Tuesday, June 26, 2007

"Lost-pants lawsuit for $67 million defeated in a triumph of common sense"

From the Morningjournal.com:

"Score one for the little guy. A welcome dose of reality was injected into the legal system yesterday when a judge shot down that out-of-control $67 million lawsuit against a family-owned dry cleaner for allegedly losing a customer's pair of pants.

The man who sued now has to pay the dry cleaner's court costs of about $1,000. A request to have the loser pay the dry cleaner's attorney bills also is under consideration. The judge should make the loser pay every penny of the ''tens of thousands of dollars'' it cost the Chung family to defend itself.

After all, the loser isn't some know-nothing who pulled a ridiculously high dollar figure out of the air. The loser is an administrative law judge in Washington, D.C., named Roy L. Pearson.

That's the other problem. Anybody who could file such a stunningly outlandish and abusive lawsuit over something as trivial as a pair of pants has no business making decisions involving questions of justice.

During the pants lawsuit trial last week, Pearson reportedly broke down in tears when describing his problem. At one point in his dispute with the dry cleaner, Pearson had even demanded money so he could rent a car to travel to another shop. Another leg in Pearson's case was his claim that the dry cleaner violated consumer protection laws because the shop had a ''Satisfaction Guaranteed'' sign, yet failed to satisfy Pearson."

The judge also wrote, ''A reasonable consumer would not interpret ÔSatisfaction Guaranteed' to mean that a merchant is required to satisfy a customer's unreasonable demands'' or accept demands that he could reasonably be expected to dispute.

That refreshing, common sense ruling in the pants lawsuit came from Judge Judith Bartnoff in District of Columbia Superior Court. Good for her.

Monday, June 25, 2007

GTLA Responds to the Crazy Pants Zero Verdict

From the Georgia Trial Lawyers:

The administrative law judge, Roy Pearson of Washington DC, who sued a drycleaners over a pair of pants lost in court today.

This news comes to no surprise to the President of the Georgia Trial Lawyers Association (GTLA), Joe Watkins. “Just as we anticipated, the Civil Justice System worked today. The Judge presiding over the case ruled in favor of the drycleaners—and against the man at the center of this ridiculous business dispute.” Court costs will be assessed again Pearson

Pearson filed suit against the drycleaners for $54 million after alleging that they lost a pair of his pants. “The suit itself was ludicrous. As an attorney for 30 years I am aware of the dangers that this type of sensationalism can generate. The general public cannot help but be engrossed in its details. Now that the decision has been reached, the general public can bask in what is just another example of the Civil Justice System accurately and fairly working for us all,” said Watkins.

The attorney representing the drycleaners was Chris Manning, a member of the American Association for Justice (AAJ), the national affiliate of GTLA. AAJ has been sharply critical of Judge Pearson’s lawsuit. In April, AAJ CEO Jon Haber called on the District of Columbia Bar Association to conduct a disciplinary investigation of Judge Pearson for his conduct in this matter. Haber and AAJ President Lewis “Mike” Eidson pledged to support the defendant’s defense fund and encouraged the AAJ membership to also contribute.

“It is our hope that the resolution of this case garners as much media attention as it did when it was filed. The public deserves to know the how the Civil Justice System works on their behalf,” said Watkins

The System Works: Crazy Pants Verdict: Zero ($0.00)

The attorney who sought millions for a pair of lost pants rolled a zero in Court. For now it appears the alleged shakedown by this attorney failed.

The owners of Custom Cleaners did not violate the city's Consumer Protection Act by failing to live up to Roy L. Pearson's expectations of the "Satisfaction Guaranteed" sign that was once placed in the store window, District of Columbia Superior Court Judge Judith Bartnoff ruled. Bartnoff ordered Pearson to pay the court costs of defendants Soo Chung, Jin Nam Chung and Ki Y. Chung.

Source here.

More later. I hope that the 'costs' will/may include an assessment of fees. Will he lose his ALJ position as well?

Avandia Lawsuit Filed in Texas

From various sources, including Yahoo and others:

GlaxoSmithKline has been sued, with the Plaintiff claiming that that the anti-diabetes drug Avandia contributed to the death of a 60-year-old man.

Larry Stanford died May 21, 2007. That was the date of publication of a report in The New England Journal of Medicine claiming that Avandia may increase patients' risk for a heart attack. The lawsuit claims Glaxo knew of the dangers of the drug and continued to sell it to patients, including Stanford, who died of a heart attack.

The lawsuit was filed in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas. Stephen Drinnon of the Drinnon Law Firm filed the suit.

