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Family sues man they say left their daughter to die on highway

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The family of a woman found dead on I-95 in Florida last week is suing the man who claims she fell to her death off the back of his motorcycle on their first date. The Florida Highway Patrol says it is still investigating the death of 33-year-old Jennifer St. Clair of Fort Lauderdale. According to The Daily Beast, St. Clair’s family filed a wrongful death lawsuit in Broward County accusing 34-year-old Miles McChesney of being impaired by alcohol when he was operating the motorcycle that St. Clair is believed to have fallen from. McChesney allegedly told investigators he would only talk to them if he’s guaranteed full immunity. St. Clair’s body is said to have been almost unrecognizable after being struck by several cars on the interstate.


New Reuters Report Reveals J&J knew its Talcum Powder link to Asbestos and Cancer

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Documents showing that Johnson & Johnson knew its talc contained asbestos have been unearthed by Reuters and made public, which will likely damage J&J.

Los Angeles, CAAfter reviewing documents and testimony from 1971 to the early 2000s, a new report by Reuters determined that Johnson & Johnson’s executives, mine managers, doctors and lawyers were aware the company’s raw talc and finished powders sometimes tested positive for small amounts of asbestos. This report reflects many Johnson & Johnson lawsuits alleging these talcum powder products caused women to get ovarian cancer, mesothelioma and other cancers.

Even more insidious, Reuters found that J&J managers, over these 40 or so years, discussed the problem but they did not disclose it to regulators or the public. J&J responded by stating, “the Reuters story is an absurd conspiracy theory”, which may be absurd in itself. The report did, however, cause J&J stock to fall just over 10 percent on Friday, December 14.

Johnson & Johnson argued that the Reuters article is wrong in three key areas, according to CNBC.

  • “The article ignores that thousands of tests by J&J, regulators, leading independent labs, and academic institutions have repeatedly shown that our talc does not contain asbestos.
  • “The article ignores that J&J has cooperated fully and openly with the U.S. FDA and other global regulators, providing them with all the information they requested over decades.
  • “We have also made our cosmetic talc mines and processed talc available to regulators for testing. Regulators have tested both, and they have always found our talc to be asbestos-free,” said a J&J spokesperson.

But in an internal memo that Reuters revealed, J&J managers said that, “Our current posture with respect to the sponsorship of talc safety studies has been to initiate studies only as dictated by confrontation…This philosophy, so far, has allowed us to neutralize or hold in check data already generated by investigators who question the safety of talc.”

As for tests by academic institutions, an article in the Journal of Environmental Pathology and Toxicology (1979) reported a “significant increase” in “respiratory cancer mortality” among miners. And data published in 1988 determined that at least one of the workers died of mesothelioma . A New Jersey jury in April 2018 concluded that J&J and Imerys officials (the world’s leading talc producer and J&J talc provider) knew for years their talc contained trace amounts of asbestos.

As for leading academic institutions, a 1970s study of almost 2,000 Italian talc miners shows that J&J commissioned and paid for the study, told the researchers the results it wanted, and hired a ghostwriter to redraft the article that presented the findings in a journal. “The study was proposed by William Ashton, J&J’s longtime talc supply chief, who had miners’ medical records compiled by an Italian physician, who also happened to control the country’s talc exports,” reported Reuters.

As for independent lab testing, Reuters found 1957 and 1958 reports by a consulting lab describing contaminants in talc from J&J’s Italian supplier as fibrous tremolite, which is classified as asbestos. Inhaling its fibers can lead to asbestosis ,lung cancer and both pleural and peritoneal mesothelioma.

Unfortunately, a number of previous Johnson & Johnson asbestos-talc lawsuits were denied because the plaintiff had to have burden of proof – access to confidential J&J documents were denied. Now, however, J&J has been ordered to share thousands of pages of company memos, internal reports and other confidential documents with lawyers for almost 12,000 plaintiffs– including thousands of women with ovarian cancer — who allege that J&J’s talc caused their cancers.

Possibly thanks to Reuters unearthing these documents, plaintiffs and their attorneys will be able to further make their case and win their asbestos-talc lawsuits against Johnson & Johnson.

