THE FIRM’S OCTOBER 2014 NEWSLETTER

NEWS

  • For many years now, our Firm has been involved in the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure. Members of the Firm raised money and participated in this important fundraiser and race in downtown Birmingham this month. Al.com reports a projected 11,000 participants converged on downtown Birmingham near City Hall for the 22nd annual event that kicked off with the ceremonial survivors’ walk. The race was expected to raise more than $800,000 for breast-cancer research. Donations for the Race for the Cure are welcome through Nov. 11 through the Susan G. Komen of North Central Alabama’s website at www.komenncalabama.org. Here is a picture of Bernard, David and Whitney just before beginning the 5K race.

 

  • Our friends at the King Simmons law firm support Church of the Reconciler Ministry that helps provide support for the homeless in Birmingham. In keeping with the Firm’s commitment of helping people in and out of the courtroom, we made a donation this month to this worthwhile ministry. To learn more about this important charitable organization or to make a contribution, go to churchofthereconciler.com
  • Election time is nearly on us. November 4th is election day. We hope you plan to go vote. While we usually do not give our friends and clients advice on who to vote for, this year we are making an exception for two particularly important races. Pat Ballard is running for Jefferson County Circuit Judge, Place 10. To find out more about Pat Ballard, visit his website: https://www.ballardforjudge.com. Martin Weinberg is running for Jefferson County Circuit Court Judge Place 3. To learn more about Martin, check out his website: https://supportmartin.com/. We believe Pat and Martin are the best candidates and that is why we are supporting them. Please vote on November 4.
  • Our good friend Mintrel Martin is raising money to help stop diabetes. In keeping with our commitment to helping people in and out of the courtroom we made a donation to the American Diabetes Association. For more information or to donate, go to https://main.diabetes.org/site/TR?px=10609588&pg=personal&fr_id=9951&et=8QohiUpbDCViaEOfUNYBWA&s_tafId=562329

RECENT CASES OF INTEREST

GM Defective Ignition Switch – General Motors (GM) recalled about 780,000 2005-07 Chevrolet Cobalt and Pontiac G5 vehicles on Feb. 13. Twelve days later, it expanded the recall to include an additional 590,000 model-year 2003-07 Saturn Ion, Chevy HHR, Pontiac Solstice, and Saturn Sky vehicles. It was later expanded again to include model-year 2006-2011 Chevy HHRs. The recall now encompasses 2.6 million vehicles. Court documents and other evidence reveal that GM knew about the ignition switch problem as early as 2001. The company says it has linked 31 crashes and 13 deaths to the faulty ignition switch, but an independent study commissioned by the Center for Auto Safety indicates the death toll exceeds 300.

Actos – The FDA has approved updated drug labels for Actos, usually prescribed to treat Type 2 diabetes. The new label states that the use of the drug for more than one year may be associated with an increased risk of bladder cancer.

Transvaginal mesh – The FDA has issued an updated safety communication warning doctors and patients that the placement of surgical mesh through the vagina to treat pelvic organ prolapse may present greater risk for the patient than other options. This is also called transvaginal mesh. According to the FDA, reported complications from using the mesh include the mesh becoming exposed or protruding out of the vaginal tissue, pain, infection, organ perforation and urinary problems.

Lipitor – a statin drug to treat high cholesterol, was approved by the FDA in 1996 and is one the best-selling prescription medications in the world. Recent studies have found a possible link between Lipitor and the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. A University of Massachusetts study found a potential link in postmenopausal women, particularly those who had a Body Mass Index (BMI) less than 30. Of the 153,840 women evaluated, more than 10,000 had developed Type 2 diabetes by the end of the study.

Viagra and Melanoma – A preliminary study indicates the erectile dysfunction drug Viagra (sildenafil) may increase the risk of developing melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer. The study, published in the JAMA Internal Medicine journal, analyzed data from nearly 26,000 men, 6 percent of whom had taken Viagra. The men who used Viagra at some point in their lives had about double the risk of developing melanoma compared to men who had never taken the drug. Men who were currently taking Viagra were at an 84 percent greater risk of developing melanoma. We are currently looking at cases involving men who are taking or have taken Viagra and were diagnosed with melanoma.

Risperdal, an atypical antipsychotic drug used to treat schizophrenia and certain problems caused by bipolar disorder, has been linked to the development of gynecomastia in boys and young men. Gynecomastia is a condition that causes boys to grow breasts. The drug is manufactured by Johnson & Johnson.

