Thousands of California Sex Abuse Lawsuits Expected

(Nov. 11, 2019) The Associated Press reported last month that clergy abuse attorneys expect thousands of California sex abuse lawsuits to be filed when the state’s new law takes effect January 1, 2020. The cases will be filed not only against alleged child molesters, but also against the institutions which employed and, in some cases, allegedly protected them from being discovered and punished.

Related: New NY Law helps Sex Abuse Victims

Attorneys said the Roman Catholic Church, Boy Scouts of America (BSA) and some other institutions could face so many lawsuits as to trigger sudden bankruptcies.

The California School Boards Association went so far as to call the state’s new law to aid sex abuse victims an “existential threat” to smaller school districts

Gov. Gavin Newsom approved the new law last month. It not only gives victims of childhood sexual abuse until age 40 to file lawsuits, but also gives sex abuse survivors of any age three years to file — until Jan 1, 2023.

New York State Sex Abuse Filings

More than 400 lawsuits were filed in New York state in August 2019, on just the first day that New York opened a one-year window for victims to sue. New York and New Jersey both raised their statutes of limitations to age 55 this year, with New Jersey’s new law taking effect in December 2019.

California 2003

About 1,000 sex abuse lawsuits, most against the Catholic church, were filed when California lifted the statute of limitations for one year in 2003, according to an attorney who represents an Olympic medalist and other survivors of USA Gymnastics sexual abuse, along with victims of former USC gynecologist George Tyndall.

Victims are more willing to speak up today, he said, and the new law allows for triple damages if victims can prove a predator’s employer(s)s tried to cover up the abuse.

The Snowball Effect

“The ‘Me, too’ movement has shown us how reporting abuse can lead to a snowball effect,” said attorney David Matthews. “When high-profile predators like Bill Cosby and Harvey Weinstein were charged, hundreds of previously silent women and men came forward to share their stories, too. I think you’re going to see something similar with these sex abuse cases.  And not just in the Catholic church. In the Boy Scouts, private schools, public schools, in hospitals with predatory physicians or employees. We’re going to see the dam break again, and it needs to. This kind of unspeakable abuse needs to be brought into the open, to help cleanse our public and private institutions, our whole society.”

On the other side of this law change to aid sex abuse victims, California School Boards Association spokesman Troy Flint claimed that California’s new law is “an existential threat to the viability of  many school districts.”

Mr. Flint said the new law opens up another generation to compensation.

“It’s going to be very difficult for schools to determine what happened in a case 40 years ago,” said Mr. Flint. “Witnesses may have moved or passed away, evidence may be gone. (In many cases they will not be able to mount a credible defense.”

Mr. Flint added, “Districts will likely be forced to settle, and the insurance companies have already signaled that either the premiums are going to become prohibitive, or they will withdraw from this segment of the market.”

California Catholic Church Response

The California Catholic Conference declined comment, though executive director Andrew Rivas called child sexual abuse by priests “a legacy of shame.”

Mr. Rivas said the church paid more than $1.2 billion to hundreds of victims in 2003, as well as hundreds of millions of dollars afterwards for therapy and other survivors’ services. Six California dioceses in Sept. 2019 started a private independent compensation program for child victims.

Despite such sporadic progress through the years, most childhood sex abuse victims remain painfully silent, and the actual number of sex abuse crimes goes wildly unreported.

Now, just as the “Me, too” movement brought more sex abuse crimes to the fore and more abusers to justice, hopefully the new law changes in California and elsewhere will help give survivors of sexual abuse an added boost of courage to tell their stories and seek justice in the courts.

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California Law Change helps Sex Abuse Survivors

(November 7, 2019) Survivors of childhood sexual abuse in California no longer need to suffer in silence. They can finally have their voices heard. Governor Gavin Newsom signed Assembly Bill 218 into law October 13, 2019. It goes into effect on January 1, 2020.

No Age Limit for Sex Abuse Survivors (for Limited Period)

The new law provides a three-year window for survivors to file a lawsuit, regardless of when the abuse occurred, and regardless of the survivor’s current age. The law also revises the current statute of limitations for child sex abuse claims.

The State of California previously allowed victims to file childhood sex abuse claims only if those survivors were under the age of 26 years old. AB 218 extends that previous limitations period to age 40 and provides a five year “discovery rule” provisions for a period after the survivor draws a connection between the abuse and current psychological injuries. AB 218 holds that whatever comes later applies.

Additionally, AB 218 provides a three (3) year statutory “look-back window” for currently barred claims.  In other words, this window would allow any claims of childhood sexual abuse, regardless of their current SOL, to be filed within three years from the effective date of the statute.  Victims over age 40 have additional, specific requirements, but are still eligible to be included in this look back window. Therefore, beginning on January 1, 2020, every victim of childhood sexual abuse, regardless of age, has the potential pursue a claim.

Courts will also be able to triple the damages awarded to a victim if it is found that the authorities involved attempted a cover-up.

Many victims of sexual abuse do not realize the extent of their abuse or even acknowledge their experience until many decades after the abuse occurred; therefore, AB 218 gives survivors a chance to pursue a civil action claim  even for those who may have previously thought their chance at justice had long since passed.

The Bill’s Sponsor, Lorena Gonzalez

Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego) authored the bill. When it passed, she tweeted: “I just can’t even stop crying. This is so unbelievable.”

Ms. Gonzalez had introduced a similar bill last year, but then-Gov. Jerry Brown slammed the door on survivors. He infamously said at the time:  “There comes a time when an individual or organization should be secure in the reasonable expectation that past acts are indeed in the past and not subject to further lawsuits.”

