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January 2015 Archives

$3 Million Sought In Legal Malpractice Claim Against Venable

A former employee of Integral Systems Inc. has filed suit against Venable, claiming legal malpractice led to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission investigating and taking action against him. 

Gary Prince, a former employee of Integral Systems Inc., filed a legal malpractice suit against the law firm on Jan. 21 in District of Columbia Superior Court. Prince claimed Venable attorneys failed to adequately advise him and the company on how to handle SEC filings and Prince's role within the company, leading to an SEC investigation and enforcement action. A spokeswoman for Venable could not be reached for comment. [caption id="attachment_1396" align="alignleft" width="300"]Photo: Diego M. Radzinschi/NLJ[/caption] Prince started working for Integral Systems in 1982, according to court documents. He resigned in early 1995 and several months later pleaded guilty in federal district court in California to conspiracy and making a false statement to the SEC in connection with his work for another company. The SEC permanently banned him from practicing before the commission as an accountant. In 1998, Integral Systems hired Venable to advise the company on its securities filings, according to Prince's lawsuit. The company also brought Prince back that year as a full-time employee, creating a role for him that was intended to comply with the SEC's accounting ban and also absolve the company from having to disclose his position--and, consequently, his conviction--in SEC filings. Integral Systems terminated Prince's employment in March 2007 while he was under investigation by the SEC. Two years later, the SEC filed a complaint accusing Prince of violating disclosure requirements under securities laws and of violating the accounting ban. U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler in May 2013 tossed the claims against Prince related to the disclosure issue but did find that he violated the accounting ban. Prince accused Venable attorneys of failing to communicate concerns they had about the work Prince was doing and the decision not to disclose his role in SEC filings. Had they done so, Prince alleged, he and Integral Systems would have handled the SEC filings differently and would have taken steps to make sure Prince didn't run afoul of the SEC's accounting ban. Prince, represented by Christopher Hoge of Crowley, Hoge and Fein, is seeking $3 million from the firm. The case is assigned to Judge Ronna Beck. A scheduling hearing is set for April 24. Originally posted by Zoe Tillman on nationallawjournal.com. Legal Malpractice - Ball & Bonholtzer Trial Attorneys - Los Angeles  

Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Law Firm Settle Legal Malpractice Claim

The Catholic Diocese of Spokane has reached a settlement in its legal malpractice claim against Paine Hamblen, the law firm that handled its bankruptcy stemming from multiple clergy sex abuse claims.

[caption id="attachment_1386" align="alignleft" width="300"] Former Spokane Bishop Blase Cupich[/caption] The church and the Paine Hamblen law firm settled Friday, but the terms of the settlement were not disclosed, The Spokesman-Review reported. The malpractice lawsuit was set for a trial in February, but both sides reached a settlement through a mediation effort. "The settlement does not constitute an admission of wrongdoing by either side," both sides said in a joint statement. "Rather, it is a resolution of differences in an amicable manner which allows the parties to move forward with the important work that each conducts in the service of the common good." Jane Brown, the managing partner of Paine Hamblen, told the newspaper her firm is pleased with the outcome. Robert Gould, a lawyer hired by the diocese to pursue the malpractice case, declined comment. The diocese filed for bankruptcy in 2004. It reached an agreement in 2007 to pay people who claimed abuse at the hands of priests dating back decades. Former Spokane Bishop Blase Cupich, who now serves as archbishop of Chicago, reviewed the bankruptcy case when he arrived in 2010 and decided to pursue a legal malpractice claim against the law firm. The church had sought $3.6 million in legal fees from the law firm, saying its lawyers underestimated how many victims would come forward with sex abuse claims after the bankruptcy was first resolved. A $1 million fund was created to handle future claims after the bankruptcy case was first resolved, based on Paine Hamblen's estimates of how much it would cost the diocese to settle the allegations. But the fund was quickly depleted, raising the prospect of foreclosure on some Catholic parishes that had been put up as collateral. Paine Hamblen disputed the malpractice claims by pointing to the vitality of the Catholic Church in Spokane following the $48 million bankruptcy settlement. Parts of this post came from an AP article posted on insurancejournal.com. Ball & Bonholtzer - Legal Malpractice Trial Attorneys - Los Angeles

Target Data Breach Lawsuits To Proceed As Class Action

Target data breach lawsuits, prompted by a 2013 data security breach affecting approximately 110 million customers, will go ahead as a class action.

