Articles Tagged with lawsuit

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Damages in a Lawsuit Involving Opioids
The opioid epidemic in America is a national crisis. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control recently reported that more than 64,000 people died in 2016 from drug overdoses, with the great majority of those deaths caused by opioids. The numbers for 2017 only look worse.

Last month, I wrote about whether people affected by the opioid epidemic can sue the drug manufacturers and distributors, doctors, pharmacies, and other suppliers who contributed to the addiction that destroyed their lives. But what can victims recover in lawsuits involving dangerously addictive prescription drugs?

You know all too well what you have lost—your financial security, your health, or perhaps even a loved one’s life. Now, let’s review the legal terms we use to discuss these losses.

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Surgeon placing hernia mesh in the inguinal region during open hernia repair.
Clients are all different. Some call me with an injury caused by a medical device or drug and say, essentially, “figure it out.” I have no problem with a client taking this position. Others keep detailed notes and meticulous records and send me a package of documents that can be several inches thick. I never expect a client to do this initial “leg work,” but it can often jump start a case against the device or drug manufacturer. If you are inclined to be more involved in the process, at least early on, I have noted some important tasks below you can accomplish to launch your hernia mesh case.

Let’s start with two obvious assumptions: (1) you had hernia mesh implanted in your body in the past, and (2) you have suffered injury because of the hernia mesh. Where do you go from there?

Identify Your Product

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I got a desperate phone call the other day. The call came from a man several states away. Let’s call him “Bill.” Bill had hip replacement surgery in 2007. The Depuy ASR artificial hip was implanted. He began to suffer pain eighteen months later, in early 2009, and blood tests showed his cobalt and chromium metal levels were rising at an alarming rate. He was suffering from metallosis. In 2011 Bill underwent Revision Surgery to remove the Depuy ASR hip. A year later he hired an attorney and filed his product liability lawsuit against Depuy Orthopaedics and Johnson & Johnson (the parent company of Depuy) in federal court in Bill’s home state. From there, the case was transferred to the Depuy ASR MDL in the Northern District of Ohio, before Judge David Katz. Judge Katz was the federal judge assigned to handle or manage the pretrial issues associated with the thousands of Depuy ASR cases that were transferred to his court after being filed across the country.

In November 2013, the first Settlement was reached between the Plaintiffs’ Committee and the Defense Team for Depuy and J&J. I have written about this Settlement and its terms here. So six years after the Original Surgery, and four years after the first onset of pain, and two years after Revision Surgery, Bill finally had the opportunity to accept the settlement offer or reject the offer and pursue a jury trial on his specific case. After much deliberation, Bill rejected the settlement offer.

Waiting for a Trial DateThree years have now passed. Bill’s case is not on a trial calendar. In fact, as far as I am aware no case has yet been tried of any person who rejected the settlement offers. To make matters worse, this summer Judge Katz, in charge of the MDL, passed away. A new judge had to be appointed to take his place overseeing the MDL.

Bill is at his wit’s end. He told me he merely wants his day in court. He is now nine years removed from the Original Surgery, seven years removed from the onset of symptoms, five years from Revision Surgery, and over four years from filing suit. And still no trial date in sight.

Bill is not alone. Hundreds of people in the MDL rejected the settlement. And those people are waiting too.

So how long does it take to resolve your artificial hip case?

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Statutes of Limitations in Product Liability Cases

The statute of limitations can be the strongest defense a product manufacturer will bring to defend itself and avoid paying money in a product liability lawsuit. It can be deadly to your medical device or drug case. The problem is, determining the proper deadline to bring your lawsuit is rarely simple. It is critical that you find someone who can figure out when the clock started ticking on your product liability case.

Definition

Let’s start with a simple definition: a statute of limitations is a state law which limits the time period when you may bring a lawsuit for money damages for a personal injury. In each state you have a certain number of years from the injury, or the date of discovery of the injury, to file a lawsuit and recover money for your injuries.

If you miss this deadline, you lose your right to bring the lawsuit, forever. These statutes must be taken very seriously.

Rationale

The rationale makes sense: citizens and companies do not need to be vulnerable to being sued indefinitely for an act of negligence. If you were in my grocery store twelve years ago, slipped on a banana peel, broke your arm, got medical treatment, recovered, then waited over a decade and finally sued me and my grocery store for negligence, it could be a serious hardship on me and deeply unfair. I need reasonable assurance that I won’t be exposed to lawsuits forever. So states across the country have written statutes that limit the amount of time an injured person can bring a lawsuit. Essentially, state legislatures are telling injured persons: we respect your right to sue for money damages when you are the victim of some kind of negligence, but don’t sleep on your rights. If you are hurt because of someone else, get on with it and file a lawsuit. And if you wait too long, you lose your right to recover damages.

(I don’t really own a grocery store.)

Determining When Your “Lawsuit Clock” Starts Ticking

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