Monthly Archives: May 2009

Acid Reflux Drugs Associated with Pneumonia

Certain proton pump inhibitor drugs designed to treat acid reflux have been linked to an increase in pneumonia. Some of those associated with the higher risk included Nexium, Prilosec, and Prevacid.
Dr. Shoshana J. Herzig, chief medical resident at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, is referenced in the NY Times’ article about acid reflux drugs and pneumonia. According to Herzig, the acid reflux drug suppress stomach acid but may promote the growth of another bacteria in the upper gastrointestinal and upper respiratory tracts. This may be the source of the increased in pneumonia for those taking the acid reflux drugs.
Other acid reflux drugs, notaby Pepcid and Zantac aren’t associated with the increased pneumonia risk because they are histamine-2 receptor antagonists.

Connecticut Supreme Court Orders Bridgeport Bishop to Release Documents

It’s been more than a decade long court fight but finally the Diocese of Bridgeport will be forced to hand over more than 12,000 pages of documents concerning priest abuse. The Diocese, which had been headed by none other than Cardinal Edward Egan prior to his departure for NY, had fought for years to keep the documents out of the public eye.
Even in the the midst of defeat, a diocesan spokesperson struck a defiant tone. “”From the anti-church rhetoric of the first trial judge who proceeded to ‘invent’ an entirely new procedure to accommodate the press, to the lack of an impartial trial judge to reconsider the case on remand from the Connecticut Supreme Court, the history of this case raises issues that should be of concern to all. We are, therefore, currently reviewing our options in response to this decision.”
The Hartford Courant is among 3 other newspapers fighting to obtain the internal church documents. Just as they did in Los Angeles, the Connecticut documents will very likely reveal a complicit cardinal in the midst of a priest sexual abuse coverup. Egan may very well join Los Angeles’ Mahony and Boston’s Law in terms of infamy and notoriety.

Retiring NY Bishop Cites 8th Commandment as Reason for Not Revealing Priest Abuser Names

As he prepared to retire, 76 year old Syracuse bishop James Moynihan agreed to an exit interview of sorts with the local newspaper, the Post-Standard. During the interview, Moynihan was asked about the priest abuse scandal and his refusal to publicly reveal the names of priests in the Diocese of Syracuse who were accused of sexual abuse of minors.
Moynihan scoffed at the idea and took his brother bishops to task for revealing the names of priest abusers in other dioceses. The Post-Standard quotes Moynihan as saying, “We’re not supposed to,” he said. “It’s against the Eighth Commandment.”
Going a bit further, Moynihan chided his fellow bishops. “They shouldn’t,” he said. “They should remember their Baltimore Catechism.”
Well. . .I’m at a loss for words. The Eighth Commandment states, “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.” Last time I checked the commandment concerns lying or spreading lies about another person. It doesn’t have anything to do with the socially and morally responsible action of publicizing known child predators who remain a danger to the welfare of children! I’m flabbergasted that a Catholic bishop would use one of the 10 Commandments to defend keeping secret the names of pedophiles and child abusers.
It’s just this sort of commentary that demonstrates why the NY State Legislature needs to pass the Child Victim Act. The Church isn’t going to voluntarily reveal the names of those who’ve abused children. We need legislation to allow survivors access to the civil justice system. The Catholic Church in Ireland is facing a similar credibility issue. The Irish government revealed its report concerning the shocking abuse of thousands of children who were in the control of Catholic orphanages and boarding schools. Yet the report never revealed the names of the abusers. This is half-baked justice.

Obama Curtails Preemption

In what some see as a precursor to the passage of the 2009 Medical Device Safety Act, President Obama issued a memorandum to federal agencies rescinding the pre-emptive policies of the previous Administration. In the memorandum, Obama seeks to roll back aggressive federal regulations to override state laws concerning the environment, health, and public safety. The Bush Administration’s preemption policy protected large corporations, often making them immune from civil lawsuits designed to protect the health and welfare of consumers.
Ironically, it’s usually the Republicans advocating for state’s rights. However, in this strange new political world, it’s a Democratic president who is restoring the rights of states in order to protect consumers.

