Xarelto Bellwether Trials Scheduled

On October 22, 2015, U.S. District Judge Eldon Fallon, of the Eastern District of Louisiana, announced the dates for four bellwether trials in the Xarelto multidistrict litigation, the first of which will take place on February 6, 2017.

Xarelto is the second-most popular blood thinning medication in the United States–generating billions of dollars in revenue each year. Plaintiffs in the consolidate litigation allege that defendants, Janssen Research & Development, Johnson & Johnson and Bayer Healthcare Pharmaceuticals, over-promoted the drug as a safe and convenient alternative to the anticoagulant manufactured by Bristol-Myers Squibb called Coumadin. In particular, the Defendants marketed Xarelto by asserting that, unlike other blood thinners, Xarelto required minimal adjustments and blood monitoring. However, Defendants failed to warn patients that unlike Coumadin, which can be counteracted by vitamin K, there is no antidote to the anticoagulation effects of Xarelto.

The scheduling of the Xarelto MDL bellwether trials came shortly after the announcement of a non-related Xarelto suit filed on October 8, 2015 in Philadelphia state court. The plaintiff in that case alleges that the drug does not work for as long as the manufacturer states it does, which leaves patients with no protection against blood clots for a certain period of time. Plaintiff contends that as a result of the deficiencies in Xarelto’ s dosages, he suffered an ischemic stroke.

If you or someone close to you has suffered severe bleeding and complications after taking Xarelto, including death, please contact Phoenix Arizona mass tort and product liability attorney Steve Leshner for a free consultation. Steve is personally handling Xarelto cases in the Xarelto multidistrict litigation.

Risperdal, Risperidone, Invega Lawsuit Update

Risperdal is an anti-psychotic drug. Its active ingredient is risperidone. Risperidone affects levels of dopamine and serotonin, which are neurotransmitters that affect mood and behavior. Risperdal is used to treat schizophrenia and symptoms of bipolar disorder in adults; in children, it is used to treat irritability associated with autism.

Risperdal, which is manufactured by a Johnson & Johnson’s subsidiary, Jansen Pharmaceuticals, Inc., has been linked to the development of gynecomastia in young males, which is the development of excess male breast tissue. Symptoms of male breast growth associated with Risperdal may include swollen breast tissue, breast tenderness and pain, and nipple discharge.

If you or someone close to you has used Risperdal, Risperidone, or Invega before the age of 18, is male, and suffered noticeable breast growth or a diagnosis of gynecomastia, please contact Phoenix Arizona Mass Tort Product Liability Attorney Steve Leshner for a free consultation.

Steve Leshner Listed in The Best Lawyers in America© 2016

Steve Leshner has been listed for inclusion in the 2016 edition of Best Lawyers. This is the fifth year in a row that Steve has been recognized. Inclusion in this published list reflects the high level of respect he has earned among his peers, colleagues and other leading lawyers. The newly released edition of The Best Lawyers in America© 2016 recognizes him for his work Plaintiff’s Personal Injury Litigation.

About Best Lawyers

Best Lawyers® has become universally regarded as the definitive guide to legal excellence. Best Lawyers lists are compiled based on an exhaustive peer-review evaluation. Over 79,000 leading attorneys globally are eligible to vote, and has received more than 12 million votes to date on the legal abilities of other lawyers based on their specific practice areas around the world. For the 2016 Edition of The Best Lawyers in America©, 6.7 million votes were analyzed, which resulted in more than 55,000 leading lawyers being included in the new edition. Lawyers are not required or allowed to pay a fee to be listed; therefore inclusion in Best Lawyers is considered a singular honor. Corporate Counsel magazine has called Best Lawyers “the most respected referral list of attorneys in practice.” Stephen I. Leshner, P.C. is also recognized in U.S. News Best Law Firms.

Xarelto Lawsuit Filed

Phoenix, Arizona personal injury and mass tort product liability attorney Stephen I. Leshner filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court in the Eastern District of Louisiana on August 14, 2015 on behalf of the family of a patient who died as a result of uncontrolled bleeding after taking Xarelto (rivaroxaban).

Unlike warfarin, a trusted mainstay for preventing blood clots for the past 50 years, Xarelto does not have an antidote to stop uncontrolled bleeding, which can be fatal.

If you or someone close to you has had severe bleeding, complications or death as a result of taking Xarelto, please call Phoenix Arizona accident injury attorney Stephen I. Leshner for a free consultation and case review.

Takata Airbag Recall

A record 34 million vehicles made by 10 different automakers have been recalled to replace front airbags on the driver’s or passenger’s side, or both. The airbags involved in the recall were made by Takata, a major parts supplier to automobile companies worldwide. Some of the airbags supplied by Takata have been found to deploy explosively, causing injury and even death to car occupants.