Now it is sexual abuse survivors who have a chance to be, in Mr. Brown’s own words, “secure” – secure in the knowledge that their chance at justice has finally come.  Better late than never for all long-suffering survivors of childhood sexual abuse.

Groups that Opposed the Bill

Several groups, including the California Association of Joint Powers Authorities and the Schools Excess Liability Fund (SELF), opposed the bill. They argued that it would put “every public agency in the position of having to defend itself against decades-old claims when witnesses may be scarce, memories may have faded, or there has been a turnover in staff.”

Blame Attorneys Card

Many of those groups opposing survivor’s rights played the ever-popular “blame the attorneys” card.

“This will surely result in funding intended to educate students and serve communities to instead be spent on increased legal costs, including payments to attorneys, whether or not the claim is valid,” read call to action letter published by SELF earlier this year.

SELF and other naysayers ignore the fact that virtually all plaintiffs’ attorneys who represent sexual abuse victims do so on a contingency fee basis. That means that those survivors’ attorneys will only file a case if there is sufficient evidence to support one. To file a weak or “frivolous” case risks their losing their reputations as well as their livelihoods, because plaintiffs’ attorneys working on contingency fees must pay to pursue any litigation they feel worth pursuing.

USC Sex Abuse Victims also Acknowledged

Earlier in October 2019, Gov. Newsom also approved Assembly Bill 1510. That bill gives victims who allege sexual abuse by former USC campus gynecologist George Tyndall an extra year to file lawsuits. Nearly 400 women have made allegations against Tyndall during this 27 years at the university, according to a yearlong Los Angeles Times investigation.

The governor said, “Of all the bills I have carried, I’ve never had the consistent, heart-wrenching involvement from interested Californians as I have with #AB218, our bill to extend the statute of limitations for childhood sexual abuse.”

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Zantac Recall Cancer Scare

(Nov. 5, 2019) Zantac was recalled from store shelves by Walgreens, Rite Aid, and CVS  last month over a cancer scare. Wal-Mart later joined in the recall, and Novartis also halted global distribution of its ranitidine drugs which are in the same class as Zantac.

The nation’s largest drug store chains pulled the popular heartburn medication from their shelves after the Food and Drug Administration said that it had detected low levels of a cancer-causing chemical in samples taken of the drug. However, there’s more to the Zantac story than what the FDA has so far revealed.

Related: FDA says NDMA found in Zantac

FDA re: Zantac and NDMA

Though the FDA said as recently as Nov. 1, 2019 that the levels of NDMA (N-Nitrosodimethylamine) it has found in Zantac are not any higher than what one would find in grilled or smoked meats, the agency has thus far avoided a deeper discussion of how Zantac can become a potentially dangerous carcinogen.

The FDA web site stated on Nov. 1: “FDA has determined that the levels of NDMA in ranitidine and nizatidine [Zantac’s active ingredients] are similar to the levels you would expect to be exposed to if you ate common foods like grilled or smoked meats.”

Reuters, however, reported last month that the FDA said it found “unacceptable levels” of a cancer-causing impurity in the popular heartburn drug Zantac and its generic versions known chemically as ranitidine.

U.S. and European health regulators revealed last month that they were reviewing the safety of ranitidine after the online pharmacy Valisure flagged the impurities to regulators. Canada’s health authorities have asked the drug’s makers to halt distribution.

FDA testing vs. Valisure Testing

The FDA reportedly checked over-the-counter drugs using a low-heat method of testing. FDA said it found much lower levels of the impurity – N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA) – than were discovered with a higher temperature test used by Valisure.

NDMA had previously been found in some blood pressure meds such as Valsartan, a branded name from a class of drugs known as angiotensin II receptor blockers, or ARBs. Those potentially cancer-causing impurities are thought to have been introduced by recent changes in the drugs’ manufacturing process.

The FDA said Valisure’s higher temperature testing method generated very high levels of NDMA from the ranitidine drugs; the FDA claimed that method, which Valisure had used for testing ARBs, was not suitable for ranitidine.

Valisure said last month that it also suspects the high temperature method resulted in findings of higher NDMA levels. It said that it did not find NDMA in a body-temperature test of ranitidine it conducted.

Nevertheless, a Valisure analysis  conducted in conditions similar to the human stomach generated more than 300,000 nanograms of NDMA. That number is significantly above acceptable levels set by the FDA, according to a Valisure company spokesman.

Valisure CEO David Light said that analysis shows that even if the pills are not contaminated, the drug is likely to form the impurity in patients’ stomachs after it is ingested.

The FDA has since asked ranitidine makers to conduct their own testing to assess levels of the impurity and to send samples of their products for testing by the agency. FDA will assess oral ranitidine medicines and has begun testing samples of other heartburn treatments such as proton-pump inhibitors as part of the investigation.

 

What’s the Problem with Zantac?

If the FDA’s somewhat tepid announcement about low levels of NDMA were all there were to the story of Zantac, then why would Walgreens, Rite Aid, CVS, and Wal-Mart pull it so quickly from their shelves?

The FDA’s Zantac NDMA posting on its web site Nov. 1, 2019 leads with this legend:

“FDA continues to investigate the presence of the N-Nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA) impurity in ranitidine and is now aware of NDMA in nizatidine, which is chemically similar to ranitidine. Both medicines are H2 blockers which decrease the amount of acid in the stomach. FDA has identified NDMA in ranitidine and nizatidine active pharmaceutical ingredient (API) and finished drugs. “

But the agency only concluded by comparing the amount of NDMA in Zantac with that found in grilled or smoked meat. That sounds pretty innocuous. But it is also misleading. Comparing the NDMA-related Zantac recall with that of Valsartan for NDMA contamination is instructive to show why.

