Cigarette Maker is Finally Found Liable

The winning streak that Philip Morris USA, Inc. has been enjoying for years has finally broken, and with a bang. Florida resident Richard Boatright was awarded $35 million in compensatory and punitive damages (Philip Morris was found 85% liable, but also penalized for fraud and conspiracy) for his personal injury claim against the tobacco company. He had to undergo two lung transplants for medical conditions caused by cigarette smoking. And he is likely to be just the first of thousands to make a successful bid for compensation for health problems caused by cigarette smoking.

It is common knowledge now that cigarette smoking is extremely hazardous to the health, but back in the 1960s, it was an uphill battle for plaintiffs to prove that tobacco companies had a measure of liability for their failure to warn and misleading and unconscionable (they targeted children) marketing tactics. It took years, and many appeals before the Supreme Court finally ruled that the defenses used by tobacco companies to avoid the consequences of their liabilities, including that of preemption, did not apply to the personal injury cases brought before them.

Even 46 states have made a claim against the tobacco companies in 1998 where it became apparent that:

  • Nicotine, a component of tobacco, is addictive
  • There was a causal link between cigarette smoking and certain diseases
  • Tobacco companies knew but concealed evidence about these facts since the 1960s

The states sued tobacco companies for the medical costs of tobacco-related illnesses, which eventually resulted in the Master Settlement Agreement for $206 billion.

However, it may be too early to celebrate. Tobacco companies are notorious for dodging the liability bullet; a 2000 class action (Engle v. Liggett Group, Inc.) $145 billion verdict representing about 8,000 plaintiff was vacated in 2006 because the cases were not appropriate for a class action lawsuit, and was decertified. Each plaintiff was allowed to re-file their cases as individuals, but it was only in 2014 when the first of the so-called “Engle Progeny” finally saw justice. Only time will reveal if tobacco companies will finally pay the piper.

According to the website of Pohl & Berk, LLP, if you have just recently discovered that you have a medical condition caused by cigarette smoking, you could still make a claim. Contact a personal injury lawyer in your area to gain a better understanding of your legal options.

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Defining Maintenance and Cure in a Maritime Injury Lawsuit

Personal injury lawsuits typically take a long time before it gets to trial, and even then it can drag on for months, even years. As pointed out on the website of maritime law firm Ritter & Associates, unless a case is settled quickly the plaintiff will have to be responsible for any expenses associated with work-related injury or illness, including medical expenses and lost days of work.

As an employed seaman or commercial fisherman injured or becomes ill while at work, the employer is required under the Jones Act to provide maintenance and cure benefits no matter whose fault it is. This practice has its origins from the ship owner’s duty to provide an injured seaman with room and board while on a ship even if the seaman is unable to perform his duty.

When a seaman is injured or becomes ill at work although not at sea, the employer is still obliged to provide for the worker’s necessary maintenance which is typically paid on a weekly or biweekly basis, and this includes actual expenses for rent or mortgage, food, utilities, property taxes, even homeowners’ insurance. It should be noted that a seaman in certain states who is a union member may not receive full maintenance benefits if regular maintenance costs exceed what is stated in the contract covering all union members. Also, necessary maintenance does not include Internet access or car payments.

Cure, on the other hand, refers to the employer’s obligation to pay for reasonable medical and associated expenses necessary for the treatment for and recovery from the work-related injury or illness sustained by the seaman. The employer pays for these expenses directly. These obligations continue until the seaman achieves what is called maximum medical improvement (MMI) as assessed by a doctor, which means that no further improvement of the patient’s condition can be expected.

Ironically, if you contract a serious work-related injury or illness and your employer refuses to pay maintenance and cure benefits, you may have to sue. Consult with a maritime lawyer regarding your rights in a particular situation.

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Avoiding Foreclosure

Most people are taken by surprise when they are informed that their home is on the threat of foreclosure. Aside from those committing mortgage fraud, there are many reasons why people have a hard time keeping up with their mortgage payments. Foreclosure gives the lender a legal right to repossess the house. Having a foreclosure on your record can seriously affect your chances of qualifying for future credits, therefore preventing a possible foreclosure is important.

When you have been informed about your impending foreclosure, it would be best to first contact the Loss Mitigation Department of your lending company to tell them about your situation, your financial standing, and other things that you deem important regarding your foreclosure problems. It is also recommended to stay in your home despite the foreclosure notice; leaving can may disqualify you from getting assistance.

According to Greenway Law, LLC, one way to avoid foreclosure is to request a mortgage modification. Through this, you can ask for changes in your mortgage agreement according to what’s most applicable to your financial circumstances. Mortgage modification includes adjusting the loan terms, or maybe the lender could offer you leeway and spread the payments of the late payments (also called repayment plan). There are other options, all depending on you and the lender’s agreement. Mortgage modification is easily available for people who have recovered after certain financial issues and could afford a new payment plan.

Many people are unaware of options to help fixed their mortgage issues, and this is where having legal help comes in. Knowing more information and understanding your options on how to save your house and avoid foreclosure is easy if you know where to look and who to ask. Talking with a lawyer greatly helps, but so does talking with your lender, since they can decide which alternatives you best qualify for.

