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Tuesday, March 11, 2003
 

Ephedra Under Fire in California.  On Monday, eight Northern California county district attorneys and a city attorney of San Diego filed a civil lawsuit against Cytodyne Technologies Inc. and its corporate officer, Robert Chinery.  The suit accuses them of unfair business practices and making misleading statements about the effectiveness of the dietary supplement, Xenadrine, which contains ephedra.  The suit seeks to end deceptive advertising and asks for civil penalties.  As reported by Reuters on findlaw.com.
10:11:52 PM    

Pfizer Close to Settling Suit Over Neurontin.  Pfizer is close to settling a whistleblower lawsuit brought by Dr. David Franklin, a medical liaison hired by Warner-Lambert, a company that it acquired in 2000.  In the suit, Dr. Franklin alleged that the company illegally marketed Neurontin, an epilepsy drug, for uses for which it was not approved.  As reported in The New York Times.
9:50:06 PM    

Highly Questionable Practices.  Joseph F. Rice, a well-known class action lawyer, has agreed to accept a $20 million "fee" from the parent of a company that he is suing on behalf of workers exposed to asbestos. This "fee" will be in addition to the fee that he collects from his clients for settling their claims against the same company.  In other words, he is being paid by the plaintiffs, whom he represents, and the defendants, whom he is suing.  Hmmm.  Mr. Rice is reportedly being paid this "fee" to broker settlements with other lawyers handling asbestos claims against the company.  As reported in The New York Times.


9:28:44 PM    

If it Sounds Too Good to be True. . .  Rexall Sundown, Inc agreed to repay consumers up to $12 million to settle charges of deceptive advertising by the Federal Trade Commission.  The company claimed that its dietary supplement, Cellasene, could erase your cellulite and give you "smoother-feeling legs and a firmer-looking appearance of your skin after just eight weeks."  The settlement will become final upon approval by a federal judge in Miami and completion of class action lawsuits in California and Florida.  As reported by The Associated Press in The Washington Post.
8:59:16 PM    

Monday, March 10, 2003
 

The Fat Lady is About to Sing.  Closing arguments occurred today in an Illinois class action lawsuit against Phillip Morris brought by smokers who alleged that they were deceived by labelling on "light" cigarettes.  The plaintiffs seek $7.1 billion (yes, that's with a "b") in compensatory damages and twice that amount in punitive damages.  As reported by Reuters in The Washington Post.
9:20:37 PM    

Asbestos Workers Can Recover for Fear of Cancer Only.  The United States Supreme Court ruled 5-4 today that workers exposed to asbestos who have asbestosis can recover damages for the fear of cancer if they can document their fears about their health, even though they may never develop cancer.  The six retired railroad workers who brought the lawsuit had obtained a $5.8 million dollar verdict against Norfolk & Western Railway Company in the trial court, which was reduced by the intermediate appellate court to $4.9 million dollars.  The significance of the ruling will be determined when state courts start to determine whether to extend it beyond the context of railroad workers.  The dissent pointed out the important point that allowing these workers to collect money means fewer dollars for those who do develop asbestos related cancer.  The opinion itself can be read here while the article reporting about the case can be read in The Washington Post.
9:03:13 PM    

Sunday, March 09, 2003
 

American University Law Professor Hanging Onto Job By a Thread.  In December, the District of Columbia Court of Appeals upheld a one year suspension of American University law professor Mark Hager from the practice of law and found that he engaged in "conflicts of interest, dishonesty" and "improper conduct" during his representation in 1997 of two women in a class action products liability lawsuit against Warner-Lambert, the maker of Nix lice shampoo.  The women challenged Warner-Lambert's representation that Nix shampoo was 99% effective.  During the suit, Hager and his co-counsel got $225,000 in "secret" fees and expenses from Warner-Lambert, while consumers got $10,000 in coupons.  Worse, Hager and his co-counsel agreed with Warner-Lambert not to tell their clients about the "secret" payments and agreed never again to represent claimants in similar claims.  As reported by The Washington Post.
10:41:50 PM    

FDA Proposes Standards for Supplements.  On Friday, the Food and Drug Administration proposed rules for labelling on dietary supplements.  As reported in The Associated Press


10:43:44 AM    

No Big Surprise.  A study released Saturday has scientifically proven what we already knew --- that a combination of eating fast food and watching television can cause obesity.  As reported by The Associated Press.  We may not have seen the end of lawsuits against food manufacturers seeking to hold them liable for allegedly making people obese.  Despite suffering a defeat earlier this year when a New York City federal judge dismissed a class action lawsuit against McDonald's blaming its food for obesity, plaintiffs' lawyers may take another bite at the apple in another forum and/or venue, especially if the study proves effects that may not have been obvious to us all.
10:35:58 AM    

Friday, March 07, 2003
 

Cell Phone Class Action Lawsuits Dismissed.  A federal judge dismissed five class action lawsuits against cell phone manufacturers that sought to require them to provide headsets to protect users from radiation emitted by the devices.  The federal judge reportedly dismissed the suits on the grounds that they are pre-empted by federal standards regulating cell phones.  As reported by The Associated Press in The New York Times.


