Category Archives: Legal News

Zofran Lawsuits Consolidated, Victory for Plaintiffs

. By Jane Mundy

Boston, MABecause so many Zofran birth defects lawsuits have been filed nationwide against GlaxoSmithKline, the manufacturer, a multidistrict litigation (MDL) has been ordered for all pending and future lawsuits – good news for plaintiffs. And attorneys say that the decision to send Zofran lawsuits to Boston is a “victory” for plaintiffs.

The order to consolidate was issued by the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation on October 13, 2015. At least 60 plaintiffs nationwide have one thing in common: they are all part of MDL No. 2657, centralized in the District of Massachusetts before US District Judge F. Dennis Saylor.

Zofran lawsuits that were filed in federal court have been consolidated because they have almost the same allegations:

• GSK fraudulently misrepresented Zofran to prescribing physicians about the safety of its anti-nausea drug for pregnant women.

• GSK knew and concealed the drug’s alleged association with serious birth defects, and failed to provide doctors and patients with information regarding this risk.

• GSK marketed the drug to pregnant women off-label, i.e., without FDA approval. (The FDA only approved Zofran to treat post-operative surgery patients, as well as those undergoing certain cancer treatments.)

While each lawsuit in an MDL remains individual, common questions will be raised, i.e., does Zofran cause birth defects and if so, which kinds? Plaintiffs have filed claims alleging Zofran has caused a number of congenital birth defects, including cleft palate, spina bifida and heart defects. A few claims have also been filed alleging hypospadias and even a missing kidney.

Why Boston?

The Panel’s choice is a victory for the families who have sued GSK, according to attorney Michael Monheit, writing in The Legal Examiner (October 15). Monheit said that GSK first proposed a MDL in Federal Court in Pennsylvania, which is close to the drug company’s headquarters. But plaintiffs argued that “few if any Zofran lawsuits had been filed in Pennsylvania” and Boston was a top choice, particularly because Zofran was first linked to a birth defect (cleft palate) by researchers at Boston University’s Slone Epidemiology Center. And five lawsuits have already been filed in Massachusetts, four of them already assigned to Judge Saylor.

Full Article Read Here – http://www.lawyersandsettlements.com/articles/zofran-birth-defects/glaxosmithkline-gsk-us-district-judge-f-dennis-20980.html#.ViTB12SrQy4

 

Cybercrime Is The Modern-Day Mafia

Organized crime is nothing new. Mob gangsters and mafia families have been romanticized as the stuff of legend since the days of Prohibition. Just as the Internet has transformed the way we access information, shop, interact with each other, and conduct business, it has also completely altered the world of organized crime.

Crime is no longer confined to traditional brick and mortars–it’s all online. While the information and payout criminals are looking to attain are a bit different than in decades past, these are still thugs and true criminals. Now, however, they have the shield and anonymity of the Internet to hide behind.

It took a while for organized crime to adapt to cybercrime. I suppose it was a generational issue just as adoption of the Internet and cutting edge technologies are for the rest of society. Entrenched crime bosses probably shunned the Internet in favor of the proven business model they had used for decades. As younger criminals elevated through the ranks to take command, though, they saw the potential for crime on a massive scale with significantly less risk of arrest or physical harm.

It’s also possible that organized crime online is more or less organic—a logical evolution of Internet crime as cybercriminals band together to pool resources. The reality is probably somewhere in the middle—a combination of grassroots cybercrime organizations and traditional mafia operations transforming to embrace the Internet.

Full article read here – http://www.forbes.com/sites/tonybradley/2015/10/16/cybercrime-is-the-modern-day-mafia/

Nevada Gaming Says Daily Fantasy Sports Is Gambling Under State Law, Illegal To Offer Without State License

from – http://www.legalsportsreport.com/5173/nevada-says-dfs-is-gambling/

Full text of statement

Over the last several months, Nevada Gaming Control Board (Board) staff has analyzed the legality of pay-to-play daily fantasy sports (DFS) pursuant to the Nevada Gaming Control Act and the regulations adopted thereunder. I further asked the Gaming Division of the Office of the Nevada Attorney General to perform a legal analysis as to whether DFS activities conflict in any way with Nevada law. Based on these analyses, I, along with Board staff, have concluded that DFS constitutes gambling under Nevada law. More specifically, DFS meets the definition of a game or gambling game pursuant to Chapter 463 of the Nevada Revised Statutes. Moreover, because DFS involves wagering on the collective performance of individuals participating in sporting events, under current law, regulation and approvals, in order to lawfully expose DFS for play within the State of Nevada, a person must possess a license to operate a sports pool issued by the Nevada Gaming Commission.

