Archive for RD Legal Funding

United States Insurance Companies Seeking Justice Against Saudia Arabia & Bin Laden Family Companies

Some United States insurance companies have decided to pursue against entities in Saudia Arabia and Bin Laden family controlled companies due to the attacks in the United States that took place on September 11th. The Justice Against Terrorism Act (JASTA) passed in 2016, allowed for this kind of litigation to take place. The insurance companies are seeking over $4 billion in damages and compensation from the defendants. The plaintiffs, who are insurance companies, paid policyholders who suffered personal, business, and property injuries due to the attacks. The direct attacks took place in New York, Pennsylvania, and Washington DC. Of course, there were lingering effects people dealt with that insurance companies ended having to cover.

JASTA was a highly contentious piece of legislation that was debated among the legislators, lobbyists, and advocates on both sides. Some critics of the bill argued that national security was at risk should it pass. They said it would leave U.S. military forces open to litigation from foreign citizens and foreign entities. Supporters of the bill argued that the scope was narrow enough in that they were targeting companies and entities that had something or allowed certain transactions which led to the September 11th attacks. The legislation passed and President Obama vetoed it. Congress then overturned it. The bill became law. While there are plans for the families of the victims to pursue litigation, this lawsuit by the insurance companies is the first since JASTA passed. Osama Bin Laden and his Al Qaeda network were behind the September 11th attacks and many of the effected entities are trying to hold his family responsible. They accuse them of facilitating and helping Osama while he was plotting against the United States. So that is why they are going after the Bin Laden family companies.

Former Employees of Montana University To Receive Compensation Over Medical Insurance Claims

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Former employees who worked for Montana University are set to receive compensation due to a settlement the class of plaintiffs reached with the university. The plaintiffs alleged they were denied medical insurance claims due to a clause the university had in its contract that conflicted with Montana state law. Montana University operated their own health insurance program. Montana has a “made whole” statute that says the person injured has taken care of before the insurance companies hammer out which one is responsible for paying for the treatment. Montana University’s clause stated they were not responsible for paying if another insurance policy was available. As a result, many of the employees who found themselves paying out of pocket for treatment that should have been paid by the university. A group of former employees got together and filed a lawsuit against the university. A settlement was reached where the university will begin compensating the plaintiffs. The university also removed the clause prohibiting spending on their employees. Some news reports state compensation can run from a couple of hundred to $120,000 to some plaintiffs. In December, a hearing has been scheduled to follow up on the compensation proceedings. An estimated 45,000 people may be eligible for compensation.

Inflation, Annuities, Settled Case Fees, Settled Case Awards & Taxes

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Inflation 

The issue of inflation is very important to a settled case award or settled case fee because the purchasing power of either is part of the evaluation of the overall settlement. If there happens to be a settlement that takes place in 2017 and the settled case fee or award is deemed to be $1 million, but it won’t be paid until 2027 that can be a real problem. The uncertainty of the economy in 10 years could have drastic results for the recipients. That 10 year gap between being awarded and actually receiving the fee leaves it susceptible to rising interest rates. Rising interest rates decrease the purchasing power of that $1 million which could lead to a plaintiff or their attorney to determine the settlement as not acceptable. If interest rates rise a percentage or two, that will reduce the amount of money expected.

Settled Case Awards With Annuity Type Payments (Structured Settlements)

Situations where a settlement occurs and the plaintiffs decide to to defer receiving the entire award at once and receive periodic payments over time periodic payments that is a structured settlement. Some of the reasons why a plaintiff would decide to use this option include tax liability, financial stability, and time value of money. A plaintiff may leave themselves exposed to a higher tax rate when they take their award. The plaintiff may already be financially stable and may not need the money until a specific time in the future.

Structured Attorney Fees 

When an attorney gets their fee after a settlement, successful verdict or judgment they have the option to choose to take their fee upfront, where they will be taxed at a higher rate by the government. There are options plaintiffs’ attorneys have where they can structure the fee and invest their fee into different products where they can earn more on their potential investment. Companies like MetLife, Millennium Settlement Consulting, and Pacific Life offer plaintiffs’ attorneys the ability to structure their fees. Some of the benefits for structuring their fees include reducing tax exposure, setting up retirement income, structured income over a period of time instead of a lump sum.

Taxes 

Once a plaintiff receives their settlement after attorney fees have been taken out, the medical costs have been paid, there is only one entity left to get their pay and that is the United States government through the Internal Revenue Service. (IRS) According to the IRS’website a plaintiff does not have to pay taxes if they have not deducted medical expenses in the prior years if the proceeds are from a personal injury lawsuit. In an employment law settlement, the proceeds connected to lost wages are subject to regular wage taxes, social security, and medicare rates in that year. Punitive damages from a settlement are treated as Other Income.

