Author Archive for David Brown

Jury Finds Roundup Caused Cancer of California Couple; Awards $2 Billion in Damages

Bayer AG suffered a resounding legal defeat when a California jury slammed the company with more than $2 billion in punitive damages following a Roundup cancer trial.

The Alameda County Superior Court jury found that Alva and Alberta Pilliod’s non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL) diagnosis was caused by Roundup weed killer, manufactured by Monsanto, a subsidiary of Bayer.

The punitive damages are the largest award to date in a Roundup cancer trial. Punitive damages are awarded to punish a defendant for its actions and deter others from committing similar actions.

The jury also awarded $55 million in compensatory damages to Alva Pilliod, 76, and his 74-year-old wife, Alberta. The couple said they had regularly used Roundup weed killer on their property for 30 years.

In a statement released after the trial, Bayer called the May 13 verdict “disappointing” and said the company would appeal the jury’s decision.

Roundup Complaints Focus on Glyphosate

Roundup lawsuits claim the glyphosate herbicide in the weed killer causes cancer. Plaintiffs contend that the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer classified glyphosate as “probably carcinogenic.” Plaintiffs also accuse Bayer and Monsanto of failing to warn consumers about the health hazards associated with Roundup.

Bayer, however, maintains that glyphosate is safe. The company points to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s conclusion that glyphosate is not a carcinogen and does not pose a public health risk when used as directed.

More Roundup Cancer Trials to Follow

Four more Roundup cancer trials are scheduled later this year in Missouri and Montana. The most recent trial in California is the third Roundup cancer trial that Bayer lost.

In the first trial held in August 2018, a San Francisco County Superior Court jury awarded a California man $289 million in damages. The judge reduced the $250 million in punitive damages to $39 million. DeWayne Johnson, 46, said he was diagnosed with NHL in August 2014 after repeatedly using Ranger Pro while working as a school groundskeeper. Ranger Pro is Monsanto’s generic version of Roundup.

In March, a Sonoma County, California man was awarded $80 million in the first Roundup cancer trial held in federal court. Edwin Hardeman, 70, said he had used Roundup on his property for years before receiving an NHL diagnosis in 2015.

A Good Case Is Not Enough Without A Good Lawyer

Sometimes even outrageous medical misconduct requires expert legal representation to meet the court’s standards for awarding punitive damages. Consider the case of Tammy Cleveland, suing a doctor and a hospital for the death of her husband, Michael.

Michael Cleveland, age 46, collapsed after suffering a heart attack in Tops Friendly Market in Tonawanda, New York on a Friday night in October 2014. He was put into an ambulance and rushed to the emergency room at DeGraff Memorial Hospital in Buffalo, where a doctor pronounced him dead 25 minutes later. 

Tammy couldn’t accept the pronouncement of her husband’s death — because she could see he was still breathing. She could see his moving arm. Four times she insisted that doctors or nurses come in to confirm Michael’s death, and four times they refused. 

The coroner was called. What the coroner saw on his arrival was Mr. Cleveland struggling to stay on a gurney as he was being taken to another ambulance to be treated at another hospital. The coroner declined to issue a death certificate on the grounds that dead people don’t move.

The attending physician had eventually been persuaded to check Michael’s vital signs nearly three hours after pronouncing him dead, exclaiming “My God, he’s got a pulse,” according to Tammy. Only then was Michael rushed to a hospital that could give him the treatment he needed.

Michael finally got the care he needed for a 100 percent blockage of a coronary artery at another hospital, but he got it too late. He died at the second hospital the next day. His grieving widow later sued the doctor and the hospital for damages for intentional infliction of extreme emotional distress. That part of her case was thrown out of court.

How could a claim for such obvious injury be rejected by a court? The judge accepted the argument of the doctor’s lawyer that the alleged malpractice had to be not just negligent but evil and malicious. Furthermore, the judge ruled that since Tammy Cleveland hadn’t chosen to seek psychiatric care to deal with her grief, her emotional distress could not have been very severe.