Are traffic fatalities getting worse?

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According to the World Health Organization, 1.25 million people are killed in road traffic deaths every year. It’s the #1 cause of death among people aged 15-29. Nearly half of those killed are so-called “vulnerable road users,” such as pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists. Why isn’t more being done to bring down this high rate of fatalities? Salon takes a look at the issue in this article. While engineering exists to help bring down the traffic fatality rate, it turns out the real issue behind the problem might be politics.



Worker Who Lost Leg in Construction of Water Ride Settles for $2.75M

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Dos Santos v. WhiteWater West Industries

$2.75M Settlement

Date of Verdict: Dec. 11.

Court and Case No.: C.P. Lehigh No. 2016-C-2841.

Judge: Edward D.  Reibman.

Type of Action: Personal injury.

Injuries: Crushed leg.

Plaintiffs Counsel: Tyler Tomlinson and Joseph Cullen Jr., Stark & Stark.

Defense Counsel: Geoffrey Norton, Norton & Melnik.


A man whose leg was crushed during the construction of a new attraction in a Pennsylvania amusement park has agreed to settle his claims for $2.75 million.

Plaintiff Anthony Dos Santos agreed to settle his claims against WhiteWater West Industries, which manufactures equipment for water parks, after a portion of his leg was amputated due to the crush injury. The case, Dos Santos v. WhiteWater West Industries, was being litigated in the Lehigh County Court of Common Pleas, with Judge Edward D. Reibman presiding.

The case stems from a 2014 accident in Dorney Park in Allentown. According to the plaintiff’s pretrial statement, Dos Santos, who was 23 at the time, was part of a three-man construction crew transporting a 40-foot steel column with a forklift. The memo said that WhiteWater West Industries had been hired to manufacture and install the water slide complex at Dorney Park. The company also subcontracted with Dos Santos’ employer, KP Construction, the memo said.

The memo said that, while one of the workers operated the forklift, Dos Santos and another worker held taglines and walked in front of the beam. As the crew proceeded through the park, the forklift operator stopped the vehicle to let another vehicle pass, the memo said. Because of the movement of the beam, Dos Santos was pulled in front of the forklift, the memo said, but as he attempted to move back into his position, the forklift operator took his foot off the brake and the vehicle ran over Dos Santos’ foot and leg.

According to the memo, Dos Santos was taken by ambulance to Lehigh Valley Hospital, where his leg was amputated several inches below the knee. Dos Santos subsequently underwent several additional surgeries, including procedures to remove dead tissue and to help fit Dos Santos with a prosthesis. He also suffered infections and phantom pains.

Dos Santos contended that WhiteWater West Industries failed to have a supervisor on site, and that the company failed to monitor to ensure that the beams were being safely transported. The memo also said that, in the months leading up to the accident, emails between WhiteWater and Dorney Park said that the project was difficult because of “sharp turns” and “tight corners.”

In his memo, Dos Santos contended that a truck should have been used to transport the column.

The plaintiff hired Vincent Gallagher as a construction safety expert and Thomas Cocchiola as a mechanical engineering expert. Counsel for Dos Santos also planned to call rehabilitation expert Guy Fried and psychiatrist Kenneth Weiss had the case gone to trial.

Whitewater contended in its pretrial memo that the job was routine and similar to the more than 100 jobs it had previously worked on with KP Construction. The company also contended that the subcontractor’s employees selected the means for transporting the beam.

Whitewater also contended that it could not be sued because it was Dos Santos’ statutory employer.

Although Dorney Park’s parent company had been sued, it was later let out of the case on summary judgment.

Stark & Stark attorney Tyler Tomlinson was lead attorney representing Dos Santos, with assistance from Joseph Cullen Jr. and Ian Abovitz.

“There was a much safer way to transport columns through the park, one that would not have presented hazards,” Tomlinson said in a statement to the press. “Unfortunately, there also was not a supervisor on-site, as required by the contract, and the crew was understaffed.”