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Microcosmos will Change Your Whole Perspective

Microcosmos, a 1996 French nature documentary, continues to blow away those who have yet to see it.

Using close-up shots and time-lapse photography, Microcosmos gets viewers way into the world of small organisms, including ladybugs, praying mantises, and snails. The imagery is beautiful and the time lapsed segments are visually stunning. The film has no dialogue, voice overs, or narration. Instead, the filmmakers (Claude Nuridsany and Marie Pérennou) allowed these speechless creatures make the story themselves. The result is quite powerful!

Knowing what the world looks like from such a dramatically different perspective is nothing short of awe-inspiring. I’m thankful to have seen the challenges faced by smaller animals in such unparalleled detail.

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Understanding What Avandia is Before Taking It Can Save You from Life-threatening Effects

Avandia, otherwise known as Rosiglitazone, was aimed at helping Type 2 diabetes patients increase their sensitivity to insulin, a natural substance that enables the body control the amount of sugar in the blood. More than six million patients were prescribed this drug after its approval for distribution by the US Food and Drug Administration in 1999.

People suffering from Type I diabetes are not supposed to take Avandia due to their failure to produce enough insulin or produce no insulin at all. Though the medicine may be taken along with other diabetes medications or is usually taken with an exercise and healthy diet program, it may also be taken alone, even without having any food first.

Avandia is recommended only to those who are already taking the medication due to the side-effects reported against it. These side-effects, which include greater risk to congestive heart failure, heart attack and other heart ailments, were discovered after a series of studies made on the drug.

Despite such findings Glaxo SmithKline, Avandia’s manufacturer, maintains its stand on the result of its own studies that showed the drug safe for use. Glaxo SmithKline is acknowledged to be the largest pharmaceutical company in the world; it was formed through the union of SmithKline Beecham and Glaxo Wellcome, two UK companies.

Those in danger of various side-effects (such as hypoglycemia, serious allergic reactions, hyperflycemia, blurring of vision, back pain, congestive heart failure, which is a condition where the heart is not able to supply enough blood to the different parts of the body, myocardial ischemia, liver failure, cardiovascular heart diseases and fatal heart attack) are not only those who are taking Avandia. Any one taking Avandia-containing drugs is also prone to suffering from any or a combination of any of its side-effects.

The fact that Glaxo failed to include in its drug’s label the risks associated with taking Avandia, it may already be pronounced guilty of negligence. And as victims, patients have the legal right to file a claims lawsuit and receive compensation. This filing will need to be done before the end of the statutory period, however. To make sure that filing is made correctly and in time, seeking the assistance of a highly-qualified legal council is advisable.

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Merck Facing Thousands of NuvaRing Lawsuits

A medical device designed to make it easy for women to avoid unwanted pregnancies has been found to cause serious blood clot injuries. Cases have been consolidated in multidistrict litigation (MDL).

Merck representatives face more than a thousand women with their lawyers across the mediation table, but it seems that a trial may be unavoidable. The issue at hand is the serious side effects of using the contraceptive device NuvaRing manufactured by the pharmaceutical company. Because of the large number of lawsuits coming in, the cases have been consolidated in Missouri’s Eastern District in an MDL which was supposed to start on October 21, 2013. The start date has been pushed back to January 27, 2014, apparently to give more time for mediation.

In the meantime, more and more women are coming in to file new cases against Merck. Currently, there are 1,358 cases waiting for representation in court, and more may be coming in as soon as those affected by NuvaRing realize that they may be eligible for compensation.

NuvaRing was first introduced into the market in 2000, and because it was so easy to use, it was widely successful as an alternative to other birth control methods. Millions of women have been using it before health experts figured out that it induced dangerous levels of blood clotting which can cause stroke, pulmonary embolism or deep vein thrombosis.

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Chain Reaction Accidents

Chain reaction accidents are usually a result of some type of reckless driving. According to the website of Pohl & Berk, it could be speeding, tailgating, cell phone related, or other distracted driver accidents. Whatever the reason for it may be, chain reaction accidents are the result of a type of negligent driving, and could be a legally actionable case. Such accidents often have serious consequences for all involved, and chain reaction accidents usually affect three or more vehicles, some larger than others. Anyone who starts chain reaction accidents could be found liable for all the consequences. With that in mind, it can be difficult to determine exactly who or what is at fault for such an accident.

In some instances, chain reaction accidents could be due to some type of mechanical malfunction or failure, such as a defective tire, air bag or brakes. This will be established upon investigation, and the manufacturer of the defective or malfunctioning part could be held liable. On their website, the lawyers at Habush Habush & Rottier S.C. ® in Stevens Point, Wisconsin maintain that manufacturers for any type of vehicle, parts and accessories have a heavy duty of care because cars and trucks can potentially cause a lot of damage and serious injury. This is why quality assurance is such an important aspect of automobile manufacturing. Although Wisconsin is no longer a strict liability state, if it can be shown that a better design or better quality control would have prevented such chain reaction accidents, there is a good case to be made.

