The A_G Report - Ashcraft _ Gerel

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					                                                                         February 2012

                                                                         Inside this issue:

ATTORNEYS AND COUNSELLORS AT LAW                                         I. Mass Torts Update     1-4
                                                                         II. Firm Activities       5
                                                                         III. Union News            6

        The A&G Report
I. Mass Torts Update                                             amount of methane gas which is not
                                                                 uncommon for such a large mine.
Ashcraft & Gerel Represents                                      Unfortunately, due to the enormous
Victims of Upper Big Branch                                      amount of coal dust in the mine,
Mine Disaster                                                    this otherwise minor event turned
                                                                 into a massive fireball that traveled
                                                                 throughout the mine. The mine
  On April 5, 2010 a massive explo-
                                                                 was cited 17 times for failing to
sion tore through the Upper Big
                                                                 prevent the buildup of coal dust as
Branch Mine in Montcoal, West
                                                                 well as having an inadequate water
Virginia. Twenty-Nine
                                                                     supply to minimize the dangers
miners lost their lives
                                                                     of coal dust.
and several others were
                                                                       Ultimately, the Mine Safety
seriously injured in what
                                                                     Health Administration’s
has been called the worst
                                                                     (MSHA) administrator conclud-
mine disaster on U.S. soil
                                                                     ed that the mine disaster “could
in the last 40 years.
                                                                     have and should have been pre-
  Subsequent investiga-
                                                                     vented by the Mine Operator”.
tion has revealed that the
                                                                     Disturbingly, it was discovered
mine was a time bomb
                                                                     by MSHA that the mine had two
waiting to explode. In the
                                                                     separate books of safety hazards,
month prior to the blast,
                                                                     one for themselves and one for
the mine’s owner, Massey
Energy, was cited for 57
                                                                       Ashcraft & Gerel’s Michelle
safety infractions. In the
                                                                     Parfitt, Joe Musso and Pete
year leading up to the
                                                                     Anderson have teamed up with
disaster, Massey was cited
                                                                     local West Virginia counsel
for 1,342 safety violations.
                                                                     Mark Underwood and Patrick
  Investigators found that
                                                                     Stephens to represent victims of
the blast was the result
                                                                     this tragedy and hold Massey
of a relatively modest


             I. Mass Torts Update (Cont.)

Mine Disaster (Cont.)                      very best in the field of mine safety
                                           and ventilation. Jan Mutmansky
and its subsidiary and operator of         and Larry Grayson of Penn State
                                           University are the preeminent
the mine, Performance Coal, ac-
                                           experts in this field. Together, we               TIRE SEPARATION
countable for this disaster.                                                                      CLAIMS
   Undoubtedly, when litigating            intend to hold Massey and Perfor-
against an $8 billion company, it          mance accountable for this horrible
                                                                                                  Ashcraft & Gerel, LLP
is imperative that our clients have        tragedy.                                           are now accepting referrals
                                                                                              of tire tread separation and
the benefit of outstanding experts.                                                           other automotive products
Our litigation team has hired the            - Joseph Musso, Esq.                              liability claims involving
                                             Alexandria Office 703-931-5500                     serious injury or death.
                                                                                                 We welcome referral or
                                                                                                co-counsel relationships
                                                                                               from anywhere in Virginia
                                                                                                    and nationwide.
Ashcraft & Gerel Broadens                  with chronic obstructive pulmonary                    Contact Joe Musso at
Mass Torts Practice                        disease (COPD), including chronic                      (703)931-5500 or
                                           bronchitis and emphysema. Some           
                                           patients who had pre-existing cardiac
  Ashcraft & Gerel is now involved         disorders who then took Spiriva for
in the following mass torts litigations:                                              rhythmia, or irregular heartbeat.
                                           COPD, had an eightfold increase in         Multaq was approved by the FDA in
                                           the risk of death. Additionally, it        July, 2009 to reduce the risk of car-
                 ACTOS                     may increase the incidence of heart        diovascular hospitalization in patients
   Actos (also known as pioglitazone)      attack, stroke, a-fib, TIA and cardiac     who have episodes of irregular heart
is an oral diabetes medication made        arrhythmia.                                rhythms.
by Takeda Pharmaceutical Company.
                                                  TRANSVAGINAL MESH                     A 2005 clinical trial showed that
Actos is prescribed to treat type-2
                                             Transvaginal mesh is used in the         Multaq doubled the risk of death and
diabetes in patients whose condition
                                           transvaginal repair of a condition         could actually worsen existing heart
is not adequately controlled by diet
                                           called pelvic organ prolapse (POP),        failure. In January, 2011 the FDA
and exercise alone.
                                           or to surgically treat stress urinary      mandated that a warning be added
   Serious concerns have been raised
                                           incontinence (SUI). Pelvic organ           to Multaq’s label after Sanofi-Aventis
regarding the safety of Actos. In June
                                           prolapse is a condition that occurs        reported that two patients on the
2011, the FDA issued a warning that
                                           when one of the pelvic organs such as      drug experienced liver failure. Most
using Actos for longer than one year
                                           the bladder, uterus, bowel or rectum,      recently, an FDA Safety Announce-
may cause bladder cancer. Currently,
                                           drops from the normal position and         ment of July 21, 2011 warned that
the FDA is recommending that doc-
                                           pushes against the wall of the vagina.     Multaq may increase the incidence
tors not use pioglitazone in patients
                                           Complications such as mesh erosion,        of several cardiovascular problems
with active bladder cancer and is
                                           pelvic pain, infections, bleeding and      including heart failure, heart attack,
continuing to scrutinize the data of
                                           organ perforation have been reported       stroke and systemic embolism.
several Actos safety studies.
                                           as a result of transvaginal pelvic organ            X-RAY RADIATION
                 SPIRIVA                   prolapse procedure.                                     EXPOSURE
  Spiriva, also called Spiriva Han-
                                                          MULTAQ                        CT or CAT (computerized axial
diHaler, is in a class of medications
                                             Multaq, also known as drone-             tomography) scans, fluoroscopic
known as anticholinergic bronchodi-
                                           darone, is a drug manufactured by          procedures (using a device called
lators. This daily single-dose medica-
                                           Sanofi-Aventis that is prescribed          a fluoroscope), nuclear medicine,
tion is approved for long-term treat-
                                           to treat persons with cardiac ar-          radiation therapy and certain other
ment of bronchospasm associated
Page 2
I. Mass Torts Update (Cont.)

