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Most of us drive vehicles to and from work and to take our kids where they need to go each day. This means we need our vehicles to be safe and reliable for our loved ones and families. Unfortunately, sometimes vehicles have faulty parts such as tires, door locks, brakes, air bags and more. This is when we have to put our trust into companies and manufacturers to tell us when there is a recall on these items so that we can make sure our families stay as safe as possible. However, what happens when the system that issues recalls for things like defective tires also fails. Then we have a big problem because our safety is at risk.

Investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board and Dr. Rob Molloy, acting director of the NTSB’s Office of Highway Safety, “The federal recall system that is supposed to keep potentially dangerous car tires off the road is “completely broken.” The investigators said that while each year tire problems cause 33,000 accidents and kill 500-plus motorists, only one in five defective tires is being taken out of service via recalls. More than half of recalled tires remain in use.

To help combat the epidemic of elder abuse, on March 30th of 2016, the Department of Justice  made an announcement about the formal launch of 10 regional Elder Justice Task Forces designed to identify nursing homes and other long-term care  facilities that provide “grossly substandard care” to residents. This is similar to a team previously launched by the Department of Justice known as the Medicare Fraud Strike Force and Health Care Fraud Prevention & Enforcement Action Team or HEAT initiative, the newly created Elder Justice Task Forces will focus on coordination and information sharing among federal, state and local enforcement agencies to combat suspected cases of physical abuse and financial fraud of the elderly.

Every task force in this new Elder Justice Task Force  will consist of representatives from the U.S. Attorneys’ Offices, state Medicaid Fraud Control Units, state and local prosecutors’ offices, the Department of Health and Human Services, state Adult Protective Services agencies, Long-Term Care Ombudsman programs and other law enforcement officials. These task forces will also have a national footprint with locations in the following districts: Northern District of California, Northern District of Georgia, District of Kansas, Western District of Kentucky, Northern District of Iowa, District of Maryland, Southern District of Ohio, Eastern District of Pennsylvania, Middle District of Tennessee and the Western District of Washington.

These new Elder Justice Task forces mean that there is increased interest and attention being focused on the Long Term Care industry, maybe due in part to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ proposed rule, last summer, to overhaul requirements for participation by Long Term Care facilities in federal health care programs.

Virgil Hood handled paints and paint thinners manufactured by E.I. DuPont de Nemours daily while working as a painter between 1973 and 1996 for Timpte Trailers, a manufacturer of semi-trailers. He also worked for Continental Airlines. Hood was diagnosed with myelodysplastic syndromes also known as acute myeloid leukemia in 2012. The lawsuit states that he received chemotherapy treatments and after having a bone marrow transplant, he experienced “horrific complications” that included his having pneumonia three times as well as temporary blindness and significant weight loss. The lawsuit also stated that, Hood was battling graft-versus-host disease, in which his body and the new bone marrow are literally attacking one another and experiencing side effects caused by the drugs he took to prevent his body from rejecting the new bone marrow. Although he still worked while undergoing chemotherapy treatments, he had to retire after the transplant.

During the trial, evidence showed that DuPont, the manufacturer of the paints that Hood worked with, that from 1938, DuPont knew that benzene exposure causes bone marrow disease and by 1954, DuPont had warned others to remove benzene from paints. By the late 1960s, it was well established that benzene causes leukemia. Hood representation stated that, “DuPont chose not to take the benzene out of its products or to warn workers like Mr. Hood about the hazards. Instead in 1975 DuPont marched one of its executives before OSHA to deceive the government about cancer hazards of its paint products.”

Another member of Hood’s legal representation during the trial, stated that, “When DuPont learned that the government was considering a safety standard, it thought only of costs to its business. Rather than simply place a cancer warning on its paints, DuPont’s expert presented shoddy test results to OSHA that were nowhere near real-world conditions. DuPont’s whitewashed testing was designed to create the appearance that workers exposed to benzene levels 5 to 10 times above the proposed standard would still be safe.”

Truck drivers are required by federal law to pass health tests before they drive, but many of these drivers keep certain medical conditions and problems a secret which could mean that they should not be on the road because it could be dangerous and lead to accidents. In one recent case, Ruthie Allen was one of thirty-five passengers that was injured when a Greyhound bus drove off an interstate. The driver allegedly blacked out. Allen stated that, “I started yelling at the driver but I didn’t get a response. The bus started to tumble. I looked down and I saw the bone in my thigh protruding through my clothing.”

The bus accident is still under investigation, however, according to the accident report the driver, Dwayne Garrett – told police he was drinking coffee, started coughing and lost consciousness. However, no coughing is heard on the dash camera video. A few weeks before the accident occurred, a Department of Transportation medical examiner suspected Garrett might have sleep apnea , a breathing condition that disrupts sleep and leads to fatigue. If untreated, it disqualifies a driver from operating a commercial vehicle like a bus. Garrett got a ninety day waiver and was told to get tested. When Garrett was questioned about what the doctor said, Garrett said that, “He claimed that I had one of the markers for sleep apnea, which was he could not see the back of my throat.”

