Sunday, May 31, 2009

Bausch & Lomb Settles Hundreds of Eye Fungus Lawsuits

Contact lens maker Bausch & Lomb Inc. "has quietly settled nearly 600 fungal-infection lawsuits" over the last year, "with dozens more individual claims yet to be resolved. The cost so far: Upward of $250 million. More than 700 lens wearers in the United States and Asia say they were exposed to a potentially blinding infection known as Fusarium keratitis while using ReNu with MoistureLoc, a new-formula multipurpose solution for cleaning, storing and moistening soft contact lenses. Some have suffered irreparable damage. "Seven people in Florida, Maryland, New York, Oregon, Tennessee and West Virginia had to have an eye removed. At least 60 more Americans needed vision-saving corneal transplants." Read more.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Law Firm Sues Google Over Use of Name in AdWords

From the Conn. Law Tribune: Stratton Faxon, a prominent plaintiff's personal injury firm, filed suit against Google in New Haven Superior Court yesterday, claiming that the search engine giant "improperly sold advertising rights to the Stratton Faxon name. The complaint alleges tortious interference with a business relationship, violation of the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act, and unjust enrichment, on grounds that Google paid nothing for selling the firm name." Stratton Faxon seeks a $50,000 pre-judgment lien against Google, and an injunction "to prevent Google from selling Connecticut law firm names as so-called adwords." The Tribune notes that "the suit is part of a national trend" by which other companies "have taken legal action against Google after searching for their own business name and finding, to their dismay, an ad for a competitor listed first."

More on Conflicts of Interest

The Wall Street Journal reports that Jeffrey Wang, "a top spine surgeon" at UCLA, "failed to disclose payments from medical companies while he was researching their products' use in patients, according to records obtained by congressional investigators." He did not inform the school "of $459,500 he was paid by companies from 2004 through 2007, according to a May 21 letter from Sen. Charles Grassley to the school's chancellor." Researchers for state universities in California "are required to disclose any financial ties to nongovernmental entities funding their work. Failure to report a financial interest can result in civil liability, including fines, as well as university discipline."

State Disciplines Hospital of Central CT

The Hospital of Central Connecticut has been disciplined by state regulators for several violations "including a catheter that was left in too long, leading to an infection that may have contributed to a patient's death", as well as cases involving "a pregnant woman who had received an X-ray and a CT scan, patients whose pain was not treated fast enough and patients who developed bedsores or — in one case — a face wound from a breathing mask that was too tight." Read more.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Columnist Says Sotomayor Selection Not Merit-Based

Ilya Shapiro, senior fellow in constitutional studies at the Cato Institute, writes on that Obama's choice of Judge Sotomayor is based on identity politics, rather than judicial merit.

Treadmills Can Injure Kids

The tragedy that befell Mike Tyson's family after his daughter suffered fatal injuries while playing on a treadmill should prompt us to look for risks around the house. Treadmill-related injuries to kids are not uncommon, but most are minor. The Baltimore Sun reports that "almost 5,500 youngsters under age 5 were treated in emergency rooms in 2006 and 2007 for treadmill-related injuries, according to statistics from the Consumer Product Safety Commission." While, most of the children only had "cuts, bruises and scrapes, primarily on the hands or fingers; one child's injury required an amputation. Thirty-two percent had their hands caught in or on the treadmill, in some cases suffering serious friction burns."

'New' Federal Law Allowing Guns in National Parks Simply Aligns State Laws With Federal Rules

David Kopel explains how the new federal law allowing guns in national parks merely makes the federal rules the same as the laws of the host states:

"So in Manhattan, where handgun carry permits are reserved for diamond merchants, the political-social-celebrity elite and a few other favored groups, there will not be a mass of people carrying guns at the Theodore Roosevelt Birthplace, on 20th Street. (This result might have appalled Teddy Roosevelt, a N.R.A. member who as president carried his own revolver for protection.)

