Monday, August 31, 2009

Texting While Driving: 2 Scientists Killed in Utah

After a crash here that killed two scientists — and prompted a dogged investigation by a police officer and local victim’s advocate — Utah passed the nation’s toughest law to crack down on texting behind the wheel. Offenders now face up to 15 years in prison.

The new law, which took effect in May, penalizes a texting driver who causes a fatality as harshly as a drunken driver who kills someone. In effect, a crash caused by such a multitasking motorist is no longer considered an “accident” like one caused by a driver who, say, runs into another car because he nodded off at the wheel. Instead, such a crash would now be considered inherently reckless.

“It’s a willful act,” said Lyle Hillyard, a Republican state senator and a big supporter of the new measure. “If you choose to drink and drive or if you choose to text and drive, you’re assuming the same risk.”

The Utah law represents a concrete new response in an evolving debate among legislators around the country about how to reduce the widespread practice of multitasking behind the wheel — a topic to be discussed at a national conference about the dangers of distracted driving that is being organized by the Transportation Department for this fall.

Studies show that talking on a cellphone while driving is as risky as driving with a .08 blood alcohol level — generally the standard for drunken driving — and that the risk of driving while texting is at least twice that dangerous. Research also shows that many people are aware that the behavior is risky, but they assume others are the problem.

Source here.

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Stella Awards

The Stella Awards® were inspired by Stella Liebeck, the Plaintiff in the McDonald's coffee case. Some folks may know that The sweatpants Liebeck was wearing absorbed the coffee and held it next to her skin. A vascular surgeon determined that Liebeck suffered full thickness burns (or third-degree burns) over 6 percent of her body,
including her inner thighs, perineum, buttocks, and genital and groin areas. She was hospitalized for eight days, during which time she underwent skin grafting. Liebeck, who also underwent debridement treatments, sought to settle her claim for $20,000, but McDonalds refused.

There are many debunked jury "award" reports linked to the claimed awards.

From their own site:

"Many stories are going around the 'net saying they are "The Stella Awards". Many of these stories are false, made-up, or (sometimes) true stories with false elements added to them.

The sad part: despite these stories having been debunked years ago, they not only still circulate, but many reporters, columnists and radio "personalities" still talk about them as if they were true, which says a lot about their professionalism. In many outrageous cases, these lazy "news" people will even link to this site as the source of these silly lies."

Claimed Cases -Status:

Kathleen Robertson of Austin, Texas, was awarded $780,000 by a jury after breaking her ankle tripping over a toddler who was running amuck inside a furniture store. The owners of the store were understandably surprised at the verdict, considering the misbehaving tyke was Ms. Robertson's son. Fabricated.

Carl Truman, 19, of Los Angeles won $74,000 and medical expenses when his neighbor ran his hand over with a Honda Accord. Mr. Truman apparently didn't notice someone was at the wheel of the car whose hubcap he was trying to steal. Fabricated.

Terrence Dickson of Bristol, Penn., was exiting a house he finished robbing by way of the garage. He was not able to get the garage door to go up because the automatic door opener was malfunctioning. He couldn't re-enter the house because the door connecting the house and garage locked when he pulled it shut. The family was on vacation, so Mr. Dickson found himself locked in the garage for eight days. He subsisted on a case of Pepsi he found, and a large bag of dry dog food. Dickson sued the homeowner's insurance claiming the situation caused him undue mental anguish. The jury agreed to the tune of half a million dollars and change.Fabricated.

Jerry Williams of Little Rock, Arkansas, was awarded $14,500 and medical expenses after being bitten on the buttocks by his next door neighbor's beagle. The beagle was on a chain in its owner's fenced-in yard, as was Mr. Williams. The award was less than sought after because the jury felt the dog may have been provoked by Mr. Williams who, at the time, was shooting it repeatedly with a pellet gun. Fabricated.

A Philadelphia restaurant was ordered to pay Amber Carson of Lancaster, Pennsylvania $113,500 after she slipped on a spilled soft drink and broke her coccyx. The beverage was on the floor because Ms. Carson threw it at her boyfriend 30 seconds earlier during an argument. Fabricated.

Kara Walton of Claymont, Delaware, successfully sued the owner of a nightclub in a neighboring city when she fell from the bathroom window to the floor and knocked out her two front teeth. This occurred while Ms. Walton was trying to sneak through the window in the ladies room to avoid paying the $3.50 cover charge. She was awarded $12,000 and dental expenses. Fabricated.

The "winner" every year: In November, Mr. Grazinski purchased a brand new 32 foot Winnebago motor home. On his first trip home, having joined the freeway, he set the cruise control at 70 mph and calmly left the drivers seat to go into the back and make himself a cup of coffee. Not surprisingly, the Winnie left the freeway, crashed and overturned. Mr. Grazinski sued Winnebago for not advising him in the handbook that he could not actually do this. He was awarded $1,750,000 plus a new Winnebago. Fabricated.