Advice: One should consult with a tax adviser after receiving settlement proceeds to get the best advice.

Former Students Settle With Trump University for $25 Million

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According to various news reports, a federal judge gave final approval to a $25 million settlement agreement former students reached with Trump University. The students, who attended the school to receive specialized education in real estate, accused the university of fraud. Some students allegedly paid between $1,000 to $35,000 to attend classes. They were promised the opportunity to learn the secrets of getting rich in real estate. In addition, the ability to access private financing options. The students said both turned out not to be true. They say they were deceived by the promises of Trump University and were pressured by officials at the school to buy and elevate their package causing them to pay more money.

During the 2016 presidential election, then candidate Donald Trump vowed to keep fighting the lawsuit even insulting the plaintiffs. Days after the election, the trial was set to commence. Instead a settlement between the plaintiffs and the university had been announced. Preliminary approval was given in December and final approval was rendered by a federal judge of the settlement. Trump University and Donald Trump did not admit guilt. The specifics of the settlement include $21 million for the estimated plaintiffs to split among themselves. Most observers expect the plaintiffs will receive at least half of what they spent if they aren’t made whole. $4 million will go to the settle the New York State lawsuits against the university. The plaintiff attorneys’ who litigated the case graciously decided not to take their fees and absorb the costs of pursuing the case.

From Hallucinations to Heart Problems: The Effects of Concerta and Its Generic Equivalents

259502894_f3e435ebd8_zOn October 18, 2016, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) proposed withdrawing two generic versions of Concerta. The FDA ran tests on both drugs and it was determined they had insufficient effects on patients. The drug, Concerta, is alleged to have a number of side effects on people who take it including suicide, agitation, convulsions, disturbed sleep, hallucinations, hostility, stroke, anxiety, depression, drug addiction/abuse, heart issues, mania, and psychosis. The two drug manufacturers are Kremers Urban (subsidiary of the Lannett Company), and Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals, which were both given opportunities to request a hearing by the FDA to show why their drugs shouldn’t be withdrawn. Ordinarily, a move like this from the FDA would lead to a flurry of lawsuits.

Patients cannot sue the manufacturers relating to efficacy or labeling of the drug. Also, because they are generic manufacturers, the companies cannot change the formula or labels on their own even if new information about safety and side effects are discovered. The United States Supreme Court upheld this idea in a 5 to 4 decision that overturned a New Hampshire jury verdict; the verdict awarded over $20 million to a woman who took a generic version of a drug. Generic drugs exist to help consumers save money on buying drugs they need to treat illnesses. According to the Congressional Budget Office, generic drugs help consumers save an estimated $8 to $10 billion at retail pharmacies. Institutions like hospitals and clinics save billions when they use generic drugs.

According to the FDA, a generic drug is developed under patent protection when it is first created. This gives the company the sole right to sell the drug while the patent is in effect, essentially giving it a monopoly on the market. Once the patent wears off, generics can enter the market submitting their new drug application for approval. The Orange Book provides a way to look up generic versions of brand name drugs. Concerta is manufactured by Janssen (subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson). It is used to treat Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD).

 

Photo credit: Michael Chen, photo

Link Between Ovarian Cancer and Talc-Based Cosmetic Products

26770539316_653521db53_zWithin the past couple of years, lawsuits have been filed against companies like Johnson & Johnson in regards to products containing talcum powder. Research has shown that talcum powder is an unsafe sterilizing agent that can lead to ovarian cancer in women who use products like Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder around their genital area. While Johnson & Johnson’s talc-based powder is labeled as Baby Powder, they market their product for women’s use too.

Studies have been conducted since the 1980s on the negative side effects of talcum powder use in the female genital area, but Johnson & Johnson never informed their consumers about the risk of using their products containing the powder because the results were inconclusive; there was no grounding evidence to support the link between ovarian cancer and talcum powder (though past and recent claims would suggest otherwise).

What exactly is talcum powder?

According to The American Cancer society, talc powder is essentially a mineral comprised of magnesium, silicon, and oxygen. It can be used as a sterilizing agent, and is the first named ingredient in Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder.

Where is the link between ovarian cancer and talcum powder?

Women who use talc-based products like Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder for feminine hygiene are at risk of forming ovarian cancer due to talc particles getting trapped in their ovarian tissues. Trapped talc particles would eventually cause inflammation in the ovaries and lead to the development of cancerous ovarian cell growth.

A woman from Texas filed a complaint in mid-August alleging that the consistent use of Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder caused the death of her daughter, Janel Kuntz. She was diagnosed with ovarian cancer at 43 years old, and was apparently using Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder product for at least 23 years. She was unaware of the health complications talc powder has on females who use it to keep their lady parts “fresh” as the powder absorbs moisture and eliminates odor.

