$12 Million Jury Verdict Against Alabama Transit System

Passengers injured in a 2015 bus crash in Fairfield, Alabama recovered a $12 million jury verdict against MAX Transit – Birmingham-Jefferson County Transit Authority and its driver.

As part of their verdict, the jury also assessed $6 million in punitive damages.

With more than 20 passengers on a MAX Transit bus route, the bus driver lost consciousness, causing the bus to overturn and land in a ravine.

The lawsuit involved 15 of the crash victims, 10 of whom were represented by Alexander Shunnarah Personal Injury Attorneys, P.C. attorneys Brandon Bishop and Sara Williams.

The case is Charlsye Williams, et al. v. Birmingham-Jefferson County Transit Authority, Reginald D. Thomas; 68-CV-2015-900100, before Jefferson County, Alabama Circuit Court Judge Annetta Verin.

“For almost three years, the Birmingham-Jefferson County Transit Authority has failed to take responsibility for this wreck. We hope they will see this verdict as the rejection of that position by the people of Jefferson County and implement the necessary safety policies to ensure this never happens again,” stated Sara Williams, Managing Attorney of Alexander Shunnarah Personal Injury Attorneys, P.C.

Driver passed out twice

During the trial, there was evidence that the MAX Transit bus driver had passed out twice prior to this collision while operating a MAX bus through the greater Birmingham area. The Birmingham-Jefferson County Transit Authority, which operates the MAX Transit system, had failed to take action after these two prior fainting occurrences.

The injuries of the passengers ranged in severity, with the most severe injury resulting in Charlyse Williams losing her leg. Upon recognizing that the driver was losing consciousness, Williams rushed to the front of the bus in an attempt to prevent the collision. As a result of her selfless act, Williams’ right foot and ankle were so severely mangled that doctors were forced to amputate her leg below the knee.

“We applaud the jury for banding together and taking ownership of this community. Even though none of the jurors rely on MAX bus for their means of transportation, their verdict makes clear that everyone, including those less fortunate than them, are worthy of protection,” said attorney Brandon Bishop.

“We are thankful to this jury for holding MAX Transit and its driver accountable for their failure to avoid what was a very preventable collision. I am proud of Brandon and Sara for the hard work they have put into the case for nearly three years. We as a firm will continue to fight for the safety of not only our clients, but all of those in our community who share the roads with these buses,” stated Alexander Shunnarah, President & CEO of Alexander Shunnarah Personal Injury Attorneys, P.C.

 

$5 Million Verdict Against California Restaurant for Death at Dangerous Driveway

national trial lawyers, top 100 lawyers, top 40 under 40A Los Angeles jury held an upscale Santa Monica restaurant liable for $5 million in damages in a premises liability case where a patron exited onto a dangerous driveway, cut off an oncoming motorcyclist and killed him when he fell.

Defendant Terry Allen Turner, a tourist from Oklahoma, had dinner at Geoffrey’s restaurant on the night of March 16, 2011. After dinner, he left the restaurant by turning left onto the Pacific Coast Highway. The highway is one-way street in front of Geoffrey’s restaurant.

Joseph Annocki, age 41, was riding his motorcycle southbound on the highway when he attempted to avoid Turner, who fell off of his motorcycle and was killed.

Eileen Annocki and Joseph Annocki, Sr, the parents of Joey Annocki, sued defendants Terry Allen Turner, Peterson Enterprises LLC, the owner and operator of Geoffrey’s restaurant Jeffrey Peterson, and the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans), for the wrongful death of their son.

The plaintiff attorneys are Donald G. Liddy and Paula J. Khehra, Liddy Law Firm, Pasadena, CA, and Thomas J. Johnston, Johnston & Hutchinson LLP, Los Angeles, CA. The case is Eileen Annocki and Joseph Annocki, Sr. v. Peterson Enterprises, LLC dba Geoffrey’s Malibu and Terry Allen Turner, No. SC112366, Superior Court of Los Angeles County, Santa Monica.

Dangerous driveway

The plaintiffs contended that Geoffrey’s or Caltrans should have warned customers about the dangerous driveway leading to the one-way highway. Geoffrey’s contended the “Qwik Kurbs” or median dividers along highway were sufficient to warn customers of the one-way traffic. Caltrans claimed it had no duty to warn.

