Levin & Perconti is a nationally renowned law firm concentrating in all types of serious injury, medical malpractice, nursing home, and wrongful death litigation. Our personal injury attorneys are committed to protecting and vindicating the rights of people who are seriously injured by the negligence of others.
FDA Releases 20 Years of “Hidden” Data Related to Medical Device Injuries and Deaths
Serious medical complications and lifelong injuries, and even death, can result from a risky or wrong medical device. But a March 8, 2019 Kaiser Health News investigative report has led to the recent Food and Drug Administration (FDA) release of two decades worth of previously hidden data containing millions of malfunctions by medical devices and allowed some manufacturers to keep potential safety issues quiet.
Some of the FDA’s public reporting of adverse device outcomes were previously filed as an “alternative summary,” and included more than 5.7 million incidents hidden from the American people. This is risk information that could have been (and now will be) helpful for device prescribing doctors, medical researchers and life-saving knowledge for consumers and patients.
Johnson & Johnson’s Talc Powder Product Marketing Still Aimed at Minority Groups Despite Cancer Claims
Decades of questioning the use and dangers of cosmetic talc powder in health and personal hygiene products finally came to light in 2006, when the World Health Organization began classifying cosmetic talc as “possibly carcinogenic.” At the head of the issue was well-known consumer product company, Johnson & Johnson along with its signature Baby Powder products. Despite tests revealing that the talc J&J uses is possibly harmful to humans and its related health risks, the company continues to focus on selling the product focusing on its longtime consumers. These groups include African-Americans, fitness enthusiasts and overweight women who use the products as a genital antiperspirant and deodorant. The inexpensive products are being explicitly marketed to improve the livelihood of a group of innocent consumers misinformed from a company undeterred by the concern about the health effects and cancer risks of talc.
Consequently, these same minority and overweight women audiences are being struck with ovarian cancer or mesothelioma and now make up a large number of the plaintiffs alleging that J&J’s Baby Powder and Shower to Shower products were the cause. And in July of 2018, J&J was ordered to pay $4.69 billion to 22 women who had claimed that asbestos in the company’s talcum powder products caused them to develop ovarian cancer and failed to warn consumers about the risks associated with its use.
Three Veterans Die by Suicide in One Week at VA Facilities
Veterans advocacy groups are pleading for the inspectors general of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), Department of Defense and Department of Health and Human Services to promptly begin a joint investigation after three veterans took their own lives at VA facilities in just one week. According to VA representatives, since 2017 the department has tracked 260 suicide attempts at its facilities, with 240 of those having been interrupted.
As many as 20 veterans are dying by suicide each day. This is a tragically preventable number that reflects one and a half times higher than the civilian population’s suicide rate. Obviously, this group of American heroes is pleading for help.
FDA Says Surgical Mesh Manufacturers Must Stop Selling Unsafe Devices
On April 16, 2019, The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) ordered two manufacturers of three different vaginal mesh products to immediately stop selling and distributing their products for not meeting U.S. premarket standards for high risk devices. The FDA also said there was insufficient evidence that the mesh worked better than surgery to repair pelvic organ prolapse (POP).
Department of Public Health Says Cancer Risk Studies Will Continue Southwest of Chicago
On March 29, 2019, the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) released news that the Willowbrook Cancer Incidence Assessment study involving the area surrounding the Sterigenics facility in DuPage County found that cancers were indeed elevated. The increased cancer risk presents a public health hazard, prompting IDPH to investigate the implications associated with ethylene oxide (EtO) emissions in the Willowbrook area and recommend for further research.
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), EtO is a colorless gas commonly used to sterilize some types of medical equipment and in fact carcinogenic to humans. The Sterigenics plant was ordered in February of 2019 by the Illinois EPA to seal its containers of the chemical and stop using EtO to sterilize devices.
