Recent News

Federal court allows civil rights case against public nursing home to proceed

Posted by | Nursing Home Neglect | No Comments

A Pennsylvania judge has ruled the daughter of a former nursing home resident can sue a publicly owned facility for civil rights violations that contributed to the mother’s death.

In a suit brought in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, Beth Doyle alleged that staff at Bucks County’s non-profit Neshaminy Manor violated 16 provisions of the Federal Nursing Home Reform Amendments.

In part, the 1987 act calls on facilities to assess residents’ functional capacity in an accurate, detailed manner related to daily functions, noting impairments or medical issues.

Elaine Brown, Doyle’s mother, died in early 2016 after being treated for just over a week at the nursing home, where she had gone to “regain strength” following pneumonia and broken ribs.

In his opinion, Judge Michael M. Baylson noted Brown lost 10.5 pounds in one week, and though she was said to be incontinent, records didn’t regularly track her liquid intake or the number of undergarments she soiled. Neither did staff update Brown’s care plan after prescribing her new medications or a hospital stint where she was diagnosed with dehydration.

Doyle and her mother’s estate sued for wrongful death, survival and professional malpractice. Neshaminy moved to have the claims dismissed because it is a municipal entity, but Baylson said local government immunity isn’t a defense against federal civil rights allegations.

Pennsylvania falls within the territory of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, the only federal court that has ruled individuals can sue nursing homes under FNHRA.

The court did, however, dismiss a malpractice claim because it wasn’t properly pleaded in original filings.


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.

NTL member files class action lawsuit against Polaris

Posted by | Automobile Accident, Personal Injury | No Comments

A nationwide class action lawsuit has been filed on behalf of named Plaintiffs James Bruner, Michael Zeeck and Ed Beattie, individually and on behalf of the other members of the class, against off-road vehicle manufacturer and distributors Polaris Industries, Inc. and Polaris Sales Inc. The lawsuit alleges Polaris has sold multiple models in its Ranger and RZR lines that suffer from a design defect that creates a significant and unreasonable risk of the vehicles overheating and catching fire. This defect has resulted in more than 250 fires, more than 30 severe injuries and at least three deaths. The Plaintiffs are represented by W. Daniel “Dee” Miles, III, who is head of the Consumer Fraud Section at Beasley Allen Law Firm, and National Trial Lawyers member Adam Levitt, a partner of DiCello Levitt and Casey.

“Since at least 2011, Polaris has prioritized performance, style and cost savings over safety and in so doing produced over 400,000 recreational off-road vehicles (ROVs) that can overheat and catch fire,” Miles said. “Polaris has yet to offer owners an effective fix, so we filed to help bring about that change. “

Levitt adds, “Polaris has continued selling Ranger and RZR off-road vehicles with ProStar engines, despite knowing that they suffer from an acute risk of catching fire. Our lawsuit hopes to force Polaris to seriously confront this issue and to start putting its customers’ safety above corporate profits.”

Class vehicles include the 2011-2014 RZR XP 900 series, 2012-2018 RZR 570 series, 2014-2018 RZR XP 1000 series, 2015-2018 RZR 900 and S 900 series, 2016-2018 RZR XP Turbo series, 2016-2018 General 1000 series, 2014-2018 Ranger XP 900 series, 2017-2018 Ranger XP 1000, 2014-2018 Ranger Crew XP 900, 2014-2018 Ranger 570 series, 2014-2018 Ranger 570 Crew series, and 2017-2018 Ranger 500.

According to the complaint, the class vehicles contain a design defect in which the vehicles’ high-powered “ProStar” engine is located directly behind the occupant compartment, without proper ventilation and heat shielding. Because it is located within inches of combustible plastic body panels and close to vehicle occupants, it poses a high risk of fire and injury to passengers.

The complaint is filed in the United States District Court for the District of Minnesota.