According to Legal Newsline (1/5/15), Judge Paul A. Magnuson ruled that the class action could go ahead, although some of the claims made against Target were dismissed. The defendants had filed a motion to dismiss the class-action lawsuit. Magnuson wrote in the 46-page ruling that the data breach was "one of the largest breaches of payment-card security in United States retail history."The lawsuits allege Target customers were harmed by a data breach from November 27 to December 15, 2013, that made their personal information vulnerable. The Target data breach lawsuits were filed by consumers who used either their credit or debit cards at Target during the weeks in question and whose personal information was compromised. One hundred and fourteen plaintiffs have been named in the lawsuit so far, alleging they incurred unauthorized charges, lost access to their accounts, and/or had to pay fees including card-replacement fees and costs associated with credit monitoring because of compromised personal financial information. Lawsuits have also been filed by financial institutions affected by the data breach. In filing a motion to dismiss the consumers' complaints, Target argued that the plaintiffs could not show they were injured. However, the judge wrote that Target's arguments "gloss over the actual allegations made and set a too-high standard for Plaintiffs to meet at the motion-to-dismiss stage." The judge found that the plaintiffs had made plausible allegations, including unlawful charges and inability to pay other bills, that could be reasonably traced to Target's conduct, which is enough to allow the lawsuit to proceed at this stage. Lawsuits filed against Target allege the company failed to use reasonable security practices. The judge dismissed a claim of breach of contract against Target. Other companies have also faced lawsuits alleging they failed to properly protect consumer information. Home Depot also faces lawsuits concerning a data breach that allegedly exposed its customers' private information. The company also faces allegations that it did not alert consumers to the data breach in a timely manner. The Target lawsuit is In re: Target Corporation Customer Data Security Breach Litigation, MDL No. 14-2522, in US District Court, District of Minnesota. Originally posted by Heidi Turner on lawyersandsettlements.com.

Serious Injury Lawsuits: Additional AMS Transvaginal Mesh Cases To Be Settled In 2015

Transvaginal mesh manufacturer AMS has agreed to settlements of approximately $1.6 billion in serious injury lawsuits involving the implant. More cases are expected to be settled this year. 

Since Darlene had an American Medical Systems transvaginal mesh implanted, she has undergone two painful surgeries in an attempt to remove the mesh. "I've been in so much pain since having this mesh implanted that I'm now addicted to the Fentanyl Patch," says Darlene, a 35-year-old mother of three young children. Darlene suffered urinary incontinence after her third child was born. "It got to the point that I depended on Depends [adult diapers] whenever I went out," says Darlene, laughing. "Oops, there I go again. Every time I laughed, coughed or sneezed it was embarrassing. My doctor told me that this transvaginal mesh was the ticket. How wrong he was." And her urinary incontinence problem returned. Doctors once considered these mesh implants the "gold standard" of treatment. But that was before more than 50,000 women reported serious transvaginal mesh side effects, from infections to punctured organs to permanent nerve damage. And about 50,000 transvaginal mesh lawsuits have been filed. To make matters worse, a number of doctors who easily implanted this mesh are unable to remove it. "I can't even count how many times I went back to my doctor complaining about this mesh sling," says Darlene. "My complaints just fell on deaf ears. I believe he wasn't being honest with me because all he said was that I would get used to it. But it shouldn't take two years to get used to anything." Darlene says she finally found a surgeon to remove "this mesh mess" but the sling eroded into her vagina and she still has pain during sexual intercourse. "Not only has my health suffered; my family has also been negatively affected by this nightmare mesh," Darlene adds.

Courts Award Plaintiffs $151 Million in Unpaid Wages Lawsuit; Walmart May Appeal

Three courts find for plaintiffs in massive unpaid wages lawsuit against Walmart and Sam's Club. But Walmart indicates it may appeal the verdict to the U.S. Supreme Court.

It was about as big an unpaid wages lawsuit as one would find, brought against two of the biggest retail juggernauts of them all: Wal-Mart and Sam's Club. Lower courts found for the plaintiffs. And while the defendants appealed their case through state appellate and supreme courts in Philadelphia, in the end the original findings for the plaintiff were upheld, tagging Wal-Mart and Sam's Club with a bill for unpaid wages and damages worth $151 million. The decision came just in time for the Christmas break last year, making for a nice Yuletide gift for the plaintiffs involved - and there are a lot of them: 187,000 who worked for Wal-Mart Stores Inc. from March 1998 through April 2006 and potentially stand to benefit from the decision, pending a possible appeal. According to The Philadelphia Enquirer (12/16/14), the allegations, dating back to 2002 when the original lawsuit was brought on behalf of lead plaintiff Michelle Braun, involve a mandate to work through meal breaks and rest periods, as well as other forms of off-the-clock work. A jury in Philadelphia Common Pleas Court found, in 2006 when the case was tried, that the defendants were not at fault over the meal break issue, but in the same breath agreed that Wal-Mart and Sam's Club had deprived employees of wages when they were required to toil during rest periods and at various other times when they were not on the clock, but still performing tasks. The judge in the case, the honorable Mark I. Bernstein of the Common Pleas Court, awarded the plaintiffs a total of $151 million in wages and damages, together with $45 million in attorney's fees. Wal-Mart, according to the report, appealed to the Superior Court and argued that trying the case in any other fashion than having each of the 187,000 class members testifying individually, was simply unfair. It also, quite simply, may not be over yet. When the decision was announced in December, Wal-Mart hinted that it may appeal the verdict to the US Supreme Court. The retail giant says that it quite properly pays its 1.3 million employees the mandated wages and benefits, and that its timekeeping systems have been enhanced over the last 10 years or so. Wal-Mart and Sam's Club may be pleading innocence in the unpaid wages claim, even though three different courts have sided with the plaintiffs. If Wal-Mart decides to pursue an appeal to the US Supreme Court, will the honorable justices dismiss the findings of a triumvirate of lower courts? Or will the process just delay the inevitable? We will soon know. Meanwhile, with so many demands on an individual's time in such a high-tech world, employees are taking an increasingly dim view of off-the-clock work for no pay, and are letting their unpaid wages attorney know that they are more than willing to fight back... Originally posted by Gordon Gibb on lawyersandsettlements.com.

