Dangerous and Defective Products: Airplane Crash Litigation

Piper airplanes have been involved in a number of fatal crashes resulting in wrongful death lawsuits across the country. For example, a man died in Washington State after his plane crashed near Felts Field in May 2015. His wife sued Piper, alleging that the airplane (a Piper PA-46 350P) was negligently designed and flawed. Last week on New Year’s Eve, four people from Iowa were killed when another single-engine Piper aircraft crashed in Illinois. The family of four was on its way to Nashville to celebrate the new year. Airplane crashes like these are investigated by the National Transportation Safety Board.    The FAA has issued a number of Airworthiness Directives warning Piper Aircraft, Inc. of dangers associated with various unsafe defects on their airplanes. FAA Airworthiness Directives (ADs) are legally enforceable regulations issued to correct unsafe conditions on airplanes. In October, 2015, the FAA warned Piper that cracks found in the right wing posed a hazard and required immediate inspection and repair. There have been dozens more ADs, not just for Piper but also for other manufacturers ranging from Airbus to Boeing. Suing an airplane manufacturer like Piper in a defective products or wrongful death case is a complex process, and often the battle begins with determining not just in what state but even in what county within the state the lawsuit should be filed, and where the trial should be conducted. It seems as though lawyers can and often do argue about everything.  At some level, many lawyers must consider arguing to be their raison d’être. Part of my practice requires me daily to read new cases...

Lawsuits Gaining Momentum In Low Testosterone Cases

The multi-district litigation brought by men from around the country who have been injured taking low T drugs is now in front of Judge Matthew Kennely, who is a Clinton appointee.  He has been on the Federal Bench in the Northern District of Illinois since 1999. This will be Judge Kennely’s first major pharmaceutical case, and he has already ordered limits on the number of depositions that can be taken. On March 1, 2016, the judge will pick six trials.  The bellwether cases are set to start sometime next year, selected randomly from 100 cases.  Each sider will be able to pick 16 cases and can object to each other’s selection. The first trial will start October 31, 2016 for a thrombotic-event case and then another in February 2017 for cardiovascular-event cases. The primary defendant in this matter is low testosterone drug maker AbbVie.   The drug is made in both France and Thailand.  Depositions have already started, with AbbVie’s Director of Trade Pablo Hernandez, and many more are scheduled for the next couple of months. The other defendants include Auxilium and Lilly, Actavis, Endo, Testopel, and Pfizer. ANDA representatives have filed motions claiming that their generic low testosterone drugs are preempted by Federal law. The latest developments in the low testosterone cases against the drug makers of low T therapies across the country rely on a number of medical studies, including the Vigen 2013 JAMA study and Finkle study (PLOS One), that showed an increased risk from the use of gels, injections, and patches, doubling the risks of heart attacks in all men over the age of 65, and in...

Benicar Linked to Causing Serious Gastrointestinal Symptoms

The widely prescribed medications Benicar, Benicar HCT, Azor, and Tribenzor have been linked to serious gastrointestinal symptoms.  All four drugs are used to treat high blood pressure and are actually made by the same company, Daiichi Sankyo, co-promoted by Forest Pharmaceuticals.  Some of the common symptoms we have found reported include severe chronic diarrhea, dehydration, malnutrition, and weight loss. Once people stop taking the drug, they get better.  When the drug first came on the market in 2002, it contained no warning of these side effects. This is not the first time Daiichi Sankyo has been in serious legal hot water.  In January 2015, Daiichi Sankyo had to pay a $39 million dollar settlement to the Department of Justice in a Qui Tam/ Whistleblower case, as well as nearly $6 million dollars to the individual whistleblower.  Daiichi Sankyo was accused of illegally bribing doctors to prescribe these same drugs–as well as over-promoting their drugs for uses that were not specifically approved by the FDA, and for violating the Anti-Kickback Statute. The Anti-Kickback Statute was enacted to encourage doctors to make prescription decisions and referrals based solely upon the best medical interests of the patient, rather than for receiving improper payments and gifts from drug makers.  The Anti-Kickback Statute strictly prohibits anyone from paying to induce another to provide referrals for items or services covered by federal healthcare programs like Medicare and Medicaid. Following the announcement of the DOJ settlement in April 2015, a class action lawsuit was filed on behalf of thousands of people from around the country who had been injured by taking Benicar.  The cases were consolidated...