Most of the defective airbags were installed in cars from Model Years 2002 through 2008, however some models continued to use the airbags as late as 2014. The make and model of autos with potentially defective Takata airbags include:
BMW: 627,615 vehicles

2000-05 3-series sedan

2000-06 3-series coupe

2000-05 3-series sports wagon

2000-06 3-series convertible

2001-06 M3 coupe

2001-06 M3 convertible

Chrysler: 371,309 vehicles

2003-08 Dodge Ram 1500

2005-08 Dodge Ram 2500

2006-08 Dodge Ram 3500

2006-08 Dodge Ram 4500

2008 Dodge Ram 5500

2005-08 Dodge Durango

2005-08 Dodge Dakota

2005-08 Chrysler 300

2007-08 Chrysler Aspen

Ford: 58,669 vehicles

2004 Ranger

2005-06 GT

2005-07 Mustang

General Motors: Undetermined total number vehicles

2003-05 Pontiac Vibe

2005 Saab 9-2X

Honda: 5,051,364 vehicles

2001-07 Honda Accord

2001-05 Honda Civic

2002-06 Honda CR-V

2003-11 Honda Element

2002-04 Honda Odyssey

2003-08 Honda Pilot

2006 Honda Ridgeline

2003-06 Acura MDX

2002-03 Acura TL/CL

2005 Acura RL

Nissan: 694,626 vehicles

2001-03 Nissan Maxima

2001-04 Nissan Pathfinder

2002-04 Nissan Sentra

2001-04 Infiniti I30/I35

2002-03 Infiniti QX4

2003-05 Infiniti FX

Mazda: 64,872 vehicles

2003-07 Mazda6

2006-07 MazdaSpeed6

2004-08 Mazda RX-8

2004-05 MPV

2004 B-series truck

Mitsubishi: 11,985 vehicles

2004-05 Lancer

2006-07 Raider

Subaru: 17,516 vehicles

2003-05 Baja

2003-05 Legacy

2003-05 Outback

2003-05 Baja

2004-05 Impreza

Toyota: 877,000 vehicles

2002-05 Lexus SC

2002-05 Toyota Corolla

2003-05 Toyota Corolla Matrix

2002-05 Toyota Sequoia

2003-05 Toyota Tundra

To date, eight fatalities – all in Honda vehicles – and more than 100 injuries have been linked to the defective Takata airbags. In many cases the incidents involved metal shards penetrating a driver’s face and neck. The company is under congressional investigation and recently announced that the recall was being extended globally to include an additional 3.2 million cars.
It is important that owners who suspect their car may have defective airbags to check if their car is affected. This warning is especially urgent in Arizona since it is believed that exposure to high heat will only accelerate the dangers posed by these defective airbags.

The easiest way to check a car’s airbags is to call a franchised dealer or look to the ownership sections on manufacturers’ websites for recall information. Owners can also use their vehicle identification number, VIN, and enter it into the NHTSA’s online VIN-lookup tool. The NHTSA website also has a list of vehicles affected by the recalls for quick review.

If you or someone close to you has been injured as a result of a defective airbag, please call me for a free consultation.

Inferior Vena Cava (IVC) Filters

IVC Filters are designed to prevent pulmonary embolisms in patients where blood thinners are not a viable option. Currently, these filters, which are sometimes mistakenly called Greenfield filters, are supposed to be temporary, and removable when no longer needed.

However, many patients have experienced their IVC filters migrated, tilted or fractured. The migration of the IVC filter can cause it to be unable to be removed. When the IVC filter migrates, tilts or fractures, it can cause embolisms to reach the heart, lungs, liver or kidneys, causing serious permanent injury or death. Also, when the IVC filter moves, tilts or fractures, it can perforate vessels, organs or the spine, causing serious permanent injury or death.

Most of the IVC filters implanted in the United States were manufactured and sold by Cook Medical or Bard. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued advisory and recommendation opinions to both Cook and Bard about their IVC filters, and on July 13, 2015, the FDA issued a warning letter to Bard about its IVC filters.

If you or someone close to you has died, or suffered serious permanent injury, or has had surgery or needs surgery to remove an IVC filter that is or has caused serious injury, please call Phoenix Arizona Mass Tort Product Liability Attorney Steve Leshner for a free consultation.

FDA warns that SGLT2 Inhibitors (e.g., Johnson and Johnson’s Invokana) for diabetes may result in a serious condition of too much acid in the blood

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is warning that the type 2 diabetes medicines canagliflozin, dapagliflozin, and empagliflozin may lead to ketoacidosis, a serious condition where the body produces high levels of blood acids called ketones that may require hospitalization. We are continuing to investigate this safety issue and will determine whether changes are needed in the prescribing information for this class of drugs, called sodium-glucose cotransporter-2 (SGLT2) inhibitors.

Patients should pay close attention for any signs of ketoacidosis and seek medical attention immediately if they experience symptoms such as difficulty breathing, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, confusion, and unusual fatigue or sleepiness. Do not stop or change your diabetes medicines without first talking to your prescriber. Health care professionals should evaluate for the presence of acidosis, including ketoacidosis, in patients experiencing these signs or symptoms; discontinue SGLT2 inhibitors if acidosis is confirmed; and take appropriate measures to correct the acidosis and monitor sugar levels.

