National Airbag Recall

October 24, 2014 by Ryan Simmons

News of the massive airbag recall is making waves across the automotive industry this week as new estimates suggest that over 7.8 million vehicles are potentially affected in the United States alone. Recent reports indicate that four people have been killed and over one hundred and thirty nine have been injured due to the defective Takata airbags.

The Japanese airbags in question contain a metal canister filled with chemical propellant that, when the airbag is deployed, can explode. The propellant causes the canister to rupture, which in turn can cause shrapnel to discharge into the cabin of the vehicle at speeds of over one hundred miles per hour. Accordingly to the results of a recent investigation, Takata has allegedly known about the defective airbags since 2004, but declined to notify the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) at the time. Takata has blamed the defect on, among other things, rust, faulty welds, and dropped chewing gum; however the Japanese supplier has not announced its final conclusion as to the cause of the defect.

The airbag recall was first announced in April 2013, when only six makes of vehicles were thought to be affected. Expanded recalls were announced in both July and October of this year. To date, eleven additional automakers have been added to the recall list. The following is a complete list of the make, model and year of all the affected vehicles:

Acura: undetermined number of potentially affected vehicles
2002 - 2003 CL
2002 - 2003 TL
2003 - 2006 MDX
2005 RL

BMW: 627,615 potentially affected vehicles
2000 - 2005 3 Series Sedan
2000 - 2006 3 Series Coupe
2000 - 2005 3 Series Sports Wagon
2000 - 2006 3 Series Convertible
2001 - 2006 M3 Coupe
2001 - 2006 M3 Convertible

Chrysler/Dodge: 371,309 potentially affected vehicles
2003 - 2008 Dodge Ram 1500
2005 - 2008 Dodge Ram 2500
2006 - 2008 Dodge Ram 3500
2006 - 2008 Dodge Ram 4500
2008 Dodge Ram 5500
2005 - 2008 Dodge Durango
2005 - 2008 Dodge Dakota
2005 - 2008 Chrysler 300
2007 - 2008 Chrysler Aspen

Ford: 58,669 potentially affected vehicles
2004 Ranger
2005 - 2006 GT
2005 - 2007 Mustang

General Motors: undetermined number of potentially affected vehicles
2003 - 2005 Pontiac Vibe
2005 Saab 9-2X

Honda: 5,051,364 potentially affected vehicles
2001 - 2007 Honda Accord
2001 - 2005 Honda Civic
2002 - 2006 Honda CR-V
2003 - 2011 Honda Element
2002 - 2004 Honda Odyssey
2003 - 2007 Honda Pilot
2006 Honda Ridgeline
2003 - 2006 Acura MDX
2002 - 2003 Acura TL/CL
2005 Acura RL

Infiniti: undetermined number of potentially affected vehicles
2001 - 2004 Infiniti I30/I35
2002 - 2003 Infiniti QX4
2003 - 2005 Infiniti FX35/FX45

Lexus: undetermined number of potentially affected vehicles
2002 - 2005 SC430

Mazda: 64,872 potentially affected vehicles
2003 - 2007 Mazda6
2006 - 2007 MazdaSpeed6
2004 - 2008 Mazda RX-8
2004 - 2005 MPV
2004 B-Series Truck

Mitsubishi: 11,985 potentially affected vehicles
2004 - 2005 Lancer
2006 - 2007 Raider

Nissan: 694,626 potentially affected vehicles
2001 - 2003 Nissan Maxima
2001 - 2004 Nissan Pathfinder
2002 - 2004 Nissan Sentra
2001 - 2004 Infiniti I30/I35
2002 - 2003 Infiniti QX4
2003 - 2005 Infiniti FX35/FX45

Pontiac: undetermined number of potentially affected vehicles
2003 - 2005 Vibe

Saab: undetermined number of potentially affected vehicles
2005 9-2X

Subaru: 17,516 potentially affected vehicles
2003 - 2005 Baja
2003 - 2005 Legacy
2003 - 2005 Outback
2004 - 2005 Impreza

