United States of America

Disc injury claims

Value of Injury Cases: Disc Injuries

I think it is useful to write about jury verdicts and give thoughts as to why I think the jury found as they did and the issues that arose in the case.  Why?  Because people are looking online for information about the value of their cases.  On our website, we provide a ton of verdict information for victims, many of which suffered a herniated disc.  This helps give some lens to the value of a case.  But it hardly tells the real story of the claim and why a jury may have valued it the way that they did.  So hopefully posts like this help educate those looking for answers.

Facts of Mayrink v. Luchsinger

This is a herniated disc case.   Plaintiff, a painter by trade, crashed into a median strip after being pushed off the road by the defendant who must have changed lanes without looking.   Usually, in these lane change cases, you almost invariably have a liability fight on your hands.  Defense counsel in this case, probably wisely, admitted responsibility.  Why is this wise?  Defense counsel often admits liability because they know if they fight and lose there is real credibility lost on the scope of the injuries battle.   By admitting fault, defendant seems more credible and honest than if they fight on liability and lose.  Continue reading

Things That Could Hurt You: Prilosec

What is it?

Prilosec-300x236Made by AstraZeneca, Prilosec is the brand name for a generic drug, omeprazole, used in combating acid reflux by reducing the amount of acid produced in the stomach.

Prilosec was the first of a class of drugs known as proton pump inhibitors (“PPIs”), which are prescribed to treat chronic heart burn, acid reflux, and other gastrointestinal maladies. The reason Prilosec works is its active ingredient, omeprazole. Nexium, another drug that has been the subject of a great number of lawsuits, is a big competitor with Prilosec.  There is so much money in PPIs.  The manufacturers of these drugs have been in litigation with each other for a very long time, battling over patents and profits.

How popular is it?

Following its introduction in 1989. Prilosec rocketed to widespread popularity. In 2013, Prilosec sales were $358.8 million – making the drug the second-highest-selling over-the-counter digestive remedy. Prilosec belongs to a class of acid-reducing medicines on which the public spends over $14 billion a year.

The active ingredient in Prilosec, Omeprazole, is a racemic mixture containing S- and R-enantiomers. Enantiomers are molecules that have two Non-superimposable mirror image forms Racemic mixtures, such as omeprazole, contain equal proportions of the two enantiomers. Continue reading

The antibiotic family of fluoroquinolones goes by many brand names, including Cipro, Levaquin, and Avelox. Every year, millions of Americans take fluoroquinolones to treat bacterial infections, including urinary tract infections, pneumonia, and bronchitis. Since the antibiotics work on a number of different conditions, they are popular among doctors.

Surprisingly Diverse Dangers

headache-300x199However, new studies indicate that these medications can also have serious side effects. These studies have linked fluoroquinolone use to risks like peripheral neuropathy. Peripheral neuropathy is a form of permanent nerve damage.  It can result in constant pain and often, limited mobility. In many cases, peripheral neuropathy is irreversible, which means that patients who develop it must live with pain and impairment for the rest of their lives.

Currently, several pharmaceutical companies are facing lawsuits filed by patients who have suffered irreversible peripheral neuropathy after taking fluoroquinolone. Evidence in court documents indicates that drug companies may have known about the nerve damage risks as early as 1996, but they did not remove these medications from the market or alert patients and doctors to the risks.

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The Essure Permanent Birth Control System was to provide women a safer, less involved (and painful) tubal ligation alternative. This medical device was triumphantly marketed as the “[only] sickwomanFDA-approved permanent form of birth control with a procedure that can be performed in an office setting without general anesthesia.” Unfortunately for the 750,000 women who have used this system since the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) approved it in 2002, both new scientific research and anecdotal evidence suggest that Essure has caused substantial injuries to thousands of patients, motivating calls among consumer advocates for the drug’s recall and spurring legal action.

How Essure Works and Why the System Appeals to Women

The Essure system consists of two flexible coils that are inserted into the Fallopian tubes in order to produce permanent sterilization. Both patients and doctors have liked Essure, at least conceptually, because the system offers a less-invasive solution than tubal ligation and other birth control surgeries, ostensibly with shorter healing time and fewer side effects. Premarket studies tracked women’s pregnancies before and after Essure implantation, leading Bayer to assert that the device is 99.83 percent effective at preventing pregnancy and that “mild to moderate pain” and “spotting” are the most common side effects.

