Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Pittsburgh Actos Bladder Cancer Lawsuits May Soon Settle

Actos bladder cancer lawsuit settlement.

As a Pittsburgh lawyer actively handling Actos bladder cancer lawsuits I am optimistic that my clients' cases may soon settle for money compensation.  Takeda, the maker of Actos, has offered $2.2 Billion for settlement of all current Actos bladder cancer lawsuits including Pittsburgh Actos lawsuits as reported by Bloomberg here.  If this Actos bladder cancer lawsuit settlement were accepted, it would result settlements for Pittsburgh patients with bladder cancer after taking diabetes drug Actos in the range of $275,000 per patient.

Actos (pioglitazone) is a member of a controversial class of drugs known as thiazolidinediones, which have been linked to serious cardiovascular injuries. Since 2007, Actos has been one of the most popular drugs in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania for treating Type 2 diabetes.  Actos has been sold since 1999 and its side effects are still being studied.

 In 2012 a large cohort study of Actos was done.  This Actos study showed that Actos was associated with an increased rate of bladder cancer. The rate of bladder cancer from Actos increased the longer patients took Actos.  The highest rate of bladder cancer was seen in patients that had taken Actos for more than two (2) years. For patients in Pittsburgh that have taken or are taking Actos, the conclusion of the study is that Actos is associated with an increased risk of bladder cancer among people with type 2 diabetes.

Though the Actos lawsuit settlement has not been finalized it could happen any time.  Anyone in Pittsburgh with Type II diabetes who as been diagnosed with bladder cancer after taking Actos are encouraged to contact a lawyer to file their claims as soon as possible.

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Thursday, April 2, 2015

Superbug Reaches Pittsburgh Hospital

The superbug CRE outbreak that struck UCLA hospital in February has come to Pittsburgh.  Allegheny General Hospital (AGH) has had at least one patient confirmed to have contracted a strain of deadly carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE) after undergoing an endoscopic procedure called ERCP.  At this time, it is believed that the patient contracted CRE due to certain Olympus medical scopes that still carried the deadly bacteria even after disinfection guidelines were followed by AGH personnel.  At this time, there are no allegations that AGH did anything wrong.

Instead, legal allegations are pointing at the endoscopes and potentially substandard cleaning instructions published by manufacturer Olympus Corporation as the cause of the life-threatening problem.  Multiple media outlets report that the Olympus Corporation which manufactured the endoscopes linked to the deadly superbug infections never obtained approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the device.  As a result, it is alleged that the cleaning instructions that accompanied the scopes in question was inadequate.
 
CNN reported that an internal review at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center found that the cleaning protocols set by the FDA and scope manufacturers still didn't remove the superbug from the devices.  In fact, the superbug was "embedded" in the scopes even after cleaning, said Dr. Robert Cherry, chief medical and quality officer of the UCLA Health System.

The scope arrived on the market in 2010, and stayed on the market for more than four years before the FDA realized the device was never cleared.  A picture of the Olympus TJF-Q180V scope implicated in the most recent CRE outbreaks is pictured below.



Duodenoscopes are most commonly used to do procedures on the gallbladder, pancreatic ducts, and the bile ducts, which are a series of thin tubes that reach from the liver to the small intestine.

Attorney Brendan Lupetin of Pittsburgh based Meyers Evans & Associates has filed the first lawsuit in Pennsylvania against Olympus Corporation for injuries sustained by a local woman as a result of contracting the deadly CRE superbug as a result of exposure to an Olympus duodenoscope.  Lupetin has been previously interviewed by the Associated Press in regards to an earlier outbreak of CRE.  The complaint has been filed in the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny and can be read in full below.

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Sunday, December 7, 2014

Target Labels Customer as Counterfeitter Hit with Big Verdict


As a Pittsburgh lawyer who handles a lot of slip and fall lawsuits, I run into Target Corp. as a defendant from time to time.  I am fascinated by the extent of their electronic surveillance system that is maintained by their "Asset Protection," personnel.   Target is the industry leader in surveillance of its employees and patrons.  Unfortunately, Target can get a little carried away with the power their surveillance wields.  A good example is what happened in the case of Cantrell v. Target Corp.

