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Raising The Bar

The Supreme Court Logic that Could Destroy Privacy in America

The Atlantic; December 30, 2013

Many Americans reacted with outrage when they learned that the NSA stores details about phone calls made by virtually everyone in the United States. They felt a strong, if vague, notion that the practice must violate their constitutional rights. Couldn’t NSA analysis of telephone metadata reveal sensitive, private details about most anyone in the country, like their network of friends, the identity of their sexual partners, or their contact with medical or mental health professionals? Aren’t mass searches of innocents anathema to the Fourth Amendment?

The legal response from NSA defenders has leaned heavily on the precedent set in Smith v. Maryland, a Supreme Court case decided in 1979, before the era of big data.

The case concerned a robbery. Patricia McDonough, the victim, noticed a 1975 Monte Carlo near the scene of the crime. Later she received obscene phone calls from a man who claimed to be the robber. Once he asked the victim to step out onto her porch, where she saw the Monte Carlo drive slowly by. Soon after, police spotted a man driving the Monte Carlo in the victim’s neighborhood. After tracing its license plate to Michael Lee Smith, officers went to the phone company and asked them to put a pen register on his phone. The resulting phone records showed that he called the victim’s house. At trial, he tried to suppress that evidence, arguing that the police should have gotten a warrant before having the phone company track the numbers he dialed.

To read the complete article, please click here: https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2013/12/the-supreme-court-logic-that-could-destroy-privacy-in-america/282697/?google_editors_picks=true

 

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Mother Fights for Brain Dead Daughter

Courthouse News Service; December 31, 2013

A mother sued the Oakland Children’s Hospital to stop it from pulling the plug on her daughter, whose chief of pediatrics, the mother claims, said her daughter is “dead, dead, dead.”
Latasha Winkfield sued Children’s Hospital Oakland and Dr. David Durand in Federal Court.
Winkfield’s daughter, Jahi McMath, 13, lost a large amount of blood, suffered a heart attack and loss of oxygen to her brain after “a routine tonsillectomy” at the hospital on Dec. 9, the mother says in the lawsuit.
Jahi has been on a respirator since then. “She is totally disabled at this time and is severely limited in all major life activities, being unable to do anything of her own volition,” her mother says in the lawsuit.

To read the complete article, please click here: https://www.courthousenews.com/2013/12/31/64168.htm

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Lawsuit Accuses ‘Candy Man’ Physician of Facilitating Drug Addiction and Overdoses

News Inferno; December 30, 2013

A California woman’s medical malpractice lawsuit against Dr. Julio Gabriel Diaz – called “the candy man” – claims his over-prescribing of  powerful pain medications got her addicted to drugs. The doctor is accused of causing 11 overdose deaths.

Courtney Canter’s lawsuit, filed in Santa Barbara Superior court, names Walgreens, CVS Caremark and Long’s Drug Stores, in addition to Dr. Diaz, United Press International (UPI) reports. Diaz was arrested on federal drug trafficking charges in early 2012 and on September 24, 2013 he pled guilty to illegally prescribing a controlled substance, failure to maintain proper security and storage, and two counts of illegally prescribing a narcotic.

In a 75-page arrest affidavit, Diaz’s dangerous prescribing practices are described in great detail. The affidavit identifies 11 overdose deaths of patients under Diaz’s care. Diaz, according to UPI, is a drug-dealing doctor, known to patients as “the candy man.” The most recent overdose death attributed to Diaz occurred in November 2011. Diaz allegedly prescribed 2,087 pills to the patient in the six-week period prior to his death. Diaz is also accused of trading pills for sex.

To read the complete article, please click here: https://www.newsinferno.com/lawsuit-accuses-candy-man-physician-of-facilitating-drug-addiction-and-overdoses/

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New Year, New Laws: Obamacare, pot, guns and drones

CNN; December 31, 2013

Not everyone subscribes to a New Year’s resolution, but Americans will be required to follow new laws in 2014.

Some 40,000 measures taking effect range from sweeping, national mandates under Obamacare to marijuana legalization in Colorado, drone prohibition in Illinois and transgender protections in California.

