More Legal Woes to Come for JPMorgan

New York Times; September 24, 2013

JPMorgan Chase paid $1 billion last week to resolve a number of government investigations, but the bank’s biggest battles with federal authorities may lie ahead, Ben Protess and Jessica Silver-Greenberg report in DealBook.

JPMorgan is bracing for a lawsuit from federal prosecutors in California who suspect the bank sold shoddy mortgage securities to investors before the financial crisis, people briefed on the matter said. The case, expected as soon as Tuesday, could foreshadow more government actions. Federal prosecutors in Philadelphia are also investigating JPMorgan’s sale of mortgage securities, the people briefed on the matter said.

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Paint Makers Seek to Quash Lead Hazard Ruling

News Inferno; September 23, 2013

Paint makers are fighting against a court ruling mandating them to spend up to $2.5 billion to remove lead paint from hundreds of thousands of homes in the state of California.

Paint makers have long succeeded in skirting litigation that blames them for health problems in people who have suffered health problems associated with lead exposure from paint, according to The Wall Street Journal. Since 1978, lead has been banned from residential paint in the United States. Lawsuits have failed in a number of states including Rhode Island, Missouri, Illinois, New Jersey, and Wisconsin, typically because plaintiffs were unable to prove lead to be a public nuisance, the legal standard that requires proof that the lead-containing item interferes with public health and safety.

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The Press Release Crime of a Biotech CEO and its Impact on Scientific Research

Washington Post; September 23, 2013

Is it a crime for a medical researcher to hype his results? To put a heavy spin on the findings when there are millions of dollars, and possibly lives, at stake?

Just ask W. Scott Harkonen.

“I get four hours for errands, once a week. With good behavior, that could go up to six hours,” the 61-year-old physician said recently. “I feel part of an interned population.”

Once the well-paid head of a publicly traded biotech company called InterMune, Harkonen began six months of home confinement July 1. Several times a day he gets a robo-call that checks to make sure he’s inside. His status is an embarrassment, and few people come to visit.

Of course, things could be worse. A federal prosecutor wanted him to get 10 years in prison. Instead, he got a half-year of home detention in his three-story Tudor in San Francisco. But unless his appeals are successful, he won’t ever be able to work as a pharmaceutical researcher and maybe not as a physician, either.

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GoGo Sued for ‘Recurring Charges’ in Lawsuit Aiming for Class Action

ABC News; September 23, 2013

A California man is suing Gogo LLC in the hope of leading a class-action lawsuit against the company for allegedly misleading consumers about recurring charges for its in-flight Internet service.

Kerry Welsh of Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif., bought in-flight Internet service from Gogo on Aug. 7, 2011 for $39.95 for up to 30 days on any airline, the lawsuit states. But he claims that after 30 days ended on Sept. 7, he was charged $39.95 every month until at least Dec. 2012, even though he did not use the service, the lawsuit states.

Welsh claims he "received no communications from Gogo on a monthly basis notifying him of the recurring charges," according to the lawsuit filed last week in U.S. District Court in the Central District of California.

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Big Trial Coming for Diabetes Drug Byetta; September 23, 2013

Los Angeles, CA: More than seven million prescriptions have been written in the US for a diabetes drug called Byetta, and this coming November, all eyes will focus on a California court case that alleges that its use triggered acute pancreatitis in five individuals and led to the death of two others.

The outcome of the trial will, no doubt, have important implications for the hundreds of other similar cases awaiting adjudication.

First approved for use in 2005 as an effective way to control glucose (blood sugar) levels in Type 2 diabetes patients in combination with diet and exercise, Byetta has been linked to acute pancreatitis, as well as pancreatic cancer, thyroid cancer and kidney failure.

In 2007, the FDA issued its first warning about Byetta. The federal watchdog advised that there had been a number of cases of acute pancreatitis observed in diabetes patients using Byetta.

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Swindled Seniors: Former California Judge to Be Sentenced, Florida Lawsuit Continues; September 23, 2013

Fort Myers, FL: An elderly woman who earned just $1,800 in monthly income between her Social Security check and her pension was somehow persuaded to take out a life insurance policy worth $7.5 million. According to her son’s financial elder abuse attorney, the woman was saddled with a trust and allegedly persuaded to take out a loan valued at $1.1 million in order to satisfy premiums of $742,000. The woman’s son, who carries on with a Financial Elder Abuse lawsuit on behalf of his now-deceased mother, notes that such alleged deception of vulnerable individuals should serve as a rallying cry for advocates concerned about financial exploitation of seniors.