Zantac vs. Valsartan

Valsartan, by contrast with Zantac, was contaminated with much higher levels of NDMA, which were produced in its manufacturing process. Zantac, on the other hand, has been found to produce dangerous levels of NDMA after the drug is ingested. The NDMA levels in Zantac have been found to spike and turn cancerous due to the reaction of the chemical after it enters the body and begins reacting to the body’s digestive system, beginning with saliva.

Is the FDA AWOL concerning Zantac?

The FDA has so far looked at Zantac pills mostly in a vacuum, and determined that they contain low levels of NDMA that don’t appear to be a cancer threat.  The problem with that approach is that the NDMA levels in the pills themselves are not what cause the problem with Zantac. The problem with Zantac is that its active molecule – ranitidine and nizatidine – breaks down inside the human body. When a med like Zantac combines with nitrites in the stomach, hundreds of thousands of nanograms break apart in the stomach. Or, our own DDH enzyme in our kidneys or other organs can also shed off millions of nanograms of NDMA after being exposed to Zantac.

Zantac Risks

Zantac is not thought to cause lasting damage upon one or two uses. It is thought to cause damage over a period of time, perhaps over several months of use.  In addition, the active ingredients in Zantac are thought to have a  short life for bio-accumulation.

Stay tuned for more. We will update this ongoing story as it develops.

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Philly Jury hits Vein Filter Co. with $34M Judgment

(October 28, 2019) — A Philadelphia jury returned a $33.7 million verdict today after agreeing Rex Medical LP had defectively designed a blood clot-catching vein filter. The medical device perforated a major blood vessel and became permanently lodged inside a woman’s body.

Georgia resident Tracy Reed-Brown’s attorneys – Tim Goss and David Matthews – argued that defects in Rex’s “Option” filter, designed to be removable, made the filter in her case virtually impossible to remove. In fact, they alleged, the device’s design led to perforation of her inferior vena cava, as well as the puncturing of her pancreas, aorta, and renal vein.

$30.3 Million in Punitive Damages

Law360 writer Matt Fair reported that the verdict included $30.3 million in punitive damages, which followed a $3.4 million judgment the jury awarded for medical expenses and pain and suffering.

The case against Rex Medical is the first to go to trial as part of a mass tort program, as opposed to a class action case which pre-supposes that all plaintiffs have similar injuries and are part of a single “class.” A mass tort case, by contrast, weighs each claim according to the merits of the individual claimant. The mass tort program in Philadelphia for Rex cases is designed to consolidate nearly 800 lawsuits filed over Rex’s Option filters.

Surgeons in September 2010 placed an Option filter in Ms. Reed-Brown’s inferior vena cava. The vena cava is a large vein that carries blood from the lower part of the body to the heart. These filters are alleged – by Rex, Bard, Cook Medical, and other IVC filter makers – to help prevent pulmonary embolisms from blood clots traveling into the lungs. The plaintiff’s attorneys in this trial, however, questioned the manufacturers’ claims of efficacy of the filters in general, and the Rex Option filter in particular.

In 2016, Ms. Reed-Brown ended up back in the hospital. Doctors there discovered the device had perforated her IVC, as well as damaged other nearby organs. According to her attorneys, surgeons carried out a three-hour procedure in January 2017 in a vain attempt remove the device.

David Matthews, an David P. Matthewsattorney with Matthews & Associates representing Ms. Reed-Brown, told jurors during closing arguments on Friday that the device remained a clear and present danger to his client’s health as long as it remained in her body.

“If she leaves it in, the organs may fail,” said Mr. Matthews. “She may be injured, and it may kill her.”

Rex Defense Rebuttal

The defense, meanwhile, attempted to blame Ms. Reed-Brown’s complications on the surgeons who they said had failed to implant the device properly. The company also argued that Ms. Reed-Brown had never received any follow-up care or monitoring after she received the implant.

Ms. Reed-Brown’s attorneys said that blaming implanting physicians was a common theme for Rex. They presented email evidence that the company’s co-founder, James McGuckin, had derided at least one surgeon participating in a clinical trial as a “pussy” after that surgeon failed to apply the force which Mr. McGuckin said was needed to pull out the device from a patient.

Punitive Damages Argument

Tim Goss, an attorney with Freese & Goss PLLC representing Ms. Reed-Brown, tagged Mr. McGuckin as the embodiment of Rex’s culture during arguments over punitive damages on Monday afternoon.

Law360 reported that Mr. Goss also pointed to evidence his side had shown that “Rex had worked to convince doctors participating in clinical trials to withdraw initial opinions that complications their patients experienced after receiving the devices were not a result of defects.”

After Rex helped participating doctors alter their opinions in order to help the company change the results of the clinical trial, Rex was able to achieve the Food and Drug Administration’s 510k clearance to begin selling the Option filter in June 2009.

Rex later sold the product line to Argon Medical Devices Inc. in January 2016 for $160 million.

“This never should’ve happened, the company cheated its way through a broken process to get $160 million they didn’t deserve,” Mr. Goss told the jury on Monday.

An attorney representing Rex asked the jury to distinguish between the company and its co-founder.

“Rex is not Dr. McGuckin,” said Walter Swayze, an attorney with Lewis Brisbois Bisgaard & Smith LLP. “These are hardworking people, just like all of us, and to suggest that the most extreme remedy available under civil law should be exercised with a heavy hand is not something that Rex wants to stand here and agree with.”

