News & Results

Risperdal Settlement of $5.9 Million in Montana

April 18th, 2014

In 2008, Montana’s attorney general filed a lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson, claiming that it heavily promoted its antipsychotic drug Risperdal despite the fact that the tablets have been linked to the development of diabetes. Risperdal, the trade name of the drug risperidone, is used to treat schizophrenia as well as certain symptoms of bipolar disorder and autism.

Risperdal

Just this month, a Johnson & Johnson subsidiary agreed to pay $5.9 million to resolve the suit. Janssen Pharmaceutical Inc. agreed to the settlement without admitting to any wrongdoing, as part of a deal that prevents it from misleading consumers about its drugs in the future.

Risperdal has been involved with a number of lawsuits. In 2012, Johnson & Johnson settled a lawsuit claiming that Risperdal caused hundreds of male patients to grow breast tissue and another claiming that it had promoted Risperdal for non-approved uses including dementia, anger management and anxiety. In November 2013, Johnson and Johnson settled out of court for $2.2 billion in response to allegations that they encouraged the overmedication of children as well as the elderly and disabled by showering doctors with kickbacks.

The settlement funds Montana is now set to receive will be divided among courts, hospitals and the state’s newly formed awareness groups. Roughly $1.5 million of the settlement funds will go towards a new program in the state to prevent prescription drug abuse, while another $1.5 million will go towards funding mental health services and programs in Montana, according to the statement.

This settlement is not only significant in terms of the amount of money Montana will receive, but also in that it protects citizens from being prescribed Risperdal based on the types of false statements Janssen previously made to health care providers. If you have been wrongfully prescribed Risperdal or taken Risperdal and experienced some symptoms of diabetes, you should contact a health care provider as soon as possible then consider whether or not you should make a claim against its manufacturer.

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Transvaginal Mesh Manufacturer Sets Aside $520 Million For Future Settlements

April 15th, 2014

Johnson & Johnson, Boston Scientific Corp, C.R. Bard Inc. and Endo Health Solutions Inc. all face large vaginal mesh injury lawsuits and a multidistrict litigation in West Virginia and various state courts around the Country. Of those four medical supply companies, Bard is the furthest along in litigation. Throughout these trials, we want to provide continual updates including both the corporations’ and the plaintiffs’ product liability arguments and the final outcomes. If you happen to know anyone harmed by a vaginal mesh product, made by one of these manufacturers or not, there is still time to file a complaint.

Endo Health Solutions Inc. (Parent Corporation to American Medical Systems) anticipates it will cost at least $520 million to settle or otherwise exit the product liability litigation it faces, which primarily consists of thousands of vaginal mesh injury cases relating to the following products:

Elevate: Anterior/Apical &Apical/Posterior Pro

Apogee

Perigee

Monarc Subfascial Hammock

Sparc Sling

Mini-Arc Precise Single Incision Sling

Mini-Arc Single Incision Sling

In-Fast Ultra Transvaginal Sling

BioArc

In 2013, Endo recorded an incremental pretax charge of about $316 million, increasing its product liability reserve to about $520 million as of the end of last year according to a securities filing. A loss in excess of that figure remains a “reasonable possibility,” Endo said.

The pharmaceutical company’s American Medical Systems Inc. (AMS) unit faces more than 20,000 lawsuits claiming its vaginal mesh products are defective and have caused chronic pain, incontinence and other injuries or relapses of previous conditions.

“The increase in our reserve reflects management’s ongoing assessment of our product liability portfolio, including the vaginal mesh cases, the status of the company’s ongoing settlement discussions related to vaginal mesh litigation and the inherent uncertainty as to the ultimate costs of resolving this litigation,” Endo said. “AMS and the company intend to contest vigorously all currently pending cases and any future cases… and to explore other options as appropriate in the best interests of the company.”

It said it believed the settlements, judgments and legal defense costs related to the mesh litigation may be covered in full or in part by its product liability insurance policies. It had not recovered any insurance money as of the end of 2013, however.

