The Surprising Words That Get Content Shared on Social Media

The Surprising Words That Get Content Shared on Social Media
Courtesy of: Quick Sprout

Justice for Sale: The Growth of Mandatory Arbitration

golden scales of justice
Voices of San Diego
produced a three part series titled Justice for Sale. It details the growth of mandatory arbitration and its effect on class action lawsuits. Across the country, companies are inserting language into their contracts that restricts consumers from pursuing litigation against them. The increased use of mandatory arbitration has created an alternative track of justice critics say is flawed and unfair to the consumer.

Forced arbitration has the ability to deny plaintiffs their day in court, which affects their constitutional right to a jury trial (Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution) and as the issue becomes more mainstream, there will be a pushback against companies who are using this strategy.

The three parts of this series are:

  1. Arbitration Purgatory
  2. Ignoring the Law
  3. The War on Consumer Class Actions

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Written by Lulaine Compere

NFL Concussion Case Causes Headaches for Judge Brody

headacheThis past September, the NFL reached a tentative settlement with former players who have experienced traumatic head and brain injuries. Judge Anita Brody, who had previously rejected a proposed settlement for this case, is currently delaying a decision over whether or not the $765 million should be approved.

Judge Brody’s apprehensions stem partially from the fact that the originally proposed settlement was meant to cover approximately 4,500 plaintiffs, where it would be used to provide 65 years of monetary compensation, health benefits, and research. Currently, however, there are at least 20,000 plaintiffs eligible for compensation. Brody’s main concern is that the $675 million allocated for compensation will not be able to cover this plaintiff load for 65 years.

In order to determine the expected longevity of the settlement awards, Judge Brody has asked case attorneys to provide evidence that players will receive adequate care over a 65 year span. Brody has also hired an expert financial analyst to this end. The calculations must take into account the awards of up to $5 million that younger injured players will receive.

After preliminary approval for the settlement has been granted, NFL Concussion cases are eligible for funding from RD Legal. However, at the present, it is uncertain whether this settlement is simply being postponed, or whether it will be rejected altogether.

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Written by Shayna Keyles

Bank of America Agrees to Settle in Force-Placed Insurance Case

circle of hundred dollar bills
After allegedly overcharging for homeowner’s insurance, co-defendants Bank of America and QBE Insurance Corp have agreed to pay a $228 million settlement. The defendants do not admit to any wrongdoing, but have agreed to settle to prevent further litigation.

Other banks, including JP Morgan Chase, HSBC, Citigroup and Wells Fargo have agreed to pay settlements for a slew of cases claiming that the banks had been cutting deals with insurance companies to secure financial gain. The Bank of America / QBE settlement is the largest of such cases.

The cases against these financial institutions all rest on the assumption that force-placed insurance policies issued by the banks and insurance companies were extravagantly expensive and served mainly to profit the lenders. Homeowners who received force-placed insurance policies, which are insurance policies given by a bank to a homeowner whose insurance policy was cancelled or expired, found that these policies were more expensive, yet less effective, than typical insurance policies.

The settlement, reached in the Miami federal courts, will hopefully conclude a two-year litigation process. Affected class members should expect to receive settlement proceeds totaling in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. Up to $16 million may be set aside for attorney fees.

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Written by Shayna Keyles

A $37 Million Settlement Can Sure Get Your Heart Pumping: Hospital Held Accountable

red-heartBaltimore’s St. Joseph Medical Center has reached a $37 million settlement with previous patients who needlessly received heart stent procedures from former cardiologist Mark G. Midei. This settlement has been agreed upon following over four years of litigation.

Legal action was initiated after St. Joseph’s hospital alerted hundreds of cardiology patients who had seen Dr. Mark G. Midei that their stent procedures may have been unnecessary. These pricey procedures are used to help support narrow or weak arteries.

Though Midei claims no wrongdoing and stated that he truly believed the stents he used were live-saving, approximately 275 patients are looking to receive settlement proceeds of at least $134,000. Many more patients were given stents than the 275 involved in litigation. Another 250 plaintiffs had already reached a deal.