The case against Geoffrey’s was dismissed by Judge Amy Hogue. A unanimous Court of Appeal reversed, finding that Geoffrey’s had a duty to warn its customers and had notice of the dangerous condition. Particularly because of nighttime conditions, the likelihood of serious injury, the configuration of Geoffrey’s driveway, and the fact that customers are served alcohol.

The jury awarded $5 million in non-economic damages against the defendants. The jury apportioned fault Geoffrey’s Malibu 35% ($1.75 million), Terry Allen Turner 50% ($2.5 million), and Caltrans 15%. Caltrans settled before trial for $1 million.

The court has been asked to approve prejudgment interest of $866,863.68 against Geoffrey’s Malibu, and prejudgment interest of $892,463.79 against Terry Allen Turner.

The plaintiff’s final demand was Peterson Enterprises, LLC:  $1 million on December 26, 2012, and Terry Turner: $125,000 on May 15, 2014. Defendant Peterson Enterprises, LLC offered $500,000.

The plaintiff experts were Brad Avrit, civil engineer, Los Angeles, CA, and Jon Landerville, accident reconstruction, Torrance, CA.

NJ Jury Awards $15M in Ethicon Pelvic Mesh Verdict

Ethicon, Inc.’s Gynecare Prolift mesh

Ethicon, Inc.’s Gynecare Prolift mesh

 A Bergen County, NJ, jury awarded $15 million to a New Jersey woman who sued Johnson & Johnson after receiving a defective pelvic mesh implant in 2008 that left her in chronic pain

The jury found that one of the two Prolift pelvic mesh devices that plaintiff Elizabeth Hrymoc, of South River, NJ, received in 2008, was defective. It ruled that Ethicon, the Johnson & Johnson subsidiary that designed the product, failed to adequately warn the woman about the severe chronic pain she suffered.

The jury awarded Hrymoc $4 million for pain and suffering and $1 million for loss of conjugal affection, and assessed $10 million in punitive damages against Johnson & Johnson.

Thursday’s verdict is the second in a bellwether pelvic mesh case in New Jersey. It follows another for $11 million that was awarded in 2014. That verdict was later upheld by the Appellate Division, and the Supreme Court declined to take up the case.

The verdict came after nearly three weeks of argument and testimony in just the second pelvic mesh-related lawsuit to go to trial in New Jersey out of nearly 9,000 that are pending.

During opening arguments, plaintiffs’ attorney Adam Slater of Mazie, Slater, Katz & Freeman in Roseland, N.J., told the jury that the mesh used in the devices was defectively designed because it caused the mesh “sling” portion of the device to tighten and create tension in the pelvic area and that the mesh can harden and cause erosion.

For more, click NorthJersey.com.

New AAJ Report Details a Year of Heinous Corporate Misconduct

From Takata’s lethal airbags to Monsanto ghostwriting scientific data, to drug companies profiting from the opioid crisis, corporations have time and again put profits before the health and safety of Americans.

A report released Wednesday by the American Association for Justice (AAJ), Worst Corporate Conduct of 2017, details this year’s worst corporate offenders, the aggressive corporate culture plaguing the United States, and the need for a strong civil justice system to make sure consumers and workers can hold corporations accountable and deter corporate misconduct.

As the report indicates, there are no signs that corporations intend to slow down their attack on Americans as they cut their compliance budgets and attempt to free themselves from regulation.

“The misconduct highlighted in this report is a stark reminder that corporations will stop at nothing to protect their profits – even if that means putting consumers and workers at risk,” said Kathleen Nastri, President of AAJ.  “As this report clearly illustrates, Americans need access to the courts so they can get justice and stand up to the onslaught of misconduct.”

One particularly timely section of the report is dedicated to Fox News, which for years has covered up rampant sexual harassment using forced arbitration clauses in employee contracts. Finally, in August of this year, the network revealed that it had paid nearly $50 million to settle sexual harassment and discrimination cases during the previous fiscal year.