Counsel for WhiteWater, Geoffrey Norton of Norton & Melnik, said in an emailed statement that, “WhiteWater was neither at the scene of the accident nor involved in the transportation of materials that led to the accident.”

He also noted that the company is pursuing an insurance claim against the subcontractor’s carrier.

Max Mitchell, of the Law Weekly


J&J Fights $4.7B Verdict Finding Talc Caused Ovarian Cancer

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Johnson & Johnson will ask a Missouri court Wednesday to undo or at least cut a $4.69 billion verdict awarded to 22 women who blame their ovarian cancer on asbestos in its talc products.

The verdict, which the company calls “excessive and unconstitutional,” includes $4.14 billion in punitive damages and $550 million in compensatories against J&J and its Johnson & Johnson Consumer Inc. unit.

It came in the first suit to go to trial in Missouri alleging asbestos-exposure from the companies’ talcum powders. Earlier Missouri talc trials, two of which yielded $110 million and $70 million verdicts and which also are currently on appeal, haven’t involved allegations of asbestos contamination.

Other states also have seen trials linking talc to mesothelioma, a signature asbestos-related disease. Trials in South Carolina and California resulted in a mistrial and a verdict in favor of J&J this past week.

J&J and its subsidiary are expected to tell the Missouri Circuit Court in St. Louis City Nov. 21 that combining the women’s claims into one trial was improper and unfair. Each family should have its own new trial, J&J says in a filing with the court.

The women, or their representatives, meanwhile, will counter that they each proved the companies’ talcum powders caused their ovarian cancers, illnesses that are especially deadly because they are hard to detect early.

And the plaintiffs will contend J&J’s “highly reprehensible” conduct in knowing their products contained asbestos, and selling the powders anyway, make their case the “rare” situation that justifies such sizable punitive damages.

J&J and its subsidiary “knew there was asbestos in what they marketed as `baby’ powder, but they deliberately targeted mothers and women in general with advertising misrepresenting the safety of their talc products,” the women say in their own filing to the appeals court.

Too Many Differences, J&J Says

The trial improperly lumped together too many plaintiffs with differing risk factors and stages of cancer, including some who had died, the companies say.

The grouping gave the jury the “false impression” the powder must have been responsible because powder use and ovarian cancer were all that the women had in common.

The verdict itself demonstrates how each plaintiff’s claim bolstered that of the others, J&J says in its court filings.

The jury deliberated for less than 20 minutes per plaintiff before awarding the same $25 million in compensatory damages to each family.

At the very least, the court should order a new trial on damages or slash the awards, J&J argues. The compensatory award should be no more than $3 million per plaintiff.

Also, per U.S. Supreme Court guidelines, only a roughly even ratio between punitive and compensatory awards would “remotely pass muster here, even if compensatory awards were substantially reduced,” the companies say.

Women Say Case Closed

But the 22 women, or their representatives, counter that ample evidence shows the powders contained asbestos and are linked to their cancers.

The “vast majority of evidence” concerns the companies’ conduct and whether their talc products generally could have caused their illnesses, the plaintiffs say.

Plaintiff-specific proof took up only one week of the six-week trial trial.

The women also dispute J&J’s “unfair spillover” argument.

They cite an Eleventh Circuit opinion,Eghnayem v. Boston Scientific Corp., that upheld combining the cases of four pelvic mesh plaintiffs into one trial.

As for the award’s size, the women say the compensatory award in this case aligns with a New Jersey jury’s $37 million award in another talc-asbestos case, that one over mesothelioma.

And the punitive award should survive scrutiny under both federal due process principles and under Missouri law, the plaintiffs say.

The jury awarded $990 million in punitive damages against the subsidiary, and $3.15 billion against J&J, the plaintiffs argue.

That makes a 1:1.8 ratio of compensatory to punitive damages for the Johnson & Johnson Consumer Inc. unit, and a ratio of 1:5.72 for the parent company.

“Numerous courts have approved ratios much greater based on less egregious conduct,” they say.

J&J faces about 600 women in total in legal proceedings in St. Louis linking its talc products to ovarian cancer, according to a filing in the federal multidistrict talc litigation. Some of those cases specifically allege asbestos-exposure, others don’t.