New Proposed Legislation for Illinois Workers Exposed to Toxic Substance Injuries Now Sits with Governor Pritzker
The Illinois General Assembly has passed Senate Bill 1596, which is now at the hands of the new Governor awaiting passage to become a law. The legislation will allow workers to file a claim for benefits after being exposed to harmful substances (such as asbestos or beryllium) and later develop symptoms of injury or disease after the statutes of limitations has run out. The current 25-year time bar has made it nearly impossible for those workers to seek support thru the Illinois civil courts for assistance in recovery from their occupational diseases. SB 1596 would amend sections of the state’s current Workers’ Compensation Act and the Workers’ Occupational Diseases Act and applies to cases in which the statutes of limitations preclude recovery.
25-Year Timeline for Toxin-Related Employer Liability
4 Illinois Immigrant Shelters Will Close After Repeated Incidents of Child Maltreatment
For more than 20 years, the Chicago area has been the temporary home to many migrant children detained after crossing the border. Some of these young immigrants were either alone or were taken from their immigrant parents to now be overseen by the U.S. Health and Human Services department’s Office of Refugee Resettlement. Currently, the largest caretaker for these children in Illinois is a 130-year-old nonprofit, Heartland Human Care Services, part of Heartland Alliance. ProPublica Illinois published a detailed report on December 21, 2018 which revealed several Heartland facilities had been involved in a series of disturbing federal investigations focused on the alleged abuse and neglect of migrant children.
Heartland is in the news again as the group announced it will close four shelters by the end of May. The shelters to be closed are located in the suburban Chicago community of Des Plaines and located on the campus of Maryville Academy, a Catholic child welfare agency. Heartland officials released a memo stating that the group also plans to add staff, employee care training and other resources at its remaining five facilities located in Chicago’s Rogers Park, Bronzeville, Englewood and Beverly neighborhoods. The closings are likely in response to the current administration’s zero-tolerance immigration push and related challenges, as well as in reflection of an ending lease on these facilities. Heartland officials say they plan to move children out of the Des Plaines shelters starting immediately.
2018 Report Shows Nearly 100 Children Died While Involved in Illinois Welfare System
Each year, the Office of the Inspector General investigates deaths and serious injuries of Illinois children whose families were involved in the child welfare system. The Illinois Department of Child and Family Services (DCFS) Office has released a report by Acting Inspector General Meryl Paniak stating 98 children involved with the child welfare agency died in fiscal year 2018. The deaths were investigated between July 1, 2017 and June 30, 2018. No names or exact locations were used in the report but Cook County was home to the highest number of deceased children connected to the system compared to the rest of the state.
Paniak expressed concern in a letter to Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s administration and the General Assembly saying, “The incidence of child maltreatment is deeply influenced by poverty, violence, mental health and substance use. System-wide collaboration and data-sharing across multiple service sectors—child welfare, juvenile justice, early childhood, education, public health, and behavioral and mental health fields—are essential to improving child and family safety and well-being on a broad scale.”
As part of a weeklong series, the personal injury attorneys of Chicago’s Levin & Perconti have been highlighting the list of companies named by the American Association for Justice (AAJ) as having the “Worst Corporate Conduct of 2018.” These companies have each engaged in behaviors that have emotionally and physically harmed patients, clients, customers, employees, and young female student athletes.
Larry Nassar, the now imprisoned former doctor for USA Gymnastics and Michigan State University Athletics, has landed both of his employers as the final “bad businesses” on the list. While employed by both the University and big-business funded USA Gymnastics, Dr. Larry Nassar was able to sexually abuse hundreds of young women. Since at least the late 1990s, high level employees at Michigan State had been aware of allegations against Dr. Nassar and had actively engaged in multiple coverups of these incidences.
Last year, Larry Nassar was sentenced to a minimum of 40-125 years in prison as the result of both federal and state charges of sexual assault of both adults and minors, as well as possession of child pornography.
“Emissions are continuing to contribute to ambient levels of ethylene oxide in the atmosphere. This impact creates an imminent and substantial endangerment to public health.”
-John Kim, Acting Director of the Illinois EPA
On Friday, relying on new data from independent 30 day continuous air quality tests ordered by Willowbrook village officials, Governor Pritzker overruled the U.S. EPA and, in tandem with the Illinois EPA, ordered the immediate closure of Sterigenics.