Instances of sexual harassment, like those at Fox News, illustrate the need for reform to compel corporations to improve work environments and rein in misconduct.  The “Ending Forced Arbitration of Sexual Harassment Act,” which was introduced in both the House and Senate last week with bipartisan support, would restore workers’ rights by putting an end to the abusive practice of forced arbitration in workplace sex discrimination claims and give survivors of sexual harassment the opportunity to fight for justice in court.

Click here to download the full corporate misconduct report.

Florida Jury Awards $1.25 Million in Scooter Crash

Plaintiff attorney Adam T. Dougherty.

Plaintiff attorney Adam T. Dougherty.

A jury in Miami-Dade Circuit Court awarded $1.25 million to a Vespa rider who was severely injured when he swerved and fell avoiding a car that cut him off. The pre-suit settlement offer from Liberty Mutual was $25,000.

Attorneys Adam Dougherty of the Dougherty Law Firm in Hollywood, FL, and Gregory Ward of the Ward Law Group in Miami Lakes, FL, successfully represented the 38-year old scooter rider.

Plaintiff Oswaldo Rojas Perez, a construction manager and student, was riding on Biscayne Boulevard in North Miami at 6 pm on April 9, 2014, on his way to an evening class. Defendant Richard Wolfson pulled out of an office building driveway, turned into the right lane in front of Rojas and forced him to swerve left and lay his scooter down.

The car didn’t hit him but he was thrown more than 30 feet and the scooter slid another 80 feet. He injured his neck, shoulders, and back. Rojas had surgeries on both shoulders and a cervical fusion and discectomy. His surgeon testified he will need another cervical fusion and a lumbar fusion as his lower back worsens.

Rojas Perez’ expert in accident reconstruction opined that he was proceeding at about 35 mph in a reasonable and safe manner when Wolfson suddenly emerged in front of him, cutting him off.

Defense attorneys argued that his injuries were pre-existing and not related to the crash, and that Rojas was speeding and caused the crash.

The jury found the defendant liable and awarded $2.5 million, but allocated the fault at 50-50 between the parties.

The case is Oswaldo Rojas Perez v. Richard Wolfson, Case No. 14-14468-CA01.

Driver Struck from Behind Recovers $202,824 Verdict

Nicholas L. Ottaviano

Attorney Nicholas L. Ottaviano

A Florida woman who was stopped at a red light and struck from behind by another driver recovered a $202,824 jury award in Pasco County Circuit Court (near Tampa).

The plaintiff attorney is Nicholas L. Ottaviano, of Law Offices of Lucas Magazine, PLLP in New Port Richey, FL. He is a member of The National Trial Lawyers Top 100.

The case is Kathy Hardy-Ellzey v. Chantal Lefebvre, Case No. 51-2015-CA-001512-WS before Judge Declan Mansfield.

Plaintiff Hardy-Ellzey, a 58-year-old hair stylist, stopped at a traffic light on August 24, 2012. The jury found that defendant Lefebvre, also a hair stylist,  failed to observe the stopped car and negligently struck the hear of the plaintiff’s vehicle.

The plaintiff went to an emergency room, and was subsequently treated by a chiropractor and orthopedic spine surgeon, although no surgery was performed. She has continuing neck, shoulder and low back pain and pain, numbness and tingling that radiates to her arms and legs. She has been able to continue working but has faced restrictions in activities of daily living, where her husband has had to assist her.

The jury awarded $40,824.96 for total past medical expenses, future medicals of $85,000, past pain and suffering of $12,000 and future pain and suffering of $65,000.

 

Federal Mass Tort Docket Created for National Prescription Opioid Litigation

The U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation consolidated more than 100 lawsuits filed by counties, cities and other parties against opioid manufacturer and distributors into the “National Prescription Opiate Litigation MDL No. 2804 earlier today.

The JPML assigned US District Judge Daniel Polster in the Northern District of Ohio to supervise the litigation. While the manufacturers had argued for consolidation in corporate defense friendly New York, and various distributors supported consolidation in West Virginia. The location of this MDL in Ohio, which has been one of the hardest hit states by the “opioid crisis” may have far-reaching implications toward the management and the final resolution of the onslaught of opioid claims.

