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On October 5, 2017, a federal jury in Chicago, Illinois found large drug manufacturer AbbVie, Inc. liable for injuries caused by AndroGel, a testosterone replacement therapy treatment known to cause serious medical problems, such as heart attacks and strokes. The multi-week trial was held in the United States District Court, Northern District of Illinois. After deliberating for nearly two days, a Tennessee man was awarded over $140 million by the jury who found that AndroGel caused him to suffer a heart attack. The verdict consisted of $140,000.00 in compensatory damages and $140 million in punitive damages, as AbbVie was found responsible for negligence, misrepresentation, and concealment of AndroGel’s risks.

The plaintiff was prescribed AndroGel in 2010 for symptoms his primary care physician attributed to low testosterone levels. Two months later, he suffered a heart attack. At trial, attorneys for the plaintiff argued he suffered the heart attack due to AndroGel, and experts testified about the link between AndroGel and cardiovascular risks. Further, evidence was introduced that AbbVie failed to adequately warn consumers and their healthcare providers of the significant health risks associated with AndroGel despite known medical research. AbbVie disputed liability and minimized AndroGel’s role in the heart attack, instead pointing to pre-existing medical conditions and claiming the company complied with U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) regulations in effect at the time.

Low testosterone treatments were aggressively marketed to millions of middle-aged men for over 15 years without regard for whether they truly had the conditions for which it received FDA approval,” said Parker Trotz of Nahon, Saharovich & Trotz, one of the team attorneys for the plaintiff. “With this verdict, the jury sent a strong message that it is unacceptable for large pharmaceutical companies to prioritize profits over people by failing to conduct sufficient testing and knowingly hiding risks of adverse side effects to innocent consumers.”

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Car-ConsoleMany new vehicles come with all of the bells and whistles one would expect. Auto manufacturers consistently tout new technology in their cars, specifically in-car “infotainment” systems. This technology includes music, navigation, and Internet, such as on or near the car’s dashboard. The name says it all – this technology can be informative (navigation, speed, etc.) while also facilitating the vehicle’s entertainment systems.

What can easily be overlooked is how an infotainment system affects safety. A troubling report was recently released by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety which stated this technology can actually cause more accidents. This may come as a surprise to most people, since new technology is designed to actually reduce the rate of crashes. According to Dr. David Yang of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, certain “in-vehicle technology can create unsafe conditions for drivers on the road by increasing the time they spend with their eyes off the road and hands off the wheel.”

Specifically, infotainment systems that are not properly designed can increase distracted driving. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration defines distracted driving as “any action that diverts attention from driving,” which includes the following:

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21766765_925313984284608_8709549082592189513_nOn September 23, 2017, Nahon, Saharovich & Trotz had the privilege of providing a lead sponsorship in the 2nd Annual Toys for Tots Trot 5K in Jackson, Tennessee. This run was hosted by the Captain Jack Holland Detachment #735 of the Marine Corps League. 100% of the proceeds from the run will provide toys to children through the Toys for Tots program.

The mission of the Toys for Tots program is to collect new, unwrapped toys during October, November and December each year, and distribute those toys as Christmas gifts to less fortunate children in the communities in which the campaigns are conducted. It was our pleasure to work with the Marine Corps League in this very worthwhile endeavor, and members of our Jackson office, including attorney Nathan Williams, had an outstanding time participating in this year’s event. We are already looking forward to next year!

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Little-Rock-at-Dusk-SmallNahon, Saharovich & Trotz (NST Law) is a large regional plaintiff’s personal injury law firm dedicated to fighting for the rights of injured victims. NST has opened an office in Little Rock, Arkansas, to serve better serve clients in the greater Little Rock area, Pulaski County, and nearby areas of Arkansas, including (but not limited to) communities such as North Little Rock, Conway, Benton, Bryant, Cabot, Jacksonville, and Maumelle.