Mr. Swayze added that, as of the end of the last calendar year, Rex’s net worth was nearly $7 million in the red.

Juror Ejected

Deliberations had started Friday, Oct. 25, after nearly two-and-a-half weeks of testimony, but the panel was forced to start the process over again on Monday after a juror was dismissed by Judge Michael Erdos. The judge had been shown evidence that the juror had posted comments about the case on Facebook over the weekend, something which the jurors had been warned about more than once, and something which all jurors are routinely warned about in any civil (or criminal) case.

The verdict is the fourth win for plaintiffs nationally in seven trials related to IVC filters sold by three different medical device companies – Cook Medical, Bard, and Rex.

Cook Medical IVC Filter Cases

Juries in cases against Cook Medical Inc. returned verdicts of $1.4 million and $3 million, respectively, in trials in Houston and as part of a federal multidistrict litigation program in Indianapolis.

A third case against Cook in Indianapolis – a defense pick in which the plaintiff had had an IVC filter successfully removed – resulted in a verdict for the company.

Bard IVC Filter Cases

Three IVC filter cases have been tried against Bard as part of a federal multidistrict litigation program in Arizona. The first case, which began in April 2018, resulted in a $3.6 million award against Bard, before juries returned defense verdicts in two later trials.

Ms. Reed-Brown is represented by Rosemary Pinto of Feldman & Pinto, David Matthews and Mark Chavez of Matthews & Associates, and Tim Goss, Peter de la Cerda, Kevin Edwards and Yvette Diaz of Freese and Goss PLLC.

Rex Medical is represented by Walter Swayze and Megan Grossman of Lewis Brisbois Bisgaard & Smith LLP.

The case is Tracy Reed-Brown v. Rex Medical LP et al., case number 170300241, in the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania.

RELATED

Rex Medical Ignored Blood Filter Defects, Jury told

IVC Filter Lawsuit | Lawyer

IVC Filters overused, unproven

•  Cook Medical loses %1.2 Million IVC Filter Verdict

•  New Study Questions IVC Filters

•  IVC Filters Need Randomized Control Trials

•  Philly Jury hits Vein Filter Co. with $34M Judgment

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Vaping injures 147 Texans

(Oct. 28, 2019) Vaping has injured 147 Texans, so far, according to the Department of Social and Health Services. DSHS has identified 147 Texas cases of people who suffered severe lung disease symptoms after vaping. At least one person has died. Texas state health officials continue to gather information about 17 other possible vaping injury cases. Nine in ten injured people report vaping THC or marijuana, sometimes with other substances. Nearly all of the injured have required hospitalization. Many have needed intensive care.

Vaping Injuries in 48 States, Vaping Stats

Texas is one of 48 states to report vaping injuries. Vaping-related injuries have been reported in people 13 to 75 years old. The median age of injured an injured vaper is 22. Roughly one-quarter of the Texans affected are minors, with three-quarters being male.

E-Cigarette kills Texas Man

In a related case, an e-cigarette killed a Texas man earlier this year. A 24-year-old Texan died after a brand new vaping device exploded in his face. The Tarrant County medical examiner’s office confirmed the cause of death.

William Brown of Fort Worth had just left a vaporizing store in Keller. His grandmother told a local reporter that William had just bought the device and was using it for the first time in her car. After the device exploded, she said her grandson crawled toward the back of the car, collapsed on the pavement, and died in hospital two days later.

Related: Texas DSHS: E-Cigarette Epidemic

Symptoms of Vaping Injury

Respiratory symptoms include difficulty breathing or shortness of breath, and coughing. Some vapers have also experienced nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. DSHS health officials say medical personnel should ask patients with these symptoms about a history of vaping, gather as much information as possible about suspected cases, and report them to DSHS.

Nearly 1500 Cases Reported

More than 1,479 cases have been reported across the U.S. DSHS is working with the CDC and FDA, as well as other states, to gather evidence about what the cases have in common, in hopes of determining a cause.

DSHS Vaping Recommendations

DSHS now cautions that people should consider not using e-cigarettes. Those who do vape and experience symptoms are urged to report them and promptly seek medical help. Youth, young adults, and pregnant women are urged not to vape at all. DSHS also urges anyone who does not currently use tobacco products to start vaping.

Harris County Vaping Injuries

Harris County Public Health has three confirmed or probable individuals with vaping-related lung illnesses.

Vaping-Associated Severe Lung Disease in Texas

Public Health Region Number of Cases
1 (Panhandle) 0
2/3 (North Texas) 48
4/5N (East Texas) 7
6/5S (Southeast Texas) 21
7 (Central Texas) 6
8 (South Texas) 2
9/10 (West Texas) 2
11 (Rio Grande Valley) 7
Not yet determined 2

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Bayer’s Home Country plans Glyphosate Ban

(Oct. 22, 2019) Bayer – which bought Monsanto last year for $66 billion – now faces a ban in its home country on Monsanto’s best-selling herbicide, Roundup. The government of Germany announced last month that it will begin to phase out allowed uses of glyphosate, the only listed active ingredient in Roundup.

