Law Reporter and Trial News

 

Selected news from Trial News, the Products Liability Law Reporter, and Professional Negligence Law Reporter


Eleventh Circuit upholds Florida med-mal law allowing ex parte communications

OCTOBER 28, 2014, PNLR E-Newsletter
 

The Eleventh Circuit upheld part of a 2013 Florida medical malpractice law that allows essentially unlimited ex parte communications between all defense-related counsel and witnesses and a plaintiff’s health care providers during the 90-day presuit period. Attorneys worry the law will intimidate treating physicians, discourage plaintiffs from bringing med-mal actions, and encourage other states to pass similar statutes.


FDA panel wants strict label for testosterone therapies, more studies on safety

OCTOBER 21, 2014, PLLR E-Newsletter
 

Heeding the call from safety advocates and medical experts, an FDA panel has recommended by a 20-1 vote that the agency tighten control over testosterone replacement therapies (TRTs) to ensure they are prescribed only to men with serious medical conditions. The panel also voted to require that drugmakers perform clinical studies to further test the link between TRTs and heart attacks and strokes.


Proposed rule closes loopholes on predatory lending for servicemembers

OCTOBER 16, 2014, Trial News
 

The Military Lending Act prohibits certain creditors from forcing servicemembers into arbitration and charging them or their dependents more than 36 percent annual interest rate. Now, the U.S. Department of Defense has issued a proposed rule that would expand these protections.


Missouri Supreme Court invalidates punitive damages caps on common law claims

OCTOBER 2, 2014, Trial News
 

In a case that arose out of an auto dealer’s alleged fraudulent misrepresentation, the Missouri Supreme Court recently held that limits on punitive damages for common law torts are unlawful under the state constitution.


FedEx drivers improperly classified as independent contractors

SEPTEMBER 18, 2014, Trial News
 

In two companion decisions, the Ninth Circuit held that FedEx Ground Package System, Inc., improperly labeled its delivery drivers independent contractors rather than employees, illegally depriving them of certain benefits and rights. Plaintiff attorneys said the decisions’ effect may extend to other industries that rely on similar independent contractor business models.


Two schools cited for unnecessary restraint, seclusion of children

SEPTEMBER 16, 2014, PNLR E-Newsletter
 

Two Virginia schools for students with emotional and behavioral issues restrained or secluded students hundreds of times in nonemergency situations, the Department of Education recently found. A ProPublica analysis released in June found that children were held down, handcuffed, duct-taped, locked in dark rooms, and otherwise restrained more than 267,000 times in the 2012 school year.


Cymbalta users sue over undisclosed withdrawal side effects

SEPTEMBER 9, 2014, PLLR E-Newsletter
 

Almost two dozen consumers who suffered moderate to severe side effects when they tried to stop using the antidepressant Cymbalta recently sued drugmaker Eli Lilly & Co. The plaintiffs claim the company knew the drug caused withdrawal symptoms in nearly half those who discontinued it but significantly downplayed the risks in warning labels.


Minnesota Supreme Court rejects Twombly and Iqbal pleading standard

SEPTEMBER 4, 2014, Trial News
 

The Minnesota Supreme Court has expressly rejected the federal pleading standard that the U.S. Supreme Court established in Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly and Ashcroft v. Iqbal and held that Minnesota’s traditional pleading standard applies.


As agencies crack down on mortgage-relief scams, homeowners settle claims against law firm

SEPTEMBER 2, 2014, Class Action Law Reporter
 

Colorado homeowners who fought foreclosure in the height of the mortgage crisis have settled a class action against a law firm that regularly charged inflated fees to post foreclosure notices. The federal government and states across the country are pursuing law firms that have scammed homeowners out of millions of dollars, including some that promised homeowners could pay to join “mass joinder” lawsuits that would force banks to modify their loans.


Patients infected by tainted saline that nurse substituted for stolen pain meds

AUGUST 19, 2014, PNLR E-Newsletter
 

A hospital patient who suffered horrific pain and a blood infection necessitating an arm amputation after a nurse took her pain medication and substituted contaminated saline has sued the hospital for medical negligence. At least 25 patients were sickened by the contaminated saline in 2010, including one who died. Several have lawsuits pending against the hospital.


Debt-relief firms scamming student loan borrowers

AUGUST 7, 2014, Trial News
 

Debt settlement companies have now targeted student loan borrowers, charging them for nonexistent services or free government services. Federal and state regulators have stepped in, and the Illinois Attorney General has filed lawsuits against two companies.


Supreme Court helps ERISA plaintiffs but leaves issues unresolved

AUGUST 5, 2014, Class Action Law Reporter
 

Following a significant Supreme Court decision eliminating the defense-friendly “presumption of prudence” in Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) cases, the Fifth Circuit has revived a lawsuit against BP, P.L.C., by employees who suffered financial losses when their BP stock plummeted after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.


Plaintiff's experts were improperly excluded in contaminated baby formula case

JULY 8, 2014, PLLR E-Newsletter
 

The Eighth Circuit has ruled that a trial court abused its discretion in disqualifying the plaintiff experts’ opinions, which blamed an infant’s permanent brain damage on contaminated formula. The case will now go to trial.


Plaintiff attorneys say Halliburton will make defendants' burden heavier

JULY 1, 2014 Class Action Law Reporter
 

Despite the defense bar’s comments to the contrary, plaintiff attorneys consider the Supreme Court’s recent ruling in Halliburton Co. v. Erica P. John Fund, Inc., to be a significant victory for investors because the Court not only declined to overrule the fraud-on-the-market doctrine but also said defendants must prove there was no price impact.


Parents of teen killed in car crash claim stores sold alcohol to minor despite notice he was underage

JUNE 24, 2014, Motor Vehicle Law Reporter
 

The parents of a teenager killed when her intoxicated boyfriend crashed his car have sued two convenience stores, alleging they illegally sold alcohol to a minor despite warnings that he was under 21 on his fake driver’s license and in a database.


Device used in gynecological surgeries could spread cancer

JUNE 19, 2014, Trial News
 

As many as two dozen products liability cases have been filed against manufacturers of laparoscopic power morcellators, which are used to slice and remove uterine fibroids. Plaintiffs allege the devices can spread a dangerous hidden cancer from the uterus to other parts of the body.


VA has long known of deadly delays for sick and injured veterans

JUNE 17, 2014, PNLR E-Newsletter
 

Recent revelations about Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) hospitals’ systemic efforts to hide long waiting times for veterans’ health care appointments have shocked the public, but government reports and whistleblower accounts show the VA has known for years that patients are dying as they wait for care.