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judge4Bellwether trials are the first trials in a mass tort case.  Cases are selected for trial that are thought to be representative of a particular issue in other cases in the class action.  While the results of the trial are not binding on anyone other than the parties to the trial, the results are considered to be instructive on the value of the cases.

Why are they called “bellwether”?  It is a good question.  I never had any idea.  In fact, for the first few years of my career I spelled it as “bellweather” trials.  No one every corrected me.  But apparently the genesis of the use of the word bellwether comes from belling a wether, which is a male sheep, who is elected to lead a group of sheep.  The farmer would determine whether the wether was a good choice for the bell if the flock seemed to trust the sheep who had the bell.  How this made its way in the MDL mass tort lexicon is anyone’s guess.

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agonized womanThe big news last week is that C.R. Bard will pay $21 million to settle 500 vaginal mesh lawsuits filed against it.

Good deal for plaintiffs?  Not so much.  This comes out to a little over $40,000 a case.  Most of the women in these complaints have suffered real injuries with organ damage.  So you get painful and often debilitating complications from these surgical mesh implants and you get $40,000?  What on earth is happening here besides C.R. Bard’s stock price shooting up after the announcement?

The Method to the Madness

I think C.R. Bard is playing a little psychology trick.  It is smart and it just might work a little unless the victims and their lawyers are smart.

If you ask the average vaginal mesh victim how much they expect to get in a settlement, the numbers would range from a few thousand dollars to millions.  No one is given any guidance on what the values of these cases are or even the ranges of values.  Lawyers talk themselves into circles when asked about the settlement value of the case.  No one wants to give a straight answer because no one wants to be wrong.  If you were to guess the outcome of the average settlement of a mass tort case from the beginning, you would probably be very wrong.  I like tracking the pay-per-click costs of drug injury cases.  They make the stock market seem stable.  The expected values of these cases rise and fall and rise and fall and where it stops no one knows.

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sickwomanBenicar, prescribed to treat hypertension and high blood pressure, keeps blood vessels from narrowing and improving blood flow.  Unfortunately, for some consumers, the side-effects far outweigh the benefits.  While first released on the market in 2002, it wasn’t until June 2013 that the FDA issued a warning that Benicar can cause sprue-like enteropathy.

Sprue-like enteropathy is a disorder which can present itself with side effects much like that of celiac disease.  Symptoms such as chronic diarrhea, substantial weight loss, vomiting, dehydration, villous atrophy, and even colon perforation – all serious side-effects, all of which typically stop once the medication is discontinued.  Which is pretty strong evidence of a connection, right? Continue reading →

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hairSome women are born with beautiful, straight hair – others will go to great “lengths” to get it.  Unfortunately, sometimes the damage far outweighs the benefits.

If you were one of the unlucky consumers that had drastically negative results from Suave’s Keratin treatments, hopefully you have filed your claim, as the deadline to file a claim under the Suave Keratin Infusion class action settlement has passed.  September 25th was the last day to file your claim for part of the $10.2 million that Unilever United States Inc. agreed to pay in order to settle a class action lawsuit accusing it of marketing and selling a Suave-brand hair treatment that causes significant hair loss.  Class Members of the proposed Suave Keratin settlement include all individuals who purchased or used the Suave Professionals Keratin Infusion 30-Day Smoothing Kit before Feb. 17, 2014.

Why are we writing about it now?  Good question.  It seems over. But there still seems to be a lot of interest out there so we thought we would take a look back at what happened here.

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viagraRecently, we told you that new studies are reporting that men who have used Viagra for ED had a significantly elevated risk of melanoma.  New studies prove there’s yet a new concern.

One of the most well recognized brand-name medications,Viagra is used to treat erectile dysfunction (ED) by relaxing muscles and increasing blood flow to particular areas of the body.  New research has indicated that approximately one out of every 50 men who have used Viagra may experience visual disturbances. These disturbances can include blurred vision, sensitivity to light, and even total blindness.

