Recent News

The Goss Law Firm Files Suit for Child Abuse

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Emporia, KS- August 15, 2017- Four Emporia, Kansas families filed suit against Emporia State University, the University’s Center for Early Childhood Education, the Center’s program director, Keely Persinger, and teacher Kimberly Schneider alleging physical and emotional abuse of four toddler-aged children. The families allege Kimberly Schneider:
1. Held the children’s faces down on their nap cots until the children cried themselves to sleep;
2. Restrained the children to their seat by use of a strap;
3. Tucked the children’s bodies so tight with their blankets they could not move except for their heads;
4. Pulled and yanked the children aggressively by their arms;
5. Forcibly sat the children down as a method of punishment;
6. Grabbed the children’s faces in a forceful manner and squeezed their cheeks;
7. Spoke to the children in a derogatory manner; and
8. Yelled in the faces of the children.

Philadelphia Judge Refuses to Overturn $2.5 Million Risperdal Plaintiff Verdict

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Philadelphia, PA

If there was ever any doubt that Risperdal gynecomastia was a compelling issue that too few knew about, that myth was dispelled when a Risperdal lawsuit landed squarely onto the pages of People Magazine in February, 2015.

That was when Risperdal plaintiff Austin Pledger, now 22, was awarded $2.5 million over Risperdal side effects that resulted in the young man, who is autistic, growing male breasts.

According to People (02/26/15), Pledger was prescribed Risperdal for his autism at age 8 in 2002. That was four years before Risperdal was formally approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use in children and adolescents.

However, since doctors have the legal, medical and ethical authority to prescribe drugs off-label (in other words, for uses other than those indications sanctioned by the FDA), it was perfectly within the doctor’s purview to prescribe Risperdal to the then-eight-year-old Pledger if the physician felt risperidone (Risperdal) would benefit his patient.

Risperdal and growing male breasts became a serious issue for the autistic Pledger. The Risperdal gynecomastia breasts were large – reported by People to be 46DD – and Pledger, in frustration, was known to smash his breasts on a table causing bruising,
according to testimony given by Pledger’s mother during the trial in the family’s Risperdal lawsuit. Benita Pledger also testified that her son would habitually cover himself with a large towel when he stepped from the shower, before he could bring himself to stand in front of the bathroom mirror.

A spokesperson for manufacturer Janssen Pharmaceuticals, the subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson, expressed disappointment in the verdict for the plaintiff. “We firmly believe this verdict should be overturned,” the statement said, as published in People. “Risperdal has improved the lives of countless children and adults throughout the world.” Janssen also said that prescribing labels detailing the potential association for Risperdal and growing male breasts were available at the time.

However the family’s physician testified at trial that he was unaware of Risperdal side effects that would lead to male breast growth. Benita Pledger also testified she was also unaware of the risk for Risperdal gynecomastia. Her son faced the potential for a double mastectomy in order to rid himself of his substantial male breasts.

Janssen appealed the verdict and sought a new trial in the case. However, their motions were denied, with a judge in State court in Pennsylvania upholding the original verdict and the $2.5 million award for the Alabama family.

The Risperdal lawsuit was PP et al v. Janssen et al, IN RE: Risperdal Litigation, Case No. 120401997, in the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas, Trial Division.

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California Jury Awards $417 Million Against J&J in Talc Cancer Trial

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A jury in Los Angeles today awarded $417 million to a 63-year-old woman who developed ovarian cancer after using the Johnson & Johnson’s talc-based products like Johnson’s Baby Powder for feminine hygiene.

The case is Eva Echeverria v. Johnson & Johnson, No. BC628228 in Los Angeles County Superior Court. The verdict included $70 million in compensatory damages and $347 million in punitive damages.

The jury held J&J liable for failing to warn Echeverria about the cancer risks of using its talcum products, which she started using when was 11. She was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2007.

In his opening statement, Escheverria’s attorney Mark Robinson asserted that Johnson & Johnson had known of the alleged link between talc and ovarian cancer for decades, but decided to withhold warnings from the public to protect its image.