Polaris also recently agreed to pay a $27.25 million penalty to the Consumer Product Safety Commission to settle two late-reporting claims about RVs that were at risk for fire, according to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.


Vehicle Owners with Defective Takata Airbags Urged to Get Replacement

Posted by | Automobile Accident, Personal Injury | No Comments

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says that Takata airbag replacement problems are over and vehicle owners need to act, but many consumers have already tried to act.

Miami, FLIf you received an “owner notification letter” from your car dealership regarding a defective airbag and there was a problem getting a replacement inflator, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says supply problems are over. But the Center for Auto Safety states that only a fraction of car owners have acted, with nearly 60 percent of inflators untouched. That statement, however, may not be completely accurate.

Takata Airbag Recall Problems

Since 2008, more than 37 million vehicles, with 50 million airbags, have been subject to the Takata airbag recall, making it the biggest auto recall in U.S. history. There have been at least 22 deaths and over 180 airbag injuries due to rupturing Takata airbag inflators. Obviously, this recall isn’t to be ignored, but millions of drivers “are driving around with ticking time bombs,” said Chris Martin, of American Honda Motor Co. (Honda has changed up to 70 percent of the airbags in its vehicles but didn’t stop using Takata airbags totally until 2016.)

Readers Share Difficulty in Getting Replacement Inflators

What isn’t known is how many vehicle owners did contact their dealer for a replacement inflator, only to be told that it wasn’t available. LawyersandSettlements has received many complaints from frustrated consumers. For example, Richard from Sacramento was involved in a car accident where the airbag did not deploy on the driver side but did so on passenger side. Luckily there was no passenger. He says that BMW sent notices and he has tried to get a replacement airbag, but they still don’t have the parts.

Sharon in Greenback, Tennessee has a similar complaint, but with Ford. “I have received letters from my car dealership about the recall but when I call they say they have nothing to replace it with,” she says. “They also said they will ‘stay in touch if they get a replacement airbag’ but I have been waiting for about two years! I have tried calling Ford but spend hours on hold only to be transferred and told to contact my dealership. I am worried: what if my airbag blows up and someone is injured—or worse?”

And Daniel says he has been to five Ford dealerships in his hometown of Louisville, Kentucky – eight times. “I have been billed twice and told to pick up the part from one dealership and I have set appointments multiple times,” he emails. “The last [appointment], I drove 19 miles and they don’t have a replacement airbag. No call, no going and getting one. Ford told me they had no control over what a dealership does. One person told me Ford had not been reimbursing the dealerships, so they aren’t going to do the recall.”

This writer received an owner notification letter, instructing me to “immediately contact your Subaru dealer so that they can order your inflator and arrange for an appointment to have the front passenger air bag inflator replaced with a new one.” It went on. “Until this repair is performed, it is our recommendation that you or anyone else operating your vehicle do not allow passengers to ride in the front passenger seat.” So, what can be done when you must drive the kids to school, maybe plan a road trip with the family?

“If for some reason they tell you they don’t have the parts, you should demand a loaner vehicle until they can give you that replacement airbag…you don’t want to be driving around with this for any longer than you have to be,” said Jason K. Levine, executive director of Center for Auto Safety. And back in 2015, Huffington Post said, “there is an option for worried car owners waiting for airbag replacement: Ask for a loaner vehicle. You may get one — and it might just save your life.”

Easier said than done. What are the chances your dealership runs out of loaner vehicles?

High Heat Can Trigger Defective Airbags

In January 2017, Takata was ordered to pay $1 billion to victims of the faulty airbags and to car manufacturers for replacements. The airbags were found to deploy with little force and spray shrapnel into a driver and passengers. Why? Forbes (Apr 12, 2018) explains: Most consumers do not realize what enables an airbag to inflate so quickly is a mini explosion that happens in the steering wheel, dashboard, etc. Takata uses the chemical ammonium nitrate to create the “explosion.” This volatile chemical, companies have discovered, deteriorates over time when subjected to high temperatures, which can happen when an interior heats up in summer months and direct sunlight.