Related: Monsanto Roundup Lawsuit | Attorney

Under Germany’s new plan, all glyphosate use will be banned by the end of 2023. That is when the product’s European license expires. Europe accounts for just ten percent of Roundup sales, so the ban is not likely to significantly affect Bayer’s stock market prices, which have suffered significantly since three outsized verdicts were delivered in the last year against Monsanto. Three juries have unanimously ruled that Roundup has a propensity to cause those exposed to it non-Hodgkin lymphoma and other types of leukemia. The German ban nevertheless represents at least a significant symbolic blow against Bayer. In addition to three huge losses in three Roundup trials so far, Bayer faces more than 18,400 Roundup lawsuits in the U.S. alone.

Related: Austria, Germany’s neighbor, has completely banned Roundup.

Bayer’s Response and some of its Defenders

In defense of glyphosate, the head of Bayer Crop Sciences, Liam Condon, issued this press statement: “We disagree with the German government’s decision to ban glyphosate by the end of 2023. The ruling ignores decades of scientific judgment from independent regulatory agencies around the world that glyphosate is safe when used properly.”

That response stays directly on point with Monsanto lawyers’ defense of Roundup and glyphosate in all three trials which have resulted not only in straight-up losses, but in large punitive damages against the company.

As with the EPA in the U.S., Bayer Crop Sciences has an ally in VCI, the European chemical association, which functions in somewhat similar fashion to the U.S. EPA. The organization’s managing director, Utz Tillmann, called German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government’s decision “premature,” because it came before a ruling by the European Union. The EU does not allow its members to make unilateral decisions; hence the British people’s decision to vote in favor of Brexit, a plan to leave the EU and re-establish their country’s sovereign independence. Ms. Tillman says that Germany’s decision to ban glyphosate represents “a massive loss of certainty for planning. She added that “Business must be able to count on reliable conditions.”

A disinterested observer might fairly ask – and it is difficult to be disinterested when glyphosate has been found virtually everywhere – is “planning” more important than the health of people exposed to glyphosate? Is “business” more important than people’s health?

Most pointedly, Germany’s proposed ban on glyphosate is yet one more sign of increasing opposition to the toxic chemical among Europeans. The E.U. may respond by deciding not to renew its license when the body votes on the issue in three more years. Austria’s total ban and Germany’s phase-out of glyphosate join a growing chorus against the chemical. Several local city governments have taken action to stop the use of glyphosate. (In the U.S., New York City and other municipalities are considering glyphosate bans.) In Berlin at a press conference, Germany’s Minister of the Environment, Svenja Schulze, said, “I don’t expect that there will be a majority anywhere in the E.U. for glyphosate anywhere in the E.U.”

Germany’s plan, like New York City’s proposed ban, would begin by prohibiting the use of glyphosate in public parks and gardens, and impose restrictions on agricultural use.

The stock market notes that Bayer’s takeover of Monsanto may prove to be the worst business decision in recent history. Bayer today is worth much less than the price it paid for Monsanto. Bayer shares have fallen in value by 30 percent since the takeover just over a year ago. Rumors last month said Bayer was considering an $8 billion settlement, but those rumors proved false. Some market analysts have calculated Bayer’s glyphosate liability to be as high as $27.7 billion, an enormous sum considering that Bayer paid $66 billion for Monsanto last year.

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Monsanto hides behind Bayer Name

(Oct. 15, 2019) Most people have woken up to the fact that Monsanto’s claim to want to feed the world is balderdash. In fact, Monsanto has become so hated in the world that its new owner, Bayer, has moved to completely phase out the mention of its name. Bayer thinks it can hide the Monsanto name under its own. But the immediate problem with that transparent PR play is that Bayer’s history is at least as sordid as Monsanto’s. The move would be laughable if it weren’t so offensive. Bayer itself is nothing if not a wolf in wolf’s clothing.

Related: Bayer’s Monsanto faces some 18,000 Roundup lawsuits.

To counter terrible truths, Monsanto has, for decades, attacked critics of its poison practices while hoodwinking customers about the safety of its products.

  • Josephine Irvine-Groves: “Researchers who have studied these problems [of Monsanto’s poison practices] have had their grants removed, their families threatened, their reputations ruined, and worse….see Dr. Pusztai et al.” (The Seeds of Deception proves this statement. See one short review.)
  • Sabrina Walkosz: “Farmers are falling ill and dying here in central Illinois… Neurodegenerative diseases and cancers are what I see as a hospice nurse. So tragic for them and their families, as they were told all along these chemicals were safe to use!”
  • Carey Gilliam: “I’m a journalist: Monsanto built a step-by-step strategy to destroy my reputation.”

Monsanto Makeover underway

To counter these terrible truths, Monsanto needs a complete makeover and knows it. Revising its identity includes Bayer’s attempt to bury the Monsanto name to help conceal the latter’s horrible history. Monsanto has used well-paid shills in the past in an attempt to alter its image, but the facts on the ground make that task difficult, despite Monsanto’s deep pockets controlling media coverage of glyphosate as well as the mis-named U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Monsanto’s Poison Legacy

Monsanto has produced death and destruction worldwide for decades. Monsanto created cancer-causing bovine growth hormone (rBGH); the birth defect defoliant Agent Orange; cancer-causing polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs); and, of course, its biggest cash cow: cancer-causing Roundup. Monsanto-style farming practices, the awful monoculture Monsanto promotes, have led to nutrient-starved fields, superweeds, water shortages, millions more gallons of herbicide and pesticide poisons, and hundreds of thousands of farmer suicides.

Monsanto Milk: Got Cancer?

The very name of Monsanto conjures nightmares that have become reality for much of the world. The company has long “worked” to poison the world and all its living things, for a handsome profit. Monsanto products have killed pollinator bees, and killed or sickened farmers, landscapers, and homeowners – according to thousands of lawsuit petitions – who have unwittingly poisoned themselves with “herbicides” like Roundup (safe enough to drink, Monsanto has said).

