Header image

The innocuous “instant soup” cups. You know what I’m talking about. The dry soup mixes that come in a cup and you simply add boiling water, let stand for a minute or two and “voila”–instant soup. This seemingly simple product is masking a very real danger.

Physicians and nurses manning burn centers throughout the country know all too well the dangers, as reported by NPR in its story “Why Burn Doctors Hate Instant Soup.”

09F0D748-7472-4CD1-AE0B-29ADE3FD6936.jpg

Multiple times each week, burn centers across the country receive patients suffering burns caused by instant soup. And the doctors agree–the packaging of the product is simply defective. The cups are lightweight and tapered to a smaller bottom and thus are easily tipped over, sending scalding contents spilling onto people, causing severe burns on the arms, chests and laps. And because noodles retain the heat longer, they can actually cause worse burns.

The answer is simple, say the doctors: redesign the package into a bowl like configuration that is not as susceptible to tipping over.

If you or someone you know has been injured as a result of a defective product, please contact Todd N. Hendrickson at HendricksonLaw.com. for a free consultation.

There has been a lot of discussions in recent months on abolishing the Missouri Court Plan, which provides that, in all appellate courts, including the Missouri Supreme Court, and some county courts, judges will be appointed by the governor from an approved and vetted panel. Those judges will then stand for retention in an election. This has been how Missouri selects and retains its judges for many years. The plan is so successful, that it is hailed around the country as a model to be followed.

But, since Democrat Governor Jay Nixon was elected in 2008, conservatives and business political groups have called for an end to the Missouri Court Plan. (Never mind that they had no problem with the plan when a Republican was doing the appointing …) It has become a main attack point in these highly partisan political times.

Dismantling the Missouri Court Plan is a bad idea. A very bad idea. And you have to look no further than our neighbor Illinois to know why. Illinois elects its judges, including Supreme Court justices. And tens of millions of dollars have been spent in those campaigns in recent years. And what do contributors get for their money? Anything they want.

This article from the Chicago Tribune tells the story in all its sordid detail. Basically, Justice Lloyd Karmeier, a southern Illinois Republican, was elected to the Illinois Supreme Court in 2004 in a race that cost over $9,000,000.

A $1.18 billion dollar judgment had been entered against State Farm if a class action case for breach of contract in providing non-original manufacturer parts in its collision repairs and hiding that fact from its insureds. The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the judgment and then it mades its way to the Illinois Supreme Court.

In filings with the Illinois Supreme Court this week, attorneys for the plaintiffs have alleged and provided supporting documents to demonstrate that Justice Karmeier was actually recruited by State Farm to run for the seat on the Illinois Supreme Court in anticipation of the case being heard. These Court filings indicate that directly and through other entities, State Farm donated between $2.5 million and $4 million dollars to Karemeier’s campaign.

Obviously, I don’t know whether these allegations are true or not. If they are true, it is an eerie parallel to supposed fiction, like John Grisham’s “The Appeal”. If it is true, it is a one of the greatest acts of fraud ever perpetrated.

And even if its not true, it just goes to show you that, inherently, electing judges is fraught with danger. Compare it to the recent Republican debate, in which Governor Perry of Texas said “I’m offended that you think I could be bought with $5,000.” Left unsaid was that he could be bought for $350,000 in campaign contributions. If these allegations are true, State Farm made a damn good investment in Justice Karmeier. $4,000,000 to overturn a $1+ billion dollar judgment? Sounds like a hell of a return on their investment to me.

Medtronic medication pumps are widely used to deliver pain medication, anti-spasm medication and other prescriptions directly into the spinal cord. And the FDA has determined that these pumps can cause serious harm. The FDA has issued a Class 1 recall.

The SynchroMed II implantable pumps, models 8637-20 and 8637-40 are the subject of the recall which has been reported here. A Class 1 recall means that these pumps have a reasonable probability of causing serious adverse health consequences or death. The pumps are failing, apparently due to a defective design relating to the battery.

These pumps are surgically implanted under the skin with delivery tubes placed to the point of delivery. Medtronic is not recommending that the pumps be removed and replaced at this point, says MedPage Today.

If you or a loved one has experienced a failure related to one of these pain pumps, or if you have one of these pumps implanted, you should contact our office to discuss your legal rights. Contact us at 314-721-8833 or at www.stlmedicalmalpractice.com.

