Friday, August 29, 2008

Weekend: College Football Has Begun

Officially, that is. It began last night here in the South and parts elsewhere. Down here, however, it's different. Equal parts Christmas, St. Patrick's Day, Lundi Gras, and your birthday, college football unites as well as divides in the South.

A business introducton in my South in the fall may often include - in addition to being asked your name - the question, "Who ya for?" And the questioner does not mean do you support McCain or Obama, but rather the Tide, the Bayou Bengals, or the Gators.

In honor of this vital way a life, in honor of a chromosome that is in the DNA of many where I live, a lighthearted, non-legal ode to college football, and how it is different 'down here' --



Up North: Chapstick in their back pocket and a
$20 bill in their front pocket.

Down South: Louis Vuitton duffel with two
lipsticks, powder, mascara waterproof), concealer,
and a fifth of bourbon. Wallet not necessary -that's
what dates are for.


Up north: College football stadiums hold 20,000.

Down south: High school football stadiums hold


Up North: Doug Flutie

Down South: Peyton Manning


Up North: Rain and overcoats.

Down South: Sunny, highs mid-60s, lows in the


Up North: Expect their daughter to understand
Sylvia Plath.

Down South: Expect their daughters to
understand pass interference.


Up North: Male and female alike: woolly
sweater or sweatshirt, jeans.

Down South Male: -pressed khakis, oxford
shirt, cap with frat logo, Justin Ropers.

Down South Female: -ankle-length skirt,
coordinated cardigan, flat riding boots,


Up North: Take prospects on sailing trips
before they join the law firm.

Down South: Take prospects on fishing trips so
they don't leave for the NFL their senior year.


Up North: Statues of Founding Fathers.

Down South: Statues of Heisman Trophy winners.


Up North: Also a physics major.

Down South: Also Miss USA.


Up North: Mario Cuomo

Down South: "Bear" Bryant


Up North: 5 days before the game you can walk
into the ticket office on campus and still
purchase tickets.

Down South: 5 months before the game you can
walk into the ticket office on campus and
still be placed on the waiting list for tickets.


Up North: Students and Teachers are not sure
if they are going because they have class on

Down South: Teachers cancel class on Friday
because they don't want to see the few hungover
students that might actually make it to class
on Friday.


Up North: An hour or two before game time the
university opens the campus for game parking.

Down South: RV's sporting their school flags
begin arriving on Wednesday for the weekend's
festivities. The real faithful begin arriving
on Tuesday.


Up North: A few students party in the dorm and
watch ESPN on TV.

Down South: Every student wakes up, has a beer
for breakfast, and rushes over, 2 hours early, to where ESPN is
broadcasting Game Day "Live" to get on camera
and wave to the idiots from up North who wonder
why Game Day never broadcasts from their campus.


Up North: Wieners on the grill, beer with a
lime in it, listening to local radio station with
truck tailgate down.

Down South: 30-foot custom pig-shaped smoker
fires up at dawn. Arguments about what type of sausages are
served with breakfast. RV neighbor walks around in bathrobe with school
logo on it, and coffee mug with a 'touch' of bourbon in it. Cooking accompanied by live performance by Hootie & the Blowfish, who come
over during breaks and ask for a hit off your
bottle of bourbon.


Up North: You have to ask, "Where's the stadium?"
When you find it you walk right in with no line.

Down South: When you're near it, you'll hear
it. On game day, it becomes the State's third
largest city.


Up North: Drinks served in a paper cup filled
to the top with soda.

Down South: Drinks served in a plastic cup
with the home team's mascot-filled less than
halfway to ensure enough room for bourbon.


Up North: Stands are less than half full.

Down South: 80,000+ fans sing along in perfect
3-part harmony. Tears shed, after flyover from Blue Angels.


Up North: Nothing changes.

Down South: Fireworks with a twist of bourbon.


Up North: "Nice play."

Down South: "Dammit you slow sumbitch-tackle
him and break his legs!!!


Up North: "My, this is a violent sport."

Down South: "Dammit you slow sumbitch-tackle
him and break his legs!!!"


Up North: The stadium is empty before the game > >ends.

Down South: Another rack of ribs on the smoker, followed by
40 plus people watching two more games on satellite TV
attached to a flat screen. Somebody goes to the nearest package
store for more bourbon, planning begins for next
week's party.

