Archive for November, 2008

Fosamax Lawsuits

Wednesday, November 26th, 2008

Fosamax is a bisphosphonate drug used to maintain and improve the amount of minerals and calcium in the bones. Fosamax is actually the Merck & Co. brand name of the generic drug alendronate. It was designed to help patients with osteoporosis, which reduces bone density. It can also be used to treat osteitis deformans, also known as Paget’s disease. Researchers believe that the drug can start having a positive effect within the first three months of use. It was approved for use by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1995.

While Fosamax can reverse the reduction in bone density in patients with bone disease, some think it can also have a severe side effect. It is believed that users of Fosamax can develop osteonecrosis of the jaw (ONJ), which is often referred to as “dead jaw.” This involves the very painful death of jawbone tissue. The symptoms of ONJ include pain in the jaw, a feeling of numbness, loosening of teeth, soft tissue infections, and the possible exposure of bone within the mouth.

Studies have shown that there is a link between taking Fosamax and ONJ. It is believed that women taking Fosamax for more than five years are at a higher risk. Some physicians were concerned about the use of Fosamax when the FDA approved it in 2005. This concern was due to the fact that the clinical trials that Merck performed on Fosamax were only for three to five years, which might not have shown true long term effects. When problems started arising, the FDA requested that the labels be changed to warn patients of potential ONJ risk in 2005. Merck & Co. added the warning, perhaps to not only warn patients, but also avoid potential lawsuits.

The May/June 2008 issue of Journal of Orthopaedic Trauma reported fractures occurring in thighbones for no apparent reason and found that 19 of the 20 patients who suffered these fractures had been taking Fosamax for about seven years. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism reported the cases of nine women taking Fosamax who suffered spontaneous fractures in 2005. Many of the fractures took up to two years to completely heal. In 2006, the Journal of American Medical Association reported the FLEX trial, which showed that women who take Fosamax longer than five years are at the same risk for fractures as those who stopped taking the drug at five years.

A 60 year old woman from Florida filed suit against Merck & Co. After using Fosamax for six years to treat her osteoporosis, she developed a severe case of ONJ, which rotted her mouth and bared the bone in her jaw. It is believed that a total of 655 lawsuits accusing Merck & Co. of not warning patients of the potential hazards of Fosamax have been filed as of June 30, 2008.

Mount Airy Lawsuit

Friday, November 21st, 2008

Mount Airy Casino Resort in the Poconos is suing Nevada-based software firm Tech Results for fraud and breach of contract. The lawsuit, which was filed in Scranton last week, claims that Tech Results mislead the casino and sold faulty equipment.

Mount Airy purchase a casino information management system from Tech Results which was supposed to record patron’s personal information as well as their slot machine and gaming activities, including how much the patron won. Before it opened, Mount Airy also purchased a related system from the company that would create a database of patron information in May 2007. The system plus installation and maintenance came to a total of $416,000.

The lawsuit claims that Mount Airy officials were told by Tech Results representatives that the systems would work with each other. One of the key aspects of the systems working together was that Tech Result’s kiosks (purchase at a cost of $80,000) would record the play of “Swipe and Win” and “Virtual Scratch-Off” games. The wins were supposed to go in the system and credit the player’s card. When the patron played a slot machine the next time, the credits redeemed at the kiosk would appear on his or her card.

Mount Airy says the systems did not work and patrons never got credited for their wins. The lawsuit claims the kiosks could not be used and that Mount Airy lost approximately $5 million because of the faulty equipment.

Sears Sued in Class Action Lawsuit Regarding Lawnmowers

Friday, November 21st, 2008

If you have purchased a lawnmower from Sears in the last fourteen years, you may be interested in some recent lawsuits filed against the company. A class action suit was filed in Scranton, Pennsylvania on October 16th against Sears and other manufacturers including Toro, Honda, Deere & Company, Kohler Co., and Electrolux Home Products, Inc for fraud. The lawsuit claims that the lawnmowers were sold with labels stating that the engines produced a high horsepower than they actually did. This includes labels listing the gross horsepower of the mower, which is theoretically the maximum horsepower, but not as accurate as the net horsepower. Other lawsuits have been filed in New Jersey, Illinois, and Texas with the same claims.

The defendants of the lawsuits were all members of the “Power Labeling Task Force” in 2001. That group met to discuss how to misrepresent horsepower to consumers as well as conceal horsepower fraud. The group suggested putting a disclaimer on the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI) web page titled “Understanding Horsepower” which would mislead consumers as to horsepower issues. The group then created the labeling standard “SAE J1940” to conceal the fact that the horsepower listed on the lawnmower was less than consumers would probably get from the product. The SAE J1940 label allowed manufacturers to up the horsepower as much as 15% more than could be produced.

