Showing posts from 2007

Interview on Hayes Sammons Hearing

KURV 710AM in the Rio Grande Valley interviewed Lawsquawker's own Linda Laurent Thomas last week regarding this week's hearing to move forward with trial on our Hayes-Sammons lawsuit in Mission, Texas. Listen to the interview.

Pick Your "Friends" Carefully

As Texans know, the ability to sue a negligent doctor or hospital is virtually impossible now that the tort reformers (read: insurance executives) got their $250K caps on non-economic damages (i.e., you can sue if you make a lot of money like an investment banker, but if you are a housewife, file clerk or bookkeeper, your damages are negligible).

Today, the Houston Chronicle exposed one of Texans for Lawsuit Reform's spokesmen Dr. Forney Fleming who advocated against med mal lawsuits. He failed to mention that he was reprimanded and fined by the Texas Medical Board and still has complaints pending:

He was eager to bash plaintiffs' lawyers, particularly those who targeted doctors. So TLR, a business group that has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars bashing plaintiffs' lawyers and winning restrictions on judgments against physicians and other defendants, signed him up as a volunteer speaker.

Fleming, however, left out some details of his professional life, including his rep…

True Value of a Texas Worker

Well, Texas has recently decided that plant owners will be shielded from liability by Worker's Compensation Laws if a contractor gets injured.

In Entergy Gulf States Inc. v. John Summers, the Texas Supreme Court held that "a premises owner that "undertakes to procure" work falls within the the Labor Code's definition of a general contractor, for purposes of qualifying for the exclusive-remedy defense."

This case marks a sweeping change in the ability of an injured worker to get any meaningful protection from a negligent landowner and ultimately discourages plant owners from making safety changes to reduce injuries in the first place. If there is a silver lining to the 2005 BP explosion in Texas City, it is the fact that it occurred before this ruling came out.

A sad day for Texans, but not surprising according to John Eddie Williams, a prominent Texas personal injury lawyer who was quoted in the Houston Chronicle's story today: "The court ruling follo…

Slow Death, Slower Justice

The Texas Observer has a detailed storyon our Mission lawsuit and the struggles of our clients to obtain justice against the Goliaths of the chemical industry. The story paints a good picture of the conditions at the time the plant was in full swing:
The plant exhaled pesticide dust like a vacuum cleaner with a full bag. The fan sucked poisonous dust and fumes from the factory, sending them into the neighborhood. Families left their windows open most of the year because they didn’t have air conditioners. Strong Gulf winds moved the dust around so much that residents said they could taste it. The poison blew off of trucks, open-top kettles, and piles of residue left outside, which neighborhood kids used like a community sandbox, according to former workers, locals and court records. Rainbow colored storm water frequently flooded unpaved streets, at times muddying dirt kitchen floors.

Texas Supreme Court Lifts Stay in Mission, TX case

The Texas Supreme Court lifted its stay on our Mission, Texas case last Friday. The mandamus had been pending for two years. Our clients provided some video commentary for KRGV-Channel 5 here.

A Victory for Safety

Common sense finally won last week when President Bush's pick to head the Consumer Product Safety Commission, Michael Baroody, withdrew his nomination. As you recall, Mr. Baroody was Executive Vice President at the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) - a K Street lobbying behemoth devoted to helping big manufacturers evade accountability for their wrongdoing.

Maybe I should just start my own farm and ranch

Just a follow up to yesterday's post on food safety, the FDA is now going to look at imported human food and potential for contamination. It's about time...frankly it's a national security issue...all our inexpensive products today come here through our seaports, airports and border crossings. Maybe we should eat things that don't travel half way around the world (just think of the savings in gasoline to haul stuff over here)? Just a thought. CNN has the full story.

Reading, I Mean Testing, the Tea Leaves

So in keeping with the consumer safety topic, here's something of concern...the contaminated wheat gluten in pet food was just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to tainted or downright dangerous food produces from China. I'm almost shocked, but sadly, I'm not surprised...this from a former FDA official...the AP has the full story:
Exporting countries are supposed to help. But governments such as China, where tainted food scandals are common, can have a stunning lack of oversight, said William Hubbard, a top FDA official for 14 years who now advocates for stiffer food safety regulations. He recounted how one supplier drove a truck over tea leaves to dry them with exhaust, which leached lead into the leaves.

Safety for Your Family or Corporations?

So, I thought the Consumer Products Safety Commission was supposed to protect you and me and our families (and our pets) from dangerous, unsafe products. Now, an industry lobbyist has been tapped to run the Commission. I'm thinking of taking the Commission's link off our blog if the Baroody's nomination is approved. Not that people can't have a change of heart and switch sides, but considering his track record, you can't blame me for being concerned.

