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Ethicon and J&J Sued for Designing Defective Hernia Patch

J&J Mesh
By Andrew Emett

A lawsuit was recently filed against Ethicon and Johnson & Johnson for manufacturing an allegedly defective product while failing to adequately inform the plaintiff and his physician of the severe health risks associated with his hernia mesh implant. Although the plaintiff continues to suffer complications due to the hernia mesh, he is currently at higher risk for further complications and might no longer be a candidate for future abdominal surgeries.

On June 22, 2015, Franklin C. Robinson was implanted with a 25 by 20 cm Ethicon multi-layered Physiomesh in order to repair an umbilical hernia. Suffering from complications caused by the implant, Robinson underwent revision surgery on February 29, 2016.

During the revision surgery, doctors were only able to remove part of the hernia mesh after discovering extensive adhesiolyses, which are bands of scar tissues. On June 20, 2016, Robinson underwent another revision surgery in which doctors removed part of his mesh and found more adhesiolyses.

According to the lawsuit filed by Robinson on April 25, in New Jersey Superior Court, he “experienced and/or continues to experience severe pain, nausea, diarrhea, chills, inflammation, loss of appetite, and extreme weight loss which have impaired his activities of daily living.” Because he is at higher risk of severe complications during abdominal surgery, future surgeries to fix complications caused by the Physiomesh may no longer be possible.

“Ethicon Multi-Layered Hernia Mesh created an unreasonable risk of harm to Plaintiff Franklin Robinson,” the lawsuit says. “The unreasonable risk of pain, dense adhesion formation, bowel complications, mesh shrinkage, hernia recurrence, seroma and fistula formation, and infection, whether from a prolonged and pronounced inflammatory response caused by the multiple layers, degradation of polymers due to exposure to gamma irradiation, non-conforming subcomponents, or some other mechanism, renders Ethicon Multi-Layered Hernia Mesh a defective product.”

The lawsuit continues, “Reassurances of device safety were made through direct promotional contact by Defendants’ sales representatives and distributors, through word-of-mouth from Defendant’s physician/technical consultants, and/or through industry targeted promotional materials. Despite these reassurances, the defective design and manufacture of Ethicon MultiLayered Hernia Mesh continued to elicit severe and chronic inflammatory responses, resulting in adhesion formation, bowel injuries, mesh contracture, pain, hernia recurrence, infections, seromas, fistulas, erosion, extrusion, and additional complications.”

In 2016, Ethicon voluntarily issued a worldwide Physiomesh recall due to higher-than-average revision rates after use. According to data collected from two large independent hernia registries, the flexible composite mesh resulted in higher than average rates of recurrence after laparoscopic ventral hernia repair compared to other meshes.

Facebook Users and Investors File Class Action Lawsuits over Data-Sharing Scandal

By Andrew Emett

In response to recent disclosures of Cambridge Analytica collecting the personal data of 50 million Facebook users without their knowledge or consent, at least two class action lawsuits have been filed against Facebook for allowing the breach to occur and failing to take any action to protect its users for two years. In the investor class action lawsuit, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is named in the complaint for giving investors a false and misleading view of the company.

On March 17, Cambridge Analytica (CA) whistleblower Christopher Wylie told The Guardian that secretive U.S. hedge-fund billionaire and Republican donor, Robert Mercer, and former White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon used the data mining company to access the personal information of 50 million Facebook users in order to deploy effective psychological warfare against them during the 2016 presidential election. By posting a survey app on Facebook called “MyDigitalLife,” CA accessed a backdoor allowing them to gather the personal data of the 270,000 people who downloaded the app along with the personal information of all their Facebook friends.

On March 20, Facebook user Lauren Price filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California against Facebook and Cambridge Analytica on behalf of herself and other similarly situated users. Facebook recently banned Cambridge Analytica from advertising on the website but had known about the breach for two years without taking any action.

“This case involves the absolute disregard with which the Defendants have chosen to treat Plaintiff’s Personal Information,” Price’s class action lawsuit states. “While this information was supposed to be protected, and used for only expressly disclosed and limited purposes, CA, without authorization, or by exceeding whatever limited authorization it, or its agents, had, improperly collected the Personal Information of nearly 50 million Facebook users. Facebook, for its part, knew this improper data aggregation was occurring and failed to stop it, or actively avoided discovering such knowledge in order to profess supposed ignorance.”