medical devices that emit x-rays, use     drospirenone, which is a “fourth gen-      of Fosamax, these fractures often
ionizing radiation to either create im-   eration” progestin. Drospirenone is        result from non-traumatic everyday
ages of the body or for other medical     believed to elevate the levels of potas-   activities, such as washing dishes,
purposes.                                 sium in the blood stream. Elevated         walking down stairs, walking the dog,
  Exposure to radiation during these      levels of potassium in the blood can       bending down to pick something up,
procedures over time can increase         lead to a condition known as hyperka-      etc. These fractures almost always
a person’s chances for develop-           lemia, which can cause heart rhythm        require serious orthopedic surgery
ing cancer. Receiving high doses          disturbances.                              that includes insertion of metal rods
of radiation can also cause serious         Side effects of drospirenone and/        and screws, in order to help mend the
injuries including burns, cataracts,      or elevated potassium include heart        fractured femur(s).
hair loss, scarring, jaw calcification,   attack, stroke, blood clots (including         GADOLINIUM - MRI DYE OR
bone death, organ failure and death.      deep vein thrombosis, intracardiac                 CONTRAST AGENT
These injuries are often the result of    thrombus, and pulmonary emboli),
                                                                                        Omniscan (gadodiamide) is a
negligently manufactured medical          damaged kidneys, damaged gallblad-
                                                                                     gadolinium containing contrast agent
equipment and/or improper use of          der, damaged pancreas resulting in
                                                                                     (MRI dye) commonly used by physi-
this technology.                          pancreatitis, abnormal heartbeat, and
                                                                                     cians in magnetic resonance imaging
                                          even death.
        DEPUY HIP IMPLANT                                                            (MRI) and/or magnetic resonance an-
  DePuy Orthopaedics, a division of             FOSAMAX, ZOMETA AND                  giography (MRA). Other gadolinium
Johnson & Johnson, has recalled two                   AREDIA - THE                   based contrast agents (MRI dyes) are
of its hip replacement products: the           BISPHOSPHONATE DRUGS                  Magnevist, MultiHance, OptiMARK
ASR XL Acetabular System and the            In order to balance the loss of bone     and ProHance.
DePuy ASR Hip Resurfacing Sys-            density caused by disease, aging, or          On June 6, 2006, GE Healthcare
tem. These are “metal on metal” hip       osteoporosis, many doctors prescribe       issued a safety advisory for Omniscan.
replacement devices, which appear to      a class of drugs known as bisphospho-      The advisory warned certain physi-
have a high early failure rate in many    nates. These medications are com-          cians that the use of the Omniscan
patients. More than 90,000 DePuy          monly marketed as Fosamax, Aredia,         contrast medium (dye) in an MRI or
ASR hip implants have been sold           Zometa, Boniva and Actonel. The            MRA on a patient with pre-existing
since July, 2003, and new data sug-       most common recipients of these            renal (kidney) issues may lead to
gests that one of every eight may fail    types of drugs are women in their          that patient developing a very seri-
within five years, requiring additional   late 40s and older who have reached        ous medical condition involving the
surgery to replace the artificial hip.    menopause and have begun to experi-        skin called Nephrogenic Systemic
  DePuy also manufacturers the            ence loss of bone density due to the       Fibrosis (NSF). NSF is also known as
Pinnacle hip implant. This device         aging process. In addition, some           Nephrogenic Fibrosing Dermopathy
has not been recalled, however, the       chemotherapy treatments for cancer         (NFD) (hereinafter referred to as NSF
metal on metal Pinnacle device has        that has advanced into the bones in-       and NFD). NSF/NFD has thus far
produced the same adverse effects as      clude bisphosphonates. Use of these        been observed almost exclusively in
the ASR.                                  medications has been linked to cases       patients with kidney disease or renal
                                          of jaw bone decay or osteonecrosis of      dysfunction. NSF/NFD leads to
                                          the jaw (ONJ). ONJ or “dead jaw” is        thickened, rough and/or hard skin,
                                          a rare bone disease in which the jaw       which can sometimes lead to limbs
  Yasmin and Yaz are birth control                                                   becoming difficult or even impossible
                                          bone deteriorates and dies.
pills manufactured by Bayer Health-                                                  to move. In some instances, NSF/
                                            Additionally, multiple studies have
care. The generic form of these                                                      NFD is a progressive disease that can
                                          concluded that long term Fosamax
drugs, Ocella, is a brand marketed                                                   also lead to death.
                                          use increases the risk of spontaneous
and distributed by Teva Pharmaceuti-
                                          fractures, particularly in the femur
cals. The Yaz group of drugs contains
                                          (thigh bone). After prolonged use
a compound created by Bayer called
                                                                                 Page 3
             I. Mass Torts Update (Cont.)
      SSRI ANTI-DEPRESSANT                blocked again (drug-eluting stents,       committing the fraud against the
                DRUGS                     abbreviated as DES). Data from            government.