The Cantrell case started back on Feb. 23, 2006, when the plaintiff Ms. Cantrell, a woman in her mid-50s who worked in retail sales, went shopping at a Target store. Court records reflect that Cantrell tried to pay for her purchases with a $100 bill. The cashier thought it was counterfeit, but did not tell her. He said he didn't have change for $100. He conferred with another Target employee who also looked at the bill and thought it appeared suspicious. The second employee contacted one of the store's an asset protection specialists who also examined the bill and thought it looked too crisp and too new. He contacted his supervisor, who told him to work with another loss prevention specialist. They then determined that they would not accept the bill.

The asset protection specialists returned to Cantrell, who had been waiting 10 to 15 minutes, told her they couldn't accept the bill and asked her if she had another form of payment. Cantrell was annoyed. She set down the merchandise on the counter, took her $100 bill and left the store.

The employees thought that was suspicious, so they took her photograph via a hidden surveillance camera. Another asset protection specialist, came into work. He met with the first asset protection specialist. They composed an e-mail and sent it to the Carolina Organized Retail Theft Task Force, which includes Kmart, Wal-Mart, Lowes, Home Depot, Sears and JC Penny, as well as law enforcement agencies. Her photo was attached to the e-mail. In addition, a telephone call was placed to at least one other Target store in the Greenville area giving a description of Cantrell and saying, "She's trying to pass counterfeit bills, be on the lookout for her."

Cantrell went to another Target store, where the asset protection personnel kept tabs on her on closed circuit television. She leaves the store without incident. A couple of days later, she returns to Target and pays with the bill. While on the way out the door an asset protection specialist stops and asks if she paid with a $100 bill. She says, yes, and she confirms that the bill is hers when it was presented to her. She is told the store cannot accept the bill, and is asked if she has another form of payment. She says no. She gives back the merchandise and the change, retrieves her $100 bill and leaves.

Cantrell then goes to a local bank and shows them the bill, where it's confirmed that the bill is legitimate. She then goes to her job at Belk's department store, which is also a member of the task force. The Belk's loss protection people have received the e-mail with her photo and they call Target. Target sends Belk's additional images of Cantrell, including a photo of her car, which Belk's easily matches to Cantrell's car that is parked in the employee parking lot. Belk's asset protection personnel go to a supervisor who advises them to call the authorities. Secret Service arrives. Cantrell produces the bill and it's the Secret Service quickly determines that it's genuine.
Belk's sends an e-mail to the task force saying the bill is authentic and the previous e-mail should be disregarded.

Cantrell sued Target Corp. for defamation, alleging that the e-mail was sent with reckless disregard for the truth of the allegations. Her case was expertly handled by attorney Robert Ransom.  Attorney Ransom noted that Target employees received no training to detect counterfeit bills. It also appeared that the employees at the Greenville store had violated several Target policies in handling this situation. Plaintiff's counsel asked Target what it did to make sure that those who had received the original e-mail were informed that the allegations were false. Target answered that it had done nothing to set the record straight.

Plaintiff's counsel noted that the man who sent the e-mail admitted in deposition that he had never seen the $100 bill. He admitted he didn't know whether it was counterfeit. He said Cantrell didn't fit the profile of a counterfeiter and he didn't think she'd knowingly tried to pass the counterfeit bill.
Target claimed qualified privilege, arguing that it had immunity from any defamatory e-mail it may have sent.

Plaintiff's counsel countered that Target had exceeded the proper scope of the privilege by sending the e-mail to people who had no legitimate interest in receiving that information.
Injury Text:

Cantrell claimed that she was extremely distressed, thinking that everyone knew about this accusation. She was very active in her church and a number of fellow parishioners worked at various retail stores in the area. She was embarrassed and upset and became paranoid about shopping in stores with surveillance cameras. She feared there would be another incident. She lost sleep and lost her appetite, dropping 40 pounds. Her doctor prescribed Valium to help her sleep. She sought $200,000 in actual damages and $1 million to $1.7 million in punitive damages.
Defense counsel also claimed that Cantrell's allegations of mental distress were bogus and she'd made a fraudulent claim of emotional distress.

The jury clearly did not like what they heard about Target and rendered a verdict of $3,100,000- $3 million of which was for punitive damages.

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Saturday, December 6, 2014

Target Can't Explain Missing Surveillance Footage - Hit with Verdict


Target Stores was hit with a jury verdict for failing to have proper product guards in place, which led to a woman falling and sustaining serious injuries.  Though videos and pictures were expected to exist, which would have showed the incident, Target could not explain their absence.


In the case of McFarland v. Target Corp.,  plaintiff Ms. McFarland, 50, a part-time server, was shopping at a Target retail store on Aug. 4, 2011. McFarland was in the See Spot Save dollar aisle when she stepped on a plastic placement, which had reportedly fallen from the shelf onto the floor, causing her to land on her elbow and fracturing it.