The ruling would have been the end of Tammy’s case if she had not had legal representation who firmly believed in her cause. Look at the courtroom dialog reported in The Buffalo News and paraphrased below:

“There is no doubt that Mrs. Cleveland endured enormous grief,” the appellate judge said. “But to establish emotional distress, medical treatment is required, unless there is evidence greater than that.”

“In cases where grief is clearly evident, it can be presumed,” Tammy’s attorney said.

“You’re saying this is one of those cases?” the judge asked.

“This is one of those cases,” Tammy’s lawyer replied.

Tammy Cleveland’s case was sent back to the lower court to continue.

To win in court, it’s not enough to be obviously injured. To be a successful plaintiff, you need a skilled attorney who recognizes the justice of your case.


Rideshare App Lyft Being Sued for Collision that Injured 9

A pedestrian, Sara Polanco, is claiming negligence on the part of rideshare app Lyft after a truck collided with two of Lyft’s vehicles and then veered onto the sidewalk. The collisions involved multiple vehicles and injured a total of 11 different people, 9 of which are included in the lawsuit. Polanco’s lawsuit has the truck driver, Lyft, and two of Lyft’s drivers at fault for the damages that resulted from the series of collisions.

The collision has so far resulted in criminal charges against the truck driver, Christopher Jose Solis. Solis was driving his Toyota Tacoma when his vehicle collided with the first Lyft driver who was picking up passengers, then collided into a second Lyft vehicle across the street that was full of patrons leaving a local bar. Solis then careened onto the sidewalk where Polanco was struck. Solis was allegedly under the influence of marijuana at the time of the collisions. Solis is facing multiple felony charges including driving under the influence, hit and run, and a misdemeanor charge for property damages. There is a change he faces sentencing enhancement for the bodily injury done to a total of 11 individuals involved in the accident.

Polanco’s attorney has claimed that she suffered a shattered pelvis and a lacerated liver from the crash. Polanco was hospitalized in critical condition after the crash and spent several weeks recovering in the hospital. As of this writing, she is still recovering at her home and is only able to get around with the use of a wheelchair. Her medical bills have totaled nearly $1 million dollars.

Solis, the driver of the truck that started the collisions, was pulled over by local police just before the accident. Solis claimed that he was speeding to avoid robbers that had attempted to steal a laptop he had in his vehicle.

Polanco’s attorney is auguring that Lyft intentionally trains its drivers to prioritize picking up and dropping off the users of its rideshare app over the safety of others. Her attorney has also claimed that by having no dedicated loading and unloading zones in major metropolitan areas, Lyft is risking the safety of pedestrians and other drivers.

Lyft representatives have declined to comment on the lawsuit.

Clinics and Hospitals in Iowa Join Lawsuit Against Liver Allocation Process

The University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics has entered into a lawsuit with thirteen other parties over new federal legislation that would change how liver transplants are allocated nationwide.

The new legislation has many changes, but the most contentious one changes how donor’s livers are distributed over geographic regions. Prior to this new law, donor’s livers were distributed by proximity. That is to say, compatible livers were first given to the closest available patient. The law changes this to a need-based system. So now instead of looking for the closest patient, they are now instructed to look for the patient in the most need within specific geographical ranges.

A representative from the United Network for Organ Sharing, one of the organizations who supported the drafting of this bill, states that this new law is more equitable and will save lives. The UNOS rep cited the fact that approximately 3 people die every day waiting for an organ transplant and that this new legislation is designed to prevent those deaths. By switching to a need-based system, UNOS claimed, 100 more lives per year will be saved. An official from the Iowa Donor Network has stated that under current legislation, they are unable to either give or receive livers across the Mississippi river, but this new policy will allow them to both aid and be aided by their neighboring state of Nebraska.

Opponents of the bill have claimed that despite the well-intentioned nature of the legislation, it will come at the cost of liver transplants for underserved and rural communities. The lawsuit claims that this negative effect will amount to these communities receiving 20% fewer liver transplants per year—a massive drop in a life-saving procedure. Experts have claimed that this will most harshly impact rural communities and states in the south.

