EU Court: Vaccines Can Be Blamed for Illnesses Without Proof

Attorney News 2017/06/24 09:46   Bookmark and Share
The highest court of the European Union ruled Wednesday that courts can consider whether a vaccination led to someone developing an illness even when there is no scientific proof.

The decision was issued on Wednesday in relation to the case of a Frenchman known as Mr. J.W., who was immunized against hepatitis B in late 1998-99. About a year later, Mr. J.W. was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. In 2006, he and his family sued vaccine-maker Sanofi Pasteur in an attempt to be compensated for the damage they claim he suffered due to the vaccine. Mr. J.W. died in 2011.

France's Court of Appeal ruled there was no causal link between the hepatitis B vaccine and multiple sclerosis, and dismissed the case. Numerous studies have found no relationship between the hepatitis B shot and multiple sclerosis.

After the case went to France's Court of Cassation, it was brought to the European Union. On Wednesday, the EU's top court said that despite the lack of scientific consensus on the issue, a vaccine could be considered defective if there is "specific and consistent evidence," including the time between a vaccine's administration and the occurrence of a disease, the individual's previous state of health, the lack of any family history of the disease and a significant number of reported cases of the disease occurring following vaccination.

In a statement, the court said that such factors could lead a national court to conclude that "the administering of the vaccine is the most plausible explanation" for the disease and that "the vaccine therefore does not offer the safety that one is entitled to expect." It did not rule on the specific French case.

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High Court ruling may hurt claims of talc link to cancer

Opinions 2017/06/22 09:46   Bookmark and Share
A Supreme Court ruling this week could have a "chilling effect" on the many lawsuits filed in St. Louis claiming talcum powder causes a deadly form of cancer in women, including cases under appeal in which stricken women and their survivors have been awarded more than $300 million, experts said Tuesday.

Justices ruled 8-1 Monday that hundreds of out-state-residents can't sue Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. in California state court over adverse reactions to the blood thinner Plavix. It followed a similar ruling in May related to out-of-state injury claims against BNSF Railway Co. Both were seen as wins for companies opposed to "venue shopping," in which those filing suit seek out favorable state courts.

Almost immediately after the Supreme Court ruling, St. Louis Circuit Judge Rex Burlison declared a mistrial in a Missouri state court case in which three plaintiffs, two from out-of-state, sued Johnson & Johnson, claiming its talcum powder caused ovarian cancer.

More than 1,000 others have filed similar lawsuits in St. Louis against Johnson & Johnson, but most don't live in Missouri. Five trials have already taken place over the past 16 months. In four of those cases, jurors awarded more than $300 million combined.

Johnson & Johnson believes that the Supreme Court ruling "requires reversal of the talc cases that are currently under appeal in St. Louis," spokeswoman Carol Goodrich said in an email. She said the ruling "makes it clear that Johnson & Johnson was wrongfully forced to defend itself in multiple trials in Missouri, a state with no connection to the plaintiffs."

Jim Onder, whose suburban St. Louis-based law firm is representing many women and survivors who filed suit, said Missouri is a proper venue because Johnson & Johnson, though based in New Jersey, uses a factory in Union, Missouri, to package and label talcum products.
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Ronaldo summoned to court, Mourinho accused of tax fraud

Legal Insight 2017/06/21 09:47   Bookmark and Share
Cristiano Ronaldo has been summoned to appear before a Spanish judge, and Jose Mourinho could be next.

Ronaldo and Mourinho are the latest members of the soccer elite to be accused of tax fraud in Spain. Lionel Messi and Javier Mascherano, among others, have already been convicted.

On Tuesday, Ronaldo was told to appear in court on July 31, while Mourinho was accused by a state prosecutor of defrauding Spain's Tax Office of 3.3 million euros ($3.7 million).

Ronaldo, who is in Russia at the Confederations Cup with Portugal's national soccer team, has played in Spain for Real Madrid since 2009. The 54-year-old Mourinho was Real Madrid coach from 2010-13. He now is the coach of English club Manchester United.

The cases are about the profits made from image rights, not salaries from their clubs. Real Madrid and Man United are not directly involved.

Both Ronaldo and Mourinho are represented by Portuguese agent Jorge Mendes. Atletico Madrid striker Radamel Falcao and Real Madrid defender Fabio Coentrao, who have also been accused of tax fraud in Spain, are also clients of Mendes.

A request for comment from Mendes' agency, Gestifute, was not immediately answered.

Last week, Ronaldo was accused by a state prosecutor of four counts of tax fraud totaling 14.7 million euros ($16.5 million). The Portugal forward is now under official investigation and will have to appear in the Pozuelo de Alarcon court No. 1 on July 31. A judge will then decide if they are grounds to charge him with a crime.

The prosecutor said last Tuesday that there was evidence that Ronaldo used a shell company in the Virgin Islands to hide the money he had made from image rights. Ronaldo has denied any wrongdoing.