AMS transvaginal mesh jury trials are currently set for June 2, 2014 and July 7, 2014. AMS previously agreed to settle a small number of cases last year and the company is expected to attempt a global settlement of the cases pending in federal court in West Virginia before Judge Joseph R. Goodwin in 2014 or 2015.

If You Have Questions

If you or someone you love has questions, please contact the law firm of Childers, Schlueter and Smith, LLC based in Atlanta, Georgia.  Childers, Schlueter & Smith, LLC  attorneys will speak with you free of charge.  All inquiries are strictly confidential and will be handled with discretion.  Our trained transvaginal mesh implant lawyers are accustomed to handling personal matters like this.

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Alli Recall Voluntary but Significant

April 15th, 2014

Alli maker GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare is voluntarily recalling all Alli weight loss products from U.S. and Puerto Rican retailers because some product packages were allegedly tampered with and may contain a product that is not the authentic, FDA-approved weight loss product Alli.

According to a March 2014 report in USA TODAY, GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare has received inquiries from 12 consumers in seven states about packages of Alli purchased in retail stores that contained tablets and capsules that were not the weight-loss product. The affected states included Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, New York, North Carolina, and Texas. The tablets and capsules were various shapes and colors, and some bottles were missing labels and had tamper-evident seals that were not genuine.

Alli has had similar problems before. Back in 2010, the FDA warned that a counterfeit version of Alli potentially harmful to consumers was being sold online, although no reports of serious illness related to the recent tampering and recall have been received. GlaxoSmithKline is unsure about how or where the bottles had been tampered with and is conducting an investigation, and also working with the FDA on the recall.

Alli is an over-the-counter fat-blocking pill meant to be taken in conjunction with exercise and a healthy diet. The active ingredient in Alli is orlistat, which was linked to an increased risk of rectal bleeding as well as kidney, liver, and thyroid problems by a 2009 Consumer Reports article. Following the article, the FDA changed the label on products containing orlistat, including Alli, to include new information about cases of severe liver injury. Alli’s new label contained a warning about “rare reports of severe liver injury.”

Consumers should confirm that the Alli they have matches this description: Turquoise blue capsule with a dark blue bank imprinted with the text “60 Orlistat.” Alli is packaged in a labeled bottle that has an inner foil seal imprinted with the words, “Sealed for Your Protection.” Pictures of the product are available on www.myalli.com.

The diet supplement injury lawyers at Childers, Schlueter & Smith, LLC continue to investigate and review new potential diet supplement cases all over the United States. If you have questions about a potential diet supplement injury, give us a call. All initial case reviews are free of charge and are kept completely confidential.

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Wheel Separation Accidents: Usually Not Just Freak Episodes

April 14th, 2014

It may seem highly unlikely, but wheels suddenly detach from moving cars and trucks more often than most people think. These wheel separations can lead to serious injuries when the driver loses control and collides with another vehicle or pedestrian, or when another vehicle swerves to avoid the debris. When a wheel separation occurs on a highway, the approaching speed between a bouncing wheel and oncoming vehicles can exceed 100 miles per hour.

Why Does a Wheel Separate From A Vehicle?

The most common reason that a wheel separates from a vehicle is failure of the fasteners, either because the lug nuts fall off or because the wheel studs break and release one or two wheels from the vehicle. These failures usually happen two to four weeks after a wheel was taken off and put back on during some type of service, such as tire installation or rotation.

The majority of accidents involving wheel separations occur because of improper maintenance – mechanics not properly torquing lug nuts after changing a tire for one of two reasons:

  • They are not properly trained.
  • They use an air gun to tighten the nuts and do not verify the torque readings with a torque wrench.  The only way to verify proper torque is by using a torque wrench that is set to the specific car/tire specifications.

Even when wheel nuts are properly torqued, they can still lose their clamping force due to wear of paint coatings on brake drums, the breakup of corrosion or dirt present when the wheel was put on, and wear of aluminum wheels. The remedy for lost clamping force is to simply re-torque the wheel nuts to the manufacturer’s specified torque to each wheel after a short amount of driving.