Metal-on-Metal Hip Replacement parts – The FDA has ordered a review of all metal-on-metal hip implants due to mounting patient complaints. Problems with the metal-on-metal devices include loosening, fracturing and dislocating of the device caused byinflammation in the joint space. We are investigating all cases involving metal-on-metal hip implants, including the DePuy Orthopaedics ASR XL Acetabular System and the DePuy ASR Hip Resurfacing System, recalled in August 2010; the Smith & Nephew R3 Acetabular System, recalled in June 2012; the Stryker Rejuvenate and ABG II modular-neck stems, recalled in July 2012; the DePuy Pinnacle, the Zimmer Durom Cup, the Wright Conserve, and the Biomet M2A and M2A-Magnum hip replacement systems, which have not been recalled. Reported problems include pain, swelling and problems walking.

Mirena – Mirena® is an IUD that was originally approved by the FDA as an intrauterine contraceptive. It was later approved as a treatment for heavy menstrual bleeding. It works by slowly releasing a low dose of levonorgestrel (a synthetic progestin hormone) directly into the uterus. Serious adverse side effects and potentially life-threatening complications have been reported following the implantation of the device. These complications include organ perforation, migration of the IUD to outside the uterus, expulsion of the IUD, and embedment in the uterus, among others.

CASES THE FIRM IS INVESTIGATING

BP CLAIMS DEADLINE – The deadline to file is JUNE 8, 2015. If you know of any business owners located in Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and the panhandle of Florida who have not had their business evaluated for a BP business economic loss claim, now is the time. Business economic loss claims have been paid to thousands of businesses regardless of their distance from the gulf, or their lack of direct business with the gulf coast. Causation (i.e., that BP impacted the economic loss of a business) is not required for the settlement. BP decided instead to use a simple revenue/economic loss test as the mechanism for qualification.

WHISTLEBLOWER / QUI TAM – Whistleblower claims of government fraud ranging from Medicare/Medicaid to military contracts, and any other type of fraud involving a government contract. Under the False Claims Act (FCA) the whistleblower is entitled to a percentage of the recovery. The law provides citizen-plaintiffs, called “relators,” with powerful incentives – sometimes up to 30 percent of the amount recovered – to report instances of fraud against the federal government. The relator must have first-hand knowledge of the fraudulent activity.
Common schemes involve double-billing for the same service, inaccurately coding services, and billing for services not performed. Studies show that as much as 10 percent of Medicare/Medicaid charges are fraudulent. Additionally, the Commission on Wartime Contracting has warned that the lack of oversight of government contractors has led to massive fraud and waste.

XARELTO – Lawsuits filed against Johnson & Johnson subsidiary Janssen Pharmaceuticals and Bayer Corp. over the blood thinner Xarelto have been consolidated in Louisiana federal court. Xarelto has been linked to serious side effects including internal bleeding, gastrointestinal bleeding, brain bleed and death.
The Xarelto lawsuits come on the heels of the recent $650 million Pradaxa settlement. Researchers linked Pradaxa, also a blood thinning medication, to more than 500 deaths. Xarelto blood thinner litigation has been consolidated before U.S. District Judge Eldon Fallon in the Eastern District of Louisiana, who presided over suits against Merck & Co. related to its medication Vioxx. The Vioxx litigation resulted in a $4.85 billion settlement in 2007.

SOCIAL SECURITY DISABILITY – If you think you or a loved one qualify for Social Security Disability benefits, please consider contacting us. We can guide you through the arduous process. https://www.huffingtonpost.com/brad-reid/a-social-security-disabil_b_6465746.html

NEW ARTICLES FROM NOMBLOG

WHAT OUR CLIENTS ARE SAYING ABOUT US

David settled a Jefferson County workers’ compensation case this month. Our client injured her back at work resulting in back surgery. Following mediation, a fair settlement was reached that paid our client for her impairment and vocational loss. Her former employer is responsible for future medical care related to her injuries sustained on the job. David’s client had this to say: “Thank you so much for your help. I know that you will do whatever is in the best interest of the case. I admire your honesty and whatever happens I trust that you are doing a great job.”

Donna P., Springville, Alabama

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Steve Altmann has been assisting consumers and business owners with bankruptcy matters for more than 27 years. 

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