In Colorado, as in 39 other states, adults who pass a fingerprint-based background check, and a safety class, are issued permits to carry concealed handguns. So in Colorado state parks, people carry firearms lawfully for protection from mountain lions or bears, or, occasionally, human predators. Now, the same system will apply in national parks within Colorado. In Colorado, you don’t need a permit to keep a defensive handgun in your own automobile; the same will be true for people driving through national parks in Colorado.

Opponents of lawful carry always predict disaster, but the record of decades of state experience with licensed carry belies the professional hysterics. Moreover, gun carrying has always been allowed in national forests and on Bureau of Land Management property."

Friday, May 22, 2009

Benefits of Early Offers Together with Explanations/Apologies in Medical Malpractice Cases

An essay in the Northwestern Univ. Law Review looks at the combination of early settlement offers in medical malpractice cases with explanations of the incident and/or apologies by doctors, and suggests that such an approach would benefit both doctors and patient victims, as well as society as a whole.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Obama White House Reverses Preemption

The AP reports that the Obama Administration yesterday "undid a Bush administration policy that used federal regulations to undermine a wide range of state health, safety and environmental laws" many of which "limited the ability of injured consumers to sue companies in state courts." The Wall Street Journal notes, "The memo didn't name specific industries but it could affect a wide range of consumer products subject to both federal and state regulation." The Chamber of Commerce's Bryan Quigley said, "Allowing for more lawsuits will not create more jobs, except maybe for plaintiffs' lawyers." However, a statement by the American Association for Justice said, "The move will buttress 'laws designed to give Americans basic rights to hold wrongdoers accountable.'"

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Stamford Doctor Loses License

The state medical board Tuesday decided to immediately suspend the license of a Stamford family doctor who also performed liposuction and tummy tucks. Dr. Efraim Gomez-Zapata, accused of performing plastic surgery and administering anesthesia without being properly licensed or qualified, has been facing disciplinary charges for months and a hearing in his case is underway. Read more.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Legislation Would Allow Servicemembers to Sue for Malpractice

CQ reports, "Legislation that would empower military servicemembers to sue the government for medical malpractice is scheduled to be marked up Tuesday by a House Judiciary subcommittee." In 1950, the Supreme Court ruled in Feres v. United States, that the federal government is not liable for such claims. The new legislation, called "Hinchey's bill," would permit "servicemembers or their survivors to sue for damages if personal injury or death allegedly resulted from 'a negligent or wrongful act or omission' by government medical personnel."

The Hampton Roads Virginian-Pilot adds, "The legal precedent barring negligence lawsuits on behalf of military service members goes back nearly 60 years, to a 1950 Supreme Court ruling on a series of cases that became known as the Feres Doctrine." Now, "a vocal group of military families, lawyers and members of Congress say the precedent renders service members second-class citizens and should be overturned."

Monday, May 18, 2009

More Questions About Synthetic Turf

The AP reports that some health experts, activists and parents are "worried that children may be exposed to chemicals if they inhale or swallow the rubber granules, known as crumb rubber" that is placed under synthetic turf. The rubber, which is made from rubber tires, contain chemicals that are known carcinogens, leading some to question whether that increases the risk of cancer for children. Heat is another concern, particularly heat stress and heat stroke. "Temperatures on artificial turf fields have been recorded at 130 to 140 degrees."

Did FDA Rely on BPA Industry Lobbyists?

The Providence Journal reports that "As federal regulators hold fast to their claim that a chemical in baby bottles is safe, e-mails obtained by the Journal Sentinel show that they relied on chemical industry lobbyists to examine bisphenol A's risks, track legislation to ban it and even monitor press coverage." The agency "relied on two studies - both paid for by chemical makers - to form the framework of its draft review declaring BPA to be safe." What a shocker....

