Androvett Legal Media and Marketing
2501 Oak Lawn Avenue  |  Suite 650  |  Dallas, Texas 75219
Tel: 214.559.4630  |  Fax: 214.559.0852


Androvett Blog

by Androvett Legal Media & Marketing at 2:55:00 pm

A new class-action lawsuit seeks damages for severe allergy sufferers who have been subjected to outrageous price hikes for the EpiPen injector. The lawsuit filed by The Lanier Law Firm charges that pharmaceutical giant Mylan Inc. implemented a series of aggressive price hikes and unconscionable sales tactics after acquiring rights to sell the EpiPen in 2007. The price of the EpiPen has increased from $57 in 2007 to more than $600 today.

“Mylan CEO Heather Bresch knows that good hardworking Americans will do anything to protect loved ones from a deadly allergic reaction that could happen at any time,” said attorney Mark Lanier, founder of The Lanier Law Firm. “This company’s attempt to saddle consumers, insurance companies, Medicare and Medicaid with the bill for its outrageously overpriced product is indefensible.”

Mylan closely protects its monopoly on the EpiPen, which delivers life-saving medicine to fend off allergic reactions and generated nearly 4 million prescriptions last year. According to the lawsuit, the company’s pricing scheme results in excessive out-of-pocket expenses for the uninsured and those with high-deductible health insurance. Mylan is currently under investigation by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, the Securities and Exchange Commission and state regulatory authorities for its EpiPen pricing scheme.

For more information, contact Robert Tharp at Robert@androvett.com or 800-559-4534.

by Androvett Legal Media & Marketing at 2:25:00 pm

A California casino could be held responsible for the deaths of more than a dozen casino customers following the crash of a charter bus with a questionable safety record, says Dallas bus crash lawyer Frank Branson.

Even though the bus involved in the California casino crash was owned and operated by an independent charter company, casinos have been held liable for passengers’ safety based on incentives and control exercised over the charter company and scheduling of charter trips.

“Casinos depend on these charter buses to bring in business,” says Mr. Branson. “They negotiate with charter bus companies to receive the cheapest price and pay little attention to safety. The end result is poorly maintained buses and overworked drivers to transport patrons.”

Mr. Branson’s input comes after the deadliest bus crash in California in decades early Sunday morning near Palm Springs. A USA Holiday tour bus returning from the Red Earth Casino slammed into a tractor-trailer, killing 13 people - including the bus driver - and injuring 31 others.

“The speed of the bus was so significant that when it hit the back of the big rig…the trailer itself entered about 15 feet into the bus,” according to the California Highway Patrol. There were no signs of the driver applying the brakes.

As the NTSB investigates the cause of the crash, early reports indicate the bus owner and operator had been sued twice for negligence involving previous crashes, including one that killed three people.

In May of this year, Mr. Branson won a $4.9 million judgment against the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma for the family of an 83-year-old woman killed in a 2013 casino charter bus crash.

“If casinos are going to charter the buses to bring gamblers, they should make sure the buses and drivers are safe,” says Mr. Branson.

For more information or to set up an interview, contact Sophia Reza at sophia@androvett.com or 800-559-4534.

 

by Androvett Legal Media & Marketing at 11:45:00 am

The announcement Wednesday of a federal investigation of Baylor University after a complaint filed by Patty Crawford, its former Title IX coordinator, makes it clear that her allegations have merit, her attorney says.

Ms. Crawford resigned her post earlier this month, saying university leaders undermined her efforts to investigate sexual assaults on a campus scandalized by years of rape allegations against football players. The coach and athletic director were fired, and the president was removed.

Ms. Crawford’s lawyer, Rogge Dunn of Clouse Dunn in Dallas, says she filed her complaint with the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights Sept. 26. She resigned her position the following week and told CBS in an interview that she did so because the harder she worked to enforce Title IX, the more resistance she faced from Baylor. Ms. Crawford says when she brought her concerns to the school and made it clear the university was violating Title IX, her working environment became worse.

“Patty tried to work within the Baylor system and told her boss about her concerns,” Mr. Dunn says. “When that didn't work, in July 2016 she sent a lengthy written memo to her boss detailing Baylor's failure to comply with Title IX regulations. After she sent the memo, Baylor’s retaliation against her increased. She then filed her complaint with the Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights.”