Our Little Rock office is located at:

Westedge Building

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Construction-Site-SmallMarch 18, 2013 was a tragic day for the family of David Priester, Jr. – the 38-year-old Boeing employee fell from an elevated platform at Boeing’s campus and ultimately passed away. In August 2017, his widow got justice from a jury in the form of an $8.8 million verdict against SAR Automation, the company Boeing hired to program the computer that controlled movable sliders on the platform in which Priester fell. Suit was filed against SAR Automation and two other companies. Claims against those companies settled before the trial began.

At trial, it was argued that SAR Automation did not properly program multiple safety features designed to prevent accidents, such as sirens and warning lights. On Priester’s platform, sliders were supposed to be no more than 3 inches from the aircraft at any given time. However, in this particular case, one of the platforms did not extend as it should have, and Priester fell 18 feet through the gap. His eventual death was caused by brain injuries suffered in the fall.

This case highlights many issues in the industrial and construction industries. With workers operating complex machinery, relying on innovative technology, and performing taxing manual labor, they are some of the most dangerous industries worldwide, and those dangers are only exacerbated when an unsafe workplace is provided. While employers must follow state safety regulations and OSHA standards, mistakes do happen. Unfortunately for the injured employee, his or her exclusive remedy against the employer is likely to be workers’ compensation, even if the employer could have been considered negligent in some form or fashion. While workers’ compensation provides valuable medical benefits, wage benefits are awarded at a reduced rate, and non-economic damages like pain and suffering are generally not recoverable. This results in injured employees not being completely made whole after an accident.

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ferris-wheel-SmallEach year, people across the country attend festivals and state fairs, many of which are held at local amusement parks. Patrons enjoy live music, food, and rides like Ferris wheels and roller coasters, and organizers consistently look for new ways to top the previous year’s event in terms of attractions, promotions, and entertainment. While these events are advertised as safe and family-friendly, troubling numbers continue to arise. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (USPC), nearly 31,000 people were injured by amusement park attractions (such as rides) in 2016 alone.

Injuries at fairs and festivals can be caused by a number of reasons. Ride malfunctions are a common source of injury. In August 2017, a ride malfunctioned at the Wilson County (TN) fair, leaving eight people stranded in mid-air. In July 2017, an 18-year old died at the Ohio State Fair due to the Fire Ball ride malfunctioning. In 2016, 14 people were reported to have suffered injuries at the Delta Fair & Music Festival in Memphis due to a problem with the Moonraker ride. While the ride was in use, the ride’s computer detected a problem and began its shutdown procedure. Meanwhile, the ride’s operator tried to stop the ride, releasing the safety restraint prematurely. The result was a halted ride with customers falling and dangling in mid-air. Eight people were taken to the hospital.

Fairs also bring the potential for chaos and fights. For example, parents may be inclined to drop off their kids for the day or night, leaving them unsupervised. In addition, patrons under the influence of alcohol could cause problems with other guests. As such, festivals must provide proper security measures to maintain peace and order. The festival or fair should also create a risk management plan and put the pieces in place to properly execute it.

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Post-Accident-Car-Large-SmallBeing involved in a car accident is never a pleasant experience. Whether you are sitting still at a red light and get rear-ended, riding on a bus that crashes into another car, or clipped by a car while riding a bicycle, the potential for immediate pain is always there. Many car accident victims in Tennessee require medical assistance at the scene of the crash before being transported to a nearby hospital by ambulance. Severely injured victims may be airlifted. Others will try to deal with the pain on their own before choosing to seek treatment within the next few days. This will likely leave you wondering what exactly you may be entitled to under the law.