Stay tuned.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Friday Diversion: Tech That Helps You Leave the Office This Summer

I know what you're thinking: It's the first weekend of the summer, and why am I here at my desk when the beach/lake/mountain/circus beckons. Well, you have to work sometime and an article from the Huffington Post gives guidance on how you can take work with you on your boat/plane/SUV/minivan:

*Thanks to Tim Ferriss, the HP's write who authored the information, which you can find in full here.

"1. No more mail:
First, we need to cut out the crap -- reduce volume. Have your mail forwarded to special processing centers, where it is all scanned and emailed to you. One popular service is called Remote Control Mail, and there are two big benefits to the time-focused and mobile-minded: relevant postal mail is funneled into e-mail, so you can check both email and postal mail at once ("batching" both at the same time); you can travel freely whenever and wherever without ever missing a letter.

2. No more answering the phone:
Use a service like GrandCentral to listen to voicemail as they're being left. Each caller is required to announce their name before the call is dialed, and you are able to preview the name and send them to voicemail, where you can listen to their message as they leave it. If you want to speak with them, you can jump in. If not, let them leave a voicemail and -- at the set times when you batch -- go to step 2.

3. No more voicemail:

Get your voicemail delivered to your e-mail inbox, which then serves as your single communications "funnel." This would be our single "bucket" in the parlance of David Allen, and our remote control postal mail joins the voicemail here: e-mail, postal mail, and voicemail all in one place. GrandCentral can e-mail audio files, but for those who want text, Simulscribe is a popular option with near 90 percent transcription accuracy. Stop managing separate inputs from office phone voicemail, cell phone voicemail, and multiple email accounts. Consolidate. To further encourage all people to communicate with you via e-mail, there are two approaches that I've used effectively: indicate in your voicemail greeting that people must leave their e-mail address, and respond to them via e-mail; use Jott to send a voice message to them as an e-mail.

3. No more returning calls:
Pinger enables you to send voicemail to people without calling them. Why would you want to do that? From their website:

We've all been there -- you make a call and think to yourself, "please don't pick up," or you call and think "I hope I'm not interrupting..." With Pinger you leave the message at your convenience, and they get it at their convenience. Unlike voicemail, there is no ringing, no annoying prompts, no lengthy greetings -- just your message."

From me ... I use Simulscribe and Jott; just signed up for Pinger.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Site With Useful Law Practice Forms

At myshingle.com, the lawyer has compiled a great resource - she calls it "SOLOFORMANIA! A Cornucopia of Forms for the Busy Solo. "

You can find it here. She writes:

"What is SOLOFORMANIA? It's a cornucopia of forms for the busy solo - ranging from FREE sample practice guides, fee agreements and retainer letters, to court forms for all 50 states (some free, some fee) to general form files on the Internet. " Links include one to the Georgia State Bar's online forms.

Well done!

Monday, June 18, 2007

Use this now: Simulscribe

I attended a seminar this past week and learned of a service/product that's worth my while, and probably yours. It's called Simulscribe. From the site:

SimulScribe converts your voicemail messages into text. "We deliver your transcribed voicemail, along with the original audio, to your mobile phone, PDA, and/or email account."

The site also has:


Read voicemail on your mobile phone, portable device and/or e-mail

Whether you are in a meeting, traveling, or on the golf course, you can instantly see who called, what they said, and you won't have to listen to all of your messages to find out about an important missed call

Use the SimulScribe online user interface to search, sort, archive and delete voicemail like email

You won't have to write down the information from a voicemail; important numbers, names and addresses are easy to find, easy to access and will never get lost

Respond in text or forward the message to another person

Delivering voicemails as text when you are roaming saves you money

If a message is inaudible, you can still listen to the message as an audio file that is sent direct to your e-mail or dial in to the voicemail system

Keep the same voicemail functionality that you are used to; all dial-in voicemail functionality stays the same.

I'm using it. It's worth the $10 a month.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Congressional Panel to Consider FDA Drug Safety Bill

Happens today. According to reports, a U.S. House of Representatives subcommittee will take up legislation that gives teeth to the FDA's ability to monitor prescription drug side effects post drug approval.

A draft of the bill includes parts that are tougher than those passed in a similar Senate bill. One section limits consumer drug advertisements and symbols on newly approved medications to alert patients.

Source here.

Accompli (Obesity Drug): To Be Released Drug - FDA Report

The obesity drug made by Sanofi-Aventis (Acomplia) may trigger suicidal behavior and other psychological side effects in some patients. The FDA posted on its site its review. There is a meeting on June 13, 2007 wehre experts will vote on whether it should be approved.

You can go here to read the notes in either PDF or HTML format.

