The “mass tort” litigation industry continues to grow. Back in the 1980s and 1990s, many big law firms disdained “mass tort” defense work. However, these days, many big law firms actively recruit in lawyers for mass tort work. This past week, for example, Dechert recruited a group from Quinn Emanuel a group of almost 20 lawyers (plus staffers), as explained in a July 20, 2018 article at American Lawyer.
A cogent summary of statutes of repose for drugs and devices is online at a July 16, 2018 guest post at Drug & Device blog.
For those of us who are junkies for trials involving alleged or actual toxins, there’s a good resource online for the ongoing Johnson trial involving glyphosate/RoundUp. The plaintiff’s firm for the ongoing Round Up trial (the Johnson case) seems to be posting pretty much everything online at the firm’s web site; trial exhibits, trial transcripts etc.
Seldom do I see articles in which scientists comment on litigation, much less comment favorably. But two just popped up. One is a brief, comment type article from a respected, well-published stem cell scientist who has been following to some degree lawsuits filed against some “stem cell clinics.” More specifically, “Dr. Paul Knoepfler (@pknoepfler) is a biomedical scientist, science writer, advocate, and cancer survivor,” as described at his web site. His article on the stem cell lawsuits is dated July 24, 2018. Dr. Knoepfler’s article includes a citation to a 2018, open-access peer reviewed paper on the topic.
Interesting times these days. In my view, both articles are good examples of why society needs more multi-disciplinary thinking instead of only working within our professional silos.
Ken Lopez of A2L recently teed up the need for trial lawyers to not stack the deck in mock trials, and to instead go the other direction. As juries keep pounding defendants with large awards, it’s excellent advice. Perhaps not coincidentally, Ken’s article appeared after the ovarian cancer/talc case verdict for over $4 billion obtained by Mark Lanier and others against well regarded defense lawyers from Orrick. The Lanier firm’s web site collects various reactions and kudos. Ken’s article is from July 16, 2018, at A2L
Regardless of arguments about causation, ocean levels plainly are rising. A recent article at Pricenomics provides some great data and charts about the cities most at risk. The article is detailed and should be read in its entirety, but here’s a teaser:
“We decided to analyze data from Priceonomics customer Gavop, an insurance data and research company, how many people in America live near the sea to see where devastation from rising sea levels will be the greatest. We started with the United States Census data on coastal tracts of land, and calculated which of these zones were most populated in areas likely to be vulnerable to rising sea levels. We also looked at how much homes cost in these zones and how much home insurance premiums cost.
The state with the most people living in coastal zones susceptible to rising sea levels is Florida, where almost 1.8 million people live near the water. The US cities most at risk to global flooding are New York, Seattle and San Francisco, the nerve centers of the financial and technology industries.
However, the two areas with the most expensive properties that are at risk to rising sea levels are both in Connecticut: Riverside and Darien are both high risk zones where the median home costs almost $2 million. Lastly, though homeowners insurance does not typically cover flooding, comparable home owners insurance is much more expensive closer to the sea, especially in Texas.”
Caps on medical malpractice verdicts raise real issues of due process, right to trial and fundamental fairness. Therefore, it seems appropriate to occasionally publicize med mal cases that illustrate the incredible human burdens created by medical errors that could be remedied with better systems that actually require follow-up. Accordingly, here’s the full text of a July 24, 2018 story from the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin.
“By Jordyn Reiland
Law Bulletin staff writer
Cook County jurors awarded $12 million to the family of a woman who died from lung cancer three years after a chest X-ray revealed an abnormality doctors never told her about.
Renee Chiero sued several of the doctors who treated her mother, Doris Newberry, contending they failed to diagnose and treat the cancer she had leading up to her death in September 2013.
The verdict is higher than any previously reported cancer-related wrongful-death verdict or settlement, according to John L. Kirkton editor of the Jury Verdict Reporter, a product of Law Bulletin Media.
