Crash In Burleson Texas Kills 4 and Injures 9

Angel Reyes III Auto Accidents, In The News

burleson-crashAs is far too often the case, police believe alcohol was involved in a four-car crash this past Saturday. The incident happened just before midnight on Burleson Retta Road and caused so much destruction that police closed off a quarter-mile of road with crime tape and police cars until Sunday afternoon.

A youth pastor was one of four people killed in this horrific four-vehicle collision. Sadly, Brian Jennings and two other “good Samaritans” were trying to help a stranded vehicle when another driver hit it on the dimly lit country road. Nine people were also injured and two of those are in critical condition. According to Linda Caram, the crash was so loud, her husband and she thought it sounded like an explosion. They literally had car parts scattered across their driveway. After hearing the crash, Linda and her husband received a call from a neighbor saying his wife and daughter were among those killed.

Although the names of victims have not yet been released, Alsbury Baptist Church confirmed that its youth minister Brian Jennings was among those killed. Jennings was a father of three, and had just left a party f held in honor of his oldest con, who had graduated from Centennial High School in Burleson. Jennings was once a troubled teen who had turned his life around as an adult by helping others. Brian apparently loved video games, board games, dancing and making people laugh.

A mother and her adult daughter were also trying to assist the disabled vehicle when they were killed. The daughter was home visiting from nursing school. Her father had gone inside the home to bring in a mailbox that was destroyed in the crash. When he returned, he found his wife and daughter dead.

Three vehicles, including the disabled one, were in the westbound lane. The fourth car was headed when the crash occurred. Authorities are still investigating whether alcohol was a major factor in the crash.

If you have sustained injuries from a car or truck wreck, you may be entitled to compensation. Contact the attorneys at Reyes Browne Reilley Law Firm at 214-526-7900, or submit the short case review form on the right. Remember – You’re under no obligation to use our services, and we charge nothing if you do not win your claim.

Driving Is Risky Business

Angel Reyes III Auto Accidents

driving-300x200Driving is probably the most dangerous activity in which most of us engage every single day. According to the Texas Department of Transportation, over 2,800 people were killed in auto accidents in Texas alone. The TxDOT also reported that October is the deadliest month and Saturday the most dangerous day to drive.

Nationally, fatal accidents on the roads totaled 29,757 in 2011. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control revealed that auto accidents are the #1 cause of death for people of ages 5-34 in this country.

Right now in North Texas, it’s mosquito season. Last year West Nile Virus was big news. Constant reporting on television and in newspapers warned of the immense dangers of this virus. In fact, it was such a scare, many North Texas cities went so far as to aerial spray toxic pesticides (called adulticides) while we are told to stay locked in our homes. Yet one’s chance of dying or even getting seriously ill from West Nile Virus are incredibly slim. So why are we so worried about mosquitoes and not the safety on our roads? Perhaps it is because driving is a necessity, and we simply take for granted that if we have somewhere to be, we must drive.

Or perhaps we’re just not as informed as we should be. It’s doubtful most people know that nationally, auto accidents account for approximately 110 deaths per day.

Texting While Driving Is Deadly

Angel Reyes III Auto Accidents, In The News

Savannah-nash-300x167I’m not sure even where to start writing here. As a mother I was heartbroken to hear the news of the young sixteen-year-old girl named Savannah Nash who died this weekend as she ran her car into a tractor-trailer — an accident that investigators have found most likely was caused by her texting while driving. I cannot imagine the grief her parents are going through, but I can imagine that they likely warned her not to text and drive. I also realize young people rarely think anything bad will happen to them. I was young once too, and I know I didn’t always listen to warnings of danger either.

Now as a parent, my greatest fear is my children not listening to me about the dangers of distracted driving,although I warn them regularly. In fact, just last week after blogging about the staggering statistics of the dangers of texting and driving, I shared with my children the information I learned, hoping that if I continue to remind them enough, they will understand the serious nature of this issue. Specifically, I told them as we were driving down the highway at 55 mph that if I sent a text at that exact time it would be the equivalent of my driving the same speed blindfolded down the length of a football field. I figured it was a statistic they could understand.

