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Archive for the category: Class Action
  • Minnesota Bridge Collapse

    The Minnesota Supreme Court ruled last November 2011 that the State of Minnesota could proceed with its claim against Jacobs Engineering Group, Inc., the California firm that designed the Minnesota bridge that collapsed in 2007, killing 13 and injuring 145 others.  The State’s claim against Jacobs Engineering Group (Jacobs) is based on the fact that the bridge was designed by a firm that Jacobs acquired in 1999.  The bridge collapse was found to have been caused by a design error that led to inadequate load capacity. More than 100 lawsuits were filed in 2009 and, pursuant to the Minnesota Tort Claims Act, the State of Minnesota has paid more than $37 million to victims of the bridge collapse.  The State has also sued URS Corporation, the firm hired to inspect the bridge in 2003, and Progressive Contractors Inc., the company who had performed repairs on the bridge.  Both of these companies have also filed claims against Jacobs, the design firm, seeking contribution, indemnity and reimbursement for their liability under a Minnesota law that allows injured victims to make a statutory claim for reimbursement in the event of an accident.  The court dismissed these claims, however, due to a ten-year Statute of Repose, which provides that a company is immune from liability ten years after construction of the bridge.  Since the bridge was built in 1967, liability of Jacobs with respect to the claims of URS Corporation and Progressive Contractors expired in 1977. Despite the fact that the indemnity claims of URS and Progressive Contractors against Jacobs were dismissed, the State of Minnesota’s claims against Jacobs were not dismissed.  The Minnesota Supreme Court ruled that the State’s claims for reimbursement could continue due to a Minnesota statute that retroactively revived the State’s claims despite the expiration of the State of Repose deadline.  Specifically, Minnesota statute 3.7394 allows the state to recover from any responsible third parties any payments made from the emergency relief fund despite any statute to the contrary.  Accordingly, the State is permitted to seek reimbursement for the payments made to victims of the bridge collapse despite the time limitations in the Statute of Repose. Impact of Court’s Decision The Minnesota Supreme Court’s ruling allowing the case to proceed against Jacobs Engineering could have far reaching effects.  Despite a Homeland Security Report issued in April of 2011 revealing that nearly 12 percent of U.S. bridges are structurally deficient and[READ MORE…]

  • BPA Litigation Hits Roadblock

    Litigation pending over BPA in plastic bottles has hit a major roadblock.  Last month a Missouri federal court denied class certification for the plaintiffs’ claims over the use of bisphenol A in baby bottles and sippy chips.  The plaintiffs’ claims were part of multidistrict litigation pending in a federal court in Missouri.  Multidistrict litigation, or MDL, is a federal court procedure whereby civil actions with common issues of fact are combined for purposes of discovery procedures and pre-trial motions. Although the court initially refused to certify three proposed multistate classes in 2011 based on issues regarding choice of law, commonality, and damages, the court granted the plaintiffs an opportunity to show that a class of Missouri-only consumers is appropriate for class certification.  The plaintiffs then filed a motion for class certification of claims brought by Missouri-only plaintiffs against three manufacturers of baby bottles and children’s sippy cups – Handi-Craft Company, Gerber Products Company, and Evenflo Company, Inc. In denying the plaintiffs’ motion for class certification of Missouri-only plaintiffs, the court focused on the plaintiffs’ lack of standing.  A court may not certify a class if the proposed class includes members who lack standing to bring a lawsuit against the respective defendants.  The plaintiffs’ class in this case included individuals who had not suffered an injury, such as those individuals who knew about BPA’s existence and the potential dangers associated with BPA but purchased the products despite possessing this information. The court also denied class certification based on issues of reliance.  For instance, plaintiffs argued that knowledge includes only consumers’ reliance on defendants’ alleged nondisclosure of the dangers associated with BPA.  The court disagreed with plaintiffs’ assessment, however, and explained that the issue of reliance presupposes that the consumer did not know the relevant information.  Since many plaintiffs in this case did possess knowledge regarding the potential dangers of BPA prior to purchasing the products, reliance could not be asserted. Moreover, the court determined that the proposed class included individuals who may not have suffered an injury even if they were unaware of BPA when they purchased the products.  The plaintiffs argued that the class members were injured through the lack of material information prior to making their purchases, but the court held that the consumers were purchasing baby products and not information. In addition, the court found that there were concerns regarding commonality of claims with respect to the proposed[READ MORE…]