From the report:

Although the literature is unclear with respect to the relationship between weight loss and depression, increased rates of psychiatric events, including depression, have been reported with weight loss agents in their package inserts: orlistat (Xenical) (depression: 3.4% versus 2.5% at Year 2) and sibutramine (Meridia) (depression: 4.3% versus 2.5%, and emotional liability: 1.3% versus 0.6%) for active drug versus placebo, respectively.

Stay tuned. The vote won't be close; my crystal ball says the vote will be for approval.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Criminal Law: A Taser's A "Calming" Device?

I don't usually write about matters relating to criminal law, but when I heard this today I had to shake my head and wonder, "what the ... ??? "

"Nuggets reserve forward DerMarr Johnson was charged with resisting arrest and interfering with police during a disturbance outside a nightclub. Police said they used a Taser on him to calm him." Source here.

A Taser fires small dart-like electrodes with attached metal wires that connect to the gun, propelled by small gas charges. A Taser 's burst of voltage is often 50,000 volts.

When I hear or use the word calm, it's usually in the context that conjures up images of a quiet beach, or the stillness of the moments before sunrise. It's NOT the word I'd use to describe what happens here:

Friday, June 08, 2007

Friday Diversion: The Surfrider Foundation

I grew up in Florida and water is a way of life for me even now. Ocean, gulf, river or lake, it does not matter to me . The Surfrider Foundation is active in preserving beach access to the general public, fill protests, and more.

Their page informs:

Surfrider Foundation's Beach Access initiative promotes the right of low-impact, free and open access to the world's waves and beaches for all people.

In nearly every state, some portion of the beach is public land, which means that all members of the public have the right to use that portion of the beach. Because much of the land between where people can park and where they can enjoy the beach is privately owned, their ability to enjoy beaches often depends on the quality and availability of access between roads and parking lots and the beach. It is simply not equitable for only some people to have access to the ocean and beaches, which are public resources.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Best Buy Defense Counsel Admits Altering Documents

From seattlepi.com:

A lawyer for Best Buy Co. has admitted that he falsified e-mails and a memo before turning them over to plaintiffs in a nationwide class-action lawsuit.

The pending case has been stayed while Best Buy looks to hire new litigation counsel. The lawyer works for Robins, Kaplan, Miller and Ciresi, and that firm has filed a Motion to Withdraw.

The altered documents are supposedly "limited" to two e-mails and one memo, and as of yet the documents have not been publicly released.

Will this make it to page one anwyhere? Fox News? The crazy pants lawyer's lawsuit makes it around the world, another attorney has TB and while his condition has nothing to do with his profession, he even gets more headlines play than Paris Hilton (at least for 3-5 days), so can people expect the same from this news? I won't hold my breath on it.

The FDA: Who's Guarding the Guards?

Juvenal was a Roman poet active in the late first and early second centuries. Juvenal is credited with the creation of the phrase, Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? It has been translated as "Who will guard the guards?" or "Who watches the watchmen?"

That phrase comes to the fore when I read today's most recent FDA-related news. Once again - in another Congressional hearing held this week - several lawmakers rebuked the FDA for failing to protect consumers. Congressman Henry Waxman says that despite warnings, the FDA never required the drug maker to conduct a thorough post-market study of heart risks . Source

When will it end? The FDA is broken. It's going to take a generation to repair.

Actos (Diabetes Drug) To Add Boxed Warning

Actos - the rival drug to Avandia - made by Takeda, will have added to its package insert a black box warning. The warning will increase awareness of risk of congestive heart failure. There are reports that the FDA asked to have the warning added. Source here.

From philly.com:

An FDA commissioner told Congress on 6/6/07 hat the FDA was ordering GlaxoSmithKline and Takeda Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd. to add "black box" warnings to their diabetes drugs Avandia and Actos, strengthening existing warnings about heart failure, a condition where the heart does not adequately pump blood.

Congestive heart failure (CHF), or heart failure, is a condition in which the heart can't pump enough blood to the body's other organs. This can result from
  • narrowed arteries that supply blood to the heart muscle — coronary artery disease
  • past heart attack, or myocardial infarction, with scar tissue that interferes with the heart muscle's normal work
  • high blood pressure
  • heart valve disease due to past rheumatic fever or other causes
  • primary disease of the heart muscle itself, called cardiomyopathy.
  • heart defects present at birth — congenital heart defects.
  • infection of the heart valves and/or heart muscle itself — endocarditis and/or myocarditis

Source: Here.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Avandia (Diabetes Drug): FDA Hearing on 7/30

July 30th is the day that GSK's Avandia is in the spotlight before the FDA.