Levine adds that Takata used a cheaper chemical, in the ammonium, than they needed to. The ignition powder Takata used solidified over time, plugging up holes meant to relieve pressure. Takata filed for bankruptcy earlier this year

“The Public Must Pressure Johnson & Johnson to List all their Talcum Powder Ingredients”, says Attorney

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Austin, TX – By now, most everyone following the talcum powder lawsuits against Johnson & Johnson know the company is accused of failure to warn consumers about ovarian cancer risks. What they likely don’t know is that J&J isn’t required to disclose all the ingredients in their talc recipe. Attorney Mark Mueller urges the public to demand transparency…

“We have this legal roadblock to disclosure – Johnson & Johnson, and any other company, isn’t required to disclose what’s actually in talcum powder or any personal care products,” says Mueller. Neither Congress nor the FDA will take a stand to make personal care product companies list all of their ingredients, to be totally transparent, so Mueller says it’s up to women and doctors, journalists and lawyers, and you to call the company and demand to know what is in their talc, currently and throughout the time it has been marketed.

Say you have an allergy to a chemical. There are no regulations in place whereby you have the right to know which products contain that chemical. But companies have known since the 1920s that talc is bad for the skin and body—when it was no longer used on surgical gloves. Even with this knowledge of talc problems, including severe inflammation, companies continued to use talc in makeup, tampons, baby powder and even as “dry” lubricant on condoms. So why can women put that same product onto their skin and inside their bodies?

“A so-called trade secret is confidentiality of company materials, which are typically produced in courts during discovery,” Mueller explains. “Lawyers involved in a case are almost always ordered by the judge to sign a confidentiality agreement, so they cannot use this information outside of court. Broad orders from the court and discovery ruling tie up everyone’s hands. There isn’t enough of a push to get the judge to rule that information – such as J&J disclosing all their ingredients in talcum powder—should be released to the public and health experts.”

If you look at a current bottle of baby powder it will most likely say “talc, parfum.” Parfum or scent (perfume) is almost always a cocktail of a wide range of chemicals including potentially carcinogenic, endocrine and immune system disrupting ingredients. There needs to be disclosure of all these ingredients, as well as any preservatives, stabilizers or chemicals retained from processing and packaging of the product. Because of the veil of secrecy, lawyers, consumers and medical professionals outside of a specific case do not have access to the information that is produced in discovery.

Personal Care Product Statistics

When it comes to Personal Care Products, it’s like the Wild West. Products most likely to get into your body, to do the most harm, are not regulated. On average, women use twice as many personal care products as men, and maybe women in the south three times as much. Mueller points out that J&J heavily marketed feminine hygiene products to African American and Hispanic women, many of whom were located in the more hot and humid southern states. And it worked: women sprinkled talcum powder on their sheets and underwear and their bodies. (It would be interesting to find out if ovarian cancer is more prevalent in the south.)

According to the non-profit Environmental Working Group (EWG), the average adult uses nine personal care products each day, with 126 unique chemical ingredients. More than a quarter of all women and one of every 100 men use at least 15 products daily. A personal care product use survey of more than 2,300 people conducted by the EWG and in combination with other studies show that people are exposed to hundreds of chemicals over the course of a day.

Call to Action

“I think you will see that these chemicals are not very good for you. And I think we will eventually get judges to demand companies like J&J are fully transparent, but they must be pressured to do so,” says Mueller. “The press should be calling J&J and asking why they won’t tell us what’s in their baby powder.” For instance, what are the chemicals used in processing, preserving, and creation of the scent or “parfum”? We already know that talc grows with asbestos, but what about all the ingredients we don’t know about?
“My focus is to encourage lawyers in their jurisdictions to get court documents unsealed,” says Mueller. “More transparency would be helpful in court because the combination of all these ingredients is worse than talc alone. So, when it all comes out in the wash that J&J talcum powder is much worse than we thought, that will make a stronger case for ovarian cancer victims.”

