Generic Drugs: A Closely Watched Case

In 2005, Karen Bartlett visited her doctor complaining of shoulder pain. Her doctor prescribed Sulindac, a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug used to relieve pain and address symptoms of arthritis. Ms. Bartlett was dispensed the generic form of Sulindac, manufactured by Mutual Pharmaceutical Company. Her life was never the same.

Ms. Bartlett suffered a rare but life threatening drug reaction related to Stevens-Johnson Syndrome called toxic epidermal necrolysis (TENS). TENS is diagnosed when 10 percent of the outer layer of human skin is catastrophically damaged or destroyed. Ms. Bartlett suffered burns and skin loss affecting 60 to 65 percent of her total skin area.

Spending months in a medically-induced coma, Ms. Bartlett suffered two septic shock episodes, was treated in five different hospitals, and was left with external and internal burns and disfigurement that rendered her legally blind, unable to eat normally, have sexual relations or exercise. Once active, independent and gainfully employed, Ms. Bartlett, only 53, is almost blind and unable to read or drive.

A trial court awarded Ms. Bartlett $21 million dollars in her action against Mutual Pharmaceutical and the decision was upheld by an appeals court. Mutual has requested the Supreme Court to determine if a generic drug manufacturer should be held liable for injuries caused by an exact replica of a drug as it was created by the originating company.

About 80 percent of prescriptions in the United States are filled using economical generic drugs. In a case that could have far-reaching legal consequences, the Supreme Court recently agreed to hear the case and decide whether a generic drug manufacturer can be held liable for injuries caused by a defective drug.

In the past, the Court held generic drug manufacturers cannot be held liable for labeling deficiencies over which the generic manufacturer has no control — this case questions the inherent safety of the drug itself, not the labeling. The findings in this case may decide if injured patients can legally challenge generic manufacturers of dangerous, defective drugs. Time and the Supreme Court will tell.

If you have been injured by a reaction to a drug, you may be eligible to file a lawsuit to receive compensation for your injuries. Contact a product liability lawyer at our office to find out more.

No You Cannot Multi-Task . . . Especially When Driving

In our Chicago legal practice, we focus on people injured by others on the job, on the road, in healthcare and other settings. Serious injury through needless transportation accidents happens every day. In recent years, highway fatalities in Illinois have been on the increase. Why?

While no one can definitively answer that question right now, across the nation fatality figures are seeing a boost from distracted driving. While annual public safety campaigns warn of the dangers of drivers impaired by alcohol, we are only now realizing that every day most of us also qualify as impaired drivers at some point during our drive time.

A 2007 study at the University of Utah broke early ground on the concept of inattention blindness. Inattention blindness is the term used to describe a process where the brain unconsciously filters information out of its perceptive field to maintain focus and attention on a task at hand. In the case of cell phone use and driving, cell phone conversations win out, whether hands-free or not.

The University of Utah study found drivers engaged in cell phone conversations while trying to operate a car were driving impaired, literally unable to see obstacles, signs, signals and cars in front of them. At its perceptual core, the brain of a distracted driver does not see the environment correctly while the driver is engaging in an additional sensory task like talking on the phone.

On the road or off, there is no pride in multi-tasking. You can do one task well or several tasks poorly. When driving, save the conversation for later. If injured by a distracted driver, seek legal advice from a strong auto accident lawyer to gain compensation for your injury and their lack of attention.

Traumatic Brain Injury a Growing Concern for Athletes

Our law firm has more than 65 years combined experience representing individuals and families injured and suffering due to the negligence or mistake of others. Other than fatal injury, traumatic brain injuries (TBI) are some of the most tragic matters we handle. In recent years, the necessity of understanding and preventing these catastrophic injuries has finally gained importance on the national agenda.

Often called a head injury, traumatic brain injury is the name of acquired injuries to the brain. Minor concussion is the most common form of TBI. Leading causes of TBI include:

  • Falls
  • Vehicle accidents
  • Impact of being struck or hit
  • Assaults

In the United States, it was former National Football League (NFL) players who contributed to increasing the profile of a traumatic brain injury called chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). This is a degenerative neurological disease caused by repeated impacts to the head. To date, 34 former NFL players have reportedly been diagnosed post-mortem with CTE.

The NFL currently faces a class action lawsuit on behalf of about 4,000 players and their wives alleging the organization was aware early on of the devastating effects of head impacts, but failed to protect or inform players. Recently the NFL has announced funding of significant research projects to investigate brain injury and develop methods and equipment to promote brain safety while protecting against injury.

Traumatic brain injury has long been a disabling, irreversible consequence of serious accident. Well-funded research into TBI will benefit society, the military and individuals and families struggling to deal with TBI injury.

Part of handling TBI is gaining resources and compensation to manage a lifetime of care after a debilitating injury caused by the negligence of another. If you or a loved one suffers a head or brain injury, talk to our personal injury lawyers about your injury.

Getting the Message About Traffic Fatalities

We think about traffic accidents when they make front page news or happen to someone else. Until recently, few commuters could say how many people died on Illinois roads each year. But because of a campaign by the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT), that has changed.

On July 5, 2012, in response to a sharp increase in Illinois traffic fatalities from the prior year, IDOT launched a public awareness campaign aimed at providing motorists with a running record of the number of people killed during the year in traffic accidents. While any traffic fatality is one too many, IDOT has real reason for concern. The number of people dying in Illinois traffic accidents increased two percent from 2009 to 2010, from 911 to 927. In 2012, there were 957 traffic fatalities, compared to 918 in 2011.

