Cerebral Palsy, Dementia Victims Beware Of Shady Stockbrokers


Posted on 30th January 2012 by gjohnson in Uncategorized

, , ,

Here is a cautionary tale for anyone who has ever received a malpractice judgment. The case, chronicled in Forbes by lawyer Bill Singer, involved a cerebral palsy victim being defrauded by a stockbroker. 


Ralph Thomas of Baltimore was a broker and financial planner for Harbor Financial, and from February 2004 until July 2010, he worked for Wells Fargo Advisors.

Thomas met a woman, only identified as KL, who was trustee for a $3 million settlement for her daughter, who developed cerebral palsy from injuries she sustained at birth. Thomas, allegedly got KL to transfer the trust to Harbor Financial, according to Forbes.

Then Thomas allegedly did his dirty work. He was accused of stealing $757,000 from the trust account, using the money to pay off his credit cards and other personal bills.

Then , from June 2006 to May 2009, Thomas took out three mortgages in KL’s name on her home. He put that money in her Harbor Bank account, and then allegedly withdrew that money, about $27,000. He was also accused of takingt $100,000 from the  trust account to buy a home.

But that wasn’t all.     

In 2009, the retired LM made Thomas her financial advisor. LM had an 85-year-old sister with dementia, and she and her sister shared money from an annuity, according to Forbes. Thomas allegedly took $75,000 from LM’s accounty, one again using the money to trim his credir card bills.

A federal indictment outlining Thomas’s alleged crimes was handed up last August. He was facing up to 20 years in jail, a $250,000 fine for mail fraud, and forfeiture of $838,000 in funds and luxury items that he had.

But in September, Thomas entered a plea bargain, where he only pleaded guilty to mail fraud. He has to make $838,000 in restitution and forfeit some of his property. And he can’t can’t associate with any firm that’s a member of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), which agreed to his settlement offer to dispose of the allegations pending against him. 

Columnist Bill Singer said that letting Thomas, who he described as a “low life,” just make a settlement — with no admission of wrongdoing — is just wrong.

“Armed with with a fuller understanding of Thomas’s crimes, I re-read FINRA’s self-regulatory case and realized how pathetic Wall Street regulation truly is,” Singer wrote. “Notwithstanding the epic nature of Thomas’s atrocities, FINRA stil felt it okay to accept a settlement that did not require him to admit its charges. Seriously?”

That’s what I would ask myself, about a guy who allegedly robbed a cerebral palsy victim and a woman with dementia.  Seriously?     



Two Brain Injury Verdicts Make Top 10 List For 2011


Posted on 21st January 2012 by gjohnson in Uncategorized

, , , ,

Lawyers USA’s list of the Top 10 Jury Verdicts in 2011 includes two cases involving traumatic brain injury, with one of them regarding Botox.  

The unusual Botox case resulted in a $212 million award against Allergan, which makes Botox, by a federal jury in Virginia last April. The sad part is that Virginia has a state cap on punitive damages, which could knock down the jury’s $200 million in punitive damages to just $350,000, according to Lawyers USA.


The Botox case involved Douglas Ray Jr., 67, who had developed hand tremors ever since his return from Vietnam. Ray’s doctor told him to get Botox treatments for his hand. After his third visit and injection, Ray first got a rash, then appeared to be confused and eventually sustained brain damage, according to Lawyers USA. Now he can’t walk, talk or feed or dress himself.

Ray’s lawsuit charged that Allergan failed to warn him about the risks of Botox. In Ray’s case, apparently the active ingredient in Botox —  botulinum toxin type A, made from botulism — moved from his arm muscle to his bloodstream and traveled to his brain.      

Botox doesn’t have Food and Drug Administration approval to be used to treat hand tremors, according to Lawyers USA. In fact, last year Allergan forked over $600 million in fines for marketing Botox for off-label uses.

The second case on Lawyers USA’s Top 10 List involving brain damage was a $144 million verdict for the birth of a baby who developed cerebral palsy. The lawsuit involved the botched birth of Kimberly VanSlembrouck’s daughter at William Beaumont Hospital in Michigan. It  charged that her baby should have undergone a Caesarian, not a vaginal, birth.


According to Lawyers USA, VanSlembrouck had gained a lot of weight during her pregnancy, and her doctor should not have risked her doing a vaginal birth. Markell, the newborn girl, suffered serious injuries coming through the birth canal, including three brain hemorrhages, Lawyers USA reported. She was purple with bruises.

The hospital did testing on Markell after she was born, and found that she had abnormal brain development, which it later blamed on a genetic condition called pontocerebellar hypoplasia.   

After being in intensive care for three weeks, doctors determined that Markell had cerebral palsy secondary to birth trauma, according to Lawyers USA.   

The girl is a 15-year-old now, and can’t walk or talk. She needs 24/7 care and assistance doing everything from eating to dressing.