Wheel Separations Still Major Problem

 Wheel separations from trucks, trailers, cars, and buses are still a major problem, although exact numbers are hard to determine because many incidents go unreported. Wheel separations came under scrutiny in 1992 after a rash of such accidents in the fall of 1991 left seven people dead. Although policies and procedures have since been put into place to solve the problem, recurring incidents still happen, possibly because of the industry’s reluctance to put more rigorous maintenance procedures in place.

The wheel separation lawyers at Childers, Schlueter & Smith, LLC continue to investigate and review new potential wheel separation cases all over the State of Georgia. If you have questions about a potential incident, give us a call. All initial case reviews are free of charge and are kept completely confidential.

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Punitive Damages In Georgia: Intended to Punish, Not Compensate

March 31st, 2014

Punitive damages, also known as exemplary or vindictive damages, are not meant to compensate a victim for an injury. Instead, they are typically awarded for three very specific reasons:

  • To punish,
  • To penalize, and
  • To deter a defendant or others from acting in a similar manner.

Punitive damages are commonly allowed for a variety of reasons, including fraud, wantonness, drunk driving, oppression, or other conduct that exhibits a total disregard for the consequences of actions upon others.

Are Punitive Damages Available in Georgia?

In Georgia, a plaintiff must ask for punitive damages when he files a lawsuit, but punitive damages are not allowed under Georgia law unless a jury returns a verdict in favor of the plaintiff on punitive damages. There must be clear and convincing evidence that the defendant’s actions exhibit exceptionally bad behavior. Negligence alone will not support a punitive damage award.

To recover punitive damages in Georgia, a party typically has to show conduct that is extreme and outrageous – the kind of behavior that a reasonable person would not want to encourage or accept.

In Georgia, punitive damages may not be awarded:

  • Against the state of Georgia
  • In breach of contract actions
  • Concerning automobile collision cases where the driver at fault simply violated a rule of the road

Punitive damages are available in Georgia in environmental liability cases, bad faith insurance matters, and professional and product liability claims. We usually see them most often in DUI accidents and Hit and Run Collisions.

Split Recovery and Caps

Numerous states, including Georgia, have enacted split-recovery statutes, which provide for some percentage of every punitive damage award to be paid to the state treasury rather than the plaintiff. In Georgia for products liability actions only, this amount is 75 percent, the largest contributory provision in the country. The remaining 25 percent is generally paid to the plaintiff who was injured as a result of the defendant’s misconduct. This split-recovery statute only allpies to product liability actions. (Ie., not applicable in car collisions, premise liability actions, etc.)

Georgia also has a general punitive damage limit, or cap, of $250,000 except in product liability cases or when the court rules that the defendant intended to harm the plaintiff.

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GM’s Recall Problems Continue

March 28th, 2014

Last month, General Motors recalled 1.62 million cars worldwide because of an ignition switch issue in which the switch moves out of the “run” position, resulting in a partial loss of electric power and subsequently turning off the engine. The defect has resulted in 12 deaths and 31 crashes, and federal investigations continue into why GM has known of the switch problem since 2001 but didn’t recall the cars until February 14, 2014

New Recalls

On March 17, 2014 new GM CEO Mary Barra announced three new recalls involving another 1.5 million vehicles that are unrelated to the ignition switch recall. The new recalls involve:

