Monthly Archives: May 2010

Chinese Drywall Class Action Lawsuit Certified by Miami Judge

Judge Joseph Farina of Miami-Dade County Circuit Court has certified the country’s first class action lawsuit in the Chinese drywall debacle. However, the class is limited to those residing in the Keys Gate subdivision. The class may grow to include 152 homeowners who may be affected by the contaminated drywall that’s corroded electrical appliances and left a foul sulphur-like smell in homes containing the Chinese drywall.
According to the judge’s order, the following issues will be determined in the case:
* Whether the Chinese drywall in the plaintiffs’ homes is defective.
* Whether Banner Supply is liable in negligence or supplying and/or distributing the Chinese manufactured drywall.
* Whether all defendants are strictly liable for selling/distributing Chinese drywall.
* Whether the drywall damaged the plaintiffs’ homes.
* Whether the homes were purchased from South Kendall and/or its affiliates.
* Whether South Kendall and/or its affiliates breached the statutory implied warranty of liability in selling homes containing Chinese drywall.

Congressional Study Finds Herbal Diet Drugs Contain Contaminants

A Congressional inquiry into the booming herbal dietary supplement industry has found that nearly all of those tested contained some form of contaminant material. Even worse, some manufacturers of the herbal supplements make claims they can’t support through scientific study such as the ability to cure cancer.
While the study found amounts of heavy metals such as cadmium, mercury, and arsenic in the herbal supplements studied, the amounts weren’t considered dangerous. However, nearly half of the drugs studied found pesticide residues that did appear to exceed standard safety levels.
The study was conducted by the Government Accountability Office and will be discussed during a Senate hearing today. The hearing is part of legislation designed to overhaul the nation’s food safety laws including the manufacturing and distribution of herbal supplements. Presently, these herbal supplements are not regulated by the FDA or any other governmental agency. However, of the 40 supplements in the governmental study, 9 of the products make unwarranted and illegal health claims such as reduction in blood pressure, Alzheimer’s cures, and the prevention of diabetes.

Saunders & Walker has a Facebook Page

We’ve just created a Facebook page for the firm. While it’s in the beginning stages of development, the page will focus on the “other side” of our lives when we’re not busy representing our clients. We hope to put up some video profiles of firm members and their lives in the community helping others. We’ll also profile friends and organizations that do good work in our communities.
Saunders & Walker is a diverse bunch of professionals. Joe is an avid fisherman and a professional musician. Rick is a politician and very involved in the local community. Margy is an accomplished writer. Both David and Maria are ready to go to law school. Another Maria is heading to Eckerd College in the fall. Krista is an avid photographer. We’ll share their stories and how they view their work at the firm as an extension of their commitment to excellence and the community.

Ortho-McNeil Admits Guilt in Illegally Marketing Topamax

Ortho-McNeil Pharmaceutical LLC, a unit of Johnson & Johnson, has pleaded guilty in federal court in Boston for promoting its epilepsy drug Topamax for uses which the FDA had not approved. The guilty plea is part of an $81 million settlement agreement reached with the federal government in April.
The FDA had approved Topamax for some epileptic seizures, the pharmaceutical company was guilty of promoting the drug for such off-label uses as bipolar disorder and alcohol dependence.
While doctors may prescribe a certain drug for off-label use, the drug company may not promote their drug for uses that have not been approved by the FDA.
With so many pharmaceutical companies paying multi-million dollar fines for off-label marketing, one has to wonder if the drug companies have decided that their risk/reward analysis makes them favor marketing campaigns that are against the law. It seems that the fines and penalties have not deterred the pharmaceutical companies from aggressively marketing their drugs for uses not approved by the FDA.

Miami Drywall Company Knew About Chinese Drywall

According to a story in today’s Miami Herald, a Miami distributor of drywall knew that it had received defective Chinese drywall four years ago. After contractors complained to Banner Supply of Miami, the Chinese drywall manufacturer agreed to replace the contaminated drywall with American made product. However, Banner never disclosed the defect allowing contractors to continue to use the drywall unaware of the hazardous defect in the Chinese drywall. The agreement between Chinese drywall company and Banner remain under court seal and are not available to the public.
Federal agencies have confirmed that the tainted drywall does indeed cause corrosion of electrical fixtures and household appliances. Human health dangers are still under investigation.
According to Scott Wolfson of the Consumer Products Safety Commission, such safety hazards in building materials must be disclosed to the public.
“That reporting obligation becomes effective when you have a violation of a safety standard — information that the product could or does pose a substantial product hazard or that a consumer would face an unreasonable risk of injury from the product,” Wolfson said.

BP and the Gulf Oil Spill

While information about oil giant British Petroleum’s oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico and its safety compliance measures are coming to us in drips and drops, the oil continues to gush into the fragile Gulf waters. The economic and environmental damage to the Gulf region will be potentially devastating. BP’s willingness to tell the public exactly what happened and why remains in dispute. Senators Barbara Boxer and Bill Nelson have asked BP to provide all available video footage they have concerning the oil gushing into the Gulf. BP has been reluctant to do so and has only provided partial information.
While our economy and eco-system remain at great peril due to the oil spill, BP continues to play coy games about what’s actually occurred in the Gulf of Mexico. The federal government needs to hold them accountable for their actions and/or their lack of action. If the government fails to act, we all need to step up and demand accountability and action.

