September 24, 2010
Heart attack and heart failure patients have a higher risk of a second heart attack or death if they take painkillers including the generic drug ibuprofen and Pfizer Inc.’s Celebrex, a Danish study found.
The risk doubled within the first 90 days on the painkillers Celebrex or Merck & Co.’s withdrawn Vioxx in those who had survived a heart attack or heart failure, compared with those who didn’t take the medications, according to research presented today at the American Heart Association meeting in New Orleans. Other common painkillers, such as the generics diclofenac and ibuprofen, increased the risk between 2.1 and 1.3 times.
About 8.1 million people in the U.S. have had a heart attack and 5.3 million Americans suffer from heart failure, according to the Heart Association Web site. Based on today’s findings, doctors should avoid prescribing painkillers called NSAIDS, or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, for these patients, or give them at the lowest dose for the shortest time, researcher Gunnar Gislason said.
“The take-home message is that we need to be careful when using NSAIDs among patients with previous heart attack or heart failure, and we need to carefully consider the balance between risk and benefit when considering starting NSAID treatment in high-risk patients,” said Gislason, a senior resident in cardiology at Copenhagen University Hospital in Denmark, in an e-mail. “Even short-time treatment with NSAIDs seems to increase cardiovascular risk among these patients.”
A Las Vegas eye doctor who has been sued for medical malpractice at least 17 times during his career is the target of a new class-action lawsuit filed by four Las Vegas Valley residents.
The patients claim Dr. Vikas Jain and his wife, Dr. Anamika Jain, advertised a flat rate for laser vision corrective surgery to be done with state-of-the-art equipment by a board certified ophthalmologist. But according to the lawsuit filed by attorney Barry Levinson, Jain’s practice offered none of those services.
“The surgery was not state-of-the-art, did not use the most advanced equipment and all care was not provided by board certified ophthalmologists,” states the lawsuit, which was filed Monday.
Vikas Jain conducted most of the pre- and post-surgery assessment and measurement tests even though he is not a certified laser surgeon, Levinson said Tuesday.
“The surgeons were doing the work based on what he said,” Levinson said.
On Tuesday, Jain said the allegations are untrue.
He wouldn’t go into detail per his attorney’s instruction, but Jain said he believes a former employee prompted the lawsuit.
“I really believe a disgruntled employee drummed up patients and everyone got on the bandwagon,” Jain said. “I never did a single thing at Valley Eye Center that any technician at any practice in America couldn’t do.”
The lawsuit, which is expected to eventually include dozens of plaintiffs, also targets former surgeon Stella Chou, alleging that she allowed Jain to perform pre-operative tests while knowing he was not a certified laser surgeon.
Dr. Vikas Jain, also known as Ken Johnson, lost his medical license in Ohio in 2005, then moved to Nevada and used his wife’s medical license to open the Valley Eye Center on Tenaya Way the next year.
Vikas Jain is not licensed to practice medicine in Nevada.
Jain advertised the guaranteed price for his eye procedures, but then tacked on additional costs, according to the lawsuit.
The costs were added when the patients were offered “insurance” for enhancement surgery after the original operation, the lawsuit states.
The driver of a car that crashed into a tree last year near Hampshire, killing four passengers, has been named in a wrongful-death lawsuit filed by one of the victim’s families.
The lawsuit was filed in Kane County Circuit Court by the family of Ayush Joshi, 20, of Hoffman Estates, who died Sept. 8, in a one-car crash on Dietrich Road, north of the Jane Addams Memorial Tollway in rural Kane County.
The suit alleges that the driver, Fakir Muhammad Jaffrie, 26, of Crystal Lake was negligent by speeding and failing to control the vehicle. It seeks more than $50,000.
Article: Chicago Tribune
Plaintiffs who claim a conspiracy by American Express to cover up an antitrust plot with other major credit card companies on foreign currency transactions won a victory as a federal appeals court said they cannot be compelled to arbitrate.
The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled the plaintiffs could not be forced into arbitration because American Express was not a signatory to the MasterCard, Visa and Diners Club credit card agreements that included the arbitration clauses.
The court’s decision came in Ross v. American Express Co., 06-4598-cv, a related case to the multidistrict class action litigation, In Re Currency Conversion Fee Antitrust Litigation, 01-md-01409, now pending before Southern District of New York Judge William Pauley.
In the multidistrict currency conversion case, cardholders are claiming that card companies and major issuing banks have engaged in a Sherman Act conspiracy to fix higher fees for transactions involving foreign currency.
In Ross, the plaintiffs are the same cardholders in the multidistrict litigation, but they are not American Express (Amex) cardholders. The Ross plaintiffs charged in their complaint that American Express plotted with the other major card companies “to fix, maintain, and conceal the artificially inflated” foreign currency fees at issue in the multidistrict litigation. They alleged that American Express was part of the “collusive arrangement between and among the MDL defendants” — in part by holding a series of meetings on including compulsory arbitration agreements “in an effort to impede consumer litigation.”