According to reports, Garrett saw his his personal physician, Dr. Robert Kunkel, also a Department of Transportation examiner. He acknowledged the Department of Transportation’s suspicion about sleep apnea, but Kunkel claims Garret failed to disclose some key symptoms and a referral to get a sleep test, which he says prevented further evaluation. A court-ordered sleep test ultimately diagnosed Garrett with sleep apnea. He is now disqualified from driving commercially.

When we go to the doctor and get medication for an illness or medical condition, we expect these medications to be safe and to help us feel better. Unfortunately, sometimes medications have dangerous side effects that can cause more problems and even end up making us worse than before we received the medication.   According to a recent lawsuit filed on December 15th of 2015, the plaintiff claims that they did not know about the seriousness and particulars of the dangerous side effects of Invokana when she was prescribed the medication. She began taking the medication in December of 2014, when it had been on the market for about a year. She claims that soon after taking the medication, she developed diabetic ketoacidosis, alleged to be a serious, life-threatening condition about which the health care community has become increasingly aware as an emerging Invokana side effect among the many adverse events of Invokana.

The plaintiff, while alleging that she did not previously know about the seriousness of the Invokana side effects, has also claimed that Janssen, a unit of pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson, failed to properly warn consumers about the possible risks and drawbacks of Invokana. The lawsuit claims that the Johnson &Johnson company failed to properly study and vet the type 2 diabetes drug before bringing it to market in 2013.

The lawsuit’s final claim is that Janssen improperly promoted Invokana off label for treatment of type 1 diabetes, as well as for the treatment of hypertension. Doctors have always carried the blessing of the US Food and Drug Administration  in prescribing drugs for indications not necessarily approved by the FDA. The thinking being that doctors have the capacity to study and understand the formulation of drugs, and thus are in a position to undertake a medical judgment call on behalf of their patients. The FDA, in this way, defers to the doctor. However, it is illegal for pharmaceuticals and manufacturers to market a drug off label, for uses and indications not specifically approved by the FDA.

 Recently, a jury made a dramatic ruling in favor of five individual plaintiffs after a long consolidated trial about the defective Pinnacle Hip Implants manufactured by DePuy Orthopaedics and Johnson & Johnson have been awarded $502 million. In this case, DePuy Orthopaedics and Johnson & Johnson was found liable  for hiding flaws in its Pinnacle line of metal on metal artificial hips that caused the devices to fail prematurely and left them facing revision surgeries and pain. The jury found that the hips sold by J&J’s DePuy unit under the Pinnacle brand name were defective and company officials knew about the flaws but failed to warn patients and doctors of the risks.

The jury found that DePuy took a number of short cuts getting the Pinnacle hip implants on the market, in part due to the 510(k) approval process, which only requires a device be substantially equivalent to devices already in use. The company did not seek premarket approval, and so avoided the Food and   Drug Administration’s requirement to determine if a device is safe or effective. There were no Pinnacle hip clinical trials to see if it even worked, or if it was safe to use.

The Food and Drug Administration released new guidance for metal-on-metal hip replacements in January 2013, indicating that doctors should only use the design if other artificial hip implants are not appropriate. The agency also determined that future metal-on-metal hip designs will be required to undergo extensive human clinical trials before they will be approved.

The Tennessee Supreme Court issued a recent opinion clarifying what law can be used to prove negligence on behalf of a nursing home. The decision came as a result of a case brought by on behalf of a nursing home resident, Martha S. French. Specifically, the daughter of Ms. French brought a wrongful death case against the Stratford House nursing home claiming ordinary negligence and negligence per se. The lawsuit led to the filing of a motion for partial summary judgment, dismissing the negligence per se and Tennessee Adult Protection Act claims in addition to the claim for punitive damages. The Court of Appeals affirmed in part, but vacated the order dismissing the punitive damages claim. The administrator of the estate appealed.

According to this case, Martha French was fifty-four years old when she suffered her second stroke and was admitted to Highland Manor Nursing Home in 2000. After three years, Ms. French’s daughter arranged for her to be transferred to Stratford House, a long-term care facility in Chattanooga, TN. When she was admitted to the nursing home, French did not have any pressure sores. The nursing home’s care plan recognized that French had limited mobility which made her a risk for developing pressure sores. The care plan stated that French should be turned and repositioned frequently by nursing home staff, kept clean and dry after incontinence, and provided adequate hydration and nutrition.

