Archive for Misc.

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.

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.

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

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

Victims Compensation Fund Pays $234 Million To Claimants

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According to the 9/11 First Responder’s Victims Compensation Fund (VCF), they have paid an estimated $234 million to claimants seeking compensation. Their latest update on March 1st was made by Sheila Birnbaum, the Special Master and main point person for the fund. The $234 million went to pay 1,000 claims and Birnbaum has pledged to continue to focus on expediting the payment of claims. This is big news which comes on the heels of the extension of the James Zadroga Act in 2015. That fight which went on for months required the assistance of Jon Stewart and others to shame and prod Congressional members to vote to extend the act.

Birnbaum also said the priority for the VCF will be the Group A claims. Group A claims are ones that have been received and computed due to the regulations before August 2011. The extension also makes these claims a priority to be paid. A timeline produced by the VCF shows that all Group A claims should be paid by June 2016. Group B funding and payments should begin in September 2016.

The extension of the James Zadroga Act has provided permanent funding to the VCF and has extended the window of when claimants can receive medical care. The Zadroga Act expired around October 2015. Until December 2015 when the extension was passed, it was a fight everyday to get meetings with members of Congress to hear the pleas from the 9/11 First Responder community. Activists like John Feal, 9/11 Health Watch, the entire New York Congressional Delegation, celebrities like Jon Stewart all worked together to get the bill passed.

The Utah Association for Justice’s 2016 Brain Injury Conference

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The Utah Association for Justice (UAJ) is holding their 2016 Brain Injury Conference on February 26th at the Law and Justice Center in Salt Lake City. According to the UAJ’s website, online registration for the conference is closed, but it may be possible to apply in person. The one day conference will touch on a variety of topics important to those plaintiffs’ attorneys who litigate brain injury cases. Generally, brain injury cases can take a long time to resolve because of the amount of evidence and testimony from experts needed.

Scientifically speaking, there is a lot about the brain as a society we still don’t know. What years of science has shown us is damage to the brain whether one time or over time can be very dangerous to people. The issue of brain injuries has become mainstream. The National Football League (NFL) settled a huge class action with some former players on the issue. Now. there are issues being discussed about sports like soccer and hockey that can have some damaging effects on the brain. Leagues like the National Hockey League (NHL) and organizations like Federation Internationale de Football (FIFA) are dealing with complaints from activists and reports from the media about the damage some players may have or former players may have had when they played the sport. The settlement the NFL reached with its former players on the concussion issue shows a growing awareness of the problem. So trial lawyers are going to need the tips to properly litigate the brain injury cases and get advice from those plaintiffs’ attorneys that have litigated cases like them in the past.

Ohio Justice Association’s New Podcast Civilly Speaking

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To date, the Ohio Justice Association (OJA) is the only one of the 50 state justice Associations to have its own podcast.The podcast titled Civilly Speaking focuses on topics that plaintiff attorneys and anyone involved on the plaintiff side of the law would be interested in. This is a new dynamic that may spawn a trend of podcasts for other justice associations to participate in. Podcasting is the new media phenomenon. Podcasts like Serial, Planet Money, Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me, are getting huge audiences to tune in to their programs. What’s more, the audience isn’t tied to a set time where they have to listen, they can simply listen at their own time. That’s the appeal of podcasting which the OJA appears to want to tap into.

According to OJA, each episode is 20 minutes or less and is perfect for the plaintiff attorney who has a little bit of downtime throughout their day. So far, there are only three episodes of Civilly Speaking. The topics discussed in those three episodes includes dealing with opposing counsel, defense medical exam doctors, and issues with cases about Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA). Aside from the new podcast, OJA will be holding their annual convention in May. The topics important to trial lawyers are going to be discussed at the convention. Topics including worker’s compensation, medical malpractice, mass torts, and trucking litigation. The podcast maybe highlighted during the convention.

The New York Review of Books On Entrepreneurial Litigation: It’s Rise, Fall, And Future

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In 2015, the New York Review of Books (NYRB) reviewed John Coffee Jr.’s book Entrepreneurial Litigation: It’s Rise, Fall, and Future.  In his book, Coffee writes about the reality of lawyer financed, lawyer controlled and lawyer settled cases and the murky agenda some attorneys may have in pursuing those cases. He also touches on the topics of class actions and how they play a role in entrepreneurial litigation. The NYRB’s article focused on the effect class actions can have stopping corporate wrongdoing. That article written by Judge Jed S. Rakoff, of the Southern District of New York, broached on the history of class actions, the possibility of misconduct on the part of plaintiffs’ attorneys, the future of class actions, and the recent moves by Congress and the Supreme Court on the topic of class actions.