The complaint continues, “Facebook stored the Personal Information of Plaintiff and members of the Class in its electronic and consumer databases. Defendants represented to Plaintiff and members of the classes that their Personal Information would remain private. Defendants engaged in unfair acts and business practices by representing that they would not disclose this Personal Information without authorization, and/or by obtaining that Personal Information without authorization.

“Plaintiff and the Class members suffered injury in fact and lost money or property as the result of Defendants’ unfair business practices. In particular, Plaintiff and Class members’ Personal Information was taken and is in the hands of those who will use it for their own advantage, or is being sold for value, making it clear that the hacked information is of tangible value.”

On March 20, an investor class action lawsuit was filed by Fan Yuan in California’s Northern district against Facebook, CEO Mark Zuckerberg, and CFO David Wehner. Accusing Facebook of making “materially false and/or misleading” claims about the company’s handling of user data, the complaint pointed out that Zuckerberg knew about the breach for two years without disclosing information to investors who continue to lose money as shares of Facebook have dropped with the recent revelations.

On March 23, Elon Musk deleted the official Tesla and SpaceX pages from Facebook in protest against the company’s handling of the data breach.

Although Zuckerberg publicly apologized for failing to protect the personal data of his users, the Facebook CEO sold more than 1.14 million shares in the two weeks before the Cambridge Analytica reports became public. Cambridge Analytica CEO Alexander Nix was recently suspended after British investigative journalists secretly recorded him gloating about the company’s tactics using bribes, blackmail, and prostitutes to coerce politicians while boasting of CA’s work in the 2016 election on behalf of Donald Trump’s campaign.

Happy Memorial Day From Arentz Law Group

Arentz Law Group would like to wish you all a happy and safe Memorial Day. As a firm we are always working tirelessly on behalf of our clients to ensure that they are protected from dangerous products, and ensure that those who entities that might through action or inaction harm them are held to account. It is a privilege to be the one our clients turn to, and we want to thank you all.

We would be remiss if we didn’t take a moment on this day to remember that without the sacrifices of countless Americans our work and our life here would not have been possible. It cannot be disputed that as a country we are reminded almost daily of how our differences of opinion have become a source of deep division that always seems on the verge of unraveling the nation. The United States has always been made up of a people who have dedicated themselves to the struggle for liberty, equality, and our shared prosperity. Those soldiers, airmen, sailors, and marines who have given their last full measure of devotion to those ideals urge us ever forward.

We cannot thank them, nor their families enough for the sacrifices so few have made for so many. We can only take this opportunity to renew in ourselves the strength and courage required to be better servants to that cause.

Stryker Metal Hip Corrosion Linked to Design

By Emily Cox

Stryker Metal HipA new product liability lawsuit claims that the design of Accolade and LFitV40 components caused a  Stryker metal hip to corrode and fail, resulting in metal blood poisoning and additional invasive surgery.

The lawsuit was filed by David Campbell on March 3. He indicates that Howmedica Osteonics Corp, doing business as Stryker Orthopaedics, sold defective hip components that were likely to corrode and fail.

In April 2010, Campbell had a Stryker Accolade TMZF Hip Stem and Stryker LFit Anatomic V40 femoral head implanted. The artificial hip failed within a few years due to wear and corrosion where the cobalt and chromium femoral head rubbed against the metal hip stem.

Stryker metal hip corrosion can cause loss of mobility, soft tissue damage, and severe pain and discomfort, as well as heavy metal poisoning. Per the claim, Campbell experienced all of these side effects, and some of the damage may be permanent. Consequently, he required hip revision surgery in March 2015 to remove the faulty components.

The lawsuit suggests that revision surgeries are more invasive and complex than original hip replacement surgeries. They also take longer than the original surgeries and have a higher rate of complications.

Campbell alleges that he will require years of additional medical treatment. This may include potential additional revision surgeries due to Stryker metal hip corrosion.

In August 2016, Stryker issued a Stryker LFitv40 hip recall. At this time, Stryker admitted to a high number of individuals reporting problems with hip failure, metal wear, adverse tissue reactions, metal poisoning, and other complications.

Stryker Metal Hip Lawsuits

Campbell joins the growing ranks of individuals filing similar Stryker hip lawsuits due to problems of the metal-on-metal implant.

Legal experts expect that thousands of individuals will file additional lawsuits as Stryker metal hips continue to injure recipients. Hip replacement lawyers are also accepting cases for individuals who still have these components in their bodies. These materials could be releasing toxic levels of metal as their hip replacement corrodes unknown to them.