Mark Mueller has developed a national reputation for obtaining high settlement values and winning verdicts in complex and difficult cases in a wide variety of venues throughout Texas and other states. In addition to his substantial and often precedent-setting birth injury work, Mueller has been involved in medical product liability cases, exposure to environmental toxins, as well as catastrophic oil field and construction injuries and deaths, whistle blower and consumer fraud cases.

11 Personal Injury Questions Answered

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Sometimes, in the midst of one’s life, unfortunate events happen. You could be driving to work one day and a car could run and red light and hit your vehicle at a high speed. Maybe you are just crossing the street and a vehicle hits you. There are so many scenarios that could happen but it all boils down to one thing: your otherwise peaceful life has changed.

People may want to immediately settle their case. Some victims of car wrecks, distraught and unable to consider the options they have, will not even think about consulting a personal injury lawyer. However, hiring a lawyer is important to make sure you are fairly compensated for your injuries.

Have you been a victim of a car wreck?  You may have a lot of questions. Here are 12 common questions:

1.I was in an accident, what should I do?

The most important thing to consider is if you have been physically hurt because of the accident. If you feel that there is injury, seek immediate medical attention. Injuries are not immediately apparent and if these are not treated right away, this may worsen.

Insurance companies will usually settle claims for as low as they can which is why victims often end up with more medical and repair fees t than they can imagine. Never let this happen to you, let an expert look into the case.

2.What if the other party does not have insurance?

In case the other party involved in the accident does not have insurance, you can seek compensation from your own insurance company. Uninsured motorist coverage will pay the damages you would have been able to recover from the other party.

3.Is it worth speaking with an attorney?

Personal injury lawyers are always ready to help you understand the situation and the legal actions that you need to take to make sure that you will get the right compensation. Seeking the help of a lawyer will help you get the compensation you deserve.

It simply boils down to the fact that you have been hurt because of someone else’s negligence. You need to make sure the experience you went through, the cost of medical treated you needed, and the repairs cost you have incurred need to pay for.

You may have difficulties proving fault in these instances so you have to consult with a personal injury attorney who can discuss the options that you have.

Insurance companies always attempt to settle a claim far less than its worth. With an expert talking to them, you will not suffer the same fate that others have.

4.How much time do I have to file a case?

Filing of personal injury cases largely depends on the laws of the state. You need to talk to a lawyer as soon as you can so that you will be guided in the filing. There are also instances when filing a lawsuit would have to wait such as if the other party involved is a government entity             or if the injured party is a minor.

5.What is the worth of my case?

It will be difficult to estimate the cost of a case a few days after it happened. There are different factors that will influence the potential settlement. This is where lawyers are most helpful because they will thoroughly go through the case, check on past verdicts of similar cases and               have experience with settling similar cases.

6. What does it mean going to trial?

The good thing about most personal injury cases is these are usually settled even before going to trial. But then again, there are instances when a trial is necessary such as:

  • When the defendant does not offer a settlement
  • When the defendant offers an unreasonable settlement
  • When the plaintiff wants to go to trial
  • When liability or damages are disputed.

Though these instances are rare you may have to prepare for such a scenario.

7. What are some of the questions that I will be asked in a deposition?

A deposition is a question and answer session between you and the defense lawyer. Your lawyer will also be there as well as a court reporter so everything will be documented.

A few of the things they may ask are:

  • Your general background and information such as work history, education, family, and others.
  • Your health condition before the accident happened.
  • Some of the details of the accident
  • The medical treatment you received from the injuries.
  • The way the accident affected your life.

In a few instances, some unfavorable details about you will be dug up. You have to make sure that you are emotionally prepared to answer these questions.

8. How long will the lawsuit take?

The duration of lawsuits depends largely on the specifics of the case.   The length of time you spend on recovering from injuries will prolong the legal process. Your personal injury attorney will see to it that you have fully recovered from the accident before the approaching the                    insurance company about the settlement.