Note: This isn't mine, it's been on emails for nearly a decade.
Happy Labor Day.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Byetta (Diabetes drug): Four Deaths reported

Amylin Pharmaceuticals said there have been four deaths among patients with pancreatitis who took its diabetes drug, Byetta. This is in addition to the reports of two other deaths.

The company said the four cases had not been reported last week to the FDA. The FDA had received six reports of patients who developed hemorrhagic or necrotizing pancreatitis that required hospitalization. Two of those patients died.

For more, go here.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Hot Pockets Recall

Yes, you read that right. From various sources:

"Nestle Prepared Foods Company is recalling about 215,660 pounds of frozen stuffed pepperoni pizza sandwich products, known as Hot Pockets Pepperoni Pizza, because the product might contain small pieces of hard red plastic and other foreign material, which pose a risk of serious injury to consumers.

"The recall involves 54-ounce, 12-pack cartons of Hot Pockets Pepperoni Pizza brand stuffed sandwiches. Printed on the side of each carton is "8157544614D," "EST 7721A," and "BEST BEFORE JAN2010." They were produced on June 5 and distributed to retail establishments nationwide."

A laugh out loud riff on the product is here:

Daytrana Patch Recall

From various sites:

Noven Pharmaceuticals Inc. said its partner Shire Ltd. is voluntarily recalling two lots of the attention deficit hyperactivity disorder drug patch Daytrana because of a problem with the patch liner.

In the recalled lots, the liner that needs to be released before the patch can be applied does not meet specifications, meaning patients might have difficulty removing the liner in order to apply the drug.

"Shire has advised that, because the voluntary recall is not due to product safety issues, all Daytrana patches, including those in the lots subject to the recall, can continue to be used unless the release liner cannot be removed, or the patches are damaged while being opened," Noven said, in a statement.

Link here.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Tech Weekend: PC Mag's Top 100 "Undiscovered Sites

Sites on the web you may not have heard about as you work. Link here.

Some of the sites include:

Tech Daily Dose

Run by the National Journal, this is a site for those interested in the role technology plays in government would be hard-pressed to find a better news outlet than this National Journal-run blog. From piracy to Net neutrality to online campaigning, this site is a fantastic resource for exploring tech policy inside the Beltway.

This desktop-away-from-desktop lets you access your personal stuff from any computer. Load up your browser-based Jooce desktop with files, music, videos, and anything else you might need and you can get to it just by logging in.

Mux is an excellent video conversion/sharing site that lets you enter in the URL of a video clip (or its location on your hard drive) and specify what format you'd like to receive the video in (iPod, PSP, DivX, MPEG-4, and lots more).

If you have any sites you think need to be 'discovered' email me.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

What Happens After a Recall?

As the news spreads about the voluntary recall of Total Body Formula, what is particularly striking to me is how the news of the recall makes it to consumers. From the many folks I talk with every month on a variety of matters, it seems that most consumers don't know of recalls, and as of yet there is no uniform method as to recalls.

From today's Wall Street Journal:

"The recall itself is touted as a powerful tool of regulators for keeping consumers safe, and the Consumer Product Safety Commission points to the growing number of recalls as an indication that the system is working to protect consumers. But sometimes, not enough is done beyond the announcement to ensure that consumers and all retailers know about the recall.

The CPSC is charged with ensuring that roughly 15,000 products in the U.S. marketplace today are safe to use. Yet, when a product is cited as a hazard, it is mainly up to the consumer to learn about the recall and take action. Unlike Ms. Bykowski, few consumers do.

On average, just 15% to 30% of consumers who have purchased a defective product respond when the item is recalled, says the CPSC. Responses can rise to about 60% for higher-profile recalls that include some children's products or home appliances. But often more than two-thirds of recalled products go unaccounted for, leaving children and adults vulnerable to injuries ranging from lead poisoning caused by mouthing certain toys to burns from overheated fax machines.

That is because the notification, which relies in part on press releases that may or may not be picked up by the media, is often lax or low-tech. And many consumers simply don't want to deal with the paperwork or the hassle of mailing something back, especially large items, like a crib, which has to be disassembled. Of course many consumers may never learn of the recall."

The article goes on to note: "The recall system just doesn't work," said Nancy Cowles, executive director of Kids in Danger, a Chicago child-safety advocacy group. "The very concept is backwards." She cited the need to improve the safety of products before they reach store shelves."

Link here.