Toyota: 877,000 potentially affected vehicles
2002 - 2005 Lexus SC
2002 - 2005 Toyota Corolla
2003 - 2005 Toyota Corolla Matrix
2002 - 2005 Toyota Sequoia
2003 - 2005 Toyota Tundra

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Stryker Rejuvenate and ABG Hip Implant Lawsuit Update

October 23, 2014 by Jim Higgins

The people of Tennessee as well as many people all across the country have heard reports about problems with hip implants causing pain and other serious side effects. Many people with these Stryker hip implants may also have needed additional surgery to correct the problems. If you or someone you know has recently had a Stryker hip implant and then experienced pain and problems as a result, then you should speak to a Tennessee personal injury and Stryker hip implant lawyer as soon as possible. They will hear your case and see to it that you get the compensation that you may be entitled to.

You can watch a recent interview about these lawsuits below:


The Federal Judge in charge of managing the Stryker Rejuvenate and ABG II Hip recall lawsuits issued an order last week increasing the collection of cases to be set for early jury trials. These hip implants have been on the market since 2009 and were recalled in 2012. This order by the judge is considered a good sign that the cases are moving forward quickly.

The Stryker Rejuvenate and ABG implants are not metal on metal hips like some of the other hip implants that have been recalled in recent years, however, the injuries a person might suffer are similar. Each kind of implant can cause metal to leak into the hip tissues which can lead to inflammation, pain, and ultimately the failing of the implant. This can cause a medical condition known as metallosis.

The Stryker hip implants leak metal caused by an improperly fitted joint in the stem of the implant. The metal on metal implants that were recalled, such as the DePuy ASR and Smith & Nephew R3, leak metal from the interface between the metal cup and the metal ball on the femur. If a patient needs surgery these types of implants the can be more invasive and serious than the metal on metal hip implants. This surgery means that the doctor would have to remove the stem from the person’s femur as well as remove the cup and the ball. Removing the stem part of the implant from the femur may require the femur to be spilt or broken in order for the stem to be taken out. This may lead to a longer recovery process for the patient.

An estimated one hundred out of four thousand cases have reached settlements with Stryker. Based on these settlements, it is apparent that Stryker is offering a sufficient amount of money to people that they are willing to take a settlement. These lawsuits are not class action suits so the people are allowed to determine if they wish to settle or go to trial. There have been no jury trials thus far in Stryker lawsuit cases.

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Medicare Nursing Home Ratings Misleading?

October 3, 2014 by Ryan Simmons

The process of choosing a nursing home for your ill or aging family member is often times a difficult and time-consuming one. Everyone wants to ensure that their family member is well cared for physically as well as emotionally. Many people even spend months poring through brochures and informational booklets in an effort to find the best fit for their loved one. The Medicare star rating awarded to many nursing homes and assisted living facilities is frequently a determining factor in the search. People generally trust this rating and place a great deal of faith in the rating system. Unfortunately, Medicare’s ratings have been found to be awarded based on incomplete or inaccurate information.

The New York Times recently examined the Medicare rating system, which rates over 15,000 nursing homes across the country on a scale from one to five. Evidently, the ratings are based primarily on unverified, self-reported data. Of the three factors used to determine a ranking, only one—the results of annual health inspections—relies upon independent evaluation. The other two factors—staff levels and quality statistics—are self-reported by each nursing home and generally accepted at face value by Medicare.

Oddly, the ratings system does not account for several other important factors, such as quantity or severity of state fines, number of consumer complaints filed with state agencies, and the number of lawsuits filed against a facility. Each one of these factors, however, is potentially more significant than a nursing home’s staff levels or quality statistics. Thus, a five star Medicare rating could be misleading residents and their family members as to the true nature of the facility. As reported by the New York Times, “of more than 50 nursing homes on a federal watch list for quality, nearly two-thirds hold four- or five-star ratings for their staff levels and quality statistics,” which improves their overall rating. Consequently, a facility could inflate their staff numbers to earn a higher “staff level rating” in order to improve its overall score. The result is a number of nursing home facilities with excellent staffing numbers are being awarded overall score of four- and five-stars even though other serious issues exist at the facility.

