soldiers

New Bill Will Allow Veterans To Seek Damages In Military Medical Malpractice Lawsuits

soldiersIt seems only right that the men and women who have served in our armed forces should get the best medical care, but often that is not the case. We've all heard rumors and stories about long waits or poor standards of care for veterans, but one thing you may not have heard is that veterans have little recourse if a military doctor or hospital injures them as part of a procedure.

According to the military news website Task & Purpose, a 1950 Supreme Court ruling that was originally intended to shield doctors from lawsuits as they made life or death decisions on the battlefield has, over time, been applied to non-battlefield cases. At this point, the ruling essentially blocks veterans from suing for medical malpractice.

Fortunately, efforts are in the works to amend this situation. A bill has already been passed in the U.S. House of Representatives and is soon to be co-sponsored in the Senate by Florida Senator Rick Scott. The bill, named after Richard Stayskal, a green beret who is dying of lung cancer after he was misdiagnosed as having pneumonia by doctors at Fort Bragg, is said to change things by allowing veterans up to three years to sue after discovering a misdiagnosis or instance of medical malpractice.


E-cigarettes Not Upholding Safety Promises

E-cigarettes seemed to sweep in a few years ago with the promise of a safe, smokeless alternative to real cigarettes. You didn't inhale the smoke, so all those cancer causing toxins never made it to your lungs. Even better, switching flavors just meant switching which liquid you used instead of having to buy a whole new pack of smokes. Vaping was to become the new, safe way to maintain a now harmless nicotine addiction.

Except things haven't turned out so rosy.

First, there is the lesser issue of e-cigarette hardware itself. Hooking up a high-capacity battery to to a heating element that is used to warm potentially flammable liquids has, unsurprisingly, caused accidents. The battery inside an e-cig is more or less the same as the ones that power our smartphones. Modern batteries store a lot of energy in a small space, and if anything goes wrong that energy gets released as an uncontrolled jet of flames and burning plastics instead of a nice steady flow of electrons. Just ask Samsung, who had to recall every single one of their Galaxy Note 7 phones a few years back. Or talk to the makers of battery-powered self-balancing "hoverboards" whose quality control was so bad across the board that they were outright banned in the UK because their batteries were such a fire risk.

Two notable reports of e-cig fires include a young man who was caught on store video as his pocket burst into flames, and a lawyer who had to rush out of a courtroom when one of the spare batteries he had in his pocket began smoldering.

E-cigs aren't exploding left, right, and center, but poorly made or poorly maintained e-cigarettes certainly can become a fire risk.

The second, more notable issue of e-cigarettes is the notion that they separate the act of smoking from the harmful chemicals that come with normal cigarettes seems to be incorrect. Vaping has now been linked to several hundred cases of sicknesses and severe lung injuries spread across the nation. E-cigarettes may not have the outrageous amount of harmful chemicals that a traditional cigarette has, but the smoke inhaled from vaping can apparently still be very dangerous. Some doctors are even going so far to say that the damage done by smoking an e-cigarette reminds them of the effects of actual chemical weapons such as mustard gas!

The issues seems to be one of chemical choice and quality control at vaping companies such as Juul. This year, that company was all but forced to remove several of its vaping flavors from stores across the US. Juul is also now tangled up in a whistleblower lawsuit brought against it by one of its former vice presidents of global finance. Siddharth Breja, the vp in question, is claiming that the vaping company ignored the expiration dates of its own products and cut corners to keep up with demand after it was forced to stop selling some of its products.

Any way you look at it, the promise of a safe, non-toxic, high-tech future of smoking delivered by e-cigarettes seems to be going up in smoke.


Vaping-related Illnesses Spread With Cause Still Unknown

Vaping and E-cigrettes are becoming a serious problem according to the Food and Drug Administration. The government organization has opened a criminal investigation into a wave of more than 530 reported illness that came as a result of vaping. According to Politico, the director of the Centers for Disease Control is "very concerned" about the sharp increase in vaping-related illnesses.

