Articles Posted in Uncategorized

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If you or a loved one has been taking the drug, Valsartan, you may have a claim against pharmaceutical companies for the distribution and sale of Valsartan medication that has been contaminated with toxic, cancer-causing substances.

On July 13, 2018, the FDA recalled the drug, Valsartan.  Valsartan is the generic form of Diovan, which is used to treat high blood pressure and heart conditions.  Because it costs less, the active pharmaceutical ingredient (API) for Valsartan is manufactured in countries outside of the United States.  Several of the foreign API manufacturers changed the manufacturing process in 2012, and this change is believed to have caused unintended byproducts, which contaminated the drug with impurities, including N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA), N-Nitrosodiethylamine (NDEA) and/or N-Methylnitrosobutyric acid (NMBA). These toxic substances are classified as probable human carcinogens, meaning that they are more likely than not to cause cancer in humans.  Zhejiang Huahai Pharmaceutical (ZHP) in China and Hetero Labs Limited (Hetero) in India are two of the API manufacturers that used the altered manufacturing process. ZHP has an estimated 45% of the US market share of the Valsartan API production. 

The APIs from ZHP and Hetero are used in finished pills, which are sold in the United States.  Many American pharmaceutical companies have made, distributed, marketed and/or sold Valsartan products containing the API containing toxic substances. It is believed that the contaminated pills have been sold in the United States since 2014 and that there have been millions of contaminated pills taken in the United States.  Based on tests, the API manufacturers were aware that Valsartan contained high levels of the toxic substances. The manufacturers minimized the information, citing testing inaccuracies. Eventually, after additional testing, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) issued recalls for Valsartan and the FDA followed.  The FDA initially issued a report that 1 in 8,000 people taking Valsartan may develop cancer, but scientific evidence show that the number of cancer cases is likely significantly higher.    

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In Georgia, a property or business owner can be held responsible for a crime that is committed by a third party criminal, if the crime was reasonably foreseeable.  Many cases involving violent crimes, such as assaults, rapes, or murders, occur on properties that are owned and operated by businesses that earn profits and have a duty to keep their patrons, tenants, and other visitors safe.  This duty of care is outlined under Georgia’s premises liability law, which states that a landowner or operator has the duty to exercise ordinary care to keep its premises safe for its invitees.

This legal language generally means that a property owner has to act in a way that a reasonable person in the same position would act to keep the property safe for people who are invited onto the property or otherwise allowed to be on the property.  The protection is not one that is all-encompassing, nor does it apply to people who are not supposed to be there.  Ordinarily, a criminal act by someone that has nothing to do with the property is considered an “intervening act” for which the property owner cannot be held liable.

However, many Georgia cases have allowed victims of crimes occurring on properties where the owners should have reasonably foreseen the occurrence of the crimes.  One way of showing foreseeability is using substantially similar previous criminal activities that occurred on or near the premises that would alert a reasonable person in the same position to take ordinary care to protect visitors and other people from the criminal activity.  That is not the only way to show foreseeability, but is one way to prove it.

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A personal injury case is a civil claim that the victim of another person or company’s negligence can make under the law.  What that means is that if one suffers from an injury that arises out of an event, such as an automobile collision, a slip & fall, a mistake that a medical provider made in treatment, a workplace injury, the use of a defective product or drug, and many other types of situations, then that person may make a claim for compensation for his/her injuries, pain and suffering, medical expenses, lost wages, and other costs that s/he incurs from that injury.  Most personal injury cases begin as insurance claims and transition into civil lawsuits (as opposed to criminal) against the at-fault party.

The Basic Elements of a Personal Injury Case

The basic information that must be proven to successfully bring a personal injury case include:  (1) showing that the other party acted carelessly or negligently; (2) showing that the carelessness or negligence caused an (an event that caused an injury) injury to the claimant or plaintiff; and, (3) showing the amount of loss that resulted from the injury (or injuries).

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In Atlanta, crimes such as shootings, rapes, robberies, or assaults occur on many commercial properties, including hotels and motels.  Under Georgia law, a victim of a crime that occurs on the property of an unsafe hotel or motel may be able to recover against the hotel or motel for negligent security.

Negligent security is a type of premises liability claim. Premises liability cases in Georgia rest on the principle that a property owner has the legal duty to make sure that lawful visitors or “invitees” to its property are safe from dangerous conditions.  An invitee of a hotel or motel includes guests, and dangerous conditions can include crimes that are committed by unrelated persons who come on to the property or even other motel or hotel guests.

Hotel and motel owners have the duty to protect its guests from “foreseeable” criminal acts, even if the crimes are committed by third parties.  Thus, one of the factors that a victim of a crime on an unsafe property has to prove is that the crime was foreseeable.  You may ask how anyone could predict the future to foresee the criminal act of a third party.  Some factors that show that a property owner should have foreseen a criminal act are past crimes that occurred on the property or complaints about criminal behavior from customers, employees, or other guests.

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Yes, victims of crimes such as assaults, shootings, robberies, and rapes in Georgia may be able to sue property owners and operators where those crimes occur under the Georgia law of premises liability.  Victims may also sue the assailants, but, when looking at a civil suit, suing a corporate owner or operator of a premises gives the victim a better chance for monetary recovery, as most individuals, particularly criminals, probably do not have assets with which to pay their victims.