Chain reaction accidents can devastate a lot of lives, many of whom are simply at the wrong place at the wrong time. The fact that they are largely preventable makes it even worse. If you or someone close to you has been injured in chain reaction accidents, you may be eligible to get some compensation for the damage that has been done. Consult with an injury lawyer and explore your legal options in cases of chain reaction accidents. An attorney will be able to guide you through this difficult time.

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Coping with Pedestrian Accidents

When it comes to an encounter between any vehicle and a pedestrian, the one without the wheels is apt to be the loser. Even a vehicle travelling at 10 mph can do considerable damage including lacerations, broken bones, and concussion.

In most states, cars are expected to yield to pedestrians crossing on designated areas. Unfortunately, both drivers and pedestrians occasionally do what they are not supposed to do and pedestrian accidents happen. Depending on the circumstances, both the driver and pedestrian may share fault although is some states, pedestrians who are found to be in any way at fault cannot sue the driver based on the contributory negligence doctrine. This is considered pure contributory negligence, and Alabama is one of the states that apply this form of contributory negligence. Other states which apply this doctrine strictly include Maryland, North Carolina, District of Columbia and Virginia.

As a result, it can be very difficult to establish that a driver is entirely at fault, which is necessary if you are planning to make a personal injury claim in Alabama. According to the website of Yearout & Traylor, P.C., a law firm in Birmingham, pedestrians involved in an accident have the right to recover for any resulting injuries and losses. That is, if you have experienced legal representation which can make your case before a jury.

In contrast, proving total fault on the part of the driver is not so necessary in New Jersey, which follows the comparative negligence doctrine. Fault is determined as a percentage based on the circumstances of the accident, and the driver only pays the portion of fault that is assigned by the jury. However, a pedestrian cannot sue the driver if the fault apportioned to the plaintiff is more than 50%. Personal injury victims should at least get financial compensation for the emotional trauma of an accident. This will not be as much though if the plaintiff is mostly to blame for the accident.

If there is a dispute about fault, let your legal representation figure out if you are eligible for compensation or not in pedestrian accidents. You will need to take this step particularly in Alabama.

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Nursing Home Abuse and the Loss of a Medical Professional’s License

Nursing home abuse is unfortunately rather common, although in general it takes the form of passive neglect rather than active malignancy. According to the website of Delaware-based attorneys Morris James LLP, nursing home abuse happens in one out of every three nursing homes. That is a sobering thought to bring home after visiting a family member or friend who is a resident in a nursing home.

But nursing homes are bound by law as well as ethics to a standard duty of care for these residents. Most of the staff closely involved with the care of residents has a health care or medical license that can be revoked if they are suspected of having breached their duty of care to the people left in their professional care. According to the website of the Leichter Law Firm with professional license defense experience in Houston and nearby counties, these may include doctors, mental health professionals and nurses, and the loss of their license means they may no longer practice in their chosen profession. Administrative cases may be brought against any member of the nursing home staff for alleged nursing home abuse, and this can have serious consequences for the professional reputation of the defendant.

It is a tricky situation when there is a conflict between protecting the right nursing home residents have to reasonable, professional care that is free from any type of abuse and the rights of a health professional to preserve his or her right to retain the license to practice in the absence of any wrongdoing. It all boils down to what can be proven as facts, and it often becomes a legal tussle. In order to ensure a fair and just inquiry, it is important that both sides retain experienced legal representation in the area in nursing home abuse as well as professional license defense.

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Financial Assistance for Disabled Vets and Workers

“The measure of a man is the way he bears up under misfortune.” This is a quote by “The Orator” motivational author Peter Nivio Zarlenga, and it is strangely apropos to the plight of people who find themselves disabled because of some unfortunate incident. While keeping a stiff upper lip is certainly admirable, there is no shame in acknowledging the need for financial assistance when circumstances prevent a man or woman from earning a regular paycheck.

When workers get injured on the job, they should have workers’ compensation insurance to fall back on. But as the website of the Pete Leehey Law Firm, P.C., in Cedar Rapids, Iowa discusses, the system does not always works as well as it should. The last thing a worker who is probably already in pain and worrying about his or her family needs is to fight for a legitimate workers’ compensation claim with an insurance adjuster.

This situation also reflects the plight of a military veteran who becomes disabled when no longer in service. It is possible for a veteran to receive Social Security disability benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs even if the proximate cause of the disability is not service-related. The qualifications are quite stringent, however, and the process rather complex. Many who begin it never finish or have their applications denied and give up on ever receiving these benefits.

For disabled workers and veterans, making a claim from the appropriate agencies may be more difficult than they can handle on their own. Most claims for disability benefits often require multiple documents and certain protocols that they need to follow. There may even be benefits which they are entitled to which they know nothing about. To give them a fighting chance to get the financial assistance they need, they need experienced and knowledgeable legal representation to handle the claim for them and get for them the maximum that they qualify for.

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