The reports, so far, are making it hard to track down the exact cause since those becoming sick are spread across at least 38 states and not everyone is using the same set of products or vaping liquids in their e-cig.

So far, the FDA thinks that the fault may not lie with the design of the e-cigs or the intended chemical makeup of individual vaping liquids, but might be with a lack of consistency or care somewhere in the supply chain. "There may be a problem with source material or modification that may be occurring at different places," a CDC official said.

Unfortunately, right now the causes are not known and may not be known for weeks or months. The fast growing vaping industry may be subject to additional regulation in the future, but for now, the safest bet is to only buy vaping supplies from a reliable source or hold off vaping all together until a root cause to these illnesses can be found.


Purdue Pharma Carries Out Bankruptcy Threat

In the latest news about the Sackler family that owns and operates Purdue Pharma, we have a pair of stories, one leading to the other. Both show just scheming this drug company has been and even still is as it faces intense government and public scrutiny. 

First on August 27th, there were widespread reports that Purdue Pharma, which was working with national and state government to settle its outstanding opioid abuse claims, made the bold statement that if it could not get all its accusers to settle on a favorable agreement it would declare bankruptcy which would make it so that it did not have to pay the same damages it would have otherwise. This was basically a “do it our way, or we will do everything we can to avoid as much responsibility as possible.” The pronouncement came from one of the companies that was allowing doctors of small cities to prescribe sometimes hundreds of more pills, per person, than were necessary.

Filing for bankruptcy would protect Purdue Pharma from some of its debts and help shield it from angry prosecutors and customers. Naturally, state prosecutors did not simply back down because the company they were after was setting up legal roadblocks. Unfortunately, Purdue Pharma did exactly what it said it would do. 

On September 15, the drug maker followed up on its threat to declare bankruptcy, but only after its controlling family started moving large sums of money overseas. The New York attorney general said that it was keeping tabs on wire transfers made back the Sacklers that added up to at least a billion dollars. With the money safely moved, the bankruptcy could then be declared while shielding much of that money from national and state claims. The Sacklers claim that all the transfers, some of which bounced through iconic Swiss bank accounts, were perfectly normal. 

On one hand, it is good to see that law enforcement agencies have begun to put major pressure on opioid makers, but the options these companies have available to them when trying to avoid responsibility for the epidemic they caused. 


Martin Walker Co-Founder Earns Recognition by Texas Super Lawyers 2019

TYLER, Texas – Trial lawyer John F. (Jack) Walker III, co-founder of the Tyler-based trial law firm Martin Walker PC, has earned recognition on the 2019 Texas Super Lawyers list.

Mr. Walker was selected for his extensive experience in personal injury trial law on behalf of plaintiffs. Mr. Walker has been practicing law since 1992, and he has been Board Certified by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization in Personal Injury Trial Law since 1999.

“Jack is the type of lawyer who devotes a lot of energy to preparing for his cases and then passionately representing his clients in the courtroom,” said Reid Martin, co-founder of Martin Walker. “Jack’s success speaks to this approach. Juries instinctively know when a lawyer is prepared and they also know when a lawyer cares about the case they are trying. That’s Jack on both counts.”

Mr. Martin and Mr. Walker are among the few lawyers in Texas who still take on medical malpractice cases. In 2018, the Martin Walker law firm won a $43.32 million medical malpractice verdict, the largest of its kind in Texas that year. In August, Mr. Martin and Mr. Walker were each honored in the 2020 edition of The Best Lawyers in America for their work in medical malpractice.

The Thomson Reuters Super Lawyers list recognizes less than 5 percent of all Texas lawyers. Honorees are selected based on nominations from more than 70,000 practicing lawyers in Texas with a review by a blue-ribbon panel of attorneys and editorial research. The Super Lawyers list is published in the October issues of Texas Monthly and the Texas edition of Super Lawyersmagazines. The full list is available online at http://www.superlawyers.com.