Organ transplants are still a hot issue. In 2018 there were approximately 16,000 individuals on the waitlist for an organ. Of that 16,000, only 11,000 ever received one. The Director of the UIHC has claimed that no matter how this legislation comes down, more work is needed to fix the root of the problem.

Popular Toy Maker Embroiled In Class-Action Suit Over Infant Deaths

Fisher-Price Infant Sleeper Allegedly Causes Over 30 Infant Deaths

Fisher-Price, one of the biggest toy makers in the world, is currently tied up in class-action lawsuits related to their Rock’n’Play infant sleeper. The lawsuits allege that this product is responsible for more than 30 infant deaths. Fisher-Price has recalled 4.7 million infant sleepers as the company strives to deal with the issue. The recall notice was posted on the company’s website on April 12th and calls for parents to return the sleepers immediately for a refund or voucher. Both of the lawsuits filed recently allege that Fisher-Price was long aware of the potential dangers of its product, but refused to announce a recall.

2 Recent Class-Action Suits

There have been 2 class-action suits filed recently in regard to Fisher-Price’s infant sleepers. The first was filed in the U.S. District Court in Buffalo by Samantha Drover-Mundy and Zachary Mundy. The second was filed by Cassandra Mulvey, also in Buffalo’s U.S. District Court. Both lawsuits seek unspecified damages and both suits attempt to create 2 different classes of claimants – one for New York plaintiffs, and the other for plaintiffs elsewhere in the country.

The Drover-Mundy suit in particular claims that Fisher-Price and Mattel put out a dangerous product that was flawed from the initial design phase. According to the suit, the manufacturer did not adhere to established safety standards when designing the Rock’n’Play sleeper. Allegedly, Fisher-Price then continued to market and sell the product, even as reports of infant injuries and deaths came pouring in. The sort of injuries that infants allegedly suffered from the Rock’n’Play product include asphyxiation, flat head syndrome and twisted neck syndrome. As previously mentioned, the Fisher-Price sleeper is also implicated in over 30 infant deaths since 2009.

Different Classes Of Claimants

In addition to the different classes of claimants based on location, the Drover-Mundy suit seeks to establish 2 further classes of claimants. The suit looks to create separate classes for infants that were allegedly injured by the Fisher-Price product and for families that purchased these products. The Drover-Mundy suit and the Mulvey suit will both be heard in the U.S. District Court in Buffalo, where a judge will rule on the attempts to establish different classes of claimants.

Lawsuits Target Heart Medicine Tainted with Cancer-Causing Chemicals

Lawsuits keep rolling in against the manufacture of a generic heart medication that has been found to be contaminated with carcinogenic chemicals. This contaminant has been on the market for a few years and has found its way into many commercial heart medications. The cancer-causing chemical known as NDMA was detected in Valsartan—an ingredient in heart medication manufactured by the company Zhejiang Huahai Pharmaceutical Co.

A lawyer looking into these cases has found over 2,000 personal injury cases linked to the contaminated medicine that may potentially sue for damages. Claims that were filed against the manufacturer have totaled over 93 million dollars. Lawyers involved in the cases have stated that it will be a difficult task to prove whether or not claimants have developed cancer due to exposure to the contaminated drug.

The FDA has been conducting a complicated recall medication contaminated by the drug since July of 2018. The FDA has claimed that drugs may have been contaminated for the last four years. The recall effort has been a complicated process of tracking down all of the different manufactures the tainted drug has been used in. The FDA has identified many of the contaminated drugs, but the process is complicated by the fact that Valsartan isn’t medicine in itself, but an ingredient used by many other companies.

So far, CVS, Mylan, Teva, and over 30 other companies have been found to have used the contaminated drug. Each of these companies has been named in at least one of the many lawsuits while Zhejiang Huahai Pharmaceutical Co. is the number one target of all of the legal proceedings. These lawsuits are still in the early stages and the outcomes of these proceedings will likely be unknown for a few years to come.

The FDA has concluded that it needs to revamp its policies and securities involving the production of these kinds of drugs. Specifically, the FDA is going to take steps to increase the safety and purity of medicines and components entering the US from foreign manufacturers—which was the case with the NDMA contaminated Valsartan. The FDA already inspected other factories with similar possible contaminations.