The Stop Baroody campaign is reprinted below:
President Bush has nominated Michael Baroody - one of Corporate America's leading anti-consumer henchmen - to head the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) - our top government agency protecting millions of Americans from injury and death from unsafe products.For the past 13 years, Michael Baroody has served as Executive Vice President at the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) - a K Street lobbying behemoth devoted to helping big…

Tear Down that Warehouse, Mr. EPA!

Well, it's finally happening. The contaminated Hayes Sammons Warehouse located on the EPA Helena Chemicals Superfund Site is coming down. The residents of Mission, Texas have worked very hard to pull down the warehouse, an ugly reminder of the source of their contaminated properties and bodies. Thomas & Wan has the full story here.

Brain Damage from Hydrogen Sulfide Exposure

The family of Jesus Deleon is suing Motiva Enterprises for negligence and violations of OSHA standards which left their primary bread winner brain damaged. Mr. Deleon was working in an industrial tank at Motiva Enterprises when toxic hydrogen sulfide gas was carelessly allowed into the tank. All of his co-workers were lucky enough to climb out in time, but Mr. Deleon did not share the same fate. He was overcome with fumes and now has permanent brain damage. Thomas & Wan is humbled to represent Mr. Deleon and his family against a negligent and careless company. The Southeast Texas reporter has more.

Zelnorm--FDA says Risks Outweigh Benefits

Well, the FDA is stepping up to the plate and putting scrutiny of drug companies who spend more on advertisements than research. Novartis, the maker of Zelnorm, a drug prescribed for irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) reluctantly took Zelnorm off the market on Friday, March 30th.

Zelnorm was linked to a statistically significant number of heart attacks, strokes and angina pain. In fact, Novartis even admits that it knew about increased angina pain back in 2002, but the company did not feel it was statistically significant. This recent review of the same data showed differently.

This tidbit is very interesting..."In a 2003 presentation, Thomas Ebeling, chief executive of Novartis's drug division, said that Zelnorm's sales in the United States were closely tied to consumer advertising. 'The weeks we go off the air, the growth flattens. When we restart, you see the growth accelerate again,' Mr. Ebeling said." NYT has the full story.

If you take Zelnorm, contact your do…

Throwing Out Good Science in the Name of Profits

Bringing a lawsuit against a corporation for a defective product or toxic chemical has always been difficult--at the very least, a consumer and her lawyers are David against the Goliath corporation.

In order to prove a product caused an injury requires many experts trained in the relevant scientific fields. Yet, it's not good enough just to have the number one expert in a field--you've got to have other experts, research, studies and the smoking gun documents from the corporation you are suing (assuming no shredding was done) to prove your case. In 1993, the Supreme Court ruled that courts, i.e. judges, would be the gatekeepers of determing what is science and what is not. This was the seminal Daubert v. Merrell Dow case. Since then, some courts have taken Daubert, and made the rules even more stringent--all to the detriment of consumers with valid cases.

Barry Yeoman of The Nationhas a well-written pieceon the real world effects that Daubert and its progeny have had on hurting …

Drug Commercial? Change the channel!

This is the reason why you should change the channel when commercials come on…

Study: TV Ads Overstate Benefits of Medication
by Patricia Neighmond

Morning Edition, January 30, 2007 · The amount of money drug companies spend on TV ads has doubled in recent years. Studies show they work: Consumers go to their doctor with a suggestion for a certain prescription drug they saw advertised on TV. Now a study in the Annals of Family Medicine raises questions about the message the ads promote.
You're most likely to see drug ads during prime time, especially around the news. Researchers analyzed 38 ads aimed at people with conditions like hypertension, herpes, high cholesterol, depression, arthritis and allergies.

The drug industry says the ads arm consumers with information. Researchers found that the information was technically accurate, but the tone was misleading.
"Typically, what we would see with these ads is that before taking a particular prescription drug, the character's …

Zicam Nose Sprays

Happy new's been a long time since we've posted, but we're back from weddings, honeymoons, etc.

In light of the current cold and flu season, please reconsider what you take as a nasal decongestant. Zicam, a nasal spray/swab, is heavily marketed in drug stores. It contains zinc which has been known for years to cause the permanent loss of your sense of smell, aka anosmia. It's a terrible thing to have, especially since you lose your sense of taste as well. And, it can be dangerous (imagine not being able to smell the gas leak in your house). Or, detrimental to your career (people in the restaurant business).

Funny, the parent company of Zicam reported that sales will be down due to the slow start to the cold and flu season...strange that there are companies rooting for you to get sick.

Here's more about multi-million dollar lawsuit settlements against Zicam. Here's a Consumer Reports article from this month re safety and efficacy of Zicam. Find out more…