Friday, May 15, 2009

Food Companies Shift Safety Burden to Consumers

The New York Times reports in a front-page story, "Increasingly, the corporations that supply Americans with processed foods are unable to guarantee the safety of their ingredients." In one case, ConAgra "could not pinpoint which of the more than 25 ingredients in its pies was carrying salmonella. Other companies do not even know who is supplying their ingredients, let alone if those suppliers are screening the items for microbes and other potential dangers, interviews and documents show." In addition to ConAgra, "other food giants like Nestlé and the Blackstone Group, a New York firm that acquired the Swanson and Hungry-Man brands two years ago, concede that they cannot ensure the safety of items -- from frozen vegetables to pizzas -- and that they are shifting the burden to the consumer."

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Kids' Face Paint Recalled

A children's face paint sold under the brand name Fun Express Inc., owned by the Oriental Trading Co., and made in China by Shanghai Color Art Stationery Company Ltd., are being recalled by the FDA. The paint, commonly used at birthday parties and sporting events, has a "high yeast and mold count which in some children led to rashes, itchiness, burning, and swelling where it is applied." Read more.

Study: Effects of TBI on Kids Can Last for Years

The CDC says Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) is the most common cause of death and disability in children and adolescents. "Now, according to a new study by UCLA researchers, the effects of a blow to the head, whether it's mild or a concussion, can linger for years." Read more.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Army Disputes Report of Former Surgeon

Dr. Timothy R. Kuklo, a former surgeon at Walter Reed Army Medical Center and a paid consultant for a medical company, published a study that made false claims and overstated the benefits of Medtronic's bone-growth product Infuse in treating soldiers severely injured in Iraq, the hospital’s commander said Tuesday. Read more.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Connecticut May Ban BPA

The New York Times reported that if the Connecticut ban on BPA passes the state Senate, it will be the "first state to enact BPA" regulations. "Under the Connecticut legislation, infant formula and baby food stored in cans, plastic containers or jars containing BPA could no longer be made or sold in the state as of October 2011" and "other food containers that use BPA liners, including most canned goods, would have to carry a conspicuous warning on the label." Representative Beth Bye, Democrat of West Hartford, said, "We were thrilled with the victory and the margin." In addition, "twenty-four states have pending legislation restricting BPA, but with its labeling requirement, Connecticut's is the toughest, said Sarah Uhl, coordinator of the Coalition for a Safe and Healthy Connecticut, a partnership of organizations backing the legislation." Also, Suffolk County in New York has "banned BPA from baby bottles and sippy cups, and United States Senator Charles Schumer, Democrat of New York, this month introduced legislation that would ban BPA in containers marketed for infants and toddlers."

Friday, May 8, 2009

Synthes Settles Conflict of Interest Claims

The New York Times reported that "The New Jersey attorney general has announced a settlement with a medical device maker accused of failing to disclose financial conflicts of interest among doctors researching its products." Attorney General Anne Milgram added that "her office is investigating other similar conflicts in the device industry," and has "issued subpoenas to five major device makers." Under the recent settlement, "Synthes, the maker of the ProDisc artificial spinal disk," is required "to disclose any future payments or investments held by doctors involved in researching its products." In addition, "the company has agreed to make the information publicly available through its website," and to "stop paying doctors who are conducting clinical trials of its products with stock or stock options." Synthes "agreed to pay $236,000 to reimburse the attorney general's office for its investigation." Milgram sent a letter "Tuesday to the FDA and members of Congress," criticizing regulators "for doing 'nothing to regulate these conflicts,' obvious lack of disclosure from the researchers."

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Columnist Criticizes Choice to Head CPSC

In a column in the Los Angeles Times David Lazarus wrote, "President Obama finally named his pick to head the long-neglected Consumer Product Safety Commission on Tuesday and called for a big increase in funding for the agency." He says "that's the good news." However "the bad news is that it looks as if he's using the appointment as a political pat on the head for a prominent supporter, and not necessarily as a first step toward kick-starting an agency that for too long has come up short in safeguarding the public." Lazarus concludes, "It seems trite to say, but product-safety policy can be boiled down to a single phrase: Better safe than sorry" and "the sooner Tenenbaum understands that, the safer we'll all be."