  Selective Serotonin Reuptake In-        studies suggest a small but significant                  PRADAXA
hibitors (SSRIs) such as Paxil, Prozac,   increased risk of stent thrombosis
                                                                                      Pradaxa (dabigatran) is manufac-
Zoloft, Lexapro have been found           (blood clots) in patients who have
                                                                                    tured by Boehringer Ingelheim and
to cause an increase in the risk of       drug-eluting stents. Stent thrombosis
                                                                                    prescribed to reduce the risk of stroke
infant birth defects. Studies previ-      results in death or heart attack in the
                                                                                    in people with atrial fibrillation.
ously established that babies born to     majority of cases.
                                                                                    Pradaxa is in a class of drugs called
mothers taking anti-depressant drugs        At present there are two drug-elut-
                                                                                    “direct thrombin inhibitors,” which
during pregnancy have a significantly     ing stents approved by the FDA in the
                                                                                    work by thinning the blood.
increased risk of being born with         United States: TAXUS™ Express2™
                                                                                      The FDA approved Pradaxa for
birth defects affecting the respiratory   which is manufactured by Boston
                                                                                    public consumption in October 2010.
system, such as Persistent Pulmonary      Scientific and CYPHER™ which is
                                                                                    Since then, Pradaxa has been shown
Hypertension or PPHN.                     manufactured by Cordis Corpora-
                                                                                    to cause severe internal bleeding and
  Evidence has surfaced linking SSRI      tion. An advisory committee panel
                                                                                    serious injury in some individuals.
intake during pregnancy to birth          of experts concluded that these stents
                                                                                    The RE-LY clinical trial, for example,
defects such as Autism, Cerebal Palsy,    are associated with an increased risk
                                                                                    found that up to 16.6% of Pradaxa
Cleft Lip and/or Cleft Palate and         of blood clots, heart attacks and
                                                                                    users may experience some kind of
Heart Defects.                            death for a great number of patients
                                                                                    internal bleeding and 3.3% of users
                                          receiving the devices.
     TYLENOL OR ACETAMINO-                                                          may experience a “major bleed.”
       PHEN - LIVER FAILURE                 QUI TAM - WHISTLE BLOWER                The study also found that the risk
   Data and studies reveal that Tylenol      It has been estimated that almost      of internal bleeding from Pradaxa is
(generic names acetaminophen and          10% of the United States annual bud-      especially pronounced in individuals
paracetamol) is associated with acute     get is paid to companies or persons       over age 75.
liver failure and death. Liver damage     who are defrauding the government.          According to the FDA’s Adverse
from Tylenol or acetaminophen oc-         Some of them overcharge the govern-       Event Reporting System, Pradaxa us-
curs when the enzymatic pathways of       ment for products sold to the govern-     ers accounted for over 500 reports of
the liver are blocked or overtaxed by     ment. Others submit vouchers billing      serious injury from internal bleeding
too much of acetaminophen’s poison-       the government for services which         in the first quarter of 2011.
ous molecular remains after being         they never provided or overbilling for      Pradaxa was initially developed as
metabolized. This toxic molecular         services provided. And still others       an alternative to other anti-stroke
residue or remains after Tylenol usage    engage in government contract fraud,      medications such as Coumadin (war-
accumulates in the liver and causes       defense contractor fraud, Medicare        farin). Unlike Coumadin, however,
damage and instances of liver failure.    fraud, Medicaid fraud, or other pub-      there is no antidote for Pradaxa
                                          lic benefit fraud.                        internal hemorrhaging.
   CYPHER AND TAXUS DRUG                     The False Claims Act covers a wide
         ELUTING STENTS                   variety of situations in addition to                        ***
  Stents are small, lattice-shaped,       overcharging or billing for property or     Ashcraft and Gerel has been a
metal tubes that are inserted perma-      services not delivered. This law was      leader in pursuing lawsuits on behalf
nently into arteries. They are used to    designed to encourage private citizens    of clients who have been injured by
hold open arteries that have narrowed     to help fight government fraud by act-    Fen-Phen, Rezulin, Propulsid, Gado-
due to plaque build-up caused by ath-     ing as a whistleblower. A person who      linium, Ortho Evra, Vioxx, Phen-
erosclerosis. Stents can be made of       knows of fraud against the govern-        ylpropanolamine (PPA) and many
metal only (bare metal stents) or they    ment may retain a lawyer and file a       other drugs and medical devices.
can be coated with small amounts          court case in a United States District      Please call 1-800-829-7037 for
of drugs that are released over time      Court against the company or person
to help keep the arteries from being
                                                                                    more information.