Further, a licensed operator who offers DFS must comply with all laws and regulations that apply to licensed sports pools. Therefore, since offering DFS in Nevada is illegal without the appropriate license, all unlicensed activities must cease and desist from the date of this Notice until such time as either the Nevada Revised Statutes are changed or until such entities file for and obtain the requisite licenses to engage in said activity. Although Nevada gaming licensees who have received approval to operate a sports pool may expose DFS for play themselves in Nevada (in compliance with all applicable statutes and regulations), such licensees should exercise discretion in participating in business associations with DFS operators that have not obtained Nevada gaming approvals. While this Industry Notice is intended to provide clear guidance as to Nevada law, Nevada licensees wishing to conduct business with DFS companies should also conduct thorough and objective reviews of DFS activities under the laws of other states and any applicable federal laws.

Nevada AG’s opinion

A day after the NGCB statement, the attorney general’s office offered its legal analysis, in full. You can read it here. It was first reported by Reuters’ Liana Baker.

The takeaway was not a surprise, given the NGCB statement:

In short, daily fantasy sports constitute sports pools and gambling games. They may also constitute lotteries, depending on the test applied by the Nevada Supreme Court. As a result, pay-to-play daily fantasy sports cannot be offered in Nevada without licensure.

That conclusion has a footnote that mentions two separate points:

  • DraftKings CEO Jason Robins once stated the concept for DraftKings was ‘‘almost identical to a casino.’’
  • DraftKings received a gaming license in the U.K. but didn’t refer to it in that manner in publicizing it: “It appears that DraftKings recognizes the appearance of inconsistency between its position that it should be unregulated in the United States and its decision to submit to gaming regulation in the United Kingdom.”

Here are points of interest from the analysis. Note that analysis is based on Nevada law:

Daily fantasy sports usually = sports pools, sometimes lotteries

Under Nevada law, the AG determined that DFS contests are sports pools, generally:

In order to determine if daily fantasy sports operators are operating a sports pool, one must determine (1) whether a wager is present; (2) whether the wagering is done on sporting events or other events by any system or method of wagering; and (3) whether daily fantasy sports operators are in ‘‘the business’’ of accepting wagers.

Daily fantasy sports meet all of these requirements and, thus, constitute ‘‘sports pools’’ under Nevada law. This conclusion is consistent with the views of one of the leading attorneys representing daily fantasy sports operators, who stated that ‘‘fantasy sports’’ was ‘‘a significant evolution in the realm of sports betting.’’

Some forms of DFS could be an illegal lottery, however:

Daily fantasy sports may also constitute illegal lotteries under NRS 462.105(1) depending on the legal question of whose skill is being assessed and the factual question of whether skill or chance is dominant. If the skill being assessed is that of the actual players rather than that of the fantasy sports team owners, then daily fantasy sports constitute illegal lotteries. If the skill being assessed is that of the owners, then there is a factual question as to whether the skill in selecting lineups predominates over chance.

Skill vs. chance

Nevada basically said the amount of skill required for DFS was not germane:

In the context of addressing the legality of fantasy sports, the question of whether skill or chance is involved is often deemed important. However, under Title 41 of the Nevada Revised Statutes, the determination of whether an activity involves skill, chance, or some combination of the two, is relevant only when analyzing lotteries. By contrast, the determination of whether an activity constitutes a gambling game or a sports pool under Nevada law does not require analysis of the level of skill involved.

It is important to note that while Nevada gaming regulators clearly have authority to regulate games of skill, the present analysis does not concede the argument that daily fantasy sports are predominately skill-based.

The UIGEA

The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act is often cited throughout the industry as a source of its legality. The AG shot that down as a rationale in Nevada:

B. UIGEA Did Not Legalize Fantasy Sports

That being said, a point of clarification is in order because there are some operators and commentators who have taken the position that the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 (‘‘UIGEA’’) 14 legalized fantasy sports within the United States. Given the explicit language of UIGEA, that position is simply untenable, and often at odds with what those same operators and commentators have said in the past.

In short, UIEGA is irrelevant to determining the legality of daily fantasy sports under Nevada law.

DraftKings uses betting terms

The Nevada AG’s office likely did a massive amount of research to link DFS sites to gambling. In addition to the Robins “casino” reference above, this was a part of the report:

 

full article here – http://www.legalsportsreport.com/5173/nevada-says-dfs-is-gambling/

US lawsuits build against Monsanto over alleged Roundup cancer link

Reuters

Personal injury law firms around the United States are lining up plaintiffs for what they say could be “mass tort” actions against agrichemical giant Monsanto Co that claim the company’s Roundup herbicide has caused cancer in farm workers and others exposed to the chemical.

The latest lawsuit was filed Wednesday in Delaware Superior Court by three law firms representing three plaintiffs.

The lawsuit is similar to others filed last month in New York and California accusing Monsanto of long knowing that the main ingredient in Roundup, glyphosate, was hazardous to human health. Monsanto “led a prolonged campaign of misinformation to convince government agencies, farmers and the general population that Roundup was safe,” the lawsuit states.

The litigation follows the World Health Organization’s declaration in March that there was sufficient evidence to classify glyphosate as “probably carcinogenic to humans.”