SGLT2 inhibitors are a class of prescription medicines that are FDA-approved for use with diet and exercise to lower blood sugar in adults with type 2 diabetes. When untreated, type 2 diabetes can lead to serious problems, including blindness, nerve and kidney damage, and heart disease. SGLT2 inhibitors lower blood sugar by causing the kidneys to remove sugar from the body through the urine. These medicines are available as single-ingredient products and also in combination with other diabetes medicines such as metformin (see Table 1 below). The safety and efficacy of SGLT2 inhibitors have not been established in patients with type 1 diabetes, and FDA has not approved them for use in these patients.

A search of the FDA Adverse Event Reporting System (FAERS) database identified 20 cases of acidosis reported as diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA), ketoacidosis, or ketosis in patients treated with SGLT2 inhibitors from March 2013 to June 6, 2014 (see Data Summary). All patients required emergency room visits or hospitalization to treat the ketoacidosis. Since June 2014, we have continued to receive additional FAERS reports for DKA and ketoacidosis in patients treated with SGLT2 inhibitors.

DKA, a subset of ketoacidosis or ketosis in diabetic patients, is a type of acidosis that usually develops when insulin levels are too low or during prolonged fasting. DKA most commonly occurs in patients with type 1 diabetes and is usually accompanied by high blood sugar levels. The FAERS cases were not typical for DKA because most of the patients had type 2 diabetes and their blood sugar levels, when reported, were only slightly increased compared to typical cases of DKA. Factors identified in some reports as having potentially triggered the ketoacidosis included major illness, reduced food and fluid intake, and reduced insulin dose.

Steve Leshner Quoted in Arizona Republic Regarding Bad Faith Lawsuit

Ties between Phoenix Fire Dept., insurer at issue in lawsuit

A so-called “hand-in-hand” relationship between the Phoenix Fire Department’s arson squad and a private insurance company is expected to come under scrutiny in the retrial of a civil lawsuit against the insurer by a woman wrongfully accused of setting fire to her home.

When the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office dismissed the criminal case against Barbara Sloan because of a lack of evidence, Deputy County Attorney Edward Leiter noted an “incestuous relationship” between the Phoenix Fire Department and Farmers Insurance, the case disposition worksheet says. Judge Christopher Whitten agreed, writing that the Fire Department and insurance company seemed to work “hand in hand,” minutes show.

In April, Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Arthur Anderson overturned the verdict in the 2012 case he presided over and granted Sloan a new trial in her civil lawsuit against Farmers Insurance. A jury ordered Sloan to pay Farmers $1.68 million in legal fees after it ruled in 2012 that the insurance company did not act in bad faith by stopping payment on her claim.

A trial date has not been set.

Farmers and the Phoenix Fire Department both declined to comment for this story.

Requests for new civil trials are common but are rarely granted, Phoenix attorney Stephen I. Leshner said. The decision to grant Sloan one meant that there were “extraordinary facts” that were not presented during the first trial and kept it from being fair, he said.

The new trial could result in a multimillion-dollar swing in Sloan’s favor as her attorney, Mike Poli, alleges that a private investigator hired by Farmers, Robert Laubacher, was pressured by the insurer to change his opinion on the cause of the 2009 house fire near 40th Street and Campbell Avenue to arson from not arson.

The blaze was later traced to faulty car parts inside the garage.

Laubacher declined to comment for this story.

Fire Capt. Sam Richardson had deemed the blaze an arson the day of the fire, and he was later the subject of an Arizona Department of Public Safety investigation that resulted in the DPS accusing him of lying under oath. Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery questioned Richardson’s competency and integrity in October, when he declined to prosecute Richardson and a fellow arson-squad member in connection with their investigation of Sloan.

One of the recommended charges was based on statements Richardson made to the DPS about the number of times he spoke with Laubacher during the investigation.

The Phoenix Fire Department financed an independent administrative investigation into Richardson’s actions, and he was not disciplined for what was determined to be a lack of training.

Laubacher, who is licensed through DPS, visited Sloan’s home two days after the fire and determined that it started from an unknown source and was not arson, Farmers Insurance documents show.

After several phone conversations, Richardson and Laubacher met in June 2009. Laubacher then decided to label the fire as human-caused but not name Sloan as the culprit, courts records show. About four hours later, the same records show he called an official at Farmers and expressed concerns about calling the house fire arson.

The reason Farmers wanted Laubacher to change his assessment, according to Poli, was that if Sloan were convicted of burning down her own home, the company would not have to pay her claim. Farmers paid more than $1 million to Sloan for her claim after the criminal case was dismissed.

Poli discovered the flip-flop while deposing Laubacher in the lead-up to the first civil trial. But attorneys for Farmers labeled Laubacher’s original findings “privileged information” during the trial and did not disclose Laubacher’s original report to Poli.

Laubacher refused to testify during the trial and took the Fifth Amendment when Anderson asked him a series of questions, including one about whether he faced pressure from Farmers to change his opinion, records show.

Law enforcement and insurance companies are often the agencies people call when they need help. But Leshner said that while law-enforcement officers have “prestige” that makes most people want to believe them, “there have been fire investigators who have had wrong theories for decades,” Leshner said. Insurance companies will fight customers on the “simplest, most head-scratching” of things because they want to avoid paying out the premiums they collect, he said.

“People act in their own interest when money is involved,” Leshner said.