During the trial, Jack Siemiatycki, an epidemiologist with the University of Montreal and McGill University, testified about his contributions to the 2006 monograph published by the International Agency for Research on Cancer, which said talc is a possible human carcinogen. He also testified that his stance has changed since then, and that he now thinks that it is more likely than not that talc can cause ovarian cancer.

4 record-setting verdicts

Johnson & Johnson is facing 4,800 talcum powder claims in California, Missouri, New Jersey and Delaware state courts, as well as New Jersey federal court.  Juries have found the company liable four times in record-setting verdicts:

  • In May 2017, a jury in St. Louis state court delivered a bombshell $110,000,000 verdict for the plaintiff, Lois Slemp, age 62, of Virginia. She used J&J’s baby power and Shower to Shower talc products for more than 40 years before she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2012.
  • On October 27, 2016, a jury awarded more than $70 million in damages to Deborah Giannecchini, 62, of Modesto, CA, on her claim that her use of baby powder and other Johnson & Johnson talc products over 40 years caused her ovarian cancer. She was diagnosed with stage 4 ovarian cancer in 2012 and talc was found in her ovaries.
  • In February 2016 a jury awarded $72 million to the family of Jacqueline Fox of Birmingham, AL, who used Johnson’s baby powder for 35 years. She was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2013 and died last year.
  • In May 2016, another jury in the same courthouse awarded $55 million to Gloria Ristesund of Sioux Falls, SD. She was diagnosed with cancer in 2011 after using J&J’s talc-based feminine hygiene products for almost 40 years.

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The Human Body is Designed to Move, Whereas the IVC Filter is Not: A Disconnect?

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Washington, DC

The idea behind the IVC filter may have been meritorious: for those patients at high risk for blood clot or pulmonary embolism, for whom blood thinners are either not appropriate or ineffective, a so-called ‘catcher’s mitt’ strategically placed within the inferior vena cava artery will entrap a blood clot migrating up from the lower extremities, preventing the clot from reaching the heart or lungs.

The assumption is that the inferior vena cava filter will remain in place in spite of the human condition that dictates constant movement – running, jumping, rolling over in bed, losing your balance and falling hard to the ground, playing a game of pickup hockey with the boys and being slamed into the boards…

One assumes that manufacturers thought of all that, together with the capacity for the IVC filter to not only remain at the insertion point in spite of such physiological exertions, but also for the various components of the IVC filter – such as struts – to both keep the IVC filter in place and to entrap a potentially migrating blood clot without failing structurally.

And yet, various models of IVC filter made by at least two manufacturers have indeed, been failing – leading to many an IVC filter lawsuit.

Some of the comments IVC filter patients have been leaving in chatrooms are compelling. One patient wrote just this past June that she had received a Cook Celect IVC filter in December, 2009. Since that time, she claims that her IVC filter has migrated away from the initial placement site. The writer also indicates she has been experiencing multiple health problems including, but not limited to tachycardia, and chest pain that required hospitalization.

Another contributor claims to have received an inferior vena cava filter in September, 2005 and soon experienced extreme chest pain. Doctors attributed her discomfort to stress and advised less caffeine intake. Nine years after receiving the IVC filter (the manufacturer was not identified), doctors agreed that no fewer than four of the struts associated with the woman’s IVC filter had broken away, and migrated. The patient asserts she still suffers from debilitating pain and has now been diagnosed with a heart condition. She has been told neither the offending IVC filter, nor the fractured struts can be removed, and that there is nothing medically possible to ease her suffering.

It’s telling that both comments were received in 2017, years after the contributors’ IVC filters had been implanted. Inferior vena cava filters were originally envisioned as permanent hedges against blood clots, however in recent years IVC filters are thought to be no more than temporary methods to treat heightened risk for blood clots, and should be removed as soon as reasonably possible once blood clot or pulmonary embolism risk has eased, or no longer than 54 days following implantation.