The FDA said it would gather members from its advisory committees on endocrine and metabolic drugs and on drug safety and risk management. The advisory panel will discuss the cardiovascular risks of the class known as thiazolidinediones, "with a focus on rosiglitazone, as presented by FDA and GlaxoSmithKline," the FDA said.

Stay tuned.

FDA Hot Topics Website

Worth a look, go here.


Tuesday, June 05, 2007

20 Sure-Fire Ways to Come up with Great Ideas

Reading the nonbillable hour, there's a link to "20 Sure-Fire Ways to Come up with Great Ideas" which can be found here.

Several of the items make sense. One of the ideas (to me) is not a good one to practice:

"1. Carry a notebook.

Have a little notebook that you carry around with you wherever you go, including to bed. I like Moleskine notebooks, but any pocket-sized one will do. When you get an idea, write it down — right away. Even if you have to stop the car in order to do so. Ideas are fleeting, and you must write them down before they’re gone again. "

There is one, however, that I cringe when I read anywhere or have told to me:

"5. Exercise.

Running, for example, is a great way to come up with ideas. First of all, exercise gets your blood circulating, which seems to stimulate your mind. Second, you’ve got some quiet time to think. And finally, the peaceful scenes of nature that you pass when you’re running seem to inspire great ideas. Any kind of exercise will do, though."

To me this is always a bad idea. Running (my exercise of choice) is the time to get away from thinking. Yes you read that right. For me (and certainly for others) the day is jammed with pressure, meetings, calls - work. I leave all of that behind for the sometimes too short times when I run. I turn the music on loud and forget - forget bills, calls, tirades, bad news, good news, people.

The ad which has caught my eye recently is the one for Propel water, referred to as the Propel Stress Monster (the one where the "boss" meets his demise during the ad:

Other than that, the list is a good place to start.

FDA Seizes Shelhigh Patches and Valves

From the FDA's site:

The Food and Drug Administration seized all implantable medical devices from Shelhigh, Inc., Union, N.J., after finding significant deficiencies in the company's manufacturing processes. The deficiencies may compromise the safety and effectiveness of the products, particularly their sterility.

The products include pediatric heart valves and conduits (tube-like devices for blood flow), surgical patches, dural patches (to aid in tissue recovery after neurosurgery), annuloplasty rings (to help repair heart valves) and arterial grafts. The tissue-based devices are used in many surgical settings, including open heart surgery in adults, children and infants, and to repair soft tissue during neurosurgery and abdominal, pelvic and thoracic surgery. Critically ill patients, pediatric patients and immuno-compromised patients may be at greatest risk from the use of these devices.

All medical device companies must follow current good manufacturing practice, a set of requirements that help to ensure the safety and effectiveness of all medical products. Shelhigh's violations include: manufacturing products in a facility with a poorly constructed and poorly maintained clean room where sterilized devices are further processed; failing to adequately monitor critical manufacturing environments for possible microbial contamination; failing to properly test products for sterility and fever-causing contaminants; and failing to scientifically support product expiration dates.

Physicians should consider using alternative devices. Physicians should also monitor patients with a Shelhigh implant for infections and proper device functioning over the expected lifetime of the device. Patients who think they may have received a Shelhigh device during surgery should contact their physician for more information. FDA will issue a Preliminary Public Health Notification to physicians and other health care professionals and a Preliminary Advice for Patients shortly with more information; those documents will be posted to FDA's Web site.

The seizure follows an FDA inspection of the Shelhigh manufacturing facility last fall, as well as meetings with the company at which FDA warned Shelhigh that failure to correct its violations could result in an enforcement action. FDA also alerted the company to its manufacturing deficiencies and other violations in two warning letters.

Medical devices manufactured by Shelhigh include:

  • Shelhigh Pericardial Patch
  • Shelhigh No-React Pericardial Patch
  • Shelhigh No-React PneumoPledgets
  • Shelhigh No-React VascuPatch
  • Shelhigh No-React Tissue Repair Patch/UroPatch
  • Shelhigh Pulmonic Valve Conduit No-React Treated
  • Shelhigh No-React Dura Shield
  • Shelhigh BioRing (annuloplasty ring)
  • Shelhigh No-React EnCuff Patch
  • Shelhigh No-React Stentless Valve Conduit
  • Shelhigh Internal Mammary Artery
  • Shelhigh Gold perforated patches
  • Shelhigh Pre Curved Aortic Patch (Open)
  • Shelhigh NR2000 SemiStented aortic tricuspid valve
  • Shelhigh BioConduit stentless valve
  • Shelhigh NR900A tricuspid valve
  • Shelhigh MitroFast Mitral Valve Repair System
  • Shelhigh BioMitral tricuspid valve
  • Shelhigh Injectable Pulmonic Valve System
FDA.org is the source.

