Both Parties Agree: Corporate Civil Justice Myths are Bogus

Recently released data from the Bush Administration’s Department of Justice has confirmed what politicians on both sides of the aisle already knew: Corporate attacks on the validity of the civil justice systems are unwarranted and false.

As part of an ongoing lobbying campaign, the Chamber of Commerce has continuously hassled politicians trying to get them to, “pull in the reigns of greedy trial lawyers who exploit our courts.” They however have been surprised to find out that Democratic President Barack Obama and Former Republican President George W. Bush both agreed that their tales of, “jackpot justice,” practiced by, “opportunist attorney’s,” were bogus.

Recently, the Chamber of commerce, through its political action committee, The Institute for Legal Reform, had pressed President Obama to reform the legal system to benefit corporate interests and make it more difficult for citizens to sue (See our December 23rd article for more information.) Fortunately for President Obama, he only had to look as far as former President George W. Bush for some data on the chamber’s claims.

The Department of Justice, under the Bush Administration, released a study confirming that the Chamber of Commerce’s claims were drastically over exaggerated. The study supplements a recent American Association for Justice study, which discovered the following facts:

Tort Cases make up only 6 percent of civil filings in state courts.

Tort cases represent less than one percent of civil filings in federal court

Manufacturing companies ranked “fear of litigation” as their lowest concern, well behind material costs, energy prices, foreign competition, and taxes.

Median legal expenses of individuals who incurred them were not exorbitant, and usually ranged between $5,000 and $4,000.

Although it is rare, both parties in Washington can agree that the Chamber of Commerce’s claims are not to, “protect the legal system from greedy attorneys,” but instead to bolster corporate image and interest at the expense of the people and the legal system established to protect them.

New Jersey Health Care Audits Go Too Far

The New Jersey State Board has found another way to cut the budget – to sell short its employees. State workers are appalled at a recent audit released by the state in order to crack down on what it calls, unqualified dependents, who are receiving health care through the state.

According to some employees, letters were sent asking them to gather copies of birth certificates, marriage or civil union licenses, and 2007 income tax returns. They were told to send the information to a post office box in Illinois.

Union leaders say workers were asked for extremely invasive, personal information with little or no advance notice. The letters warned that failure to provide the information Feb. 20 would result in terminated benefits.

The current economic turmoil requires compromise and spending cuts for all Americans, however denying state employees and their families their rights to basic health care is not the answer.

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Cigarette Companies and Their Red Handed Researchers

In 2006, a study by Dr. Claudia I. Henshke of the Weill Medical College at Cornell University shocked the medical professional world by reporting that the widespread use of CT scans could help prevent 80% of lung cancer deaths. The study was published in the renowned New England Journal of Medicine, and sent shock waves of hope through the medical profession. Unfortunately, the good news would be tainted by the discovery of a crippling conflict of interest: The study was funded almost entirely by the cigarette industry.

After Ms. Henshke reported her study to the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education, an investigation revealed a long string of deceivingly named non-profit funding, leading all the way back to big tobacco. After its startling discovery, the council wrote to the Journal, explaining its concern over the validity of Ms. Henshke’s findings.

The study failed to disclose that Dr. Henshke’s work had been underwritten in part by a $3.6 million grant from the parent company of the Liggett Group, a cigarette maker, something the journal editors said they had been unaware of.

The council’s criticism was received quickly by the Journal, who quickly moved into damage control mode. A letter in response from the Journal stated, “When we published Dr. Henschke’s article in 2006 it was not routine NEJM editorial policy to publish details about… funding. Since that time our thinking on this issue has evolved.” The journal now asks authors to disclose all royalties related to their research, and it publishes the information with the studies. The letter was signed by Dr. Jeffrey M. Drazen, the journal’s editor in chief, as well as Corinne Broderick, executive vice president of the medical society.

The New England Journal of Medicine has taken the proper steps to remedy this immoral conflict of interest. Unfortunately, not every journal has taken the hint. When reading a medical study that might effect your decision making process, remember to read the fine print. Don’t let your well being be effected by corporate influence on greedy doctors.