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Today, a U.S. Judicial on Multidistrict Litigation panel of federal judges will hear arguments on Plaintiffs’ request to consolidate all of the knee and hip infection lawsuits that have been filed in Bair Hugger MDL Coming Soon?federal court claims the infection was allegedly caused by a 3M Bair Hugger warming blanket.

What These Bair Hugger Cases Are About

A Bair Hugger device is a temperature management system that is used during surgery.  The purpose of the invention is to help the body regulate the appropriate temperature. The Bair Hugger pushed hot air through a hose into a blanket specially made to work with the device. The hot air produced by Bair Hugger accumulates under the surgical drape covering the patient.  This hot air escapes under the surgical drape below the level of the surgical table or over top of it

Bair Hugger Forced Air Warming Device is designed, manufactured, and marketed by Defendants 3M Company and Arizant Healthcare, Inc.
There are more than 50,000 Bair Hugger FAWs in the United States.

How does it work? The Bair Hugger is a portable heater/blower connected by a flexible hose to a blanket, typically positioned the patient getting surgery.

Keeping a patient warm is particularly useful during knee and hip replacement surgery because the procedures tend to be very long.   The body loses heat increasingly over the course of surgery.

Another thing about metal hip and knee replacement surgery is that your body is particularly prone to infection. Why?  The metal helps spread the infection.

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A South Dakota judge ruled this week that health care providers are subject to negligent credentialing lawsuits when they fail to properly malletjusticecredential doctors.

Judge Bruce Anderson made another important ruling: that even people on the credentialing committee may be subject to suit.   This has not real practical implications because a hospitals is going to stand behind the committee.  But it is never fun to be sued personally even if you have no real exposure.

The judge also found that hospitals cannot claim peer review privileges, as an absolute defense against discovery requests.  This is very pro patient safety and could be a ruling that could start to erode the absolute defense from discovery; that has long been the case in Maryland and in most states. The judge’s logic: hospitals may have an obligation, in some cases, to the public that outweighs peer review confidentiality.  Makes a lot of sense to me.

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Legal writingThis is a sample demand letter in a relatively small case with approximately $8,000 in medical bills.  But this case settled for a lot more than any kind of simple multiplier of medical bills.   This times special damages math is dangerous when it causes plaintiffs’ personal injury lawyers (and victims) to substantially undervalue a claim.

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Bad news for Plaintiffs’ in the first liver damage lawsuit involving Tylenol.  A ten juror panel in New Jersey found for Johnson & Johnson (J&J) on all counts on Friday.  This is the first Tylenol liver damage lawsuit to go to trial.  It will not be the last. [See my 2017 update below.  [That “it will not be the last” statement is yet another thing I got wrong, as you will see in the 2017 update below.]

RisperdalclaimsThe lawsuit alleged that a 55 year old woman suffered liver damage as the result of the use of Extra Strength Tylenol.  But the jury seemed to find that the injuries occurred before she took Tylenol.

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Big update in the pelvic mesh lawsuits and it is not a good one.  A Texas jury yesterday found for Johnson & Johnson’s (J&J) Ethicon division in a Gravel and Moneypelvic mesh claim.  Twelve Dallas jurors found that the Prosima pelvic mesh, given to women who suffer from pelvic organ prolapse, was not defective in its design, and that J&J did not fail to properly inform doctors of the risks and problems associated with this product.   It was no slam dunk.  Unlike a lot of states, Texas does not require an unanimous verdict in civil cases.  So a 10-2 vote was good enough for J&J to eke out a win.

It is just one case, but I’m not going to lie, this was one the Plaintiffs’ wanted to win.  I’ll be honest about something else.  I’m surprised J&J let this case go to trial.  They have been picking off cases to avoid a bellwether effect on settlement value that is going to wildly increase the expectations of Plaintiffs and make these cases that much harder to settle.  On this one, they gambled and won.

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A recent study of jury verdicts found that the average personal injury jury verdict in Pennsylvania is $903,705.00.Pennsylvania Sign

Now let’s turn the kaleidoscope and look at the median.  If you remember from the 9th grade, the median is found by ranking the data from biggest to smallest, and then identifying the middle of the data so that there is an equal number that are larger and smaller on each side.  If you had 1001 data points, the 500th biggest number would be in the middle.

For many groups of data, the gap between the average and the median is the same or very close to it.  With personal injury verdicts, they are usually light years apart.  This is reflected in this new study that just came out in Pennsylvania.  The median compensatory award in Pennsylvania in the study was was $45,000.00

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