Class Action Lawsuit Filed by W.Va. Businesses over Contamination from Chemical Spill

News Inferno; January 13, 2014

Freedom Industries, Inc., the West Virginia chemical company responsible for the January 9th chemical spill that contaminated the water in nine counties, has been named as a defendant, along with West Virginia American Water Company, in a class action lawsuit by businesses affected by the spill.

The suit was filed on January 10 in the Circuit Court of Kanawha County, West Virginia (Civil Action No. 14C55). According to the lawsuit, businesses located along the Elk River, were subjected to toxic water when the hazardous substance, 4-methylcyclohexane methanol, spilled into the river. The chemical is used in coal processing. The “Material Safety Data Sheet” for 4-methylcyclohexane methanol indicates that it is harmful if swallowed and can cause irritation to the skin and eyes.

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The Trial Lawyers Summit Starts This Sunday!

It’s almost here!  The third annual Trial Lawyers Summit begins this Sunday, January 19 at the Loews Miami Beach Hotel and continues through Wednesday, January 22.  We hope you’ve made plans to join us at what promises to be our biggest and best Summit ever!  For more information or to register, go to  For a schedule of events, go to  For conference materials and information, go to  Please note that if you’re planning to bring a guest, you must register and pay for them. No guests will be admitted to events without a badge. Please call our office to register your guest (866)665-2852.

The Trial Lawyers Summit provides great networking opportunities, even if you don’t need the CLEs.  There are last minute, limited on site opportunties with full room block and conference capacity.  A small number of rooms have been held for last minute attendees.  Register and reserve your room today!  Only five days remaining until the 2014 Trial Lawyers Summit begins!  We’ll see you at the Summit this Sunday!

US Legal Market Hit by Better Technology

Financial Times; January 13, 2014

The US legal market may be out of the doldrums, but a fundamental shift since the financial crisis means its old ways of working must be jettisoned to survive.

Better technology and more sophisticated purchasing of legal services by large companies are squeezing firms’ profit margins across America – the world’s largest legal market – even as the demand for their advice is beginning to increase, the findings of Citigroup and Hildebrandt Consulting’s annual survey of the biggest US firms show.

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Novartis Can’t Dodge $2.2M Jaw Injury Verdict

Law360, New York
(January 02, 2014, 8:24 PM ET) — A California federal judge on Monday upheld a
$2.2 million verdict against Novartis Pharmaceutical Corp.
in a woman’s lawsuit over a jaw injury allegedly caused by the bone drugs
Aredia and Zometa, holding the drugmaker had a duty to warn of the risk of

U.S. District Judge S. James Otero denied Novartis’ motion for judgment as a
matter of law as well as a new trial. Plaintiff Adriann Georges sufficiently
showed that Novartis had a duty to warn her of the jaw injury risk and that her
injury was caused both by her use of the drugs and the drugmaker’s failure to
warn, according to the judge.

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The Supreme Court Logic that Could Destroy Privacy in America

The Atlantic; December 30, 2013

Many Americans reacted with outrage when they learned that the NSA stores details about phone calls made by virtually everyone in the United States. They felt a strong, if vague, notion that the practice must violate their constitutional rights. Couldn’t NSA analysis of telephone metadata reveal sensitive, private details about most anyone in the country, like their network of friends, the identity of their sexual partners, or their contact with medical or mental health professionals? Aren’t mass searches of innocents anathema to the Fourth Amendment?

The legal response from NSA defenders has leaned heavily on the precedent set in Smith v. Maryland, a Supreme Court case decided in 1979, before the era of big data.

The case concerned a robbery. Patricia McDonough, the victim, noticed a 1975 Monte Carlo near the scene of the crime. Later she received obscene phone calls from a man who claimed to be the robber. Once he asked the victim to step out onto her porch, where she saw the Monte Carlo drive slowly by. Soon after, police spotted a man driving the Monte Carlo in the victim’s neighborhood. After tracing its license plate to Michael Lee Smith, officers went to the phone company and asked them to put a pen register on his phone. The resulting phone records showed that he called the victim’s house. At trial, he tried to suppress that evidence, arguing that the police should have gotten a warrant before having the phone company track the numbers he dialed.