In the Ross case, Pauley held in 2005 that the plaintiffs could be compelled to arbitrate their claims, but only after a trial to determine the validity of the arbitration clauses.
The judge said “a non-signatory to an arbitration agreement may compel a signatory to that agreement to arbitrate a dispute where careful review … discloses that the issues the non-signatory is seeking to resolve in arbitration are intertwined with the agreement that the estopped party has signed.”
The 2nd Circuit reversed in a decision by Judges Rosemary Pooler and Peter Hall and, sitting by designation, Eastern District of New York Judge David Trager. Pooler wrote for the panel.
“Arbitration is a matter of contract, but the plaintiffs have not entered into any contract whatever with Amex, let alone any contract containing an arbitration clause,” Pooler said.
So the question for the court was whether it would employ any one of a number of common law principles that would allow a nonsignatory to enforce an arbitration agreement, including equitable estoppel. The answer was no.
“The district court’s opinion improperly extends the principle of compelling arbitration through equitable estoppel to a situation where the requisite contractual basis for arbitration does not exist,” Pooler said.
Second Circuit cases applying estoppel against a party trying to avoid arbitration, she noted, have in common that nonsignatories have some kind of “corporate relationship” to a signatory, such as cases involving subsidiaries, affiliates and agents.
And the court has extended that concept beyond affiliated corporate entities to other situations, including where a nonsignatory to a construction contract could compel arbitration because it was explicitly required by the contract to perform certain tasks. That case was Choctaw Generation Ltd. P’ship v. American Home Assurance Co., 271 F. 3d 403 (2d Cir. 2001).
Denver is on the verge of paying $850,000 to settle a lawsuit accusing the city of age discrimination in a case involving a firefighter who claimed he was wrongly terminated.
Bill Cadorna, who had been a firefighter for nearly 30 years, was fired over a dispute involving a missing Junior League of Denver cookbook.
He was falsely accused of shoplifting the cookbook in 2002. Later, it was revealed that a clerk gave him permission to borrow the cookbook until the one he had misplaced in the store was found.
The criminal charges were dropped, but the city of Denver refused to give him his job back because it claimed a state law says a firefighter who is over 50 and is declared eligible for disability retirement may not be re-examined for service.
Article: Denver Post
In yet another stand against the state’s cruise industry, Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum filed a lawsuit Wednesday against Imperial Majesty Cruise Line, accusing the company of making about $4 million in the past two years by sneaking a surcharge onto its customers’ bills.
The Broward County cruising company, known for two-night jaunts to the Bahamas, has added fuel surcharges of $20 to $30 onto bills since late 2006 without adequately disclosing the fees to its customers, McCollum said during a news conference Wednesday.
Imperial Majesty either did not include information about the fees in its brochures and on its website or indicated that the charges were government taxes or fees, McCollum said.
”That’s certainly not what it was,” he said outside his Brickell Avenue office.
The lawsuit demands that Imperial Majesty refund the approximately $4 million collected through retroactive surcharges and revise its advertising practices to be upfront about all charges.
The attorney general’s office said it looked into the cruise line’s surcharges after receiving complaints from customers, many of whom learned about the extra fees when arriving for their cruise.
Article: Miami Herald
September 23, 2010
A lawsuit contending that thousands of people in India were exposed to polluted drinking water after the 1984 Union Carbide toxic-gas disaster in Bhopal was reinstated on Monday by a U.S. appeals court, which said a lower court improperly threw out the case.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in New York sent the lawsuit back to a Manhattan federal court judge for further proceedings.
A three-judge panel of the appeals court found that the lower court had erred by granting the defendants’ request for summary judgment in the case before giving the plaintiffs the opportunity to gain access to certain pretrial documents and other information they had sought.
A December 1984 gas leak at the Union Carbide Corp pesticide plant in central India — the world’s worst industrial disaster — killed an estimated 3,800 people who inhaled toxic fumes, according to figures from the Indian government. Many more have died from gas-related illnesses.
Union Carbide, now owned by Dow Chemical Co, paid $470 million in compensation in 1989. Union Carbide, along with former chief executive Warren Anderson, are defendants in the water pollution lawsuit.
The lawsuit was brought on behalf of people who lived or worked near the Bhopal plant who say they suffered ailments including cancer and neurological damage caused by contaminated groundwater. The legal claims were first brought in 1999 after a study by environmental group Greenpeace found widespread water contamination in the area, said Richard Lewis, one of the lawyers for the plaintiffs.
“We’ve waited since 1999 to get our day in court and we look forward to proceeding,” Lewis, of law firm Cohen Milstein Hausfeld & Toll, said on Monday.
Union Carbide said that the appeals court ruling was based on a procedural issue — not the merits of the case — and that it believed the claims would ultimately be dismissed.