Chinese Drywall Maker Settles with US Home Builder

In a major development, Knauf Plasterboard Tianjin Ltd. Co. has agreed to resolve claims with Beazer Homes of Atlanta. While the Sarasota Herald Tribune hinted at the settlement yesterday, the Wall St. Journal announced the deal a few minutes ago. This is viewed as a major development in the ongoing litigation based in federal court in Louisiana under Judge Eldon E. Fallon.
On April 27th, Judge Fallon ruled that Knauf had to pay a Louisiana couple $164,000 in remediation damages not including attorneys’ fees and court costs. In another case, Judge Fallon ruled last month that Knauf owed 7 Virginia homeowners a combined $2.6 million.

BP Oil Spill

As news of the BP oil spill continues to worsen and the oil company’s efforts to stem the tide of the gushing oil prove fruitless, the federal government is stepping up its efforts to cap the leaking oil in the gulf. Meanwhile, environmental groups such as our own Tampa Bay Watch are preparing for the worst with their own clean-up programs. Tampa Bay Watch is training volunteers to protect Cockroach Bay Aquatic Preserve from the threat of the oil spill. According to the latest Tampa Bay Watch release, the oil spill may reach our shores in a few weeks and will most likely come ashore in the form of tar balls or putty consistency. The hazardous material will stick to everything including wildlife and birds.
Initial estimates of the oil spill leak were woefully underestimated. Now, it’s thought that roughly 200,000 gallons of BP oil are gushing into the Gulf of Mexico. Since previous attempts at capping the leak have failed, the environmental and economic dangers continue to increase with each passing day.

Congressional Inquiry Finds Equipment Defects In Oil Rig Explosion

A House of Representatives inquiry into the BP oil rig explosion has found that some of the equipment employed by British Petroleum had serious defects that should have been rectified. Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) has announced that on the day of the BP Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion, the well failed a key pressure test. Another member of Congress, Bart Stupak noted that there were “four significant problems” with the blowout preventer.
The news comes as federal officials in conjunction with BP employees are trying to stem the tide of the gushing oil spill that has yet to be contained and threatens Gulf of Mexico’s wildlife, fragile ecosystem and the economy. The oil spill threatens the livelihoods of fishermen, charter boat captains, tourism businesses, and restaurants all along the Gulf Coast. The economic effects of the oil spill are still unknown but could be devastating.

BP Oil Spill Timeline And Cleanup Law

When a British Petroleum oil rig caught fire in the deep waters of the Gulf Coast on April 20, 2010 there was no initial report of an oil spill. The Deepwater Horizon oil rig, owned by Transocean Ltd. and leased by BP, exploded killing 11 workers. At the time of the explosion the rig had been drilling 8,000 barrels of oil per day and had 700,000 gallons of diesel fuel on board. In spite of this, there was no initial concern of an oil spill. The rig sank to the bottom of the Gulf on April 22, 2010.
In spite of its initial report that no oil had leaked from the sunken rig, the Coast Guard reversed itself on April 24th and stated that an estimated 1,000 gallons of oil was leaking per day from the rig that was now submerged 5,000 feet below.
On April 26th, BP announces that it will be able to contain the oil spill and is working to increase its efforts at offshore oil recovery.
On April 27th, underwater robots are deployed to stop the flow of oil but are unable to do so. That same day, Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) writes a letter to BP officials inquiring as to what they knew about the risks involved in the offshore drilling and what steps they had taken to respond to the disaster. In his letter, Waxman notes that BP appears to have no adequate plan to deal with the environmental disaster and that the methods they are planning to utilize had never been used in such deep water.
On April 28th, the US Coast Guard announces that the original estimate of oil spewing from the sunken rig was underestimated and that the more accurate number was 5,000 gallons of oil spilling from the rig each day.
On May 1st, the Coast Guard states that the oil spill will reach the US shoreline.
On May 2nd, President Obama visits the Gulf Shore and US officials announce the closure of areas for fishing for 10 days.
On May 5th, BP attempts to lower a domed container 5,000 feet below the Gulf surface to attempt to contain the gusher and funnel the spilled oil onto a nearby vessel.
President Obama has stated that the BP will be held responsible for the clean-up costs as well as the economic losses suffered by those industries affected by the oil spill. British Petroleum has stated that it will pay for all “legitimate” claims regarding the oil spill. The attorneys general from five Gulf Coast states have vowed to make the oil company clarify what BP considers “legitimate” claims.
As a result of the Exxon Valdez oil spill, a federal law was passed making oil companies responsible for such oil spill disasters up to $75 million. BP CEO told Congress on May 4, 2010 that the damage will exceed that $75 million cap. Democratic Senators are proposing new legislation to increase that cap to $1 billion in hopes that such new legislation will be retroactive and enforceable in this new oil spill disaster.

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