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Mother Fights for Brain Dead Daughter

Courthouse News Service; December 31, 2013

A mother sued the Oakland Children’s Hospital to stop it from pulling the plug on her daughter, whose chief of pediatrics, the mother claims, said her daughter is “dead, dead, dead.”
Latasha Winkfield sued Children’s Hospital Oakland and Dr. David Durand in Federal Court.
Winkfield’s daughter, Jahi McMath, 13, lost a large amount of blood, suffered a heart attack and loss of oxygen to her brain after “a routine tonsillectomy” at the hospital on Dec. 9, the mother says in the lawsuit.
Jahi has been on a respirator since then. “She is totally disabled at this time and is severely limited in all major life activities, being unable to do anything of her own volition,” her mother says in the lawsuit.

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Lawsuit Accuses ‘Candy Man’ Physician of Facilitating Drug Addiction and Overdoses

News Inferno; December 30, 2013

A California woman’s medical malpractice lawsuit against Dr. Julio Gabriel Diaz – called “the candy man” – claims his over-prescribing of  powerful pain medications got her addicted to drugs. The doctor is accused of causing 11 overdose deaths.

Courtney Canter’s lawsuit, filed in Santa Barbara Superior court, names Walgreens, CVS Caremark and Long’s Drug Stores, in addition to Dr. Diaz, United Press International (UPI) reports. Diaz was arrested on federal drug trafficking charges in early 2012 and on September 24, 2013 he pled guilty to illegally prescribing a controlled substance, failure to maintain proper security and storage, and two counts of illegally prescribing a narcotic.

In a 75-page arrest affidavit, Diaz’s dangerous prescribing practices are described in great detail. The affidavit identifies 11 overdose deaths of patients under Diaz’s care. Diaz, according to UPI, is a drug-dealing doctor, known to patients as “the candy man.” The most recent overdose death attributed to Diaz occurred in November 2011. Diaz allegedly prescribed 2,087 pills to the patient in the six-week period prior to his death. Diaz is also accused of trading pills for sex.

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New Year, New Laws: Obamacare, pot, guns and drones

CNN; December 31, 2013

Not everyone subscribes to a New Year’s resolution, but Americans will be required to follow new laws in 2014.

Some 40,000 measures taking effect range from sweeping, national mandates under Obamacare to marijuana legalization in Colorado, drone prohibition in Illinois and transgender protections in California.

Although many new laws are controversial, they made it through legislatures, public referendum or city councils and represent the shifting composition of American beliefs.

The biggest and most politically charged change comes at the federal level with the imposition of a new fee for those adults without health insurance.

For 2014, the penalty is either $95 per adult or 1% of family income, whichever results in a larger fine.

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The FBI Warns Retailers about Thieves Armed With Foil

Bloomberg Businessweek; December 27, 2013

Retailers, the FBI has a message for you: Watch out for fraudsters armed with aluminum foil climbing on your roofs.

The agency says thieves have used a convoluted scheme to steal electronics and cigarettes from gas stations and other stores in Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, Pennsylvannia, and West Virginia.

Here’s how the theft goes down. First, someone climbs onto the roof of a store and uses aluminum foil to block the satellite antenna that the store uses to receive data from credit card companies to authorize sales—a gadget called a feed horn that looks like this.

Video: Credit Card Breach Puts Target in Legal Crosshairs

With the signal blocked, stores can’t validate credit and debit card transactions. That opens the door, so to speak, for bandits to enter the store, load up their carts with electronics or cigarettes, and pay with stolen credit cards. Retailers often permit sales even if the link with the credit card company is down, figuring the transactions will go through once the connection is back up.

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Chemicals in Fracking Fluids May Disrupt Hormones, Raise Infertility Risk

News Inferno; December 19, 2013

Chemicals in the fluid used in the hydraulic fracturing—fracking—gas drilling technique may disrupt the functioning of human hormones and lead to increased risk of infertility, cancer, and other health problems, new research finds.

The results of a new study, carried out by the Endocrine Society and published in the journal Endocrinology, suggest that endrocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs), which can interfere with the body’s normal hormonal functions, are found in fracking fluid, Aljazeera America reports. According to co-author Susan C. Nagel, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Missouri School of Medicine, “More than 700 chemicals are used in the fracking process, and many of them disturb hormone function.” EDCs, she said, could “raise the risk of reproductive, metabolic, neurological and other diseases, especially in children who are exposed” to them.

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