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Sleepy Doctors Increase Harm to Patient by 700%, and Death Up by 300%

It doesn’t take a genius to know that without the proper amount of sleep, job performance drastically decreases. Sleep deprived workers in any profession increases the risk of error, and injury. When sleep deprivation occurs in the practice of medicine however, lives can be lost. So why is it that in a majority of hospitals around the country, studies have found that resident doctors are simply not getting enough sleep to provide proper care to their patients?

According to recent study by the Institute of Medicine, doctors in training should work no longer than 16 hours in a row without a five-hour nap to reduce risk to patients. The study was performed after increasing alarm amongst researchers who observed a majority of hospitals allowing 30-hour shifts without a required amount of sleep. To make things worse, Resident doctors, who are under paid and overburdened with student loans, usually end up having to supplement their income by moonlighting at other hospitals.

When the individual in charge of your well-being has not slept for 30 hours, they become a danger to themselves, and that danger passes on to you. According to a study by the Public Library of Public Medicine, it has been found that, “…sleep-deprived doctors are at high risk of making mistakes that injure or kill patients. When residents reported working five marathon shifts in a single month [30 straight hours or more], their risk of making a fatigue-related mistake that harmed a patient increased by 700%, and the risk of an error that resulted in a patient’s death shot up 300%.”

Figures of this size are unacceptable. The recent study demanding 5 hours of sleep per 16 hours of work is indeed a step in the right direction, however it is not enough to solve an epidemic problem in our health care system. Simply put, at current rates, residents are not getting enough sleep to properly care for patients. Although all residents have only the highest of intentions, they can easily make mistakes when hospitals force them into these marathon shifts.

If you or a loved one is currently in the care of a hospital, and you suspect they have been have not received proper care due to a sleep-deprived staff, please inform the hospital immediately. Hopefully mistakes and accidents can be avoided by bringing it to the hospital’s attention. If you suspect wrongful death or injury due to a sleep deprived hospital staff however, please do not hesitate to contact an attorney. You may be entitled to compensation.

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Chamber of Commerce Torches the Economy and Asks for Refund

Like the child who kills his parents and then begs for mercy because he is an orphan, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce now is begging President-elect Barack Obama to protect corporate interests in the nation’s civil litigation system as a way of restoring jobs and bolstering an economy shattered largely (as we now know) by corporate greed and misfeasance. – Andrew Cohen, CBS
Unbelievable.  After decades of corruption, greed, and lack of responsibility to the public, the corporate machine has been exposed as the true cause of the economic plunge we are currently facing.  And what do they want in return?  For the government to shield them from the system put in place for the very purpose of enforcing that responsibility. 

 

Here is what the president of the Chamber of Commerce’s legal arm wrote in an open letter to Obama: “We understand the critical necessity of revitalizing the economy by restoring American jobs, encouraging the growth of U.S. businesses, and protecting the savings and investments of millions of Americans. However, we are concerned that the potential expansion of legal liability significantly impairs these much needed steps toward a national recovery.”

In a desperate attempt to plead for mercy to the new President-Elect, The chamber of commerce is merely renewing an argument that has failed for decades.  The Chamber has been pushing tirelessly for almost half a century now to rein in plaintiffs’ attorneys (who look to punish corporate negligence or fraud with civil lawsuits), deregulate industry and commerce (we all know how well Wall Street did with its freedom), and nullify important consumer protection laws (like the one in Maine which is allowing smokers to go after tobacco companies for false advertising).History has shown us how devastatingly successful the Corporate interest machine can be.  Because of the Chamber’s organization, innocently named The Institute for Legal Reform, the Securities and Exchange Commission backed off its scrutiny of screwy deals and schemes, the Congress was lax in its oversight of the mortgage industry, litigators were thwarted or punished, and the White House and Justice Department pushed a legal doctrine (“preemption”) that almost always helped employers over employees. 

Results such as this put public interest on the loosing side.  The American legal system over the past 20 years has been a victim of unremitting advances for the Chamber and its fellow travelers in law, politics and governance. The Chamber has labeled “abusive litigation” as the cause of almost every economic problem to face the modern United States.  Could the lawyers who enforce corporate responsibility truly is the cause every economic disaster of our modern economy? 