  • Seat-mounted side airbags, front center air bags, and seat belt pretensioners that might not deploy due to a wiring defect in 1.18 million full-size crossover SUVs, including the 2009-2013 Chevrolet Traverse, 2008-2013 Buick Enclave, 2008-2013 GMC Acadia, and the 2008-2010 Saturn Outlook. According to GM, if the air-bag warning light on the instrument panel comes on but the owner ignores it, the wiring eventually will fail and the bags won’t function. No known injuries or accidents linked to the defect have been reported.
  • A plug in the brake system of 63,900 2013 and 2014 Cadillac XTS sedans can potentially get dislodged, allow corrosion, and cause overheating that may increase the risk of an engine-compartment fire. GM says it is aware of two fires at dealerships involving dealer-owned vehicles and two warranty claims, but no fires in customer cars, and no injuries have been reported, according to a report in USA TODAY.
  • Front passengers foregoing seat belts in Chevrolet Express and GMC Savana commercial vans are at risk for head injuries because the material on the instrument panel does not meet federal standards and needs to be reworked, according to GM.  Passengers wearing seat belts are not at risk. This recall involves 303,000 of the 2009-2014 standard and medium-duty models primarily driven by tradesmen and delivery services, and also passenger shuttles used by hotels, airports, and churches. Until a fix is found, GM issued a stop delivery order for vans still at dealerships.

According to the New York Daily News, GM expects to spend approximately $300 million in the first quarter of 2014 to repair the vehicles involved in the new recalls as well as the vehicles in the earlier recall. Barra, who has personally assumed control of GM’s recall response, is scheduled to testify about the recalls before a congressional subcommittee on April 1, 2014.

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Attorney Bill Parker Named A Top 100 Trial Lawyer In Georgia

March 25th, 2014

The Firm of Childers, Schlueter & Smith is proud to announce that Bill Parker has been chosen as one of the Top 100 trial lawyers in Georgia by the National Trial Lawyers organization.

The National Trial Lawyers: Top 100 an invitation-only organization composed of the premier trial lawyers from each state in the nation who meet stringent qualifications as civil plaintiff and/or criminal defense trial lawyers. Selection is based on a thorough multi-phase process which includes peer nominations combined with third-party research. Membership is extended solely to the select few of the most qualified attorneys from each state who demonstrate superior qualifications of leadership, reputation, influence, stature and public profile.

Congratulations to Bill for all his hard work and dedication. It is a well deserved honor.

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Trucking Accidents Need Experienced Lawyers

March 18th, 2014

Over the past three years, the number of fatal tractor trailer wrecks that occur in Georgia has skyrocketed. Truck wrecks are generally much more deadly than regular traffic collisions.

Legally speaking, a trucking case is not as simple as an ordinary car accident either. It requires lawyers who know how to handle complex cases. While there are many lawyers handling trucking cases across the country, the attorneys at Childers, Schlueter & Smith understand the complex regulations and issues at play in tractor trailer cases, and the lay of the land in Georgia courts. Our lawyers have helped injured parties in trucking cases and countless other injury cases all over the state to recover fair compensation.

We have years of experience in obtaining full compensation in all types of Georgia wreck lawsuits, including trucking cases. This experience makes Childers, Schlueter & Smith uniquely qualified in securing full compensation for those severely injured in trucking and tractor trailer accidents. Many times, insurance and trucking companies try to settle cases quickly to avoid having lawyers investigate the case. Trucking cases require established lawyers who regularly handle complex cases.

As attorneys experienced in handling tractor trailer and other wreck cases, we understand what you and your family are going through, and we’re dedicated to recovering the compensation that you deserve.  If you are a victim of a truck wreck, you should immediately contact a truck wreck injury law firm for help. But where do you begin, and how do you know that you’re choosing the right attorney for your case? Because the attorneys at Childers, Schlueter & Smith also represent injured individuals in product liability suits against the world’s biggest pharmaceutical and medical device companies, we know how to fight against well-funded companies to hold them responsible for injuries they cause.  Whether you’re facing a small truck company or a huge shipping conglomerate, we know how to maximize your recovery.

Childers, Schlueter & Smith represents clients injured by truck wrecks, including wrecks caused by: driver fatigue; by trucks carrying oversized loads; trucks with defective equipment; and trucks manned by unqualified or irresponsible drivers. Trucking companies and their insurance companies send their own investigation team to a wreck site almost immediately so they can build their defense, and try to settle claims quickly for pennies on the dollar.  With Childers, Schlueter & Smith on your side, you’ll have a champion who will handle your case from the initial investigation all the way through trial or settlement to get you the compensation you deserve.