At the very outset of a plaintiffs’ attorney’s career, they know they will have to carry the reputation and financial burden alone on their shoulders. In addition to being lawyers, they are also entrepreneurs. The firm lives and dies by the skill of the plaintiffs’ attorney, the cases they take, and their financial standing. Whenever they take part in litigating big or high profile cases, their motives are questioned. Whether they are driven by fees, bringing justice to their client or gaining the stature associated with the litigation. One would assume its a mix of all three, but a plaintiffs’ attorney’s main job is to be a strong advocate for their client. They have to be skilled enough and knowledgeable enough to present their client’s case in court. Plaintiffs’ attorneys have to be able withstand the wherewithal to litigate these cases where delays are imminent and payment is delayed.

Mauritius Upholds Criteria For Enforcing Foreign Judgments

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Recently,Mauritius, a small country off the coast of Africa, reaffirmed their criteria for enforcing foreign judgments. The issue of foreign judgments can be tricky because there are a lot of factors that can play a role in that judgment and whether it will be enforced. That is why many countries have signed treaties where they agree to certain conditions on foreign judgments. In an article written by Gilbert Noel, a Partner at Appleby Global Group Services Limited, he states the benefits of Mauritius’ Supreme Court upholding the criteria. He says it give the business community confidence investing in Mauritius and keeps the country in line with international trends.

As the globalization trend continues across the world, people and companies who are doing business in different countries have to be aware of what can be done in the and legal system. Businesses and people need consistency and the ability to fix a problem should one arise through the court system. That is why investing in different countries isn’t as easy because what’s legal matters. When a foreign national or business runs into a problem where the legal system is needed, they need to know the steps that need to be taken. If they are successful in bringing a claim, they need to be able to enforce that judgment. For any foreign national or company that brings a legal matter in the legal system, it can be difficult enforcing that judgment. First, they are at a disadvantage because of they are dealing with a different kind of court system. Next, asset classification, publications, and seizure may be next to impossible. Third, the role of foreign policy can not be ignored. The relations between two countries can have an effect on how the citizens from those countries are treated. Lastly, it may also depend who the judgment is against. That person or company could be a highly respected in their country and it could be damaging for them to suffer such an indignity. So efforts might be made to protect them from such a fate.

However, Mauritius has made their criteria clear and what’s needed to enforce a foreign judgment. The country is a hub for business and thus its important for any foreign national or company who is doing business in the country as well as any who would like to what they are facing should they dive in.

Mauritius Criteria For Enforcing Foreign Judgments: 

(a) the judgment must still be valid and capable of execution in the country where it was delivered;

(b) it must not be contrary to any principle affecting public order;

(c) the defendant must have been regularly summoned to attend the proceedings; and

(d) the court which delivered the judgment must have had jurisdiction to deal with the matter submitted to it.

Photo Credit: Mauritius Grunge Flag by Nicolas Raymond

San Francisco Airport Prepares For Super Bowl 50

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Super Bowl 50 is expected to be one of the biggest events to date. This year, the event will be held in San Francisco. As the city prepares itself for the mayhem that is to come with the Super Bowl, San Francisco International Airport was turned into a celebration of players of yesteryear. The Pro Football Hall of Fame contributed most of the items that are exhibited in the airport. The exhibit is titled The Nation’s Game, The NFL from the Pro Football Hall of Fame. People arriving, departing, or waiting for a connection in San Francisco International will be able to see the museum in Terminal 3, free of charge.

Once the announcement was made about San Francisco being the host of Super Bowl 50, the anticipation started building. The Super Bowl is arguably the biggest sports event in the United States. Every year, the event seems to get bigger. The Super Bowl is no longer just about the game, its about the hype, the lead up to the big game, the commercials, the musical performance, and then the game. This year’s Super Bowl will be taking place in San Francisco. As the time inches closer, stories will be written on the commercials, excitement from city residents and those traveling to attend. In addition, stories will be written about the players, coaches, personnel from both teams as they compete for the title of NFL Champions of 2016. There will also be stories about the players who paved the way for the athletes of today and the struggles they had to deal with. Those same players will be honored at some point during the events. Issues like player safety, concussions and the NFL Concussion settlement are sure to be discussed. So like previous Super Bowls, Super Bowl 50 will be the epicenter of entertainment for a period of time and Terminal 3 in San Francisco International Airport is leading the way.

Photo Credit: DJ Animal