“I was beside myself,” said her 55-year-old son Michael Sterling, in comments published in The News-Press of Fort Myers (9/8/13). “After I read through that policy, it was like, here’s the one guy that she and her late husband had entrusted...and then [her financial adviser] could do this to them?”

The alleged elder abuse financial issue has its roots in 2006, when Gloria J. Emmert was 79 years of age and living modestly in a manufactured home located in North Fort Myers, Florida. The widow suffered from dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

Elder financial abuse is not just a problem in Florida, which is a haven for snowbirds and retirees. It happens right across the country, prompting inclusion, in 2010, of the Elder Care Justice Act as part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

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High School Football Player Dies Following Field Collision

News Inferno; September 19, 2013

A 16-year-old high school football player has died following a helmet-to-helmet football injury last week.

The boy, Damon Janes, was a junior at Westfield/Brocton High School in New York. Damon was playing in a varsity football game on Friday; he died Monday afternoon at Women & Children’s Hospital of Buffalo, according to Damon, a running back and defensive back lost consciousness after the accident in the game’s third quarter.

Since 2003, a total of 25 deaths have occurred involving American high school football players, according to the National Center for Catastrophic Sport Injury Research at the University of North Carolina, reported. Some 1.1 million teenagers played high school football in the U.S. in 2012, also according to the report, which indicated that 4.2 million played football that year from the youth to the NFL level.

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Louisiana Towns Increase Water Testing Following Boy’s Death from Fatal Brain Infection

News Inferno; September 19, 2013

Some towns in Louisiana have increased water supply testing following the death of a four-year-old boy over a brain-eating amoeba that may be tied to the water there.

Authorities believe the boy contracted the infection at a Slip-N-Slide toy in a home yard, according to Reuters. “We are testing and retesting our water to make sure it has the proper amount of chlorine to prevent contamination,” said David Peralta, president of St. Bernard Parish, where the boy was visiting when authorities believe he became infected.

“Just to be cautious, we turned off the water fountains at the elementary and middle schools,” said Doris Voitier, superintendent of St. Bernard Public Schools, according to Reuters.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also confirmed that month that the amoeba involved—Naegleria fowleri—was responsible for the death of a boy from Mississippi in early August. The boy became ill and died when visiting friends, also in the St. Bernard Parish, according to Reuters.

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George Zimmerman’s Wife Won’t Press Charges Despite Threat Accusation

Chicago Tribune; September 10, 2013

Shellie Zimmerman, the wife of George Zimmerman, declined to press charges Monday afternoon despite calling 911 and accusing her husband of using a gun to threaten her family.

Zimmerman was acquitted of murder two months ago in the shooting of unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin.

"He's in his car and he continually has his hand on his gun and keeps saying step closer ... and he's gonna shoot us," a breathless and clearly scared Shellie Zimmerman told the police emergency operator, according to the 911 call released by police.

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Plaintiffs Seek Billions in Punitive Damages over Texas Refinery Malfunction

News Inferno; September 9, 2013

BP is facing the first of nearly 48,000 lawsuits alleging toxic exposure from people in the area of a Texas refinery who have promised to give the billions of dollars in punitive damages they seek to a charity, should their litigation be successful, according to

The residents allege that BP knowingly exposed them to cancer-causing gases for a five-week period in 2010 without giving any warning. The six plaintiffs, who are involved in the state court trial that just commenced in Galveston, Texas, are seeking up to $200,000 each in actual damages, as well as $10 billion in punitive damages, In court papers, the plaintiffs indicated that the punitive damage award would be donated, reported.

According to the plaintiffs’ lead attorney, speaking to, BP intentionally vented about 500,000 pounds of toxic chemicals—the mix included benzene—from a defective refinery unit to a flare BP knew could not eliminate the toxins. BP would have lost in excess of $20 million had it closed down the unit during repairs, he added. BP denies that anyone was injured by the since-sold refinery emissions.

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Massive NFL Brain Injury Lawsuit in Play, Families Continue to Sue; September 10, 2013

Germantown, MD: As the National Football League (NFL) sorts through a potential multimillion-dollar settlement with players and their families over brain injury, the family of a Frostburg State University football player who died after a grueling practice at the Maryland campus has filed a brain injury lawsuit alleging wrongful death.

It is further alleged that the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), which raked in $838 million in revenue last year, does little to educate or protect its players from catastrophic injury, in spite of its origins in the early 1900s as an entity pledged to protect players.

The NCAA is named as defendants in the brain injury lawsuit, along with the school, head coach Thomas Rogish, and Schutt Sports - the manufacturer of the helmet the player was wearing at the time.

