Articles Posted in Personal Injury

It is your right to hire a competent lawyer that you trust with whatever matter you are dealing with. Sometimes you may choose one at the outset of your case only to discover that they are not a good match. No matter the reason, you should know that you can change your lawyer at any time, including in the middle of your case.

The most common complaint about lawyers are that they are difficult to get ahold of. All too frequently, we hear of clients that hire a lawyer that they can never get in contact with. Calls and emails go unreturned and communication gets pushed off over and over again. Maybe they have an unusually large caseload and are being overworked. No matter the excuse, when you hire a lawyer, you have a right to be a priority. You have the biggest interest in the progress of the case and your lawyer should frequently update you on his or her work. At Altman & Altman LLP we pride ourselves on being highly available to our clients. You can contact us any hour of the day on any day of the week. This includes weekends and holidays. Lawsuits can be stressful. The job of your lawyer is to usher you through this process as seamlessly as possible, and certainly not to add even more stress.

Many clients hire the first lawyer they speak to. You should keep in mind that the lawyer your hire could actually be the difference between winning or losing your case. It is usually a good idea to meet with a lawyer at their office before you hire them to represent you. Altman & Altman offers free initial consultations so you can meet with our attorneys and decide if we would be a good fit.  You can get a feel for the culture of our office. Some people recommend paying attention to how the receptionist talks to clients calling in to see if they are actually put through to their attorney. Many firms also have testimonials from previous clients on their websites which can help you determine how they treated past clients.

Here are some questions you should ask a lawyer you are prospecting:

  • Have you handled cases similar to mine?
  • Have you been successful with these cases?
  • How long will the process take?
  • What are my options?
  • How long will it take for me to reach someone at this office?

Continue reading

Military personnel deal with countless risks in their everyday lives, including exposure to incredibly loud noises. U.S. military veterans are 30% more likely to suffer hearing loss than the average citizen. During their service they may be exposed to noises from gunfire, explosions, heavy machinery, plane and jet engines, and much more. Military personnel have enough to worry about, and hearing loss is a preventable injury that ought to be taken seriously.

Defective dual-ended military earplugs have come under fire recently, likely enlarging the risk factor of hearing problems to four times as likely as the average citizen. The earplugs were manufactured by 3M Corporation as part of a deal with the U.S. military and were issued to service members deployed between 2002 and 2015. They were issued to protect service members from loud noises associated with their service, while still allowing them to hear low volume noises such as peers trying to communicate with them. 3M was the exclusive supplier of earplugs to the military at this time. After it was discovered that over 2 million service members have deafness and ringing in their ears, authorities found that the earplugs did not protect against what they claimed to. The result: thousands suffering from hearing loss and tinnitus who are now bringing suit against 3M.

This litigation was originally brought by Moldex-Metric, Inc., 3M’s rival company. The U.S. Department of Justice joined the case soon after. The earplugs at issue, The Combat Arms Earplugs Version 2, was designed by Aero Technologies with a defective seal that allowed dangerously loud noise to penetrate the ears. Evidence surfaced that the company knew of these defects dating back to testing done in 2000 and failed to inform the military. When 3M acquired Aero several years later, they continued these deceptive practices. The poor design allows the earplugs to become dislodged and allows high levels of noise to enter the ears and cause damage. The packaging also had improper instructions, increasing the chances of hearing damage.

In 2018, The U.S. Department of Justice reached an agreement with 3M, in which they would pay a $9.1 million settlement to the government. The company has yet to remedy the toll on former military personnel and has not yet admitted liability. Continue reading

College is a major transition for young adults and is oftentimes the first experience they have out of their family’s household. This can be overwhelming, and for many, they may deal with new and different mental health struggles that they do not necessarily know how to cope with. Students may feel isolated from friends and family, pressured with their newfound freedom, and stress from the academic demands of their school. Some may be presented with alcohol or drugs for the first time, which may trigger an unknown predisposition to depression or suicidal thoughts.

Suicide among college students has been rapidly rising and is currently the second leading cause of death of adults ages 15-24. Studies indicate that 1 in 5 college students have had thoughts of suicide, with 9% reporting suicide attempts. In response, colleges have tried to counter this uptick by widening mental health services on campus and availability or suicide awareness programs.