Don't be fooled into believing all that you read on the web.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Diet Drug May Be Linked To Liver Damage

Xenical and its over-the-counter replica sold by GlaxoSmithKline are under strict scrutiny after the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) received 32 reports of serious liver damage in those taking the weight loss pills.

Six of these cases resulted in liver failure and over 20 were hospitalized due to severe injury sustained to their liver.

However, since no definite link has been established between the use of the drug and liver injury, the FDA has released a comment saying that those who are currently taking the pills should continue to do so as directed.

"The FDA's analysis of these data is ongoing, and no definite association between liver injury and Orlistat [which markets itself under Xenical and Alli] has been established at this time," the administration said.

The nonprescription version of Xenical sold in the United States is Alli. Alli is a popular brand, which built its credibility by heavily advertising that was the first FDA approved weight loss drug on the market.

Since the health concerns have risen, many asset management groups are concerned with what these alleged correlations between their drugs and the risks they are being linked to will do to their sales.

Mike Krensavage, principal of Krensavage Asset Management LLC said, “Any time the FDA raises an issue like this, demand is likely to suffer, at least temporarily.”

Krensavage seems to be right.

After making $197 million in profit overseas and another $125 million here on American soil so far in 2009, Glaxo shares have fell nearly 1.5 percent on the New York Stock Exchange.

Read the FDA report HERE.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Tort Reform is Just a Distraction

Marietta Daily Journal
Guest Column
August 13, 2009

Tort Reform is Just a Distraction
98,000 Americans die each year from medical errors; let’s focus on real healthcare solutions

By: Lance Cooper

Whenever health care reform is proposed, some people instinctively think more so-called ‘tort reform’ should be the solution to the debate (see Marietta Daily Journal, 8-10-09). This effort diverts us from the real issue at hand—affordable, attainable and safe healthcare. Insurance companies and others who are fearful of accountability for medical negligence regularly employ the “Deny and Distract” routine. First, when faced with hard numbers and legitimate research placing blame not on lawyers, but on their own industries, they ‘Deny’ any accountability. Then they employ methods of ‘Distraction’ to tear us off the course to finding real solutions. ‘Tort reform’ is such a distraction.

Supporters of ‘tort reform’ argue that the threat of lawsuits makes doctors order unnecessary tests to protect themselves—a phenomenon they call “defensive medicine”—and yet there is no evidence to support those claims. Studies conducted by the Congressional Budget Office and the Government Accountability Office have all cast doubts that such a thing called ‘defensive medicine’ even exists. Take McAllen, Texas, home of the most expensive health care in the country—despite having draconian ‘tort reform’ laws and the same caps on damages that we have in Georgia, the doctors routinely order excessive testing and procedures. They do so not for fear of lawsuits but because the fee-for-service structure actually encourages them to. In other words, the more tests they perform, the more they get paid.

Claims of ‘frivolous lawsuits’ driving up healthcare costs is another regularly deployed method of distraction. Georgia, and the rest of the nation, already has laws against filing these so-called “frivolous lawsuits.” Comprising leaders of the medical field, The New England Journal of Medicine published a study concluding that “portraits of a malpractice system that is stricken with frivolous litigation are overblown.” And the overall number of medical malpractice cases is low; less than 1% of all civil cases are medical malpractice cases.

Another frequently echoed distraction is the notion that doctors are fleeing and causing physician shortages because of liability concerns and increased malpractice insurance premiums caused by lawsuits. Once again, this distraction is false. Data from the American Medical Association (AMA) show that physician numbers have been increasing across the board for many years. And the number of physicians is significantly higher in states without caps on damages. The National Bureau of Economic Research found that ‘tort reform’ laws do not avert physician shortages, nor do they lead to greater, more efficient patient care.

Patient care is what really matters at this point. Preventable medical errors and mistakes is the leading cause of accidental death in the nation. Just 6% of doctors are responsible for nearly 60% of negligent care—and the Civil Justice System is the only effective means of holding them accountable. In Texas, after the $250,000 cap on damages was imposed, thereby freeing negligent doctors from accountability, the number of complaints against Texas doctors to the Medical Board rose from 2,942 to 6,000 in just one year. Proposed ‘tort reform’ measures do nothing but fill the coffers of malpractice insurance companies—the same companies who have raised premium rates on the doctors while civil claims have remained stable and, in most states have gone down.

Further dismantling our uniquely American system of accountability by enacting more ‘tort reform’ would be disastrous. We can’t forget what just happened with Wall Street vs. Main Street or the crash of AIG. The insurance industry and their special interest groups are utilizing a tired relic of gotcha-politics—blame the lawyers and hope Americans forget about the record bonuses being paid to insurance industry executives after the taxpayers bailed them out. Amazingly, insurance special interest groups with their call for more ‘tort reform,’ want to deprive Americans who just bailed them out of constitutionally protected access to our judicial system. Let’s ignore those distractions. Taking away patients’ Constitutional right to seek justice in a fair court of law, when they have been injured through no fault of their own, does nothing to improve our health care system nor does it increase patient safety. And it is, simply, un-American.

