Massive Drug Recall and Whistleblower (False Claims) Lawsuit Impact Pharmaceutical Giant Johnson & Johnson

January 31, 2010 by Jim Higgins

Stomach sickness and a strange smell forced Johnson and Johnson (J&J) division McNeil Consumer Healthcare to finally recall from market a total of 27 products, including Tylenol, Benadryl, Rolaids and Motrin, their second recall this month. The company claims the recalled medicines, manufactured in a Puerto Rico plant, became tainted by the wood storage pallets where it was stored. Pallet manufacturers have openly and aggressively challenged this claim that chemical treatment 2,4,6-tribromoanisole (TBA) could, as J&J claims, permeate the boxes, packaging, and bottles to taint the recalled medication.

Moldy-smelling, musty bottles of Tylenol Arthritis Relief caplets were first reported 20 months ago, and since people have complained of digestive problems, including nausea, vomiting and stomach pain. Apparently FDA officials knew about the odor in 2008, having received over 100 complaints by August 2009, but only took critical action recently.

Kickbacks were the cause of a False Claims lawsuit against nursing home pharmaceutical provider Omnicare for which J&J was implicated. The $98 million settlement was based on allegations that the nursing home pharmacists were unnecessarily, and dangerously, prescribing nursing home residents with dementia the antipsychotic drug Risperdal. Unfortunate for the nursing home resident, Risperdal isn't approved to treat agitated patients with dementia, but, according to the Justice Department (DOJ), this kickback scheme worked extremely well for J&J, tripling Omnicare’s sales of J&J drugs, from $100 million to $280 million with Risperdal making up $100 million of the latter sales figure.

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Lebanon Tennessee Youth Minister Indicted on Child Rape Charges

January 27, 2010 by Jim Higgins

http://hhpfirm.comAccording to an article on, a Youth Minister from a church in Lebanon, Tennessee has been arrested on multiple charges of child rape involving two young boys. The youth minister worked at the church and gained the trust of the children and their families, as reported in the article.

Tavaria Merritt, formerly the youth minister at Lebanon’s True Vine Church, allegedly used the families’ trust to allow the children to occasionally spend the night at his home under the guise of his position as youth minister.

Apart from the obvious criminal elements of this case and the prosecution of Mr. Merritt on the child rape charges, there are also civil lawsuit ramifications that will likely be involved. Similar to the cases brought against the Catholic church for abuses by priests and other staff, the question can turn to what the church knew or should have known about it’s employee and his wrongful actions.

These types of cases are very difficult to pursue and involve a subject matter that is ultimately very private. Other sexual assault victims have not stepped forward with allegations at this time and it may be limited to the victims referenced in the indictment.

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Nashville, TN man electrocuted while operating a drilling rig in Clarksville

January 19, 2010 by Jim Higgins

According to an article in the Tennessean, a Nashville man died as a result of electrocution when a drilling rig he was operating came into contact with power lines. According to the paper, the man was in the process of moving the drilling rig through a cornfield when it contacted with the power lines. He was pronounced dead shortly thereafter upon arrival at Gateway Medical Center.

The operation of heavy equipment near power lines has been the subject of recent product’s liability litigation focusing on the ways and manners in which the manufacturer of heavy equipment can design and manufacture their equipment to eliminate, or at least lessen, the risk of this type of tragic accident. The litigation is separate and apart from any claim that the deceased is entitled to under the Tennessee Workers’ Compensation Act for injuries sustained on the job.

Some of the issues that arise regarding the operation of tall, heavy industrial equipment near power lines look to the probabilities that the equipment could contact power lines and the things a manufacturer can or should do to avoid this. There have been many instances where heavy equipment has come into contact with power lines resulting in death and/or serious injury. It can be argued that the risk of death from this type of event is so great that the manufacturer has a duty to do what it can to prevent its equipment from being operable near power lines.

Unfortunately, many manufacturers turn a blind eye to the problem and do not develop or incorporate available solutions into their equipment. One potential solution is the incorporation of signal alarms that sound an alarm when the equipment gets within a certain distance of live power lines. Another solution is the inclusion of a shut-off device that is activated when the equipment gets within a specified distance of live power lines. A final solution would be to incorporate into the equipment an operator’s platform that is insulated against electrical current from the mast or other part of the equipment that potential may contact power lines or to develop an operation system that allows the operator to work the equipment by remote control.

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TN Nursing Home Law Blog Follow-Ups:
Madison Manor Sentencing and Nursing Home Restraints

January 15, 2010 by Jim Higgins

Following up on our 2009 law blog on Neglect in Kentucky Nursing Homes, a nursing home nurse's aide formerly employed at the Madison Manor in Richmond, KY pled guilty Monday to reckless abuse and neglect of an adult. These acts were caught on a camera hidden by relatives in their loved one’s nursing home room at Richmond Health and Rehabilitation Complex.

Lamb, the second nurse's aide at Madison Manor to plead guilty, was sentenced to 12 months in the Madison County Jail, a sentence which may be postponed or commuted if the defendant cooperates in pending cases against other former employees at the Kentucky nursing home.

In other nursing home abuse and neglect news, ABC World News ran a report last week titled Nursing Home Patients Killed by 'Chemical Restraints' to bring attention to chemical restraint use in nursing homes. California Attorney General Jerry Brown (previously making an appearance in the Tennessee Employment Law Blog) is pursing charges of elder abuse against three nursing home officials who could face up to 11 years in prison.

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Madison Manor Sentencing and Nursing Home Restraints" »

Admissions to Nursing Home in Greeneville, TN suspended by TN Department of Health

January 10, 2010 by Jim Higgins

The Tennessee Department of Health suspended admissions to Signature Healthcare in Greeneville, Tennessee effective January 5, 2010. According to an article on, the nursing home was recently surveyed by the department of health and severe shortcomings and violations were found in administration, performance improvement and nursing services.

The act of restricting or suspending admissions to a nursing home is only exercised by the State, through the health department, in drastic cases. The department has the several options available when faced with a noncompliant nursing facility, ranging from citations, fines, orders for re-inspection, and ultimately, closure of the facility. In the instant case, the department suspended admissions and imposed a $1,500.00 fine on the facility. The state has requested a fine of $4,550.00 per day against the facility for the duration that the violations continue.

From a practical standpoint, the facility will continue to operate while they attempt to resolve the violations found by the Tennessee Department of Health; they will simply not be allowed new admissions. This remedy does not provide recompense for people that are already residents of the facility who may be receiving or may have received inadequate care during their stay. This point is important as the violations giving rise to the closure involve the care of the people already in their facility. The department of health will suspend admissions only when violations are found that are or can lead to conditions that are detrimental to the health, safety and welfare of the residents.

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Bedsores and Severe Neglect Lead to Nursing Home Death,
First NY Nursing Home Lawsuit to Award Punitive Damages

January 8, 2010 by Jim Higgins

Survivors of a 76-year-old nursing home patient who died of bedsores from nursing home neglect was awarded $18.7M by a New York jury a few days before the new year. The nursing home lawsuit was filed by the family of John Danzy, the deceased, after their father died in a Brooklyn nursing home.

Danzy died in 2003 of an infection the nursing home neglect lawsuit claims was caused by nursing home bedsores. In his short nine months' stay, Danzy, according to the lawsuit, developed more than 20 nursing home bedsores on his body when the family removed him from the environment of neglect and into a better home.

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First NY Nursing Home Lawsuit to Award Punitive Damages " »