Any PR agency in the world charged with a Monsanto makeover would first tell the company it would be wise to disappear its name and hope people will forget what it stands for, forget what it has done to the earth, to wildlife, to people. But how can a company with a terrible track record just change its name and disappear? How can it hide its litany of horrors?

Bayer steeped in Death and Destruction

Enter Bayer, a company with a history so steeped in death and destruction that even Monsanto’s crimes against nature pale in comparison. Bayer acquired Monsanto last year in a chemical company marriage made in hell. These are companies that speak the same poison language.

Like Monsanto, the name Bayer is also synonymous with death and destruction on a horrific scale. In WWI, Bayer’s predecessor IG Farben, helped develop chlorine (or Mustard) gas that killed or maimed thousands of Americans and our allies. The company pushed aggressively for the use of toxic nerve agents on the front. More gas meant more profits.

Poison Gas Profits

And just as Monsanto has merged with Bayer now, Bayer merged with the war criminal IG Farben during WWI. By WWII, that toxic conglomerate made the Zyklon B gas used to kill millions of people, including Jews, gypsies, homosexuals, political prisoners, and others whom Hitler’s minions considered “undesirables.”

Related: GM Watch: Bayer – A History

From GMWatch.org:

The extent of IG Farben and Bayer’s crimes have been well documented. GMWatch.org helps bring the pain back to these criminal purveyors of unpardonable evil. IG Farben executives were brought to the docks at Nuremberg to face trial for their war crimes:

“[C]ompanies like Bayer (were) owned, and directed at the highest level, by the very same people as IG Farben. Those who had helped Hitler to power and provided the technical know-how for his wars of aggression and the Holocaust, were back in control of the industry.

The Bayer executive Fritz ter Meer typifies the bounce back. An executive of IG for many years, the most senior scientist on its supervisory board and the chairman of its technical committee, he had become a Nazi Party member in 1937 and was the executive responsible for the construction of the IG Farben factory in Auschwitz, in which tens of thousands of slave labourers met their deaths. (The) Nuremberg War Crimes Tribunal found him guilty of plunder, slavery and mass murder. (He) was already out of prison by 1952. By 1956 he had become the chairman of the supervisory board of Bayer, a post he held until 1964. Even today Bayer continues to honour this convicted mass murderer. (For) decades Bayer refused to pay compensation to its surviving slave labourers. Only after international protests did it eventually agree to pay damages – more than 50 years after the end of the war.”

If you think Bayer has changed today, read Tainted Bayer Blood Killed Thousands

Monsanto marries Bayer

Today, Bayer makes neonicotinoids which have been implicated by world-renowned scientists in the mass die-offs of our pollinator bees. The total disappearance of those bees may well lead to mass die-offs of millions of us. Einstein said the human race would not last four years if all our pollinators die. With Bayer’s, Monsanto’s and other chemical companies’ “expert help,” more than half the bees are already dead, while food grows more scarce and the price of healthy organic food rises in proportion to the scarcity of non-poisoned foods. More and more people have come to realize that eating organic food sans pesticide may be the only way to remain reasonably healthy in a world poisoned by Bayer and Monsanto. Thankfully, more and more people are figuring out the whole dirty game.

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Rex Medical ignored Blood Filter Defects, Jury Told

(October 11, 2019) – Rex Medical sold an inferior vena cava filter (IVCF) – designed to allegedly stop blood clots from reaching the heart – despite a study showing the product was prone to failure. That’s what a jury heard during opening arguments Oct. 8 in a trial over injuries suffered by a woman implanted with one of the devices.

Attorney David Matthews of Matthews & Associates represents Tracy Reed-Brown in the first case to go to trial against Rex Medical over its Option IVC filter. Mr. Matthews told Philadelphia jurors that Rex Medical LP had pushed back against doctors who reported problems with the filter. Rex told doctors, he said, to rethink whether their patients’ complications during a clinical trial really stemmed from problems with the device.

“They were heavy-handed with the doctors and went and convinced them they didn’t have a problem, and that it was actually a clinical success,” said Mr. Matthews. It was only after a number of doctors withdrew their criticism of the devices, he said, that the FDA agreed to clear the filters for sale via the agency’s 510k process.

Mr. Matthews told jurors that instead of pressing forward with its bid for the FDA’s blessing, Rex should have seen the light in the development of the Option filter.

“They should have stopped when they flunked that test and had to change people’s opinions,” he said.

The trial is the first in Philadelphia over the controversial vein filters. They have been the subject of several multidistrict litigation programs and mass tort trials across the country. The trial is also the first of its kind in which the plaintiff’s filter remains inside her body.

IVC Filter Injuries from “Removable” Filter

Ms. Reed-Brown was first implanted with a “removable” Option filter in September 2010 after ‘ using blood thinning meds for nearly ten years to help fight her high risk of blood clots. Six years after she received the IVC filter implant, she returned to the hospital. Doctors soon discovered that the device had perforated the vein and was poking through into her pancreas, aorta, and renal vein.

“It perforated and punctured that vein over time and is now sticking into all of the organs around that vein,” said Mr. Matthews.

“This device was supposed to be a removable device, but now it’s stuck inside of Tracy Reed-Brown. They can’t get it out,” he said. “Not only is it stuck, it’s penetrating all of her organs, and each one of those organ penetrations is a medical disaster.”

A three-and-a-half-hour surgery she underwent in January 2017 to try and remove the device proved unsuccessful.