9. What things must I secure for my first meeting with a personal injury attorney?

It is important that during your first meeting with a lawyer you already have pertinent documents with you. You can consider the medical documents that report your injuries as evidence. You may also have to bring the police or traffic report of the accident.

If you have witnesses, you may also want to give their names and contact information.

10. What should I expect when meeting with a lawyer?

For your lawyer to give you a clear course of action, he must first have to understand your case and your injuries. Be as detailed as you can.  Your lawyer may ask about all of the details of the accident and your injury. Make sure not to withhold any vital information because these              may be crucial. Details like medical and employment history lost wages, and other details are vital in fighting for your rights.

11. Will I have to spend a lot for a lawyer to defend me?

No.  Hiring a personal injury lawyer should not cost you anything.  Any personal injury lawyer who has experience will handle the case on a contingency fee basis and will pay all the up-front costs to handle your case.  You will pay nothing unless you recover.

No one expects to be in an accident, but if you are, if it important that you hire an attorney to make sure you receive fair compensation for your injuries.

like medical and employment history, lost wages, and other details are vital in fighting for your rights.

Nobody wants to meet an accident but then again, these things could happen. It would be very helpful to meet with legal experts who have the knowledge and experience in handling personal injury cases so proper and fair settlements are made.

IVC Filter Trials: Cook Medical Bellwether Dismissed, Bard Bellwether, Cordis and Rex Medical Going Forward

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A bellwether action in Cook Medical is dismissed in Indiana, 18 Plaintiffs join Cordis lawsuit in California, Bard is set in Phoenix, and more IVC filter lawsuits pending nationwide.

Indianapolis, IN – Since 2003, thousands of IVC Filters lawsuits have been filed nationwide. If you have an IVC Filter claim, however, file sooner than later: Cook Medical claims were dismissed in the current bellwether case because they were filed more than three years after the device was delivered. But thousands more cases are set for trial.

Cook Medical IVC Filters Lawsuit

In October 2014, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation consolidated all federal lawsuits filed against Cook Medical into an MDL in the Southern District of Indiana. The panel assigned the MDL to Judge Richard L. Young. It chose Indiana because Cook is headquartered in the state, and it’s “where relevant documents and witnesses are likely to be found,” stated the transfer order. At the time, 27 lawsuits were pending in 11 districts, all claiming that defects in the design of Cook’s IVC filters make them prone to complications.

Judge Young ruled on March 9 that Arthur Gage’s claim against vascular filter maker Cook Medical Inc. was untimely and dismissed the second bellwether action. (Bellwethers, also known as test cases, are important because they gauge how juries will weigh the facts in other similar cases.) He further found the terms and conditions applicable to the sale of Gage’s IVC filter “expressly disclaim the implied warranty of merchantability,” according to court documents. Gage says the Günther Tulip filter perforated his vena cava and can’t be removed. The MDL -2570 IN RE: Cook Medical, Inc., IVC Filters Marketing, Sales Practices and Products Liability Litigation grew to 3,834 lawsuits, and 3,758 remained pending as of February 2018.

The first Cook Medical bellwether trial involved plaintiff Elizabeth Jane Hill, a Florida woman who received a Cook Celect vena cava filter in 2010. Cook won a unanimous verdict November 9, following the three-week trial. Cook is accused of failure to warn, design defects, negligence, fraudulent concealment, punitive damages, and breach of express and implied warranty.

Bard IVC Filters Lawsuit

The first test case in a mass litigation against Bard’s G2 model IVC filter is slated for March 14 in Phoenix. Sherr-Una Booker’s federal case is one of more than 3,000 claims consolidated in the MDL where U.S. District Court Judge David Campbell is presiding.