But Janel Kuntz was not the first woman to be diagnosed with ovarian cancer due to using Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder. The first talcum powder lawsuit filed against Johnson & Johnson was in 2009 by a woman named Diane Berg. And in 2013, Jackie Fox filed a talcum powder lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson. Unfortunately Ms. Fox passed away in 2015 due to ovarian cancer, but the pharmaceutical company was found liable and paid out $72 million to Ms. Fox’s son after her death.

Berg, Kuntz, and Fox are only a few among many women who have filed lawsuits against Johnson & Johnson for their unsafe talc-based powder products. The growing number of talcum powder lawsuits being filed against Johnson & Johnson has sparked “a group of plaintiffs” to file a motion with the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) to consolidate all claims as part of a multi-district ligtigation (MDL).

Photo credit: Mike Mozart, photo

Levy Settlement On Hold As Interviews With Claimants Are Still Being Conducted

RD Legal Funding LogoDr. Nikita Levy – husband, father, family man, OB/GYN – deceased since February 2013 when he took his own life. The doctor committed suicide soon after he was accused of violating his doctor-patient relationship with thousands of women who were examined by him. Dr. Levy practiced for at least 25 years at a John Hopkins Medicine Clinic in Baltimore, Maryland. He was highly esteemed as a great OB/GYN practitioner, leaving most of his patients shocked when they found out that he secretly filmed them with a spy pen during their pelvic examinations.

The disturbing news was brought forth when a coworker took home Dr. Levy’s pen to confirm her suspicions that the doctor was indeed filming his patients. It has been reported that over 1,000 photos and videos were taken of his patients while they were undressed.

A $190 million dollar settlement was approved by the court in September 2014 between John Hopkins Hospital and the women involved in the lawsuit. 9,600 claims against Dr. Levy were timely submitted to the court in November 2014, but at least 2,000 claimants are still awaiting approval due to lack of evidence (medical records) that would indicate they were ever seen by Dr. Levy in the past.

Even though the court reached a settlement, timely claims need to be assessed to ensure validity and accuracy of the submitted claims. Assessments have and will be made by Adjudicator Judge Irma S. Raker (Ret.) who will be assisted by RG/2 Claims Administration LLC. Accepted claimants are assessed by interviews via telephone; individuals will be asked questions regarding their claim. And because there are thousands of interviews being conducted, only less than half of the 9,600 claimants have been contacted thus far.

Once all of the claimants have been contacted, and assessments are made, the settlement for $190 million dollars will be processed to all with valid claims. The award amount received by each claimant is still uncertain, though it will depend on the severity of each individual’s injuries.

Revisiting the Chinese Drywall Crisis

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Since 2001, Chinese drywall has created problems for homeowners in the United States. A specific kind of drywall imported from China that contained sulfurous compounds left many people in a state of distress. From health complications to visible damage in household appliances made with copper and/or metal, the installation of Chinese drywall has proved to be disastrous. The sulfurous compounds contained in the drywall have been identified by The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC); hydrogen sulfide, sulfur dioxide and carbon disulfide are just a few that have been found in the drywall testing.

The manufacturing of Chinese drywall consisting of sulfurous compounds has stopped since 2012 due to the Drywall Safety Act.

Most of the people affected by the negative side effects linked to contaminated Chinese drywall are located down south in states like Florida and Louisiana.

The hotter the air is, the more humid weather conditions are, which in turn causes the emission of said sulfurous compounds to be released from the drywall. When temperatures rise, the sulfurous compounds emit a rotten-egg like smell, and also corrode appliances like air conditioners and fire alarms causing appliances to fail and be replaced.

Though sometimes the sulfurous smell cannot be detected, it is still damaging to homeowners who are unaware of the complications that can arise from the defected Chinese drywall. Sulfurous compounds not only damage household appliances, but they also create serious health issues for people who are living in a house built with Chinese drywall. There have been reported complaints linked to homeowners living with Chinese drywall that include dry eye, headaches, sinus infections, nosebleeds and difficulty breathing.

Problems have and will keep arising if the Chinese drywall is not replaced.

In order to detect if you’re experiencing a Chinese drywall problem, a threshold inspection must take place. If the inspection validates that you’re indeed suffering from Chinese Drywall Syndrome, then legal action may be taken in order to receive compensation for any issues you’ve experienced while living with the defected Chinese drywall.