Total Body Formula News Report

My client was interviewed on a local Atlanta station:

Vioxx: Another Article (Annals of Internal Med.) Critical of Merck

Did Merck "endanger" patients in 1999 when it disguised a marketing program as a scientific trial of its now-withdrawn painkiller Vioxx? That is what is claimed in an an article and editorial to be published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

From the Philadelphia Enquirer:

"The editors of the Annals of Internal Medicine, which is based in Center City, said the journal's findings may point to a broader problem in the pharmaceutical industry. Drug companies have long been suspected of enlisting doctors in trials solely to get doctors in the "habit of prescribing a new drug," the editors said in what they described as an unusual, if not unprecedented, editorial. These are known as "seeding" trials."

What is particularly noteworthy in the editorial is this comment: "The documents do tell us that deception is the key to a successful seeding trial." Link.

The editorial says "seeding trials" pay doctors involved in them to consult with the drug company plus a fee for each patient they enroll.

For more go here.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Total Body Formula Article in Atlanta Journal Constitution (daily paper)

This weekend the Atlanta Journal Constitution had a lengthy and well written article on Total Body Formula's recall and the recalled product had on several people. One person named in the article is a current client of mine. We've file several lawsuits, and are not part of any class action regarding Total Body Formula.

Here is an excerpt:

At least 197 people in a dozen states —- 53 of them in Georgia —- were sickened earlier this year after taking the liquid supplement Total Body Formula. Their hair fell out in clumps, their fingernails fell off. They suffered nausea, vomiting and fatigue. Some had disabling joint pain, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and state health officials.

Doctors treating 21-year-old Felicia Blasingame of Acworth this spring first thought she had the flu, then tested her for everything from parasites to lupus to rheumatoid arthritis, trying to figure out what was causing her nausea, seizures, knee pain and hair loss, she said.

Edgar Gurley, 78, of Marietta said he went from being active and healthy to suddenly in January battling a cascading array of symptoms, including diarrhea, fatigue and confusion. Gurley said doctors struggled to explain why his blood chemistry and thyroid levels were out of whack, his kidneys were failing and his hair was falling out.

As their symptoms worsened, Blasingame and Gurley said they continued to take their daily 1-ounce dose of Total Body Formula, thinking it was critical to their health.

Yet several batches of Total Body Formula and Total Body Mega Formula contained hazardous amounts of the mineral selenium —- up to 40,800 micrograms per serving, 200 times the amount listed on the product’s label, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The FDA is still investigating how this happened, and state health officials are still tallying the human toll.

Because of several pending lawsuits, lawyers for three companies involved in the manufacture and sale of Total Body products declined to discuss what happened.

Go here for the complete article.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Powerful Antacid Drugs Raise Fracture Risk

Aciphex, Nexium, Prevacid, Prilosec and Protonix are the drugs in question.

From Health Day:

"New Canadian research shows that long-term use of proton pump inhibitors for acid reflux, peptic ulcers and related disorders elevates the risk of osteoporosis-related fractures.

This is now the third large study finding an increased risk of such fractures in people who use these medications. This latest study, reported in the current issue of the Canadian Medical Association Journal, found the longest period of time from starting the drugs to seeing problems emerge.

Physicians and patients may need to curb their enthusiasm for prescribing proton pump inhibitors, which have surged in popularity, experts said."

For more,go here.

Drug Companies Don't Want to Disclose Lawsuit Defense Costs

Several drug firms sent a letter last week accounting-rule lawmakers, arguing that mandatory disclosure of estimated costs of ongoing litigation is expensive, not helpful and won't provide worthwhile information for investors.

Costs estimating of ongoing litigation is "highly subjective, subject to huge swings as underlying assumptions change, and unlikely to provide financial statement users with meaningful or reliable information," the companies said in a letter to the Financial Accounting Standards Board. Link here.

Currenly, drug companies only have to disclose the estimated costs when they believe it is probable a case will be lost.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

CLE: GTLA Torts Seminar 8/7-9/08

Time for a seminar at the beach ... this weekend, the GTLA is holding its Summer Seminar in Sandestin. Here's the agenda, and note my time slot .. Saturday morning at 9 AM:

Thursday, August 7
800am Registration, Breakfast & Exhibits
8:30am Welcome & Registration

8:40am The Sun Was in My Eyes and Other Insurer Favorites – Mike Neff, Law Office of Michael,Lawson Neff P.C., Atlanta

9:20am A Good Beginning is a Fine Start: Mastering the Art of Opening Statements – Michael Warshauer, Warshauer Poe & Thornton, P.C., Atlanta

10:10am The Most Neglected Parts of Trial Gino
Brogdon, Brogdon, Davis & Adams. LLC. Decatur

10:50am Handling Wrongful Death in Auto Cases Pete
Law, Peter A. Law, P.C.