An accident can place a victim in a bind. With the cost of medical treatment in the United States continuing to rise, many people simply cannot afford unplanned expenses like these. It becomes even more difficult if the wreck renders the victim unable to work due to constant physical pain. A sudden lack of transportation is another issue altogether. If you were injured in a car accident, you are not alone in wondering about your rights under Tennessee law. Below are elements of damages that may apply to your case:

  • Property damage – If your vehicle was involved in the accident, your vehicle will either be deemed repairable or a total loss. If total loss, the law states you are entitled to fair market value (FMV) at the time of the accident. Other out of pocket expenses can be recovered, such as rental car fees, towing, storage, and damaged personal items.
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TalcumPowder2-SmallOn August 21, 2017, Johnson & Johnson was hit with the largest talcum powder jury verdict to date – $417 million. The case was tried in the Superior Court of California, Los Angeles County, and the verdict is comprised of $70 million in compensatory damages and $347 million in punitive damages. Plaintiff Eva Echeverria sued Johnson & Johnson, alleging she developed ovarian cancer after using talc-based products, including Baby Powder, for hygiene. Her attorneys argued to the jury that Johnson & Johnson engaged in a practice of encouraging women to use its talc-based products even though they had known for years about studies linking ovarian cancer to use of talc products in the genital region.

In recent years, thousands of women across the country have filed suit against Johnson & Johnson based on scientific links between talcum powder and ovarian cancer. The lawsuits claim that the company knew of dangers but concealed them from innocent consumers. Of those lawsuits, at least five have proceeded to trial in Missouri, with Johnson & Johnson losing all but one. In those cases, the juries awarded over $300 million collectively in the four trials in which the plaintiff was successful. Johnson & Johnson has vigorously disputed liability and claims it will appeal the California verdict discussed above.

When finding for the plaintiff, juries are sending a strong message to Johnson & Johnson and other product manufacturers by awarding punitive damages. This is a special class of damages designed to punish a defendant and deter others from engaging in similar practices in the future. While each state will have its own standards as to when punitive damages may apply, they are commonly awarded when a defendant maliciously, fraudulently, intentionally, or knowingly causes harm to an innocent consumer.

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ThinkstockPhotos-599896574-SmallA large auto recall is currently underway with General Motors (GM). More than 800,000 trucks are affected across the United States and Canada, including certain 2014 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 and GMC Sierra 1500 trucks. The issue with this recall concerns power steering. These models have been found to suddenly lose power steering with no warning whatsoever to the driver. This is highly dangerous because a sudden loss of power steering could cause a driver to lose control of the vehicle.

Per the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the loss of power steering can occur when the vehicle is using certain levels of electrical power. This can be triggered when a vehicle is making a turn at low speed, among other actions. When such power steering problems occur, the driver could lose control of the steering wheel. While the power steering could ultimately return within as little as one second, the short period of time without it could result in a car accident if the driver does lose control of the vehicle. This is what has federal auto regulators worried and prompted the recall.

Per NHTSA guidelines, GM is required to notify all vehicle owners affected by this recall. To see if your vehicle is included, you can visit the NHTSA’s website. Some owners of these vehicles are no stranger to recalls, as these trucks were subject to a 2016 recall involving 3.64 million cars with airbag software problems.

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Crime-Scene-SmallRecent news reports have been littered with tragic and heartbreaking stories about criminal activity at places of business and apartment complexes. Crime in Memphis is up 10% this year. Sometimes, the victims were intentionally targeted through acts such as burglary, robbery, homicide, or sexual assault, to name a few. Other times, however, innocent bystanders were the ones who suffered harm while the perpetrator was committing the criminal act.

If this happens to you or a loved one, clearly the perpetrator will bear responsibility for the harm you suffer. However, the analysis does not end there. It may be that the property owner or manager also bears responsibility for what happened. For example, was the property located in a high-crime area? Was management aware of threats made? Was criminal activity on the premises foreseeable?

NST attorney Glenn Vines recently went on WREG Channel 3 Memphis to answer these questions and more. The interview can be found here. Topics discussed included inadequate security and the duties that property owners owe to customers and tenants in Tennessee. Many inadequate or negligent security cases arise in apartment complexes, shopping malls, and convenient stores, and the results are normally catastrophic. Injuries suffered can range from broken bones to paralysis to wrongful death.