Archive > August 2009

Bausch & Lomb beats back lens-cleaner lawsuits

admin » 31 August 2009 » In Defective Products, Mass Tort, Verdicts » No Comments

Bausch & Lomb beats back lens-cleaner lawsuits

Bausch & Lomb Inc., rocked by the worldwide recall of its flagship contact lens solution in 2006, has beaten back scientific claims blaming ReNu with MoistureLoc cleaner for a flurry of non-fungal eye infections.

The optical products maker has already paid out more than $250 million to settle roughly 600 lawsuits linking MoistureLoc to a potentially blinding fungal infection known as Fusarium keratitis.

But after a hearing in New York in June on the admissibility of expert evidence, a federal judge in South Carolina said there’s no reliable scientific basis for arguing that MoistureLoc caused another 1,024 lens wearers across the United States to contract assorted bacterial, viral and parasitic infections.

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Investor Group Makes Play For Skype

admin » 28 August 2009 » In Tech News » No Comments

Investor Group Makes Play For Skype

A group of well known venture capital and large private equity firms are pooling resources to make a bid to acquire eBay-owned Skype, according to a source close to the deal.

Investors in the proposed purchase may include newly-formed Andreesen Horowitz, Index Ventures (who were early investors in Skype before the ebay acquisition), and one or more multi-billion dollar private equity firms.

eBay, which announced earlier this year that they would be spinning off the company in an initial public offering in 2010, is said to be looking for $2 billion or more for Skype. Companies quite often talk about IPOs (and even actually file) to generate acquisition buzz.

The Andreeseen Horowitz fund can make single commitments of up to $50 million, so it’s clear a large private equity fund (or two) would need to be involved in the deal as well.

It isn’t clear if current Skype CEO Josh Silverman would continue to lead the company after any acquisition. Sources we’ve spoken with have said he is generally well thought of both within Skype/eBay as well as the possible investors.

Skype, under Silverman, grew revenue to $551 million last year, and eBay has said it expects the company to top $1 billion in revenue in 2011.

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Jury awards punitive damages to smoker’s daughter

admin » 24 August 2009 » In Verdicts » No Comments

Jury awards punitive damages to smoker’s daughter

A jury on Monday recommended that cigarette maker Philip Morris USA should pay $13.8 million in punitive damages to the daughter of a longtime smoker who died of lung cancer.

The panel voted 9-3 in favor of Bullock’s daughter Jodie Bullock, who is now the plaintiff in the case. Betty Bullock died of lung cancer in February 2003.

She had sued Philip Morris in April 2001, accusing the company of fraud and product liability. A jury in 2002 recommended Philip Morris pay a record $28 billion in punitive damages to Bullock, but a judge later reduced the award to $28 million.

In 2008, the 2nd District Court of Appeal reversed the jury’s decision and remanded the case for a new trial over the punitive damages. Philip Morris said the $28 million remained excessive.

However, the original jury recommended the tobacco company pay Bullock $750,000 in damages and $100,000 for pain and suffering, a verdict that still stands.

In a statement, Richmond, Va.-based Altria Group Inc., which owns Philip Morris, said any amount given to Bullock’s daughter is unwarranted.

“After hearing weeks of improper arguments and evidence that violated state and federal law on punitive damages, the jury still managed to reject plaintiff’s patently unreasonable request,” said Murray Garnick, Altria Client Services senior vice president, speaking on behalf of Philip Morris. “Even so, we believe that any punitive damages award is unwarranted based on the facts in this case and that this award is unconstitutionally excessive.”

Defense attorney Frank P. Kelly said outside of court that Philip Morris hasn’t decided yet whether to appeal the decision.

Plaintiff’s attorney Michael Piuze said the jury’s verdict amounted to a “slap on the wrist for Philip Morris.”

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Canadian Researchers Question Safety of GSK’s Avandia

admin » 21 August 2009 » In Defective Products, Mass Tort » No Comments

Canadian Researchers Question Safety of GSK’s Avandia

A group of Ontario researchers is calling into question the continued use of the controversial diabetes drug Avandia, saying a competing drug in the same class is as effective and less dangerous.

The scientists, from Toronto’s Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences, said people taking Actos or pioglitazone for Type 2 diabetes are 23 per cent less likely to be hospitalized for heart failure and 14 per cent less likely to die than people taking Avandia or rosiglitazone.

“I can’t imagine why a patient would want to take rosiglitazone (Avandia) or a doctor would want to prescribe rosiglitazone,” principal investigator Dr. David Juurlink said in an interview.

“It’s got no advantage — not even a theoretical one — over pioglitazone (Actos). And we have this emerging or this increasing body of evidence that it’s not as safe. And the safety signal here is not a trivial problem. Heart failure and death — that’s a big deal.”

The research, published in the medical journal BMJ (formerly the British Medical Association Journal), looked at the anonymous records of nearly 40,000 Ontarians aged 66 and older who took one or the other of the drugs from April 1, 2002 to March 31, 2008.

