Category Archives: Legal News

Johnson & Johnson, Ethicon Morcellator Lawsuits Centralized

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Lawsuits involving one of the biggest pharmaceutical companies and one of the most controversial medical devices in the U.S. now are centralized to a single court.

Johnson & Johnson is accused of hiding knowledge that its power morcellator could cause an accidental spread of uterine cancer during hysterectomies and surgeries to remove fibroids.

The Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation transferred at least 28 morcellator lawsuits to the U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas, a multidistrict litigation (MDL) court.

“This decision by the panel is an extremely important one because it ensures that these cases will move at the fastest possible pace,” said Paul Pennock, a lead attorney at Weitz & Luxenberg who led the arguments for consolidation.

Courts consolidate lawsuits to MDLs when a large number of plaintiffs file lawsuits involving the same facts against the same defendant. The process allows the courts to operate more efficiently and decreases the costs for all parties involved.

“We believe this will allow our clients to obtain justice much more swiftly and reliably than might otherwise be the case if each client were compelled to battle the defendants in isolated courtrooms scattered across the country,” Pennock said.

The lawsuits accuse Ethicon, a subsidiary of J&J, of designing a defective product and failing to warn patients of risks.

Morcellator Controversy Growing

The surgical tool that uses small blades to break tissue into small fragments remains one of the most controversial devices in the U.S.

One congressman, U.S. Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick, fought for amendments to regulate medical devices to be added to the 21st Century Cures Act that was passed by the U.S. House of Representatives in July. The amendments stemmed from news that some women were rapidly developing cancer after surgeries involving the device.

Months later, members of Congress led by Fitzpatrick petitioned the U.S. Government Accountability Office to investigate the devices and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration process that cleared them. The GAO agreed to investigate morcellators and the FDA in September.

The recent news adds to an existing history of controversy involving power morcellators that began more than a year ago, and Johnson & Johnson’s name keeps coming up.

J&J, Ethicon May Have Known of Risks

Morcellators were once thought to have an extremely rare risk of unintentionally spreading uterine cancer, but the FDA warned the actual risk was one in 350 in April 2014. The warning came almost two decades after the device entered the market.

Read Full Article Here – http://www.drugwatch.com/2015/10/20/ethicon-morcellator-mdl-kansas/

Assange Lawyer: UK and Sweden ‘Violating International Law’

U.K. authorities say they will arrest the Australian national if he leaves the embassy to seek medical treatment.

The United Kingdom and Sweden are “clearly violating international law” for refusing to grant Julian Assange medical attention outside the Ecuadorean Embassy in London without arrest, a lawyer for the WikiLeaks founder told RT Thursday.

Assange, who has been living in asylum in the embassy for over three years, has been suffering from a “deep pain” in his right shoulder since June, for which his doctor has advised a magnetic resonance imaging scan.

U.K. authorities have said that they will arrest the Australian national if he leaves the embassy to seek medical treatment, which Assange’s legal team says is an affront on his human rights.

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“The U.K. and Sweden are clearly violating international law,” lawyer Carey Shenkman told RT in a televised interview. “The U.K. is effectively brushing off its international obligations.”

According to Shenkman, both the U.K. and Sweden are contravening legally binding accords, including the Covenant of Civil and Political Rights, the European Convention on Human Rights, both of which grant the right to medical treatment, while both nations recognize asylum in embassies.

“What they are doing in reality is making Assange choose between his asylum and getting medical treatment. No person should ever have to make that choice,” Shenkman added.

Assange is wanted for questioning by Sweden over sexual assault. If arrested he faces the risk of extradition to the U.S. where there has been an ongoing attempt to prosecute Wikileaks and its founder over the slew of damning revelations made about the U.S. military.

For Full Article and Video – This content was originally published by teleSUR at the following address: http://www.telesurtv.net/english/news/Assange-Lawyer-UK-and-Sweden-Violating-International-Law–20151016-0002.html

Small-business legal group urges Supreme Court to hear property case

By Lydia Wheeler – 10/19/15 11:23 AM EDT

The National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) Small Business Legal Center is urging the Supreme Court to take a case out of California that questions whether a city can constitutionally force developers to sell certain housing units below market rates.

The case, California Building Industry Association v. City of San Jose, Calif., centers on a city rule that requires developers to set aside 15 percent of all newly constructed residential units for the city to use as affordable housing stock or opt out by paying a fee.

NFIB Small Business Legal Center is asking the Supreme Court to hear the case and reverse the California Supreme Court decision upholding the housing rule.

“Here we have the city of San Jose trying to use its power to bully landowners,” Karen Harned, the group’s executive director said in a news release. “Clearly, the constitution protects private property and the right of landowners to exercise their right to use and sell their property at market rate. The court should stop San Jose and other cities with similar schemes.”

The legal arm of the nation’s leading small-business association said the court should settle the lower court split and follow the legal precedence it set in Nollan v. California Coastal Commission. In that case, the court held that the government couldn’t require a landowner to dedicate property as a condition of a permit approval.

Read Full Article – http://thehill.com/regulation/court-battles/257306-small-business-legal-group-urges-supreme-court-to-hear-property-case

DEA Must Stop Interfering With Legal Medical Marijuana Dispensaries, Federal Court Rules

The judge said the DEA was defying the “language and logic” of the law

In a victory for state medical marijuana programs and patients, a federal court in California ruled Monday that federal authorities may not shut down medical pot dispensaries operating within state laws.

Under Rohrabacher-Farr amendment, which accompanied last year’s spending bill, the Justice Department can not use federal dollars to interfere with state medical marijuana laws and practices, preventing the DEA from pursuing dispensaries and patients, the court ruled, according to the Washington Post.

The decision follows a leaked Justice Department memo that interpreted the amendment as offering protections limited to the actual states, not the individuals and businesses which deal with the day-to-day implementation of marijuana laws. As a result of the DEA’s continued enforcement, several dispensaries have been closed in California, including one owned by the Marin Alliance for Medical Marijuana, the first licensed medical pot dispensary in the state.

Read Full Article – http://time.com/4080110/dea-medical-marijuana-california-ruling/

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