Although many new laws are controversial, they made it through legislatures, public referendum or city councils and represent the shifting composition of American beliefs.

The biggest and most politically charged change comes at the federal level with the imposition of a new fee for those adults without health insurance.

For 2014, the penalty is either $95 per adult or 1% of family income, whichever results in a larger fine.

To read the complete article, please click here: https://www.cnn.com/2013/12/30/politics/new-year-laws/index.html?hpt=hp_t1

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The FBI Warns Retailers about Thieves Armed With Foil

Bloomberg Businessweek; December 27, 2013

Retailers, the FBI has a message for you: Watch out for fraudsters armed with aluminum foil climbing on your roofs.

The agency says thieves have used a convoluted scheme to steal electronics and cigarettes from gas stations and other stores in Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, Pennsylvannia, and West Virginia.

Here’s how the theft goes down. First, someone climbs onto the roof of a store and uses aluminum foil to block the satellite antenna that the store uses to receive data from credit card companies to authorize sales—a gadget called a feed horn that looks like this.

Video: Credit Card Breach Puts Target in Legal Crosshairs

With the signal blocked, stores can’t validate credit and debit card transactions. That opens the door, so to speak, for bandits to enter the store, load up their carts with electronics or cigarettes, and pay with stolen credit cards. Retailers often permit sales even if the link with the credit card company is down, figuring the transactions will go through once the connection is back up.

To read the complete article, please click here: https://www.businessweek.com/articles/2013-12-27/the-fbi-warns-retailers-about-thieves-armed-with-foil

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Chemicals in Fracking Fluids May Disrupt Hormones, Raise Infertility Risk

News Inferno; December 19, 2013

Chemicals in the fluid used in the hydraulic fracturing—fracking—gas drilling technique may disrupt the functioning of human hormones and lead to increased risk of infertility, cancer, and other health problems, new research finds.

The results of a new study, carried out by the Endocrine Society and published in the journal Endocrinology, suggest that endrocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs), which can interfere with the body’s normal hormonal functions, are found in fracking fluid, Aljazeera America reports. According to co-author Susan C. Nagel, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Missouri School of Medicine, “More than 700 chemicals are used in the fracking process, and many of them disturb hormone function.” EDCs, she said, could “raise the risk of reproductive, metabolic, neurological and other diseases, especially in children who are exposed” to them.

To read the complete article, please click here: https://www.newsinferno.com/chemicals-in-fracking-fluids-may-disrupt-hormones-raise-infertility-risk/

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Testosterone Treatments Associated with Cardiac Risks

News Inferno; December 24, 2013

A study of older men reveals that testosterone treatments are linked to dangerous heart risks and have no established benefits.

The large Veterans Affairs study looked at senior men diagnosed with low hormone levels, as well as other health issues, and looked at the way in which the men reacted to testosterone treatments, including heart attack, stroke, and death, according to an Associated Press (AP) report.

Testosterone gels, patches, and injections are touted as treatments for so-called “Low T,” a fairly recent term for a largely invented condition for which there is no true diagnosis. Massive advertising has been dedicated to Low T, which seems to be another term for the normal male aging process. Meanwhile, treatments have been associated with serious side effects, according to the AP.

To read the complete article, please click here: https://www.newsinferno.com/testosterone-treatments-associated-with-cardiac-risks/

 

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Medtronic Infuse Bone Graft Lawsuits Filed by Injured and Investors


Lawyersandsettlements.com; December 30, 2013

Jefferson City, MO: In the wake of Medtronic Infuse Bone Graft lawsuits alleging injuries, Medtronic investors have filed a lawsuit against the medical device company, claiming false and misleading statements regarding the use of the Infuse Bone Graft for reduction of pain and for complications associated with treating degenerative disc disease. Meanwhile, recent reports and studies have shown damning evidence against Medtronic’s product.

Two reports released in 2013, both published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, indicated that the genetically engineered Infuse product has “little benefit beyond standard treatment and could expose patients to harm.” One report went further, stating that previously published studies were biased and they were little more than “infomercials” for medical device companies. Both reviews also mentioned a possible cancer risk with the product.