Booker claims in her lawsuit, first filed in February 2016, that her injuries included filter tilting, fracture and perforation. Reuters (Feb 28, 2018) said Lawyers will be closely watching the bellwether, especially after a jury rejected similar claims against Cook Medical Inc, in November. (Case 2:15-md-02641-DGC) C.R. Bard is facing more than 3,000 lawsuits over its IVC filters in the state of Arizona alone.

Cordis IVC Filters Lawsuit

Eighteen people filed a lawsuit on March 6, 2018 in the Superior Court of the State of California (Alameda County) against Cordis Corporation, alleging injuries caused by the TrapEase and OptEase IVC Filters. The Daily Hornet (March 12, 2018) reports that the lawsuit also cites studies linking the Cordis IVC Filters with high rates of fracture: OptEase filters and the TrapEase filters suffer fracture rates of 37.5 percent and 23.1 percent respectively, when left implanted a minimum of 46 months. Another recent study found that the TrapEase filter had a 64 percent fracture rate when left in more than four years. Cordis Corporation and Johnson & Johnson are accused of failing to warn about these serious safety risks, and more. (Case No. RG18894069)

Argon Medical Devices and Rex Medical, L.P IVC Filters Lawsuit

At the beginning of February, a woman from Massachusetts filed a lawsuit in Pennsylvania against Argon Medical Devices and Rex Medical, L.P., claiming their Option ELITE Retrievable IVC filter is faulty. Julie M. had the filter implanted in 2015 and in 2016, she underwent surgery again to remove the filter (the device is supposed to be temporary and retrievable), but the procedure was not successful. The IVC filter became embedded in her inferior vena cava and tilted. Argon Medical Devices and Rex Medical are accused of failure to warn patients about the severe side effects, negligence, misrepresentation of risks, and manufacturing and selling a faulty medical device. (Case ID: 1801055860).

Over 7,000 IVC Filter Lawsuits

Since 1979, when IVC filters were first introduced, hundreds of thousands of IVC filters have been implanted in patients. In August 2010, the FDA issued a safety communication stating IVC filters “are not always removed,” and known long term IVC filter risks include lower limb deep vein thrombosis, filter fracture, filter migration, filter embolization and IVC perforation. There are now over 7,000 IVC filter lawsuits against Johnson & Johnson, C.R. Bard, Cook Medical, Cordis Corporation, B. Braun, Rex Medical, and other manufacturers in state and federal courts.

Defective Airbag Deaths and Injuries Continue

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Catastrophic airbag injuries are so horrific, they’re often mistaken for stabbings or gunshot wounds. The reality is anything but, with victims involved in relatively minor traffic incidents killed or maimed by a safety device meant to protect them…

Oklahoma City, OK – With the revelation earlier this year that yet another victim of Takata airbag injuries had died, it’s instructive to look back at the case of Ashley Parham, widely believed as the first known victim of a defective airbag in 2009.

The facts of the two cases are similar. Both victims – the first, and the 21st – were women. And both lives were taken in the midst of what had otherwise been considered a survivable accident. To wit, airbags were designed to help occupants survive accidents which otherwise may claim their lives with just the use of lap belts and shoulder harnesses. Airbags, in turn were originally designed to make otherwise fatal crashes, survivable.

The Takata airbag failure debacle has turned that template on its ear, with worsening odds given the sheer depth and breadth of the airbag recall.

The first airbag injury victim was just 18 when she died

Ashley Parham was 18 years old and just a few days beyond her high school graduation at Carl Albert High School when the Oklahoma volunteer and cheerleader died. According to (05/28/09) in Oklahoma City she had gone to fetch her brother from football practice in her 2001 Honda Accord, and was driving through the parking lot looking for a place to park. An investigation concluded she had not been speeding, and was properly restrained with a lap and shoulder belt.

As it happened, Parham dinged another car. Not hard, and certainly not a collision that would have resulted in any injury to the occupant of the car. But the airbag deployed anyway, erupting with such force that it blew apart the metal airbag casing and sent shards of razor-sharp metal shrapnel from the shattered casing towards the hapless teen, ripping into her chest and neck. The neck injury resulted in a laceration to her carotid artery.