The Missouri Board of Healing Arts, the entity that disciplines doctors in Missouri, has been given new powers by the legislature, and those changes to the law have now gone into effect, reports the St. Louis Post Dispatch. That’s a good thing. Among other things, the new law makes it easier for the Missouri Board of Healing Arts to suspend a doctors license on an emergency basis. Probably of most use to the average patient, the new law provides a way for patients to learn more about their doctors, including licenses, board certification, discipline and whether the doctor has been disciplined by another state. Previously this information was literally a state secret. The Missouri Board of Healing Arts didn’t disclose that information.

These changes should make the Missouri Board of Healing Arts more adept at disciplining dangerous doctors. You would think so. But the Board’s first action since the law took effect belies that thought.

You may recall the series of articles the Post Dispatch ran in late 2010 exposing the dismal record of the Board in disciplining doctors in Missouri. One of the featured “doctors” was Krishnarao V. Rednam, who was convicted of overcharging patients and their insurance companies more than $600,000 and destroying patient records. He would bill Medicare for expensive drugs but inject his patients at the St. Louis Eye Clinic with watered down doses or substitute experimental drugs. Rednam was sentenced to 6 months in prison and 4 months of home confinement and ordered to pay more than $400,000 in restitution and fines.

In one of the few cases where the Board of Healing Arts actually acted, it revoked his license until at least 2015. Mind you, this action came only after he had been convicted. But in a stunning reversal, Rednam appealed to the Board to allow him to regain his license. And, reports the St. Louis Post Dispatch, the Board granted that request.

Rednam’s excuse for his actions that led to his conviction? Irrational insanity! Irrational insanity–and you give him back his license to practice medicine? Are you kidding? Know what I call that?

Irrational Insanity.

The Chicago Sun-Times has reported here the the United States Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld a $29,000,000 verdict against doctors and nurses at a federal government-funded clinic that left a common neonatal blood infection untreated for twelve hours, resulting in irreversible brain damage.

Christian Arroyo’s life would have been perfectly normal, had a timely diagnosis been made. Antibiotics would have cleared the infection. Instead, Christian suffers from spastic quadraplegia with cerebral palsy who will require a life-time of care.

H.R. 1063 known as the Strengthening Medicare and Repaying Taxpayers Act of 2011 has done what seemingly nothing else has ever done–it has gotten wide spread support from groups as diverse as the American Association for Justice (the preeminent trial lawyers organization in the United States), the Chamber of Commerce (usually opposed to anything and everything supported by the AAJ), and companies like Walmart, Best Buy and Disney. Its being co-sponsored by Republicans Ron Paul, Tim Murphy, Don Young and Howard Cable, along with Democrats Ron Kind, Diana DeGette, Linda Sanchez and Tammy Baldwin.

Congress.jpeg

So what brings this diverse group of backers together? Strengthening Medicare and Repaying Taxpayers Act of 2011 will reform the way people deal with Medicare when they have a claim for personal injury. Medicare requires that when a person is injured due to someone else’s negligence, whether it is by medical malpractice, an auto accident, a fall, or any other incident where someone else is at fault, and they are receiving Medicare benefits, then Medicare is entitled to be reimbursed for the money it has spent providing medical care. That’s certainly fair. However, the Medicare bureaucracy now does not allow the Medicare recipient to find out how much Medicare is claiming they have paid for that medical care until after a settlement has been reached. This ridiculous rule puts claimants, their attorneys, defendants and their insurers, in the ridiculous position of trying to guess how much Medicare will want to be repaid.

Strengthening Medicare and Repaying Taxpayers Act of 2011 simply requires Medicare to provide that information before a settlement is reached. Simple and fair. The result will be that Medicare (meaning the taxpayers) will receive reimbursement faster. And why wouldn’t that be a good thing?

Call or write your congresman and ask them to please support H.R. 1063 known as the Strengthening Medicare and Repaying Taxpayers Act of 2011.

The New York Times is reporting, what we already know–the number of complaints about metal-on-metal hip implants is surging. And there is no end in sight.

“All-metal replacement hips are on a trajectory to become the biggest and most costly medical implant problem since Medtronic recalled a widely used heart device” in 2007. At the present time, the major problems appear to exist be with the Zimmer Durom and DePuy (Johnson & Johnson) ASR metal-on-metal hip implants. But complaints are surfacing with many brands.