Risk factors include

  • Major depression or personality disorders
  • Substance abuse problems
  • Traumatic or stressful life events
  • Prior suicide attempts
  • Isolation and lack of support
  • Impulsiveness
  • Lack of coping skills
  • Access to a suicide method

Warning signs include

  • Mood swings
  • Decreased hygiene
  • Talking about suicide
  • Statements of hopelessness
  • Interest in death
  • Sudden happy or calm state
  • Loss of interest in activities
  • Poor academic performance
  • Saying goodbyes
  • Giving away possessions
  • Substance abuse
  • Self-harm
  • Risky behavior or recklessness

What You Can Do

Friends and family that notice these warning signs can do a lot of things to help. Simply being there for the person can make a difference, but it is important to remember that your support is not a substitution for professional help. Medications and therapy have proven invaluable in treating symptoms that contribute to suicide. The national suicide prevention hotline is available 24/7. You can access it by calling 1(800)273-8255. Continue reading

The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced on Wednesday that it would implement a full, nationwide recall of the popular over-the-counter heartburn medication, Zantac, over concerns that it could potentially introduce a cancer-causing compound into those who take it. If you or a loved one has used Zantac in the past and subsequently developed cancer, contact a personal injury attorney from the Cambridge firm of Altman & Altman LLP right away to get started on a claim.

You may be eligible to receive financial compensation through a class action lawsuit or other legal action against drug manufacturers, or other negligent third parties who allowed the production or sale of Zantac to continue despite independent lab tests showing the possible dangerousness of using Zantac.

What made the FDA recall Zantac?

Up until this week when the news broke, the FDA had been hesitant to respond to claims from independent laboratories that Zantac was potentially dangerous. Independent tests had demonstrated that there was a possibility that Zantac broke down into a compound known as NDMA (N-nitrosodimethylamine), which is a likely carcinogenic (meaning cancer causing) contaminant.

The tests revealed the creation of NDMA could occur inside of the patient’s digestive system once the medicine was ingested. One alarming study showed that just one Zantac tablet could potentially create 3 million nanograms of NDMA – when the recommended maximum amount of NDMA that a human should absorb in a day, according to the FDA, is just 96 nanograms.

Despite these alarming tests, the FDA only decided to issue a nationwide recall of all Zantac products once their independent investigation into the popular drug showed that NDMA production could occur if the medicine was stored at a higher-than-normal temperature. In their statements to press, they make the claim that they only pulled the medicine out of an abundance of caution.

How dangerous is NDMA?

NDMA is presumed carcinogenic due to its cancer-causing qualities in laboratory experiments on mice. It has been observed to be linked to various cancers, including liver, intestinal, esophageal, stomach, colorectal and, in more limited capacities, it has been linked to prostate cancer, pancreatic cancer, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, multiple myeloma and leukemia.

Claims and lawsuits against Zantac for its presumed role in the causation of cancer are already in motion, but none have come to a settlement or award yet. With the announcement of the full, nationwide recall, it is likely much more attention will be paid to this issue and more claims will likely begin to pile up. Continue reading

A cruise should be a relaxing, carefree getaway from the stress of daily life. Unfortunately, some cruise ship companies have gotten into hot water in the past for failing to adequately maintain their amenities and keep their guests’ health at the center of their efforts. If you experienced unacceptable conditions on a cruise ship – such as a bed bug infestation or if you contracted an illness – contact the personal injury attorneys at the Cambridge firm of Altman & Altman LLP right away.

What happened on your cruise?

There is no shortage of horror stories that have emerged over the years as a result of poor conditions on cruise ships. Bacteria born in onboard hot tubs and whirpools have given people horribly rashes and skin afflictions; foodborne illnesses occur in cruise ship food every year; and unsanitary conditions within cruise ship bedrooms and bathrooms are also commonly reported.

However, a recent story that emerged is likely to make your skin crawl – as an actress with a role in the Netflix film “Marriage Story” made headlines when she filed a federal lawsuit against Princess Cruise Lines after discovering she had been given a room infested with bed bugs. She is seeking at least $75,000 on charges of negligence and intentional infliction of emotional distress and battery, CNN reports.

While the cruise line maintains that its cleaning attendants are trained in identifying signs of bed bugs and inspect each room to ensure they haven’t taken residence, clearly they are not infallible or incapable of having a negligent member on staff. They have since said that no evidence of bed bugs were found upon an investigation.