After a three-week trial, the Michigan jury granted the $144 million award. It looks like it didn’t buy the hospital’s gambit that Markell’s medical problems were genetic.

Johnson & Johnson Settles Texas Risperdal Case For $158 Million


Posted on 21st January 2012 by gjohnson in Uncategorized

, ,

Johnson & Johnson Thursday agreed to pay a $158 million settlement to end a trial over Texas officials’ charges that the pharmaceutical maker improperly marketed  its antipsychotic drug Risperdal. 

In the Johnson & Johnson case, officials in the Lonestar State back in 2004 alleged that the drugmaker’s Janssen unit  defrauded  Texas’s Medicaid program by marketing Risperdal for unapproved uses. A trial had been in progress for four weeks before the settlement, according to Bloombeg News.   


The Food and Drug Administration had approved Risperdal for uses as treatment of schizophrenia. But Janssen also began promoting the drug for other treatments, including psychiatric problems in children and adolescents, Bloomberg reported.  

The drug maker in 2004 mounted a campaign to “flood clinics” with Risperdal and increase its usage for children, according to Bloomberg. The strategy was to compete against drugs such as AstraZeneca’s Seroquel.

Although the $158 million seems like a large sum, Texas had been seeking $579 miillion, according to Bloomberg. Sources also told Bloomberg that about a month ago Johnson & Johnson agreed to pay a $1 billion settlement to several states and the U.S. government in order to put an end to a probe of fraudulent Risperdal marketing.  


Novartis Recalls OTC Drugs For Fear Of Contamination By Prescription Pain Killers


Posted on 10th January 2012 by gjohnson in Uncategorized

, , , ,

With the Food and Drug Administration warning Monday of the potential danger, Novartis AG has voluntarily recalled batches of  over-the-counter drugs — Excedrin,  Bufferin, No-Doz and Gas-X — for fear they may contains bits of prescription pain killers.

The FDA held a press conference on the recall, which involves 1,645 lots of the OTC drugs.


The problem stems from a plant in Lincoln, Neb., that was closed last month. In addition to making Novartis products such as Exedrin, that plant also manufactured  prescription drugs such as Percodet and morphine tablets for Endo Phamaceuticals, according to The Wall Street Journal and other press reports.

A press release from Parsippany, N.J., based Novartis Consumer Health Inc. (NCH) said, “NCH is taking this action as a precautionary measure because the products may contain stray tablets, capsules, or caplets from other Novartis products, or contain broken or chipped tablets.”


The recall involves Excedrin and NoDoz products with expirarion dates of Dec. 20, 2014, or earlier as well as Bufferin and Gas-X Prevention products with expiration dates of Dec. 20, 2013 or earlier, in the United States.

” The Novartis Consumer Health Inc. Lincoln, Neb., facility has voluntarily suspended operations and shipments to accelerate maintenance and other improvement activities at the site,” the drug maker said. “This recall is being conducted with the knowledge of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).”


According to NCH, “Mixing of different products in the same bottle could result in consumers taking the incorrect product and receiving a higher or lower strength than intended or receiving an unintended ingredient. This could potentially result in overdose, interaction with other medications a consumer may be taking, or an allergic reaction if the consumer is allergic to the unintended ingredient.”

However, NCH said that it is not aware of adverse events reported with the issues leading to the recall.

The recalled OTC products were distributed nationwide to wholesalers and retailers. NCH is notifying its distributors and customers and is arranging for return of all recalled products.

“We are committed to a single quality standard for the entire Novartis Group and we are making the necessary investments and committing the right resources to ensure these are implemented across our entire network,” Swiss Novartis CEO Joseph Jimenez said in a statement.  “The high quality of our products and operations has been critical to building the Novartis reputation over the past 15 years. We are committed to ensuring the highest standard for patients who rely on our products and medicines.”

NCH said that it is is recalling these products as a precaution due to an internal product review and complaints that identified issues such as broken gelcaps, chipped tablets and inconsistent bottle packaging line clearance practices, where a potential for a tablet mix up could not be ruled out.

NCH plans to gradually resume operations at its Lincoln site following implementation of planned improvements and in agreement with the FDA. That plant produces a variety of products mainly for the U.S. market with annual sales value of less than 2 percent of Novartis Group sales.

At this stage, the drug maker said that it’s  not possible to determine when the plant will resume full operations and the full financial impact of these events. NCH will take a one-time charge currently estimated at $120 million in the fourth quarter of 2011, relating to the recalls and improvement work at the Lincoln facility.

Wholesalers and retailers should stop distribution and return the affected product using Novartis Product Return information that is being provided to them.

Consumers that have the product(s) being recalled should stop using the product(s) and contact the Novartis Consumer Relationship Center at 1-888-477-2403 (available Monday-Friday 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Eastern Time) for information on how to return the affected products and receive a full refund.

Consumers should contact their physician or healthcare provider if they have experienced any problems that may be related to taking or using these drug products.