DePuy Debris.jpg

Patients are experiencing reactions, believed to be linked to the shedding of metal debris. Unlike traditional hip implants that use a ceramic or metal ball and a poly-vinyl pelvic cup liner, the metal-on-metal components have metal balls and metal cups. Reactions to the metal debris mimmick severe infections and can attack and destroy bone and soft tissue. In the simplest cases, the metalosis causes the components to loosen and after surgical revision, the patients are recovering normal function after revision. However, in some cases, the metalosis has destroyed so much muscle bone and ligament, that normal revision is not possible. These patients can suffer debilitating pain and loss of function.

If you or a loved one has had a metal-on-metal hip implant, you should immediately consult with an attorney. Please contact Todd N. Hendrickson at stlmedicalmalpractice.com.

DePuy Recall.jpeg

The St. Louis personal injury defense firm, Sandberg, Phoenix and von Gontard, was at the center of a case in St. Clair County (Belleveille), Illinois that resulted in imposition of drastic sanctions.

SPvG represented Safariland, the manufacture of a ballistic shield used by a Belleville police officer. Sgt. Jon Brough was shot in the face by a shotgun five years ago and claimed that the ballistic shield he was using at the time was defectively designed. Sft. Brough lost his eyesight, sense of smell and was disfigured.

After a lawsuit is filed, the attorneys engage in what is known as discovery. This discovery is conducted under oath, and can consist of requests for documents, written questions, called interrogatories, and recorded question sessions, called depositions. The entire discovery process is based upon each party providing truthful answers and admissions to proper questions and requests. That is where the process went astray in Sgt. Brough’s suit.

According to the St. Louis Post Dispatch, Safariland’s attorneys, SPvG, engaged in “deliberate or intentional, systematic, dishonest conduct.” When Judge Lloyd Cueto learned of the misconduct, he took the drastic step of striking Safariland’s pleadings. When a defendant’s pleadings are stricken, the result is that the allegations of the plaintiff would then be submitted to a jury as true. In effect, a jury would be left with little choice but to find for the plaintiff. It can’t be emphasized enough that this is a drastic remedy that is only used in the most egregious instances of misconduct.

Immediately after the sanction was imposed, rather than seeking to appeal the judge’s decision, Safariland settled for a “substantial amount of money.” Our congratulations goes out to our colleague Bruce Cook who represented Sgt. Brough for a well-won battle.

Dr. Richard Berger, a Chicago surgeon who was a long time user of Zimmer implants, has urged the manufacturer to recall some of its artificial knee implants, reports the New York Times.

ZIMMER-articleLarge.jpg

Dr. Berger was a long-time consultant to Zimmer on its products. He began experiencing premature failure of the Zimmer NexGen CR-Flex Porous Femoral knee replacement. A 2010 study indicates that the failure rate after only a few years may be as high as 9%. The study reveals that 36% of patients implanted with the Zimmer NexGen CR-Flex Porous show signs of implant loosening after only 2 years.

Zimmer has responded by criticizing Dr. Berger’s surgical technique, which is interesting, because over the years Zimmer has paid Dr. Berger almost $8 million to lecture and train surgeons in how to use and implant this and other Zimmer products.

To date, Zimmer has refused to order a recall. However, litigation is underway against Zimmer for these high failure rates. If you have a Zimmer knee implant and have experienced knee stiffness, knee pain, diminished motion in the joint, difficulty with weight bearing, have been told that your implant is loose or that you need a revision, you may have a claim against Zimmer for this defective product.

Contact Todd N. Hendrickson at HendricksonLaw.com or 314-721-8833 or toll free at 1-800-557-8176 for a free consultation.

Target has issued a recall on certain models of its Circo and Do Your Room brand step stools. These step stools with built in storage were sold for $25 to $30 between 2007 and 2010.

Circo Step Stool.jpg

Bloomberg News reports that there have been 27 reports of the stools breaking or collapsing and 14 reports of injuries.

If you have been injured as a result of the Target Circo and Do Your Room brand step stools or any other defective product, call or contact Todd N. Hendrickson and Hendrickson Law for a free consultation. You may be entitled to compensation for your injuries.