While Medicare ratings can give some indication of a facility’s overall status, there are many other factors to consider when choosing a nursing home for you or your loved one. As previously stated, it is important to look into state fines and disciplinary actions as well as state consumer complaints. In addition, it is helpful to get a more personal feel for a facility by going to visit and interact with the staff members. That way you will better understand the quality of care being provided.

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Stryker Hip Recall Litigation Grows, Coalition Urges FDA to Encourage Development of Medical Device Registries

September 23, 2014 by Jim Higgins

The people of Tennessee as well as many people all across the country have heard reports about problems with hip implants causing pain and other serious side effects. Many people with these Stryker hip implants may also have needed additional surgery to correct the problems. If you or someone you know has recently had a Stryker hip implant and then experienced pain and problems as a result, then you should speak to a Tennessee personal injury and Stryker hip implant lawyer as soon as possible. They will hear your case and see to it that you get the compensation that is rightfully yours.

Stryker hip lawsuits that were filed following the 2012 recall of Rejuvenate and ABG II Modular-Neck Hip Stems continue to grow in United States courts, a coalition for the public’s interest is insisting that the Food and Drug Administration take action that would encourage the development of medical device registries in the United States. Several healthcare organizations, including, the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association indicate that device registries in other countries have been very helpful in helping to make people aware of the safety concerns with metal hip implants emerged in the last several years. The coalition states that these examples show how medical device registries help the public and post market surveillance activities in the United States as well as in other countries.

Medical device registries can be a useful tool in helping to track the performance of hip implants and other similar medical devices that may be at a higher risk for safety concerns. This will help to reduce recalls like the Stryker hip recall. Following the removal of Rejuvenate and ABG II stems from the market in 2012, over 3,700 Stryker hip implant lawsuits have been filed for people claiming to have suffered injuries from the devices. These cases claim that the Rejuvenate and ABG II stems had a defective design and were improperly tested prior to being put on the market. The claims also state that metal debris caused by the devices can lead to severe injuries such as metallosis, osteolysis, chronic pain, and failure of the hip. These injuries can make additional surgery to remove the defective implant necessary.

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To Settle, or Not To Settle: That is the question

September 15, 2014 by Jim Higgins

So your lawsuit has been filed, depositions take and a trial date set. You are preparing yourself to tell the jury what you have been though and then an offer to settle comes from the defendant. Do you take it or go to trial? What a hard decision to make but a decision that our injury clients have to make all the time. As a lawyer when this happens I feel it is my job to make sure my client makes an informed decision. They need to know what is involved at trial, what do I think will be a likely outcome and why I see it the way I do. However, it is ultimately my client's decision. They are the boss.

I was recently interviewed about this common dilemma. You can watch the interview below:

In general, here are some of the factors my clients will consider when determining whether to settle:

TIME: Lawsuits take time and we all know that a dollar today is worth more than a dollar a year from now. As such, everyone needs to consider how long the litigation will take when considering an offer. Is it likely worth the wait? How far away is trial? These are all questions that come into play when considering an offer.

COSTS: The Higgins Firm will front all the costs on our car accident cases, however, not all of the costs are recoverable at trial. As such, the costs can reduce the net recovery. Because of this we don’t spend money unless we feel it will make our client more money but again these are factors in that need to be considered.

STRESS: Jury trials can be stressful. Car Accident Trial Lawyers love going to court but most of our clients had rather be with their family or at work than explaining their life to a jury full of strangers. That being said it is a wonderful system. We have found over the years that when we have a case that needs to go in front of the jury most juries can tell our clients are good honest people who have generally never been in a lawsuit. Regardless, this is a factor that will be considering when determining whether to settle a serious injury lawsuit or taking it all the way through trial.

FUTURE LOSSES: When considering whether an offer is fair we also need to consider whether the money will cover future damages. These may include future surgeries, time off work, lost wages, pain and suffering. Sometimes it may be difficult to know if future medical treatment will be needed so we rely on medical experts to help us with this question. Obviously there is no crystal ball but a good doctor can tell us whether surgery or future medical problems are likely.

