly our laws have been distorted to protect the insurance industry's profits. Alex Winslow, Austin American Statesman 04/12/2006 Read Article: Austin American Statesman

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

BELIEVE IT OR N0T: Woman, 82, Gets Ticket for Slow Crossing....

The news this morning carried the story of an “82-year-old woman received a $114 ticket for taking too long to cross a street.” Mayvis Coyle apparently “began shuffling with her cane across Foothill Boulevard in the San Fernando Valley when the light was green.” Too slow, a motorcycle cop thought and gave Cole a ticket. Los Angeles police Sgt. Mike Zaboski of the Valley Traffic Division said that the motorcycle cop’s response was a “crack down” – that’s right a “crack down” – on “improperly cross streets because pedestrian accidents are above normal.”

Monday, April 10, 2006

City of Detroit Faces Lawsuit Over Mishandled 911 Call...

A five-year-old boy's mother died of an enlarged heart after 911 operators failed to send help in a timely matter. The boy was reprimanded twice by a dispatcher who believed he was playing around. The family's attorney said the lawsuit alleges wrongful death and infliction of emotional distress. Kasie Hunt, USA Today 04/10/2006 Read Article: USA Today

Limit what key industries can charge the public......

OK Lawsuit Reform Bill Defeated But Republicans Push Forward
However, a better solution to relieve society of the financial burden is to limit the amount of money key corporate entities can charge the public, such as Oil and Gas, Pharmaceutical and key health care industry providers , such a doctors, hospitals and insurance companies.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Feds Try to Seize Gold From Suspects' Teeth

“Government lawyers tried to confiscate the gold tooth caps known as ‘grills’ from the mouths of two men facing drug charges, saying the dental work qualified as seizable assets. They had them in a vehicle headed to a dental clinic by the time defense attorneys persuaded a judge to halt the procedure.” Read: Feds Try to Seize Gold From Suspects' Teeth