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
supply to minimize the dangers
miners lost their lives
of coal dust.
and several others were
Ultimately, the Mine Safety
seriously injured in what
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-
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
CASE RESULTS DEPEND UPON A VARIETY OF FACTORS UNIQUE TO EACH CASE.
NO REPRESENTATION IS MADE OR INTENDED TO GUARANTEE OR
PREDICT THE OUTCOME OF A PARTICULAR CASE.
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
from anywhere in Virginia
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 email@example.com
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
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
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
YAZ, YASMIN, OCELLA BIRTH
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
www.ashcraftandgerel.com 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
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
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
in the area of mass torts.
She specializes in pharma-
mesh, Spiriva and
ceutical, medical device
and products liability
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-
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.
www.ashcraftandgerel.com 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
4900 Seminary Road
Alexandria, VA 22311
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Web Page: www.ashcraftandgerel.com
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