Researchers are now reporting that Viagra may not be suitable for men who carry a gene mutation associated with the inherited eye condition, retinitis pigmentosa.  Retinitis pigmentosa is a hereditary condition that causes progressive loss of light reception and the outer fields of vision, leading to tunnel vision and blindness.  As temporary visual disturbances have been reported by some people after taking sildenafil, a study investigating the effects on the retina of mice was conducted.

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MMsLogoThere is a recall of some ounce Theater Box M&M’s because they may be peanut butter M&Ms even though they are not marked that way.

What happened?  I don’t know.  The FDA says theater boxes labeled as “milk chocolate” actually contained “peanut butter” M&Ms.  Of course, peanut butter is not listed as an allergen on the outside box for regular M&Ms.
The boxes included in the recall were shipped to 30 states, including West Virginia, between May 8th, and July 1st of this year.  How long do theaters hold on to this stuff?  Who knows?

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testosteroneThese low T drug lawsuits have helped push the country towards taking a real look at the risks of these treatments and for me looking for a little fountain of youth.  It is sad that we need lawsuits to trigger a critical look at medical treatments that might be killing us, just like it is depressing that we need Adrian Peterson and Ray Rice to start a conversation about child abuse and domestic violence.  But not matter how we got here, it is good we are having the conversation.

This post will look at the FDA’s recent look at testosterone drugs and look at recent data indicating that Low T medications may increase the risks of catastrophic injuries, most notably heart attacks and strokes.  If you have a low T drug claim and want more information, we can do that for you in a very low stress, low pressure way.  Contact us online or call 800-553-8082.

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MirenaIUD

Mirena Lawsuits Gearing Up for Trial

With 600 Mirena IUD lawsuits already having been centralized in the federal MDL before Judge Cathy Seibel in the Southern District of New York, and over 1,000 more pending in state court, progress has been made to move toward trial in late 2015 (update: this has been revised to early 2016 – see below).

Does 2015 sound like forever from now?  It does.  But that is the way mass torts in the MDL proceed.  There is a lot of discovery we need to do to find out:

  1. What Bayer HealthCare Pharmaceuticals knew about the risks associated with IUDs in general and, specifically, with Mirena?
  2. Why didn’t the company do a better job of communicating the risks of uterine perforation and migration?
  3. What Bayer tried to do to make its IUD as safe as possible?
  4. Were profits the motive to avoid making the warning more clear?

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airbagThe mother of all recall was the Great Toyota Recalls of 2009-2011 when over 10 million Toyota vehicles were recalled for “unintended acceleration.”

Takata may have a more significant recall on tap for the problems it is having with its airbags.  Serious injuries and at least 2 deaths have been linked to these airbags, leading to a recall of a whopping 14 million vehicles manufactured by 11 different automakers between 2000 and 2011.

Now your first thought has to be relief because you are not driving a Takata car.  But that is the big difference between the Toyota debacle and this one.  This one involves a part supplier that made a component part for the vehicles.  So while you may not have heard of Takata, you have heard of Honda which was Takata’s biggest client.  That gets your attention.  Chances are, you or someone you love is driving a Honda. 

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Malik ‘Poot’ Carr: It’s a cold world, Bodie.
Preston ‘Bodie’ Broadus: Thought you said it was getting warmer, man.
Malik ‘Poot’ Carr: World going one way, people another.

xareltoI’ve been watching The Wire again of late.  I thought of this exchange when I found out that in spite of the Xarelto lawsuits being filed and the massive number of television commercials you are seeing from personal injury lawyers talking about the risks of Xarelto, Johnson & Johnson and Bayer intend to move forward with plans to push the FDA drug for additional uses.  This comes in spite of all of these excessive bleeding lawsuits and the fact that the FDA has already shot down these attempts on three separate occasions.  The litigation (and justice?) world is going one way, the business people at these drug companies are going another. 

The game plan to conduct three studies to investigate the efficacy and safety of Xarelto in people who have had an embolic stroke of undetermined source, people with peripheral artery disease undergoing peripheral artery interventions, and individuals who have had an acute coronary syndrome. Continue reading →