According to the lawsuit, Derek Sheely was suited up as a fullback and was part of an intense practice session at pre-season camp allegedly known as an “Oklahoma drill.” A series of grueling, head-to-head collisions involving linebackers and fullbacks such as Sheely exposed the players to successive concussive blows, according to the lawsuit.

At one point, Sheely exited the field bleeding from his forehead during four consecutive practice sessions at the August 2011 camp. However, he returned to the field for additional drills.

Several days later, according to Highlands Today (8/26/13), Sheely reported to an assistant coach that he “didn’t feel right” and complained of a headache. The date was August 22, 2011. Sheely walked off the field, only to collapse into a coma, in which he lingered for six days before he died.

The lawsuit alleges the 22-year-old student was never checked for potential concussions during the grueling practices.

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Act Now for Discounts on 2014 Trial Lawyers Summit

If you’d like to save money on attending the 2014 Trial Lawyers Summit in South Beach, Florida, you’d better hurry.  A list of the available discounts is below, along with a link to the discount offer from the Loews Miami Beach hotel.  The Summit will be held January 19-24, 2014.  For more information, go to .

Presidents of Specialty Associations by The National Trial Lawyers should contact NaShawna Carter at (334) 944-2115 or by e-mail at NCarter@TheNTL.Org if you would like to reserve meeting space at The Summit.  Meeting times are available on Sunday afternoon and Wednesday morning.

Here is a list of the available discounts:

Top 40 under 40 members ($1095 - $200 early registration discount= $895 registration total)

Top 40 Executive Committee ($1095 - $200 early registration discount= $895 registration total)

Top 100 members ($1095 - $200 early registration discount= $895 registration total)

Top 100 EC ($1095 - $200 early registration discount= $895 registration total)

Specialty Association Presidents ($1095 - $200 early registration discount= $895 registration total)

SA members ($1195 - $200 Early registration discount = $995 registration total)

Room rates at the Loews are $299/night.  Below is the info from our website.

Please call the Loews Miami Beach directly for reservations, 877-563-9762, and refer to National Trial Lawyers to receive our group rate of $299/night plus tax. The reservation cut-off date is January 5th, 2014 and is based upon availability.

To make your reservation online, please click here.

We’ll see you at The Summit!

Mark O’Mara, George Zimmerman Lawyer, Joins CNN as Legal Analyst

Huffington Post; September 6, 2013

The Florida defense attorney who was the public face of George Zimmerman's legal team has signed on to be a legal analyst for CNN.

Mark O'Mara appeared Friday morning on CNN's "New Day" program, where he was announced as the network's newest analyst by host Chris Cuomo. O'Mara's spokesman confirmed the role.

O'Mara wrote in a blog post on Friday that he will be appearing regularly on CNN "to offer my insight on a number of high-profile legal matters."

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Unum Named Second-Worst Insurance Company in US; September 8, 2013

Chattanooga, TN: It may come as no surprise to some people who deal with companies like Unum that Unum is listed as the second-worst insurance company in the US. Unum lawsuits, alleging the company engages in bad faith insurance practices regarding Unum disability claims, have been filed against the company. In 2012, the American Association for Justice (AAJ) included Unum on its list of 10 worst insurance companies.

In the report, “The Ten Worst Insurance Companies In America,” the AAJ lists Unum second, behind Allstate and ahead of AIG, State Farm and other insurance companies. In its write-up of Unum, the AAJ notes that the company “has long had a reputation for unfairly denying and delaying claims. Unum’s claims-handling abuses have consistently been the subject of regulator and media investigations.”

Among allegations against Unum are that the company told employees to deny claims to meet cost-savings goals. In California, according to the AAJ, approximately one in four claims for long-term care insurance was denied, resulting in an investigation by the California Department of Insurance. That investigation reportedly uncovered widespread fraud committed by Unum, including violations of state insurance regulations, use of phony medical reports to deny or underpay claims and investigations that were biased.

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Don’t Trust Helmet Safety Claims, NY Attorney General Warns

News Inferno; September 6, 2013

As professional football season starts, and school and youth leagues are also getting underway, New York Attorney General (AG) Eric T. Schneiderman just issued a warning concerning bogus football helmet safety claims.

Claims that a helmet is “concussion-proof” or is constructed of “anti-concussive” properties could be misleading, the AG said, according to Law360. These claims could mislead parents and could potentially be dangerous to players and their parents, according to Schneiderman who warned manufacturers touting product safety.

“Ensuring that manufacturers don’t mislead the public and endanger young New Yorkers is a key concern for my office,” Schneiderman said in a just-issued release.

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