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An 18 year old was killed last night after a passenger car on a ride broke off at the Ohio State Fair in Columbus. Seven others are injured, 3 of whom are said to be in critical condition and have been sent to local hospitals, including the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. Dr. David Evans, medical director at Ohio State, told news outlets that viewing footage of the accident was helpful because it showed those treating the victims that the injuries came from an accident similar to that of a high speed vehicle crash.

The ride, called the Fire Ball, is a swinging pendulum that lifts cars filled with riders into the air before swinging back to the center and back up in the air in the opposite direction. According to eyewitnesses, an entire car suddenly snapped off while at its highest point in the air and hurtled passengers to the cement below.

According to the lead inspector, the ride was inspected ‘about 3 or 4 times’ in the span of 2 days and showed no problems. The ride was also said to have been inspected yesterday, just hours before the fatal malfunction.

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Court proceedings in an Australian class action lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson and its subsidiary, Ethicon, have revealed that the company tried to squash a report that would’ve revealed more testing was needed to ensure the efficacy and safety of its pelvic mesh devices. The report also stated that Ethicon pelvic mesh should not be used in patients until a randomized, controlled study was conducted. Pelvic mesh is used to support parts of the female anatomy that can shift from pregnancy, childbirth, or other conditions and requires implantation by a skilled surgeon. Members of the class action lawsuit have suffered injuries including intense pain, reduced sex lives, and loss of livelihood.

An attorney for the women has said that Ethicon received the report by French health authorities in 2007, two years after the devices were already in use throughout Australia.  Despite the report, the company put forth a marketing campaign that focused on the low price point and ease of implantation, while also going to great lengths to cover up the report from becoming public. Attorneys for the women have argued that implantation of pelvic mesh requires an advanced surgical technique, well beyond the skill level of a newer or inexperienced surgeon.

Earlier this month, the court heard minutes from an Ethicon meeting in which executives said the release of the French report “could have a major impact on our business if made public” and that efforts should be made to prevent it from becoming public. Court proceedings also discussed Ethicon’s involvement in a 2011 New England Journal of Medicine study and article touting the benefits and safety of their pelvic mesh devices. In 2013, the journal had to print an apology to its readers for misleading them on Ethicon’s involvement in the study and the article. Ethicon had essentially created the study, including the development of the study protocol, and had paid the authors of the article for their time. The company was also able to review the article draft before it was submitted and made numerous and significant changes.

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Cedric Kyle, more commonly known as Cedric the Entertainer, is suing Southern California Gas Company (SoCal) for a leak in Aliso Canyon that has caused a wide range of physical ailments for him and his family. The lawsuit contends that Cedric the Entertainer and his family have suffered from unexplained rashes, vertigo, bloody noses and various other ailments. The lawsuit also blames the leak for significantly lowering the property value on the comedian’s home.

The Aliso Canyon methane gas leak occurred from October 2015 to February 2016 and the lawsuit claims that officials knew the area was not being run in compliance with regulations and continued to pump natural gas into wells that were not structurally sound. Records have shown that SoCal employees were aware that gas was leaking for over 24 hours before they called the fire department. The lawsuit specifically notes that the company has known since 1979 that a safety shut off valve was malfunctioning and chose not to repair it.

Experts have described the leak as the most environmentally destructive natural gas leak in U.S. history, with Erin Brockovich comparing it to the 2010 BP oil spill. “I’ve really never seen anything like this. I think the magnitude is enormous. Its like a volcano, and the gas is like the lava that can’t be shut off.”

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The Center for Justice and Democracy at New York Law School shared a strongly worded letter to House Speaker Paul Ryan and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi speaking out against H.R. 1215. The letter, written on behalf of 80 major public interest organizations, highlights the damages that could result from passing H.R. 1215, the so-called Protecting Access to Care Act. Among the most notable passages is this:

“Even if H.R. 1215 applied only to doctors and hospitals, recent studies clearly establish that its provisions would lead to more deaths and injuries, and increased health care costs due to a “broad relaxation of care.” Add to this nursing home and pharmaceutical industry liability limitations, significantly weakening incentives for these industries to act safely, and untold numbers of additional death, injuries and costs are inevitable, and unacceptable.

The latest statistics show that medical errors, most of which are preventable, are the third leading cause of death in America. This intolerable situation is perhaps all the more shocking because we already know about how to fix much of this problem. Congress should focus on improving patient safety and reducing deaths and injuries, not insulating negligent providers from accountability, harming patients and saddling taxpayers with the cost, as H.R. 1215 would do.”

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After a couple of false starts, H.R. 1215, the Protecting Access to Care Act is going to the House floor this week.  This massive medical malpractice bill also applies to nursing home and drug and device cases.  The bill caps non-economic damages at $250,000, eliminates joint liability for economic and non-economic loss, caps attorney fees, has a restrictive statute of limitations and says that a doctor and a pharmaceutical company cannot be named in the same lawsuit.

This means, among many other things, that finding an attorney to handle an injury case will be more challenging and that financial compensation for injuries that are hard to quantify (such as pain and suffering) cannot surpass $250,000. 