Auto accident statistics are particularly tragic. Not just a number, each digit represents a mother, father, sibling or friend who died in a probably preventable accident. As Chicago personal injury attorneys, we pursue compensation for motorists seriously injured or killed by the negligence of others.

By increasing public awareness of these numbers, IDOT hopes to keep highway fatalities down. Anecdotal evidence points to a drop in highway fatalities after IDOT began publicizing the number of yearly traffic deaths across highway message boards. Even on their website, IDOT is trying to get the message across. As of this writing, there were 222 roadway fatalities this year.

When driving, stay alert and obey the rules of the roads. If involved in an accident, get good medical help and then seek an experienced Chicago personal injury attorney.

Ongoing Fungal Meningitis Outbreak Investigation

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as of March 11 of 2013 the number of reported cases of injury from contaminated steroids produced by the now-defunct Massachusetts company New England Compounding Center (NECC) stands at 722. Hard hit states include Michigan, Indiana, Tennessee and New Jersey. Illinois currently has two reported cases.

Meningitis and spinal infection are the two most common consequences suffered by those who received steroid injections from drug lots contaminated with Exserohilum, a common black mold capable of causing serious human infection, according to the CDC investigation.

Of the 14,000 people who received direct injections of the contaminated drugs into the area around their spines, 50 have died. A sudden rise in meningitis cases led to initial identification of the outbreak late last summer and was followed months later by rising numbers of dangerous spinal abscesses in those known to have received the tainted drugs.

With claims of defective drugs and improper medical treatment, hundreds of patients have filed lawsuits for damages. In the U.S. District Court in Boston, the federal bankruptcy Trustee for NECC is supporting a move to consolidate the claims. To some attorneys representing plaintiffs in the case, creation of a large settlement pool funded by all possible defendants would provide compensation for damages caused by NECC, now in bankruptcy with limited assets.

In the latest outbreak update issued by the CDC, the agency outlines considerations for the management of central nervous system infections with anti-fungal medications and surgical intervention. Spinal infections are deeply rooted, dangerous and often impossible to detect with a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) test. Surgery and anti-fungal medications are dangerous and damaging too.

Initially seeking relief from chronic back pain, these patients continue to face physical threat and fear as a result of their medical treatment. If injured by bad medical advice or a defective product, always seek help from an experienced product liability attorney.

Road Warriors — Watch Out

Motorcyclists are already more likely to be involved in a serious or fatal accident than a motorist driving a car. The features that attract motorcycle riders — low profile, wind in the hair freedom of the road — are the same features that took 145 lives in our state alone in 2011. A new study identifies yet another risk factor of bike riding: age.

In a Brown University study published online in Injury Prevention journal, researchers examined the circumstances of roughly 1.5 million motorcycle accidents occurring between 2001 and 2008 that resulted in injury serious enough to seek emergency medical care.

The Brown University research clarifies what older people already know — passage of time means becoming more fragile. Among findings of the study:

  • Of riders over 20, those over 60 were most likely to suffer serious injury and require hospitalization
  • Middle and older age riders suffer more head injuries and broken bones
  • While injury rates for all riders are increasing across the nation, fatalities are rising more rapidly for riders over 60

What is it about age that makes an older adult more vulnerable to injury in a motorcycle accident?

  • Reaction time, strength, visual acuity and balance decline with age
  • Bones thin, muscle mass is lost and chest wall flexibility diminishes, leading to more severe injury
  • Older riders may ride bigger bikes, causing more serious injury upon collision

Last year the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) found little progress is being made to reduce motorcycle fatalities across the nation. Rising fatalities combined with a bump in Baby Boomers riding bikes means fatality rates may not go down any time soon.

If you ride at any age, stay fit, get your vision checked if needed and contact an experienced motorcycle accident attorney at our office if you are injured in any transportation accident.

Know Your Rights: Injuries in Transit

In the United States, several organizations are charged with regulating transportation throughout the country. There are hundreds of laws, rules and regulations on the books that apply to all forms of transportation. These laws and rules apply to motor vehicles, trains, airplanes, boats and every other conceivable method of transit. With that in mind, it’s crucial to seek the right legal representation if you have been injured in a transportation-related accident.

Know your rights

On any given day in the Chicago area, residents travel by car, bus, train, plane and even water taxi. While it’s reassuring to know that there are many government bodies that are tasked with ensuring the safety of these forms of transportation, the truth is that it’s not so easy to make sense of all of those laws. There is no question that the majority of those laws, rules and regulations are in place to ensure the safety of passengers, but everyday people can’t be expected to understand how those laws apply to them. That’s where an experienced transportation accident attorney can be invaluable.

Transportation accidents are often caused by negligence

As nice as it would be to live in a world where everyone did the right thing, the reality is that many people seriously miss the mark. From failing to maintain equipment to ignoring important safety regulations, the negligence of such individuals often results in serious injury and wrongful death.

Line up legal representation right away

In the aftermath of a transportation accident, confusion reigns. However, it’s important to get in touch with a competent attorney as quickly as possible. Without doing so, there is no way to ensure that your rights are being protected. The laws regarding various forms of transportation can be very confusing. A talented lawyer can help you get through the process as smoothly as possible.