Former Sports Anchor, Vince Lennon sues Alabama TV Station for Claims of Racial Discrimination

When it comes to breach of contract and racial discrimination in the workplace, no employee can tolerate such behavior from their employers. Employees who have gone through this have been forced to acquire the help of the law to right the wrongs the employers have put them through. One employee looking for justice because of the breach of contract and racial discrimination comments, he went through at his workplace. This employee is none other than a former Montgomery TV sports anchor Vince Lennon. He filed a suit against Montgomery Television on three accounts of fraud, racial discrimination, and breach of contract.

He claims that while working at the network, he did not have the same treatment compared to his white co-workers. The reason for the difference in treatment was that he is of Spanish descent. Vince Lennon also claimed that the network lied to him in terms of the details of his employment while he was being recruited for his sports anchoring position at WAKA.

According to Lennon, when he left his stable job at Tennessee and relocated to Montgomery, he succumbed to economic hardship and financial loss. The loss he experienced continued after the company failed to pay his salary, as stipulated in his contract. WAKA also failed to pay him the makeup allowance they agreed upon when signing his contract.

Also, according to lawsuit Vince Lennon filed, when he was being “lured” away from Chattanooga to Montgomery to work at WAKA, Halbrooks promised a fully staffed bureau for production and editing of sports segments along with multiple cameras. But upon accepting the job, Lennon did not receive any of the promises. His department was not fully staffed, and he never did receive the equipment promised by management. During the one year he worked at WAKA, he never got any of the promises or agreements they made before signing the contract.

The lawsuit also includes several claims of harassment from his co-worker Sanders, especially one that claims his co-worker insinuated that he would cut off Vince Lennon’s manhood. The case is still pending, but most of his lawsuit claims have been ruled out due to jurisdictional issues.

Mother’s Lawsuit Claims South Carolina Guards Left Son to Die in Prison Yard

Allen Capers, 32, died on December 31, 2017, at the Turbeville Correctional Institution in South Carolina after receiving multiple stab wounds to the head, neck stomach, and hand. Renegade inmates had overpowered a guard, taken the master keys, attacked Capers as well as at least eight other inmates. They were using makeshift shanks, fire extinguishers, parts of chairs, a broken piece of metal, and mattresses as weapons in the assaults.

His mother, Debra Capers Dickson, filed a lawsuit claiming that the South Carolina Department of Corrections left Capers in the prison yard to die. By their negligence in providing adequate security and medical care, the SCDC contributed to the death of Allen Capers, according to the lawsuit.

Background: Prison Violence

The rash of prison violence has been widely reported and investigated. With severe understaffing, attempts to stem and prevent the violence and mounting homicide rate has been unsuccessful. The events on New Year’s Eve 2017 were part of just another outbreak of prison. As Justin Bamberg, the state representative and the attorney representing the family, says, “We’re talking about years, years of critical neglect from the state of South Carolina, years of problems with staffing, years of problems with facilities.”

Case Study for Prison Reform

A surveillance video depicts the prison guards dragging Capers out into the prison yard, and walking up to him, but not providing any medical intervention or assistance. While a statement from the SCDC claims that the actions of the guards are under investigation, Bamberg is pushing to make this a case study in the prison reform movement. He is calling for a capital-improvement bond to fix safety and security issues at the SCDC, which would have likely protected Capers.

The promise of greater security, combined with compensatory provisions, could also fix the understaffing issue. The rash of violence in the prison system has not only affected the lives of the inmates, but the guards are in danger as well. So, prison reform means improving the environment and working conditions for both inmates and guards. True improvement must take both sides of the cell-block door into consideration. It should not be a death sentence to serve out time in prison, according to Debra Capers.

Medical Malpractice As A Result Of “Never Events” Errors

Over eight years of analysis, John Hopkins’ patient safety experts, reported, in 2016, that medical errors are the third highest cause of death in the United States of over 250,00 deaths per year. Because of the high expectation of performance, “physician burnout” was said to be the cause of medical errors. Physician burnout occurs in more than 54% of physicians. The emotional symptoms of “burnout” are due to exhaustion, the dehumanizing viewing of patients as objects, and the accompanying cynicism.