However, as we have seen a high number of patients have retained their IVC filters for years following implantation. Pundits note that part of the reason for this is a lack of understanding on the part of some doctors with regard to the need for removal sooner than later. Other issues contributing to overly long IVC implantations are filters implanted by a medical professional other than a patient’s regular doctor – such as when a patient is travelling, and experiences a health issue while on the road – and there is inadequate follow-up.

In many cases, an inferior vena cava filter cannot be removed safely, due to a structural failure and / or migration of either the entire filter assembly or pieces which have broken away and have impacted vital organs. Reported failure rates of some IVC filters support this observation.

Two of the leading manufacturers of IVC filters have been associated with serious adverse events, and are consequently embroiled in IVC filter lawsuits. A study published in the April, 2012 issue of Cardiovascular and Interventional Radiology found that Cook Celect and Gunther Tulip filters manufactured by Cook Medical showed some degree of vena caval perforation after 71 days. Researchers found that full perforation of at least one component all the way through the IVC wall occurred in 86 percent of all cases.

The first Bard IVC filter manufactured by C.R. Bard was approved in 2002 and placed into the market the following year. However the Bard Recovery filter was eventually removed from the market following reports of fractures and other adverse issues, and replaced with the Bard G2 IVC filter – the latter promising enhanced resistance to fracture, improved centering and increased resistance to migration. No official IVC filter recall was issued for the Bard Recovery filter, which was only removed from the market when the Bard G2 was ready to replace it.

The Bard G2 IVC filter was found to be of little improvement over its predecessor.

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Defense Wins 3rd Xarelto Mass Tort Bellwether in a Row

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A jury in federal court in Missouri returned the third verdict in favor of Janssen Pharmaceuticals and Bayer in a bellwether trial over the blood-thinner Xarelto. The companies are facing 18,000 similar lawsuits charging that the drug causes uncontrollable bleeding.

Juries in the multidistrict litigation docket, MDL 2592 before U.S. District Judge Eldon E. Fallon in the Eastern District of Lousiana, also returned defense verdicts on May 3 and June 12 this year.

The plaintiff Dora Mingo of Summit, Mississippi, alleged under Miss. Code Ann. Sec. 11-1-63 that Xarelto was defectively designed because there is no antidote and that it is unreasonably dangerous because of an inadequate warning to physicians about uncontrollable bleeding.

Mingo, a 69-year-old retired schoolteacher, suffered acute gastrointestinal bleeding and severe blood loss after taking Xarelto for a month in 2015 to prevent blood clotting after surgery. Plaintiff attorney Andy Birchfield of Beasley, Allen, Crow, Methvin, Portis & Miles of Montgomery, AL, said the companies should have instructed doctors to conduct a simple Prothrombin Time (PT) blood test, to assess a patient’s risk of bleeding.

As in the previous trials, the jury returned the verdict after a few hours of deliberation.

Xarelto is Bayer’s best-selling drug and in 2016 it generated $3.41 billion in revenues to the German company. Johnson & Johnson, the parent company of Janssen, reported $2.2 billion in revenues from Xarelto.

The FDA approved the drug in 2011 for patients with a heart rhythm disorder known as atrial fibrillation and to treat the risk of deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolisms.

Representing Janssen was Richard Sarver of Barrasso Usdin Kupperman Freeman & Sarver in New Orleans, who was involved in the first Xarelto trial. Bayer was represented by Lyn Pruitt of Mitchell Williams in Little Rock, Arkansas, and Walter T. Johnson at Watkins & Eager in Jackson, Mississippi.

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Johnson & Johnson Talcum Powder Lawsuit Trial Starts in California

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The trial of the first of more than 300 ovarian cancer lawsuits involving Johnson & Johnson’s talcum powder products started on July 10 in Los Angeles Superior Court.

The case was filed by 63-year-old Eva Echeverria, a California resident, who claims she developed ovarian cancer in 2007 after using J&J’s talc products since the 1950s.