The Story Behind Ketek

From the St. Pete Times: A detailed article that sheds light on a system that can best be categorized as a mess.

The paper notes how Dr. Anne Kirkman Campbell, a family practice doctor in Gadsden, Ala., signed up 400 patients at $400 a pop to enrol in a Ketek study. When at least one patient withdrew, the doctor forged a consent form and faked the data. The drug's maker however didn't inform the FDA of the action, according to reports. The drug maker just included the faulty data in the reports on the drug.

The paper notes that as FDA's drug approval division checked out the Ketek data, its inspectors were conducting routine audits of the biggest study sites. Their first stop was Campbell's office, where they found violations and called in the FDA's criminal investigators.

You can read the whole story at the St. Pete Times site, or posted on a blog here.

In my opinion, this is more of the same from the FDA. Created to protect consumers, it instead acts to betray the public's trust. Having read "Dispensing with the Truth" (a book detailing the rise and fall of the drug Fen-Phen) this unfortunately does not come as a surprise.

The web has legions of articles on Ketek and the congressional fallout, as well as the worldwide scandal .

Iowa's Senator Charles Grassley's sub-committee heard the testimony that one of the doctors used in the drug's safety study had falsified results, and that FDA managers hid that fact from the FDA panel that recommended the drug, and that the FDA then used unscientific foreign reports of the drug's side effects to claim it was safe. And when cases of death and injury began to appear, the testimony alleges the FDA did not issue an adequate new warning label for at least a year. (Link)

You'll see more to this, and this scandal will not be the last.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Trade Center Dust Deemed Cause of an Attorney's Death

From CNN.com

"The death of U.S. Department of Education attorney Felicia Dunn-Jones, 42, five months after she became trapped in dust caused by the collapse of the first World Trade Center tower, is now being considered a homicide and her name has been added to the official list of World Trade Center victims."

Dr. Charles S. Hirsch, the city's Chief Medical Examiner, notified Dunn-Jones' family attorney, Richard H. Bennett two weeks ago. "Accumulating evidence indicates that in some persons exposure to WTC dust has caused sarcoidosis or an inflammatory reaction indistinguishable from sarcoidosis ... " and "it is likely, with certainty beyond a reasonable doubt, that exposure to WTC dust...was contributory to (Dunn-Jones') death."

Link here.

The medical examiner came to this conclusion nearly six years after Dunn-Jones' death. It's surprising to learn that this is the first time the city of New York has officially declared that exposure to World Trade Center toxins following the 9/11 attacks contributed to a person's death.

Januvia (Type II Diabetes Drug) - Group Says Wait Before Usinig

From Public Citizen: Januvia (scientific name sitagliptin), a new drug designed to improve blood sugar control in patients with type 2 diabetes, should not be used because the drug’s long-term safety is still unknown.

Clinical study patients who were given Januvia experienced an increase in the chemical creatinine, which is found in the blood. Increases in creatinine are often an early indicator of kidney problems. Because the drug is new, more serious adverse effects may not become apparent until the drug is used by a large number of patients. Public Citizen advises consumers not to take the drug until after it has been on the market for seven years – in this case, until 2014 – without exhibiting significant health risks.

What is notable is that P.C. suggests that people with Type 2 Diabetes should wait seven years before taking Januvia.

Possible Bad News for Tricor (Triglyceride Drug)

Yesterday (June 3, 2007) there was a report in Barron's which said several cardiologists and nephrologists raised questions about the safety TriCor. The drug helps lower triglycerides.
The doctors raised concerns that fenofibrate (TriCor) may cause decline in kidney functions.

Sources include Reuters and Barron's online. You'll need to login to read the rest.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Friday Diversion: An Atlanta Blog

The Majestice Diner on Ponce.


The site informs that it is "Dedicated to all of the unbelievable sights that can only be witnessed along historic Ponce De Leon Avenue in the heart of Atlanta, Georgia."

If you are ever in Atlanta, there is a distinct part of the city that has as its main artery Ponce De Leon Avenue. It's away from Buckhead, or trendy Midtown. To quote the blogger, mentioned in the local weekly known as Creative Loafing: It is a street that is
"rich with character ... because it is the border dividing several distinct pocket neighborhoods – Midtown, Old Fourth Ward, Virginia-Highland, Druid Hills, Candler Park, Decatur. It divides neighborhoods that are almost different worlds.

The blog shows you the highlights of what 'the locals' like me get to enjoy. Events like the Decatur Arts Festival, and restaurants like Watershed. Give it a look.