While she was at Stratford House, French’s condition worsened. Then, on July 23, 2003, Ms. French’s daughter again moved her mother, this time to Erlanger Medical Center. Ms. French had a low-grade fever and low blood pressure. Doctors at Erlanger tried to increase her blood pressure as well as treat a urinary tract infection and a number of infected pressure ulcers. Despite these efforts, Ms. French developed pulmonary swelling and required help breathing. Ms. French died on July 26, 2003 from sepsis. French’s estate determined that she suffered from decubitus ulcers that were so severe that the kidney became necrotic and infected. These injuries became septic and led to her death. The estate alleged that Stratford Home failed to provide the medical treatment and ordinary care that Ms. French’s condition required.

You may have hear news reports about the Essure birth control dangerous side effects and lawsuits. You may even be someone who has been affected by Essure and its side effects.  Well these cases are moving along and as will happen the courts and lawyers and trying to iron out how these cases will proceed.

During a hearing in January of 2016, U.S. District Judge John R. Padova sounded unimpressed with some of the legal arguments submitted on behalf of five women. Padova directed the lead attorney to resubmit part of the case with more specifics. Padova stated that, “In 23 years, I can’t remember a case where I had to start by asking plaintiffs what the count is all about.”

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is reevaluating the safety and effectiveness of Essure which is made of tiny metal coils implanted in the fallopian tubes to scar them closed,in response to more than five thousand adverse events reported since the device was approved in 2002. Complaints include organ perforation, pelvic pain, unintended pregnancies, and abnormal bleeding. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2008 that under federal law, medical devices that receive pre-market approval from the FDA are shielded from product liability litigation in state courts.

We all use certain products each day when we get ready for work, school or any other activities. We put our trust in these products to be safe for the ones we love. However, sometimes certain products can be defective or may cause dangerous or even fatal side effects. If you or someone you know has used talcum powder and have developed cancer or other injuries, you should speak to one of our talcum powder lawyers at the Higgins Firm right away. We will listen to your case and help you get any compensation you may be entitled to for what you have been through.

According to this case, Jackie Fox developed ovarian cancer after using Johnson & Johnson Baby Powder and other products that contained talc for feminine hygiene. After she was diagnosed, she joined the several women in filing a lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson or what they said was a failure to inform consumers about the dangers of talc, which is found in baby powder. She later died from the cancer and her family has been awarded seventy-two million in damages which include ten million in actual damages and sixty-two million in punitive damages.

Fox’s lawsuit claimed that the company was aware of the possible risk of using products containing talc for feminine hygienic use. According to a 1997 memo from a consultant, it was stated that, Anybody who denies the risk of using hygienic talc and ovarian cancer is denying the obvious in the face of all evidence to the contrary.” Eva Chalas, the chief of Gynecologic Oncology and Director of Clinical Cancer Services at Winthrop-University Hospital, stated that, “It’s hard to directly link ovarian cancer to talc. The information on talc powder came out many years ago when they saw talc incorporated in tissue of women with ovarian cancer. “ She went on to state that concerns over talc led many doctors to advise mothers to stop using talcum powder on their babies, and to discontinue use for feminine hygiene. Finally, she said that, “ it’s important to note that in the past talcum powder contained talc that contained asbestos, but modern powder does not.”

In this case, General Motors is recalling an estimated two hundred thousand Saab and Saturn cars in the U.S. and Canada to replace the Takata driver’s air bag inflators. The Takata air bag inflators have been known to explode with too much force in a crash and hurl metal shrapnel into drivers and passengers. So far at least ten people have died worldwide and one hundred and thirty-nine have been hurt due to the problem. The recall includes the Saab 9-3 from 2003 to 2011 and the Saab 9-5 from 2010 and 2011 as well as the Saturn Astra from 2008 and 2009. This recall is part of a bigger recall of about 5.4 million vehicles announced last month by U.S. safety regulators.

As of right now, General Motors has no plans to offer loaner cars to people who don’t want to drive their vehicles, according to their spokesman Tom Wilkinson . Tom Wikinason also stated that, “The type of Takata inflators in the GM cars ruptured only in testing and not in the field. Our position is you can continue to drive the cars as normal until repairs are made.” The spokesman for General Motors went on to state that, “The Saab models under recall were sold in other markets including Europe, while the Astra was sold as an Opel in Europe and elsewhere. General Motors global safety team is reviewing data on the inflators in other markets and will respond appropriately.”  The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced the most recent of Takata recalls on January 22nd after the death of a man when an inflator ruptured on a 2006 Ford Ranger, and when testing showed four ruptures on a different type of Takata inflator.

The latest round of recalls covers vehicles made by GM, Ford, BMW, Volkswagen, Honda,Mazda, Mercedes-Benz and Daimler Trucks. They bring to about 24.4 million the number of vehicles under recall in the U.S. for Takata air bag problems, affecting fourteen car and truck makers. It’s already the largest automotive recall in U.S. history, and the government expects it to grow. Worldwide, about fifty million inflators are under recall.

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