LawyersandSettlements.com Releases Its Top 10 Legal News Topics For 2014

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Pharmaceutical drugs and devices continued to be some of the most popular legal news topics at LawyersandSettlements.com during 2014. This year, anti-coagulants, testosterone, the GM ignition switch recall (airbags) and recalled hip replacements top the list of popular legal topics and lawsuit news at the legal news website.

In reviewing the most compelling consumer-related litigation topics of 2014 for its readership, Online Legal Media and its flagship publication LawyersandSettlements.com note that the most-read legal news stories for the year have touched on a wide array of alleged legal issues--ranging from the debate over testosterone supplementation and women’s health (TVM) issues, to hip replacement problems and diabetes medication side effects.

Additionally, the GM recall over problems with ignition switches was at the forefront of LawyersandSettlement.com readers' minds in 2014. According to NBC News*, (3/18/14) plaintiffs Ken and Beth Melton settled with General Motors in the fall of 2013 following the death of their daughter Brooke, only to later petition to have the settlement rescinded after new allegations over the ignition switch began to surface early in 2014. The Meltons are suing the automaker* (Melton et al. v. General Motors LLC et al., case number 14A1197-4, in the Georgia Court of Cobb County.)

Meanwhile, Stryker Orthopaedics made headlines this fall when they agreed to a mediated settlement worth $1.45 billion over the recalled Stryker Rejuvenate Modular-Neck and ABG II Modular-Neck hip replacement system** . Bloomberg reported** (11/4/14) that Stryker plaintiffs having undergone revision surgery could each qualify for more than $300,000 in compensation. Consolidated lawsuits in both state (In Re Stryker Rejuvenate and ABG II Modular Hip Implant Litigation, 296 BER-L-936-13, Bergen County Superior Court Hackensack), and federal court (In Re Stryker Rejuvenate Hip Implant Products Liability Litigation, 13-mdl-2441, US District Court, District of Minnesota, St. Paul) could cost the medical device maker in excess of $1.45 billion after all expenses are in, according to The New York Times***. The mediated settlement was announced 18 months after the devices were recalled in 2012.

Donning and doffing lawsuits continue to have an ongoing presence, in which plaintiffs have challenged employers who require their workers to perform mandated tasks off the clock without payment. The recent case involving wait times for mandated security screening that was brought against Integrity Staffing Solutions Inc., an entity that provides warehouse workers to Amazon, went to the US Supreme Court4. According to Reuters**** (12/9/14), the verdict earlier this month found in favor of the defendant****, with the Court noting that screening time was not compensable under the Fair Labor Standards Act (Integrity Staffing Solutions Inc. v. Busk et al., case number 13-433, in the Supreme Court of the United States).

Among women’s health issues, laparoscopic power morcellation, a procedure that, according to an FDA safety communication, employs a device to divide uterine tissue into fragments for removal through a minimally-invasive incision†. At issue, as noted by the FDA, is that "Based on an analysis of currently available data, the FDA has determined that approximately 1 in 350 women who are undergoing hysterectomy or myomectomy for fibroids have an unsuspected type of uterine cancer called uterine sarcoma. If laparoscopic power morcellation is performed in these women, there is a an alleged risk that the procedure will spread the cancerous tissue within the abdomen and pelvis, significantly worsening the patient’s likelihood of long-term survival.†" In Burkhart v. LiNA Med. U.S., No. 5:14-cv-01557-EGS (E.D. Pa. filed Mar. 14, 2014), the plaintiff alleged that the procedure caused the spread of cancer in his wife, ultimately leading to her death. The New York Times reported in April that Johnson & Johnson had suspended sales of its power morcellator for an undefined period of time††.

Risperdal (risperidone), an atypical anti-psychotic, has continued to percolate throughout 2014 for an alleged adverse reaction known as gynecomastia, or the growth of male breast tissue†††. According to Medscape (3/17/14), a large Canadian research study, which is currently in the process of peer review prior to publication, noted that older men who used Risperdal had a 69 percent higher risk of developing gynecomastia over non-users†††. A gynecomastia allegation against Risperdal was made by plaintiff Aaron Banks in 2010††††. According to Forbes, Banks was 21 at the time he developed male breasts††††. His Risperdal lawsuit (Banks v. Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas, January Term 2010, No. 00618) was settled in 2012 on the first day of his Risperdal trial, according to Bloomberg§ (9/10/12).