FAIRNESS: This one is hard to explain but there is often a component of does the offer seem “fair” in light of what you have been through and what you are going through. Obviously, all of my clients would have rather of never been injured in the first place so to some extant there is no amount that is “fair”. However, you need to consider what a jury would likely think is reasonable. That can be a tough call but something you must consider when determining whether to accept an offer.

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Pharmacist Linked to Deadly Meningitis Outbreak Arrested

September 5, 2014 by Ryan Simmons

Glenn Adam Chin has become the first person to face criminal charges in connection with the federal investigation into the 2012 fungal meningitis outbreak caused by the New England Compounding Center. Yesterday, Chin was arrested at Logan International Airport in Boston, Massachusetts as he was about to board a flight destined for Hong Kong. He has been charged with one count of mail fraud related to the outbreak at the facility. While it is unclear whether or not Chin was attempting to flee the country to avoid prosecution, Paul Shaw, Chin’s lawyer, has stated that Mr. Chin was merely going to Hong Kong to attend the wedding of family friend.

Glenn Chin, 46, was the supervising pharmacist at the New England Compounding Center during 2012. He was in charge of the sterile rooms at the facility and making sure that the facility’s rooms and equipment were properly cleaned, sterilized and tested. It was during Chin’s tenure as supervising pharmacist that NECC manufactured and distributed steroid shots that were contaminated with black mold. As a result, countless patients across twenty three states—including Tennessee—were exposed to fungal meningitis. To date, 750 patients have contracted the illness, 64 of whom have died.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office has not yet filed any other charges in the matter, but continues to mount an investigation into the outbreak and additional charges against Chin and others are expected. Additionally, hundreds of people have filed civil suits against the NECC over the last two years. In late 2013, a preliminary settlement in the amount of $100 million was reached; however, this has not been approved by the courts as of yet.

In a statement made Thursday, the U.S. Attorney’s Office explained that Chin is being charged with “participating in a scheme to fraudulently cause on lot of [the steroids] to be labeled as injectable, meaning that it was sterile and fit for human use, and shipped to one of NECC’s customers.” At Chin’s arraignment Thursday, the prosecutor explained that Chin was aware that he was a suspect in a criminal investigation and failed to notify the authorities of his trip out of the country. Chin has been placed on home confinement for the time being and has been ordered to surrender his passport, as has his family. A probable cause hearing will be held on September 11, 2014.

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Pharmacist Linked to Deadly Meningitis Outbreak Arrested

September 5, 2014 by Ryan Simmons

Glenn Adam Chin has become the first person to face criminal charges in connection with the federal investigation into the 2012 fungal meningitis outbreak caused by the New England Compounding Center. Yesterday, Chin was arrested at Logan International Airport in Boston, Massachusetts as he was about to board a flight destined for Hong Kong. He has been charged with one count of mail fraud related to the outbreak at the facility. While it is unclear whether or not Chin was attempting to flee the country to avoid prosecution, Paul Shaw, Chin’s lawyer, has stated that Mr. Chin was merely going to Hong Kong to attend the wedding of family friend.

Glenn Chin, 46, was the supervising pharmacist at the New England Compounding Center during 2012. He was in charge of the sterile rooms at the facility and making sure that the facility’s rooms and equipment were properly cleaned, sterilized and tested. It was during Chin’s tenure as supervising pharmacist that NECC manufactured and distributed steroid shots that were contaminated with black mold. As a result, countless patients across twenty three states—including Tennessee—were exposed to fungal meningitis. To date, 750 patients have contracted the illness, 64 of whom have died.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office has not yet filed any other charges in the matter, but continues to mount an investigation into the outbreak and additional charges against Chin and others are expected. Additionally, hundreds of people have filed civil suits against the NECC over the last two years. In late 2013, a preliminary settlement in the amount of $100 million was reached; however, this has not been approved by the courts as of yet.

