Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Podcast: Why sending defendants to religious work camps could be illegal

A nonprofit group is asking 24 Oklahoma courts to stop sending defendants to a Christian drug rehabilitation center that forces them to attend church and work for free at a chicken plant. According to Reveal by The Center for Investigative Reporting, The Freedom From Religion Foundation says sending people to Christian Alcoholics & Addicts in Recovery violates religious liberties established by the First Amendment. Three men who were sent there have filed a class action lawsuit against the rehab center, claiming they were forced into slave labor by having to work in the chicken plant without getting paid. A podcast by the reporters who investigated the case is available here.

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MO Appeals Court Vacates $72 Million Talc Cancer Verdict for Non-Resident Plaintiff

A family photo of Jacqueline Fox and her son, Marvin Salter.

A family photo of Jacqueline Fox and her son, Marvin Salter.

The Missouri Court of Appeals vacated a $72 million verdict against Johnson & Johnson, ruling that the trial court could not take jurisdiction over the company because its activities in Missouri did not give rise to the claims of the non-residents who bought and used its products elsewhere.

In February 2016, a St. Louis Circuit Court jury awarded $72 million to the family of Jacqueline Fox of Birmingham, AL, who used Johnson’s baby powder for 35 years. She was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2013 and died last year.

Fox was one of 63 out-of-state plaintiffs who sued J&J under Missouri Rule 52.05, which allows non-residents to join resident plaintiffs when all their claims arise out of the same transactions or occurrences.

J&J is incorporated and headquartered in New Jersey. Missouri courts historically have exercised personal jurisdiction over defendants as to joined non-residents’ claims so long as jurisdiction exists as to the residents’ claims.

Consistent with this practice, the trial court determined that specific personal jurisdiction existed, reasoning that J&J’s alleged conduct satisfied Missouri’s long-arm statute (§506.500) and minimum contacts.

Reversal due to Bristol-Myers Ruling

The appeals court reversed and vacated the verdict based on the 2017 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. v. Superior Court (BMS) that a non-resident plaintiff must establish an independent basis for specific personal jurisdiction over the defendant in the state.

In BMS, a group of more than 600 plaintiffs, mostly non-residents, sued BMS in
California for injuries allegedly caused by the drug Plavix. The California courts had
rejected BMS’s challenge to personal jurisdiction on the non-residents’ claims, reasoning, similar to the Missouri trial court, that BMS’s extensive contacts in the state supported jurisdiction, particularly because the non-residents’ claims were similar to residents’ claims.

The U.S. Supreme Court reversed, holding that specific personal jurisdiction requires a connection between the forum state and the specific claims at issue. “When there is no such connection, specific jurisdiction is lacking regardless of the extent of a defendant’s unconnected activities in the state.” 137 S.Ct. at 1781.

The Missouri appeals court said, “The fact that resident plaintiffs sustained similar injuries does not support specific jurisdiction as to non-resident claims.”

The ruling could overturn three other recent St. Louis jury verdicts of more than $200 million combined against the New Jersey-based health care giant, which has also appealed the cases.

The plaintiffs in the talc cases allege strict liability for failure to warn, negligence, breach of express and implied warranty, civil conspiracy, concert of action, and negligent representation, alleging that Johnson & Johnson marketed and sold its talc products knowing that they increased consumers’ risk of ovarian cancer.


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Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Mass Tort Judge Signals Settlement in Taxotere Hair Loss MDL

Telegraphing that there will be a settlement in Taxotere chemo drug products liability litigation, the judge in the mass tort docket ordered plaintiff attorneys to file information about all pending and anticipated claims “so that “claimants may have the opportunity to participate in any eventual resolution process.”

US District Judge Kurt D. Engelhardt directed Pretrial Order No. 60 to the Plaintiff’s Settlement Committee that he appointed shortly after the multidistrict litigation docket was created last October 2016.

To date plaintiffs have filed 1,624 lawsuits in MDL 2740, IN RE: Taxotere (Docetaxel) Products Liability Litigation, in the Eastern District of Louisiana. Hundreds of additional cases may exist.

Total, permanent hair loss

Taxotere is manufactured by Sanofi. However, half of the cases in the MDL involve generic and quasi-generic manufacturers, whose products obtained FDA approval under 21 USC Sec. 505(b)(2) and not through the more traditional generic approval under 21 USC Sec. 505(j).

The plaintiffs charge that they experienced total, permanent hair loss following treatment with the chemotherapy drug. While Taxotere was first approved to treat breast cancer in 1996, it wasn’t until December 2015 that mention of permanent alopecia (hair loss) was included on the drug’s U.S. label. t is true that alopecia is a common side effect of chemotherapy.