11:19:40 PM    

Federal-Mogul Proposes Settlement.  Federal-Mogul Corp. proposes setting aside one-half of its stock to settle asbestos lawsuits.  As reported by The Associated Press in The New York Times.
11:13:44 PM    

Agency Refuses to Require Product Registration.  Today federal regulators refused a request from the Consumer Federation of America to require manufacturer's of children's products to include registration cards to be filled out by consumers and mailed back to the manufacturer.  The CFA wanted manufacturers to keep the registration information for twenty years to use to notify consumers of potential dangers of the products.  As reported by The Associated Press in The New York Times.


11:10:10 PM    

Victory for Gun Industry.  Today, a California state court dismissed thirty-eight gun manufacturers, distributors, and trade associations from a lawsuit brought against them by major cities, including Los Angeles, San Diego, and San Francisco.  The municipalities' lawsuit, patterned after the one brought by State attorney generals against the tobacco industry, claimed the industry created a public nuisance by supplying guns to ineligible buyers, violated state business laws by making misleading statements about the dangers of gun ownership, failed to incorporate safety features, and failed to prevent guns from falling into the hands of criminals and juveniles. As reported by Reuters in The New York Times.


10:54:24 PM    

Toyota Settles Clean Air Suit.  To settle a Clean Air Act lawsuit, Toyota has agreed to retrofit up to 3,000 diesel vehicles that it did not manufacture with modern antipollution devices.  The government's lawsuit alleged that in documents certifying compliance with the Clean Air Act, Toyota failed to disclose limitations in a diagnostic system that warns drivers of fluid leaks that can cause pollution.  However, the government does not want Toyota to do anything with the 2.2 million vehicles that triggered the lawsuit because, as the EPA says, "there is nothing wrong with the cars."  Toyota just "didn't follow the proper certification process."  As reported by The Washington Post.
10:03:12 PM    

Compensation Fund for Smallpox Vaccinations

Although not yet a "products liability" issue, I am concerned enough (personally and professionally) about what is happening with smallpox vaccinations to put it on by weblog.  As we all know, the United States government is in the process of immunizing healthcare workers and other emergency response personnel with the smallpox vaccination.  I previously reported that initially only eight persons out of over 7,000 vaccinated had developed what could be considered serious complications therefrom.  

Now, I read in The Washington Post here and here that The White House is supporting the establishment of a "compensation fund" for immunized health care workers.  Those who become sick or die from the vaccination would be entitled to lost wages, medical treatment, and a "one-time $262,100 payment."  All that in addition to the government trying to protect them first from a biological terrorist attack.  Perhaps those healthcare workers should simply be given the choice of either protecting themselves now or running the risk later of either dying a horrible death or becoming permanently disfigured.


9:43:31 PM    

Thursday, March 06, 2003
 

A New Feature For My Blog.  Starting today I will highlight recent opinions rendered by the United States Supreme Court and federal circuit courts of appeal in the area of products liability.  State supreme court decisions to follow soon.  See Recent Decisions to the left.


10:46:29 PM    

Wednesday, March 05, 2003
 

Congress Trying to Limit Asbestos Cases.  On Wednesday, the Senate Judiciary Committee heard testimony from lawyers, lawmakers, and victims regarding how to handle the more than 600,000 asbestos lawsuits and economic fallout that led to more than sixty bankruptcies since 2000 and a loss of approximately 60,000 jobs.  Senator Don Nickles (R) of Oklahoma seeks legislation requiring claimants to meet certain criteria using American  Medical Association guidelines and removing the statute of limitations so that those who do not have asbestos-related illnesses can retain their rights in the event that they do in the future.  As reported by Associated Press on findlaw.com.
9:34:11 PM    

New York County Bans Sale of Ephedra.  The sale of all dietary supplements containing ephedra was banned on Wednesday in Suffolk County, New York under legislation considered to be the first of its kind.  As reported by Associated Press on Findlaw.com


9:24:41 PM    

The Latest from Corpus.  According to The Associated Press, internal documents and emails released by the plaintiff's lawyers show Bayer executives discussing the possible dangers of Baycol long before it pulled the controversial drug from the market in 2001 after being linked to dozens of deaths.  Bayer's attorney, Phillip Beck, said the emails were taken out of context.  Bayer claims that there are approximately 7,800 lawsuits pending from former Baycol users.  Approximately 450 cases have been settled for $125 million.  Bayer is allegedly in negotiations to settle another 500 cases.  Mr. Beck reportedly said that "the company is taking responsibility for the drug and would rather compensate victims than fight them in court."  As reported in the Houston Chronicle.
8:45:35 PM    

FDA Recommends Warning for Arthritis Drug.  On Tuesday, an FDA advisory panel recommended that manufacturers of three biotech drugs used to treat rheumatoid arthritis warn patients about a possible link to incurable lymph cancer.  As reported in The Chicago Tribune.


8:23:24 PM    

Tuesday, March 04, 2003
 

First Lawsuit Filed As Result of Rhode Island Fire.  Relatives of two persons killed in the fire at The Station nightclub in Rhode Island filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the band, the club owners, the company that manufactured the club's insulation, and the fire inspector.  It is believed to be the first lawsuit filed as a result of the deadly blaze.  As reported by The Associated Press.
7:48:31 PM    


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