I never imagined that so soon after, I would be following up that conversation with the news of young Savannah Nash’s driving accident. The fact is that however difficult it was for me to tell them about what happened or to write about it now, I hope that if I remind people to wait to answer that one text or email, everyone will understand.

While I’ve always known texting and driving was dangerous, my fear of the consequences has escalated greatly now that in my law practice I work with attorneys who represent people injured by distracted drivers. I see too often the devastation it can cause, yet each time I hear of another texting/driving tragedy, I am deeply saddened.

Savannah Nash will now be a poster child for the dangers of driving and texting – a role no one should ever have to take. Her parents simply let her drive to the grocery store at 4 in the afternoon; that was all. Her story reminds us that life is so fragile, and cars, while necessary and practical, are dangerous when people do not focus their full attention on driving.

I cannot repeat enough that distracted driving leads to nothing good. Distracted driving is an actionable crime and exponentially increases the likelihood of death or injury from a car accident. Please do not text and drive. We do not need any more examples like the one we got this weekend of why it is so dangerous.

If you or someone you care about has sustained injuries from a distracted-driver car or truck wreck, you may be entitled to compensation. Contact the attorneys at Reyes Browne Reilley Law Firm at 214-526-7900, or submit the short case review form on the right. Remember – You’re under no obligation to use our services, and we charge nothing if you do not win your claim.

The Dark Side of Generic Drugs

Angel Reyes III Dangerous Drugs

CEO Singh of RanbaxyDinesh Thakur was a whistleblower for the generic drug maker, Ranbaxy Laboratories in Gurgaon, India, 20 miles south of New Delhi. Due to his efforts, on May 13 of this year, Ranbaxy pleaded guilty to seven federal criminal counts of selling adulterated drugs with intent to defraud, failing to report that its drugs didn’t meet FDA specifications and intentionally making false statements to the government. Ranbaxy was ordered to pay $500 million in fines, forfeitures and penalties, which is the largest amount ever levied against a generic drug company. However, no Ranbaxy executives were charged with crimes. Thakur’s testimony as a whistleblower was also unsealed. Under federal whistleblower law, he will receive more than $48 million for his part in the exposure of the drug company’s wrongdoings.

Today Ranbaxy is the sixth largest generic drug manufacturer in this country, with more than $1 billion in US sales in 2012 and $2.3 billion worldwide. The company sells its products in more than 150 countries and has 14,600 employees.

The Ranbaxy case sheds light on the fact that generic drug manufacturers overseas can easily get away with breaking the rules. The FDA only relies on research data provided by the companies themselves, assuming that they will adhere to high ethical standards. Obviously, nothing could be farther from the truth.

Even more disturbing is that fact that in spite of Ranbaxy’s fraudulent actions, drug regulators allowed the company to keep selling many of its products. The FDA even granted Ranbaxy rights to sell new generic drugs, the most profitable of which being a generic version of Lipitor. Within the first six months of the introduction of the Lipitor knock-off drug atorvastatin, Ranbaxy made $600 million in sales. But it gets worse. In November 2012, Ranbaxy recalled millions of pills after tiny glass particles were found in some of them. But the recall was only temporary, as the FDA allowed the company to resume manufacture of the drug in March of this year.

The IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics revealed that our drug supply last year was 84% generic. Today, over 80% of active pharmaceutical ingredients for all US drugs are manufactured overseas, as are 40% of finished pills and capsules. The global market for generic drugs is an astounding $242 billion and that figure is growing exponentially. With healthcare reform now including millions more people and our aging population, this trend is bound to continue due to the low prices of generics vs. brand names.

In 2009, the Government Accountability Office proved that only 11% of foreign drug manufacturing plants were inspected by regulators. Conversely, 40% of US domestic ones are inspected. Over the last few years, the FDA increased inspections of foreign plants with its goal being to match those of domestic ones. But even if this happens, it’s an apples and oranges comparison, as foreign inspections can last less than a week and allow companies advance notice. Domestic ones can last up to six weeks with no advance notice.