  • Johnson & Johnson Recalls 12 Million Bottles of Motrin

    Healthcare and pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson (J&J) recently issued a recall of approximately 12 million bottles of its popular pain reliever, Motrin, due to concerns that the Motrin IB pills may not dissolve and begin working as quickly as intended, resulting in delayed pain relief, as the pills approach their three-year expiration date.  The recall only affects Motrin IB from retailers, and not those in the hands of consumers, since there is no safety risk. The recalled bottles of Motrin were sold in 24 or 30 count packages that were distributed in the United States, Puerto Rico, the Bahamas, Fiji, Belize, St. Lucia and Jamaica.  There are 59 affected lot numbers, all of which are listed on the product’s Web site at http://www.motrin.com.  The affected bottles of Motrin were manufactured between February 2009 and July 2011. J&J’s Prior Recalls J&J has been plagued by safety problems and efficacy concerns with respect to its products for the past several years.  Since September 2009, J&J has recalled a number of prescription and over-the-counter medications, including children’s and adult Tylenol and Motrin, Benadryl, Zyrtec, Rolaids, Simply Sleep pills, Prezista (an HIV medication), Levaquin (an antibiotic) and Topamax (an epilepsy medication).  The manufacturer has also recalled a number of its medical devices, including hip replacement systems, contact lenses and diabetes test strips. As we reported, earlier last year, J&J was ordered to pay $1.8 million to an 82-year-old man from Minnesota who claimed that he was injured by Levaquin, an antibiotic used to treat infections such as pneumonia and chronic bronchitis, as well as sinus, urinary tract, kidney, prostate and skin infections.  Levaquin has been known to cause complications including tendon damage, Achilles tendon rupture, inflammation, Achilles tendonitis, and injury to the rotator cuff, biceps, hand and thumb that may require extensive surgery and could leave the patient incapacitated and facing large medical bills. J&J’s recalls cost the company $900 million in 2010 alone as a result of lost revenue from products pulled from store shelves, factory renovation costs, and legal expenses.  J&J’s Consumer Healthcare factory in Fort Washington, Pa., has been closed since spring 2010 when serious health problems forced the company to undergo a comprehensive renovation and rebuilding of the facility. J&J’s safety and efficacy concerns have sparked the interest of the federal government as well.  The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Congress are both investigating how the company’s[READ MORE…]

  • Spin Master Fined $1.3 Million for Harmful Aqua Dots Toy

    Image via Wikipedia Spin Master, a Canadian toy manufacturer, has agreed to pay $1.3 million to settle claims with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) regarding the import and sale of Aqua Dots, which is a banned hazardous substance.  Aqua Dots are popular colored arts and crafts beads that stick together when sprayed with water to form various designs and shapes. Aqua Dots, imported into the United States in 2007, were recalled in November 2007 after the CPSC received reports of two children falling into comas and becoming hospitalized after ingesting the beads.  Tests have showed that a chemical coating on the toys, when ingested, can metabolize into the drug gamma hydroxybutyrate (GHB), also known as the “date rape” drug.  Children who swallow the beads could fall into a coma, develop respiratory depression, or have seizures. The CPSC alleged that Spin Master knowingly failed to report a defect and hazard associated with Aqua Dots and knowingly imported and sold a banned hazardous substance.  Spin Master allegedly received reports of children becoming ill after ingesting Aqua Dots in mid-October 2007.  Around this time, Spin Master also learned that the toy contained 1.4-butylene glycol (“TMG”), which can metabolize into GHB upon ingestion.  Despite receiving the reports and scientific information, however, Spin Master did not file the necessary reports with the CPSC at that time. It wasn’t until November 5, 2007 when the CPSC notified Spin Master of two reports it had received regarding children ingesting the product and becoming ill that Spin Master announced a voluntary recall of Aqua Dots. Since the 2007 recall, several product liability lawsuits, including class action lawsuits, have been filed.  Despite the fact that Spin Master agreed to the settlement, it denies knowingly violated the law. The Chicago personal injury lawyers at Ankin Law Offices, LLC are committed to child safety and protecting the rights of victims of personal injury and product liability accidents.  If you or a loved one has been injured by Aqua Dots or another children’s product, contact one of our skilled Chicago personal injury attorneys at (800) 442-6546 for a free consultation to discuss a possible product liability claim.   Howard Ankin of Ankin Law Office LLC (www.ankinlaw.com) handles workers’ compensation and personal injury cases. Mr. Ankin can be reached at (312) 346-8780 and howard@ankinlaw.com. ANKIN LAW OFFICE LLC Chicago Workers Compensation | Chicago Personal Injury | Chicago Motor Vehicle Accidents Chicago[READ MORE…]

