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Jenson Farms under Threat of Criminal Charges from Cantaloupe Listeria Outbreak

Though criminal prosecution for tainted food outbreaks is historically rare, Jensen Farms and its owners remain under threat of criminal charges being filed against them, the Denver Post has reported.

Legal analysts say that federal prosecutors are seeking evidence of willful negligence so that the charges against Jensen Farms for the listeria tainted cantaloupe outbreak that killed 29 people can be elevated to felonies. However, agricultural experts have reported that changes made 2011 led the owners to believe its cantaloupes would be safe. Also, there has been no evidence to show that Eric or Ryan Jensen had any knowledge of danger from their cantaloupes before investigations tracked the listeria to their farm. More Jenson Farms under Threat of Criminal Charges from Cantaloupe Listeria Outbreak

Class Action Filed Against H&R Block over Loan Fees

A federal class action lawsuit has been filed against H&R Block and its affiliates and subsidiaries H&R Block Services, HRB Tax Group, H&R Block Enterprises, and H&R Block Eastern Enterprises. The lawsuit claims H&R Block “aggressively” markets tax-refund anticipatory loans at “exorbitant triple-digit interest rates to working poor and minorities” with “finance charges, what when properly calculated in accordance with the Truth in Lending Act, often exceed 100 percent APR,” Courthouse News reported.

Anthony Johnson and Phyllis Robinson, two named plaintiffs in the class action lawsuit, say that H&R Block did not provide “any disclosures regarding the APR or finance charges,” regarding the refund anticipation loans. The complaint also states, “…these aggressively marketed bank products provide little to no value to consumers at predatory interest rates and fees, often in conjunction with exorbitant tax preparation fees for straightforward tax filings.” The complaint continues, “The Department of Treasury has determined that RAL [refund anticipation loan] usage is highly concentrated in poor and minority communities. Across the U.S., just 20 percent of all communities account for nearly 70 percent of all RALs. Defendant and other tax preparers target these high-interest-rate loans to minorities and the working poor, particularly those who receive the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). The median adjusted gross income among RAL consumers is $19,768. In 2008, although only 17 percent of tax filers received the EITC, EITC claimants comprised 64 percent of RAL consumers. Viewed another way, 33 percent of EITC claimants purchased a RAL, compared to only 3 percent of non-EITC claimants.” More Class Action Filed Against H&R Block over Loan Fees

Chaikin, of Parker Waichman Alonso LLP Appointed to Dial Complete Litigation Plaintiff Steering Committee

Jordan L. Chaikin, Esq., a partner at the national law firm of Parker Waichman Alonso LLP has been appointed to the Plaintiffs Steering Committee in the Dial Complete marketing and sales litigation. The case is currently underway in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Hampshire. Judge Steven J. McAuliffe, who is presiding over the litigation, appointed Chaikin to the Plaintiffs Steering Committee, which will conduct and coordinate the discovery stage of the litigation with the defendant’s representatives. The committee also acts as the spokesperson for all plaintiffs during pretrial proceedings and responds to all court inquiries, among other things.

The plaintiffs in the litigation accuse Dial made of making unsubstantiated health claims in the marketing and promotion of the Dial Complete line of products. They also allege that the active antibacterial ingredient in Dial Complete, Triclosan, may lead to bacterial resistance. More Chaikin, of Parker Waichman Alonso LLP Appointed to Dial Complete Litigation Plaintiff Steering Committee

Pfizer Pay $60 million Settlement in Bribery Investigation

The Wall Street Journal has reported that Pfizer Inc has agreed to pay over $60 million to settle bribery charges and an investigation by US regulators into whether the drug company was paying bribes to foreign officials to obtain business.

The US Department of Justice announced in November 2009 that it was going to focus a wide-ranging probe into the pharmaceutical industry and prosecute those who pay bribes for preferential treatment of products, Reuters reported. More Pfizer Pay $60 million Settlement in Bribery Investigation

Engineering Firm Settles Asbestos Lawsuit for $10 Million

A lawsuit filed by Nancy Lopez against U.S. Engineering in Missouri Supreme Court has been settled for $10 million. Lopez, who died in 2010 from mesothelioma, a type of cancer that is caused by exposure to asbestos, worked 27 years at the Jackson County Courthouse in Kansas City, where, the lawsuit claimed, the engineering firm mishandled asbestos. “The only thing she did wrong was to come to work every day,” said the Lopez’s’ attorney. “U.S. Engineering didn’t follow the proper rules and procedures. And there are still significant amounts of asbestos in the courthouse.”