In a statement made Thursday, the U.S. Attorney’s Office explained that Chin is being charged with “participating in a scheme to fraudulently cause on lot of [the steroids] to be labeled as injectable, meaning that it was sterile and fit for human use, and shipped to one of NECC’s customers.” At Chin’s arraignment Thursday, the prosecutor explained that Chin was aware that he was a suspect in a criminal investigation and failed to notify the authorities of his trip out of the country. Chin has been placed on home confinement for the time being and has been ordered to surrender his passport, as has his family. A probable cause hearing will be held on September 11, 2014.

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Warning Signs of a Bad Nursing Home

August 29, 2014 by Ryan Simmons

When it comes time to start thinking about putting a loved one in a nursing home, people generally devote a great deal of time and effort to searching for the “best nursing home in town.” However, it might actually save some time to start by looking for the signs of a bad nursing home first. To that end, MSN recently published an article titled “5 Traits of the Worst Nursing Homes.” Looking for these so-called “red flags” might help you narrow down the list of potential nursing homes and possibly prevent unnecessary harm or hassle.

The first trait to look for is a history of violations at the facility. Nursing homes are regulated at both the federal and state government levels, and so records of their noncompliance with guidelines and other applicable rules are usually fairly easy to access. Doing a little background research should help you determine which facilities have a reputation for violating the rules. One resource to use is Medicare.gov. This website allows you to search by zip code and compare a number of different nursing homes in one area. U.S. News also runs a website that allows you to search for nursing homes across the entire country. Each facility is rated on a scale from one to five based upon the results of state health inspections, the amount of time nurses spend with resident, and overall quality of medical care. Other websites to check include ProPublica.com and SeniorAdvisor.com.

The second warning sign of a negligent nursing home is severe violations. It is important to note not only a facility’s record of violations, but also the severity of said violations. One violation for resident abuse is obviously much worse than four or five violations for cobwebs in the rafters or some similarly innocuous violation. Put the violations into perspective as much as possible.
Next, you should be aware of the rate of staff turnover. If a nursing home is constantly hiring and firing its employees, that should tip you off that things aren’t running smoothly. Look for facilities where the key employees and/or staff member have worked there for fifteen or twenty years. Additionally, if possible, try to observe employee/resident interactions to see if residents look comfortable and employees seem contented.

Fourth, consider the level of independence afforded to residents at each facility. It is actually beneficial to a nursing home resident’s health to have some level of freedom to make decisions about their own day to day life. Consider the following questions: are residents allowed to decorate their rooms? Are residents provided with activities to choose from? Are residents treated as adults and not talked down to? The answers to each of these questions could help you perceive how your loved one will be treated when you are not around.

Finally, trust you gut. If you feel uneasy or unsure about a particular nursing home, then it probably is not the best choice for you and your loved ones. Simple things like cleanliness of common areas and appearance of staff members can be indicative of a facility’s overall standard of care. Don’t discount your first impressions of a facility—trust your instincts.

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New Tennessee Workers Compensation Act Goes Into Effect.

August 9, 2014 by Jim Higgins

The new Tennessee Workers Compensation Act has gone to effect as of July 1, 2014. Unfortunately the practice impact of the new act is that permanently injured workers will now receive between 25% adn 75% less for any life changing permanent injury. All of this was done under the banner of being more "business friendly". Unfortunately, this comes at a cost which we place on the backs of our working men and women.

I was recently interviewed about the new law. You can watch it below:

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Are Tennessee’s Courts for Sale?

August 8, 2014 by Ryan Simmons

After last night’s election, it is clear that the efforts of the out-of-state group that was attempting to oust three Tennessee Supreme Court justices have failed despite the group’s aggressive campaign. Tennesseans did in fact vote to retain Chief Justice Gary Wade, Justice Cornelia “Connie” Clark, as well as Justice Sharon Lee. However, according to recent polling numbers, the justices only secured roughly fifty seven percent (57%) of the votes, which is one of the smallest margins of victory in the history of Tennessee’s retention elections. While a victory nonetheless, last night’s election has drawn attention to a serious issue facing Tennessee’s courts—the role of politics in our judicial system.