The JPML said, “We find that the actions in this litigation involve common questions of fact, and that centralization in the Northern District of Ohio will serve the convenience of the parties and witnesses and promote the just and efficient conduct of the litigation.”

Defendants include AmerisourceBergen Drug Corp., AmerisourceBergen Corp., McKesson Corp., Cardinal Health, Inc., and Cardinal Health subsidiary The Harvard Drug Group, L.L.C

Plaintiffs include cities, counties, and states that allege that: (1) manufacturers of
prescription opioid medications overstated the benefits and downplayed the risks of the use of their opioids and aggressively marketed (directly and through key opinion leaders) these drugs to physicians, and/or (2) distributors failed to monitor, detect, investigate, refuse and report suspicious orders of prescription opiates.

All the actions involve common factual questions about the manufacturing and distributor defendants’ knowledge of and conduct regarding the alleged diversion of these prescription opiates, as well as the manufacturers’ alleged improper marketing of such drugs. Both manufacturers and distributors are under an obligation under the Controlled Substances Act and similar state laws to prevent diversion of
opiates and other controlled substances into illicit channels.

Plaintiffs assert that defendants have failed to adhere to those standards, which caused the diversion of opiates into their communities. Plaintiffs bring claims for violation of RICO statutes, consumer protection laws, state analogues to the Controlled Substances Act, as well as common law claims such as public nuisance, negligence, negligent misrepresentation, fraud and unjust enrichment.

The text of the transfer order is available at http://www.jpml.uscourts.gov/sites/jpml/files/MDL-2804-Initial-Transfer-11-17.pdf

Jury orders Bayer, J&J to pay $29 million in Xarelto lawsuit

Xarelto A Philadelphia state court jury on Tuesday ordered Bayer AG and Johnson & Johnson to pay $27.8 million to an Indiana couple over the drugmakers’ failure to warn of internal bleeding risks by its blockbuster drug Xarelto.

The verdict marks the first trial loss in litigation over Xarelto. Bayer and J&J have won three previous cases in federal court.

For the Reuters article, click here.

Watch the Webinar: Why TBI Treatment is so Important for Your Client

Watch the webinar, “Why TBI Treatment is so Important for Your Client” by visiting https://hmrfunding.com/blog/traumatic-brain-injury-webinar/.

Learn from professionals how to perform an initial assessment to determine if your client should be seen by a professional, and understand what options are available for care. A better understanding of the seriousness of a TBI can help your client get the treatment they may need and the verdict they deserve.

During this webinar with John Zacharias, founder and COO of Advantage Healthcare Systems and Dr. C. Alan Hopewell, a neuropsychologist with Advantage Healthcare discuss TBI identification and treatment options for your clients.

  • TBI Assessment – Simple screening options (including a TBI questionnaire)
  • Process and timeframes for evaluation such as neurologist, then neuropsychologist
  • Types of care; Day program, In-home and Telemedicine
  • Early identification and better results

View the webinar recording at https://hmrfunding.com/blog/traumatic-brain-injury-webinar.

This program is sponsored by HMR Funding.

Is your client either uninsured, underinsured or denied coverage for some reason? Does your client need funding assistance to pay for their medical expenses or pay for their living expenses while they recover from their injuries?

HMR Funding is your medical funding solution. We take the risk the same as you, so you can help your client pay for the treatment they may need to get on a path to recovery while you work to get them the justice they deserve.

FDA Warning: Biotin (Vitamin B7) May Interfere with Lab Tests

The FDA is alerting the public, health care providers, lab personnel, and lab test developers that biotin can significantly interfere with certain lab tests and cause incorrect test results which may go undetected.

Biotin in blood or other samples taken from patients who are ingesting high levels of biotin in dietary supplements can cause clinically significant incorrect lab test results. The FDA has seen an increase in the number of reported adverse events, including one death, related to biotin interference with lab tests.

Many lab tests use biotin technology due to its ability to bond with specific proteins which can be measured to detect certain health conditions. For example, biotin is used in hormone tests and tests for markers of cardiac health like troponin. Biotin, also known as vitamin B7, is a water-soluble vitamin often found in multi-vitamins, prenatal vitamins, and dietary supplements marketed for hair, skin, and nail growth.