The last similar case with a large award was a $5.25 million verdict from 2003 involving a delayed cervical cancer diagnosis, Kirkton said.
Chiero’s suit named Alexian Brothers Medical Group, St. Alexius Medical Center, her mother’s primary care physicians Wanda Iza and Jeffrey Lindahl of Alexian Brothers, radiologist Jeffrey Chung of Radiological Consultants of Woodstock LLC and St. Alexius emergency room physician Michael Frumkin.
On July 24, 2010, Newberry went to St. Alexius Medical Center emergency room in Hoffman Estates because she was experiencing shortness of breath.
Frumkin ordered a chest X-ray, initially read it as “normal,” decided to prescribe Newberry with antibiotics and sent her home.
Chung also read the X-ray, but he found an abnormality in her lung. He put a note in Newberry’s chart recommending a follow-up X-ray in three months but Newberry was never told to do so, according to Chiero’s attorney John J. Perconti of Levin & Perconti.
Three weeks later, Newberry followed up with Iza on her own. Although Iza had the chart with Chung’s note, neither she Lindahl, whom Newberry saw after Iza left the practice, told Newberry about the abnormality or to seek a follow-up X-ray, Perconti said.
Newberry was diagnosed with lung cancer in December 2012 by another physician and she died from Stage Four lung cancer on Sept. 9, 2013.
The verdict was reached Thursday after a Daley Center trial before Circuit Judge Thomas V. Lyons II.
Iza, Chung, and Lindahl were found liable but Frumkin was not.
A series of deals brokered before the verdict will affect how the defendants split up the damages.
Chiero’s attorneys entered into a high-low agreement with Frumkin. The high was $700,000 and the low was $250,000, Perconti said. As a result of the verdict in his favor, Frumkin will owe $250,000 of the $12 million.
Frumkin’s attorney, Robert L. Nora of Nora & Partners LLP, said his client’s care was not what was at issue, rather the jury had to determine whether he had an obligation to follow-up on Chung’s recommendation and radiological analysis of the patient’s X-ray.
“The jury correctly found that the obligation did not exist,” he said.
Frumkin was also represented by Taylor V. Nora of Nora & Partners LLP.
Perconti also entered into a high-low agreement with Chung — the high was $2 million and the low was $500,000. He’ll owe $2 million of the $12 million in damages.
Iza and Lindahl’s attorneys offered a $100,000 low and $1 million high agreement, which was rejected, Perconti said. They’ll be left to cover the amount not paid through the settlements.
Chiero is also represented by Michael F. Bonamarte IV and Cari F. Silverman of Levin & Perconti.
“We trust doctors to figure out what’s wrong and to begin treatment right away, to give patients the best possible chance at survival, or, at the very least, the best possible quality of life in the time they have. When doctors don’t live up to the trust we put in them, they have to face consequences,” Bonamarte said in a press release.
Chung is represented by Amy L. Anderson of Brenner Monroe Scott & Anderson Ltd. She could not be reached for comment.
Iza and Lindahl are represented by Michael E. Prangle and Elizabeth M. Neidig of Hall Prangle & Schoonveld LLC. They could not be reached for comment.
The case is Renee Chiero v. Wanda Iza, M.D., et al., 14 L 7734.”
Jury trials ahead? Very interesting to read Steve McConnell’s April 18, 2018 post about his experiences when serving as a juror in a med mal case.
As the litigation industry continues to expand, efforts continue to recruit plaintiffs also continue. One example involves a meeting of various former workers who may have been exposed to asbestos and other substance at Bethlehem Steel. The meeting was hosted by a plaintiff’s firm (Lipsitz, Pontario) and attended by Dr. Mark Udell, as described in a July 20, 2018 article in The Buffalo News.
As explained by Laurie Kazan Allen at the Ban Asbestos Secretariat, the UK’s annual mesothelioma audit report is out. It provides interesting but depressing data on the frequency of and types of mesothelioma treatments. The report also provides data on the frequency of mesothelioma in the UK, including age group data.