Rex Defense Responds

An attorney for Rex Medical, Pete Swayze, countered that Ms. Reed-Brown was a perfect candidate to receive a filter. He said the device was necessary to prevent her from experiencing a potentially fatal embolism.

“In some cases people only need blood thinners, but in some cases they need something else, and the evidence will clearly show that medication was not enough for Ms. Reed-Brown,” said Mr. Swayze. “It is undisputed in this case that Ms. Reed-Brown was an appropriate candidate for an IVC filter.”

Rex Medical Blames Doctor
Mr. Swayze said that any complications Ms. Reed-Brown experienced were a result of a faulty initial implantation procedure. He claimed the device had been placed just below the suggested implantation site.

He also said that Rex recommended IVC-implant patients be monitored for potential complications, but Ms. Reed-Brown received no follow-up care after her September 2010 implantation.

“It appears from the records,” he said, “that not one doctor and not one health care professional was following the status of her filter.”

Thousands of IVC Filter Cases

While Mr. Reed-Brown’s is the first case against Rex to go to trial, it is far from the first over the filters, and is only one of thousands of cases filed in state and federal courts.

Cases over devices manufactured by Cook Medical have played out as part of a multi-district litigation court (MDL) program in federal court in Indiana, while cases over C.R. Bard filters have been consolidated into another MDL in federal court in Arizona.

Meanwhile, cases over devices made by Cardinal Health Inc. unit Cordis have been consolidated into a mass tort program in California state court.

Six trials against Cook and C.R. Bard have resulted in inconsistent results so far. IVC filter makers have won two of the cases in trials – one was tossed by a judge on a summary judgment — and lost three others.

Cook’s record is 1-1 in Indiana. A jury ordered Cook to pay $3 million to a plaintiff in one case. In the other case, which Cook won, the IVC filter had been successfully removed and the plaintiff appeared to be healthy.

In a state course case against Cook in Texas in May 2018, a Houston jury ordered Cook to pay a plaintiff $1.2 million. In that case, a Houston-area fireman had an IVC filter successfully removed, but in a most obtrusive fashion. The filter is designed and promoted to slip out with a minimal incision, but the fireman’s filter was stuck and required a full open-chest procedure.

Bard has faced three trials so far as part of the federal multi-district litigation court set up in Arizona.  Bard lost a $4 million verdict in April 2018, and then prevailed in two subsequent defense verdicts.

Ms. Reed-Brown is represented by and David Matthews of Matthews & Associates; Tim Goss of Freese & Goss; Rosemary Pinto of Feldman & Pinto.

Rex Medical is represented by Walter “Pete” Swayze and Megan Grossman of Lewis Brisbois Bisgaard & Smith LLP.

Rex Medical ignored IVC Filter Defects, Jury Told

The case is Tracy Reed-Brown v. Rex Medical LP et al., case number 170300241, in the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania.

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Final Monsanto Roundup Trial of 2019 delayed

(October 8, 2019) – Monsanto has not won a single Roundup trial, but it has succeeded in delaying the final trial that was scheduled for 2019. A St. Louis judge ruled this week that the final Monsanto Roundup trial of 2019 will be indefinitely delayed.  It was to have been the last trial in 2019 against Monsanto over the alleged cancer-causing properties of its weed killer Roundup. The trial had been scheduled to start next week.

St. Louis Circuit Court Judge Michael Mullen announced Oct. 4 that the Oct. 15 Roundup trial brought by plaintiff Walter Winston would be delayed. Like thousands of other plaintiffs in federal and California multidistrict litigation, Mr. Winston claims Roundup can cause non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and other serious injuries. Further details of Mr.Winston’s claims were not at hand.

The court said: “The parties … have requested that the court take the trial … off calendar.” The court then set a status conference for February 2020.

The postponement means the next Roundup trial will likely take place in January 2020 in California’s Lake County, in a case brought by a minor with non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

Plaintiffs 3-0 in Roundup Trials

The Roundup litigation has, so far, seen three enormous verdicts in three trials. Judges reduced the amounts awarded by each of three juries ( some would say “arbitrarily reduced” them) , citing various reasons, but the verdicts have nonetheless stood.  In July 2019, a California state judge cut a couple’s earlier $2 billion jury verdict award to $86.7 million. In that same month, a California federal judge reduced an $80 million verdict to $25 million in the second Roundup lawsuit to go to trial. And then in the first trial over Roundup’s links to cancer, a San Francisco jury’s $289 million verdict from August 2018 was reduced by a judge to $78 million.

Bayer, which purchased Monsanto last summer shortly before the first huge verdict hit the company, said it continues to focus on appeals in the three cases Monsanto lost. Those legal efforts include trying to hide behind the fig leaf of the EPA’s duplicitous approval of glyphosate. The approval was duplicitous because some agency scientists rejected approval of the weed killer, citing the same cancer concerns Monsanto now faces in more than 13,000 Roundup lawsuits. Years later, the EPA inexplicably changed course, with at least two of the original EPA scientist objectors refusing to sign off on Roundup.

Related: One EPA Scientist calls out another for Monsanto support

Monsanto Settlement a Fiction?

While Monsanto lawyers work behind the scenes to overturn jury verdicts with dubious legal arguments about captured regulatory agencies like the EPA, attorney Kenneth Feinberg  — who brokered settlements for victims in GM recall litigation and for victims of the heinous Sept. 1, 2001 Black Op —  is reportedly working to broker a settlement. However, in early August 2019, Mr. Feinberg dismissed as “pure fiction” media reports that Bayer was offering billions to end the claims.