Previous work had identified that Avandia, made by GlaxoSmithKline, increased the risk of heart attack of people taking it. And it wasn’t clear whether Actos, made by Japanese drug maker Takeda, did as well. Both medications are in the same class of drugs, sometimes called the glitazones or TZDs.

Juurlink and colleagues from ICES set out to see if the cardiac safety profiles of both drugs were similar or if one was safer than the other.

They found real differences in the rates of heart failure and death among people on Avandia. For every 120 people taking Avandia rather than Actos for a year, one more person would be hospitalized with heart failure, the authors said. And for every 269 people who took Avandia rather than Actos for the same period, one person would die.

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Merck Fosamax trial

admin » 13 August 2009 » In Defective Products, Mass Tort » No Comments

Merck Fosamax trial

Merck & Co (MRK.N) on Tuesday is slated to fight the first of numerous U.S. lawsuits brought by patients who claim they suffered jaw damage from the company’s widely used Fosamax treatment for osteoporosis.

Some 1280 plaintiff groups, involving almost 900 cases, have alleged jaw problems due to Fosamax, a one-time blockbuster product that recently began facing generic competition in the United States.

U.S. District Judge John Keenan of Manhattan Federal Court will hear arguments from attorneys for Shirley Boles, a 71-year-old plaintiff from Walton Beach, Florida, who claims to have suffered dental and jaw problems as a consequence of taking Fosamax from 1997 to 2006.

“Unfortunately, Ms. Boles had medical problems that cause people to develop jaw problems, regardless of whether they were taking Fosamax,” Merck said in a statement late Monday.

Fosamax, approved in the United States in 1995, belongs to the bisphosphonate family of osteoporosis drugs that include Procter & Gamble’s (PG.N) Actonel and Roche Holding AG’s (ROG.VX) Boniva. The pills prevent bone fractures — particularly in postmenopausal women — by helping to increase bone mineral density.

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Yamaha’s Rhino: For Some A Deadly Ride

admin » 13 August 2009 » In Defective Products, Recall » No Comments

yamaha rhino recall

Yamaha’s Rhino: For Some A Deadly Ride

n the swath of Kentucky called the Land Between The Lakes, the Turkey Bay Off-Highway Vehicle Area is a rugged expanse of hills and woodlands crisscrossed by 100 miles of trails. Test drivers came here in July, 2002, to try out the Yamaha Rhino, a new breed of off-road vehicle then in development, and had a mishap that would resonate years later.

Keisuke “Casey” Yoshida, president of a U.S. subsidiary of Yamaha Motor Co. Ltd., was behind the wheel of a Rhino prototype. Ike Miyachi, a company vice president in charge of Rhino development, rode beside him in the passenger seat. After descending a long hill to flat ground, the Rhino tipped over, giving Miyachi a foot injury.


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At a meeting weeks later, Yoshida raised a question that now seems prophetic. “Casey wants update on instability of vehicle for future liability cases,” according to minutes obtained by CBS News.

The Rhino was a hit, with more than 150,000 sold after its introduction 15 months later in fall, 2003. But the vehicle, which looks like a cross between a golf cart with attitude, and an all-terrain vehicle, or ATV, is at the center of a legal firestorm. At least 59 riders have been killed in Rhino accidents, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. More than 440 wrongful death and personal injury lawsuits are pending, and Yamaha has settled others. Many stem from rollovers in which drivers or passengers fell or were flung through the open door space to the ground, then smashed by the 1,100 pound vehicle. Adults and children as young as 3 years old have suffered gruesome injuries, including amputated limbs and crushed legs, arms or heads.

Plaintiffs say the Rhino is dangerously unstable due to its unusually narrow stance, high ground clearance and lack of a rear differential to help in turning. They also claim the Rhino’s seat belts tend to unspool during rollovers, resulting in belted occupants being partially ejected.

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Google Shifts Ads (To The Left)

admin » 11 August 2009 » In Google » No Comments

Google Shifts Ads (To The Left)

google-ad-squeeze

Does Google’s search results page feel a little more crowded to you? The ads which used to run down along the right-hand edge of the page are now shifted over to the left, as if to declare, “Hey, look at us!” Maybe this will increase the number of times ads are clicked on. They are certainly more noticeable.

The ads now seem like they are now grouped together with the organic results, whereas before they were shunted off to the side (a legacy of the early days of Google when the purity of organic results was protected as much as possible from being sullied by dirty ads). In fact, on my screen the ads take center stage, with a thin line down the middle forming the slimmest barrier separating them from the natural results. I wonder if this design change has something to do with the popularity of wider screens. But the line and central placement of the ads also conveniently draw the eye.

Is that what is most important now to Google? Don’t bother your mind with such silly questions. Google needs more clicks, and it shall have them.

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Gary Vaynerchuk: Internet is changing the world

admin » 05 August 2009 » In Internet, Marketing » No Comments

Gary Vaynerchuk: Internet is changing the world

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Levaquin Cipro Tendon Ruptures

admin » 03 August 2009 » In Levaquin, Mass Tort » No Comments

Levaquin Cipro Tendon Ruptures

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