Midei was employed at St. Joseph’s and was held in high esteem amongst colleagues until the Maryland Board of Physicians realized that he had been falsifying medical documents in order to justify performing stent procedures. His medical license was revoked shortly after the Board began investigating his actions.

The final settlement amount has not been determined. Catholic Health Initiatives, the owners of the hospital, agreed to pay around $37 million dollars if at least 60% of possible claimants pursue the case.

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Written by Shayna Keyles

Toyota Hopes to Hit the Brakes on Future Litigation

blue toyota
The past year hasn’t been too pleasant for Toyota. After a multitude of claims were filed against the automaker for defective ignition switches and unintended acceleration, Toyota finally agreed to settle for $1.2 billion. Now, Toyota is announcing that it will recall nearly 6.4 million vehicles from all global markets because of potential airbag failures.

Now, in addition to worrying about unintended acceleration and a faulty ignition switch, Toyota drivers will have to be cognizant of defective airbags and seats so unstable that they may move during a crash. Addressing these concerns, and likely attempting to prevent further litigation, Toyota will be recalling 1.8 million vehicles from the United States alone. This is in addition to the 1.1 million Toyota vehicles that have already been recalled this year. Toyota is recalling its vehicles at a relatively fast pace, especially when compared to the recall rate of the record-breaking 5.3 million recalls issued by Toyota last year alone.

This recent round of recalls was primarily prompted by a slew of requests from Toyota drivers, who noticed a warning light, or whose air bags did not deploy in an accident. Toyota representatives said that the defect is caused by an electrical connection that could be damaged if the steering wheel was turned in a certain way. The failed connection could result in the car sending off a warning that the air bag might be defective, or could result in the air bags being disabled.

As for the second problem, in which the seats had a tendency to move during an accident, Toyota plans to fix the seat rails of the driver’s seat and some passenger seats. This trouble is said to be caused by springs breaking and failing to keep the chair locked in place.

Toyota’s recall move is an attempt to acknowledge accountability for any potential deaths and injuries. Company mechanics will be repairing air bags on 1.3 million vehicles, and repairing seats on approximately 500,000 additional vehicles.

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Written by Shayna Keyles

Plaintiffs Feel Ripped Off in Toyota Acceleration Settlement

toyota in the snow
Though Toyota recently agreed to a $1.2 billion settlement for criminal negligence, plaintiffs are concerned that this sum is not large enough.

Drivers such as Ernestine Montgomery, who were directly affected by Toyota’s faulty ignition systems, are due to receive small portions of the $1.2 billion settlement. Montgomery’s Toyota Camry was totaled in 2006, resulting in over $4000 repairs, increased insurance rates, and hundreds of dollars in rental car fees. She is only being awarded $195 in compensatory damages. This reparation is only intended to cover her economic losses, as she did not file for injury. Still, the damages Montgomery will be awarded come to only 12.5% of her repair costs.

According to Montgomery’s attorney, the $1.2 billion settlement is not intended to compensate Toyota owners or accident victims. Instead, this is a punitive fine, and many of the allocated funds will be granted to attorneys and governments.

The U.S. Government spent four years conducting a criminal investigation against Toyota. Since 2009, Toyota has paid over $66 million because it failed to report unintended acceleration. These, too, were punitive fines, and were not intended to compensate victims.

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Written by Shayna Keyles

Actos Verdict Breaks Record for Punitive Damages

golden pillIn a record-breaking decision, a U.S. court ordered manufacturers and distributors of the diabetes drug Actos to pay punitive damages totaling $9 billion. This is the largest punitive measure ever taken against a pharmaceutical company.

Actos, manufactured by Japanese pharmaceutical company Takeda, has been linked to bladder cancer. Patients with Type 2 Diabetes who are prescribed Actos are more likely than others to develop bladder cancer.

