Decided - The FindLaw Noteworthy Decisions and Settlements Blog

August 2013 Archives

Are Name-Brand Drug Makers Liable for Generic Drug Injuries?

Alabama's highest court is set to hear more arguments next week about whether patients can sue name-brand drug companies for side effects caused by their generic counterparts.

The case raised eyebrows earlier this year, after the Alabama Supreme Court held "a brand-name pharmaceutical company responsible for injuries caused by the use of its competitor's generic medicine," an attorney for the Alabama Policy Institute writes for AL.com. (The Institute filed an amicus brief urging the court to reverse its decision.)

Will the trend of increasing liability for big drug companies continue?

Will $2M Transvaginal Mesh Verdict Affect Similar Lawsuits?

A federal jury has awarded $2 million in damages to a Georgia woman for injuries she suffered from an Avaulta Plus transvaginal mesh device manufactured by C.R. Bard Inc.

It was the first case tried in the massive federal multidistrict litigation pending against the New Jersey-based company. (A separate transvaginal mesh lawsuit, which led to a multimillion dollar verdict last summer, was heard in a California state court.)

On the heels of the $2 million federal-court verdict, Bard has agreed to settle its second federal lawsuit. But the settlement only covered this particular case and doesn't affect the thousands of pending lawsuits against the company over its Avaulta mesh device, which is used to treat pelvic organ prolapse or stress urinary incontinence.

NSA Email Collection Violated 4th Amendment: FISA Court

According to formerly top-secret court opinions declassified this week, the National Security Agency has collected thousands of Americans' emails in violation of the Fourth Amendment.

The NSA on Wednesday released three secret U.S. court opinions that revealed how, over the course of three years, agents collected as many as 56,000 emails and other domestic communications between Americans who had no connection to terrorism, The Washington Post reports.

The Fourth Amendment guarantees that all U.S. citizens are free from unreasonable searches and seizures, absent a warrant issued with probable cause. How did the NSA violate that guarantee, according to the court?

Pilot Flying J Fuel-Rebate Settlement: What Will Customers Get?

A Pilot Flying J settlement related to the company's fuel-rebate scandal has received preliminary approval from a court. The proposed agreement would give trucking firms more than $40 million, and their attorneys another $14 million, The Plain Dealer of Cleveland reports.

Pilot Flying J, the country's biggest truck-stop chain, designed the settlement after being slapped with about 20 lawsuits -- filed by truckers and trucking companies -- related to fuel-rebate shortages that came to light after raids by FBI and IRS agents.

Here's what affected customers can expect from the settlement offer:

School Staff Can Give Insulin Shots, Cal. Supreme Court Rules

In a landmark case for schools in California, the California Supreme Court has ruled against the state's nurses' union on the issue of administering school insulin shots.

If no nurse is available at the school, then school employees can now also administer insulin shots to diabetic students under certain conditions, The Sacramento Bee reports. This ruling effectively reverses a lower court's decision that only allowed licensed professionals to administer the shots.

The primary issue in the case of American Nurses Association v. Torlakson was whether trained but unlicensed school personnel were allowed to administer prescription medication, such as insulin, to students under California law. The state Board of Education decided in 2007 that this was allowed; the American Nurses Association ("ANA") then challenged this in a class action suit.

NYPD's Stop-and-Frisk Unconstitutional; Mayor Vows to Appeal

The NYPD's stop-and-frisk practice is unconstitutional, a federal judge ruled Monday, finding that the policy violated the Fourth Amendment as well as equal protection principles.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg vowed to appeal the ruling, according to The New York Times.

Despite Bloomberg's assertion that stop-and-frisk has eliminated "thousands of illegal guns," Judge Shira A. Scheindlin stated in her ruling that the tactic allowed police to stop innocent people with no objective reason to suspect them of a crime.

Officers Owe 'Duty of Care' to Car Chase Suspects: Utah Sup. Ct.

Law-enforcement officers owe a duty of care to drivers during high-speed chases -- not just to innocent bystanders, but to fleeing suspects as well, the Utah Supreme Court has ruled.

In a decision issued Tuesday, the Beehive State's highest court held that the family of a teen who was killed during a high-speed police chase can sue the sheriff's deputy who was chasing him.

Will the decision affect law enforcement officers' approach to police chases?

School's 'I Heart Boobies' Ban Held Unconstitutional

After a three-year legal saga, the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has struck down a Pennsylvania school district's ban on "I Heart Boobies" bracelets.

The students are now free to bare their "I Heart Boobies! (Keep a Breast)" bracelets at school, since the court held that the bracelet ban was an unconstitutional restriction on students' freedom of speech, according to The Morning Call of Allentown, Pennsylvania. (The bracelets use a "heart" icon instead of the word "Heart.")

Last year, Easton Area School District Attorney John Freund argued that middle school students' "Boobies" bracelets, which promote breast cancer awareness, were lewd and disruptive.

Warrantless Cell Phone Location Tracking Upheld by 5th Circuit

Warrantless cell phone tracking has been upheld, at least when it comes to "historical location data" kept by phone companies, in a federal appeals case that was decided this week.

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, in a 2-1 ruling, held that a warrantless search of historical location data (and other metadata) stored by cell phone service providers does not raise any Fourth Amendment concerns, The New York Times reports.

What does this mean?