 

 CBS Correspondent and Attorney Andrew Cohen thinks not:

Plaintiffs’ attorneys aren’t responsible for the mortgage-fueled economic meltdown. Class-action litigation isn’t, either. And don’t blame overzealous regulators or greedy employees who want better pay or conditions in their own factories. The people with whom the Chamber and the Institute do battle are not the people who invented or allowed the great pyramid schemes, which brought down Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae. They did not force consumers to spend more than they earned or save less than they should. Corporate America is directly responsible for what has just happened to corporate America, and if you don’t believe me, ask the folks at Ford, GM and Chrysler.The economic meltdown came about because business interests were able to greatly decrease the vital tensions between industry and regulation, between oversell and oversight. And it will take the restoration of those tensions by government leaders not just to help bring us out of our slump but to help ensure that the next downturn doesn’t come again for a long time.
The more the chamber of commerce attempts to deregulate the market and further bolster its litigation shield, the farther away we get from turning around the current economic crisis. 

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Child Accidents Raise Concern Over Automobile Safety

According to a global study performed by the World Health Organization and Unicef, it has been found that around the globe, accidents kill 830,000 children each year.  Over all, although 95 percent of all injuries to children occur in poor and middle-income countries, injuries account for 40 percent of all child deaths in rich ones – Including the United States.

Dr. Étienne Krug, director of injuries and violence prevention at the World Health Organization, believes this is because wealthier nations tend to not have much better child health care, but do not attempt to remedy the causes of childhood accidents.  In a recent article in the New York Times, Dr. Krug was quoted saying, “This is a huge public health problem, and it’s been ignored for a long time.  It’s a combination of ignorance about how big it is, and because of fatalism, of thinking, ‘Oh, it’s an accident, we can’t do anything about it.’ ”

The Center for Disease control reports that in the United States, accidents kill 12,175 children a year.   That is more than all diseases combined.  At the center of this statistic lies a fact, which many American law makers already know, but choose to ignore.  Automobile accidents claim the lives of many infants and toddlers, however by the time children reach their teenage years, automobile accidents instantaneously become the leading cause of death. 

In a New York Times article, Ileana Arias, The Center for Disease control’s chief of injury prevention, reports that the three changes that would save the most lives of American children would be for more states to pass “graduated driver’s license” laws, which forbid teenagers to drive at night or with teenage passengers, to enforce seat-belt laws on teenagers and to make all children younger than 8 ride in booster seats.

Currently however, these suggestions do not carry the power of the law.  They are however the best solution to an epidemic problem.  As Ms. Arias recommends, please keep your child in a booster seat until they reach the age of eight.  If you have a teenage driver, remember that they more than likely don’t share your priorities and equal judgment when it comes to driving.  Please talk to your teenagers often enough about the importance of the seatbelt, and the effects of distracted driving. 

If you or someone you know has been seriously hurt in an accident, please contact an attorney immediately. 

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Morphine, Dextroamphetamine, and Isosorbide added to the Ethex Recall

The Ethex Corporation has added three new drugs to its list of recently recalled products.  After Ethex discovered that their propafenone tablets were over-sized, it became evident that many other drugs being manufactured by the company were also over-sized. 

Isosorbide

Isosorbide is a drug used principally in the treatment of angina. It works by dilating the blood vessels in order to reduce blood pressure. All of the recalled Isosorbide Mononitrate tablets said they were 60mg on the bottle and were made by the ETHEX Corporation with expiration dates ranging from 12/2008 and 11/2009.

Recalled lot numbers: 63466, 66034, 67351, and 67354

Dextroamphetamine

Dextroamphetamine is a stimulant used to increase energy and decrease appetite.  The recalled Dextroamphetamine Sulfate came in 10mg pills with expiration dates ranging from 6/2009 to 5/2007. All were made by the ETHEX Corporation.

Recalled lot numbers: 73934, 75892, 77945, 81137, 86320.

Amphetamines are very dangerous drugs, especially when taken in excessive doses. If the batch number on your pill bottle matches any of the above recalled Dextroamphetamine batch numbers you should contact your doctor and/or pharmacists immediately.

Morphine

Two strengths of immediate release Morphine Sulfate and one strength of extended release Morphine Sulfate were recalled, all of them tablets made by the ETHEX Corporation. The two recalled Morphine immediate release pills were 15mg and 30mg. The recalled Morphine extended release pills were 15mg.  The recalled tablets come from any of the following lots with expiration dates ranging from 8/2009 to 3/2011.