“Last week, Patty was interviewed by the federal Investigator. It is significant that a formal investigation was opened, which indicates that the Office of Civil Rights found Patty's claims credible and that her Title IX complaint warranted further investigation.

“In all the other cases involving people in the know or on the inside – former Baylor University President Ken Starr, former athletic director Ian McCaw, former head football coach Art Briles – Baylor has bought the participants’ silence. Patty is the first person to reject Baylor’s confidentiality agreement and step forward to expose what happened.”

For more information or to set up an interview, contact Sophia Reza at 800-559-4534 or sophia@androvett.com.

 

by Androvett Legal Media & Marketing at 12:25:00 pm

Starting next year, the federal government will require that all new or replaced gas lines for hundreds of thousands of apartments and small businesses across the U.S. must be equipped with special valves that can shut off gas automatically when a line is ruptured. The government’s Oct. 11 announcement expands the mandatory installation of excess flow valves beyond new single-family homes. The valves, priced at around $30, don’t prevent gas lines from being ruptured, such as when a backhoe accidentally hits one. But by limiting the amount of gas that escapes, federal regulators say the valves can prevent a buildup of fuel that can contribute to explosions or fires.

“These simple and inexpensive devices can save dozens of lives and millions of dollars in property damage each year,” says Dallas attorney Tom Carse. “But gas companies, contractors and consumers need to understand how and where the valves should be located. Otherwise the devices will provide very little or no protection.”

In August, Mr. Carse filed suit against Atmos Energy on behalf of 20 people who suffered physical and emotional injuries and property damage after a 2015 gas explosion destroyed four homes and heavily damaged nine others in their Waxahachie, Texas, neighborhood. The lawsuit claims that Dallas-based Atmos Energy was negligent in how it located and installed the excess flow valves during construction of the subdivision. Court documents claim that the explosion occurred when an Atmos gas line was cut by contractors who were working to install underground fiber-optic cable.

For more information or to set up an interview, contact Barry Pound at 800-559-4534 or barry@androvett.com.

by Androvett Legal Media & Marketing at 1:30:00 pm

A San Antonio law firm has announced its decision to “significantly downsize” in the face of a proposed class action that claims the firm conspired with public adjusters, estimators and roofers to take advantage of consumers. That filing alleges that for several years the firm of Speights & Worrich has unlawfully used contractors in a door-to-door sales scheme, inducing homeowners with damaged roofs to file insurance claims with the promise of gaining additional payments from their insurance carriers. The lawsuit alleges that deductions taken by the lawyers and others involved often reduce the insurance payment to less than the amount needed to fix a homeowner’s roof or repair other damage.

“It is gratifying to learn that this lawsuit is already making a positive difference by altering the practices of those who have preyed on and deceived thousands of Texas homeowners for many years," says Dallas attorney Mark Ticer. “This litigation was filed to support transparency and accountability in the insurance claim process, and establish a legal precedent that will prevent conspirators and con artists from gaming that system.”

It is estimated that in 2016 more than 10,000 hail damage lawsuits will be filed in Texas, while litigation rates for hail damage insurance claims have jumped from 2 percent to nearly 40 percent in the past several years.

For more information or to set up an interview, contact Barry Pound at 800-559-4534 or barry@androvett.com.

by Androvett Legal Media & Marketing at 2:05:00 pm

Patty Crawford, the Baylor Title IX coordinator who recently resigned from the university, says Baylor set her up to fail from the beginning. Ms. Crawford appeared on "CBS This Morning" with her attorney Rogge Dunn of Dallas’ Clouse Dunn LLP to discuss her decision to leave.

“Ms. Crawford wants to make sure her story is told so the public knows what is really going on at Baylor and women there can receive the protection they deserve,” says Mr. Dunn.

Ms. Crawford claims Baylor didn’t allow her to fulfill her responsibilities as Title IX coordinator then retaliated against her for fighting discrimination.

“I continued to work very hard, and the harder I worked the more resistance I received from senior leadership,” Ms. Crawford told CBS.

Baylor University hired Ms. Crawford in November 2014 to handle Title IX directives and the university’s sexual discrimination policies, including sexual assault complaints. The university faced multiple lawsuits and accusations of ignoring sexual assault claims. Baylor’s Board of Regents hired Philadelphia law firm Pepper Hamilton to conduct an investigation that led to a scathing report blasting the university for failing to adequately respond to the complaints. In response to the report, university president Ken Starr and head football coach Art Briles were removed, and athletic director Ian McCaw resigned. Pepper Hamilton gave the university more than 100 recommended improvements to its Title IX policies, which the university has adopted as mandates.