The accusations against Ronaldo have caused speculation in Portugal and Spain that he is now considering leaving the country to play elsewhere.

The summoning of Ronaldo coincided with the same Madrid-based prosecutor's office accusing Mourinho of two counts of tax fraud.

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Top court to hear case that could reshape US political map

Legal Insight 2017/06/19 09:47   Bookmark and Share
The Supreme Court will take up a momentous fight over parties manipulating electoral districts to gain partisan advantage in a case that could affect the balance of power between Democrats and Republicans across the United States.

At issue is whether Republican lawmakers in Wisconsin drew legislative districts that favored their party and were so out of whack with the state's political breakdown that they violated the constitutional rights of Democratic voters.

It will be the high court's first case in more than a decade on what's known as partisan gerrymandering. A lower court struck down the districts as unconstitutional last year.

The justices won't hear the arguments until the fall, but the case has already taken on a distinctly ideological, if not partisan, tone. Just 90 minutes after justices announced Monday that they would hear the case, the five more conservative justices voted to halt a lower court's order to redraw the state's legislative districts by November, in time for next year's elections.

The four more liberal justices, named to the court by Democrats, would have let the new line-drawing proceed even as the court considers the issue.

That divide could be significant. One factor the court weighs in making such decisions is which side seems to have a better chance of winning.

Republicans who control the state legislature assured the court that they could draw new maps in time for the 2018 elections, if the court strikes down the districts. If the state wins, there'll be no need for new districts.

Democrats hope a favorable decision will help them cut into Republican electoral majorities. Election law experts say the case is the best chance yet for the high court to put limits on what lawmakers may do to gain a partisan advantage in creating political district maps.

Both parties have tried to get the largest partisan edge when they control redistricting. Yet Democrats are more supportive of having courts rein in extreme districting plans, mainly because Republicans control more legislatures and drew districts after the 2010 census that enhanced their advantage in those states and in the House of Representatives.
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Idaho Supreme Court to hear veto challenge arguments

Topics in Legal News 2017/06/15 09:24   Bookmark and Share
Proponents of a lawsuit challenging Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter's veto of a contentious grocery tax repeal bill will present arguments in front of the Idaho Supreme Court on Thursday.

State GOP Reps. Ron Nate and Bryan Zollinger, both from eastern Idaho, spearheaded a lawsuit in April arguing that the Idaho Constitution says a governor has 10 days to veto a bill immediately after the Legislature adjourns.In 1978, the Idaho Supreme Court ruled a governor has 10 days to veto or approve a bill starting when it lands on his desk.

However, 30 lawmakers have signed on with Nate and Zollinger urging the court to overturn its previous decision — a request rarely granted by courts due to a preference to follow prior judicial precedent. The lawsuit has attracted the support of House Assistant Majority Leader Brent Crane and House Majority Caucus Chairman John Vander Woude and House Judiciary, Rules and Administration Committee Chairman Lynn Luker in the lawsuit.

Also named in the petition is GOP Rep. Heather Scott of Blanchard, who helped lead an organized movement to disrupt progress inside the Statehouse this year to protest legislative leadership. Other legislators include Sen. Cliff Bayer of Meridian, who was the original sponsor of the grocery tax repeal bill this year.

Idaho's top lawmakers are countering that the lawsuit is unnecessary because the court has already ruled that the deadline kicks in when the governor receives the bill. Secretary of State Lawerence Denney has also warned that if the court overturned the nearly 40-year-old ruling, it is unknown how many other post-legislative adjournment vetoes would be affected.

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Trump visiting Supreme Court as justices weigh travel ban

Court News 2017/06/15 09:24   Bookmark and Share
President Donald Trump is making his first Supreme Court visit at a moment of high legal drama. The justices are weighing what to do with the president's ban on travelers from six mostly Muslim countries. But the reason for his high court trip Thursday is purely ceremonial, to mark Justice Neil Gorsuch's ascension to the bench.

Trump has no role in the courtroom ceremony, but presidents often make the trip to the court from the White House to honor their nominees. While the dispute over the travel ban and other controversies have simmered during Trump's first few months in office, his choice of the 49-year-old Gorsuch for the Supreme Court won widespread praise in the legal community as well as unanimous Republican support in the Senate.

A federal judge first blocked Trump's initial travel ban in early February. The president issued a revised version in March. It never took effect after judges in Maryland and Hawaii put it on hold. Two federal appeals courts have since upheld those lower court orders.

The Trump administration has asked the Supreme Court to allow the ban to take effect immediately. Gorsuch actually has been a member of the high court since April, and he even issued his first opinion on Monday.

The investiture ceremony typically takes place before a new justice's first day on the bench, but Gorsuch was confirmed and sworn in on a tight schedule.

He filled the seat that had been held for nearly 30 years by Justice Antonin Scalia, who died in February 2016. The high court seat was vacant for nearly 14 months after Senate Republicans refused to take up President Barack Obama's nomination of Judge Merrick Garland.
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