There is a lot more to the Ranbaxy story but it’s only more of the same. The point is that the American public is clearly NOT safe when it comes to generic drugs. And staying true to form, the FDA does little to nothing to correct the problem. So is Big Pharma continually allowed to commit horrendous crimes? Ask the agency that’s supposed to protect us from these crooks – the Food and Drug Administration. Clearly, they fall short in the most blatantly irresponsible ways.

Transvaginal Mesh and the Wall Street Journal

Angel Reyes III Dangerous Drugs, In The News

shutterstock_75459268-200x299The Wall Street Journal put out a timely article today entitled “Outcomes are Mixed for Pelvic Procedure”. I say timely because the product-liability lawsuits against five manufacturers of transvaginal mesh are in full swing, and as a female attorney who is handling mesh cases, this article most definitely caught my eye when it quoted a study published in the Journal of American Medical Association finding, “long-term benefits are limited for women who undergo an operation to treat a common condition called pelvic organ prolapse, which can lead to urinary problems and discomfort.”

The Journal explained that women facing Pelvic Organ Prolapse or “POP” discover that their uterus or vaginal walls have dropped post childbirth. In an attempt to cure women, doctors have surgically implanted synthetic mesh into the vagina to prop up or anchor female organs. POP also affects women whose bladders have fallen as a result of childbirth or menopause. Many women also have had surgery using the same synthetic mesh to sling up their bladders as a means to cure their incontinence.

Unfortunately, I have found when talking to countless women suffering from the aftermath of transvaginal mesh surgeries that the mesh actually exacerbated their incontinence rather than eradicating it. I also have found that not only do the women have increased problems with bladder function, but they also face regular urinary tract infections, ongoing yeast infections, and constant pelvic pain. Some women actually feel the mesh falling out through their vaginas. Other women are now celibate because of the pain the mesh causes them during intercourse. Innumerable women have told me that they are unable to leave their homes for long periods of time for fear that their “diapers” they are now having to wear will leak when prior to the surgery they did not have such problems. So while some may say that the “outcomes may be mixed” for women having transvaginal mesh surgery, it seems to me that the problems greatly outweigh the promised benefits of its use.

Reyes | Browne | Reilley is currently helping hundreds of transvaginal mesh and bladder sling victims and their families recover damages from their devastating TVM complications. If you or someone you know suffered injuries from this product, please call us for a complementary and confidential consultation. You are under no obligation to use our services. Call us today at 214-526-7900, or submit the short case review form on the right.

Parents Miss Warning On Toddlers’ Cold Medicine

Angel Reyes III Dangerous Behavior, Dangerous Drugs

sick-child-200x299According to last month’s poll by researches at the University of Michigan, 42% of parents gave over-the-counter cough and cold medications to their children under the age of 4. Additionally, 44% gave them multi-symptom cough and cold medications. And 25% gave these toddlers decongestants. The survey comes a whopping five years after these drugs’ packages included warnings against using them in very young children.

In 2008, the Food and Drug Administration advised that these medications not be given to children under the age of 2. The previous year, an agency advisory committee had determined that children younger than 6 shouldn’t take these medications. It was even suggested that these medications didn’t help young children. The FDA said that some of the drugs might be associated with side effects and some deaths in very young patients, primarily due to overdoses.

Manufacturers followed the FDA’s advice and put warnings on their products’ boxes saying they shouldn’t be given to children under the age of four. Medications containing these warnings contain dextromethorphan, a cough suppressant, gauifenesin, an expectorant and the decongestants phenylephrine and pseudoephedrine. Medications with antihistamines warn against use in children younger than six. Major brand names of these medications include Novartis, Pfizer, Triaminic, Dimetapp and Robitussin.

The Consumer Healthcare Products Association represents makers of these over-the-counter medications. It said most cases of side effects involve children taking the meds without parental supervision. It went on to say that the drug facts panel should remain on the back of the packaging rather than the front. But of course, putting the warning on the front might mean parents would actually READ it.