Arguably, one of the two most compelling legal issues to surface for LawyersandSettlements.com readers over the past year is the ongoing testosterone supplementation debate. According to the Mayo Clinic§, testosterone therapy is used to treat extremely low testosterone levels in men that can allegedly lead to symptoms of sagging energy, strength and sex drive. Research, however suggests that healthy men who take testosterone needlessly risk potentially serious health issues, including stroke and other cardiovascular events§§. Dr. William Finkle, an epidemiologist and CEO of Consolidated Research who teamed up with UCLA and the National Institutes of Health to study the issue, stated in Healthday (1/29/14) that unneeded testosterone supplementation in healthy men can double the risk of a heart attack§§§. The current multidistrict litigation involving testosterone supplement allegations is In re: Testosterone Replacement Therapy Product Liability Litigation - MDL No. 2545.

Perhaps the most compelling legal issue for readers has been the advent of Xarelto, an anticoagulant that, according to Bloomberg Businessweek (12/4/14), has been blamed for causing some patients to bleed to death§§§§. Currently, attorneys for plaintiffs who allege harm from Xarelto are seeking to consolidate lawsuits in order to go before a single judge. Bloomberg reports that attorneys are projecting the potential for thousands of lawsuits to be filed over the drug. The case is Xarelto Products Liability Litigation, MDL No. 2592, U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation.§§§§

Thousands of LawyersandSettlements.com monthly readers have followed the latest legal news and information on these topics, many of which have fallen from the radar of traditional media outlets.

The LawyersandSettlements.com Top 10 Legal News Topics of 2014, along with the potential side effects readers were seeking information on, are:

Xarelto Lawsuit (alleging uncontrollable bleeding)

Stryker Hip Lawsuit (alleging tissue inflammation, tissue degradation, metallosis toxicity)

Actos Lawsuit (alleging bladder cancer, heart attack, heart failure, edema)

Testosterone Lawsuit (alleging heart attacks)

Transvaginal Mesh Lawsuit (alleging pain, lack of mobility, uterine perforation, infection)

Air Bag Lawsuit (alleging lack of deployment, unnecessary deployment)

Power Morcellator Lawsuit (alleging potential spreading of unknown cancers)

Risperdal Lawsuit (alleging gynecomastia or male breast development, diabetes)

Asbestos Lawsuits (alleging asbestosis, asbestos cancer, mesothelioma)

Donning & Doffing Lawsuits (alleging off-the-clock work, unpaid wages, unpaid overtime).

*"GM Changed Ignition Part Without Telling Drivers, Regulators", NBC News, 3/18/14, nbcnews.com/storyline/gm-recall/gm-changed-ignition-part-without-telling-drivers-regulators-n54596
**"Stryker to Pay More than $1B for Recalled Devices", Bloomberg, 11/4/14, bloomberg.com/news/2014-11-03/stryker-to-pay-more-than-1-billion-for-recalled-devices.html
***"Stryker Settles Suits by Hip Implant Patients for $1B", The New York Times, 11/3/14, nytimes.com/2014/11/04/business/stryker-settles-suits-by-hip-implant-patients-for-dollar1-billion.html
****"U.S. top court rejects worker pay for security-screening time", Reuters, 12/9/14, reuters.com/article/2014/12/09/us-usa-court-workers-idUSKBN0JN1P820141209
†"FDA discourages use of laparoscopic power morcellation for removal of uterus or uterine fibroids", FDA Safety Communication, 4/17/14, fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/ucm393689.htm
††"Johnson & Johnson Suspends Global Sales of Fibroid Surgery Device", The New York Times, 4/30/14, nytimes.com/2014/05/01/business/johnson-johnson-suspends-global-sales-of-fibroid-surgery-device.html
†††"Antipsychotic May Boost Gynecomastia Risk", Medscape, 3/17/14, medscape.com/viewarticle/822072
††††"J&J Sees Male Breasts and Quickly Settles Risperdal Suit", Forbes, 9/11/12, forbes.com/sites/edsilverman/2012/09/11/jj-sees-male-breasts-and-quickly-settles-risperdal-suit
§"J&J Settles Risperdal Lawsuit on Opening Day of Trial", Bloomberg, 9/10/12, bloomberg.com/news/2012-09-10/j-j-settles-risperdal-lawsuit-on-opening-day-of-trial.html
§§"Testosterone therapy: Key to male vitality?", Mayo Clinic, 7/10/14, mayoclinic.org/healthy-living/sexual-health/in-depth/testosterone-therapy/art-20045728
§§§"Testosterone Therapy Might Increase Heart Attack Risk: Study", HealthDay, 1/29/14, consumer.healthday.com/cardiovascular-health-information-20/heart-attack-news-357/testosterone-therapy-boosts-heart-attack-risk-study-684334.html
§§§§"Bayer, J&J Fight Calls to Unify Blood-Thinner Death Suits", Bloomberg Businessweek, 12/4/14, businessweek.com/news/2014-12-04/bayer-j-and-j-face-calls-to-consolidate-xarelto-blood-thinner-suits#p1

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