The case is Eva Echeverria v. Johnson & Johnson, Case No. BC628228 and the coordinated proceeding is Johnson & Johnson Talcum Powder Cases, Case No.  JCCP4872, in the Superior Court of the State of California, County of Los Angeles.

Mark P. Robinson Jr. and Kevin F. Calcagnie of Robinson Calcagnie Inc.
are representing Echeverria.

“This trial is vitally important, as it is considered a bellwether case. The verdict in this lawsuit could provide insight into how juries might decide similar claims pending in California’s talcum powder litigation,” says Sandy A. Liebhard, a partner at Bernstein Liebhard LLP, a nationwide law firm representing victims of defective medical devices, drugs and consumer products.

Nationwide Talcum Powder Litigation

Johnson & Johnson has been named a defendant in more than 3,000 talcum powder lawsuits currently pending in courts around the country, all of which were filed by women who allegedly developed ovarian cancer after the regular use of the company’s talc-based powders for feminine hygiene purposes. Plaintiffs claim that Johnson & Johnson officials were aware of research published as early the 1970s that suggested such a link, yet failed to warn the public to protect it profits derived from its Baby Powder and Shower-to-Shower product lines.

In federal mass tort litigation, J&J is facing 415 lawsuits in MDL 2738 in New Jersey, supervised by US District Judge Freda L. Wolfson, IN RE: Johnson & Johnson Talcum Powder Products Marketing, Sales Practices and Products Liability Litigation.

The California trial will be the first convened outside of Missouri’s 22nd Circuit Court in St. Louis, where one of the nation’s largest talcum powder litigations is currently underway. So far, only one Missouri jury has rendered a verdict in favor of Johnson & Johnson. Plaintiffs in four cases have been awarded compensatory and punitive damages amounting to $110 million, $70 million, $72 million and $55 million. A mistrial was declared in the state’s sixth trial just last month. (Case No. 1422-CC09326-01).



Nursing home administrator salaries rise 3%, nursing directors 2.6%, new survey shows

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Nursing home administrators’ salaries increased nearly 3% over the past year to an average of $97,401 in 2017, according to the largest salary survey of its kind.

The Nursing Home Salary & Benefits Report 2017-2018, released this week by the Hospital & Healthcare Compensation Service, includes salary trends among nursing facilities that participated in both 2016 and 2017. The report was published in cooperation with LeadingAge and support from the American Health Care Association.

Nursing home administrator salaries averaged $94,584 in 2016, the report showed, rising 2.98% in 2017. A year earlier they rose 3.78%, according to last year’s report.

Executive directors and chief financial officers for skilled nursing facilities also experienced salary boosts between 2016 and 2017, at 2.46% and 2.09% respectively. Both positions earned less than their counterparts in continuing care retirement communities, report results revealed.

Directors of nursing gained a 2.64% salary increase over the past year, going from an average of $89,092 in 2016 to $91,444 in 2017 at facilities that reported data both years. Assistant DONs also fared well, with average salaries increasing 2.31% to $71,474.

Directors of marketing also experienced a salary boost in 2017, increasing 2.83% to $56,484.

The salary and benefits report also documented national annual turnover rates, or the number of times a facility replaced a position in one year. For top-level executives, that rate reached 17.62% in 2017.

In total, 1,970 long-term care facilities with a total of more than 175,600 cumulative employees contributed data to this year’s salary and benefits report, now in its 40th edition. Of the respondents, nearly 80% of facilities reported that they were for-profit, while slightly more than 20% were nonprofit.

For more information on the Nursing Home Salary & Benefits Report, or to purchase your own copy, click here.



Risperdal Now the Fastest-Growing Mass Tort Program

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Philadelphia, PAIn the wake of several juries ordering Johnson & Johnson to pay compensation to Risperdal victims, over 3,600 new Risperdal lawsuits have been filed since the beginning of this year. The number of lawsuits in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas has doubled, making the Risperdal mass-tort the largest in the system.

