"Low T" Drugs Lead to Heart Attacks and Strokes

More than 5 million testosterone-based prescriptions are written each year for “Low T,” or low testosterone. Prescriptions have tripled since 2001.  

But It’s now coming to light that these drugs lead to heart attacks, strokes, and death. As a result of studies published in the Journal of the American Medical Association and the New England Journal of Medicine, the Food and Drug Administration has announced it is launching an investigation

The drugs at issue include:

  • Axiron
  • Androderm
  • Bio-T-Gel
  • Delatestryl
  • Depo-Testosterone
  • Forestra
  • Striant
  • Testim
  • Testopel

The testosterone supplements can come in the form of gels, creams, pills and injections. The symptoms that the drugs have been prescribed for include depression, hair loss, decreased strength, fatigue, decreased bone density, and the decreased sex drive that often accompanies growing older. Many men have been prescribed testosterone therapy drugs without actually having their testosterone levels checked. 

One study found that some men who use testosterone drugs are at three times the risk of heart attack. The drug labels, however, don’t mention the risk at all.

Lawyers at Girard Gibbs in San Francisco are representing some of those injured by the testosterone drugs. and are leading an investigation into the link between testosterone and treatment and heart attacks and strokes.


Law Now Requires Motorists to Give Bicyclists 3 Foot Buffer

Last month Governor Brown signed into law Assembly Bill No. 1371. The new law requires motorists to leave a three foot buffer when passing a cyclist traveling in the same direction. The motorist may not cross a double yellow line; if there isn't enough room, the motorist cannot pass. Brown had vetoed previous versions of the bill.  

A driver of a motor vehicle shall not overtake or pass a bicycle proceeding in the same direction on a highway at a distance of less than three feet between any part of the motor vehicle and any part of the bicycle or its operator.  

The fine for violation of the law is a measly $35. If a collision results, the fine goes up, but only to $220.  Other states have similar laws. The trouble is that they are seldom enforced, unless a cyclist presses the issue. 

PG&E Agrees to Pay

At 2:00 p.m. today, the lawyers will report to Judge Dylina that PG&E has agreed to settle all but two of the lawsuits brought against it by the victims of the PG&E explosion.  PG&E agreed to settle with 286 of its victims on Friday, September 6, and with the remaining 61 on September 9 -- the third anniversary of the explosion.  The 59 clients we represent were the last to reach agreement with PG&E on Monday.  The amounts of the settlement are confidential, but PG&E told the Securities and Exchange Commission that it expects to record a charge of approximately $110 million in connection with the agreements.

Why did the cases settle?

PG&E finally agreed to pay amounts that made sense to its victims.

Why now?

Before PG&E would agree to compensate the victims, the victims had to prove to PG&E that they were willing to go all the way to trial. 

How did they prove they were willing to go to trial?

For three years, the victims put up with PG&E’s prodding, poking and questioning.  They agreed to undergo the mental exams that PG&E insisted upon.  They tolerated PG&E calling them fakers and whiners.  They stood up to PG&E and never gave in.  

Are the victims happy with the settlements?

Though each victim’s story is different, each lost a certain peace of mind as a result of the explosion.  They will never that get back.  They will never sleep the same again.  Money is a poor substitute for peace of mind.  But the victims are satisfied that they did their part to hold PG&E accountable for its actions and for what it did to their neighborhood.  The victims did their part in exposing PG&E’s wrongdoing, and in perhaps bringing about change for the better, making it less likely that something like this will happen again.  To that extent, the victims are pleased with the settlement. 

Does Immigration Status Affect the Right To Sue for Injuries?

Guest authorVeronica Benigno Guinto, an immigration attorney in the San Francisco Bay Area answers:

No. The Fourteenth Amendment’s guarantees of due process and equal protection of the law protects U.S. citizens and non-citizens alike. The term “person” under the Amendment encompasses U.S. citizens, lawfully admitted resident aliens, and even aliens whose presence in this country is unlawful. While here, every person whether present in the U.S. lawfully or unlawfully, is entitled to equal protection of the laws. Thus, an injured person has a right to seek redress in U.S. courts, regardless of immigration status. 

California law adopts this view. “For purposes of enforcing state labor, employment, civil rights, and employee housing laws, a person’s immigration status is irrelevant to the issue of liability….” For example, the California Legislature has explicitly applied all protections, rights, and remedies available under the California Labor Code to all individuals – citizens and aliens – who have applied for jobs or who have worked and been employed in the State. While the Legislature has yet to be as explicit in the area of personal injury, it is notable that there has been at least one California reported case holding that evidence of a patient’s immigration status is irrelevant when he sues a doctor for medical malpractice.

What does this all mean? In general, whether a person is in the United States lawfully or unlawfully, immigration status should not preclude one’s right to file a lawsuit in a U.S. (or California) court to recover damages for personal injuries sustained.

Mrs. Guinto has been following the Asiana 214 crash and kindly offers her insights on the rights of non-citizens to sue in California

GranuFlo Cases Will be Transferred to the District of Massachusetts

Victims and family members who suffered a loss due to the defective dialysis component, GranuFlo, may have their cases transferred to the District of Massachusetts.  A panel of federal judges decided today that all of the GranuFlo cases that have been filed in any federal court will be managed by the Honorable Douglas P.  Woodlock for pre-trial purposes. Massachusetts is the headquarters for Fresenius the manufacturer of GranuFlo as well as the location in which dozens of GranuFlo victims have already filed suit.  Generally, cases filed in state court will not be subject to the transfer order.