Attorney General Sessions Faces Congressional Firestorm for not Disclosing Russian Ambassador Meetings

By Emily Cox

Attorney General Sessions
Photo by Gage Skidmore

A growing number of congressional Republicans are calling on Attorney General Jeff Sessions to remove himself from investigations into possible Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. Presidential election now that it has emerged he met with Russia’s ambassador two times while advising Donald Trump’s campaign. Furthermore, he did not disclose these meetings in Senate testimony.

U.S intelligence agencies concluded late last year that Russia hacked and leaked Democratic emails during the presidential election campaign to help Trump win the office. As attorney general, Session heads the Justice Department. The FBI, which is part of this department, has been leading investigations into these allegations and links to Trump’s associates.

During Sessions’ confirmation hearing in January, Senator Al Franken asked Sessions what he would do if “anyone affiliated” with the campaign had been in contact with Russian government officials. He replied that he did not have contact with Russian officials. Sessions also answered “no” to a separate written questionnaire.

“I never met with any Russian officials to discuss issues of the campaign,” Sessions said in a statement late Wednesday. “I have no idea what this allegation is about. It is false.”

The Justice Department has confirmed the two meetings. However, the department also stated that these meetings were within Sessions’ capacity as a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Sessions’ Russian Ambassador Meetings

The Washington Post reports that Sessions had a private conversation in his office with the Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. This meeting happened in September. U.S. intelligence officials have identified this time as the height of the Russian cyber campaign to influence the U.S. presidential race.

The other meeting was during the Republican National Convention in July at a Heritage Foundation event. The event was attended by around 50 ambassadors.

Democrats Calling for Sessions’ Resignation as Attorney General

Top Democrats are going further with their demands. They don’t want Sessions to merely recuse himself from this investigation. They’re calling on him to remove himself as the attorney general entirely. House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi accused Sessions of lying under oath during his Senate confirmation hearing.

“The law has been broken,” Pelosi told reporters.

Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer claims Sessions misled Congress and should resign for the good of the country. In terms of Sessions remaining on the probe into Russia’s involvement with the 2016 election, Schumer said it would be like “Alice in Wonderland” if the administration approves Session investigating himself.

Opposition to Sessions’ Removal

from Russia Investigation

President Trump said there was no need for Sessions to remove himself from the investigation. He added that he has “total” confidence in Sessions.

However, Trump fired his national security adviser, Michael Flynn, last month after it came out that the retired lieutenant general had discussed U.S. sanctions on Russia with Kislyak before Trump’s inauguration and misled Vice President Mike Pense about these conversations.

Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan told reporters that he saw no purpose in Sessions removing himself from the investigation unless Sessions was the subject of the investigation.


Judge to Consider Takata’s $1B Airbag Settlement Offer

By Emily Cox
Airbag Settlement
Photo by Jason Burwen

Detroit, MI — A federal judge will consider Takata Corp’s guilty plea along with its $1 billion airbag settlement offer today.

Takata airbags can explode with too much force, shooting shrapnel into drivers and passengers. Due to this dangerous defect, the Tokyo-based company’s exploding airbags are linked to at least 17 deaths. Furthermore, Takata allegedly hid these deadly risks for about 15 years.

The company is scheduled to enter a guilty plea in Detroit on one count of wire fraud for falsifying data and reports to automakers. In January, Takata agreed to a $25 million criminal fine and to create a $125 million fund for victims. The remaining $850 million will go to a separate fund to reimburse automakers for the largest automotive recall ever. The recall covers more than 100,000 vehicles.

Takata Executives Indicted in Connection with Airbag Settlement

In January, prosecutors unsealed a federal grand jury indictment of Shinichi Tanka, Hideo Nakajima, and Tsuneo. Each of these former Takata executives faces six counts of conspiracy and wire fraud. According to the charges, the trio falsified and altered reports to hide tests from automakers that showed the airbags could rupture since as early as 2000.

Takata Nominates Feinberg to Oversee Airbag Settlement Fund

Takata and the U.S. Justice Department have nominated lawyer Kenneth Feinberg to run $1 billion airbag settlement fund. Accordingly, this nomination will be among the items the judge weighs on today.

Feinberg has experience in administering some of the country’s highest-profile settlements, including General Motor’s ignition switch, Sept. 11, and BP’s 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

Airbag Settlement and Takata’s Sale

Takata’s agreement to settle criminal allegations removes a hurdle to the air-bag maker’s sale. Since this sale is necessary to continue operations and complete its recall, Takata is eager to push forward. Potential buyers include Autoliv Inc. and Key Safety Systems Inc. However, the buyer would need to ensure a stable supply of replacement parts amidst uncertainties surrounding its exposure to future liabilities, including the costs for replacing the airbags.