The settlement is the largest asbestos settlement in the state of Missouri. Ruth Lopez, Nancy’s mother, will receive $5.9 million of the settlement, while the law firm that handled the case will receive $4 million. Buchanan County Circuit Court Judge Patrick Robb was scheduled to hear the lawsuit, and a lengthy jury trial was expected. More Engineering Firm Settles Asbestos Lawsuit for $10 Million

Yaz Plaintiffs Denied Access to Bayer Secrets

US District Judge David Herndon has denied a motion to remove confidentiality from 48 off the 22 million documents produced by Bayer over lawsuits claiming that women were injured by the Yaz and Yasmin contraceptives.

“Litigants do not have an unfettered First Amendment right to disseminate documents obtained through the discovery process,” he wrote More Yaz Plaintiffs Denied Access to Bayer Secrets

Additional Lawsuits Expected in Penn State Sexual Abuse Scandal

Attorneys for people who say they were victimized by the former Penn State defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky have been coming forward, the Associated Press reported, increasing the likelihood of civil lawsuits being filed after the criminal charges against him are resolved.

The AP also said that legal experts claim that the school, Sandusky, and others who are likely to be named as defendants will all face different levels and types of legal issues as the discovery process during any civil trials would generate more information than what is garnered during a criminal trial as the defendants have less rights against self-incrimination. More Additional Lawsuits Expected in Penn State Sexual Abuse Scandal

Lawsuit Claims Smith & Nephew Knee Component was Defective

Barbara Griffin, who alleges the Smith & Nephew lateral proximal tibia locking plate in her knee implant was defective and broke less than six months after being implanted, has filed a product liability lawsuit against Smith & Nephew in US District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi.

The lawsuit claims the Smith & Nephew knee was implanted on November 11, 2009. An X-ray taken in March 2010 showed the plate was broken, and further investigation found the break was caused by the fatigue of everyday use, which makes the component defective. More Lawsuit Claims Smith & Nephew Knee Component was Defective

J&J Reports on Costs of DePuy ASR Recall and Pinnacle Hip Litigation

Johnson & Johnson’s Third Quarter Earnings Report, filed with the SEC, details the costs associated with litigation of the DePuy Pinnacle and ASR hip replacement lawsuits. The report, according to a press release by law firm representing some plaintiffs, says that its “subsidiaries are involved in numerous product liability cases” in which the “damages claimed are substantial.” Specifically, the report states that “[m]ultiple products of the Company’s subsidiaries are subject to product liability claims and lawsuits in which claimants seek substantial compensatory and, where available, punitive damages.”

The report says that at the beginning of October, there were 3,500 pending ASR hip replacement lawsuits pending, and 560 Pinnacle hip replacement lawsuit pending. The report also says that litigation expenses and recall costs of $223 million were recorded in nine months. More J&J Reports on Costs of DePuy ASR Recall and Pinnacle Hip Litigation

More Lawsuits Filed over Sexual Side Effects of Propecia

More men have filed lawsuits alleging that the use of Propecia has caused them to suffer serious and possibly permanent side effects, including impotence, erectile dysfunction, and infertility. Propecia, manufactured by Merck, is a prescription medication used as a treatment for male pattern baldness.

Vincent and Karen Mennella filed a lawsuit against Merck in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois last week, stating that Vincent began taking the drug in 2008 and suffered serious sexual dysfunction and cognitive impairment including depression, and that the side effects continued even after stopping the medication. The lawsuit also alleges that Merck failed to warn consumers that the drug could cause permanent sexual side effects and cognitive issues, even though the company warned men in other countries that the side effects could be permanent. The suit says that Merck downplayed the risks in the US, and that it continues to provide misleading information, including that the side effects will resolve once the medication is discontinued. More More Lawsuits Filed over Sexual Side Effects of Propecia