$5 Million Sought In Legal Malpractice Lawsuit

In a legal malpractice lawsuit against her attorneys, an Illinois woman alleges they did not properly investigate injuries she suffered while working on a cruise ship. 

Robin Lynne Reinhardt filed a legal malpractice lawsuit Dec. 19, 2014, in St. Clair County Court against attorneys Rodney Thompson and Alvin Paulson and their law firm Becker, Paulson, Hoerner and Thompson of Belleville.

Legal Malpractice: Felony Charges In $500K Settlement Scam

Legal Malpractice Case: Georgia attorney allegedly failed to notify his client that he had accepted a $500,000 civil settlement.

Vidalia attorney Wilson Randolph Smith on Thursday was ordered to remain in the Toombs County Detention Center pending a bond request before a Superior Court judge. Middle Judicial Circuit Chief Superior Court Judge Kathy Palmer of Swainsboro informed Smith, 63, of the three felony charges against him -- theft by conversion and two counts of forgery -- but did not take a plea. Smith, who also has law offices in Savannah, was arrested Tuesday night after a Georgia Bureau of Investigation probe into allegations he accepted a $500,000 civil settlement but never notified his client the case had been settled. Smith, wearing an orange jail jumpsuit, did not speak during his first appearance Thursday in court. Attorney Joe McGovern of Glennville is representing Smith. Palmer said attorney Kendall Gross of Metter has been appointed special master to oversee Smith's pending cases, and she said she would contact the State Bar of Georgia to expedite the Georgia Supreme Court appointing someone to handle those cases. Smith's alleged misconduct came to light in a legal malpractice case filed in Chatham County State Court by attorney Bart Turner for Smith's clients, Heather and Dewey Mallette of Kansas City, Mo. According to the suit, Smith, who represented the Mallettes in an earlier medical malpractice case in Chatham County Superior Court, did not inform them of a $500,000 settlement and forged documents as part of his concealment over a 16-month period. When the Mallettes contacted Savannah attorney William P. Franklin Jr. -- who had represented the defendants in the medical malpractice case -- he found the settlement materials in his files and learned they allegedly contained forged documents. Franklin then challenged Smith to "do the right thing." "Regrettably the allegations against you, corroborated by what the Mallettes told me and the paper trail, compel me to believe they are in fact true and demand a bar complaint and warrant draconian professional sanctions and perhaps even incarceration," Franklin wrote to Smith last month. According to the State Bar of Georgia, Smith joined the bar on June 11, 1976, and earned his law degree from Mercer law school. State Bar General Counsel Paula Frederick said Thursday that Smith remains active and in good standing with the bar and will remain so until -- and if -- the state Supreme Court changes that status. She said anyone can file a grievance with the bar against a lawyer that would allow the bar to begin an investigation. A lawyer convicted of a felony has an obligation to self-report to the bar. Conviction on a felony can result in disbarment and loss of license to practice law in Georgia, she said. In a civil case, someone can file a grievance and prompt a bar investigation, she said. Originally posted by Jan Skutch on savannahnow.com. 

Pharmaceutical Claims: Multiple Benicar Lawsuits To Go Forward In 2015

Pharmaceutical claims news: Benicar lawsuits allege the blood pressure medication is connected to serious health conditions, and that clinical trials were not of sufficient duration to reveal the negative side-effects of typically longer-term exposure. 

