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December 2015 Archives

Negligence By District Attorney's Office May Cause Dismissal Of Shaken Baby Case

Wisconsin child abuse case involving Caroline D. Prieto may be dismissed due to negligence by district attorney's office.

The District II Court of Appeals Tuesday upheld Circuit Judge Chad Kerkman’s decision to exclude all but one witness the district attorney had intended to testify at Caroline D. Prieto’s child abuse trial.

Pharmaceutical Cases Settled For $39.5 Million

The makers of OxyContin and Risperdal have settled pharmaceutical cases filed by the Commonwealth of Kentucky over claims they knowingly marketed harmful drugs.

Purdue Pharma and Janssen Pharmaceuticals have settled cases for $24 million and $15.5 million respectively, following years of litigation in pharmaceutical cases filed by Commonwealth of Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway. The commonwealth sought restitution over claims the companies mislead and withheld information from the public. "These companies engaged in reckless behavior that put our citizens at risk," Conway said in the release. "Both companies knowingly and aggressively 
marketed drugs they knew to be harmful in order to drive profits. "I am pleased we were able to recover damages for the commonwealth and recover funds to help expand addiction treatment in Kentucky," he added. In its lawsuit against Purdue Pharma, maker of OxyContin, the commonwealth alleged that the company encouraged unwitting doctors to over-prescribe the pain killer despite its knowledge the medication was highly-addictive. "The Food and Drug Administration approved OxyContin in 1995," the release said. "Following its release, Purdue immediately launched an aggressive national marketing campaign to promote the drug, which was led by sales representatives who falsely told doctors that OxyContin wasn't addictive and was less likely to be abused than other opioid drugs." Kentucky filed its lawsuit in 2007 after the company pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court to misbranding OxyContin. Tuesday's agreement also included a court order directing the Kentucky General Assembly to appropriate funds to further addiction treatment across the state. The Kentucky Consumer Protection lawsuit filed by Conway alleged that Janssen Pharmaceuticals, maker of the prescription antipsychotic Risperdal, misled consumers about the dangers of using the drug and advertised its use for purposes not approved by the FDA. While Janssen allegedly marketed the drug to children before it was approved to do so by the FDA, the company also allegedly failed to disclose vital information to patients and physicians that use of the medication could lead to breast tissue development and infertility, the release said. Janssen pleaded guilty to federal misbranding charges regarding the elderly, which included the non-FDA approved use of Risperdal as a treatment for dementia in non-schizophrenics and failure to immediately disclose knowledge that a study suggested use of the drug doubled the risk of death. In addition to its state settlement payment, Janssen is required in Kentucky to clearly disclose risks and is prohibited to market Risperdal for non-FDA approved uses. While both parties settled their pharmaceutical cases with the commonwealth, neither Janssen Pharmaceuticals nor Purdue Pharma admitted any wrongdoing in either lawsuit. "Going forward, we have tough terms in the settlement that will govern the way Risperdal can be marketed in the future here in Kentucky," Conway said in the release. "It is my hope that the General Assembly will allocate the money to expand addiction treatment in Kentucky." Originally posted by Laura Buchanan on Pharmaceutical Cases - Ball & Bonholtzer Trial Attorney - Los Angeles

Fraud And Legal Malpractice Suit Filed Against Prominent Seattle Law Firm

Keller Rohrback, LLP and two partners face a fraud and legal malpractice suit over alleged misconduct surrounding purchase of bank.

Eagan Avenatti, LLP and Osborn Machler have filed a lawsuit against Seattle law firm Keller Rohrback, LLP and two of its partners Robert S. Over and Glen P. Garrison claiming they forged an escrow agreement in connection with the 2012 purchase of HomeTown National Bank and made subsequent efforts to cover up its misconduct and mislead federal authorities.

Early Victories For Plaintiffs Could Lead To More Risperdal Lawsuits

Three plaintiffs' successes against Janssen Pharmaceuticals include two seven-figure verdicts, while 1,600 more Risperdal lawsuits are pending in Philadelphia.

According to Pete Kelso, a financial analyst at Bates White in Washington, D.C., the drug-maker can expect more litigation, some of which will be driven by advertising and the plaintiffs' positive early results. Kelso, whose research into consolidated trials in New York City Asbestos Litigation is now at the center of a dispute between plaintiffs and defense attorneys, says the causation factor is of primary importance when cases on the scale of the Risperdal lawsuits develop. Three Philadelphia juries out of four have found Risperdal caused gynecomastia, the development of female breast tissue in males. "That's principally what drives litigation forward," Kelso said. "If the plaintiffs are successful at really convincing a jury that there was a cause and effect of them taking the drug and the after-effect or injury, that's what really propels what could be a handful of cases into a mass tort." Kelso added two significant factors that have led to an increase in other pharmaceutical-based mass torts in the past and could lead to an increase in Risperdal filings. Those are successful jury verdicts and the presence of television and online advertising initiated on the part of plaintiffs attorneys. Kelso referred to the component of advertising as "another slice that people really haven't focused on yet." "I'm starting to see the Risperdal ads, they're out there," Kelso said. "I think that's another major component that helps the plaintiff attorneys. In the past decade, I think advertising on the Internet and TV has become a lot more prevalent than it used to be. "Where one of these litigations back in the day might have taken a lot longer to ramp up, the multimedia of advertising today can accelerate a handful of cases to a mass tort a lot more quickly." As to the question of how the recent verdicts, totaling $4.75 million, against Janssen would impact the company financially moving forward, Kelso stipulated every pharmaceutical defendant is different - and that while the $2.5 million and $1.75 million judgments reached against Janssen in the cases of Austin Pledger and Nicholas Murray, respectively, were nothing to sneeze at, they certainly would not send the company into financial peril. A third verdict reached recently this month netted $500,000. And plaintiffs attorneys are still hopeful they will be able to ask for punitive damages in the future, despite a Philadelphia judge's recent decision barring them in Risperdal cases. "Once you start to get the emergence of these multimillion-dollar verdicts, from a defense posture, especially if the litigation is centralized or if it's put in a multi-district litigation (MDL) or a class can be formed, then it gets into more of a portfolio basis," Kelso said. Kelso said at that point, a pharmaceutical company would likely begin to ask itself if it's worthwhile to litigate and defend the cases individually; or if they have been centralized through an MDL or class-action lawsuit, to settle the class and extinguish the litigation once and for all. "I think that's what most pharma companies get into, and that's the plaintiffs law firms' motivations with a lot of this stuff is to get filings, get a couple of verdicts and recruit a lot more claimants," Kelso said. "Get it into a class or a centralized litigation, and then try to go to the defendants and try to settle a whole class," Kelso said. Kelso added once a certain number of filings is reached, the pharmaceutical company will begin to conduct an evaluation to determine the size of a potential class of litigants. At the end of November, there were 1,606 pending Risperdal suits in Philadelphia's Complex Litigation Center. More are sure to come, as 95 were filed in November. Originally posted by Nicholas Malfitano on Risperdal Lawsuits - Ball & Bonholtzer Trial Attorney - Los Angeles  

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