  • Pfizer Agrees to Pay $14.5 to Settle False Claims Act Lawsuit for Improperly Marketing Detrol

    Pfizer has agreed to pay $14.5 million to settle a lawsuit alleging that it violated the False Claims Act by improperly marketing its prescription drugs Detrol and Detrol LA.  The lawsuit was filed by whistleblowers on behalf of the United States under the False Claims Act, which allows individuals (known as relators) with knowledge of fraud against the federal government to sue on its behalf.  The relators receive a portion of any funds received by the federal government as a result of the lawsuit. The lawsuit had claimed that Pfizer improperly marketed the drugs to men suffering from the signs and symptoms of benign prostate hyperplasia (BPH), which is commonly referred to as an enlarged prostate, despite the fact that Detrol treats detrusor muscle overactivity and does not have any therapeutic effect on males whose symptoms are caused by BPH.  Detrol and Detrol LA are prescription drugs approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of “over active bladder with symptoms of urge incontinence, urgency and frequency.” The settlement resolves the last of a group of 10 whistleblower suits filed against Pfizer since 2003. The other nine lawsuits were settled or dismissed in 2009 when Pfizer agreed to pay $2.3 billion to resolve civil and criminal claims regarding multiple drugs.  Pursuant to that settlement, Pfizer paid $1 billion to resolve False Claims Act allegations that the company had illegally promoted four drugs – Bextra, Geodon, Zyvox, and Lyrica – and had caused false claims to be submitted to government health care programs for uses of the drugs that were not medically accepted and not covered by those programs.  The settlement also resolved allegations that kickbacks were made to health care providers to induce them to prescribe the drugs. The Chicago unsafe pharmaceutical drug attorneys at Ankin Law Offices, LLC represent clients throughout Illinois and the United States. We have significant experience handling class action lawsuits regarding unsafe pharmaceuticals and are familiar with the complex legal issues that these kinds of lawsuits generally involve.   Contact us at (800) 442-6546 for more information on the improper marketing of Detrol or unsafe pharmaceuticals.   Howard Ankin of Ankin Law Office LLC (www.ankinlaw.com) handles workers’ compensation and personal injury cases. Mr. Ankin can be reached at (312) 346-8780 and howard@ankinlaw.com. ANKIN LAW OFFICE LLC Chicago Workers Compensation | Chicago Personal Injury | Chicago Motor Vehicle Accidents Chicago Wrongful Death |[READ MORE…]

  • Reebok Fined for Its Toning Shoes Ad Campaign

    Reebok International has agreed to pay a $25 million fine to settle charges of false advertising stemming from claims that its “toning shoes” provide extra muscle strength to wearers, according to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).   The settlement funds will be used to provide consumer refunds, which will be made available either directly from the FTC or through a court-approved class action lawsuit. “The FTC wants national advertisers to understand that they must exercise some responsibility and ensure that their claims for fitness gear are supported by sound science,” said David Vladeck, head of the FTC’s consumer protection bureau. The suspect Reebok advertisements claim that the toning shoes strengthen hamstrings and calves by up to 11 percent more than regular sneakers, and tone the buttocks by up to 28 percent more, according to the FTC.  Reebok discontinued the ads during the middle of the FTC’s investigation. Ads for toning shoes, which are designed to be slightly unstable, claim that the shoes strengthen muscles by requiring wearers to work harder to maintain stability in unstable shoes. Despite agreeing to pay the fine, Adidas, which owns Reebok, has stated that it disagrees with the FTC’s assessment and stands behind the claims made about its toning shoes. Several other companies advertise toning shoes, including New Balance, Skechers, Ryka, and Avia.  In fact, Skechers acknowledged in an August filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission that ads for its Shape-ups and other toning shoes were under investigation by the FTC. The Reebok advertising claims were made through print, television and Internet advertisements, beginning in early 2009, Reebok made its claims through print, television, and Internet advertisements.  The claims also appeared on shoe boxes and retail store displays.  The shoes touted in the advertisements include Reebok’s EasyTone and RunTone running shoes, which sold for $80 to $100, and Reebok’s EasyTone flip-flops, which retailed for about $60 a pair. Consumers are advised to carefully evaluate advertising claims for fitness gear and exercise equipment.  For more information see, the FTC’s alert How’s that Work-out Working Out?  Tips on Buying Fitness Gear .   Howard Ankin of Ankin Law Office LLC (www.ankinlaw.com) handles workers’ compensation and personal injury cases. Mr. Ankin can be reached at (312) 346-8780 and howard@ankinlaw.com. ANKIN LAW OFFICE LLC Chicago Workers Compensation | Chicago Personal Injury | Chicago Motor Vehicle Accidents Chicago Wrongful Death | Chicago Social Security Disability | Chicago Class Act ion Lawsuits