The bulk of the ovarian cancer litigation, however, is in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey with some 9,000 cases there.

The Holland Law Firm, The Lanier Law Firm, and Gray Ritter & Graham, PC represent the plaintiffs.

HeplerBroom LLC; Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP; and Shook, Hardy & Bacon LLP represent J&J.

The case is Ingham v. Johnson & Johnson, Mo. Cir. Ct., 1522-CC10417-01, hearing 11/21/18.


Xarelto Dangerous After TAVR, Halted Trial Suggests

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Excess in thrombotic events and death vs DAPT in GALILEO trial

by Nicole Lou, Reporter, MedPage Today/ October 09, 2018

The GALILEO trial of rivaroxaban (Xarelto) therapy after transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) has been stopped early after a preliminary analysis suggested harm, Bayer announced.

Bayer notified healthcare professionals last week (as early as Oct. 2 in German) that a preliminary analysis of the phase III trial showed excesses in key adverse events among rivaroxaban recipients compared with those getting clopidogrel (Plavix) along with aspirin:

Thromboembolic events: 11.4% versus 8.8%
All-cause mortality: 6.8% versus 3.3%
Bleeding: 4.2% versus 2.4%

“We do not consider these preliminary data transferable to patients covered by Xarelto’s approved indications. The benefit-risk profile of rivaroxaban in its approved indications remains positive based on large, controlled clinical studies and post-marketing pharmacovigilance information. Final study results are expected in Q1 2019,” according to the statement from Janssen, which was a collaborator on GALILEO with sponsor Bayer.

GALILEO’s data safety monitoring board had recommended in August that the trial be halted as it was being conducted at 143 sites in 15 countries, including the U.S.

Study participants had been randomly assigned to a rivaroxaban group (10 mg rivaroxaban and aspirin once daily for 90 days, followed by rivaroxaban alone at the same dose; n=826) or a dual antiplatelet group (DAPT; 75-mg clopidogrel and aspirin once daily for 90 days, then aspirin alone; n=818). The trial excluded patients with atrial fibrillation.

The trial’s primary efficacy endpoint was the combination of all-cause death, stroke, systemic embolism, MI, pulmonary embolism, deep vein thrombosis, and symptomatic valve thrombosis. The primary safety endpoint was combined life-threatening, disabling, and major bleeds.



$2.1M Settlement for Man Ejected From Car With Brain Injury

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A man who suffered a traumatic brain injury after he was ejected from a sedan during a multi-vehicle accident has ended his case after agreeing to more than $2.1 million in settlements.

Roy v. Freymiller
$2.1 Million Settlement

Date of Verdict: Nov. 9.

Court and Case No.: C.P. Philadelphia No. 170102140.

Judge: Annette Rizzo.

Type of Action: Motor vehicle.

Injuries: Traumatic brain injury.

Plaintiffs Counsel: Fredric Eisenberg and Daniel Sherry, Eisenberg, Rothweiler, Winkler, Eisenberg & Jeck, Philadelphia.

Defense Counsel: John Fox of Fox Law, Plymouth Meeting.

A man who suffered a traumatic brain injury after he was ejected from a sedan during a multi-vehicle accident has ended his case after agreeing to more than $2.1 million in settlements.

Plaintiff Nagesh Roy has settled his claims against trucking company Freymiller for $2.1 million, and accepted a $15,000 insurance policy tender from another driver who was involved in the collision. The case, Roy v. Freymiller, had been filed in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas. It ultimately settled following mediation before retired Judge Annette Rizzo.

According to Eisenberg, Rothweiler, Winkler, Eisenberg & Jeck attorney Fredric Eisenberg, who, along with Daniel Sherry, represented the plaintiffs, liability was not largely contested, but instead the main dispute centered around Roy’s cognitive injuries.

Although both sides hired experts, Eisenberg said explanations from Roy’s wife about his life, such as how he never remembered to turn off the water after showering or turn off the stove after cooking, were persuasive.