To read the complete article, please click here: https://www.lawyersandsettlements.com/articles/medtronic-infuse-bone-graft/medtronic-lawsuit-bone-graft-13-19390.html#.UsG_6LRiCmE

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Risperdal Plaintiffs Seek Release of Johnson & Johnson Study Data

News Inferno; December 16, 2013

Last week, plaintiffs in a number of product liability lawsuits against Johnson & Johnson (J&J) involving the antipsychotic drug Risperdal, told a Pennsylvania judge that documents describing the medication’s risks are vital to the public interest should not remain under seal.

Nearly 275 product liability lawsuits have been brought against J & J’s Janssen Pharmaceuticals unit, and attorneys for the plaintiffs blasted a motion entered by the drug maker seeking to maintain a 2011 order protecting the confidentiality of a series of clinical studies on Risperdal, Law360 reports.

The plaintiffs’ complaint alleges that Risperdal caused gynecomastia—abnormal growth of breast tissue in adolescent boys—and they argue that the protected material should not be considered proprietary because it consists of observations about the effectiveness and risks of the drug, according to Law360. The brief states that these are “safety documents that require disclosure for the well-being of the public, full and unfettered review by regulatory authorities and the education of healthcare providers who are prescribing this powerful drug.”

To read the complete article, please click here: https://www.newsinferno.com/risperdal-plaintiffs-seeks-release-of-johnson-johnson-study-data/

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DaVita’s Legal Troubles Extend Beyond GranuFlo Side Effects


a href=”https://www.lawyersandsettlements.com/articles/DaVita-Granuflo-Class-Action-lawsuit/davita-healthcare-clinics-granuflo-side-effects-7-19350.html#.UrBmTz9iCwE”>Lawyersandsettlements.com; December 15, 2013

Lowville, NY: The empire that is DaVita Healthcare Clinics is about to get a bit larger with the launch of a new dialysis center at Lewis County General Hospital (LCGH) in Lowville, New York. Approved in September 2011, DaVita is hoping to open in March of next year. The hospital, according to the Watertown Daily Times (11/18/13), will host the clinic but will not be responsible for it, although the hospital will benefit from having a dialysis facility on site, together with ancillary service such as lab tests.

Still, there are those who are not happy about DaVita’s legal troubles, and suggest the original approval may not have happened or may not have gone so smoothly, had more people been aware of the cases.

It should be noted that as with any lawsuit, innocence is presumed until guilt is proven in court.

DaVita has had its share of trouble inherent with GranuFlo side effects. GranuFlo, and its close cousin NaturaLyte, are agents used in the process of dialysis. Manufactured by a competing dialysis company that also operates a collection of dialysis centers, GranuFlo and NaturaLyte were found to be associated with dosing errors that could elevate a patient’s bicarbonate levels, posing a significant hazard and risking GranuFlo cardiac arrest.

To read the complete article, please click here: https://www.lawyersandsettlements.com/articles/DaVita-Granuflo-Class-Action-lawsuit/davita-healthcare-clinics-granuflo-side-effects-7-19350.html#.UrBmTz9iCwE

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First Major League Baseball Player Diagnosed With CTE

CNN; December 15, 2013

When he was on the baseball field, Ryan Freel was unafraid to fling his body, and his head, into plays — diving after balls and crashing into outfield walls.

That fearlessness earned the undersized Freel a spot in the big leagues, as well as a raft of concussions.

Now, nearly a year after his death, Freel has the distinction of being the first Major League Baseball player to be diagnosed with chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), according to researchers at the Boston University School of Medicine.

“The real important issue is that he hit his head multiple times — small hits, big hits, in baseball and outside of baseball,” said Robert Stern, co-founder of the Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy at BU.

To read the complete article, please click here: https://www.cnn.com/2013/12/15/health/baseball-ryan-freel-cte-suicide/

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Offering Permanent Legal Status a Good Step: Our View

USA Today; December 17, 2013

This was supposed to be the year that Congress actually did something about a festering national problem: immigration.