Under Georgia law, owners and operators of businesses owe a duty of care to the keep their premises safe for visitors and customers.  Where a business owner knows that there is a significant amount of violent crime on its property that could cause customers to be assaulted or even killed, a business owner is required to provide security or take measures to prevent such crimes.  Where such a business owner fails to provide adequate security, and a violent crime, such as a shooting or a rape occurs on its property, the property owner may be civilly liable and be required to pay the victim for the crime, even if the criminal is totally unrelated to the property owner.

Places such as business parking lots, parking decks, bars, hotels, and gas stations can be high crime areas where adequate security is a must.  Business owners who know about high crime on their property can make efforts such as providing well-trained security guards, controlled access, adequate lighting, fencing, warning signs, and security cameras.

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On May 3, 2017, a jury in New Orleans found in favor of the manufacturers of the blood thinner Xarelto in a lawsuit that Joseph Boudreaux filed against Bayer AG, Janssen Pharmaceuticals, and Johnson & Johnson after Mr. Boudreaux’s was hospitalized for gastrointestinal bleeding that required multiple blood transfusions.  The Boudreaux case was based on a failure to warn theory, where the plaintiff alleged that the manufacturers of the drug did not adequately warn him about the dangers and risks of Xarelto.  The defense of the case was based on the learned intermediary doctrine, which allows a drug manufacturer to warn a medical professional about the dangers of a drug rather than to the patient directly.

On June 12, 2017, the drug manufacturers won a second bellwether case based on the death of Sharyn Orr, who died after suffering from hemorrhaging in her brain after taking Xarelto.  Ms. Orr required surgery, but her doctor did not operate because Xarelto was still in her system; by the time she could have the surgery, it was too late, and Ms. Orr passed away.  The plaintiff’s lawyers alleged that the drug manufacturers not only failed to adequately warn Ms. Orr and her doctors, they also failed to create a monitoring plan and properly instruct doctors to conduct a blood test that would allow them to predict which patients are most susceptible to internal bleeding from taking Xarelto.

The Boudreaux and Orr cases are just two out of 40 or so “bellwether” trials (test trials that are conducted to help determine value where there are a heavy volume of similarly based cases, typically in multi district litigation) that are scheduled in the Xarelto multidistrict litigation.  Thus, there is still hope that plaintiffs will win some of the future Xarelto cases.  There are currently 18,000 or so Xarelto claims pending, and the results of the bellwether trials will help shape the future of the claims process.

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When it comes to personal injury claims in Georgia, determining the value of your case is complicated.  There is no set formula for valuing a case, but there are many factors that come into play.  Although the following list is not exhaustive, some of the factors that can determine how much your personal injury claim is worth are outlined below.

1.  Type of Injury/Damages

Personal injury claims in Georgia can vary from car accidents to medical malpractice to slip and falls.  The common theme, of course, is that you are injured because someone else acted negligently or carelessly.  The value of a case often hinges on just how badly you are hurt and how much your medical bills or lost wages are.  Injuries can range from a little whip lash to catastrophic injuries or even death.

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Do I Need an Attorney to Handle My Personal Injury Case?

If you are injured as a result of another person or company’s negligence, Georgia law allows you to recover compensation for your injuries.  Personal injury cases can vary drastically from a simple car accident to a complex products liability case against a medical device manufacturer.  Although generally, it is always much wiser to have any attorney represent you when you have any legal issue, the question of whether you need an attorney to handle your case depends on several factors, including:

•    The extent or seriousness of your injuries;

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Under Georgia law, owners of apartment complexes and other commercial properties owe a duty of care to tenants and visitors to keep the property safe from criminal activity. A property owner who knows that shootings, gang violence, drug activity, assaults, burglary and other dangerous crimes occur on its property is required to take the proper steps to secure the property for the safety of its tenants.

Thus, if you were injured during a crime that occurred in an unsafe apartment complex in the Hapeville or Atlanta area, you may have a claim against the owner of the apartment complex, especially if you or your neighbors complained about criminal activity, broken security gates, holes in fences, bad lighting or any type of issues with the building that could allow criminals to access the property.

If an apartment owner knows, whether through past similar incidents or through reports by tenants or frequent calls to the police, that unsafe crimes are occurring on the property, it should take actions such as:

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The pure volume of traffic in Atlanta makes multiple vehicle car accidents a common occurrence.  Multiple vehicle collisions often cause problems for making personal injury claims because the question of who is responsible is often disputed.

To make a personal injury claim under Georgia law, a claimant must show that s/he is not at fault, that the other driver’s negligence caused the accident, and the accident caused the claimant to suffer from injuries.  When there are more than 2 vehicles involved, negligence and fault can be difficult to prove, especially when insurance companies are quick to deny liability.

A classic example of a multiple vehicle collision is the domino effect rear end collision.  A vehicle rear ends the vehicle in front of it and then the vehicle in the back hits the middle vehicle.  In an everyday rear-end collision, the vehicle who rear-ends the car in front of it is usually at fault and is often cited for “following too closely.”  Add a third car, and it can complicate things because now there are more people to blame for the cause of the accident.  In theory, cars #2 and #3 were both following too closely, causing each of them to collide with the car in front of it.  And, if there are two impacts, the cause of the personal injury could be questioned:  was it the first impact or the second impact that caused the injuries?