“What we were able to demonstrate at mediation, which was ultimately more persuasive than our expert reports, were the simple examples that Mrs. Roy was able to articulate regarding her husband’s continuing subtle neurological problems,” Eisenberg said. “It was the everyday chores, which resonated, not only with Judge Rizzo, but with defense counsel and their adjuster.”

According to court papers, the accident occurred in September 2016 on Interstate 95 in Bensalem. A truck driven by Freymiller employee Jackie Barnett merged into the left lane, which was occupied by the vehicle carrying Roy and his wife, Daksha Roy. The Roys were passengers and Pramod Patel was driving.

The truck struck Patel’s vehicle, and forced it into the guardrail. Patel’s vehicle spun and was struck by another vehicle, which was being driven by Brian Franklin.

Nagesh Roy, a 65-year-old FedEx manager, was ejected from the vehicle during the crash. He ended up suffering a skull fracture, hematoma, subarachnoid hemorrhage, brain contusion, rib fracture, wrist fracture and shoulder fracture, among other things.

The plaintiffs contended in court papers that Barnett had been speeding, smoking a cigarette, driving with one hand, and had not properly checked the mirrors or used the turn signal before moving into the left lane. The plaintiffs relied on video taken from inside the truck, as well as the opinion of accident reconstruction expert John Karpovich.

In its pretrial memo, Freymiller denied the allegations that Barnett had been negligent, and argued that Patel had been in the driver’s blind spot.

Roy’s expert neuropsychologist, Terri Morris, opined that Roy continues to suffer from moderate traumatic brain injury, and suffers reduced emotional and cognitive function. Rehabilitation physician expert Laurie Browngoehl opined that the injuries are permanent, and Roy’s expert economist, Royal Bunin, opined that the plaintiffs suffered between $287,000 and $468,000 in economic losses.

Freymiller’s expert neurologist, David Glosser, conceded that Roy suffered a traumatic brain injury, but he opined that Roy made a “stunningly strong recovery.” He said he did not find that Roy suffered memory loss, or any loss of verbal function. Freymiller also noted that Roy went back to work four months after the accident.

With Freymiller contributing $2.1 million from its $5 million policy, and Franklin tendering his $15,000 policy, the case settled for $2,115,000.

Attorney John Fox of Fox Law in Plymouth Meeting represented Freymiller. He declined to comment without speaking with his client first. Sally Lytle of Wiley Lytle & Cosgrove, who represented Franklin, declined to comment.

—Max Mitchell, of the Law Weekly


Court Grants Mass Tort Status to Suits Over Breast Cancer Drug Taxotere

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The court designated all cases involving allegations of injuries from Taxotere as multicounty litigation, and assigned the group to Superior Court Judge James Hyland in Middlesex County for centralized case management.

By Charles Toutant | August 21, 2018 at 04:21 PM

The New Jersey Supreme Court has ordered consolidation of more than 350 suits over alleged side effects from breast cancer drug Taxotere.

The court designated all cases involving allegations of hair loss from Taxotere as multicounty litigation, and assigned the group to Superior Court Judge James Hyland in Middlesex County for centralized case management. Chief Justice Stuart Rabner approved the application on Aug. 17.

Rabner said the order would apply to Taxotere-related state court suits against Sanofi-Aventis U.S., Accord Healthcare, Sandoz, Hospira Worldwide, Pfizer, Actavis and Sun Pharmaceuticals.

The defendants took no position on the plaintiffs’ application for mass tort status, said Rayna Kessler of Robins Kaplan in New York, who submitted it. Sanofi-Aventis and Sandoz are named as defendants in many of the New Jersey cases because they have U.S. headquarters in the state, Kessler said.

The plaintiffs lawyers said designating the suits as multicounty litigation would better enable them to coordinate with multidistrict litigation in federal court, overseen by U.S. District Judge Kurt Engelhardt of the Eastern District of Louisiana.

Taxotere is not sold in generic form but is sold by multiple manufacturers who have received regulatory approval for their products under §505(b) of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, according to Kessler. That act permits an applicant to rely on findings of safety and effectiveness from studies conducted by other parties and for which the applicant has not obtained a right of reference.