Biotin in patient samples can cause falsely high or falsely low results, depending on the test. Incorrect test results may lead to inappropriate patient management or misdiagnosis. For example, a falsely low result for troponin, a clinically important biomarker to aid in the diagnosis of heart attacks, may lead to a missed diagnosis and potentially serious clinical implications. The FDA has received a report that one patient taking high levels of biotin died following falsely low troponin test results when a troponin test known to have biotin interference was used.

Dangerous dietary supplements

The FDA is aware of people taking high levels of biotin that would interfere with lab tests. Many dietary supplements promoted for hair, skin, and nail benefits contain biotin levels up to 650 times the recommended daily intake of biotin. Physicians may also be recommending high levels of biotin for patients with certain conditions such as multiple sclerosis (MS). Biotin levels higher than the recommended daily allowance may cause interference with lab tests.

Patients and physicians may be unaware of biotin interference in laboratory assays. Even physicians who are aware of this interference are likely unaware as to whether, and how much biotin, patients are taking. Since patients are unaware of biotin interference, patients may not report taking biotin supplements to their physicians, and may even be unware they are taking biotin (e.g., when taking products generally labeled for their benefits to hair and nails).

The FDA is working with stakeholders to better understand biotin interference with laboratory tests, and to develop additional future recommendations for safe testing in patients who have taken high levels of biotin when using laboratory tests that use biotin technology.

The FDA is monitoring reports of adverse events associated with biotin interference with laboratory tests and will update the public if significant new information becomes available.

RECOMMENDATIONS:

For Health Care Providers:

  • Talk to your patients about any biotin supplements they may be taking, including supplements marketed for hair, skin, and nail growth.
  • Be aware that many lab tests, including but not limited to cardiovascular diagnostic tests and hormone tests, that use biotin technology are potentially affected, and incorrect test results may be generated if there is biotin in the patient’s specimen.
  • Communicate to the lab conducting the testing if your patient is taking biotin.
  • If a lab test result doesn’t match the clinical presentation of your patient, consider biotin interference as a possible source of error.
  • Know that biotin is found in multivitamins, including prenatal multivitamins, biotin supplements, and dietary supplements for hair, skin, and nail growth in levels that may interfere with lab tests.
  • Report to the lab test manufacturer and the FDA if you become aware of a patient experiencing an adverse event following potentially incorrect laboratory test results due to biotin interference.

For Lab Personnel:

  • If you use assays with biotin technology, be aware that it is difficult to identify samples that contain biotin; therefore, it is important to communicate with health care providers and patients to prevent incorrect test results.
  • If you are collecting samples in the lab, ask whether the patient is taking biotin.
  • Educate health care providers about biotin interference with certain lab tests used in your lab.
  • Consider that the daily recommended allowance for biotin is 0.03 mg and these biotin levels do not typically cause significant interference. However, supplements containing high biotin levels including those marketed for hair, skin, and nail benefits, may contain up to 20 mg of biotin, and physicians may recommend up to 300 mg per day for conditions such as multiple sclerosis. Biotin levels higher than the recommended daily allowance may cause significant interference with affected lab tests.
  • Be aware that specimens collected from patients taking high levels of biotin may contain more than 100 ng/mL biotin. Concentrations of biotin up to 1200 ng/mL may be present in specimens collected from patients taking up to 300 mg per day.
  • Currently available data is insufficient to support recommendations for safe testing using affected tests in patients taking high levels of biotin, including about the length of time for biotin clearance from the blood.
  • Communicate with the lab test manufacturer if you have questions about biotin interference.

For Consumers:

  • Talk to your doctor if you are currently taking biotin or are considering adding biotin, or a supplement containing biotin, to your diet.
  • Know that biotin is found in multivitamins, including prenatal multivitamins, biotin supplements, and supplements for hair, skin, and nail growth in levels that may interfere with laboratory tests.
  • Be aware that some supplements, particularly those labeled for hair, skin, and nail benefits, may have high levels of biotin, which may not be clear from the name of the supplement.
  • If you have had a lab test done and are concerned about the results, talk to your health care provider about the possibility of biotin interference.