Page 4
  II. Firm Activities
Michelle Parfitt Named One              ing their nominations for the best
                                        attorneys in each of the 30 practice   Ashcraft & Gerel Represents
of Washingtonian                                                               Super Bowl Winner
                                        areas featured on the list.
Magazine’s “Best Lawyers”
                                          The results of that survey were
                                        tabulated, then further vetted and
  We congratulate Ashcraft & Gerel
                                        supplemented with hundreds of
senior partner Michelle A. Parfitt
                                        phone calls and e-mails soliciting
on the well-deserved recognition of
                                        input from additional attorneys in
being chosen as one of Washing-
                                        each practice specialty.
ton’s “Best Lawyers” in Washingto-
                                          Some of the cases Michelle is
nian magazine.
                                        currently involved in include Tyle-
  During the last 30 years of her
                                        nol, Taxus and Cypher stents, x-ray
professional career Michelle has dis-
                                        radiation exposure, Yaz/Yasmin,
tinguished herself as a champion of
                                        Fosamax, Zometa and Aredia,
individual rights as well as a leader
                                                        Gadolinium, Mul-
in the area of mass torts.
                                                         taq, transvaginal
She specializes in pharma-
                                                         mesh, Spiriva and
ceutical, medical device
and products liability
                                                           Michelle prac-
                                                         tices in the firm’s
  To select its 2011 Best
                                                         Alexandria, Vir-      Ashcraft & Gerel attorneys Steve Gen-
Lawyers, Washingtonian                                                         semer (L) and Lawrence Pascal (R) with
magazine sent a survey                                   ginia office.
                                                                               client and New York Giant, Marvin Austin
to nearly 10,000 lawyers                                                       (center).
in the Washington, D.C.
metropolitan area solicit-
                                                                               Former Commissioner
                                                                               Virginia Diamond
Sharon Powe Contributes More than 30 years to Ashcraft & Gerel!                Joins Ashcraft & Gerel
                                                                                  Virginia Diamond, who served
  Sharon Powe has been with Ash-                                               as Commissioner of the Virginia
craft & Gerel 32 years and currently                                           Workers’ Compensation Commis-
serves as the office manager/recep-                                            sion for 17 years, has joined the
tionist for the firm’s Washington,                                             firm, effective immediately.
D.C. office                                                                       Ms. Diamond was appointed to
  She was born and raised in Wash-                                             the Commission by the General
ington, D.C. and attended Wood-                                                Assembly in 1994, 2000 and 2006.
row Wilson High School. Sharon                                                 She served as its chairman for six
has a BFA from Howard University.                                              years during her tenure.
  She has been married 31 years to                                                While on the Commission, she
her wonderful husband Eric and                                                 oversaw the implementation of a
they have two daughters, Karen (24)                                            web-based system for submission
and Erica (19).                                                                and adjudication of workers’ com-
  Sharon loves spending time with       traveling and playing Words with       pensation claims.
her family, singing in her church's     Friends on her iPad.                      Ms. Diamond will work in the
choir and acting. She also enjoys                                              Alexandria, Virginia office.
                                                                             Page 5
III. Union News
Ashcraft & Gerel Awards                   Trades Scholarship Award, and
                                            Josie Bowers’s father, Gary
$25,000.00 To Union Mem-
                                          Bowers, is a member of the
bers and Their Families in                International Union of Operat-
2011                                      ing Engineers, Local 99. She
                                          received the Martin E. Gerel
  For more than two decades,              Union Scholarship Award.
Ashcraft & Gerel has generously             Ashcraft & Gerel is proud to
provided scholarships to
union members and their
families when attending
an accredited university or                                                      Phillip Billings with Alan Lowe of Ashcraft
college of higher learn-                                                         & Gerel (L) and Dennis Myers, Carpenters
ing. This year, Ashcraft &                                                       Union Local 1145.
Gerel was proud to award
                                                                                   Ashcraft & Gerel has no input in
$25,000.00 in scholar-
                                                                                   the decision-making process. The
ships to various locals
                                                                                   winner is chosen from finalists
in the Washington, DC
                                                                                   selected by various union leaders on
and Baltimore, Maryland
                                                                                   the Selection Committee. Once the
regions. The most recent
                                                                                   Committee selects its finalists, these
recipients of these scholar- Josie Bowers with (from left to right) her parents,
                              Gary and Kathleen Bowers, and Mark Schaffer of       names are in turn provided to Dean
ships are Phillip Billings    Ashcraft & Gerel.                                    Wedenthal of the George Washing-
and Josie Bowers.
                                                                                   ton Law School to determine the
  Phillip Billings, whose                provide assistance to well-qualified      eventual winners.
father, Donald Billings, is a member applicants based on merit. What
                                                                                      The application process for schol-
of Carpenters Local 1145, received       is unique about the Ashcraft &            arships in 2012 began on November
the Lee C. Ashcraft Construction         Gerel Scholarship Programs is that        15, 2011.

