Podcast: Trial begins for white cop who shot black teen

police shootingTrial begins today in Pittsburgh for a white police officer who shot and killed an unarmed black teenager last year. The former policeman shot 17-year-old Antwon Rose as he ran away after the car he was in was pulled over following a drive by shooting. Last week another teen that was in the car pleaded guilty to shooting in the drive by incident. NPR has more on the trial.

Podcast: How legal organizations and tech vendors can work together

handshake computer screen NTL webinar marketingAs advances in technology continue to disrupt the legal industry, some lawyers feel bewildered about how to form effective partnerships with legal tech vendors. In this episode of Legal Toolkit from the Legal Talk Network, host Jared Correia talks to Robert Brink of Boston’s Social Law Library and Fred Cohen of Zola Suite about how legal organizations and legal tech vendors can work together more effectively. Robert and Fred discuss their working relationship and offer insight into the importance of continued tech adoption and innovation in legal organizations.

Veterans suing 3M over earplugs

earplugs bulletsCBS News reports that hundreds of military veterans are expected to file lawsuits against 3M, the manufacturer of earplugs that the veterans say didn’t work as claimed and left them with damaged hearing. The Justice Department settled with 3M last summer over claims that the earplugs had “dangerous design defects” after being used by soldiers to protect their hearing for “more than a decade.” 3M paid $9.1 million in the settlement, but didn’t admit to any liability. A lawsuit filed by the government and one of 3M’s competitors alleged that 3M knew about the design flaw, but continued to sell the earplugs to the military from 2003 to 2015. 3M denies that the earplugs were defective. CBS News has a video interview with two veterans who suffer from hearing loss that they say was caused by the ineffective earplugs.

Video: The FDA’s hidden database of medical device injuries

legal news for consumersThe Food and Drug Administration has a special “exemption” for medical device manufacturers that lets them file reports of malfunctions in a database that can’t be accessed by doctors or the public, reports HuffPost. Since 2016, there have been 1.1 million incidents that have been filed in an “alternative summary reporting” database, according to Kaiser Health News. While deaths caused by medical devices have to be reported to a public database known as MAUDE, the hidden database has serious injury and malfunction reports for about 100 medical devices. In this video interview  from Kaiser Health News, Phil Levering talks about his father, Mark, undergoing surgery for a liver abscess that was initially thought to be cancer.

That relief turned to dread the day of surgery. The procedure was supposed to last two hours, she said. But the surgery hit a snag when the stapler “misfired,” according to the surgeon, causing so much bleeding that the minimally invasive procedure was converted to an open procedure so the doctor could suture the vein.


Levering underwent CPR for 22 minutes. A code blue was called, a nurse testified. Levering lost 3 quarts of blood — about half the blood in his body. He was put on life support and would remain in a coma for weeks.

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NTL member Aimee Wagstaff in Roundup Trial

RoundupNational Trial Lawyers member Aimee Wagstaff is representing a California man in federal court who is suing Bayer AG over its weed killer Roundup, which Wagstaff believes caused her client’s cancer. Edwin Hardeman says he started using Roundup, manufactured by Bayer subsidiary Monsanto, in the 1980s to control poison oak and weeds on his property, reports Raw Story. Doctors diagnosed Hardeman with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2015, and he filed his lawsuit a year later. More than 760 of the 9,300 Roundup lawsuits are consolidated in San Francisco Federal Court. In her opening statement, Wagstaff told jurors that the chemicals in Roundup make it much more toxic than glyphosate by itself. The nine-member jury will decide whether to agree with Wagstaff that the chemicals in Roundup caused Hardeman’s cancer. Last August, a California state jury awarded $289 million in damages to a cancer victim who had used Roundup, but that amount was later reduced to $78 million.

The Associated Press has more on the trial:

The long-sought deposition of Richard Sackler

oxycontinThe deposition transcript of Dr. Richard Sackler, a member of the billionaire family that owns Purdue Pharma, the makers of OxyContin, has been published by STAT and ProPublica. The deposition is believed to be the only time a member of the Sackler family has been questioned under oath about the illegal marketing of OxyContin and how much the Sackler family knew about it. The 337-page deposition transcript from 2015 had remained sealed until ProPublica obtained a copy. Sackler has worked at Purdue Pharma since 1971 and has served as its president and co-chairman of its board. While the transcript has been released, hundreds of other Purdue documents and a videotape of the 2015 deposition remain sealed, ProPublica says. Meanwhile, Time has more on the charges that are piling over OxyContin and what that could mean for the Sackler family.