Sudden Cardiac Death During Dialysis

The manufacturer of a component of the hemodialysis treatment known as GranuFlo, investigated over 900 reports of cardiac arrest during or immediately following treatment.  According to an internal study by the manufacturer, Fresenius, at least 914 patients suffered sudden cardiac arrest in Fresenius clinics in 2010 alone. Alkalosis, too much sodium bicarbonate in the blood is one explanation for the high rate of dialysis patients have suffered cardiac arrest in recent years.  That electrolyte imbalance  makes patients six to eight times more likely to suffer cardiac arrest.



The Bumper Car Rider Gets Bumped Again

The assumption of risk bumper car case was discussed here. A doctor seriously injured her hand when she was hit from both the rear and the front.  Head on collisions violated the park’s bumper car rules. In that discussion, the intermediate court had refused to extend the “no sports duty rule” to a non-sport recreational activity such as bumper cars – holding the park responsible for the riders injuries.

But recently, the highest court in the state disagreed.  In a bad decision for personal injury victims, the California Supreme Court ruled in favor of the amusement park and determined that the bumper car rider had "assumed the risk of injury when she participated in this recreational activity.”  Park owners and other sponsors will likely only owe a duty if they fail to provide routine safety measures.  The Court indicated that the “no sports duty rule” may be applied not only to amusement park rides but to “any physical activity not essential to daily life.

Watch out -- many bumps ahead!

San Bruno Trial Halted

The jury was supposed to be empanelled in February to hear and decide ten families’ test cases against PG&E. But over the last few weeks, while the attorneys argued pre-trial motions, a number of those families’ cases  settled. Today, the judge ruled that the four cases that are still on for trial (Healy, O’Neill, Chea, and Kim) are not a sufficient representative sample of the more than 100 lawsuits that remain. So he ordered the trial date off calendar.

About a quarter of the more than 100 cases filed against PG&E have now settled. Many of the settlements have come in the last couple of months. With the trial date off calendar, all the lawyers are to return to court on January 23 to provide the court with a plan for proceeding. The plan is to include a way of possibly settling all families’ claims without the need for any trial at all.

Certainly, PG&E has settled more cases recently.  Is that because PG&E has decided settling the cases was the right thing to do for the victims of the explosion? Or was it simply because trial was right around the corner? 

We’ll know more about that in the next few weeks.

Related coverage from Joshua Melvin at the San Mateo County Times.

Do Pedestrians Always Have the Right-of-Way?

That's a trick question.  While many of us have been taught that pedestrians have the right-of-way, that's not always true.  A pedestrian must also exercise reasonable care. Such care includes obeying traffic signals, using crosswalks, and not darting into the street.  Also, a pedestrian may waive her right -of-way.  For example, if she motions to a driver to proceed, then the driver may rely upon such "waiver" (pun intended) and proceed. 

When a pedestrian is struck by a driver and suffers personal injury,  if necessary, a jury will decide whether the pedestrian had the right-of-way and acted reasonably.

San Bruno Judge Makes More Rulings As Trial Approaches

With the January 2 trial date fast approaching, today’s case management conference before Judge Dylina lasted most of the day.

Punitive Damages Claim Won’t Be Split Off

PG&E asked the court to split off the issue of whether PG&E should pay punitive damages and save that issue for a second trial later next year. The judge denied PG&E's request. He agreed with the plaintiffs' lawyers that the issue of punitive damages should be presented along with all the other issues involved in the case to the jury that is empaneled in January. Nothing should be carved out from that trial and reserved for later.

Should the Judge Speak Personally to PG&E’s CEO about Settling the Cases?

The judge noted that PG&E’s chairman of the board, Tony Earley, has stated publicly that it is PG&E’s desire to settle the cases before trial. Yet, settlement discussions seem to have stalled. The judge noted that PG&E has not been complying with his order that requires PG&E to make a response to any plaintiff’s settlement demand 5 days before the settlement conference takes place. Instead, PG&E seems to be waiting until the day of the settlement conference to state its settlement position. Eighty percent of the cases remain unsettled.

The Settlement Judges have reported back to him that they are experiencing some frustration with the process. The judge is considering inviting Mr. Earley to appear in court, so that he can hear first-hand the judge’s thoughts on the importance of the cases and the seriousness of the punitive damages claims against PG&E. PG&E’s lawyers objected to Mr. Earley appearing in court, saying that they have already explained things to the CEO. The judge is going to mull over whether he will ask Mr. Earley to appear in court.

Too Many Motions in Limine

The judge will hear arguments on December 21 concerning what evidence should be kept out of the January trial. Hearings on such arguments are routine before every trial. In this case, however, thousands of pages of briefs have been filed. The volume of the briefing is overwhelming as, according to the judge, perhaps unnecessary. The lawyers are to meet and attempt to trim down the issues to be argued on December 21.

Lawyers Return to Court

Next Case Management Conference: December 11.