This contradicts with video evidence taken by the actress and her husband, which allegedly showed tiny bugs scurrying back and forth on the sheets of the bed. The couple also allegedly showed their bites in images that were shared by their law firm. They claim the episode caused “pain, discomfort, annoyance sleeplessness, inconvenience, humiliation, anxiety and emotional distress.”

On top of the experience with bed bugs, the plaintiffs allege that it took them multiple requests before they were granted access to a different room, which prolonged the distressful experience.

You have a right to a clean space to sleep

When you book an experience like a cruise, you do so with certain expectations in mind. One of those expectations is that you will have access to a safe, clean space to sleep at night. The presence of pests like bed bugs – which can keep you up at night, cause welts and emotional distress – indicates that a cruise ship company does not have their guests’ comfort in mind and may be slacking in their responsibilities to maintain clean facilities.

Bed bugs are the sign of uncleanliness. And if the sheets and bedding aren’t clean, who knows what else could be unsanitary aboard a cruise? If the beds aren’t adequately cleaned, it could mean that the kitchen area is not maintained well, or that the whirpool or spa isn’t scrubbed to prevent a buildup of potentially harmful bacteria. Continue reading

Our nation’s veterans and active military members deserve our respect and appreciation for the tough job they do in protecting our country and our way of life. Unfortunately, veterans and active duty service members have not been treated with the type of respect we would hope when it comes to a brand of earplugs manufactured under the 3M umbrella, which has led to hearing loss and permanent hearing damage due to serious design flaws. If you or a loved one has suffered hearing loss as a result of the use of these earplugs, contact a personal injury attorney from Altman & Altman LLP today.

3M subject to many lawsuits over these common military earplugs

3M is a multinational conglomerate corporation which owns many subsidiary companies that manufacture any different type of medical and pharmaceutical products imaginable. One of these companies, Aearo Technologies, manufactured a type of protective earplug in 2000 that was intended to be useful when worn two different ways – one way would supposedly block out all loud sounds, while the other way would block out most loud sounds but still allow the wearer to hear soft sounds, like the instructions of a fellow soldier or commanding officer.

Aearo Technologies was bought by 3M in 2008, and since 3M won a bid to become the exclusive supplier of protective earplugs to the military between 2003 and 2012, they sought to continue selling these earplugs, which are called “Combat Arms.”

What is now the subject of many lawsuits is the fact that 3M allegedly knew from the moment they purchased the company that the Combat Arms earplugs had a crucial design flaw which essentially rendered them completely useless in a loud combat situation.

3M allegedly knew about this complaint because Aearo Technologies noted the presence design flaw during the earplug’s production in 2000 – when the technician testing the plugs took an extra step when inserting them to prevent the design flaw from affecting their sound blocking capabilities – a step that would not be immediately apparent to anybody unless they were made aware of it beforehand. There is good reason to suspect 3M would know about this flaw, because the technician that worked for Aearo Technologies was brought on board to work for 3M after they were acquired.

Lawsuits allege that both Aearo, and 3M after they acquired Aearo, knowingly misled the U.S. government and the thousands of U.S. military service members who relied on the faulty earplugs, which resulted in many cases of temporary and even permanent hearing damage.

These earplugs caused real damage, and Altman & Altman LLP can help

Research from complainants show that during the time interval in which 3M and Aearo was supplying Combat Arms earplugs to the military, cases of hearing loss and tinnitus in combat veterans spiked to a significant degree. This is simply unconscionable that a company trusted with the care of military service members could fail to protect one of their most crucial senses, despite having good reason to suspect there was a flaw in the design of one of their most highly sold products.

Selling defective products which are known to have a design flaw that renders them ineffective in their original purpose is unethical and it is also against the law. There is good evidence to suggest that 3M should have recognized the design flaw in these earplugs and accounted for that, but instead they chose to continue selling the earplugs to continue making a profit, allegedly at the expense of our brave men and women in uniform. Continue reading

The temporary, four-month ban imposed which prohibits the sale of all vaping products in Massachusetts has entered its second month despite multiple legal challenges from vape shop owners and the general public, and controversy around whether Governor Charlie Baker abused his authority as governor to implement the ban.

As the count of people who have suffered respiratory illnesses from vaping products continue to rise, the attorneys at the Cambridge personal injury firm of Altman & Altman LLP are ready to hear from you if you have reason to believe you or a loved one contracted a serious illness due to a vaping product.

