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Federal Regulators Promise to Investigate Deadly Takata Airbags

Federal safety regulators have pledged to delve deep into an investigation of deadly Takata airbags, which have prompted 10 automakers to recall more than 12 million vehicles globally.

U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Ed Markey (D-Mass.) said on Friday the Justice Department needs to open a criminal investigation into allegations of a cover-up at least a decade old. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) believes Takata has had serious problems with its airbags dating back to 1998, years before the air bag and safety-belt supplier is alleged to have quietly tested dozens of airbags after one of the bags malfunctioned in an Alabama crash that sent shrapnel flying into the passenger compartment, injuring the driver, according to USA Today. More Federal Regulators Promise to Investigate Deadly Takata Airbags

OxyContin Makers Face Huge Penalty for Allegedly Contributing to Widespread Drug Addiction

After winning more than 400 dismissals of personal-injury lawsuits and avoiding more than 10 efforts to wage class-actions against it, the maker of the highly addictive painkiller OxyContin may have to pay a devastating $1 billion over allegations that the company contributed to widespread drug addiction.

OxyContin, also known as Hillbilly Heroin, is a powerful opioid painkiller that offers 12 hours of time-released relief, which allows patients to take fewer pills. Drug addicts discovered how to defeat the time-release system as soon as OxyContin hit the market in 1995. By crushing the pills, drug abusers could snort or inject the drug for an intense, immediate high. The drug’s maker, Purdue Pharma, developed a tamper-resistant version of OxyContin in 2010, but a 2012 study found that many addicts simply turned to heroin and other drugs to get high, according to NewsLeader.com. More OxyContin Makers Face Huge Penalty for Allegedly Contributing to Widespread Drug Addiction

New Jersey Defense Attorneys who Used Facebook to Gather Information on a Victim in a Personal Injury Suit Face Ethics Charges

A New Jersey appeals court will decide whether the Office of Attorney Ethics (OAE) has the legal right to file ethics grievances against two defense lawyers who used instructed a paralegal to “friend” the plaintiff in a personal injury case on Facebook to gather information about him, and whether the judges themselves even have the authority to get tangled in the dispute.

In 2007, an Oakland, New Jersey, man filed a lawsuit alleging that he was doing push-ups in the driveway of the local firehouse when he was struck by a police officer’s cruiser. The man suffered a fractured femur that required multiple surgeries. The defense lawyers in the case had a paralegal “friend” the plaintiff on Facebook to gain information about him, court documents obtained by the New Jersey Law Journal show. The plaintiff’s attorney discovered the scheme following a deposition in which one of the accused defense lawyers asked the plaintiff about travel, dancing and other activities they believed would show the plaintiff was overstating the seriousness of his injuries. The police officer’s attorney also supplied amended answers to interrogatories, accompanied by conversations, photos and a video of the plaintiff wrestling with his brothers that were posted on the Facebook pages of the plaintiff and his friends. More New Jersey Defense Attorneys who Used Facebook to Gather Information on a Victim in a Personal Injury Suit Face Ethics Charges

Appeals Court Upholds Verdict After Allegations of Jury Confusion and Gossip Outside of the Jury Room

A New Jersey appeals court has upheld the verdict of an Ocean City jury despite a possible jury misunderstanding and accusations that one juror called the plaintiff in the personal injury case a liar during discussions outside of the jury room.

The plaintiff in the case sued the driver of a vehicle who allegedly rear-ended her vehicle in 2010 causing the plaintiff to sustain whiplash injuries to her neck. After learning that the jury might not have understood what evidence it was allowed to consider, and that a juror purportedly called her a liar, the plaintiff requested either post-verdict questioning of the jurors or a new trial, but the judge in the case threw out her requests, according to the Law Journal. More Appeals Court Upholds Verdict After Allegations of Jury Confusion and Gossip Outside of the Jury Room

Sexual Abuse Victims Hope to have Lawsuit Reinstated

A lawyer is asking a judge to reinstate a lawsuit filed by dozens of men who claim they were sexually abused as high school students by rabbis at Yeshiva University High School for Boys in Manhattan.

The lawsuit, which was previously dismissed, accuses the school of covering up the incidents for decades. More Sexual Abuse Victims Hope to have Lawsuit Reinstated

Hysterectomy Procedure may Spread Cancer

A new study has provided more evidence that a hysterectomy procedure known as power morcellation may spread cancer.

The procedure, performed on about 50,000 women a year, uses a device to cut uterine tissue into pieces before removing them through small incisions made during minimally invasive surgery, the New York Times reported. The procedure is also used to remove fibroid tumors. More Hysterectomy Procedure may Spread Cancer

Non-Profit Group Pushes FDA to Reveal Prior Pre-Clinical Animal Testing to Clinical Trial Participants

A non-profit organization is fighting to make sure that those who participate in clinical drug trials are informed when the drugs have been tested previously on animals.

The Center for Responsible Science is pushing for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to upgrade its regulations to reveal animal testing in the clinical trial documentation given to participants. The group says the documentation rarely mentions animal testing and whether or not that information can help predict whether a drug is safe for use in humans, according to The Wall Street Journal’s Pharmalot blog. More Non-Profit Group Pushes FDA to Reveal Prior Pre-Clinical Animal Testing to Clinical Trial Participants

Human Sues Medtronic, Accuses the Company of Falsely Representing its Infuse Bone Growth Product

Managed care company Humana has sued Medtronic Inc., accusing the company of falsely representing its Infuse bone growth device as safe and effective in spinal fusion surgeries.

Humana filed the lawsuit in federal court in Tennessee on Friday. The complaint alleges that Medtronic paid for academic literature that fraudulently portrayed Infuse as safe and effective for off-label uses. According to court documents, Humana said that Medtronic engaged in a “sophisticated and deeply deceptive marketing strategy” designed to expand the market for Infuse, by urging and compensating spine surgeons to use the device by over-emphasizing its benefits and downplaying its serious risks, Reuters reported. More Human Sues Medtronic, Accuses the Company of Falsely Representing its Infuse Bone Growth Product

Study Links Excessive Cell Phone Use to Brain Tumors

People who use their cell phones with great frequency may be at an elevated risk of being diagnosed with a brain tumor, according to a new French study.

The study authors cautioned that it’s still not clear if there’s added risk for the majority of cell phone users, but say a link may exist between excessive cell phone use and brain tumors. They added, that since the devices and the way people use them is ever-changing, more research is needed going forward, Fox News reported. More Study Links Excessive Cell Phone Use to Brain Tumors

Medtronic Tries to Settle Infuse Cases but Many Patients May Still See Their Day in Court

More than 6,500 reports of injuries related to Medtronic’s Infuse bone growth product have flooded into the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) since 2002. About 3,300 were registered with the agency’s medical device reporting system last year alone. Now, the company is settling as many cases as possible while patients await their day in court.

Medtronic told investors last week that it will pay $22 million to settle about 950 claims and is setting aside $140 million to settle future claims, according to MedPageToday.com. More Medtronic Tries to Settle Infuse Cases but Many Patients May Still See Their Day in Court