A significant number of Taxotere cases were already before Hyland before the designation as a mass tort, but they are still in the earliest stages of litigation, said Kessler, who sought MCL status on behalf of a group of 12 plaintiffs lawyers. Besides Kessler’s firm, plaintiffs lawyers bringing Taxotere cases in New Jersey include Mazie, Slater, Katz & Freeman of Roseland; Napoli Shkolnik of Melville, New York; Cohen Placitella Roth of Philadelphia; Berezofsky Law Group of Cherry Hill; Pogust Braslow & Millrood of Conshohocken, Pennsylvania; Burnett Law Firm of Houston; and Simmons Hanley Conroy of New York.

According to court documents, the Food and Drug Administration approved Taxotere in 1996 for breast cancer treatment. Its labeling indicated that the drug could cause temporary hair loss in users, but that the hair grows back when use is discontinued. In 2015, defendant Sanofi Ave

ntis changed its label to say that cases of permanent hair loss have been reported by users of Taxotere.

But the suits claim that Sanofi and Sandoz knew much earlier that Taxotere may cause permanent hair loss, according to court documents. A study of 1,060 users between 1999 and 2003 showed that 9.2 percent had persistent hair loss for 10 years or longer, according to the plaintiffs. And in 2006, an oncologist from Denver, Scot Sedlacek, presented a study showing 6.3 percent of one group of subjects had poor hair regrowth, according to court papers, which also cited similar findings in a 2009 article in the British Journal of Dermatology, and a March 2010 article in the Toronto Globe and Mail.

Women who undergo treatment for breast cancer consider hair loss the most traumatic side effect of their treatment, according to studies cited by plaintiffs in court documents. The chance of hair loss causes 8 percent of women with breast cancer to choose to forgo treatment, and women with hair loss may experience a lost sense of femininity, attractiveness and self-confidence, which remains even if hair grows back, the plaintiffs claim in court papers.

A Sanofi-Aventis spokeswoman, Anna Robinson, said in a statement about the multicounty litigation designation for Taxotere that “We fully anticipated and expected this consolidation in New Jersey and have utmost confidence in the New Jersey judiciary that this litigation will be managed fairly.”

A Sandoz representative did not respond to a request for comment about the designation.


$1.25M Verdict Returned Against Boehringer Ingelheim Over Pradaxa Blood Thinner

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Ridgefield, Connecticut-based Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals Inc. was not upfront about the risks of its blood thinner, Pradaxa, a federal jury found Wednesday evening before returning a $1.25 million award for the family of an 84-year-old woman who died of severe bleeding.


Researchers link ride-share companies to rise in fatal traffic accidents

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The arrival of ride-sharing services has resulted in an increase fatal traffic accidents in U.S. cities, a draft paper released Thursday shows.

The research, produced in collaboration between the University of Chicago and Rice University, shows that the ride-share apps are associated with a two- to three-percent increase in the number of fatalities for both vehicle occupants and pedestrians.

In 2010, the total number of traffic fatalities reached its lowest since 1949 at 32,885, but since then those numbers have slowly begun to rise.

The yet-to-be-published research compares publicly available national traffic safety data to dates that Uber and Lyft started operating in each analyzed city. It then looks at the accident rate per vehicle mile traveled in the city.

The researchers noted that they did not compare costs with the “many benefits that accrue from the presence of ride-sharing in a city.”

“These include improved mobility for the disabled and for minorities, flexible job opportunities that are especially valuable to those otherwise at high risk of unemployment, and customer convenience and resulting consumer surplus,” they wrote.

They also did not consider the cost of non-fatal accidents, because “data is not readily available.”

Representatives from Lyft did not immediately respond to The Hill’s request for comment.

Uber said its data science team reviewed the report and “found it to be flawed.”

“Uber has contributed to safety in many ways and we take our responsibility to help keep people safe seriously. That’s why we’ve rolled out features to reduce the risk of drowsy driving and notify drivers of their speed on the road and will continue to do more,” a spokesperson said.