Deal or No Deal? Takeda offers $2.2 billion

 Takeda Pharmaceutical Co. the manufacture of Actos diabetes medicine has offered to pay more than $2.2 billion to resolve patients’ claims that the drug caused their cancer, according to Bloomberg News. More than 8,000 patients fighting bladder cancer have filed lawsuits in state and federal court. The settlement offer would pay each patient or his heirs approximately $275,000.  

Many people doubt that the $2.2 billion is sufficient to compensate all of the patients. It is speculated that Takeda may choose to settle cases with some lawyers and continue negotiations with others. Plaintiff lawyers who oversee the litigation in federal court for plaintiffs have stated that at this time, “There is no deal.”

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What are the risks of taking Propecia?

The risks of Propecia are still unfolding.  For several years, men have been taking Propecia for hair loss. Merck the manufacturer of Propecia represented that a limited number of users may experience side effects including sexual dysfunction such as decreased libido, erectile dysfunction and ejaculation disorder as well as potential depression. The actual rate of sexual function may be as high as 39%. Studies in Sweden indicate that the adverse side effects often continue after discontinuation of Propecia.  This persistence and/or permanence of the sexual dysfunction, depression and cognitive impairment remained undisclosed to U.S. consumers.  Merck failed to include it on its label. 

Men who used Propecia are claiming that Merck failed to adequately warn them about its risks. Most of these cases are being litigated in New York. Recently the wife and children of a man who took Propecia filed a claim against Merck alleging that in addition to depression, Propecia caused their father and husband to have thoughts of suicide and it led to his eventual suicide.

New Plan for Handling Remaining Yaz Claims

Nearly 20,000 women have brought claims against Bayer for its failure to warn about Yaz’s association with increased risk of clotting.  Women suffered deep vein thromboses, pulmonary embolis and death.  Although Bayer has paid out approximately $1.7 billion in settlements to Yaz claimants approximately 3400 claims remain.

U.S. District Judge David Herndon expressed disappointment that Bayer has been unwilling or unable to settle out of court.  Most of the remaining cases involve catastrophic injuries to women with patent foramen ovale and/or arterial clotting.

On February 13, 2015, Judge Herndon issued a case management order that provides for all Yaz actions that were initially transferred from outside of Southern Illinois to return to their home courts. And the trials originally scheduled for May 4, 2015 have been cancelled or continued.  The Judge has scheduled a Yaz trial to begin in his courtroom on June 15, 2015.  

Risperdal Found to Cause 'Man Boobs'

  On February 23, 2015 a Pennsylvania jury found Risperdal drug maker Janssen Pharmaceuticals failed to properly warn of the potential for Risperdal to cause gynecomastia, a condition in which males grow enlarged breasts.  As a boy, Austin

 Pledger, took Risperdal to assist with behavioral symptoms related to autism and later developed size 46DD breasts from taking the drug. The condition was irreversible.  The jury awarded Pledger $2.5 million.



Are You an Employee or an Independent Contractor?

It depends. Does your employer retain the right to control the how you perform your work? If yes, then you are an employee. If no, than you are an independent contractor. If maybe, then the Court will consider these additional questions:

  • Are you engaged in a distinct business?
  • Is your job usually done with or without supervision?
  • What skills does your job require?
  • Do you supply the tools, instruments and the place of work?
  • How long do you work?
  • How are you paid? By time or by the job?
  • Is the work part of the regular business of the company?
  • Did you or the company believe you were creating an employer-employee relationship?

These questions usually raise complicated and detailed answers. A judge or jury will weigh the answers to these questions to determine whether a person is an employee or independent contractor.  As discussed here, the answer makes a difference as to how employment laws may be enforced.

Does it Make a Difference if You are Called an "Employee" or an "Independent Contractor"?

 Yes! The law provides greater protection for an employee than an independent contractor. Anti-discrimination, anti-retaliation and rest break laws protect employees not independent contractors. State agencies such as the Division of Labor may enforce the laws for employees; but independent contractors must seek remedies from the Court under contract law.

"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