The class action lawsuit also claims the group decided to use standard “SAR J1995,” which allowed manufacturers to list gross horsepower on labels. The gross horsepower of the lawnmower is less than the net horsepower unless used under specific laboratory conditions, but because it seems like a more powerful number, it was believed that it could be used to deceive the consumers.

Some of the lawnmowers involved in the lawsuit were sold under the names of Craftsman, Cub Cadet, Troy Bilt, Yard-Man, Yard Machines, Bolens, White Outdoor, Lawn-Boy, Exmark, Poulan, Poulan PRO, Weed Eater and Husqvarna. If you purchased one of these brands of lawnmowers from Sears since 1994, you may want to contact a lawyer to see if your mower may be involved in the lawsuit.

Lean Cuisine Meals Recall

Friday, November 21st, 2008

Nestle, who produces the Lean Cuisine brand of frozen diet meals, is recalling almost 800,000 pounds of chicken dinners. It is believed that some of the meals may contain a small piece of hard plastic. So far, the company has received a few complaints from customers, with one reported injury.

The products involved in the recall are:

  • 9.5-ounce packages of “Lean Cuisine Pesto Chicken with Bow Tie Pasta.” The code “8280595912” with the best by date of May 2010 is in the recall.
  • 10.5-ounce packages of “Lean Cuisine Chicken Mediterranean.” The codes “8231595912” or “8241595912” with the best by date of Sep 2010; the codes “8263595912,“ “8269595911” or “8274595912” with the best by date of Oct 2010; and codes “8291595912” or “8301595912” with the best by date of Nov 2010 is in the recall.
  • 12.5-ounce packages of “Lean Cuisine Chicken Tuscan.” The code “8234595911” with the best by date of Sep 2009; the codes “8253595911” or “8269595912” with the best by date of Oct 2009; and the codes “8292595911” or “8296595911” with the best by date of Nov 2009 are in the recall.

Products in the recall may be returned to the supermarket for a full refund. Find out more information about the recall by calling Lean Cuisine at 1-800-993-8625.

Sprint-Nextel Sued in Class Action Lawsuit Over Early Termination Fees

Wednesday, November 19th, 2008

Sprint-Nextel Corp. is facing a federal class-action lawsuit which was filed against them by subscribers. In the lawsuit, the plaintiffs are seeking reimbursement for early termination fees (ETFs). This lawsuit comes on the heels of another ETF lawsuit case that was held in July. The judge for that lawsuit determined that Sprint-Nextel had indiscriminately charged fees in an attempt to prevent dissatisfied customers from dropping their services, which was a violation of California state law. The judge ordered Sprint-Nextel to pay $73 million in compensation to approximately 1.9 million customers.

Now, the plaintiffs of this class-action lawsuit hope to find Sprint-Nextel, the third largest provider of wireless services, in violation of federal law as well as statutory law for all 50 states. The new lawsuit claims that Sprint-Nextel has been charging inappropriate fees of between $150 and $200 since 1999 and that these fees are in violation of the Federal Communications Act in every state, not just California. The lawsuit seeks $1.2 billion in reimbursement.

Attorney Scott Bursor, who is now promoting the federal class-action suit after working on the California suit, says he intends to prove the fees violate federal law. Bursor was also involved in a class-action suit in July against Verizon Wireless in which they were ordered to pay $21 million in reimbursement for ETFs.

Matthew Sullivan, a spokesman for Sprint-Nextel, said that the federal class-action suit is “cynical and opportunistic.” The jury in the original case ruled in the favor of Sprint-Nextel, however, the judge’s ruling was against the company. Therefore, the ruling in the California case is preliminary and not final. Judge Bonnie Sabraw of the Alameda County, California Superior Court will finalize the decision within 90 days of the hearing.

In October, Sprint-Nextel issued a revised ETF policy. The $200 fee will be decreased by $10 each month starting in the seventh month of the customer’s contract. By the 15th month of the contract, the ETF will be $100, which is the lowest pro-rated fee in the cell phone industry. The new ETF policy applies to both new and existing customers.

Dell Gender Discrimination Suit

Monday, November 17th, 2008

Dell Inc., the Texas-based multinational technology company, is facing two gender and age discrimination lawsuits filed by former executives. Four female human resources executives filed a class action lawsuit on October 29 in San Francisco, California, claiming that Dell laid them all off unfairly. In the last year, Dell has cut almost 9,000 jobs from its global workforce of 80,000. The women are seeking $500 million dollars in damages.

Steven L. Wittels, founding partner of Sanford Wittels & Heisler, LLP, who is serving as the class counsel for the case, said, “At Dell, it is an understatement to say that women face a glass ceiling — Dell’s glass ceiling is made of concrete.” The plaintiffs claim that they were passed over for promotions and raises despite getting good performance reviews and therefore feel they were systematically discriminated against. One of the former executives, Jan Chapman, said that she was repeatedly passed over for promotions that went to younger, less qualified men.