  • Ford’s Recall of Trucks with Defective Fuel Tank

    The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced on July 29, 2011 that Ford is recalling 1.1 million pickup trucks due to defective fuel tanks.  Reports have indicated that prolonged exposure to road deicing chemicals may cause severe corrosion of the fuel tank straps that secure the tank to the vehicle, allowing the fuel lines to separate from the tank and, in some cases, causing the tank to contact the ground, which poses a fire hazard. Ford will soon begin notifying the owners of vehicles affected by the recall, instructing them to take their vehicles to a Ford or Lincoln dealer where the fuel tank straps will be replaced with straps that have increased corrosion protection.  If replacement straps are not available, the dealer may install a cable support under the strap as an interim repair until a replacement strap is available or install a steel reinforcement over the existing strap as a permanent repair.  The fuel tank strap repair will be performed free of charge. Which Ford Trucks Are Affected By the Recall? The recall involves the following Ford vehicles: Certain Ford F-150s for model years 1997 to 2003 2004 Ford F-150 Heritage Ford F-250 for model years 1997-1999 2003 Lincoln Blackwood vehicles manufactured between June 29, 1995 and August 4, 2004 What Is the Status of Other Ford Vehicle Defects? A circuit court judge in Florida recently set aside the decision of a jury finding that Ford was not liable for damages and injuries caused by the sudden acceleration of its Aerostar van.  Judge Swigert found that Ford’s misconduct had amounted to “a “fundamental error” that had deprived plaintiffs of a fair trial and ordered a new trial on the issues of compensatory and punitive damages.  Judge Swigert’s opinion found “clear and convincing evidence” that Ford had engaged in fraud, misrepresentation and other misconduct that justified setting aside the jury’s verdict in favor of Ford and issuing a new verdict in favor of the Plaintiffs.  For more information on the decision in Stimpson v. Ford, see our recent blog post. Ford also recently recalled more than 26,000 vehicles, as well as service parts shipped to dealers for the affected vehicles, due to a risk that the multi-function switch can become deformed and prevent the turn signal, tail lights, hazard warning flashers and brake lights from activating, which could in turn increase the risk of a collision.  The recall[READ MORE…]

  • 13-Year Old Tobacco Settlement Still the Subject of Disputes

    $7.1 billion Payment Dispute A proposed settlement between big tobacco and the states to resolve a $7.1 billion payment dispute was rejected the states last month.  The deal requires the approval of a “critical mass” of states in order to be finalized, and certain states, including Utah, New Jersey and Missouri, representing more than half of the market share have rejected the deal, thus putting the parties at an impasse. The proposed settlement have allowed large tobacco companies to recoup approximately $2 billion from funds that have been withheld from states or otherwise disputed under the 1998 master settlement agreement, with the states collecting approximately $5.1 billion of the disputed payments.  In exchange for allowing the allowing cash-strapped states to collect several billion dollars of the disputed payments, the 1998 master settlement agreement would be revised with respect to how the states collect fees and taxes from smaller companies that have not joined the 1998 master settlement. The tobacco giants argue that they should not be required to pay on sales from 2003 through 2010, calling into question an amount totaling more than $7.1 billion.   The tobacco conglomerates also argue that they have lost market share because the states have failed to seek payments from smaller tobacco companies that are not party to the 1998 settlement. Those familiar with the matter are growing increasingly doubtful that the parties will reach a finalized settlement agreement.   Profit Reporting Dispute Sales in Mississippi The $7.1 billion dispute between big tobacco and the states isn’t the only tobacco settlement dispute currently playing itself out in the legal system.  On July 25, 2011, a Mississippi judge heard arguments from R.J. Reynolds and the State of Mississippi regarding whether or not the tobacco giant failed to fulfill obligations under the master tobacco settlement when it failed to report profits from the sale of 7.8 billion cigarettes made by one of its subsidiaries to the independent tobacco company Star Tobacco, which sold the cigarettes in Mississippi under the brand names Gunsmoke and Vegas between 1999 and 2002. An attorney for R.J. Reynolds, which manufactures six of the 10 best-selling U.S. cigarette and moist snuff brands and is the second-largest tobacco company in the United States, argued that, because the sales of those cigarettes were not directed at customers’ whose health could be affected, the sales should be exempted from the master settlement agreement. Mississippi Attorney General[READ MORE…]