Martin Walker PC is a Tyler-based law firm with significant trial expertise representing individuals and businesses in high-stakes litigation, including medical malpractice, catastrophic injuries involving 18-wheeler accidents, oilfield injuries, wrongful death, and product liability. For more information visit:http://www.martinwalkerlaw.com/

Media Contact:

Mark Annick

800-559-4534

mark@androvett.com


Common Car Accident Questions and Answers

Roads and streets get us where we need to go, but they can also be dangerous for drivers and pedestrians alike. Here are some common issues that affect people on the roads.

Red Light Runners:

In 2017, over 900 pedestrians were hit and killed by vehicles running red lights. The worst thing about it is that while most drivers say they realize running red lights is very dangerous for themselves and for pedestrians, almost 33% of them still run one or more red lights on a monthly basis. Running lights is, of course, a crime in itself, but injuring someone while running a light also brings up the question of civil liability. Breaking a law designed specifically to protect people from harm has a good chance of establishing the law breaker's civil negligence in addition to the crime they committed.

If you are injured by someone running a red light, be sure to note that when you talk to your insurance and your attorney. Evidence that someone ran a light is a big boost to any case or claim you may need to bring against the offending driver.

Pedestrian Injuries:

It's not just red light runners that are a danger on the road. Pedestrian deaths in general have been on the rise. Last year was the most deadly for pedestrians in almost two decades. One of the biggest reasons is that so many people are driving larger vehicles than they did in years past. Coupes and sedans are steadily being replaced by crossover vehicles, SUVs, and full size trucks. The larger the vehicle, the less survival a collision is for a pedestrian.

Another reason for the increase in pedestrian deaths is the rapid rise in smartphone use. Just like vehicle on vehicle accidents, distracted driving has had a major effect on pedestrian deaths as well. Like with all accidents, a pedestrian needs to establish that the driver that hit them had a duty to the person hit and that they violated that duty which resulted in an actual injury or other harm.

Hit and Runs:

Sometimes, car accidents happen but the other party does not stick around to see about the damage. Fortunately, there are some thing you can do if you are the victim of a hit and run accident. First thing to remember is the driver that runs is almost always assumed to be at fault. If the hit and run driver can be found, they will have a pretty heavy burden of proving why they are not at fault.

If the driver can't be found, you may have a clause in your car insurance that deals with hit and run drivers. This is usually part of your uninsured motorists coverage. Not every policy has this coverage, though, so you'll need to check with your insurance company before filing a claim. If you ever have trouble with your insurance company, it may be time to call an attorney. At the end of the day, sometimes you and your insurance company can have conflicting interests, and it can take the involvement of a good lawyer to set things right.

So, when is the right time to involve an attorney after a car accident? There are a few incidents where it just makes sense to get legal assistance:

If there's a dispute as to who caused the car accident.
If there's a dispute as to how much you are owed after an accident.
If you suffered a serious injury that will require continued medical care.
If the other driver decides to sue or countersue you for the accident.

A lawyer team that knows the local court system can help you through the rules and requirements involved in a car accident dispute. They can help you evaluate settlement offers and make sure that insurance companies and other drivers don't try to slip past the rules or take advantage of you. Be aware there is a time limit associated with personal injury cases. Many cases need to be filed within two years of the accident.

If you or a love one has been involved in a car accident or a pedestrian accident, you call the Martin Walker team at 903-526-1600.


Updates on The Opioid Epidemic

One of the biggest national crises of the last twenty years is what some refer to as the Opioid Epidemic. Deaths from overdosing on prescription and non-prescription opioid painkillers began to skyrocket in the late 1990's. This epidemic is now the leading cause of death in Americans under fifty years of age. The worst part about this drug crisis is that it should have been preventable, but dishonest doctors and scheming drug companies worked together to make billions as ordinary patients became addicted to drugs they were told had low or no risk of addiction. On the streets, opioids have become highly trafficked and have lead to further deaths. The harm the opioid epidemic has done has cost more than just human lives. Some estimates put the cost of supporting and caring for those affected by opioid addictions at over $75 billion dollars each year. The crisis has put an unneeded strain on our healthcare system that is not expected to be alleviated for decades.