Temporary alopecia is a common side effect of chemotherapy, but permanent, disfiguring hair loss is not.

Attorneys have until October 16 to file spreadsheets that include the plaintiffs’:

  • Name and date of birth.
  • City and state where docetaxel was ingested.
  • Facility where docetaxel was administered.
  • Start and stop date of docetaxel use.
  • Name of manufacturer.
  • Filing state, jurisdiction and case number.

The information must be updated quarterly to BrownGreer’s MDL Centrality program, which is a custom-built platform designed specifically to streamline the exchange of information in MDLs and other mass tort cases. 

The Plaintiff’s Settlement Committee will use the data to analyze the strength of the cases in furtherance of a settlement. “Should this litigation advance to the point where a resolution program is underway, the Court may then address methods and vehicles for Responsible Attorneys and Covered Individuals to provide similar information to the Defendants for their review, analysis and verification,” Judge Engelhardt says.

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Monday, October 16, 2017

Attracting New Trucking Leads with the Web, TV and a Book

Dino Colombo is a successful personal injury attorney. Like you, he’s in a very competitive market and invests lots of money to capture the attention of prospects and make his phone ring.

He  has a great website. He advertises on TV. And he is constantly looking for new and better ways to engage his audience, generate new leads, and gain more clients.

His message is powerful, but his 15 and 30 second TV ads and YouTube videos – though effective and well produced – didn’t allow him to say very much. Dino wanted to find a way to say it differently.

Colombo, based in Morgantown, WV, has litigated complex personal injury and wrongful death cases for the past 26 years. Over those years, he has tried nearly 100 cases to verdict and has handled numerous appeals. His cases routinely involve permanent injury, such as brain injury or significant physical deformity.

A resource to his community

He markets by being a resource to his community and provide information for people searching for answers. He does this through the pages of his book.

Dino is now using his book, Never Settle for Less, in his TV advertising to attract more people to request a free copy of his book. Instead of saying the same things the other attorneys in his market are saying, Dino is saying a different message and offering a free resource in his book.

And when someone requests his book, Dino signs it to them and mails it to them. How many times have you received a signed copy of a book from the author? Do you think this makes an impact? Do you think they start to like Dino better? Do you think they will keep his book after they read it?

If you answered “yes” to all of those questions then you understand the power of being an author.

The book works to attract new leads. He uses it to engage with leads so they’ll come to know, like, and trust him more than his competitors. And he uses his book to retain clients for life. 

Dino can also use the book to gain referrals. By handing a few copies of his book to current clients whom he is helping, they will happily hand his book to their friends, neighbors, family members, and co-workers when they are discussing their case. This is a tremendous way to get his message into the hands of more people and become the authority in his market.

Dino found a way to take his message and say if differently. And now, Dino has a tool in his marketing arsenal that he’ll be using for the rest of his career. He paid for it once and it will be paying him back for the rest of his career.

Note: Dino’s advertising costs did not increase one penny. He was already running and paying for the TV ads. All he did was change the message and offer his book for free.

To stand out in today’s ultra-competitive market, you need to be different. The easiest way to do that is to become the author of your own book. You’ll be seen as the authority and you’ll convert more clients using your own book.

Will you make your own way or follow in their footsteps?

Michael DeLon is an author, marketing coach, and President of Paperback Expert

Michael DeLon is an author, marketing coach, and President of Paperback Expert. He can help you create your own book, become the recognized legal authority in your market, and use your book to convert more callers to clients and generate profits.

He can be reached at and (501) 539-0038.

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$62 Million Medical Malpractice Verdict to Man Who Lost Leg

A Rhode Island jury awarded $40 million to a 62-year-old man who lost his right leg due to severe blood clotting after doctors erroneously told him to stop taking blood thinners.

The award will increase to $62 million with interest for Plaintiff Peter Sfameni of North Providence. He has a genetic blood-clotting disorder that requires him to take blood thinners. Doctors at Rhode Island Hospital kept him off the thinners for 16 days for a biopsy, causing life-threatening blood clots in his legs and lungs.

Doctors administered high doses of anticoagulants, but it was too late to save his right leg, which developed gangrene.

The plaintiff was 55 years old when he went to the hospital in December 2010, complaining of pain in his lower back, fatigue, and weight loss. The physicians at the hospital advised him to stop taking his blood thinners so that a diagnostic colonoscopy could be performed to rule out lymphoma.

By the time the man returned to the hospital two days later, he had been off of his blood thinners for ten days. He was determined to be hyper-coagulated at that time and was admitted to the hospital. Afer a bone-marrow biopsy was done, one of the doctors at the hospital recommended that he resume talking blood thinners, but the order was canceled. Sfameni was discharged with instructions to stay off of blood thinners until a second biopsy, which was scheduled for six days later.