The bill will not get better during floor debate.  The only amendments that will be allowed are amendments that make the bill worse for patients.  The debate on this bill will begin on Tuesday with vote on final passage scheduled for Wednesday. 

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Last year, Johnson & Johnson made constant headlines over their talc powder, sold for over 100 years and used by millions of women to keep undergarments and their body fresh and dry. When it was revealed that Johnson & Johnson knew that their product caused cancer and engaged in a decades-long cover up, many women suffering from ovarian cancer decided to sue the company, resulting in several large verdicts.

While the Johnson and Johnson crisis has blown the lid off the lengths manufacturers will go to sell a product (even with evidence indicating danger), they are hardly the first company to engage in such deceptive practices. The American Association of Justice (AAJ) recently released a report entitled “From Accutane to Zonite: A History of Dangerous Drugs and Devices Marketed to Women,” a thorough look into the ways women have been deceived by large corporations, paying big companies with their health and even their lives. The report comes at a time when the House is peddling the Protecting Access to Care Act (also known as H.R. 1215), a bill that would give significant legal protection to companies that are sued by those injured by faulty medical devices, dangerous drugs, negligent medical care, and abuse and neglect in nursing homes.

140 Years of Deceit & Claims of Curing ‘Women’s Problems’

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The FDA just issued strongly-worded letters to 14 U.S. companies that have been marketing and selling products that claim to prevent and/or treat cancer. The 14 companies sell 65 different cancer-related products that are available for purchase on various websites, including through social media.

According to the FDA news release, the companies that received the warning letters made products such as ‘pills, topical creams, ointments, oils, drops, syrups, teas and diagnostics (such as thermography devices).’

The letters request that each company notify the FDA of their plans to cease production and sale of the products or to seek product approval from the FDA. Failure to react appropriately will be met with legal consequences.

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A study conducted in Italy found several mesothelioma patients had only been exposed to asbestos during the manufacturing of dental prostheses, leading researchers to conclude that dental technicians are at an increased risk of mesothelioma.  The study included 5,000 diagnosed mesothelioma patients and took place over 14 years (from 2000-2014). The only exposure 4 of the study participants had to asbestos was as employees in a dental lab, tasked with crafting dental prostheses. In the 1960 & 1970s, asbestos was used to line dental casting rings, a container that held a dental mold for a restoration (also know as a dental prosthesis). During this process, the dental mold is heated, transferring heat to the liner, which leeched asbestos particles into the air. Breathing in of asbestos, a known carcinogen, is the primary cause of mesothelioma, a malignant cancer that typically does not show symptoms until 20 or more years after exposure to the carcinogen.

Asbestos & Mesothelioma in the News

Asbestos-related class action lawsuits have been making headlines recently, as the House of Representatives voted in favor of a bill that would draw out asbestos claims and severely limit a victim’s ability to not only recover damages, but to join the class action in the first place. The bill, H.R. 985 or the Fairness in Class Action Litigation and Furthering Asbestos Claim Transparency Act of 2017 (more commonly known as FACT), aims to create very narrow classes that require all plaintiffs to have the exact same injury. Injuries from exposure to asbestos can range from malignant mesothelioma and lung cancers to other lung-related disorders. The odds of each person who has been impacted from asbestos exposure to have the same symptoms and diagnoses are rare, proving that the goal of this provision is to eliminate victims and prevent them from seeking action against corporations who manufactured or used asbestos materials. The bill also seeks to limit the ability of plaintiffs to receive compensation from multiple companies or asbestos trusts. It would require full disclosure of the funds each plaintiff has received and this information would be available on court dockets, a move which Joanne Doroshow, plaintiff’s attorney and executive director of the Center for Justice & Democracy at New York Law School, argues “would force a lot of very private information about asbestos victims and family on to the public court docket, which is basically a public website.”

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We’d like to share insightful information from an April newsletter from the Illinois Trial Lawyers Association (ITLA) regarding 5 major reasons to oppose the Protecting Access to Care Act, better known as H.R. 1215. The bill, due to be voted on at any moment by the House, has a sweet-sounding name that overrides the detrimental aftermath that will result if the policy becomes law.

ITLA’s newsletter contains information shared by the American Association for Justice (AAJ) and perfectly sums up why we as Americans should oppose the passage of a bill that will take away our civil rights.

Below are the top 5 reasons to oppose The Protecting Access to Care Act (H.R. 1215):

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The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) are on a crusade to make private health care accreditation data available to the public, believing that many major issues related to patient safety are being overlooked. CMS has taken on similar endeavors in the past and were successful – they were responsible for now public nursing home inspection reports.

Currently 9 out of 10 hospitals in the United States are surveyed by private accreditors and not the government, meaning most institutions receiving tax dollars are able to avoid making details of these reports public record. Transparency in health care has become a hot topic as reports in recent months have outed preventable medical errors as the 3rd leading cause of death in this country.

Accreditation Doesn’t Necessarily Indicate Quality