Mr. Feinberg was hired in May 2019 to begin settlement talks, but said then that mediation was still in its early stages.

Retailers hit with Roundup Lawsuits

Two retailers, Home Depot and Lowe’s, have also been hit with failure-to-warn class claims over glyphosate, one of the ingredients in the Roundup’s poison cocktail.

IARC: Glyphosate probably Carcinogenic

The Roundup litigation was jump started in 2015 when the International Agency for Research on Cancer, part of the U.N.’s World Health Organization, classified glyphosate  as “probably carcinogenic” to humans. IARC said non-Hodgkin lymphoma was the type of cancer most closely linked with glyphosate.

Final Monanto Roundup Trial of 2019 delayed

The case is Winston et al. v. Monsanto Co., case number 1822-CC00515, in the Circuit Court for the City of St. Louis.

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Vaping Injuries top 1,000 as FDA updates warning

(Oct. 7, 2019) As vaping injuries now top 1,000, with 18 deaths reported, the FDA issued an updated warning last week. The agency has said that most of the 1,080 reported injuries have come from THC-containing vaping products, but some medical professionals estimate that 10-30 percent of the reported injuries have come from people who were not vaping THC. Tetrahydrocannabinol, one of at least 113 cannabinoids identified in cannabis, is believed to be the principal psychoactive ingredient, the one thought to give cannabis users a “high.”

Vaping Injury Symptoms, Diagnosis

Vaping injury symptoms typically include shortness of breath, pain upon deep breathing, and coughing. A Mayo Clinic doctor has said that the lungs of injured vapers look as if they’ve been exposed to mustard gas which poisoned soldiers in WWI. Other medical examiners say the lungs look as if they’ve been exposed to toxic fumes from an industrial accident.

Related: JUUL E-Cigarette Lawsuit

Most Vaping Injuries among Younger People

The average age of the 18 deceased vapers is 49.5 years, said Dr. Henry Niman on the Jeff Rense radio show which aired Oct. 5. The deaths are concentrated in older patients, said Dr. Niman, with the youngest of the 18 fatalities reported as 27, the oldest as 70. The ages of the injured vapers are concentrated at the lower end of the age spectrum. The injured range from teenagers to people in their late 60s, with 67 percent of the injured being 18-35 years old, and 84 percent being under age 35.

While the FDA has reported that deaths are mostly from illicit THC-vaping products, Dr. Niman says that at least two vapers killed in Oregon bought their e-cigarette products at a legal dispensary. (THC is legal in Oregon.) Dr. Niman has also said that vapers have been injured who did not use a THC-containing product.

Injury Increase caused by Intense Heating?

The doctor believes that the alarming uptick in vaping injuries has come as a result of a new JUUL patent issued in 2017. JUUL officials discussed adjusting the temperature of the propylene glycol which is typically what is done to maximize the effects of nicotine. JUUL said that it would be preferable to heat the e-cigarette to 180-190 degrees Celcius (374 degrees Fahrenheit), and to heat the vegetable glycerin or (VG) up to to 280-290 degrees C (554 degrees Fahrenheit).  The new JUUL poduct hit the market at the end of 2017. It quickly became increasingly popular as enormous JUUL marketing campaigns blanketed the country, expertly hooking kids and thousands of unwitting others on nicotine.

Though reported lung injury cases went back to Spring 2019, there was a big jump in cases during June and July this year.  Dr. Niman believes that increase in injuries has something to do with JUUL’s temperature-adjustment changes that began in 2017 with a newl-patented product. Perhaps that incredible heat alone could damage lungs, but there is also the question of unknown ingredients which JUUL will not reveal until it is forced to do so by the FDA or by legal discovery in JUUL e-cigarette lawsuits. Plaintiffs’ attorneys are already beginning to pursue litigation against the company, for causing lung injuries as well as for encouraging chemical addiction.

FDA Chief Warns against THC Vapes

Amid the growing vaping crisis, on Oct. 4 the acting commissioner of the U.S. FDA warned the public to avoid using THC-containing vaping products. Acting FDA Commissioner Norman E. Sharpless said in a statement that the FDA’s updated alert also warns consumers who choose to use vaping products to not modify or add substances such as THC or other oils to products purchased in stores. The agency also cautioned against purchasing any vaping products through illicit channels.

“At this time, the FDA does not have enough data to identify the cause, or causes, of the lung injuries in these cases,” Mr. Sharpless said in the press release. “While no one compound or ingredient has emerged as a singular culprit, we do know that THC is present in most of the samples being tested. Because of this, the agency believes it is prudent to stop using vaping products that contain THC or that have had any substances added to them, including those purchased from retail establishments.”

Mr. Sharpless said those who continue using vaping products should monitor for symptoms and promptly seek medical attention if they have health concerns. He also repeated a prior warning that no children or pregnant women should use any vaping product. Those who experience unexpected tobacco or vaping-related health or product issues should submit detailed reports to the FDA through its online safety reporting portal, he said.

Vaping Injuries top 1,000 as FDA updates warning

Dr. Anne Schuchat, principal deputy director of the CDC, said in an Oct. 3 telephone press conference that the 18 deaths confirmed and reported to the CDC have come from 15 states. More deaths  are under investigation. Dr. Schuchat said vaping injury cases have been reported from 48 states and the Virgin Islands. In addition, 275 cases have been identified since late September 2019, including new patients and updated diagnoses on existing patients.

She also repeated previous agency statements that the FDA has not identified any specific substance or product that is linked to all the cases.

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