These mysterious illnesses affect the lungs and total respiratory systems of the afflicted, and have been confirmed to have resulted in the deaths of at least two Massachusetts residents at this time. According to the Center for Disease Control, there have been 1,888 confirmed cases of EVALI – which is the abbreviation being used to described e-cigarette, or vaping, product use associated lung injury – in 49 states (all except Alaska) and 37 total deaths across 24 states as of Oct. 29, 2019.

According to the CDC, a majority of the patients who have presented with this illness have a history of e-cigarette or vaping product use, and THC – the psychoactive chemical present in marijuana – has been in “most” of the samples tested by the FDA to date. Most patients have reported a history of using THC products as well.

However, the CDC also reports that THC products off the street or obtained from “informal sources” such as illicit dealers or friends and family members are linked to most of the cases and “play a major role in the outbreak.”

Response to the Massachusetts ban

For the reason above outlined by the CDC, certain vape shop owners and legal marijuana business advocates have criticized Governor Baker’s vape ban as being over-aggressive and overreactive, which is putting legitimate businesses at risk of financial ruin during the ban. After all, while it may only be a temporary, four-month ban, four months is an eternity in business time, especially if vaping products make up a significant portion of that business’s revenue.

A Massachusetts judge recently ruled that the Baker administration improperly went forward with the ban without any public hearings to assess the potential harm to businesses, which caused the administration to re-file the legislation for the ban. Despite the legal trouble, Governor Baker continues to stand by the ban and say that, until an exact root of the illnesses can be determined, it is a necessary step to preserve public health. Continue reading

Johnson & Johnson has recently had to pull over 33,000 bottles of baby powder off the shelves after the Food and Drug Administration discovered evidence of asbestos – which is known to cause cancer – in one of the bottles. It is not the first time Johnson & Johnson’s baby powder has been feared to introduce people to the risk of contracting cancer. If you have reason to believe you or a loved one has been exposed to cancer-causing elements via their baby powder, contact Altman & Altman LLP today.

More lawsuits against Johnson & Johnson contributes to long list

Pharmaceutical titan Johnson & Johnson is known throughout the world for being the corporate owner of widely-used products such as Tylenol and Motrin – in addition to hundreds of other products that span a wide range of industries. However, they may very well be more notorious for their long list of lawsuits that continues to grow with each passing year.

The company – which made nearly $82 billion in profit in 2018 – is embattled with over 100,000 lawsuits against it due to people claiming they have come into harm due to the use of their products. Over 15 percent of those are directly related to lawsuits coming from those who have used their talc-based baby powder products.

Users of their baby powder who have brought suit in the past have made claims that the baby powder contributed to their contracting of various cancers – from talcum powder contributing to ovarian cancer to the same powder causing mesothelioma, a form of respiratory cancer that is traditionally caused by asbestos, a naturally occurring mineral that is confirmed to be an aggressive carcinogen.

As a result of the positive test for asbestos within the baby powder – which is manufactured in China – the FDA recommended that all users of Johnson & Johnson talc-based powders should cease using them immediately and indefinitely. Johnson & Johnson, meanwhile, has denied any wrongdoing and liability for the test, instead shifting an accusatory tone of defensiveness towards the FDA testing process.

This is not uncommon for large companies to do. Even in cases where Johnson & Johnson has been found to be negligent in their contributions to a victim’s pain and suffering, they have been unwilling to accept the verdicts set against them and take responsibility – like what occurred when they were hit with a monumental $8 billion jury verdict against them following a claim that their anti-psychotic drug Risperdal had caused the man taking it to develop female-like breasts. Continue reading

In the midst of what Governor Charlie Baker has called a public health crisis, all vaping products – whether used for marijuana-derived THC products or for nicotine – have been banned for four months, effective on September 24th in Massachusetts. The development has already resulted in a lawsuit against the state from vape shop owners and protests from those who say that vaping has helped them quit more harmful practices, such as smoking cigarettes.

The ban was initiated due to concern that has amplified following multiple deaths – at least seven nationwide as recently reported by the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) and Center for Disease Control (CDC) – and hundreds of cases of a mysterious lung disease that has been attributed to the increasingly popular activity of vaping, which is the inhaling of a vaporized mist of substances that usually contains nicotine, marijuana’s psychoactive chemical THC or a combination of the two.