Investigating Johnson and Johnson’s Medication Invokana (Canagliflozin)

Johnson and Johnson’s medication known as Invokana (canagliflozin) is currently being investigated by class-action lawyers from around the country in light of recently released reports indicating that people who are taking this drug are at increased risk for developing serious medical conditions, such as kidney failure, heart attacks, and strokes. Blood sugar is supposed to be metabolized in the kidneys and provides the body with fuel. Invokana, marketed to people with Type 2 Diabetes, is purportedly designed to inhibit glucose excretion through urine by preventing the body from metabolizing sugar, while actually delivering unmetabolized, unfiltered sugar directly to the kidneys. Invokana is the only Type 2 Diabetes drug that does this.  As a result, the medication has been found to actually increase glucose while simultaneously decreasing ketones.  As of today, these drugs have not been approved for use by Type 1 Diabetics. Diabetics are required to check their blood-sugar levels frequently.  One of the problems with this medication is that it can affect blood-sugar data.  Type 1 Diabetics commonly experience ketoacidosis.  An increase in occurrences in ketoacidosis among Type 2 Diabetics who rarely have had a problem with increased acid levels in their systems is now being reported FDA WARNS OF INVOKANA RISKS In May 2015, the FDA released an advisory opinion warning that these Type 2 Diabetes medicines– known as sodium-glucose cotransporter-2 (SGLT2) inhibitors, like Invokana–can cause a variety of serious medical conditions, such as diabetic ketoacidosis.  Ketoacidosis is a chemical imbalance in the body, which can result in major organ failure, diabetic comas, and death.   In September 2015, the FDA reported an increased risk of fractures associated...

Hundreds of Fraud Claims Already Filed Against Volkswagen

Hundreds of lawsuits have already been filed in courts around the country against Volkswagen, the world’s largest automaker, for what many lawyers consider to be the largest corporate fraud in history. What do we know so far?  “Clean Diesel” was a marketing scam rigged to capitalize on a computer programming software known as a “defeat device” that altered the emissions data these cars actually produced on the road in real-world conditions, as opposed to in the laboratories. The fraud was discovered by accident when a West Virginia University scientist tested some Volkswagen cars and found that the emissions were out of compliance because of software manipulation.  At first VW denied this, claiming that WVU’s tests were flawed. The actual emissions numbers violated the Clean Air Act.  Millions of consumers had purchased VW diesel vehicles they believed to be “green,” or a least greener than traditional gasoline engines.  The Clean Air Act specifically prohibits any manufacturer from installing any device that lowers the actual emissions of a vehicle being tested by the EPA–as compared to what the vehicle actually creates when being driven on the road. Before any vehicle can be sold in the United States, it must meet strict governmental standards and be certified by the EPA.  Diesel engines use a different mix of fuel than gasoline engines.  If a diesel engine does not get enough oxygen to combust the fuel, it will emit various pollutants, such as nitrogen oxide.  Ironically, higher mpg diesels were found to produce the most pollutants. One reason that VW may have been motivated to rig the data would be greed, in terms of...

How Can I Sue Volkswagen For Fraud?

Our Miami consumer fraud lawyers are currently investigating claims against Volkswagen, the world’s largest automaker, following the revelation that it has participated in one of the biggest scandals in United States automotive history. For decades Volkswagen has purposely marketed its cars as green and environmentally friendly to lure buyers into purchasing its diesel-engine models.  Last month, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) learned that senior VW executives knowingly hacked their cars’ emission data to deceive both U.S. regulators and the public about just how much pollution their diesel engines actually create. Last week VW Chairman Martin Winterkorn was forced to resign, and now VW faces EPA fines that could reach $18 billion; class actions, other civil lawsuits, and certainly U.S. criminal investigations will follow. The EPA has threatened to withhold approval for the company’s 2016 Volkswagen and Audi diesel models, according to a letter sent by the EPA to Johnson and VW’s attorney. The letter detailed some of the timetable for the EPA’s actions. The cars in question are Volkswagen models with “clean-diesel” engines starting in 2008 with the 2009-model Jetta TDI.  Ironically in 2008 the Jetta was named “Green Car of the Year” at the LA Auto Show.  One of the biggest selling points was geared to California consumers, who are subject to strict pollution laws because of the abundance of smog and cancer-related soot. As a result, Jetta buyers received an income tax credit of $1,300. VW’s fraud was revealed by a group of researchers at a West Virginia University lab that placed emission-monitoring equipment on a rented 2012 Jetta and a 2013 Passat.  Over seven weeks in...
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