“We can prove that Monsanto knew about the dangers of glyphosate,” said Michael McDivitt, whose Colorado-based law firm is putting together cases for 50 individuals. “There are a lot of studies showing glyphosate causes these cancers.”

The firm held town hall gatherings in August in Kansas, Missouri, Iowa and Nebraska seeking clients.

Monsanto said the WHO classification is wrong and that glyphosate is among the safest pesticides on the planet.

“Glyphosate is not a carcinogen,” company spokeswoman Charla Lord said in an emailed statement. “The most extensive worldwide human health databases ever compiled on an agricultural product contradict the claims in the suits.”

Roundup is used by farmers, homeowners and others around the globe and brought Monsanto $4.8 billion in revenue in its fiscal 2015. But questions about Roundup’s safety have dogged the company for years.

Attorneys who have filed or are eying litigation cited strong evidence that links glyphosate to non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL). They said claims will likely be pursued collaboratively as mass tort actions.

To find plaintiffs, the Baltimore firm of Saiontz & Kirk advertises a “free Roundup lawsuit evaluation” on its website. The Washington, D.C. firm Schmidt & Clark is doing the same, as are other firms in Texas, Colorado and California.

One plaintiff in the Delaware lawsuit, Joselin Barrera, 24, a child of migrant farm workers, claims her non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) is related to glyphosate exposure. Elias de la Garza, a former migrant farm worker and landscaper diagnosed with NHL, has a similar claim. Both live in Texas.

The third plaintiff is Judi Fitzgerald, a horticultural worker diagnosed with leukemia in 2012. The Virginia resident joined the Delaware case after asking for dismissal of a similar lawsuit initially filed in federal court in New York.

Monsanto is also fending off claims over its past manufacturing of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), which the WHO classifies as known carcinogens.

At least 700 lawsuits against Monsanto or Monsanto-related entities are pending, brought by law firms on behalf of people who claim their non-Hodgkin lymphoma was caused by exposure to PCBs that the company had manufactured until the late 1970s.

BIG GUN BUST FINDS WEAPONS FROM STATES WITH LOOSER GUN LAWS

Amid a raging national debate on guns, a bust in New York City highlights a problem for police in crime-plagued urban areas. While officers can control illegal gun sales in their cities, they have been at a loss to stop the flow of firearms from places with looser laws.

Eight people from three states have been arrested and charged with buying guns legally in Atlanta and Pittsburgh and bringing them to New York, sometimes aboard low-cost Chinatown buses.

“I sell guns,” alleged trafficking ringleader Michael Bassier was caught saying on a wiretap, according to prosecutors. “I’ve got two Mac 10s on me, an SK assault rifle and four handguns and I’m walking through New York.”

Bassier, 31, of Canarsie, Brooklyn, boasted how he could take advantage of less strict gun laws outside of New York and then sell the weapons at a premium in the city.

“I’m selling them the right way and the wrong way,” Bassier allegedly said on one recorded conversation with a woman believed to be his girlfriend. “When I’m out of state, like in Atlanta and Georgia and all that, it’s all legal. In New York, it’s completely illegal.”

It has been a source of frustration for law enforcement officials.

“We have states that seem to not care about where these guns end up,” said Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson, whose office charged Bassier and seven others in a 541-count indictment. “As long as criminals can easily get access to guns, we will continue to have carnage.”

Thompson announced the charges today while standing behind a table filled with some of the 112 handguns, shotguns and assault-style rifles sold to an undercover New York City police officer for a total of more than $130,000.

“Instead of being used in the commission of crime, these guns here before you have been taken out of commission,” said NYPD Chief of Department Jim O’Neill. “I just think about who and how many victims may have suffered had we not intercepted these gun traffickers.”

O’Neill said 90 percent of guns used in crimes in New York City come from someplace else.

In the last two years, Thompson said his office and the NYPD have taken 553 guns off Brooklyn streets but he conceded criminals can still “flood the streets of our city with assault weapons and other guns.”

“As a country, we must demand a different approach,” Thompson said.

The defendants have been variously charged in a 541-count indictment with fourth-degree conspiracy; first-, second- and third-degree criminal sale of a firearm; first-degree criminal possession of a weapon and other related charges. The defendants were arrested and arraigned over the last week, prosecutors said.

Between September 2014 and September 2015, the defendants allegedly conspired to sell guns purchased in Georgia and Pennsylvania to an NYPD undercover detective in Brooklyn. The weapons recovered during the course of the investigation include 9mm Ruger and Glock pistols, .22 caliber Walther pistols, .40 caliber Smith & Wesson pistols, .45 caliber Taurus pistols, and a variety of assault-style weapons, including multiple .22 long rifle caliber semi-automatic Walther Model MP Uzis, .39 mm caliber semi-automatic Norinco Model SKS, 9mm Luger semi-automatic Jimenez Arms Model JA25 and others, authorities said.

Bassier was denied bail and was remanded to police custody. The other defendants were arrested in Georgia and Pennsylvania and are pending extradition. If convicted, Bassier faces up to 25 years in prison on the top count.