  • Stimpson v. Ford: Judge Orders New Trial Based on Ford’s Misconduct at Trial

      A circuit court judge in Florida recently set aside a jury verdict in favor of Ford Motor Co., finding that Ford’s misconduct had amounted to “a “fundamental error” that deprived plaintiffs of a fair trial and justified a new trial.  The lawsuit alleged that plaintiffs’ Aerostar van suddenly accelerated during gear engagement and traveled more than 100 feet before hitting a utility pole, causing disabling injuries to plaintiff Peggy Stimpson.  Plaintiffs asserted liability by Ford based on strict liability, negligence and punitive damages for fraudulent concealment of a defect.  Ford denied the allegations and, following a four-week trial, the jury returned a verdict in Ford’s favor. Plaintiffs appealed the decision, arguing requesting that the court vacate the judgment and order a new trial.  At the heart of the plaintiffs’ appeal was whether or not Ford had repeatedly used fraudulent tactics to conceal the truth about risks associated with electromagnetic interference with the cruise control function of vehicle, which has caused numerous injuries and deaths. Judge Swigert’s opinion harshly criticized Ford Motor Co. and found that that there was “clear and convincing evidence” that Ford had engaged in fraud, misrepresentation and other misconduct that justified setting aside the jury’s verdict in favor of Ford and issuing a new verdict in favor of the Plaintiffs.  Specifically, Judge Swigert found that Ford Motor Co. had engaged in the following misconduct: (1)   Ford had destroyed Service Investigation Reports within one year even though they were required by federal law to retain the reports for 5 years and had concealed years of research and evidence dating back to the 1970s that indicated a possible electromagnetic interference problem that could cause sudden acceleration – information which, if disclosed, would have allowed the federal government to become aware of the electronic defects with the cruise control function that can cause sudden acceleration problem sooner. (2)   Ford made false claims regarding its knowledge of the electronic defect and knew that the 1989 National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) report was based on false information. (3)   Despite its request to exclude testimony from an expert witness of the plaintiffs, Ford introduced the testimony on cross-examination and insinuated that plaintiffs’ counsel had concealed certain information. (4)   Ford had generally presented false and misleading testimony to the jury. Judge Swigert also reprimanded Ford’s attorney for insinuating that plaintiffs’ lawyer had concealed information by excluding the testimony of one of plaintiffs’[READ MORE…]

  • What is a Class Action Law Suit?

    You may have heard on the news a number of times that a group of people are bringing a class action suit against a corporation, but most people do not know what a class action suit actually is.  Basically, a class action suit is when a group of people who have the same kind of harm (i.e. side effects from a drug) come together and file a suit against a corporation.  However, unlike in common civil law suits where one person files a suit against another party or corporation for some harm that has been done, the representative in a class action suit represents the whole class that has been harmed by the defendant.  Additionally, class action suits can be brought in federal court, or in state courts. Can I be part of a class action law suit? Yes.  Ordinarily, once a court certifies the class—allows the class action suit against the defendant—the attorney(s) who are representing the class will send opt-out forms to the members of the class.  These opt-out forms are what potential members of a class action suit may receive in the mail.  Basically, if you receive an opt-out form, you can choose not to be part of the class action suit.  If you decide to opt-out, you are not bound by the decision the court reaches in the class action suit.  Therefore, if the decision comes out against the classes favor or vice versa, you may still bring your own suit against the defendant at a later time.  However, if you choose to be a part of the class action suit, you are bound by any decision the court reaches regardless of whose favor it is in.  Therefore, a single plaintiff may no longer bring a separate case against the defendant if he/she was already part of a class action suit against the same defendant for the same harm.  In a small number of rare cases, members of a class action suit must opt-in to the suit.  However, these are few and far between, usually, members of the class must opt out of the suit so as not to be bound by the court’s judgment. What are the advantages and disadvantages of a class action law suit? There are many advantages and disadvantages to taking part in a class action lawsuit.  As mentioned above, if you are part of a class action suit and the court[READ MORE…]

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    Our firm handles workers' compensation and personal injury claims in Chicago, Berwyn, Joliet, Cicero, Waukegan, Chicago Heights, Elgin, Aurora, Oak Park, Oak Lawn, Schaumburg, Bolingbrook, Glendale Heights, Aurora, Niles, Schaumburg, Arlington Heights, Naperville, Plainfield and all of Cook, DuPage, Lake, Will, McHenry, LaSalle, Kankakee, McLean and Peoria Counties.