According to The Legal Intelligencer, approximately 5,800 Risperdal lawsuits have been filed and that number may triple by the end of the year. These new cases filed since January 1, 2017 represent a 185 percent increase in Risperdal complaints. Judge Arnold New, supervising judge of the Philadelphia Complex Litigation Center, confirmed that the Risperdal mass-tort is the largest in the system. (These cases are in addition to about 17,000 Risperdal lawsuits filed nationwide in federal and state courts.)

Unless Risperdal attorneys negotiate a settlement or another resolution, about ten Risperdal trials are slated for the Philadelphia Courts at the end of 2017 and into the first half of 2018.

Every one of the 5,800 complaints accuse Johnson & Johnson of aggressively marketing Risperdal for unapproved uses in children and downplaying gynecomastia, a side effect in which young boys develop female breast tissue.

Johnson & Johnson was fined $2.2 billion in 2013 to end civil and criminal investigations into kickbacks to pharmacists and the marketing of the pharmaceuticals Risperdal and Invega and the heart drug Natrecor for off-label uses. Reuters reported that, from 1999 through 2005, J&J and its subsidiary Janssen Pharmaceuticals Inc. promoted Risperdal for unapproved uses, including controlling aggression and anxiety in elderly dementia patients and treating behavioral disturbances in children and in individuals with disabilities.

And J&J has allegedly continued its illegal marketing, focusing on pre-pubescent boys, with individual Risperdal lawsuits reaching up to a staggering $70 million (awarded to Andrew Yount in July 2016 by a Philadelphia jury). J & J and it subsidiary Janssen Pharmaceuticals argued that this award “is entirely out of step with any reasonable analysis of actual damages suffered by the plaintiff, and that millions of Risperdal patients have reaped significant benefits from their use of the medication,” according to Injury Lawyer News. Is the pharma giant prepared for thousands of patients who far from reaped Risperdal benefits, and instead caused them severe side effects, both physically and emotionally?

And why is Risperdal prescribed to millions of patients? One reason is that it’s prescribed off-label. Research and lawsuit settlements indicate that it is frequently prescribed off-label for uses not approved by the FDA such as the treatment of ADHD. Since its FDA approval in 1993, Johnson & Johnson and Janssen Pharmaceuticals have made billions of dollars in Risperdal sales.

3 Ways to Protect Your Personal Injury Award or Settlement from Your Divorce

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What happens to your money from a personal injury award or settlement, when you divorce? The short answer is, “It depends.” It depends on whether you live in a community-property or equitable distribution state. It depends on how the money was allocated in the award or settlement. It depends on the date of the accident, the date of your separation or the date of your divorce. How the money is divided up depends on how the court in your state will approach the analysis based upon the specific details of your case.

The various scenarios go something like this:

1. Husband and Wife have been married for eight years and have three young children. Wife suffered a significant delay in diagnosis of her breast cancer, when her mammography studies were misread. By the time she was finally was diagnosed, the cancer had spread throughout her body, and she was forced to take a leave of absence from her job to undergo chemotherapy and radiation treatments. During this time, Wife was unable to care for herself or her family, and Husband was trying to hold down his job and care for his family. Husband and Wife contacted an attorney regarding a medical malpractice case, and suit was filed against the doctor, who misread the mammography study. The claim included damages to the Wife, as well as a loss of consortium claim for the Husband. During the pendency of the litigation, Husband and Wife decided to divorce. Question: What happens to any proceeds acquired from the lawsuit?

2. Husband is in a car accident and suffers a broken leg and arm. He files a motor vehicle accident claim against the other driver, who was responsible for the accident, in order to recover money for his personal and property damages. Shortly following the accident, Husband and Wife, who had been contemplating separation for a number of months, decide to divorce. Question: What happens to any proceeds acquired from the lawsuit?

