Monthly Archives: April 2012

Transvaginal Mesh Lawsuit MDL Moving Forward

A transvaginal mesh lawsuit multidistrict litigation has been formed and the cases will be consolidated in the Southern District of West Virginia. As in other MDL cases, the transvaginal mesh lawsuits will be consolidated for purposes of improving efficiency in the discovery and pre-trial investigation phase of the lawsuits.
Vaginal mesh lawsuits have been filed on behalf of women who’ve had a vaginal mesh surgically inserted in order to repair one of two conditions-either pelvic organ prolapse or female urinary incontinence. The meshes have not been proven to fix either issue and have caused other serious organ damage and often require further surgery to repair the problems caused by the surgical vaginal mesh procedure.

Earth Day: Protecting Florida’s Natural Beauty

As an active Advisory Council member of Tampa Bay Watch, I read with great interest and enthusiasm Jeff Klinkenberg’s story of an environmentalist’s 1,000 mile journey through pristine Florida. It’s a Florida of which many people don’t know. As Klinkenberg relates, “Carlton Ward Jr. and a few close friends — started their expedition in the Everglades in January. They hiked, pedaled bicycles, rode horses and paddled kayaks, meandering through the mangroves, sawgrass, cypress, scrubs, pines and across prairies, ponds, lakes and rivers.”
It’s an important story well worth reading, especially on Earth Day. Our fragile eco-system and natural beauty is threatened every day by expansive growth and commercialization. Yet, without that natural beauty, Florida would not be the beautiful and native habitat for so many wild animals, birds, and fish. Hopefully, the story will give us all a renewed appreciation for our environment and its natural wonders. Perhaps, more importantly, it will compel us to preserve what we have for generations to come.

Merck Settles Criminal Investigation of Vioxx

Merck & Co., the second largest US pharmaceutical manufacturer, can’t seem to stop paying for its failed drug Vioxx. First, there were defective product lawsuits that had to be settled because Vioxx was linked to heart attacks and strokes. Now, the pharmaceutical giant has had to settle a criminal case with the federal government for $950 million regarding an investigation of illegal marketing practices involving Vioxx.
According to Bloomberg Businessweek, “An official of Merck Sharp & Dohme said today that the company agreed to plead guilty to one count of misbranding Vioxx. U.S. District Judge Patti Saris in Boston accepted the plea as part of the drugmaker’s agreement to pay a $321.6 million criminal fine and $628.3 million to resolve civil claims that it sold Vioxx for unapproved uses and improperly touted its safety.
“I’m certainly going to accept this agreement because I think it’s in the public interest,” Saris said from the bench. “I hope the size of this settlement and the fact that all these cases are being pressed by the federal and state governments — the 44 states’ attorneys general — will be a signal that this isn’t acceptable conduct.”

New Problems with Cardiac Defibrillator Leads Reported

Today’s edition of the NY Times provides insight to a problem most healthcare professionals believed had been solved after a slew of civil lawsuits against the manufacturer of the Guidant defibrillator leads had been resolved. One of the keys to resolution of the failed Guidant defibrillator leads was a promise made by defibrillator lead manufacturers concerning monitoring and reporting of safety concerns concerning the proper functioning of the leads.
Now, however, the Times article notes that new concerns have arisen over St. Jude Medical’s Riatta defibrillator leads.
The Times reports, “Last month, an outside researcher, Dr. Robert Hauser of Minneapolis, released a study indicating that short-circuits and other failures of the St. Jude lead might have played a role in some 20 patient deaths.
His report followed several studies showing that the lead, called the Riata, was also prone to another malfunction, a tendency for internal wires to break through the protective outer coating and cause electrical problems like unintended shocks in some patients. An estimated 128,000 patients worldwide still use the Riata lead, which the company stopped selling in late 2010.
St. Jude executives, including the chief executive, Daniel J. Starks, quickly reacted to Dr. Hauser’s report by unleashing a public relations campaign aimed at discrediting the study’s accuracy and Dr. Hauser. But left unanswered amid the noise was the question: how closely had St. Jude been examining those deaths for signs pointing to a broader problem involving the Riata lead?
“Someone in the company should have been watching this,” said Dr. Robert J, Myerburg, who led an independent investigation into Guidant’s decision not to warn doctors that some of its defibrillators could short-circuit. A defibrillator emits an electrical jolt to interrupt a potentially fatal heart rhythm and restore the normal heartbeat. ”

