Saturday, October 24, 2009

Our Trial Against Chemical Companies Begins

Well, it's finally here...the first trial against the chemical companies supplying the former Hayes Sammons Pesticide Plant has begun. The Monitor has a full story. There is a gag order in place so I can't comment on the trial at this time.

Friday, October 02, 2009

As bad as drunk driving

Yes, it's been a while since posting, but that's a good thing--we've been swamped. We're about to start the big pesticide trial, but I'm taking a breather for an hour to pass along this safety information:

Something that caught my attention yesterday though about the dangers of using your cell phone and driving. It's frightening and a wake-up call to all of us. I know I've been guilty of doing this, but now I'm trying to be better. It's a long story but worth the read. Kudos to Exxon (a company that I usually don't kudo) for doing something about it:


In 2004, Exxon Mobil started asking the same question after it became concerned about the safety of its 90,000 workers and 100,000 contract workers, who drove up to 1.5 million miles each day, said Michael Henderek, the company’s safety executive at the time. The company wanted to know what a ban would do to the bottom line.
“Exxon Mobil is a corporation in which 50 percent of employees are engineers,” said Mr. Henderek. “It’s driven by data.”

The company determined that research equating the dangers of behind-the-wheel multitasking with drunken driving was reliable. So in early 2004, Exxon Mobil ran a pilot project, restricting some employees from using the phone while driving. It found no loss in productivity, and quickly imposed a ban for all workers and contractors.
“To not act was irresponsible,” Mr. Henderek said. “The risk to employees was much greater than any marginal benefit of the productivity you get.”

Exxon Mobil was particularly concerned about its big fuel trucks.

“The last thing you want to have,” Mr. Henderek said, “is an incident between the fuel fleet and the community.”

Monday, June 22, 2009

Thomas & Wan files new Zicam lawsuit with 117 clients

Our firm filed a new Zicam lawsuit today with 117 plaintiffs against Matrixx Initiatives for their permanent loss of smell from using Zicam Cold Remedy. The Arizona Republic has a story here and the WSJ MarketWatch has a story here.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Zicam Client in Houston Chronicle

The Houston Chronicle interviewed one of our Zicam clients here. The story highlights the safety issues and dangers of losing your sense of smell permanently. We represent many others like Mr. Ehler who need their sense of smell at the workplace such as chefs, firefighters, nurses, and refinery workers.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Fox News Story on Zicam

We were interviewed last night on Fox News Houston regarding yesterday's announcement of Zicam's dangers and permanent loss of smell. Here is the full story.

US FDA Warns About Zicam

The U.S. FDA has just come out with an advisory warning people not to use Zicam products containing zinc as they are linked to permanent loss of smell. Read the full advisory here.

We represent over 100 people who have permanent loss of smell and taste from using Zicam. This advisory confirms what our clients and Thomas & Wan have always known--these are dangerous products that must be taken off the market. Even to this day, Matrixx refuses to put a warning on the products that they can cause permanent loss of smell and taste. We are currently in litigation in Arizona state court over several of these cases.

Mercy from the Law

Well, this is a first. I got pulled over yesterday for making an illegal turn right in front of the courthouse. Always a great way to start trial. Anyway, my DL and insurance were in the back of the truck with our trial boxes. So, I go back there, and the officer gives me a strange look and says, "I'm going to let you go this time...it looks like you got bird poop all over the back of your suit." Pepito saves the day! Now I know why I love animals so much. They are always looking out for us dumb humans.

Friday, June 05, 2009

The "best" health care in the world?

We spend a lot of time in McAllen and looking at medical records from McAllen healthcare providers. It is always interesting to see that injuries, quite frequently occur not from the primary illness but from a test or procedure gone awry. This eye-opening article from the New Yorker may explain this phenomenon.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Caps Don't Save Money

The Dallas Morning News has a good story on getting to the real issues in high health care costs, and it's not so-called greedy lawyers...it's the insurance companies. Damage caps do not work--they only punish children, retired people and low-income people. They don't work, period.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Insurance Industry Tricks of the Trade

Want some free information on how the Insurance industry can unfairly deny your claim? The American Association for Justice has a great .pdf handout on how people become the victims of unfair and illegal insurance denials...it's called Tricks of the Trade. It's the kind of stuff that we as lawyers have to deal with sometimes, and it can be really frustrating.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Supreme Court Knocks Down FDA Preemption

Today, the U.S. Supreme Court held that FDA drug regulation does not preempt common law claims in state courts. This is a huge victory for consumers! The Court's decision in Wyeth v. Levine allows consumers to move forward with lawsuits against drug companies that sell defective drugs. I am happily surprised at the 6-3 outcome, and the Court in its wisdom found that Congress never intended for FDA labeling rules to preempt lawsuits in state courts.

The American Association of Justice has more:

Writing for the Court, Justice Stevens said:

“If Congress thought state-law suits posed an obstacle to its objectives, it surely would have enacted an express preemption provision at some point during the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act’s 70 year history…Its silence on the issue, coupled with its certain awareness of the prevalence of state tort litigation, is powerful evidence that Congress did not intend FDA oversight to be the exclusive means of ensuring drug safety and effectiveness.”

Justice Thomas, in a concurring opinion, also dismissed the Wyeth preemption argument, calling it unconstitutional:

“Because such a sweeping approach to pre-emption leads to the illegitimate – and thus, unconstitutional – invalidation of state laws, I can no longer assent to a doctrine that preempts state laws merely because they ‘stand as an obstacle to the accomplishment and execution of the full purposes and objectives’ of federal law.”