McFarland sued Target on claims of premises liability.  She was well represented by attorney Rocky Wilkins.

According to plaintiff's counsel, Target reportedly admitted that small items routinely fall onto the floor in this area of the store, and that it should have used safety guards on the shelves in this area, because the use of such guards prevented merchandise from falling onto the floor.

McFarland's counsel maintained that Target failed to use these safety guards on all portions of shelving, including the area where these place mats were stocked. Plaintiff's counsel faulted Target for negligently stocking merchandise on its shelves in a manner in which the store knew routinely resulted in merchandise on the floor. Moreover, Target had actual knowledge of an ongoing/pervasive hazard on its premises: merchandise regularly falling from shelves and creating tripping hazards for customers.
McFarland's counsel asserted that Target failed to preserve photographs taken following the incident, which resulted in the court granting plaintiff spoliation inference. The only photographs offered into evidence were taken approximately three to four months after the subject incident, which were taken by Target's attorneys. The photographs reportedly showed merchandise hanging over the edge of the shelving in areas without safety guards.

According to plaintiff's counsel, Target called no witness to definitively testify as to whether or not video footage did or did not exist; as a result, McFarland received a spoliation instruction with respect to the video footage.

The defense maintained that, since McFarland could not prove how long this particular place mat was on the floor, Target could not be liable. The defense asserted that McFarland was contributorily negligent for the accident.

McFarland was taken by her daughter to an emergency room, where she was x-rayed and diagnosed with an avulsion fracture to her left elbow. Her arm was placed in a sling, and McFarland followed up with an orthopedic surgeon.  About a month later, McFarland underwent surgical repair of her fracture, and she eventually underwent a course of physical therapy. No further treatment was administered. McFarland sought to recover approximately $55,000 in past medical expenses and about $11,000 in lost earnings.
McFarland's orthopedic surgeon testified about plaintiff's injury and the treatment that she required. The physician opined that she will require as-needed follow-up care, including therapy and orthopedic exams. She sought to recover about $60,000 in future medical costs.

McFarland said that she continues to experience pain and limited range of motion in her arm, which contains a surgical scar. She sought to recover unspecified amounts in damages for past and future pain and suffering, past and future emotional distress, permanent impairment and scarring. (Plaintiff's counsel requested $1 million in damages, in closing.) McFarland's husband sought to recover $10,000 in damages for his claim for loss of consortium.  The defense did not dispute McFarland's injuries and treatment.

 The jury determined that the defendants were negligent by failing to keep their store in a reasonably safe condition, or by failing to warn of hazardous condition of which the defendants were aware or should have been aware.

The jury determined that the defendants' negligence proximately caused McFarland's injuries, and that McFarland was 20 percent liable for causing her own injuries.

The McFarlands were determined to receive $500,000, which was accordingly reduced to $400,000.


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Thursday, December 4, 2014

Verdict Against Target for Soap Spilled by Employee

Target Corporation was found responsible for slip and fall injuries in the lawsuit of Sapp v. Target Cor.  This slip and fall lawsuit began on Oct. 31, 2008, when the plaintiff, Mr. Sapp, an unemployed 48-year-old man, was walking in a Target store.  While shopping he slipped and fell on liquid soap. Sapp suffered injuries to both knees.  He sued Target for premises liability.

Sapp contended that one of Target's employees spilled liquid soap on the floor and failed to follow any of Target's procedures for warning of a spill, such as placing a cone down.  Target denied responsibility and argued that Sapp was distracted when he was walking and did not observe the spill.  Target forced Mr. Sapp to trial where he was well represented by attorney J. Scott Gunn.


Sapp complained of immediate left knee pain, but did not have complaints of right knee pain until about one month after the fall.  In fact, Sapp suffered a torn meniscus in each knee. He underwent four arthroscopic surgeries, two to each knee. Defense counsel conceded the left knee was injured in the fall. Counsel also agreed that the submitted medical bills were reasonable.

Target hired an orthopedic doctor to mitigate Mr. Sapp's claim for dmages.  Target's hired doctor opined that the extra pressure on the right knee caused by using a crutch would have caused right knee pain, but not damage to the meniscus.  Target attempted to use this opinion to contend that the delay in pain in the right knee meant Sapp's knee was not injured in the accident.  The jury did not buy into Target's argument.  After three hours of deliberation, the jury returned a verdict of $230,802.  The verdict was comprised of $50,802 Personal Injury: Past Medical Cost; $80,000 Personal Injury: Past Pain And Suffering; and $100,000 Personal Injury: Future Pain And Suffering.