Newly Released Report Details Failures of Jesuits in Sex Abuse Saga

A Boston Globe exclusive report published on Sunday, April 15, 2012 reveals some shocking details about how the leader of the Society of Jesus a.k.a. the Jesuits failed to act to prevent a serial priest sex abuser from harming children. The case documented in the Boston Globe report by Michael Rezendes involves now jailed Fr. Donald Maguire, SJ and his superior Fr. Bradley M. Schaeffer, SJ.
In 1993, Schaeffer received a letter from the father of a young man who was distraught to learn that Maguire and the boy were watching pornographic movies, showering together, and traveling the world together. Additionally, Maguire was diagnosed with a sexual disorder yet was inexplicably allowed to continue to interact with young boys.
According to the Globe, “The failed oversight of McGuire by Schaeffer and other Jesuit leaders – detailed in voluminous records from civil lawsuits released last year, but not brought to public attention until now – sheds rare light on how ineffectually the world’s largest Catholic religious order dealt with sexual abuse complaints even after the clergy abuse scandal rocked the church in 2002.
The Jesuits, who oversee 28 colleges and universities and 47 high schools in America, did not expel McGuire from the order until 2007, nearly 40 years after the first serious allegation against him.
“If the Chicago Province had acted promptly to cut McGuire off from contact with young men when it first learned of his misconduct in 1970, none of this abuse would have occurred,’’ concluded Cook County Judge Jeffrey Lawrence, in a June 2011 decision allowing McGuire’s alleged victims to seek punitive damages from the Jesuits.
Lawrence said Schaeffer missed a chance to stop McGuire in 1993 after McGuire was diagnosed with a sexual disorder, writing that some abuses “would have been avoided altogether,’’ if he had grounded McGuire.”
That’s always been the real tragedy in the sexual abuse horror. Jesuits have a long history of youth involvement in this country and around the world. While known for their intellectual and academic pursuits, their involvement in the Catholic Church sex abuse scandal has sullied years of work and ministry. Of course, like diocesan priests and other religious order priests, the Jesuits could have prevented this if their leaders had acted promptly and decisively to protect children.

Risperdal Lawsuit Victory for State of Arkansas

An Arkansas jury has sided with the state in a potential $1,000,000,000 lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson and Janssen Pharmaceuticals, the manufacturers and distributors of the controversial drug Risperdal.
“Today, an Arkansas jury confirmed that Johnson & Johnson and Janssen Pharmaceuticals lied to patients and doctors because they cared more about profits than people. I am grateful for the jury’s verdict and its decision to hold the defendants accountable for their actions,” Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel said in a news release after the verdict was announced.
The Risperdal lawsuit was filed over concerns that the pharmaceutical companies concealed risks and adverse events associated with the anti-psychotic drug.

Court: Bishop Finn Should Stand Trial

In spite of his lawyers’ pleas to the contrary, Bishop Finn of Kansas City-St. Joseph will have to stand trial for allegedly not reporting the crime of sexual abuse of law enforcement authorities. Essentially, the court determined that Bishop Finn, as head of the Catholic Church in the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, had a duty to report allegations of child sexual abuse to law enforcement authorities. Neither side attempted to claim the Bishop never knew about the allegations.
In his six page ruling, Judge John M. Torrence found that there is sufficient evidence to proceed in the criminal trial.

Philly Priest Trial Reveals Abuse Memos

The ongoing criminal trial involving a formerly high ranking Archdiocese of Philadelphia priest, Monsignor William Lynn, has revealed how little the Archdiocese and Lynn himself did with sexual abuse accusations brought against Philadelphia priests. One in particular, Fr. Stanley Gana, was a priest with whom we crossed paths during a deposition of Sr. Lucy Vasquez, formerly Chancellor of the Diocese of Orlando.
Gana had been in a rehabilitation facility in Canada when he abruptly left the treatment facility and fled to Florida where he was living within the boundaries of the Diocese of Orlando. A local parishioner called the Diocese and expressed concern that Gana seemed to be living with a bunch of teenage boys. When Sister Lucy called the Archdiocese to inform them about the phone call concerning Fr. Gana, Msgr. McMulkin mentioned (according to phone records we obtained in preparation for the deposition and part of the previous Philadelphia Grand Jury Report) that the Archdiocese wanted to avoid scandal. Of course, there was no mention of any expressed concern for the teenaged boys living with him at the time.