The Plaintiff in the case, Ms. Levine, was a musician who lost her arm and her livelihood due to the failure of Wyeth to warn about the dangers of Phenergan...more from the NYT:
Ms. Levine’s suffering began in the spring of 2000 when, suffering from a migraine, she visited a local clinic for a treatment she had received many times: Demerol for pain and Phenergan for nausea.

If Phenergan is exposed to arterial blood, it causes swift and irreversible gangrene. Therefore, it is typically administered by intramuscular injection. Ms. Levine’s lawyers said an intravenous drip is also quite safe.

But a physician’s assistant used a third method, injecting the drug into what she thought was a vein, using a technique known as “IV push.” The assistant apparently missed a vein and hit an artery instead, causing Ms. Levine’s right hand and forearm to turn purple and black in the following weeks, leading to amputation of much of her arm.

The F.D.A.-approved label warned that “inadvertent intra-arterial injection” can cause gangrene requiring amputation, but it did not rule out administering the drug by the “IV push” method. The Vermont trial judge instructed the jury that compliance with F.D.A. requirements did not establish that the warnings on the labels were adequate.

Justice Stevens noted that the trial record contained evidence of at least 20 reports of amputations similar to Ms. Levine’s since the 1960’s. Phenergan was first approved in 1955.The justices who sided with Ms. Levine on Wednesday said that “Wyeth could have unilaterally added a stronger warning about IV-push administration” without running afoul of federal regulations. Justices Anthony M. Kennedy, David H. Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen G. Breyer joined Justice Stevens, while Justice Clarence Thomas filed an opinion concurring in the overall judgment.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Preserving the Right to a Jury Trial

Something Congress is doing right this month...preserving your right to a jury trial...from The American Association for Justice:

Consumers No Longer Forced to Sign Away Their Rights Under Arbitration Fairness Act

Bipartisan bill will protect Americans like Jamie Leigh Jones, John Donahue from abusive corporate practices

Washington, DC – Countless Americans will no longer be forced to give up their legal rights and enter unfair arbitration agreements under bipartisan legislation introduced today in the U.S. House.

Mandatory binding arbitration clauses are hidden in the fine print of everything from cell phone, credit cards, franchise and employment agreements to nursing home care contracts. These clauses force consumers or employees to give up their right to take their case to court in the event there is a dispute with the corporation.

The bipartisan Arbitration Fairness Act of 2009 (H.R. 1020), introduced by Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA), will ensure that the decision to arbitrate be made voluntarily and after the dispute has arisen, so corporations cannot manipulate the arbitration system in their favor at the expense of consumers.

“The Arbitration Fairness Act will prevent negligent corporations from stacking the deck against consumers who unknowingly sign away their access to justice,” said American Association for Justice President Les Weisbrod. “Arbitration can only be an effective means to resolve disputes when both parties agree voluntarily, not when it is forced upon consumers in secret to limit their rights.”

The Arbitration Fairness Act will help people like Jamie Leigh Jones, who was raped, drugged, beaten, and then confined to a shipping container by KBR/Halliburton employees while working in Iraq. Because of a clause placed in her employment contract, KBR tried to force Ms. Jones to submit to a binding, secret, non-appealable arbitration. Ms. Jones had to fight to obtain access to the justice system because she unknowingly signed an arbitration clause as part of her 18-page employment contract.

John Donahue was a 93-year-old nursing home resident in Massachusetts. Because a nurse did not follow standard policy when operating a mechanical lift, he experienced an eye injury so severe that it required removal of his eye, and the infection caused by this injury later killed him. Once Mr. Donahue’s daughter pursued the case on behalf of her father’s estate, the nursing home presented what it claimed to be a document, which Mr. Donahue, at age 91 and without any family members or any other witnesses present, had supposedly signed. The nursing home was forcing mandatory binding arbitration on its own terms.

Americans overwhelmingly disprove of mandatory binding arbitration agreements. When consumers learn that the company picks the arbitrator, they give up their right to take the case to court, and binding arbitration applies even if they are seriously injured, 81 percent disapprove. The Arbitration Fairness Act also has wide support across party lines with no statistical difference between Democrats (+38) and Republicans (+37). AAJ’s polling can be found here

Friday, February 20, 2009

Uninsured Drivers on the Rise

The Insurance Research Council has come out with a study that rising unemployment means more drivers who choose to drop their car insurance. As if you didn't have enough to worry about on your drive home...

We have been telling our friends, family and clients to always buy as much uninsured/underinsured coverage as possible. Many times you can get a lot of coverage for literally $15 extra per six-month period of your insurance premium. I think I have $300,000/600,000 or $500,000/$1,000,000. Get as much coverage as you can. We have had many clients who are hit by people without insurance or who have been victims of hit-and-runs. It's extremely sad and frustrating. Without uninsured coverage, those clients were out of luck to get any compensation or medical bills paid.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Thomas & Wan Wins Jury Verdict in Trip & Fall

The lawyers of Thomas & Wan are pleased to announce a jury verdict in Jasper County, Texas of over $185,000 on behalf of their client who broke her ankle in two places after tripping on a dangerous ramp at a senior center. The ramp was in deplorable condition for seniors, disbled people or even able-bodied people. The ramp had rotted and missing wood, raised nails, wobbly and short handrails, an uneven surface and was too steep--all in violation of standard Texas and Federal building codes and the Americans with Disabilities Act. The client may have to have her foot amputated as a result of the trip and fall.

The verdict included $75,000 in future pain and suffering and $45,000 in future medical damages. Contributory negligence of the Plaintiff for 25% was found by the jury.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

We Have Moved!

Thomas & Wan, LLP has recently moved! We are now located at 1710 Sunset Blvd., Houston, Texas 77005 which is very close to Rice University. We are very happy to be in our new space and are located on the second floor.