Massachusetts has vowed to study the phenomenon during the ban – which temporarily forbids the sale of all vaping products in the state – with the hopes of obtaining more answers about what is causing the health complications and how they can be prevented. The state has specifically cited a concern over the use of vaping products in younger generations, as there has been a well-documented rise in vaping use among children and teens nationwide.

What products are causing the health problems?

Perhaps the biggest question that remains unanswered in the vaping crisis is what products are causing the pulmonary issues that have resulted in deaths and hundreds of illnesses. Lab tests have confirmed that the majority of the illnesses have been caused by ingestion of harmful substances stemming from the use of illicit, black market vaping cartridges used in unregulated THC vaporizers.

This fact has led some vape shop owners – like the ones who have joined together to sue the state – to cry foul over the fact that their vape products are purely used for nicotine delivery and have all been approved by federal regulators. They argue that they are being unfairly and arbitrarily punished in a reactionary manner that will ultimately sink their businesses and cause undue financial harm to their employees – all without just reason as their products are not causing the illnesses.

Other have argued that banning legal vape products will simply turn people back to the black market – which obviously does not comply with the law regardless of the situation – or switch back to the much more readily harmful and available tobacco cigarettes. Protests have already occurred in Boston outside the State House with people arguing that the ban will actually cause more sicknesses and deaths as people will continue to purchase dangerous black market vape cartridges or smoke cigarettes, which are known to cause serious diseases.

It is unknown how the lawsuits will pan out and it is not known if the vaping ban will continue beyond its temporary, four-month status or if it will be ended prior to that date. All that is currently known is that debate will continue to rage about whether the ban is warranted, whether it is adversely harming small business owners and whether it is going to end up doing more harm than good. Continue reading

Pharmaceutical giant Bayer, who owns fellow agrochemical and agricultural biotechnical giant Monsanto, is reportedly seeking to settle over 18,000 lawsuits filed against it over claims that Monsanto’s wildly popular weed killer – Roundup – may cause cancer in individuals who have had prolonged exposure to the chemical over a long period of time. If you have any reason to believe your health was negatively impacted by use of Roundup weed killer, it is imperative you contact an attorney from Altman & Altman LLP immediately to potentially be eligible for a piece of this settlement.

Bayer is now looking to settle this large pile of lawsuits for a reported $8 billion, despite insisting throughout the increasing number of lawsuits filed that there is no credible evidence linking Roundup – or its primary ingredient, glyphosate – with an increased risk of contracting cancer.

Already, a jury verdict resulted in a more than $2 billion award for a California couple earlier this summer after they alleged that they both contracted non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma within four years of each other despite having no genetic history of the disease. Another man received a settlement worth more than $289 million last year, before having that lowered to $39 million.

Throughout these lawsuits and others, Bayer and Monsanto have testified that there is no evidence that Roundup causes cancer, but the fact remains that the World Health Organization maintains that glyphosate is “probably carcinogenic,” meaning it is an ingredient that can increase the chance of contracting cancer in those exposed to it.

There’s still time to file a suit

Any reasonable person could look at this situation and ask one simple question: If Bayer maintains there is no credible evidence linking Roundup with developing cancer, why would they reportedly be willing to settle these cases out of court for $8 billion? The unfortunate answer is that it is likely more cost-effective and less distracting for Bayer. Bayer amassed nearly $40 billion in revenue in 2018, with a reported total list of assets worth over $126 billion.

While paying out $8 billion is certainly not a small price to pay for Bayer, it is well within their means and likely makes more sense than continuing to fight out the issue in court, which could continue for many more months, potentially years, and would also continue to keep them firmly in the public eye as news would continue to cover the suits throughout the litigation.

By taking care of the lawsuits in one large lump sum, they can potentially even save money – especially judging by the aforementioned $2 billion award that was granted to just two individuals.

However, nothing has been settled yet, and there is still time to file a complaint of your own against Monsanto/Bayer if you or a loved one has developed cancer after years of using Roundup weed killer. If you have no reason to believe their cancer was caused by something else, like genetic predisposition or exposure to other more established carcinogens (such as long-term smoking of cigarettes), then you may have a good chance of being able to collect as part of any large settlement. Continue reading

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