Irish Priest Abuse Report Shocking but Short on Details

The Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse report concerning Catholic clergy abuse of young children in Ireland reads worse than a Charles Dickens novel. The depravity, horror, and cruelty depicted in the physical and sexual abuse of minor boys and girls is shocking. It’s all the more egregious when the boys and girls sent to these Catholic boarding schools, really orphanages, were sent there because their parents couldn’t afford to pay for their upbringing or they were somehow determined morally incapable of rearing children. In separating children from their parents, the Irish government and the Catholic Church colluded and conspired to reign terror down on these children, permanently scarring many of them for life.
While the Irish report is shocking, it falls short and scandalously so. The 2,600 page report which took 9 years to produce doesn’t mention one clergy person of the 500 or so accused of committing physical and sexual abuse on the children. Let me say it again- none of the perpetrators names were mentioned in the report! That’s like a Watergate investigation that doesn’t mention Haldeman, Ehrlichman, or Nixon. How’s justice come from a report that doesn’t accuse wrongdoers of crimes?
Hopefully, the fight isn’t over in Ireland. Survivor advocates must stand up to the Catholic Church in Ireland and the Irish government and demand they release the names of the abusers. If they’re still alive, they need to face the criminal justice system or the civil justice system.
Consumer justice lawyers who’ve helped abuse survivors here in the US may be able to lend a hand. The Alien Tort Claims Act is a federal law which reads: “The district courts shall have original jurisdiction of any civil action by an alien for a tort only, committed in violation of the law of nations or a treaty of the United States.” The Alien Tort Claims Act or ATCA is specifically designed to address human rights violations.
There’s no greater human rights violation than the torture, physcial abuse, and sexual abuse of young children. Many of these torture chamber schools were run by the Christian Brothers, a Catholic religious order founded in Ireland in the 19th century. It was the same Christian Brothers who delayed the publication of this report and filed a lawsuit to have all the names of the offending priests, brothers, and religious sisters redacted from the report. Their lawsuit was successful.
The Irish Catholic Church sex abuse scandal has rocked the church in Ireland and left in its wake resignations including an Irish Prime Minister Albert Reynolds, Ferns Bishop Brendan Comiskey, and Justice Mary Laffoy resigns in protest over the church obstruction of the investigation.
Two more reports will be published, one from the Archdiocese of Dublin and one from the Diocese of Cloyne, this year.
The Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse report is more than that. Sadly, it’s a scandalous miscarriage of justice and human rights.

Priest Abuse and Archbishop Weakland

Archbishop Rembert Weakland, OSB resigned his post as Archbishop of Milwaukee in disgrace in 2002 after revelations surfaced that he had secretly paid Paul Marcoux $450,000 to keep quiet about their sexual affair. After the revelations surfaced, Marcoux spoke to the media and told his side of the story. According to him, the relationship was more akin to date rape and its cessation caused him financial hardship.
Now, Weakland is set to publish his memoirs, “A Pilgrim in a Pilgrim Church” where he writes about the sexual abuse scandal and his own struggle with homosexuality. In the book, scheduled to hit newsstands in a few months, Weakland states that he knew sexual abuse was a moral evil but didn’t understand the criminal nature of the acts. In pleading ignorance, Weakland defends his inaction concerning abusive clergy in the memoir.
However, victim advocacy groups are releasing documents that refute these claims. In one letter to a nun concerning a sexually abusive priest, Weakland wrote, “So far, we have succeeded in preserving his reputation, and I hope we are able to do so in the future.” The priest, Rev. Lawrence Murphy has been accused of multiple child rapes including the rapes of numerous boys at the St. John School for the Deaf in St. Francis.
Once again, a bishop’s self-excusing testimony doesn’t coincide with the historical facts that are revealed in documents and letters from the time. In their attempt to re-write history, the bishops, including Weakland forget there’s a paper trail of documents lingering in secret archives of dioceses and archdioceses around the world. These are the documents that tell the true story of what actually happened.
As in the recently concluded priest sex abuse trial in Seattle, the only way to find the truth is to bring the abusers and the officials who covered for them into a courtroom. Under penalty of civil law, the truth is revealed and church officials can’t hide behind the public relations machine or their personal/spiritual charisma.

Infant Apnea Monitor Recall

A medical device designed to monitor the breathing and heart rate of infants in hospitals and homes is being recalled for an alarm system failure. According to the FDA recall notice, the Smart Monitor 2 manufactured by Respironics, Inc. has failed to warn doctors, caregivers, and parents of a suddent change in an infant’s heart rate or breathing pattern. The model numbers involved in the recall are Models 4002 and 4003 with serial numbers 3000033364 through 3000038740. The product was made January 16, 2008 through November 13, 2008 and distributed from January 17, 2008 through December 31, 2008.
The FDA has classified this as a Class I recall meaning use of these medical devices have a reasonable probability of serious injury or death if used.