In spite of these and other so-called efforts to alert parents, a study in 2010 published in the journal Child: Care, Health and Development found that about 1/3 of parents had never heard of the FDA’s recommendations. Of those who had, 1/3 planned to continue giving these meds to their children. A 2011 poll from the University of Michigan showed that 61% of parents with children 2 and younger had given them cough and cold medications. And yet another study recently published in Clinical Pediatrics found that 82% of 65 parents of children younger than 6 said they would use the medications. Almost 3/4 of those parents said they would administer the wrong dose. In fact, some parents read the instructions and just made up their own dose. So the misuse of these medications is not just the fault of the manufacturers, but some parents as well. Apparently parents become frustrated because there are not enough medications out there to help their young children, and out of desperation, use the medications designed for older children.

Lower Drunk Driving Threshold To .05 Blood Alcohol Level?

Angel Reyes III Dangerous Behavior, In The News

shutterstock_13811443-300x200According to the Associated Press, a federal safety board just recommended that states should cut their drunken driving threshold by nearly 1/2, from .08 blood alcohol level to .05. Apparently research shows that the .05 standard has significantly reduced deaths in other countries. In fact, over 100 countries have adopted this .05 standard. Within ten years in Europe, traffic deaths related to drunken driving were reduced by more than half. So what does a .05 alcohol level mean to drivers? It means a woman weighing less than 120 pounds can get a DUI after one drink, and a man weighing 160 pounds can be hauled off for two drinks. A drink is considered 12 ounces of beer, 4 ounces of wine or 1 ounce of 80-proof alcohol.

The National Transportation Safety Board indicated it didn’t intend to prevent drivers from having a glass of wine with dinner. However, if one does have a drink or two, the safest bet is to not drive. The fact is that alcohol concentration levels as low as .01 can impair driving performance. Levels as low as .05 substantially increase the risk of fatal crashes, said the NTSB.

Jonathan Adkins, an official with the Governors Highway Safety Association said, “It was very difficult to get .08 in most states so lowering it again won’t be popular. The focus in the states is on high blood alcohol content offenders as well as repeat offenders. We expect industry will also be very vocal about keeping the limit at .08.” The term “industry,” of course, means the alcohol industry which has a huge lobby in government.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety estimated that 7,082 deaths could have been prevented in 2010 if all drivers on the road had blood alcohol content below .08. As this story unfolds further, it will be interesting to see how far the NTSB’s recommendations get at the state level. But the fact remains, drunk drivers need to stay off our roads at all costs.

If you or someone you care about has sustained injuries from a drunk driver or alcohol-related car or truck wreck, you may be entitled to compensation. Contact the attorneys at Reyes Browne Reilley Law Firm at 214-526-7900, or submit the short case review form on the right. Remember – You’re under no obligation to use our services, and we charge nothing if you do not win your claim.

Zolpidem (Ambien) ER Visits On The Rise

Angel Reyes III Dangerous Drugs, In The News

ambienZolpidem is a prescription sleep medication that is sending more and more people to emergency rooms from its serious side effects. Never heard of Zolpidem? Well, I bet you’ve heard of Ambien. Zolpidem is the active ingredient in Ambien, Ambien CR, Edluar and Zolpimist. But the most common among these is Ambien.

I’ve heard countless stories of people doing some pretty crazy things on Ambien – like sleepwalking into a 7-11 while in their pajamas. I’ve also heard some horrific stories about terrible nightmares and hallucinations from taking Ambien.

According to a new federal report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s Drug Abuse Action Network (DAWN), from 2005-2010, visits to emergency rooms from the adverse side effects of Zolpidem increased by over 200 percent. The findings of this report are as follows:

[list type=”icons-thumbs-down”]
  • In 2010, there were 64,175 emergency-department visits involving zolpidem. Of these, 19,487 — or 30 percent — specifically involved adverse reactions to the sleep medication.
  • In 2005, there were just 6,111 emergency-room visits involving adverse reactions to the sleep drug. During the period 2005-2010, emergency-department visits involving adverse reactions to zolpidem rose almost 220 percent.
  • Women accounted for 68 percent of emergency-department visits related to adverse reactions to zolpidem in 2010. The differences between men and women fluctuated during the five-year period, but overall women made up a greater number of the zolpidem-related emergency visits in every year but 2008.
  • The number of emergency room visits made by women involving adverse effects of zolpidem increased by 274 percent from 2005-2010. Visits by men increased 144 percent.
  • Adults ages 45 and older accounted for 74 percent of all emergency room visits involving adverse reactions to zolpidem.
  • Patients ages 65 and older were the most common age group to seek emergency treatment for adverse reactions to zolpidem – 32 percent.
  • Patients ages 45-54 were the next largest group, accounting for 22 percent of all visits.
  • Of the total visits to emergency room visits related to adverse effects of zolpidem, 40 percent involved the sleep drug alone.
  • In 50 percent of the cases, one or more additional prescription drugs were involved.
  • The most common prescription drugs seen in combination with zolpidem’s adverse effects included narcotic pain relievers, antidepressants, anti-anxiety medications and other insomnia medications.
  • Research also has shown that older adults are at greater risk for adverse effects from sleep medications, including those containing zolpidem.
[/list]