  Ashcraft & Gerel Supports                                                         hiring union workers with respect
  Construction Commerce                                                             to timely completion of projects,
  Council                                                                           adherence to safety standards, along
                                                                                    with receiving a better quality prod-
    The Construction Commerce                                                       uct based on the ongoing education
  Council is the brainchild of                                                      in the Trades.
  Vance Ayres, the President of the                                                   Ashcraft & Gerel is proud to be
  Washington Building Trades.                                                       a supporting member of this coun-
  Mr. Ayres has come up with the            Vance Ayres (R), President of Wash-
                                                                                    cil and has been involved since its
  unique approach to expand the             ington Building Trades, presents        inception in an effort to provide the
  reach of local unions by forming          Allen Lowe of Ashcraft & Gerel with     Washington Building Trades with
  a coalition consisting of the local
                                            a certificate of appreciation of the    any and all assistance necessary in
                                            firm’s support of the council.          order for this endeavor to have a
  building trades, various banks
  and financial managers, along                                                     positive outcome.
                                          parties together, Mr. Ayres has been
  with construction contractors           able to demonstrate the benefit of
  and developers. In mixing these
Page 6
    4900 Seminary Road
    Suite 650
    Alexandria, VA 22311
    Toll Free: (800) 440-0001
    Telecopier: (703) 820-0630
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