Former NFL Star Shawne Merriman Sues Under Armour for Trademark Infringement

Photo by Keith Allison
By Emily Cox

Multiple media outlets are reporting that ex- San Diego Charger Shawne Merriman has filed a trademark infringement lawsuit against the sportwear manufacturer over its Stephen Curry basketball shoe line’s marketing.

The lawsuit, filed by Merriman and his company, Lights Out Holdings, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California, alleges that Under Armour marketed its athletic footwear line using the professional basketball player Stephen Curry and the name “Curry 3 Lights Out” with numerous blogs posted about “Curry 3 Lights Out” shoes as well as a “Lights Out” game for use on mobile devices.

According to the complaint, Under Armour had reached a settlement with Merriman and Lights Out Holdings in a similar dispute in March 2015.

“It is amazing to me that Under Armour is again involved in the use of the ‘Lights Out’ mark,” said Merriman. “I hope we are able to resolve this case amicably as well.”

In addition to trademark infringement, the plaintiffs are also accusing Under Armour of false endorsement, federal unfair competition, common law unfair competition, breach of contract, and violation of the California Business and Professions Code.

Merriman and Lights Out Holdings seek a permanent injunction against Under Armour’s activities with damages being determined by a jury. Merriman and Lights Out seek $2 million per item sold, offered for sale or otherwise distributed.

The claim states Under Armour has resisted overtures to amicably resolve the matter without litigation. Under Armour has released a statement that they plan to defend the case and find Merriman’s claims without merit.

Merriman has previously sued The Vermont Teddy Bear Company for using “lights out” on pajamas; Storm Products for using the phrase on bowling balls; and Nike for continuing a Lights Out clothing line without him. These cases have all settled.

Lights Out Holdings own the federally registered trademark for “Lights Out.” “Lights Out” was Merriman’s nickname during his NFL career where he was selected as “NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year,” and to the Pro Bowl and All-Pro teams in his first three seasons with the San Diego Chargers from 2005 – 2007.


Past Month Shows Surge in New Taxotere Lawsuits

According to an update from the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML), as of January 17, 2017, there were 705 lawsuits involving the chemotherapy treatment Taxotere (docetaxel) and permanent hair loss. When the JPML issued its last update on December 15, 2016, there were only 267 lawsuits. The centralized litigation in the Eastern District of Louisiana under U.S. District Judge Kurt D. Engelhardt started with 33 cases in October 2016.

Many consumers are only now just learning that permanent alopecia is a side effect of Taxotere even though Sanofi-Aventis has known about the side effect for more than a decade.  Until recently, the U.S. label for Taxotere stated that “hair generally grows back.” Taxotere label warnings were updated to include permanent alopecia as a side effect on November 24, 2015.

The U.S. label now warns: “In most cases, normal hair growth should return. In some cases (frequency not known), permanent hair loss has been observed.” These label changes were made in Canada and Europe in 2005 and 2012 respectively.

Sanofi-Aventis’ clinical trials in the 1990s found a 9.2 percent frequency in permanent hair loss during the 10-year follow-up period in women with breast cancer who underwent chemotherapy with Taxotere, Adriamcycin, and Cyclophosphamide (TAC). A study published in 2014, conducted by the Clatterbridge Cancer Center in the UK, found 15.8 percent of women who were given the drug for early breast cancer treatment experienced long-term alopecia.

While Taxotere is approved for several types of cancer, the lawsuits primarily involve women who used the chemotherapy as treatment for breast cancer and experienced some sort of permanent hair loss.  Many of these women who had slow-growing cancers allege that they would have chosen a different chemotherapy drug if they had been warned about the risk.

The multidistrict litigation states that Sanofi-Aventis failed to warn doctors and patients about the link between permanent hair loss and Taxotere.

If you or a loved one underwent Taxotere treatments and experienced permanent hair loss, you may be eligible for compensation. Please fill out the contact form on this page, call Arentz Law Group at 1-800-305-6000, or text 800-440-4400 to begin a free review of your claim.

Obama Names Merrick Garland Nominee to the US Supreme Court

CNN reports that President Barack Obama has named Judge Merrick Garland as his nominee to the US Supreme Court to fill the vacancy created in the unexpected passing of Justice Antonin Scalia. Judge Garland currently sits as the chief judge on the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, and was short listed as a nominee to the high court previously. He was appointed to his current position by former President Bill Clinton after serving as lawyer for the US Justice Department, where he was a lead investigator in the Oklahoma City Bombing and and Unabomber cases.