Following a two-week trial before Superior Court Judge Kristin Rodgers, the jury held that Drs. John M. Ryan and Eric S. Winer were negligent in treating Sfameni.

$62 Million Medical Malpractice Verdict to Man Who Lost Leg posted first on

Friday, October 13, 2017

MO Supreme Court Upholds $38 Million Verdict in Depakote Birth Defect Trial

Internally, Abbott referring to Depakote as a “dirty drug.”

The Supreme Court of Missouri has upheld a $38 million award to a Minnesota woman who was born with spina bifida and other birth defects after her mother took Depakote while she was pregnant.

Abbot Laboratories makes Depakote, an anti-epilepsy drug. Plaintiff Maddison Schmidt proved that the label for Depakote, which company documents referred to as a “dirty drug,” failed to warn adequately of serious dangers of birth defects.

The Supreme Court said that “there was evidence Abbott was aware there were studies indicating Depakote was much more dangerous in terms of birth defects than its label suggested. In addition, there was evidence presented that, despite this knowledge, Abbott conducted no independent research or studies of its own to evaluate Depakote’s risks for birth defects.

Marketing a defective drug

There was evidence showing Abbott instead spent $50 million to $100 million per year marketing Depakote, sought to “squeeze every dollar and every [prescription for Depakote] out of the market.”

The Supreme Court shot down Abbott’s argument that it was prejudiced because the trial was in the City of St. Louis Circuit Court. Abbott claimed without evidence the court was biased.

Depakote’s label stated: there was clinical literature indicating “the use of antiepileptic drugs during pregnancy results in an increased incidence of birth defects;” Depakote had “a possible similar association” as other antiepileptic drugs to birth defects; and the Centers for Disease Control estimated the risk of pregnant women exposed to Depakote having children with spina bifida was only 1 or 2 percent.

Schmidt, however, presented evidence Abbott was aware of multiple studies concluding: (1) Depakote posed a considerably higher risk of overall birth defects than other antiepileptic drugs, and should be avoided by women of childbearing potential unless all other alternatives had been tried and failed; (2) the overall risk of birth defects was 10 percent or even greater; (3) the risk of spina bifida was significantly higher than 1 or 2 percent; and (4) the risk of spina bifida amounted to a twentyfold increased risk compared with the background rate in the general population.


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Thursday, October 12, 2017

Safety Tips for Driving Around Semi-Trucks

According to the Federal Motor Carrier Association’s “2017 Pocket Guide to Large Truck and Bus Statistics,” there were 480,000 crashes involving large trucks and busses in 2016. While that number is far smaller than the number of car accidents, crashes involving large trucks and busses can cause substantial damage to passenger-sized vehicles due to the massive size of these commercial vehicles.

“Large trucks and buses (commercial motor vehicles or CMVs) have operating limitations such as large blind spots, long stopping distances, and limited maneuverability that make it essential for other vehicles to put extra focus on safety,” according to the FMCSA. As the driver of a passenger-sized car, truck, or SUV, there are things you can do to avoid experiencing or causing an accident with a commercial vehicle, such as a semi-truck or bus.

Here are some suggestions from the FMCSA:

  • Be aware that large commercial vehicles have major blind spots, also known as “No Zones.” These are located around the front, back and sides of commercial vehicles. Essentially, if you cannot see the driver’s face in the truck or bus’s side mirror, the driver cannot see you. One of the best ways to avoid a truck accident is to stay out of the truck’s blind spot.
  • When you pass a commercial vehicle, make sure that you are able to see the driver in the side mirror before you pass. Use your turn signal and after moving into the left lane, accelerate so you can pass the truck (and get out of the blind spot) as quickly and safely as possible.
  • If a truck or bus tries to pass you, don’t try to prevent them from passing. Instead, stay in the right lane and slow down a little so it’s easy for them to pass. By helping the driver pass you, it gets you out of their blind spot quickly.
  • Never pass a semi-truck or bus while driving downhill, when it’s difficult for them to stop or slow down. Also, never pass a commercial vehicle from the right lane.
  • Never “cut off” a semi-truck or bus, even if the driver is being aggressive or reckless. Remember, it’s not about who’s right or wrong, it’s about who’s left.
  • Do not tailgate a truck or bus, no matter how slow they’re going. This places you in the “No Zone,” the blind spot. If the truck comes to a sudden stop, your vehicle can slide right under the truck.
  • Remember, trucks make WIDE turns. If a truck is turning right, do not try to squeeze in between the truck and the curb to beat the truck driver to the turn.

Need a Smyrna truck accident attorney? Contact Jones & Swanson for a free consultation at (770) 884-6652.

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