In January of this year, the Food and Drug Administration issued a Zolpidem safety alert and announced it would require drug makers to cut in half the recommended dosages of medications containing zolpidem for women. The agency also recommended lowering the dosages for men, and urged medical professionals to warn all patients taking zolpidem about potential side effects. Sleep medications that contain zolpidem should be prescribed on a short-term basis only in severe cases of sleep disorders.

Big Pharma has once again created a monster with medications containing zolpidem. And as usual, rather than treating the problem, American doctors prescribe these pills to alleviate the symptoms.

Bounce House Operators Must Carry Liability, But Not Fertilizer Companies?

Angel Reyes III In The News, Workplace Accidents

Plant_Explosion_Investigation_1-300x207Karl Magerheimer owns a family bounce house business for which Texas law requires him to carry $1 million in liability insurance. Of course, kids get hurt by bounce houses that are not properly secured and flip over. So this law is not unreasonable.  Other businesses required to have insurance covering injuries, deaths and property damage include home exterminators, air conditioning repairmen, tow truck drivers and many more.

Conversely, plants that house and mix dangerous materials like West Fertilizer Co. in West, Texas are a different story.  On April 17, 5 people were killed and 200 more were injured due to fire and explosion of mammoth proportions in West. Three state agencies couldn’t explain why NO liability insurance coverage was required for such companies.  Additionally, the Texas Department of Insurance reported that it only oversees insurance companies and the amusement ride industry.  According to insurance spokesman Jerry Hagins, “We don’t make law.  We implement law.”

The tragedy in West, Texas brings to light how flawed the system truly is in regard to insurance coverage.  During a hearing last week of the House homeland and security and public safety committee, this issue was discussed.  As is standard protocol with any governmental agency, change will be super-slow.  Joe Pickett, an El Paso Democrat who chairs the committee, said it was “too late in the legislation session” to get anything done in a timely manner.  “We don’t even have enough information,” he said.  Pickett called for a mid-June hearing to give all agencies and lawmakers more time for information.

There is apparently no governmental list of which businesses must have liability coverage.  However, most businesses carry liability coverage as standard industry practice.  In the case of West, Texas, the fertilizer company had only $1 million in coverage.  What’s worse, if the plant is found negligent, its policy would only pay $100 million in property losses that were estimated by the Insurance Council of Texas.  So why did West Fertilizer only carry $1 million in coverage when there was such potential for hazardous disasters?  We have no answers from either the company or its insurer to date.  The awful explosion literally took down hundreds of homes and structures in a 35-block radius.  Imagine the magnitude of 35 blocks!  The cause of the blast is yet to be determined, but it is speculated that the plant’s storage of ammonium nitrate, which is widely used as a crop fertilizer and part of an explosive mixture in mining, is the culprit.  West stored around 270 tons of this hazardous substance last year – one of the largest stores in Texas.

Two negligence suits have been filed against West Fertilizer on behalf of its victims by Tyler attorney Randy C. Roberts, who said his clients are in a real bind.  $1 million dollars is a drop in the bucket for compensation of their losses

Mark Hanna, a spokesman for the Insurance Council, sounded like he was making excuses by saying that $1 million is a common amount for commercial property coverage, and that explosions triggered by ammonium nitrate don’t happen frequently.  In the defense of West Fertilizer and its insurance company, he claimed that they may have balanced that fact against the risks. He went on to say that lawmakers do not like to tell businesses how much insurance to purchase.

