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It’s a misperception that just won’t go away: Today’s court system is bogged down by frivolous civil lawsuits. The truth is that more than 60% of lawsuits today are businesses suing other businesses or civilians and that civil lawsuits in Illinois fell 43% between 2010-2015. Civil lawsuits are those brought by an individual against another individual or business. This means the number of Americans suing anyone for being wronged is falling dramatically.

Exaggerations and Outright Lies

If you listen to the propaganda machine out there, you’d hear that civil lawsuits are at fault for raising our insurance premiums, driving doctors out of of the profession, and preventing our country from coming up with a reasonably-priced national insurance program that benefits most. You’d likely also hear that civilians and workers are costing businesses millions each year for injury and workers’ comp lawsuits, and that Americans in general have gone lawsuit crazy.

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After less than a day of deliberation, a Chicago jury awarded Tierney Darden $148 million for a shelter collapse outside O’Hare Airport that ripped her spinal cord in half, leaving her permanently paralyzed from the waist down and in constant pain.

In August 2015, Tierney, her mother, and sister had just returned to Chicago after traveling to Minneapolis to pick out a wedding dress for her sister. The three were waiting outside O’Hare under one of several pedestrian shelters found at the airport. A storm caused the shelter to suddenly collapse, trapping Tierney, now 26. After the accident, CBS 2 investigators found corroded parts and missing bolts and screws in not only the shelter that collapsed, but in nearly all others. The discovery and exposure forced O’Hare to remove all pedestrian shelters.

Tierney, a former dancer at Truman College, told CBS 2 of the accident “I hate it. I hate that I have to wake up every day and see it.”

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Those who ride in a Ford Explorer as a passenger or a driver are putting themselves at risk for carbon monoxide poisoning. Despite nearly 2,100 complaints to Ford and another 791 to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), Ford has yet to issue a recall of 1.33 million 2011-2017 Ford Explorer sport utility vehicles.

“Please help us. I have three kids and no other vehicle”

The Ford Explorer Interceptor is the most widely used police vehicle in this country, causing concern over the potential consequences police officers may suffer while operating the car. Among the complaints are a strong smell similar to burning hair that causes nausea, vomiting, headaches, light headedness, and even fainting. In July, a Massachusetts police office became disoriented and rear ended another car. He and the interior of his Ford Explorer Interceptor both tested positive for carbon monoxide. In an attempt to smooth over issues with police departments and taxpayers, Ford has sent investigators out to examine Explorer Interceptors and fix them at no cost to police departments. According to the engineer of the Explorer, post-production changes to the vehicle that involve drilling holes and other entryways for lights, sirens and electronic equipment are allowing carbon monoxide to leak into the car’s interior. Following that theory, the engineer says that civilians don’t have any reason to worry.

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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.