Parham bled to death in a matter of minutes, while still strapped into her car. The police chief for the local force told Reuters (01/13/14) at the time that emergency-room doctors treating Parham initially suspected a gunshot wound, given the severity of the teen’s injuries. It was only when they removed the shards of metal from her neck and chest – and a subsequent investigation matched them up with the now-destroyed airbag inflator casing – that the genesis for her injuries, and the cause of her death came into clearer focus.

The teen, having just graduated from high school, should have survived

The tragedy, said Brandon Clabes in comments to Reuters, is that the low-speed collision with another car “was just a minor traffic accident…that most people just walk away from with no injuries at all.”

Sadly, it was only the beginning. Reuters reports that six months following the death of Ashley Parham, Gurjit Rathore collided with a mail truck on Christmas Eve in 2009. The low-speed collision triggered the Takata-supplied defective airbag in Rathore’s 2001 Honda Accord. The force of the airbag deployment, in a similar event which befell Parham, blew apart the metal casing of the airbag inflator, sending shrapnel flying directly towards Rathore. The 33-year-old bled to death when the metal shards severed arteries and blood vessels in her neck.

Prior to Parham’s death in 2009, Honda had already identified a problem with its Takata-supplied airbags and had issued a recall – although Parham’s 2001 Honda Accord wasn’t initially part of the recall. Following Parham’s death, the recall was expanded – and Parham’s 2001 Accord was part of the expanded recall. Sadly, it was too late to save Parham – or, for that matter, Rathore. Both families launched defective airbag lawsuits and settled with Honda and Takata out of court.

Since then, the defective airbag recall has been expanded multi-fold, with millions of vehicles involved worldwide. At issue are airbags manufactured by Takata that use a less-expensive but more volatile propellant that becomes unstable with age, and in climates with high humidity. Takata eventually grew to become the largest supplier of airbags in the world, thanks to a lower price point Takata was in a position to offer manufacturers driven by the switch to the cheaper, but more volatile ammonium nitrate.

Police initially thought Hien Tran’s airbag injuries were caused by a stabbing

Airbag injuries have proven catastrophic. In 2014 Hien Tran was driving home from her family’s nail salon in her Honda Accord when she was involved in a relatively minor traffic accident in Orlando. Her airbag deployed, and when police arrived on the scene they couldn’t understand what they were seeing: the driver had suffered deep lacerations in the right side of her neck, resulting in massive blood loss. But the incident caused no windows to shatter, and there was no broken glass. According to The New York Times (10/20/2014), police developed initial hypotheses that Tran had been stabbed by an unknown assailant.

The incident became clearer when Tran’s family received a recall notice in the mail about a week after the young woman died, advising the car’s owner to have the airbag inflator replaced. It was then that police realized that Tran’s catastrophic injuries were caused by the airbag inflator.

There are now 22 documented deaths worldwide and hundreds of injuries

And now, there are 22 victims worldwide – with the Detroit News (01/30/18) carrying a report from the Associated Press (AP) that a driver in Malaysia was killed from a defective airbag when a 2004 Honda vehicle was involved in a traffic accident on New Year’s Day. The victim has not been identified.

What Went Wrong With The Attune Knee Replacement?

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Components of the Attune Knee Replacement System

The Attune Knee Replacement System attempts to mimic the natural movement of the knee. Do achieve this, the device is made up of several components:

  • Attune Gradius Curve – This component is designed to work with the femur and tibia where they connect at the knee joint. The smooth operation of the Gradius Curve allows patients to perform regular motions like walking.
  • Glideright Articulation – The Glideright Articulation sits where the femur and the patella (or kneecap) connect, interacting with both bone and soft tissue. This particular area of the knee varies greatly in size from patient to patient, so an optimal fit is crucial for a successful recovery.
  • Sofcam Contact – This curved component helps stabilize the knee when bent in deep flexion or bent all the way back.
  • Logiclock Tibial Base – The tibial base is an insert into the tibia where the femur meets the tibia. This component is very important for comfort and stability and it comes in different sizes to best meet patient needs.
  • AOX Polyethylene – Polyethylene is a plastic material. In the Attune Knee System, it is used as a spacer between the tibia and the femur. The polyethylene spacer replaces cartilage in the knee joint.