Lance Cooper of Powder Springs is past president of the Georgia Trial Lawyers Association and is a past president of the Cobb Trial Lawyers Association. He holds a degree in economics from Cal-Berkeley and a law degree from Emory University.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Dead by Mistake-- Medical Error kills Trevor Nelson

Hearst Newspapers go in-depth researching the number 1 cause of accidental death in America-- medical errors and mistakes.

How are there 98,000 preventable deaths a year in this nation?

Click HERE to read the full account of Trevor Nelson's death.

Healthy woman dies during childbirth after bleeding for 16 hours-- a preventable death

Read all about Hearst Newspapers national expose on the number one cause of accidental death in the United States-- medical errors and mistakes at

The entire story of this young mother's death is available HERE.

Dead By Mistake-- case video

Meet Sharon Moore-- 1 of 5 patients of Dr. Earl's who were killed by an overdose prescribed by the doctor. Her entire story is HERE.

Check out

Compiled by Hearst Newspapers, is a site housing all the stories run about the 98,000 people who are killed every year from medical errors.

Dead By Mistake

Incredible multi-story investigative reporting about the 98,000 people killed each year by medical errors and mistakes. A must read!

All of the articles are available on one website:

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Senate Hearing Highlights Victim’s Medical Device Nightmare, Asks Congress to Hold Manufacturer Accountable

Contact: Jennifer Fuson
American Association for Justice
202-965-3500 x369

Senate Hearing Highlights Victim’s Medical Device Nightmare, Asks Congress to Hold Manufacturer Accountable

Iowa Patient Testifies in Favor of Legislation to Restore Legal Rights
Through Civil Justice System

Washington, DC—Two years ago, Michael Mulvihill of Bettendorf, Iowa, was driving with his wife across the Midwest to visit his son, daughter-in-law, and grandchildren when he saw a blue light flash before his eyes. He felt his body shaking and thought it was from hitting road debris. He soon realized his heart defibrillator was malfunctioning and sending electrical shocks throughout his body while he was driving on the interstate.

His nightmare continues because he cannot hold the manufacturer of his faulty medical device accountable for their faulty product because of a U.S. Supreme Court decision last year that gave the manufacturer complete immunity. Today, Mulvihill will testify before the U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, asking for Congress to pass the Medical Device Safety Act (MDSA), legislation that would restore the right of patients to hold manufacturers of medical devices accountable in court when their devices have malfunctioned.

Mulvihill had an irregular heartbeat, and was implanted with a defibrillator in 2006 to control his heart rhythm and pulse. The device intended to save his life nearly killed him and his wife when it malfunctioned while he was driving. The anxiety from the episode led Mulvihill into taking early retirement because his job required so much interstate travel.

A representative from Medtronic confirmed the device had shocked Mulvihill 22 times in 53 minutes. The wire that connects the defibrillator to the heart was recalled four months later after over a hundred reports of the lead malfunctioning had been reported to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). However, because of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling last year, Mulvihill does not have any recourse to hold the manufacturer accountable.

In February 2008, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Riegel v. Medtronic that because the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had approved a medical device through the pre-market approval process, patients injured by medical devices do not have any recourse to hold the manufacturers accountable. The Supreme Court ruled earlier this year in Wyeth v. Levine that patients harmed by prescription drugs can hold manufacturers accountable in state courts, creating a double standard between prescription drugs and medical devices.

“I relied on this medical device to save my life. Instead, the trauma I experienced because the device was not safe cost me my career and crippled my lifestyle,” said Mulvihill. “Medical device companies should be held accountable for the safety of the products they produce and profit from. I am asking Congress to restore my right to seek justice for myself and medical device patients everywhere.”

“Medtronic put profits ahead of patient safety. They were aware the device was failing at abnormally high rates but continued to market it, as alleged in lawsuits filed against the company,” according to Wendy Fleishman, Mulvihill’s attorney with Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, LLP. “Medtronic should not receive the benefit of a judicial doctrine granting the company immunity.”

Medtronic’s Sprint Fidelis’ lead, like Mulvihill’s, is the subject of multidistrict litigation in U.S. District Court in Minnesota. In January, U.S. District Court Judge Richard Kyle dismissed over 1,400 patients’ cases, citing the Supreme Court decision in Riegel v. Medtronic. The ruling stated, “The Court recognizes that at least some Plaintiffs have suffered injuries from using Sprint Fidelis leads, and the Court is not unsympathetic to their plight. … Plaintiffs’ remedy, therefore, lies with Congress, and not with this Court.”

MDSA, sponsored by Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-MA), Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman (D-CA), would restore the right to seek justice in state courts for victims of faulty medical devices like heart defibrillators, prosthetic knees, and hips.

“The Medical Device Safety Act is necessary to protect patients from defective devices and make sure manufacturers are held accountable,” said Linda Lipsen, Senior Vice President of Public Affairs at the American Association for Justice. “The Supreme Court has affirmed that state law offers an important layer of consumer protection, and Congress should make clear that this applies not just in cases of pharmaceutical drugs, but also medical devices approved by the FDA that are later faulty or malfunction.”

For copy of Mulvihill’s testimony, please contact