Recalled Lot Numbers:

15mg Extended Release Morphine – 81175, 82514-16, 89660, 89664, 89667, 90249-51, 91687
15mg Immediate Release Morphine – 77852-54, 81746, 82519-20, 84113, 90276-78
30mg Immediate Release Morphine – 75093, 77855-57, 82297, 82521-22, 87239, 88925, 90288-98

Morphine is a highly potent and addictive drug in the opiate family. Like other opioids, such as heroin, morphine acts on the central nervous system to relieve pain. Morphine is highly addictive. Tolerance, physical and psychological dependence develops very rapidly. Overdosing on Morphine is very dangerous and can result in severe side effects, including death.

 If you or anyone you know is prescribed any of these drugs, please immediately check the manufacturer and lot number on your pill bottle.  Contact your physician immediately.  Even in the case that you don’t think you have a recalled prescription; call your pharmacy and physician to confirm. 

 If you or a family member has been hurt by any of the Ethex Corporation recalled drugs, please contact an attorney immediately.  You may be entitled to compensation. 

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DRUG ALERT : Ethex Corporation Recalls Overdosed Propafenone Tablets

As first reported on November 11th, there has been a Propafenone recall by the ETHEX Corporation because the pills may have been oversized, which could result in overdose of the drug Propafenone.

Three different strengths were recalled, all of them Propafenone HCI tablets made by the ETHEX Corporation. They were 150mg, 225mg and 300mg pills from any of the following lots with expiration dates ranging from 6/2009 to 3/2011.

Below are the recalled lot numbers:

150 mg – 73761, 78184, 79373, 81240, 81241, 81242, 83470, 84357, 90525, 90526
225 mg – 71720, 74831, 76014-15, 81243-45, 89731, 90527-29, 90657
300mg – 72834, 76016-18, 81246, 89092, 89732, 90530, 90532, and 91641-42

The 150 mg Propafenone Hydrochloride pills are white, scored round film coated tablets with “ETH” on one side and “331? with a bisect on the reverse. The 225 mg Propafenone Hydrochloride pills are white, scored round film coated tablets with “ETH” on one side and “332? with a bisect on the reverse. The 300 mg Propafenone Hydrochloride pills are white, scored round film coated tablets with “ETH” on one side and “333? with a bisect on the reverse. Life threatening consequences of overdosing on Propafenone Hydrochloride includes heart arrhythmias (irregular heartbeat) and dangerously low blood pressure.

If you or someone you know is prescribed Propafenone, please call your physician immediately.An overdose of this substance is very serious, and can cause severe harm.

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Hungry? Coffee, Bagel and Salmonella poisoning for breakfast anyone?

The Center for Disease and FDA announced a defective product the recall of two breakfast cereals manufactured by Malt-O-Meal. The cereals “Puffed Rice’ and “Puffed Wheat’ were found to be contaminated by salmonella.

Salmonella is bacteria that can cause diarrheal illness in humans. These microscopic living creatures pass from the feces of people or animals, to other people or other animals. Salmonella has been known to cause illness for over 100 years. People with Salmonella develop diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps 12 to 72 hours after infection. Salmonella infection may spread from the intestines to the blood stream, and then to other body sites and can cause death unless the person is treated promptly with antibiotics. The elderly, infants, and those with impaired immune systems are more likely to have a severe illness and other personal injury.

A hard working and serious, American scientist named Salmon, for whom the nasty little microbe is named, discovered the bacterium. Why such a learned man of science would want to give his name to this illness which comes from feces is another story. For more tid bits regarding salmonella click on the CDC website.

The defective products were distributed nationally under the Malt-O-Meal brand name, as well as private labels including Acme, America’s Choice, Food Club, Giant, Pathmark, Shaw’s, ShopRite, Tops and Weis Quality. The cereal bags have “best if used by” dates from April 8, 2008 (coded as APR0808), through March 18, 2009 (coded as MAR1809). If you have purchased such a box, you are advised to throw them out, and retailers have been told to remove the cereals from their shelves.

If you or someone you loved have become ill from salmonella and believe it may have been caused by this cereal, click here for further information. We will continue to post information on the illness , so check back regularly for any new developments.