Where The Attune Knee Replacement Went Wrong

Many patients have experienced a loosening in their Attune Knee Replacement that causes swelling, pain, and decreased mobility. The Attune Knee Replacement is prone to loosening because of its smooth surfaces. Surgeons use a type of medical glue to attach the components to the leg bones. However, because the surface of the device is so smooth, the glue cannot hold the implant to the tibia bone.

In June 2017, a study published in The Journal of Knee Surgery explained surgeons were encountering a high number of early failures in the Attune Knee Replacement System due to tibial loosening. Not only has the FDA received reports of device failure, but scores of reports have been made to the Manufacturer and User Facility Device Experience Database (MAUDE).

Newer Versions Fix Debonding Issue

Although Attune’s manufacturer, DePuy Synthes, a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson, has denied claims that the device is defective, the company did create a new version of the tibial base component. The underside of the new tibial base plate is not smooth, which allows better adhesion. The updated design of the Attune Knee Replacement is an indicator the manufacturer is aware of the issues and side effects caused by the knee implant.

Patients Demanding Answers

The loosening of the Attune Knee Replacement System is extremely painful for patients. Patients can suffer permanent damage to the knee joint and will require replacement surgeries to relieve pain and regain mobility. All patients have a right to know all risks associated with medical devices, and many Attune Knee Replacement patients feel the manufacturer did not warn them of the increased rate of failure. Demanding answers, the first lawsuit against DePuy Synthes and Johnson & Johnson regarding the Attune Knee Replacement was filed last September. It is likely many other lawsuits will be filed in the coming months as patients try to understand how such a dangerous device made it onto the market and into operating rooms.


Three nurses arrested after unsealed video reveals they ignored resident’s pleas

Posted by | Nursing Home Neglect | No Comments

Three nursing home employees accused of ignoring the pleas of a World War II veteran in respiratory distress have been charged in his 2014 death, a Georgia prosecutor announced this week.

A grand jury indicted Loyce Pickquet Agyeman, Wanda Nuckles and Mable Turman four years after James Dempsey was found dead in his room at the Northeast Atlanta Rehabilitation Center, DeKalb County district attorney spokeswoman Yvette Jones said in a statement.

“Video surveillance shows the patient suffering in respiratory distress and repeatedly calling out for help,” Jones said. “Soon after his distress calls, the victim became unresponsive.”

Agyeman, Nuckles and Turman were on duty and caring for Dempsey, 89, on the day of his death in February 2014.

In a statement, the facility noted leadership had changed and improved since Dempsey died, according to CBS News.

The family settled a lawsuit against the facility, using as evidence video from a camera they’d hidden in Dempsey’s room. The video shows the man repeatedly calling for help, saying he can’t breathe. It also shows the nurses laughing as they try to start an oxygen machine.

Two of the nurses later lost their licenses after a television station persuaded courts to unseal that video. Atlanta affiliate WXIA-TV said the nurses didn’t surrender their licenses until this September, after it sent the Georgia Board of Nursing a link to the video. The nursing home had fought for three years to keep it sealed, according to the television station.

Agyeman, a former licensed nurse, is now charged with murder and neglect to an elder person, Jones said. Nuckles, also a former licensed nurse, is charged with depriving an elder person of essential services. Turman, a certified nurse assistant, was charged with neglect to an elder person. All of them face charges of concealing a death.

Jones said the lawsuit — and the video released in November — prompted law enforcement to open an investigation.