“Patty is justifiably proud of what she was able to accomplish, but also profoundly troubled by what she views as Baylor’s efforts to impede her ability to fully perform her Title IX responsibilities,” says Mr. Dunn.

For more information or to set up an interview, contact Bruce Vincent at 800-559-4534 or bruce@androvett.com.

 

by Androvett Legal Media & Marketing at 1:45:00 pm

A new Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services rule that bans pre-dispute binding arbitration clauses in nursing home contracts has, at least for now, “put a nail in the coffin of nursing homes that sought to limit exposure to high-dollar jury awards and punitive damages,” says one Austin health care attorney.

“Nursing homes have taken the position that these arbitration clauses were inserted into the admission agreements in good faith, to ensure that residents and their families were not coming to the facility with the intent of later suing and reaping financial benefits,” says William "Bill" Hopkins of the Austin office of Shackelford, Bowen, McKinley & Norton, LLP. Mr. Hopkins advises both individual health care providers and institutional health care clients on matters involving administrative law, regulatory defense and litigation.

“Nursing homes argue that the use of these clauses was out in the open and fully disclosed prior to admission. Therefore, residents and family members who signed the agreement were doing so of their own free will. The homes believe that without these agreements, they are completely vulnerable and subject to the unpredictable whim of a jury and the jurisdiction they are in, which could result in multimillion-dollar lawsuits and verdicts that could close the facility.

“On the other side, consumers see these arbitration clauses as the ‘fine print’ that is rarely noticed, let alone disclosed and discussed. The argument is that if this agreement is so reasonable and harmless to the consumer, then why do the nursing homes make residents and their family members sign it prior to admission to the nursing facility. Admission into a nursing facility is already a difficult and traumatic time, where emotions are running high and families are just looking to get through the process. As a result, they may not be as diligent in reviewing all of the admission documents. Even if they see the arbitration clause, they might not have a true appreciation of what it means or what they are giving up.”

Mr. Hopkins adds that since such agreements are a part of the admission packet, and failure to sign typically prevents admission, it is “coercive by definition” since it is often presented in a “take it or leave it” manner. “If this type of coercion would not be permitted in other contractual situations, why should it be allowed here?”

For more information or to set up an interview, contact Rhonda Reddick at 800-559-4534 or rhonda@androvett.com.

 

by Androvett Legal Media & Marketing at 12:00:00 pm

Beer maker Anheuser-Busch InBev (ABI) recently paid $6 million to the government to settle charges it violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and shut down a whistleblower. Houston independent lawyer and consultant Thomas Fox, who operates the FCPA Compliance Report website, had these observations:

“This matter has all the ingredients one needs to tell a tale over a ‘cold one.’ The company got into trouble for a joint venture in India where that operation allegedly paid bribes to government officials literally to keep the lights on and the beer brewing after hours, violating local regulations. The company also was accused of paying bribes to make sales. And there also was destruction of evidence and company lawyers involved in other shenanigans.

“There was a whistleblowing employee who first alerted ABI officials about what was going on, but who the company believed was muzzled by a non-disclosure agreement, one the government says was illegal. Given the nefarious conduct, ABI is lucky there were no criminal penalties levied – at least none yet.

“What’s remarkable is that ABI apparently allowed the illegal payments to continue in the joint venture, even after a whistleblower brought forward information. The company audited the Indian unit and found deficiencies in its internal controls and failures to follow the FCPA policy. But even after that, ABI allowed these violations to continue.

“This enforcement action drives home several points. First, companies must take their FCPA and Dodd-Frank obligations seriously as they apply to foreign joint ventures. This case also demonstrates that bribes paid for routine regulatory matters can get companies in as much trouble as paying bribes to makes sales. Not only did ABI put forward a less than rigorous audit, it did not follow through to correct things.

“Next, there’s the role of in-house counsel. The SEC specifically called out these lawyers for attending meetings where document hiding and destruction were discussed. Someone in the legal department had to have drafted or at least approved the illegal language of the employee/whistleblower’s separation agreement. I hope that ABI is brewing up some stronger legal ethics and FCPA training for its in-house counsel.”

For more information or to set up an interview, please contact Kit Frieden at 800-559-4534 or kit@androvett.com