Photo Credit: Georgia National Guard, photo

Eliquis Leads to Deaths and Possible MDL Class Action Lawsuits

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Eliquis (Apixaban) is an oral anticoagulant made by Bristol-Myers Squibb and Pfizer. The blood thinning medication was first put on the market in 2012 in Europe, and was later approved by the FDA in the United States in 2014.  Before Eliquis was deemed safe enough to prescribe to patients, the drug went through a clinical trial under the name of ARISTOTLE. According to various news outlets, trial agents buried crucial information linked to the study from the FDA, like adverse side effects that transpired during the trial. Side effects included severe internal bleeding to subjects using the medication, and it was also noted that a death went unreported during the trial as well.

Eliquis proved to be more harmful than beneficial, but the drug went on the market nonetheless as Bristol-Meyers Squibb and Pfizer hid critical data about the adverse effects Eliquis had on its subjects during the trial.

The drug has only recently gained attention as a dangerous anticoagulant with two wrongful death claims reported within the past two years.

Other blood thinning medications like Xarelto (Rivaroxaban) and Pradaxa (Dabigatran) have caused problems and complications for patients before Eliquis was produced and manufactured.

Boehringer Ingelheim, Pradaxa’s manufacturer, paid $650 million dollars in 2014 to settle 4,000 state and federal lawsuits over their blood thinner Pradaxa.

It wasn’t until 2015 that a medication named Praxbind (Idarucizumab) was created to reverse the side effects associated with Pradaxa. And even so, Praxbind surfaced on the market too late as thousands of wrongful death lawsuits have been filed against Boehringer Ingelheim since 2012.

The recent lawsuits claims against Bristol-Meyers Squibb and Pfizer are centered on patients who have died from internal bleeding using Eliquis. A complaint was filed by Deborah Herschell for her husband’s death in June 2015. And in June of this year, another complaint was filed by Kathleen Odum for her father’s death in June 2014. Mr. Donald Herschell and Mr. Oliver Becker suffered from irregular heartbeat, or what is also known as atrial fibrillation (AFib). What both of these deaths have in common is that they were potentially caused by Eliquis.

What is AFib?

AFib is caused by an irregular, rapid heart rate that may cause poor blood flow to those who are diagnosed with the medical condition. Other symptoms of AFib include, but are not limited to:

  • Palpitations
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fatigue
  • Irregular blood supply
  • Blood clotting
  • Stroke
  • Heart Failure

Anticoagulants are therefore commonly prescribed to patients who suffer from AFib; they’re also prescribed to patients who undergo hip or knee replacement surgery to prevent blood clots from forming.

It’s unfortunate that these pharmaceutical corporations have failed to take responsibility for the health complications caused by the medications they supply. But there are many law firms willing to take on class action suits against Bristol-Meyers Squibb and Pfizer for their defected blood thinner medication, Eliquis. And while there aren’t enough Eliquis lawsuits for the courts to merge them into a multi-district litigation (MDL) just yet, plaintiffs’ lawyers expect more Eliquis claims to be filed across the country as the side effects of the drug worsen in patients.

American Medical Systems, Inc. (AMS) Settles Ongoing Vaginal Mesh Lawsuits

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Though there are still cases that have yet to be settled, a subsidiary of Endo International plc has recently resolved more than 100 cases regarding vaginal mesh injury claims. American Medical Systems, Inc. (AMS) has settled multi-district litigation cases in West Virginia concerning injuries and complications due to defected vaginal mesh products.

Endo International plc is a healthcare company that globally produces, manufactures, markets and distributes pharmaceutical products (brand name and generic). Some of AMS’s defected products attached to the lawsuit are listed below:

  • Apogee
  • Perigee
  • MiniArc Sling
  • IntePro Y Sling

Among other reported injuries, most women who used said products have experienced side effects and complications that include chronic pelvic pain, recurrence of prolapse and/or stress urinary incontinence (SUI). While vaginal mesh products are supposed to help treat women with SUI and pelvic organ prolapse (POP), they’re in turn creating more issues for these women, and in some cases, making matters worse. The FDA approved vaginal mesh products to help aid women with SUI and POP, but now they’re considered to be “high-risk devices” due to the continuing injuries linked to the implants.

In 2014, Endo made an agreement with multiple plaintiffs’ firms involved with vaginal mesh injury cases to pay $830 million dollars in hopes of settling a great portion of these particular injury suits. Though Endo resolved a large chunk of these cases, the company is still knee deep in open cases. Endo is reaching settlements years after they announced they’d pay millions to settle thousands of suits in regards to the injury claims.

Last year in April, Endo reported to U.S. District Judge Joseph R. Goodwin concerning the settlements they made in more than 300 cases. 108 more cases settled by Endo were reported to the judge a month later. And then again in July, 100 cases with AMS were settled.

Even with the recent cases AMS has settled, tens of thousands of cases are still open and pending between other MDLs.