The Louisiana court that issued the verdict against Takeda granted $1.5 million in compensatory damages to Terrance Allen, the man who filed the lawsuit against Takeda after his diagnosis of bladder cancer. These compensatory damages are in addition to the total of $9 billion in punitive damages. Takeda, the primary manufacturer and distributor of the drug, will be responsible for paying $6 billion. Eli Lilly, Takeda’s American partner, has been ordered to pay $3 billion.

Allen’s case has been referred to as a bellwether case, which will likely influence future pharmaceutical cases. The $9 billion damages order, the largest ever issued against a pharmaceutical company, speaks clearly to the idea that pharmaceutical companies should be held accountable for any pharm-related issues.

Over 3,000 lawsuits have been filed in this multi-district litigation (MDL). Plaintiffs allege that Takeda did not adequately warn distributors or patients of the risks associated with the drug. These allegations are supported by a 2011 announcement by the FDA, stating that anyone who uses Actos for over a year may be at a higher risk for bladder cancer. As a result of this statement, French and German governments banned the drug.

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Written by Shayna Keyles

Januvia: The Medication that Makes You Sick

sick womanImagine going to the doctor to receive treatment for diabetes, and leaving with a prescription for pancreatic cancer. This horrific scenario is all too relevant for those who were prescribed Januvia, a diabetes medication produced by Merck & Co and introduced to the market in 2006.

Januvia has been the subject of a series of lawsuits, launched by individual plaintiffs, alleging that Merck & Co over-promoted the drug, while simultaneously failing to warn doctors and patients of the potentially life-threatening side effects. Two recent cases demonstrating wrongful death as a result of taking Januvia serve to amplify the arsenal of accusations being lodged at Merck. One of these new lawsuits, launched from Hasbrouck Heights, NJ, involves a patient who was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer within a year of starting Januvia. Another new case, which is being filed in Los Angeles, seeks to demonstrate that taking regularly administered doses of Januvia resulted in the plaintiff’s developing acute pancreatitis.

Presently, all Januvia cases are being tried as individual lawsuits. However, because of the growing number of claims being filed and the increase in reported cases of pancreatic complications, all Januvia litigation may be consolidated into a single multi-district litigation.

Januvia was approved by the FDA in 2006 to help control blood sugar levels for patients with Type 2 Diabetes. However, as a side effect of Januvia’s treatment, the drug was also found to cause pancreatitis, pancreatic cancer, and other digestive ailments. A 2009 study conducted by UCLA demonstrated that Januvia is linked to increased risk for pancreatic abnormalities, including pancreatitis or pancreatic cancer. A second study showed that Januvia-takers were almost three times more likely to develop pancreatic cancer than those who took other diabetes medication.

Plaintiffs are suing on the basis that Januvia manufacturers were aware of the high risks associated with Januvia, and did not adequately warn patients or physicians. Plaintiffs also believe that Januvia’s uses were over-advertised, potentially leading to some unnecessary prescriptions. As a result of both of these events, many who have taken Januvia were subject to pain, injury, illness, and in some cases, death. Litigation against Merck & Co. seeks reparations for all those directly affected by taking Januvia.

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Written by Shayna Keyles

9/11 Memorial to Host 5K and Family Day

american flag in the wind
The 9/11 Memorial, which is located near the World Trade Center, is hosting its second annual 5K Run/Walk and Family Day. The event, which is set to take place on Sunday, April 27th, is going to raise awareness for the National September 11th Memorial & Museum and encourage volunteerism in the spirit of 9/11.

5K Start Location: Pier 26
Registrant Check-In Time: 7:30 a.m.
5K Start Time: 8 a.m.

The route includes the police memorial in Battery Park City and “Point Thank You.” Registration for the event is still open, but if you aren’t able to physically be in New York City on that day, you can register as a Global Runner. As a “Global Runner” you are committed to running or walking anywhere in the world in support of the museum.

To register for the event, please visit http://www.crowdrise.com/911memorial5KRunwalkDay.

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Written by Lulaine Compere