We've covered a number of stories and incidents over the last year that shows just how out of hand the opioid epidemic has gotten.

 


In January of 2008, New York city brought lawsuits against eight opioid manufacturers. The city sought half a billion dollars in compensation while claiming that drug companies were misleading consumers about the safety of opioids while at the same time they were intentionally oversupplying and underreporting prescriptions of opioids in order to boost their profits.

 


As more focus has been placed on the causes of the opioid epidemic, some of the companies behind the mass production of opioids have begun distancing themselves from the drugs they themselves sold. For instance, in March of 2016, we saw that Purdue Pharma, one of the biggest names in opioids, had decided it would no longer be marketing its painkilling drugs, like OxyContin, to doctors. Multi-billion dollar companies rarely admit mistakes, but when you see one step away from a drug that made them many millions of dollars, it is practically the same thing.

 


In many ways, though, Purdue Pharma's move away from its core drugs was a too little too late moment. Just a few months earlier, reports about the company's activities painted a company that was actively looking for new and sometimes blatantly unethical ways to increase its profits from its opioid based drugs. At one point the company was looking at setting up opioid addiction treatment programs to help people with the addictive effects of the drugs they were widely marketing. When combined with their other efforts to increase opioid sales and convince doctors to prescribe larger doses, and their overall opioid strategy just starts to feel wrong. According to some reports, they even fired one of their employees who officially raised the alarm about doctors overprescribing OxyContin.


Fortunately, this bad behavior does not seem to have gone unpunished, at least not in the long run. In mid-march, Purdue Pharma publicly announced that they were considering filing for bankruptcy. At the time, Purdue Pharma was coming to terms with a lawsuit in the state of Oklahoma that might have reached the $1 billion mark. After making billions of dollars selling addictive drugs, that the company would then go into bankruptcy seemed a bit farfetched.

 


More recently, in July of this year, new information came to light that showed an outrageous amount of opioids being prescribed in some states in towns. The Washington Post managed to obtain a secret database that the DEA had kept on opioid sales and distribution data from at least 2006 to 2012. After digging into the data, investigators found some truly shocking numbers such as the state of West Virginia having so many opioid pills distributed that each of its residents would have received 60 of them each year. Even more outrageous, one town in Virginia had prescribed enough opioid pills that each of its 4,000 residents could have received 306 pills each year. These kind of numbers help explain why opioids had become so widespread that they have now become known as a crisis or epidemic.

 

Update, soon after we complied this report, a new story about opioid manufacturer Purdue Pharma broke. Here are the details: 

A big update in the ongoing opioid crisis was widely reported yesterday. Purdue Pharma and the Sackler family have apparently floated the idea of a $10 to $12 billion settlement in response to the nearly 2,000 city, state and county lawsuits pending against them.

In order to pay for this settlement, Purdue Pharma would need to declare bankruptcy, and even then, roughly half of the $7 to $8 billion would be made up in opioid-overdose medication that Purdue Pharma produces. The rest would come from ongoing profits of the company's drug sales. The Sacklers would pay for their part of the settlement in large part by selling off their international drug company Mundipharma.

All this came to light during a meeting with several state attorneys general, but this deal also came with a warning. Lawyers from Purdue Pharma and the Sackler family said if this deal was not agreed to, Purdue Pharma would most likely declare bankruptcy all the same which, without the deal in place, would make it a lot tougher to collect fines and payments from the company.

In what feels like an insincere twist, Purdue Pharma put out an official statement that included: "The people and communities affected by the opioid crisis need help now. Purdue believes a constructive global resolution is the best path forward, and the company is actively working with the state attorneys general and other plaintiffs to achieve this outcome." That seems a bit much for one of the larger companies that helped drive this opioid epidemic in the first place.