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Stryker Hip Lawsuit Bellwether Jury Trials To Start Summer 2015

March 15th, 2014

More than 570 federally-filed Stryker hip lawsuits have been filed in a multi-district litigation (MDL) now underway in the U.S. District Court, District of Minnesota. According to documents filed March 14, 2014, the Court anticipates selecting 3-5 bellwether cases for trial sometime during the Summer of 2015.

The Minnesota District Court will continue to reach out to New Jersey and Florida state court judges to explore the potential of a coordinated settlement of all the state and federal cases involving Rejuvenate and ABG II. At the present time, nearly 800 Stryker hip lawsuits have been filed in Bergen County Superior Court in New Jersey, and 13 such cases were consolidated in Florida on October 3, 2013.

All of the lawsuits involve similar claims regarding the tendency of the Rejuvenate and ABG II hip stems to fret and corrode, causing the recipients to experience osteolysis, tissue necrosis, and other complications that require replacement of the device. Revision surgery is generally more difficult and takes longer to perform than the initial hip replacement, according to the Orthopaedic Research Institute.

Stryker recalled its Rejuvenate and ABG II hip stems in July 2012 after the company determined that the metal hip stems could fret and corrode at the modular-neck junction. The company has recommended that all Rejuvenate and ABG II recipients undergo blood and imaging tests to ensure that their hip stems are functioning properly, even if they have not experienced any symptoms of a failing hip implant, which include thigh pain that radiates to the knee, particularly while walking or going from a sitting to a standing position.

Although a typical hip replacement is expected to last between 15 and 20 years, the defects with the Stryker Rejuvenate and ABG II hip implants were detected in less than two years. Other metal on metal hip implant manufacturers have had similar issues, including DePuy maker Johnson & Johnson, who recently made offers to settle lawsuits involving nearly 8,000 patients for more than $4 billion.

The Stryker Hip Implant Lawyers of Childers, Schlueter & Smith continue to review and file Stryker hip implant cases. If you have questions about your rights, contact us today for a free evaluation of you potential Stryker hip implant lawsuit.

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Topamax Has Helped Some, Hurt Others

March 14th, 2014

Topamax is an anti-epilepsy drug marketed by the Johnson & Johnson unit Janssen Pharmaceuticals. It received FDA approval in 1996, and is prescribed to prevent epileptic seizures and migraine headaches. While Topamax has helped many patients, it also has caused dangerous side effects and birth defects.

While Topamax was FDA-approved to treat epilepsy conditions and migraine headaches, it has been prescribed for many other uses, including:

  • Alcohol dependency
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Drug addiction
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder

Topamax Side Effects

Initially approved by the FDA as a Category C drug with warnings that studies on animals have shown adverse effects on fetuses, Topamax was made a Category D medication in 2011 after an alert was issued by the FDA. Some common side effects of Topamax includes:

  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Coordination and speech problems
  • Blurred or distorted vision
  • Sensory distortion
  • Diarrhea
  • Weight loss

The FDA has issued several warnings regarding the use of Topamax, outlining the following risks:

Topamax has also been shown to increase the incidents of cranial defects such as cleft lips and palates in newborn babies, prompting several costly lawsuits.

Topamax Lawsuits

Topamax lawsuits allege that Janssen Pharmaceuticals failed to adequately warn consumers about the dangers caused by the drug, accusing the company of negligence, misrepresentation, fraud, and breach of warranty.

Topamax has been the target of three lawsuits in Pennsylvania alleging that the company failed to update the drug’s label to warn users of increased risk of birth defects. The lawsuits returned verdicts of $3 million, $4 million, and $10 million to the plaintiffs in the past several months, and a fourth Topamax case began in late February 2014. Janssen also agreed to pay more than $81 million to end a U.S. Department of Justice inquiry into off-label marketing of the drug in 2010.

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