Tennessee Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey was one of the most vocal supporters of the effort to remove the Supreme Court justices, but he wasn’t alone. The movement had a significant number of financial backers. Ostensibly the group’s supporters wanted to oust the justices because they are “liberal,” “soft on crime,” and “supporters of Obamacare.” However, it appears that Ramsey and other group members were merely trying to get rid of current court members in order to have successors appointed who would be more sympathetic to their causes.

A prime example is that of National HealthCare Corp. (NHC). NHC owns and operates a number of nursing home facilities across our state and was one of the group’s backers. NHC donated $25,000 in June alone. Interestingly, NHC is a frequent fixture in Tennessee’s civil courts, as it must defend the many abuse and neglect lawsuits filed against it each year. Needless to say, our courts do not always rule in their favor, and the corporation has a clear motive to shake up the make-up of the high court.

This is not, however, the way our judicial system was set up to operate. Our retain/replace elections were intended to be a check on our judges based on their actual job performance and whether or not they were upholding the Tennessee Constitution fair and impartially. We do not want the giants of the nursing industry to have the power to remove qualified and respected jurists merely because they have the money and influence to do so. Fortunately though the state’s voters proved that, in the words of Justice Connie Clark, “justice is not for sale in Tennessee.”

Stryker Hip Replacement Litigation

August 1, 2014 by Ryan Simmons

The litigation concerning Stryker Orthopaedics’ Stryker Rejuvenate and Stryker ABG II hip implants continues as more and more patients are noticing problems with their “neck and stem” hip implants. In fact, there are currently nearly six hundred lawsuits pending nationwide against Stryker Orthopaedics. Since July 2012, when the company voluntarily recalled these two metal hip replacement components, patients have become increasingly more concerned about their Stryker devices.

Stryker Orthopaedics marketed the Stryker Rejuvenate and Stryker ABG II hip implants as being revolutionary and “next generation” in the world of hip replacements. Their designs were significantly different than the hip implants on the market at the time. However, Stryker apparently did not conduct any safety testing on the devices before they were sold to the general public. Only a few years after they were first introduced, Stryker recalled the implants due to patient complaints of pain and swelling in the areas where the implants were inserted. It was found that the implants were causing the release of metallic debris into the blood stream and into nearby tissue.

The fundamental flaw of the Stryker implants was that the metal devices were corroding inside the patients and releasing particles into their bodies. This led to heavy metal toxicity in those patients. Metal toxicity can cause serious symptoms such as: chronic pain, infections, gastrointestinal issues, dizziness, numbness, and mood swings, among others. Additionally, conditions such as necrosis and osteolysis can occur as a result of the release of metal debris into the body.

In light of the severe complications associated with Stryker’s hip implants, hundreds of patients have filed suit against the manufacturer. Plaintiffs are alleging that the devices are defective and have led to serious tissue damage, and in some cases, painful surgery in order to remove the devices. Further, many plaintiffs are alleging that Stryker knew or should have known that the devices were unsafe.

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Litigation Concerning the Drug Xarelto

July 25, 2014 by Ryan Simmons

Lawsuits concerning the prescription drug Xarelto (rivaroxaban) might be increasing in the coming months due to the discovery of serious side effects associated with the drug. Xarelto, a new blood thinner on the market, was approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2011. It is manufactured by Bayer and marketed as a Janssen Pharmaceuticals product (a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson). Recently, however, reports of uncontrolled bleeding linked with the use of Xarelto have been reported. In 2012—only a year after the drug was first approved—reports of serious bleeding events and death were attributed to the drug. Additionally, incidents of increased blood clots in patients taking Xarelto have been noted.

Uncontrolled bleeding is not an altogether uncommon side effect of blood thinners. In fact, uncontrolled bleeding has been associated with many other blood thinner, including the drug Pradaxa, in the recent past. To date, over two hundred Pradaxa lawsuits have been filed by patients who experienced this dangerous side effect firsthand, or their family members. Furthermore, the Institute for Safe Medication Practices has stated that blood thinner medications are some of the most dangerous drugs on the market, causing the highest number of side effects. Unfortunately, the litigation concerning other blood thinner medications only heightens the concern over Xarelto. Many experts in the field fear that Xarelto may already be headed towards a fate similar to Pradaxa.

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