It is believed that 80% of the executives at Dell, the second largest computer maker, are male. Dell spokesmen refused to comment, but its website says that 32% of its U.S.-based vice presidents are female and people of color. Another plaintiff, Bethany Riches, said her supervisor told her that her ascent at Dell was “breaking into arguably one of the toughest old boy networks in Dell.” A third plaintiff, Mildred Chapman, who is 59 years old, said that Dell not only unfairly targeted women, but also employees over the age of 40 during its recent layoffs.

A second lawsuit was filed in the same week in Austin, Texas by Jill Hubley. Hubley, who is seeking class-action status for her lawsuit, was a senior strategist in human resources and she too is claiming gender discrimination.

David Frink, a spokesman for Dell, said, “We believe the claims of this suit are without merit.” He went on to say “Dell is an equal opportunity company. Dell does not tolerate discrimination in any aspect of employment and we’ll vigorously defend any claims that we are not acting in accordance with the law or our policies.”

Suits like are subject to a time limit by federal law. Recently, the Senate Republicans blocked a bill that would have removed the time limits on such lawsuits.

Express Scripts Possible Data Breach

Wednesday, November 12th, 2008

When you give your personal information to a company, you assume it is safe, right? That isn’t always the case. Express Scripts, a pharmacy benefit manager, provides fills about 500 million prescriptions a year, with the TRICARE military program being its largest client. In October, the company received an anonymous letter that threatened the company with extortion. The letter said that if the requested monies were not received, the perpetrator would expose millions of personal client records on the Internet, which could lead to identity fraud.

To show that he or she was serious, the anonymous person included the names, social security numbers, addresses, dates of birth, and some prescription information of 75 Express Scripts clients. In addition to Express Scripts receiving the threatening letter, several clients also received a similar letter. The clients whose information was contained within the extortion letters have been notified.

Express Scripts notified the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), which is currently looking into the case. The company has also started its own investigation, including professionals in the data security and computer forensics industry, to try to identify the culprit.

It is still unknown as to whether someone inside or outside the company stole the information, but the company is very serious about finding the individuals responsible for this crime. Express Scripts has offered a $1 million dollar reward to anyone who helps them catch the persons responsible for the threat.

Right now, it is believed that the only misuse of personal information was that of the clients listed in the extortion letters, although the company declined to say how many clients were actually involved. It has offered free identity restoration services to identity theft victims through Kroll, Inc. CEO George Paz said in a statement that the company wanted to assure clients that it had the company’s “constant support until their issues are resolved.”

If you are use Express Scripts and have concerns about your personal information, wish to learn more about how to protect your identity, or believe that your identity has been stolen, contact the company through their support web page (http://www.esisupports.com/). Those having any information about the theft should contact the FBI at 1-800-CALL-FBI.

Jabra Headset Recall

Wednesday, November 12th, 2008

Jabra, the maker of headsets for phones, has made a recall of one of its popular sets. The GN9120 wireless headsets have been recalled due to reports of the ATL lithium-ion polymer battery overheating, which can cause burns.

The cause of the overheating is believed to be an internal short circuit. Around half a million of the headsets, used primarily in offices and call centers, are involved in the recall. The headsets were sold through GN Netcom and others between January 2005 and September 2008 at a cost of between $150 and $350.

Those headsets involved in the recall have a light or dark grey base station and the name GN Netcom or GN9120 on the front of the base station and headset. The GN9120 LR with the black base station is not part of the recall.

To check to see if you have an ATL battery, lift the headset up and take off the ear cushion. After separating the boom arm and speaker from wearing style, you should be able to see the battery. If the headset has a battery with a white plastic enclosure that does not have a “Made by Synergy” sticker, please stop using the headset and unplug the power adapter immediately.

The battery can be replaced by calling 877-803-6467 or by contacting Jabra through their web page .

ReliOn Insulin Syringe Recall

Saturday, November 8th, 2008

On October 9, 2008 Covidien LP recalled ReiOn Insulin Syringes, 1cc, 31-gauge,100 units for use with U-100 Insulin. These are sterile, single use, disposable, hypodermic syringes with permanently affixed hypodermic needles. The FDA reports the lot number in question is 813900 and the product code is 38396-0403-02. The product in question was manufactured in June 2008 and sold from July through October 8, 2008 at Sam’s Club and Wal-Mart store pharmacies.

The reason for this product recall: some of the packages were mislabeled. Syringes that were meant for use with U-40 insulin were mixed with syringes labeled for use with U-100 insulin. The use of the mislabeled syringes could possibly result in patients receiving more than 2.5 times the intended dose of insulin which could lead to complications such as hypoglycemia (extremely low blood sugar) and other serious health consequences.

About 471,000 individual syringes in 4,710 boxes are affected by this recall. The FDA suggests patients who purchased these ReliOn syringes check the lot number on the packaging of the product and if it is the same as the one in the recall to not use them and to return it to your local Sam’s Club or Wal-Mart Pharmacy for a replacement.