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Concussions and High School Athletes

"When high school athletes suffer concussions, as many as 40.5% return to action prematurely and set themselves up for more severe injuries," according to new research from the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio. The study "adds fuel to growing concerns about the long-term side effects of concussions. It also shines new light on inadequately trained personnel on the sidelines unprepared to make accurate diagnoses and informed decisions about sending players back on the field." Almost one in 10 sports injuries are concussions, according to the CDC, "and for young people ages 15-24, sports are second only to motor vehicle accidents as the leading cause of brain injury." Most concussions occur in football and soccer. Read more.

Elderly Taking Psychiatric Meds Doubles to 15% in 10 Years

USA Today reports that "About 15% of elderly Americans had prescriptions for psychiatric drugs in 2006, double the percentage a decade earlier, according to an analysis of federal databases out today. A rising number of people of all ages received treatment for mental disorders over the 10 years, but there's evidence that the most seriously ill may be receiving less care from specialists." Read more.

Law Prof Looks at Dallas Cowboys Roof Collapse

Vermont law Professor Michael McCann talks about potential liability (under Texas law) facing the Dallas Cowboys and several others following the collapse of its training facility roof earlier this week. Column here.

Notice of Intent to Sue Filed for Civil Rights Violations

Attorney Scott D. Camassar has filed a notice of intent to sue the Town of Groton and the Groton Police on behalf of a 38-year-old man who was subject to an illegal search and seizure of firearms in December 2008, just weeks after the police denied his application for a temporary pistol permit. The man had applied for a permit believing that a 1997 larceny charge had been nolled and that he did not have a felony criminal record. Police records, however, show a conviction and suspended sentence.

On December 26, 2008, members of the Groton Police Department entered the man's residence without his consent, without a warrant and without probable cause that a crime had been or was about to be committed, and proceeded to search the residence for weapons they claimed were on the premises. The officers threatened and intimidated the man and his pregnant wife and coerced him into opening a locked safe in which an unloaded handgun was stored. Next, officers placed him in a police vehicle and drove him to his mother's house in New London, where they confiscated a shotgun. He alleges various violations of his constitutional and statutory rights, including: an unlawful search and seizure of property in violation of the 4th and 14th Amendments to the United States Constitution and Article I, § 7 of the Connecticut constitution; a violation of his right against self-incrimination and deprivation of liberty and property in violation of the 5th and 14th Amendments and Art. I, § 8 of the Connecticut constitution; deprivation of the right to bear arms in defense of himself and the state in violation of Art. I, § 15 of the Connecticut constitution and other federal and state statutes; and a violation of procedural due process by seizing his firearms without authority or determining that he posed an imminent threat of personal injury to himself or others, and without providing him a hearing after the seizure. He alleges officers threatened, intimidated and forcibly restrained him without cause or justification and caused him to be embarrassed and humiliated in front of his neighbors and friends.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Conn. Bill Bans "Keepsake Ultrasounds"

"Connecticut's House of Representatives has endorsed a measure barring anyone from performing ultrasounds on pregnant women unless a doctor orders them for medical or diagnostic purposes." Proponents of the bill assert that "conducting ultrasounds for entertainment is inappropriate and potentially dangerous if done repeatedly, though no conclusive studies have proven long-term injuries to women or their fetuses." Read more.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Hydroxycut Recall

Fourteen Hydroxycut products, dietary supplements used for weight loss, are being recalled by the FDA after being linked to liver damage. "The FDA said it has received 23 reports of serious liver injuries linked to Hydroxycut products, which are also used as energy enhancers and as fat burners. The reports include the 2007 death of a 19-year-old man living in the Southwest, which was reported to the FDA in March. Other serious liver problems reported included liver damage that resulted in a transplant in 2002, liver failure, jaundice, seizures and cardiovascular problems." Read more.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Under Armour Recalls Athletic Cups

The AP reports that "Under Armour Inc. has issued a voluntary recall of more than 200,000 athletic cups as they can break when hit, posing a risk of serious injury to the wearer." The company "has received five reports of cups breaking and one report of injury, which involved cuts and bruising."