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Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Target Store Slip and Fall Verdict


This slip and fall in a Target store occurred on July 21, 200.  Plaintiff Ms. Walker, 40, a retail clerk, was in a Target store in the Philadelphia area when she slipped and fell in one of the aisles.  When Target refused to pay fair compensation for her injuries, attorney Ed Chacker took Target to trial before a jury and got a great verdict

Claiming premises liability, Walker sued Target Stores Inc. and Target Corp. Walker argued that a pharmacist on duty at the time of the incident was in the aisle when a customer reported a spill. After being notified, the pharmacist abandoned the spill to retrieve warning cones. In the meantime, Walker walked down the aisle unaware of the spill.  Walker then slipped on the spilled liquid.  Walker's attorney argued that the pharmacist was negligent for choosing to leave the hazardous spill unguarded in the aisle and for failing to warn Target's customers like Walker.

Target, of course, denied the allegations. Instead of accepting responsibility, Target blamed Walker for not paying attention to where she was walking.

The day after her fall, Walker woke up with a severe headache. She visited her family physician, complaining of dizziness, blurred vision and pain in her back, left foot and left elbow. She had a CAT scan, which came back as normal. Soon after, she had an EMG and was diagnosed with a status post-cerebral concussion, lumbar strain and sprain, right C5 and left L5 radiculopathy, bilateral C8 and right L5 radiculopathy, right epicondylitis, sprain of the plantar fascia of the left foot and post-concussion syndrome. She began physical therapy, which she underwent through May 2004.
A year after the accident, Walker still complained of blurred vision, headaches, neck and upper back pain, and some numbness and tingling in her upper extremities and lower left leg. She saw neurologist Steven Mazlin for ongoing treatment. Mazlin testified that Walker's condition resulted from her slip and fall, and that the fall exacerbated a previously quiescent migrainous disorder and "unmasked a case of so-called latent MS."  Walker was also diagnosed with a disc bulge at L5-S1, for which she underwent chiropractic treatment from February 2004 to February 2006. In 2006, she received three Lidocaine injections and was fitted with orthoses.  She was also diagnosed with depression and anxiety.

Walker sought $54,420 in past medical specials and $9,761 in past lost wages, having missed 18 weeks of work. She sought an unspecified amount for past and future pain and suffering.

The jury rendered a verdict in Walker's favor of  $250,000


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Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Verdict in Oil and Gas Fracking Nuisance Lawsuit

In follow up to my recent post on Pennsylvania private nuisance lawsuits to battle harms caused by oil and gas fracking I stumbled upon a recent $3 million verdict in Texas on a nuisance lawsuit.  Here are a few links to articles about the notable nuisance case, one of the first of its kind (most of these lawsuits are settled before trial):

Fracking Went On Trial

Texas Family's Nuisance Complaint Seen as a Win Against Fracking

 Jury Awards Texas Family $2.9M For Fracking Nuisance Claim

Law360.com reports that the Parrs (the injured family) had sought damages from Aruba Petroleum Inc., alleging the 22 wells Aruba operated within a two-mile radius of their land exposed them to hazardous gases, chemicals and industrial waste that made them so sick they couldn’t work and at times had to live in Bob Parr's office instead of at their home. The Parrs attributed their illnesses to benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, xylene and other volatile organic compounds used to frack the wells, and said their home had been assaulted by smells and noise from the wells since drilling started.

Reports indicate that in a 5 to 1 verdict, the jury did not find Aruba’s conduct was abnormal and out of place for its surroundings but said it did take intentional steps to cause substantial interference with the Parr family’s use of its 40-acre homestead west of Fort Worth. The jury did not find Aruba acted with malice, and rejected the Parrs’ claim for exemplary damages, but awarded them damages for physical and mental pain and anguish and for loss of market value for the land.  The Parrs were represented expertly by Texas trial attorney Brad Gilde of Gilde Law Firm based in Houston, Texas.

There is little doubt with all of the oil and gas drilling occurring right now in our state that many Pennsylvania residents are experiencing the same type of symptoms as the Parrs.  Because of this amazing verdict oil and gas companies will hopefully take notice of the risk they face from substantial verdicts if they do not safely undertake their oil and gas fracking.

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