Wyeth Hit by Two Whistleblower Federal Lawsuits

The Justice Department in conjunction with more than a dozen states have accused the mammoth drug company Wyeth with Medicare fraud. The whistleblower lawsuits contend that Wyeth overcharged Medicare programs when they issued massive discounts to thousands of hospitals without offering the same discount to the state Medicare programs.
In offering the discounts, Wyeth was able to avoid paying rebated to state Medicare programs. The controversy involves the Wyeth stomach acid drug Protonix.
Wyeth, in the process of being taken over by Pfizer, is no stranger to controversy. In the late 1990’s Wyeth was involved in the fen-phen diet drug debacle that cost the company millions of dollars in lawsuits.
The states involved in the whistleblower lawsuits include California, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Massachusetts, New York, Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and Wisconsin, as well as the District of Columbia.

Medtronic’s Infuse Bone Graft Study Falsified

Former Walter Reed Army Medical Center surgeon and Medtronic consultant Dr. Timothy Kuklo has come under fire for falsifying studies concerning Medtronic’s Infuse bone graft used in patients with broken legs.
According to the Walter Reed investigation, Kuklo forged other doctors’ signatures whom he claimed were co-authors in a study praising the effectiveness of Infuse. Kuklo has also been accused of inflating the number of patients treated with the Infuse bone graft.
This isn’t the first sign of trouble for the Infuse bone graft. In July, the FDA warned Medtronic of problems associated with off-label use of the graft. When the product was used in cervical spine surgeries, patients reported difficulty breathing, speaking and swallowing. Several patients required further surgeries including tracheotomies and the insertion of feeding tubes.
Medtronic is a leading medical device manufacturer that has run afoul of the FDA before the Infuse bone graft problems. Medtronic’s cardiac defibrillator leads have been found to be defective causing inconsistent electronic pulses to the heart.

Priest Abuse: The Rest of the Story

This past week has provided those who follow the priest abuse scandal a revealing look inside the workings of the Catholic Church and how they’ve handled the priest abuse situation.
First, during an abuse trial in Seattle, Rev. Michael G. Ryan, who served as Chancellor under then Archbishop Raymond Hunthausen, testified that every diocese and archdiocese has a secret archives. In his testimony, Ryan noted that the archives is mandated by canon law. Ryan also admitted that covering up for priest abusers was viewed by church officials as service to the church. Ryan said, “(The secrecy) was to see that the church was well served.”
Fr. Ryan’s testimony is crucial since it goes to the heart of our priest abuse cases. In our lawsuits, we allege a cover up as well as a conspiracy to hide the truth from the public. I’ve taken deposition testimony regarding priest abuse lawsuits against the Diocese of Orlando and the Diocese of Gary where high ranking church officials have denied the existence of a secret archive. It seems odd to me that something mandated by the universal law of the church would be ignored by two different dioceses.
In the view of church officials, these sex abuse cases are an assault on the church. These priests and bishops who keep facts secret and hidden are, in their view, defending the church and serving her well.
In the other piece of revealing news related to the priest abuse scandal, retired Archbishop Rembert Weakland, OSB announced this week that he’ll be publishing his memoirs. “A Pilgrim in a Pilgrim Church” will address some aspects of the abuse scandal as well as the Archbishop’s own brush with controversy.
In 2002, Paul Marcoux appeared on Good Morning America to publicly reveal that Archbishop Weakland had paid Marcoux $450,000 to keep quiet about his his sexual affair with the prelate. In the interview, Marcoux described his relationship with Weakland as date rape. However, as the relationship waned, Weakland penned a love letter to Marcoux.
The same day that Marcoux spoke about his relationship with Weakland, the Milwaukee archbishop called the papal nunio, Garbriel Montalvo, to inform him of Marcoux’s revelation. According to the Archbishop, Montalvo’s first reaction was, “Of course you are going to deny it.”
Weakland remained steadfast in his denial of the date rape characterization but would not deny the relationship.
In Weakland’s interview with the NY Times published today, he explains Montalvo’s reaction as typical of the Vatican’s desire to cover up and hide potentially damage news. It’s called the Roman way of doing things.
It’s interesting to note that this week’s revelations don’t come from lawyers or survivor advocacy groups. They come from within the church itself. A chancellor and an archbishop publicly give us a glimpse of the inner church operation. These revelations will be tough to deny or dismiss.