“The Second Circuit did not discuss the merits of the case or the merits of the trial judge’s ruling of dismissal, and its decision should not be interpreted as a ruling on the merits,” said Union Carbide spokesman Tomm Sprick. He said the trial judge “has consistently ruled to dismiss claims” against the defendants as the issues have come before him.
A Philadelphia judge has asked the state Superior Court to uphold another of his rulings dismissing a plaintiff’s personal injury complaint that the manufacturers of her hormone replacement therapy drugs are liable for her breast cancer.
Philadelphia Common Pleas Judge Allan L. Tereshko wrote Oct. 21 in a 1925(a) opinion that plaintiff Hazel Blaylock knew that her breast cancer might be related to her use of hormone therapy and that she had the duty to investigate the cause of her injury and file her action within two years of her December 2000 breast cancer diagnosis.
Blaylock v. Wyeth Pharmaceuticals Inc. has been appealed to the Superior Court, where it has been consolidated with 13 other hormone replacement therapy mass tort cases at the behest of the plaintiffs and over the opposition of defendants Wyeth Pharmaceuticals Inc. and Pharmacia and Upjohn Co.
Appellant counsel Howard J. Bashman, a Willow Grove solo practitioner and regular columnist for The Legal Intelligencer, said that the appellants’ attorneys for all 14 cases thought it was appropriate to consolidate the cases to avoid opposite results from different panels and to avoid the overconsumption of court resources. Bashman said he expects to write a brief on behalf of all 14 appellants.
The defendants wanted one case to be decided first and then to see how that decision would impact the rest of the cases, Bashman said.
September 15, 2010
Lawsuits against Merck & Co. and partner Schering-Plough Corp. related to their marketing of cholesterol drug Vytorin are piling up, and the U.S. Department of Justice has begun investigating the drugmakers’ conduct, according to a regulatory filing.
The Justice Department’s Civil Division notified Merck in a Sept. 10 letter that the department is investigating whether the drugmakers’ promotion of Vytorin resulted in false claims to federal health care programs, Merck noted in a filing to the Securities and Exchange Commission late Monday. If so, federal health programs could seek to recover money they have spent on the drug.
A group of 35 state attorneys general are jointly investigating whether the partners violated state consumer protection laws in their marketing of Vytorin, Merck reported.
And, since January, Merck has been served with or become aware of about 140 civil class action lawsuits alleging consumer fraud claims in connection with two cholesterol drugs sold and promoted by the partners’ joint venture. Some lawsuits allege personal injuries or seek medical monitoring for people who used the drugs, the filing said.
“We take this matter very seriously,” Skip Irvine, a spokesman for the joint venture, said Tuesday. “We’re cooperating with the request for information that the Justice Department is seeking.”
Merck also said in the SEC filing that it is cooperating with the other investigators.
Vytorin and one of its components, Zetia, have been blockbusters in the lucrative cholesterol market, with a combined $5.2 billion in 2007 revenue. But repeated bad news about the drugs this year has cut revenue by about 15 percent since last fall — they brought in only a combined $1.1 billion in the third quarter — contributing to new rounds of layoffs at both Merck and Schering-Plough.
In January, under pressure from congressional investigators, the companies released results of a long-delayed study showing that pricey Vytorin was no better at reducing plaque buildup than its second component, a generic cholesterol drug called Zocor costing about one-third as much.
That led to the investigations by congressional committees as to whether the companies deliberately delayed releasing the study’s results to boost sales of Vytorin and Zetia, a charge the companies have denied.
The investigations are being conducted by the Senate Finance Committee and the House Committee on Energy and Commerce’s Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations. They have sought witness interviews, documents and information related to the companies’ promotion of Vytorin, the delayed release of results on the patient study, called ENHANCE, and stock sales by officers of the companies.
The Nevada Supreme Court has reinstated a medical malpractice suit by a Las Vegas mother whose child suffered brain damage during birth.
The court overturned a decision by District Judge Mark Denton, who dismissed the suit of Marilyn Monroe on grounds it was brought after the four-year statute of limitations against Dr. Barry Halpern.
The child, James Monroe, was born by Caesarean section at Sunrise Hospital in May 1995. During the procedure, James’s head was lacerated with a scalpel. He was taken to the intensive care unit under Halpern’s supervision.
The court, in its unanimous opinion, said Halpern tried for about an hour to stop the bleeding and then called a pediatric surgeon to close the wound. The boy was then transferred to Southwest Regional Neonatal Center where he was cared for by Dr. J. Parker Kurlinski.
Monroe filed claims against both Halpern and Kurlinski on grounds they had mistreated her son. Kurlinski and Monroe have settled their suit.
Monroe’s suit against Halpern was dismissed by Judge Denton because it was not filed within the four-year statute of limitation. But the Supreme Court said there is a 10-year statute of limitation if the child suffers brain damage or a birth defect.
Article: Las Vegas SunNewer Posts »