With a motion for consolidation of Benicar lawsuits before the courts and new Benicar side effects lawsuits being filed, 2015 could be an important year in Benicar litigation. Lawsuits filed against the company that makes Benicar allege the blood pressure medication is linked to a severe gastrointestinal condition.Late in 2014, a motion to consolidate lawsuits was filed with the US Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation. That motion requested that the 15 federal cases and 30 state cases in New Jersey be consolidated for pretrial proceedings in the Northern District of Ohio. According to the motion, of the 15 federal cases, nine are already pending in Ohio. Lawsuits filed in 2014 allege Benicar was defective and unreasonably dangerous for patients to take, resulting in serious health problems. One such lawsuit(Dirksen v. Daiichi Sankyo) filed against Daiichi Sankyo, Inc., and Forest Laboratories, notes that in 2013, the FDA released a Drug Safety Communication, warning about the risk of sprue-like enteropathy potentially linked to Benicar use. Symptoms of sprue-like enteropathy include severe, chronic diarrhea and substantial weight loss. The FDA noted at the time that the enteropathy may not appear until months or even years after patients began taking Benicar. Further, the FDA noted that some patients may require hospitalization. When the FDA released its Drug Safety Communication, it noted that it had identified 23 serious reports of health problems linked to the use of Benicar. Among the allegations made in the Dirksen lawsuit were that Benicar (known generically as olmesartan) is frequently prescribed for six months to a year or more, but that clinical trials for the drug only lasted up to three months. "Clinical trials over periods greater than three months would reveal the effects of longer term cumulative exposure to olmesartan," the lawsuit alleges. Deborah Dirksen alleges that as a result of taking Benicar, she developed gastrointestinal problems requiring multiple visits to the ER, treatment in the hospital for renal failure and continued medical monitoring. The lawsuit also alleges that peer-reviewed studies suggested a connection between the use of olmesartan and the development of sprue-like enteropathy. The motion for consolidation notes that more Benicar lawsuits will likely be filed. The lawsuit is In Re: Benicar (Olmesartan) Products Liability Litigation. The Dirksen lawsuit is Deborah Dirksen and Richard A. Dirksen vs. Daiichi Sankyo, Inc., et al, case number 3:14-cv-03318-CSB-DGB in the US District Court for the Central District of Illinois. Originally posted by Heidi Turner on lawyersandsettlements.com. Ball & Bonholtzer - Pharmaceutical Claims Lawyers Photo credit: www.drugs.com

Yasmin Lawsuits Allege Ineffective Warnings of Serious Side Effects

Yasmin lawsuits claim Bayer's updated list of rare side effects was too little and too late.

Toronto, ON: Bayer has been hit with a class-action Yasmin lawsuit in Ontario and an attorney in Israel has applied to set in motion a class-action suit against the drug company for failing to update the birth control pill's risks. Several U.S. Yaz and Yasmin lawsuits are scheduled to begin in mid-2015. The Ontario Yasmin class action was certified in April 2013. Residents in Ontario who were prescribed the drospirenone-containing contraceptives Yaz and Yasmin between December 10, 2004 and January 6, 2009, respectively, and November 30, 2011, as well as family members of those users, are automatically included in the class-action lawsuit, according to McKenzie Lake Lawyers in London, Ontario. Yaz and Yasmin consumers who wish to opt out have until February 9, 2015 to notify the attorneys. Attorney Yaakov Davidovich in October 2014 filed a petition for a class-action suit against Bayer Israel and Perrigo Israel (an Israeli local distributor), alleging that Yasmin and Yaz warnings regarding the risk of clotting and blood vessel blockage it added to the list of rare side effects was too little and too late. Bayer modified Yasmin warning information by updating its pamphlet in January 2010. In the petition, Davidovich claims that Bayer updated the warning years after it had evidence of significant blood clotting associated with its drospirenone birth control pills. Further, Bayer only updated the pamphlet rather than make public the drug's life-threatening risks. Last October, Davidovich said that Bayer did not see fit to make public and to inform users of the Yasmin pill that it comes with a risk of excessive blood clotting, which is liable to cause complications from lung embolisms to death. At that time he also said that attorneys are informing the public about the serious Yasmin side effects, something the drug company should have done immediately upon learning about blood clots. Ruth Teitler, 29 years old, is one of about 100,000 women in Israel who take, or have taken, Yasmin. The birth control pill has been available in that country since 2001. Teitler - Davidovich's client - suffered a pulmonary embolism in 2007, allegedly as a result of taking the pill. Teitler told Haaretz Israel News that one year after taking Yasmin she experienced pain in her chest and a few days later had trouble breathing, and X-rays showed her lungs were full of blood clots. Teitler was extremely fortunate to get to the hospital in time. The FDA issued a Yasmin warning in 2011 regarding its link to blood clots and pulmonary embolisms. In early December of 2014, US District Judge David R. Herndon identified 33 Yasmin and Yaz birth control lawsuits to be readied for trials that could start in May of 2015. These bellwether trials could affect approximately 5,000 other Yasmin and Yaz birth control lawsuits that Bayer has refused to settle. Originally posted by Jane Mundy on lawyersandsettlements.com.

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