 

Taken individually, these stories and cases point to bad decisions and unfortunate actions on behalf of opioid manufactures and the doctors that prescribed the pills to patients. When considered together as part of more than a decade of behavior, the severity of the opioid epidemic starts to become clear. These companies were doing everything they could to influence doctors to overprescribe their drugs. They encouraged larger doses, managed to get significant health organizations to repeat their, at best, unverified claims about the safety of their medications, secretly looked into playing both sides of the game by prescribing the drugs and then set up programs to help those who became addicted, and finally threatened to declare bankruptcy when their actions came to light.

Opioid addictions and drug overprescription are not just national issues. They can affect people in East Texas just as easily as they can in West Virginia. If you or a love one think may have been affected by the opioid crisis you need someone who handles medical malpractice cases on a daily basis. Give the Martin Walker law firm a call at 903-526-1600 for a free case evaluation.


Congressional Report Shows World Health Organization Republished Opioid Industry Talking Points

The case against opioids and opioid manufactures gets more disturbing each time a new investigation comes to a conclusion. This time, a congressional report titled "Exposing Dangerous Opioid Manufacturer Influence At The World Health Organization" brought to light at least two World Health Organization guidance documents that appeared to mirror some of the discredited claims previously made by Purdue Pharma about the risk of opioid addiction.

For instance, one of the discredited claims that the WHO repeated was the false idea that less than 1% of opioid users ever became addicted to the powerful drugs. The congressional report notes that the 1% figure was already in question at the time that the WHO included it in its guidance documents, and that the 1% figure has since been shown to be closer to 8 to 12% of opioid users who become addicted after taking drugs like OxyContin.

WHO documents also used industry terms like "opiophobia" and made suggestions that there was no limit on the dosage of opioids that should be given to children, another drug industry supplied fact that has since been shown to be false. The same documents even did away with the middle range of pain management treatments for children and instead suggested that doctors go from prescribing normal pain killers on the low end then move straight to opioids without first trying mid-level treatments.

This congressional report just goes to show how big a push opioid producers made to get their own claims into places that they generally did not deserve go. Unwinding the opioid epidemic is going to take more investigations like this one revealing the truth.


Co-Founders of Texas Firm Martin Walker Named to Best Lawyers for 2020

Lawyers with focus on medical malpractice cases honored

 TYLER, Texas – Trial lawyers Reid Martin and John F. (Jack) Walker III, co-founders of the Tyler-based trial law firm Martin Walker PC, have earned recognition in the 2020 issue of The Best Lawyers in America, the oldest and one of the most respected legal guides in the nation.

Mr. Martin and Mr. Walker are among the few lawyers in Texas who still take on medical malpractice cases, a rarity. Mr. Martin is Board Certified in Personal Injury Trial Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization, and he has more than 25 years of courtroom experience. Mr. Walker has been Board Certified by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization in Personal Injury Trial Law since 1999.

“We have had a very exciting year,” said Mr. Martin. “It’s rewarding to be able to help our clients achieve justice, and Jack and I are honored to see our hard work recognized by our peers.”

Best Lawyers in America honorees are chosen through voting by lawyers in the same practice and geographic areas. The publication’s research team then evaluates those nominees and makes the final selections. For the full list visit https://www.bestlawyers.com/.

“This is truly special because of the fact you have others in our own profession who are looking at our names and saying, ‘Yes, those two are among the best,’” said Mr. Walker.

This is just the latest honor for both Mr. Martin and Mr. Walker. Earlier this year, they were recognized in Texas Lawyermagazine for having won the largest medical malpractice verdict in Texas in 2018. In that case, jurors awarded $43.32 million to Martin Walker client Billy Pierce in a case he brought against East Texas Medical Center and one of its doctors.

Martin Walker PC is a Tyler-based law firm with significant trial expertise representing individuals and businesses in high-stakes litigation, including medical malpractice, catastrophic injuries involving 18-wheeler accidents, oilfield injuries, wrongful death, and product liability. For more information visit: http://www.martinwalkerlaw.com/

Media Contact:

Mark Annick

800-559-4534

mark@androvett.com