3. Husband and Wife have filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against a Hospital, where their minor child suffered brain damage, when during a routine operative procedure, the child’s airway was lost. Mom, Dad and minor child are awarded multiple millions of dollars, which are deposited into two bank accounts: (1) For the benefit of minor child; and (2) Joint bank account for Mom and Dad. Question: Are all or part of the proceeds from the lawsuit subject to equitable distribution, when Husband and Wife divorce?

How a personal injury award or settlement is treated in the context of divorce is highly fact-dependent. Each of the above scenarios varies slightly from the other, and may result in differing arguments as to why (or why not) the money should (or should not) be treated as a marital asset. Some of the criteria for consideration may include an analysis of the damages themselves, for example, whether the damages were for pain and suffering, lost wages, loss of companionship, or damages to property. There are a number of different approaches to distinguishing personal injury settlements or awards as marital versus non-marital assets. These approaches are also considered in the context of whether the divorcing couple resides in either a community property state (such as California) or equitable distribution state(such as Florida or New York.) For example, some courts have taken a very straight-line approach, treating any personal injury award or settlement as “personal,” belonging solely to the individual injured spouse as non-marital, not subject to division in divorce. Some courts, on the other hand, have taken a more analytical approach by separating each and every element of a particular damage, and assessing whether it should fall into a non-marital or marital asset category. This meticulous approach gives significant weight to fairness of the division of property. Finally, some courts take a more simplistic approach to the problem, deeming any personal injury award or settlement as a marital asset if acquired during the marriage, regardless of the nature of the damages.

Where does this leave you?

3 Ways You Can Protect Your Personal Injury Award or Settlement from Your Divorce

1. Specifically allocate the damages claimed to distinguish what is “personal” versus “marital;”

2. Advise your personal injury attorney early-on regarding the likelihood of divorce and the need to engage or consult with a family lawyer regarding the rules in your state; and

3. Maintain an individual, separate bank account to deposit any proceeds and do not comingle those assets until issues of equitable distribution are resolved.

Diane L. Danois, J.D. Attorney, Author, Stepmom, Co-Parent, Blended Families Expert
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House Passes Medical Malpractice Bill with $250K Damage Cap

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The US House of Representatives just passed a bill that caps medical malpractice lawsuits by limiting plaintiff damages to $250,000.

The House passed the Protecting Access to Care Act, which favors insurance companies over injured plaintiffs, by 218-210.

If the bill were to become law, it would create limits on attorney fees and a three-year statute of limitations. It would apply to healthcare lawsuits that involve coverage provided through a federal program such as Medicare or Medicaid or to coverage that is partly paid for by a government subsidy or tax benefit.

Critics said the anti-consumer legislation will inappropriately limit the compensation of plaintiffs who file a health care lawsuit and increase medical errors.

Democrats said the bill is intended to give a tax break to health insurance companies. A Congressional Budget Office score of the bill projected that it mainly lowering premiums for malpractice insurance.

H.R. 1215 would impose limits on medical malpractice litigation in state and federal courts by capping awards and attorney fees, modifying the statute of limitations, and eliminating joint and several liability.
The Republican-led effort is part of their plan to gut Obamacare.

Apologists of the bill claimed it would limit unnecessary medical tests and healthcare costs.

During floor debate, one of the bill’s co-sponsors, Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, defended the bill as a necessary move for reining in healthcare spending. His most bogus argument was that doctors conduct unnecessary tests out of fear that a patient will sue them.

On Tuesday, 80 organizations sent a letter to House leaders urging them to oppose the bill.

“Even if [the bill] applied only to doctors and hospitals, recent studies clearly establish that its provisions would lead to more deaths and injuries, and increased healthcare costs due to a ‘broad relaxation of care,’” they wrote. “Add to this nursing home and pharmaceutical industry liability limitations, significantly weakening incentives for these industries to act safely, and untold numbers of additional death, injuries and costs are inevitable and unacceptable.”

The White House’s senior advisers have recommended that President Trump sign the bill into law, and it was included as a potential area of reform in Trump’s budget request.