It got halfway there after last year’s elections spooked Republicans into realizing they’ll become a permanent minority if their policies don’t evolve with the nation’s changing demographics. A major immigration overhaul passed the Senate in June with bipartisan support, then languished in the House of Representatives.

The main holdup is that a segment of House Republicans simply can’t abide creating a path to citizenship for the 11 million or so undocumented people in this country. As lengthy and arduous as the proposed path is, the critics say it amounts to “amnesty” for lawbreakers and would invite a wave of illegal immigration. Some also fear that citizenship would create millions of Democratic voters.

To read the complete article, please click here: https://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2013/12/15/immigration-reform-citizenship-republicans-editorials-debates/4034151/

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In Spite of Massive Settlements, Brain Injury Lawsuits Keep Coming


Lawyersandsettlements.com; December 16, 2013

Washington, DC: In spite of the National Football League (NFL) shelling out $765 million to settle lawsuits related to brain injury, the brain injury lawyer remains increasingly busy as more and more brain injury victims emerge from the shadows. These are professional players of sport in both football and hockey; all claiming their employers should have known about the potential for traumatic brain injury and did little to foster concussion prevention.

One of the lawsuits, filed recently by five former players of the Kansas City Chiefs, cites studies on concussion and brain trauma that date back to the 1920’s.

According to KDVR FOX-31 (Denver, 12/4/13), a study conducted by pathologist Harrison Martland in 1928 labeled repetitive head trauma and degenerative brain disease as the “punch drunk syndrome.” The latter term has been used for decades when referring to pugilists, presumably stemming from a 1934 study by Dr. Harry Parker on neurological degeneration in boxers.

However, among other studies the brain injury lawsuit cites is a 1937 meeting of the American Football Coaches Association, during which participants are said to have acknowledged a “keen awareness” of concussion risk.

To read the complete article, please click here: https://www.lawyersandsettlements.com/articles/brain_injury/brain-injury-lawsuit-traumatic-19-19352.html#.Uq98kz9iCwE

 

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Federal Judge Writes Epic Smackdown of ‘Likely Unconstitutional’ NSA Phone Record Collection

Forbes; December 16, 2013

Thanks to a leak of classified documents by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, we learned this summer that Verizon (and presumably other phone companies) were regularly handing over to the federal government metadata for all of their customers. Metadata being a fancy word for lists of all the phone calls made, which numbers were calling which numbers and how long those conversations lasted.

While jaws were still on the floor regarding the scope of such collection, which would include hundreds of millions of people (including you, unless you don’t have a phone), two Verizon subscribers got to work drafting up a lawsuit. Larry Klayman, a conservative activist, and Charles Strange, father of a Navy SEAL who died in Afghanistan, sued the federal government as well as Verizon, saying that the phone company handing over their information to the feds was a violation of the U.S. Constitution and an “outrageous” breach of privacy. In a scathing opinion out of the D.C. Circuit Monday, federal judge Richard Leon agreed with them, saying the phone metadata collection program is “almost certainly” unconstitutional.

To read the complete article, please click here: https://www.forbes.com/sites/kashmirhill/2013/12/16/federal-judge-writes-epic-smackdown-of-unconstitutional-nsa-phone-record-collection/

 

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Superman creators’ heirs reveal they’re not done fighting WB

Blastr; December 13, 2013

Warner Bros. may have won all of the latest rounds in the Superman copyright battle, but the heirs of creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster aren’t throwing in the towel just yet.

Over the last year, as Superman turned 75 and the latest big-screen incarnation of the character debuted in Man of Steel, Warner Bros. and DC Comics scored a series of legal victories over the Siegel and Shuster families, both represented in the lengthy legal fight by attorney Marc Toberoff. Back in the spring, a federal judge ruled that Siegel’s family had effectively handed over all claim to the character in a 2001 agreement with DC Comics, and just a few weeks ago the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 2-1 that Shuster’s family had basically done the same in a legal agreement with DC in 1992. Now Toberoff and the Shuster family are firing back with a request that the Circuit Court rehear the arguments in the ruling. But why?

To read the complete article, please click here: https://www.blastr.com/2013-12-13/superman-creators-heirs-reveal-theyre-not-done-fighting-wb