NTL member LaBarron Boone helps secure $151M in Ford Explorer rollover trial

Ford ExplorerA Dallas County, Alabama, jury found defendant Ford Motor Company at fault for a rollover crash of a 1998 Ford Explorer that left Travaris “Tre” Smith paralyzed and awarded Smith $151,791,000. The verdict includes $51,791,000 in compensatory damages and $100 million in punitive damages. The jury agreed with Smith in finding that Ford failed to meet its own safety guidelines for the Explorer’s rollover resistance requirement and attempted to cover up the vehicle’s defective design. Beasley Allen lawyers and National Trial Lawyers member LaBarron Boone, Greg Allen and Kendall Dunson along with Bill Gamble of Gamble, Gamble, Calame and Jones, LLC represented Smith.

“We represent a 24-year-old young man who cannot be left alone to care for himself in any way,” said Dunson. “This verdict represents justice for Tre and his family. Thanks to a courageous jury he will now be able to access basic necessities within his home and have access to the care he needs.”

“Tre had the misfortune of riding in a vehicle Ford knew could and did hurt him, but the jury’s verdict will allow him to reclaim some level of hope for a better future, with less dependence on others,” said Boone. “Ford failed Tre and so many other consumers. The jurors in Dallas County held Ford accountable for yet another tragedy in a decades-long saga of the company’s efforts to cover up the shoddy design and its refusal to adequately address the problems.”

In August 2015, Smith was a passenger in the 1998 Ford Explorer traveling in Dallas County. The driver swerved to miss an animal that appeared to be crossing in the vehicle’s path, causing the driver to lose control of the vehicle. The action is called an accident avoidance maneuver and because the Explorer’s design is prone to rolling over, especially during these types of emergencies rather than sliding out like other similar vehicles, the Explorer carrying Smith rolled over two times before landing on the shoulder of the road, right side up. As the vehicle was rolling over, Smith was knocked unconscious and his spine was snapped, leaving him paralyzed and forever changing his life.

Boone believes jurors also intended to send a message to Ford that destroying safety documents in an effort to hide critical and unfavorable evidence will not be tolerated.

“Ford should have spent money redesigning this dangerous SUV model rather than paying huge amounts to defend the cases,” said Allen.  “One expert has been paid over $75 million over the last 16 years to defend Ford in accidents like Mr. Smith’s.”

The 1998 Ford Explorer has been at the center of two historic safety recalls in the U.S. due to its defective design. The model consistently failed the Consumer Union testing because of its propensity to roll over, and company engineers advised Ford it needed to change the design, but Ford refused. Instead, it opted to change the way the product was tested, moving it from a real-world setting to a computer-based simulation called ADAMS. Yet, Ford destroyed the original input and output data obtained through the ADAMS testing, claiming it had no scientific value and was too expensive to maintain.

“We have seen bad conduct before but the egregiousness of Ford’s scheme to mislead the jury was stunning. Ford claimed the ADAMS data that would have proved the safety of this vehicle was destroyed because it had no scientific value and was too expensive to maintain. We provided proof that something as basic as a $100 thumb drive could have easily preserved the data,” Boone said.

At trial, Plaintiffs also explained that in its efforts to resist redesigning the Explorer, Ford altered less expensive components such as air pressure and tire sizes but to no avail. The defective design remains in the stream of commerce decades later and continues to seriously injure and kill consumers.

The case is Travaris D. Smith v. Ford Motor Company, et al, 27-CV-2016-900273.00 in the Circuit Court of Dallas County, Alabama.


Facing retaliation after being sexually harassed

Karen Ward, a former investment banker at Ernst & Young, reported instances of sexual harassment to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in September of last year. It was the second such complaint filed against the firm in 2018. Ward tells HuffPost that her supervisor made sexual comments about her body, and stole credit for her work. Even though the supervisor was fired, Ward was forced to face retaliation for her complaint “from a whole boys’ club in his network.” Ernst & Young also fired Ward, but claims her dismissal had nothing to do with sexual harassment or discrimination. Read more about the retaliation that Ward faced with fighting sexual harassment at HuffPost. 

Will Jeff Bezos sue the pants off the National Enquirer?

Jeff BezosAfter Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos announced that the National Enquirer threatened to extort him over rather personal selfies that he allegedly sent to his mistress, some are wondering whether he’ll sue American Media Inc., the company that owns it, as well as what his chances of success would be if he did. Delaware Law School professor John Culhane argues in a Politico article that Bezos has a good chance of winning a lawsuit over invasion of privacy, having the financial resources available to “bury them in litigation.” Culhane says Bezos “has already done a public service by revealing AMI’s threat.” Read Culhane’s analysis at Politico.

Meanwhile, what effect will Bezos’ fight with AMI have on the freedom of the press? That’s a question that former Obama White House counsel Bob Bauer asks in an article at The Atlantic. Bauer says AMI Chairman David Pecker may be testing the limits of the legal liability protections afforded to the media. Also at The Atlantic, Quinta Jurecic says what Bezos does could prove to be a turning point for victims of “sextortion,” benefiting those who are more vulnerable.