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Cleveland Personal Injury Defense Law Blog

CA jury delivers $417 million verdict against J&J in failure to warn case

Readers may have heard about the recent product liability lawsuit involving allegations that Johnson & Johnson failed to warn consumers of the dangers talc-containing products posed when used over time. The lawsuit, which resulted in a $417 million jury verdict, was brought by a 63-year-old woman dying of ovarian cancer who had used talc-containing Johnson & Johnson products for most of her life.

The woman’s attorneys argued at trial that Johnson & Johnson knew of the connection between talc and ovarian cancer, but failed to warn consumers about the danger. They cited a study from 1982 showing that women who used talc for feminine hygiene had a 92 percent increased risk of developing ovarian cancer. The lead researcher behind that study had recommended that the company warn of the risk on its product labels. 

Addressing drug-related workers’ compensation costs with drug testing, P.4

This is part four in a series of posts addressing the topic of drug-related workers’ compensation costs. In previous posts, we’ve discussed the potential impact of drug abuse on workers’ compensation costs and some of the requirements and benefits of participating in the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation’s Drug-Free Safety Program.

Drug testing can certainly help businesses reduce workers’ compensation and other costs stemming from drug-related workplace accidents, whether or not they participate in the Drug-Free Safety Program, but there are certain issues employers should consider when it comes to utilizing drug testing in the workplace. 

Addressing drug-related workers’ compensation costs with drug testing, P.3

In a previous post, we mentioned that employers who participate in the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation Drug-Free Safety Program are eligible for workers’ compensation premium rebates. The rebate rate, as we noted, depends on the level of participation an employer selects.

While all participating employers are required to provide accident-analysis training, online accident reporting, workplace safety review, annual reporting, written policies, employee education, and supervisor training, advanced level participation requires more when it comes to safety action planning, and drug/alcohol testing. 

Addressing drug-related workers’ compensation costs with drug testing, P.2

Previously, we began looking at the topic of drug and alcohol abuse in the workplace and the costs it can have for employers, particularly with respect to workers’ compensation expenses. One of the tools employers can use to address the problem of drug abuse in the workplace is drug testing.

There are different ways for employers to utilize drug testing, including pre-employment testing, post-accident testing, “reasonable suspicion” testing, and random testing. Each state has its own laws concerning the use of drug testing in employment, and employers are responsible for abiding by these laws. 

Addressing drug-related workers’ compensation costs with drug testing, P.1

Workers’ compensation insurance is something all employers are required to carry, and there are penalties and consequences for failing to carry insurance coverage. For employers, then, workers’ compensation is one of the necessary costs of doing business, but it is also important for employers to do what they can to control workers’ compensation costs.

There are a variety of ways workers’ compensation costs can spiral out of control, from failure to properly select and train employees to failing to adequately address workers’ compensation fraud. Another potential source of unnecessary workers’ compensation costs is workplace drug and alcohol abuse

Always work with experienced attorney to build strong medical malpractice defense

Those who are familiar with the term know that it refers to efforts to curtail tort litigation by implementing limitations on the ability to file tort claims, or limitations on the ability to collect damages in these cases. Tort reform has long been an important goal at the state level. As we noted in a previous post, though, there are currently efforts to implement tort reform under federal law. These efforts include a proposed cap on noneconomic damages in medical malpractice lawsuits.

One of the arguments in favor of tort reform is that courts are backed up with tort litigation and that it is necessary to reduce the amount of litigation in order to unclog the system. In reality, though, recent research shows that tort litigation has actually reduced to a significant degree in recent years. 

What is the “standard of care” in malpractice litigation? P.2

Previously, we began looking at the standard of care in medical, hospital and nursing home malpractice litigation. As we noted, the standard of care is the legal duties to which a medical provider or institution is held under a specific set of circumstances, and against which fault is determined in malpractice litigation.

Plaintiffs in malpractice litigation are required to provide sufficient evidence to demonstrate that the provider or institution failed to abide by an established standard of care. In many cases, particularly in medical malpractice cases, expert testimony is critical for establishing the standard of care. This is especially important in cases involving complicated medical procedures and cases where one party challenges a recognized standard of care. 

What is the “standard of care” in malpractice litigation? P.1

The ability to seek compensation from a negligent physician, hospital or nursing home is an important right patients have under state law, and those who have been seriously harmed as a result of incompetent and substandard medical, hospital or nursing home care should explore their options for seeking recovery, including malpractice litigation. At the same time, some malpractice lawsuits should never be pursued in the first place: some, for financial reasons; others, for legal reasons.

At the heart of any medical, hospital or nursing home malpractice case is the contention that a provider or institution failed to abide by an established standard of care and that this caused harm to a patient. A central issue in any medical, hospital or nursing home malpractice case is: what is the standard of care to which the physician, hospital or nursing home should be held? 

Are government accident reports admissible in product liability cases? P.2

In recent posts, we’ve been discussing the potential usefulness and admissibility of government accident reports in product liability litigation. As we’ve mentioned, the factuality of reported findings is a critical issue, since lack of factuality can prevent reported findings from being admitted at trial. Findings which lack finality, are largely based on third-party materials or investigations, or which are closer to legal conclusions are not likely to be admissible.

Another important issue is the trustworthiness of reported findings. Even if findings are determined to be factual, there are certain factors which can suggest lack of credibility. One such issue is the timeliness with which the government agency conducted the investigation. If the investigation was conducted while the evidence was still fresh, with minimal potential for alteration or changes, this is not as likely to be an issue. 

Are government accident reports admissible in product liability cases?

Last time, we began looking at the issue of government accident reports and their potential value in the courtroom. This is a potentially important issue not only in personal injury litigation, but also in product liability litigation, since government accident reports can contain valuable information about the underlying causes of an accident.

For manufacturers, engineers and distributors of motor vehicles, it can be valuable in some cases to make use of a government accident report in building a strong defense against charges of product liability. In other cases, a government accident report may not be helpful. Whatever the case may be, it is important for motor vehicle manufacturers to work with an experienced attorney who can deal skillfully with evidence found in government reports.