A study of the relationship between the nurse’s burdensome amount of work and patient deaths found that an increase in one surgical patient led to a seven percent increase in the likelihood that a patient would die within the first thirty days of admission. The most damaging errors that a physician can engage in are errors referred to as “never events.” “Never events” are errors made by physicians that should “never, ever occur.” Research has shown that ” never events,” between September 1990 and September 2010, accounted for 9,744 paid malpractice claims. One half these claims were the result of surgery using the wrong procedure or the wrong part of the body and only 17 claims were the result of an operation on the wrong person.

Some of the more noted “never events” have been published in the media. In early April 2019, an Iowa jury awarded to Rickie Huitt $12.25 million because his prostate gland was removed, which was misdiagnosed as having cancer. His pathologist was treating two patients in 2017 and mixed up their slides containing tissue samples. The hospital’s anatomical laboratory mixed Mr. Huitt samples with another person who was diagnosed as having prostate cancer.

The mistake led to an incorrect diagnosis which directly resulted in his prostate gland being removed. The operation also damaged nearby nerves. Mr. Huitt became impotent and incontinent. He felt that he lost his manhood and active sexual relations with his wife due to the side effects of the surgery, which included stress and humiliation.

How could a highly intelligent surgeon and pathologist commit this grievous error? The surgeon/pathologist admitted to her errors of unnecessary surgery and cancer misdiagnosis, which can best be described as a “never event” and possibly the tragic result of “physician burnout.”

No Penalty Charges for Disney

In July 2018, Mr. Juan Alberto Ojeda, 33, a mechanic of Kissimmee, Florida was working in the backstage vehicle maintenance area of the Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort. He was attempting to repair a utility cart that had been reported for not starting up. For four years, Juan gained knowledge about his job, in an apprenticeship program offered at Disney. After finishing the course, he advanced to the position of a journeyman.

After inspecting the cart, Ojeda realized its battery needed charging, so he placed jumper cables on the power unit and the engine started. He reached into the front of the utility cart and at that moment; the vehicle jumped the curb. According to eyewitnesses, after the vehicle landed on the curb, it proceeded to travel about 3 to 6 feet up a chain-linked fence before falling on the victim, pinning him to the ground.

His fellow workers, Danny Vazquez and Josh Willner rushed over to help Juan, by trying to lift the cart off his body, but it was too heavy. For a brief moment, they thought about reversing the vehicle off him; however, they felt that would do even more damage. Ojeda stated he was having trouble breathing before losing consciousness. He died at the scene.

Juan Ojeda left behind his wife, Leslie and his young son.

The Investigation

After this horrific incident, Leslie Ojeda hired James Provencher, an Orlando attorney that represented the family. In the meantime, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) conducted an investigation. This agency is under the umbrella of The Department of Labor in Washington D.C. and was established and signed into law under the presidency of Richard Nixon.

OSHA’s goal is to make sure the workplace has stringent standards in place for the health and safety of employees in the United States. Since its creation in the 1970s, health hazards, illnesses, and overall fatalities have diminished by more than half.

After investigating the casualty involving Juan Ojeda, OSHA determined in an edited 250-page report, that in the future Disney is required to train their workers, making sure that they follow the guidelines in the utility cart’s manufacturer manual. According to Disney’s service manager, Ronald Ehmer, manufacturer’s manuals were in their mechanic’s shop, but it was not mandatory for the workers to use them.

The agency also noted that Ojeda had not used precaution, such as a block and tackle or jacks when dealing with the runaway vehicle. In the end, Walt Disney World was not fined or cited because OSHA felt it was not their fault, they had not breached any safety rules.

No Amends

Mrs. Leslie Ojeda and her attorney then filed a 15,000 dollar wrongful death lawsuit against the companies, Toro Co. and Wesco Turf, the manufacturers, distributors, and sellers of the utility vehicle, stating that the cart was defective and dangerous. They have yet to respond.