12:00pm Adjourn (lunch on your own)

1:00pm Golf Tournament (Choctawhatchee Bay Golf – Call GTLA to reserve a spot)

6:30pm Civil Justice PAC Welcome Reception

Friday, August 8

8:00am Registration, Breakfast & Exhibits

8:30am Welcome & Registration

8:40am Finding the Coverage in Catastrophic Injury Cases
Linley Jones, Linley Jones, P.C.

9:20am Drugs, Alcohol and Accidents: Handling Personal Injury Cases When the Defendant Driver is Under the Influence
Michael Goldberg, Fried, Rogers, & Goldberg, Atlanta

9:50am Break

10:10am Website Marketing Essentials
Sam Chontos, FindLaw

10:30am Truck Accidents, What Makes Them Different Than a Typical Car Wreck Case
Joe Fried, Fried, Rogers, & Goldberg, Atlanta

11:00am How Juries Assign Blame: An Heuristic Approach
RobinFrazer Clark, Robin Frazer Clark, P.C., Atlanta

Saturday, August 9
8:00am Registration, Breakfast & Exhibits
8:30am Welcome & Registration
8:40am The Top 10 Reasons Lawyers Get Sued
David Lefkowitz, The Lefkowitz Firm, Atlanta
9:20am Using Free or Inexpensive Technology to Enhance your Auto Practice Mark
Zamora, Atlanta

9:50am Break

10:10am Probate Issues in Auto Cases
Lloyd Bell, Bell Law Firm, Atlanta

10:50am How to Get the Most out of Mediation
Victor Faenza

11:20am Handling UM Cases with Special Attention to Thurman, Toomer, and Thompson Steve Ozcomert, Stephen M. Ozcomert, P.C., McDonough

Plaintiffs' Lawyers Only.

I've never spoken while wearing flip flops - this will be a first.

At the Trial Lawyer Blog: Matt Garretson on Fee Agreements

Good stuff at the TLRC blog:

One of the attorneys at Matt Garretson's Firm has prepared a “practice tip” sheet for updating a client fee agreement. Among other topics, the article incorporates the points addressed in NY Professional Ethics Committee Opinion (#739, July 7, 2008), which contains logic that is instructive no matter what state(s) you practice in.

From the blog: "No matter how big the case, your retainer agreement is the most important document in the file. If it hasn’t been revised in a while, its time to dust it off and make sure it reflects the changing nature of settlement. Doing so will make your settlements run more smoothly and provide you with the tools and time needed to satisfy your obligations and ensure that the settlement ultimately does exactly what it needs to do for your client.”

Go here for the complete article.

Attorneys: Yellow Pages Ads Gather Dust

From The Journal Record an article on what may seem obvious to some:

"It’s pretty much required these days for a law firm to have a Web site," according to Jim Calloway, a member of the Oklahoma Bar Association.

Read more here.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Anemia Drugs Label Change

The FDA has ordered label changes on cancer patients' use of drugs with erythropoiesis- stimulating agents (ESA) made by the companies. The changes would be added to a "Black Box" warning. The drugs are Epogen and Aranesp.

The FDA states that the new label must stated that the drugs are not to be used in cancer patients receiving chemotherapy when a cure of the cancer is anticipated.

As part of the label change, there will be a statement added that the drugs should not be administered when hemoglobin levels are greater to or equal to 10 grams per deciliter and that usage should stop if the hemoglobin exceeds a level needed to avoid transfusion.

Link here.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Priest Sues Over Care At Manatee Memorial Hospital

Attorney Richard Shapiro from Bradenton, FL is to me, a lawyer's lawyer. He takes causes, not cases, he says.

Recently he filed suit in a case involving a priest's care at a Florida hospital. A client of Shapiro's claims a hospital erroneously believed he was trying to get powerful pain medication while overlooking multiple bone fractures that ultimately left him permanently incontinent and barely able to walk. Shapiro called the episode "a crime against humanity."

You can read more at this link, or watch the video.