The announcement of the selection of Judge Garland by the White House comes following statements by Senate Republicans following the death of Justice Scalia that they will not consider any nominees until after the inauguration of the next President following this year’s election. Although Judge Garland is well received by members of both parties, GOP leaders have reiterated their refusal to consider a new justice.

During his announcement made from the White House Rose Garden, President Obama made the case for his nominee saying,”I have selected a nominee who is widely recognized not only as one of America’s sharpest legal minds, but someone who brings to his work a spirit of decency modesty, integrity, even-handedness and excellence,” Obama said. “These qualities and his long commitment to public service have earned him the respect and admiration from leaders from both sides of the aisle.”

There is hope that sufficient pressure can be applied to Republican members of the Senate concerned with legacy building and electoral challenges in their home states that the stated deadlock can be broken. However, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and GOP Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Chuck Grassley are unyielding in their resolve to block the appointment process.

“The American people may well elect a president who decides to nominate Judge Garland for Senate consideration,” McConnell said. “The next president may also nominate someone very different. Either way, our view is this: Give the people a voice in the filling of this vacancy.”

When asked for comment, presidential candidate Donald Trump said he agrees with position of Republican lawmakers, “I think the next president should make the pick. And I think they shouldn’t go forward. And I believe I’m pretty much in line with what the Republicans are saying,” Trump told CNN’s Chris Cuomo Wednesday on “New Day.”

Until a new justice is appointed, the Supreme Court will continue to operate and hear cases with eight court members, equally divided between Republican and Democratic appointments. In the case of a 4-4 decision on any issues before the court, the lower court ruling will stand, with no precedent set by the nation’s highest court.

Currently the Supreme Court is set to hear challenges to public sector unions, affirmative action admissions at the University of Texas, abortion rights, voting rights, the Affordable Healthcare Act (Obamacare)’s contraception mandate, and challenges to executive action on illegal immigration in the coming term.

White House Expected to Name Supreme Court Nominee Next Week

As the current events in the nation’s capitol continue to be shaped by the untimely passing of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia the White House has hinted that President Obama may make appoint a replacement to the high court as early as next week. On going news coverage from the major news outlets has indicated that any potential nominee would face significant difficulty advancing through confirmation in the Senate. The full significance of the Supreme Court vacancy has already made itself felt in the presidential race. CBS Evening News reported on February 15th that a “quiet memorial” was observed outside the Supreme Court for Justice Scalia, where the eight justices will return next week to begin the upcoming session. In the upcoming term for the court many of the controversial cases regarding abortion, affirmative action, presidential power, immigration, and the Affordable Healthcare Act (Obamacare), may leave the court deadlocked in the absence of a deciding vote. Without a Supreme Court decision lower court rulings will stand, and no national precedents will be offered.

NBC Nightly News reiterated that with the creation of a vacancy previously held by one the Supreme Court’s conservative justices the balance of the body is now “in limbo…as lines are drawn for an epic battle between Democrats and Senate Republicans who are determined to leave the choice up to the next president. ABC World News added that, “within an hour ‘of Scalia’s death, Senate Majority Leader McConnell drew the battle lines declaring’,’This vacancy should not be filled until we have a new president.’ Then, President Obama weighed in, paying tribute to Scalia, but making it clear, he’s ready to fight to replace him’.”

President Obama is already in discussions with his top advisers regarding the selection of the new Supreme Court nominee. The new selection is expected to be submitted for consideration by the Senate as soon as the body returns to Washington next week. Principal Deputy Press Secretary Eric Schulz said, “As soon as the Senate returns, the President was very clear that he is going to fulfill his constitutional responsibility to nominate a successor to Justice Scalia…There are no caveats. The Constitution does not include exemptions for election years, or for the president’s last term in office. There’s no exemption for when a  nomination would tip the balance of the court.”

Currently two possible candidates are considered most likely to be put forward by President Obama, Attorney General Lynch and District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Sri Srinvasan. Judge Srinvasan is thought to be the most likely choice, an Indian immigrant who was unanimously approved by the Senate in his appointment to the appeals bench. Head of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Charles Grassley, has already stated that he intends to follow Senate Mitch McConnell’s lead, stalling any attempts to put a new justice in the Supreme Court.

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