Really?  Then why are amusement ride owners required to have proof of minimum insurance and an annual safety inspection?  In fact, the amounts are at least $1 million per incident for bodily injury and $500,000 for property damage.  Additionally, the Department of Agriculture has similar requirements of residential and business pest companies, with at least $200,000 in liability for bodily injury and property damage.

According to the Dallas Morning News, no one in our state government keeps a centralized list of businesses required by law to have liability coverage.  But here is a list the publication identified:

[table]
BUSINESS MIN. AMOUNT*
*combined bodily injury and property damage per occurrence

**insurance required by law but amount not proscribed

Amusement ride operators $1.5 million
Elevator/escalator contractors $1.5 million
Electricians $600,000
Residential appliance installers $600,000
Emergency medical services providers $500,000
Tow trucks (non-accident work) $300,000
Structural pest control $300,000
Used automotive parts recyclers $250,000
Emergency/personal fall alarm responders $200,000
Air conditioning (lowest level) $200,000
Substance abuse treatment facilities** N/A
[/table]

NOTES: Certain companies, such as those handling hazardous waste, must show proof of financial responsibility to cover third parties. Combative sports like mixed-martial arts and boxing provide surety bonds and medical coverage.

SOURCES: Departments of Insurance, Agriculture, Licensing and Regulation, and State Health Services; and Texas Commission on Environmental Quality

Reyes | Browne | Reilley has recovered millions of dollars for victims and their families from commercial premises, industrial and construction site accidents. If you or someone you know suffered injuries this or any other type of accident, please call us for a complementary consultation. You are under no obligation to use our services. Call us today at 214-526-7900, or submit the short case review form on the right.

One Woman’s Surgical Mesh Horror Story

Angel Reyes III Medical Devices

shutterstock_128950211-300x200Stress Urinary Incontinence (SUI) affects approximately 13 million American women.  This embarrassing condition can literally change a woman’s life, as she never knows when she’ll leak urine while coughing, laughing, sneezing, having intercourse or performing virtually any physical activity.  Suzanne McClain is one of these women.

In 2004, Suzanne’s doctor told her that her SUI was an “easy fix.”  The doctor recommended outpatient surgery to support her weakened muscles and bladder by implanting a surgical mesh “sling.”  He even went on to say that it was better than wearing a diaper for the rest of her life.  He proposed Transvaginal Tension-Free mesh (TVT) which is manufactured by Ethicon, a division of Johnson & Johnson.  This mesh is made of polypropylene, and is a woven knit fabric that is pliable enough to form a sling.

Suzanne’s doctor was right. It was an easy fix for four years…until complications arose.  And the complications were horrendous.  Suzanne developed an infection which came with a terrible odor.  She tried using Monistat and antibiotics, but nothing worked.  Her doctor gave her estrogen cream to deal with the problem, at which point Suzanne made the decision to never return to him.

In July 2008, she went to a urogynecologist, who told her the mesh from the sling had eroded through her vaginal wall, causing her the awful symptoms she was experiencing. A month later, surgery was performed to remove what amounted to about 1/3 of the mesh.  The surgeon tried to extract the rest but it had become enmeshed with her own tissues.  Suzanne was told that if the mesh continued to erode, it would need to be removed through her abdomen, which is a complicated surgery that can be extremely dangerous.

Suzanne was never warned of the risks of surgical mesh slings.  In fact, the surgeons who are trained by the manufacturers of these slings claim an 80 to 95 percent cure rate for SUI.  After her surgery, Suzanne decided to do some Googling and her findings were astounding – hundreds of women were suffering from the same problems she experienced, but were too embarrassed to go public with their issues.  It was at that point that Suzanne decided to join the patient advocacy group, Truth in Medicine, to demand a Congressional hearing for surgical mesh to be removed from the market.

Reyes Browne Reilley Law Firm is currently helping hundreds of transvaginal mesh and bladder sling victims and their families recover damages from their devastating TVM complications. If you or someone you know suffered injuries from this product, please call us for a complementary and confidential consultation. You are under no obligation to use our services. Call us today at 214-526-7900, or submit the short case review form on the right.