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Philadelphia Injury and Malpractice Attorneys – The Beasley Firm

Dion G. Rassias Files Complaints Seeking More Than $1 Billion in Damages on behalf of Clients for Pharmaceutical Companies’ Illegal and Unfair Sales Practices and Inflation of Generic Drug Prices

By The Beasley Firm on March 24, 2016 - No comments

Dion G. Rassias, Esquire of The Beasley Firm, LLC recently filed Complaints on behalf of Plumbers’ Local Union No. 690 Health Plan (“Local 690”) and the Delaware Valley Health Care Coalition (“DVHCC”) seeking over $1 billion in damages from several generic drug manufacturers who have increased the prices of generic drugs at alarming rates. Both Complaints show that the plaintiffs purchase or reimburse the cost of prescription drugs for their members, and as a result of the defendant generic drug companies’ “unfair and deceptive acts and practices,” plaintiffs and their members dramatically and drastically overpaid for these medications.   These deceptive practices affect many types of healthcare patients including “government assistance patients” (those who are members of one or more government assistance programs which cover all or part of the cost of their generic prescription drugs, including Medicare, Medicaid, and PACE), “private assistance patients”  (those who are members of private health insurance plans offered by union funds and other self-funded third party payors for full or the partial payment of their generic prescription drugs), and “no assistance patients” (those who have no health insurance at all for the payment of their generic prescription drugs, and thus have to pay cash for their generic prescription drugs based upon inflated “average wholesale prices” (“AWPs”) for such drugs).  These patients, and those that provide them with generic prescription drug benefits, all paid more for generic prescription drugs than they should have paid as a result of the schemes of the defendants.

For example, several defendant drug companies raised their prices for a bottle of 500 tablets of 100 mg each of generic doxycycline hyclate (an antibiotic used to treat a variety of infections) from $20 in October of 2013 to $1,849 in April of 2014.  That is an increase of 8,281% in just six months. 

This issue is so important that in October of 2014, the United States Congress began to investigate why the prices of some common generic drugs had skyrocketed in recent years.  The Senate Subcommittee on Primary Health and Aging and the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, through Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders and Maryland Representative Elijah Cummings, began its investigation into the matter and observed during the ensuing congressional hearings that the prices of more than 1,200 generic medications increased an average of more than 448% between July 2013 and July 2014.  This is not a coincidence!

In light of the overwhelming evidence of exorbitant price increases by certain generic drug companies, which took place at the same time and in similar amounts, coupled with the refusal of many of these companies to respond to direct government inquiries into the matter, these lawsuits seek to protect consumers and third party payors like the plaintiffs, and to compensate them for the harm already caused.   

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Beasley Firm Wins $5.4M Award Against U.S. for Fatal Plane Crash

By The Beasley Firm on February 24, 2016 - No comments

A  deadly 2012 plane crash was found to have resulted from negligence on the part of an air traffic controller by a federal judge in Virginia.

A $5.4 million judgement was awarded to widow Joyce Gardella, whose husband Paul Gardella was an experienced FAA certified flight instructor. On the day of the accident, he was conducting a pilot flight review of an NTSB official from the passenger seat of a Beechcraft Bonanza. Radar records showed that a Piper PA-28 Cherokee flew within 500 ft of the Bonanza, registering a blinking red conflict alert with the local air traffic controller, who then failed to deliver a warning before their midair collision.

Beasley Firm aviation attorneys and pilots Jim Beasley and Lane Jubb, successfully took on the U.S. government and harsh contributory negligence laws. In Virginia, if an injured person is found to have contributed to the cause of the accident in even the slightest way, they are barred from recovering monetary damages. Mr. Beasley and Mr. Jubb were able to conclusively show through expert testimony, accident reconstructions, and fact witnesses that Paul Gardella was acting prudently on the day of the accident. The court agreed by stating in its decision:

“The record is absent of any evidence demonstrating that Mr. Gardella was acting negligently in the minutes leading up to the collision.”

Joyce Gardella was awarded over $1.5M for lost future income and household services, and over $2.3M for sorrow, mental anguish, and solace. Paul and Joyce’s three children received $500k each for their suffering. To see more of our accomplishments in the courtroom, read our settlements and verdicts page.

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Roosevelt Blvd. Car Accidents Rock North Philadelphia

By The Beasley Firm on February 22, 2016 - No comments

caraccidentCar accidents come in many varieties. There is no formula or predictor for how bad a car accident will be, other than general factors, such as the speed traveled and the size and weight of the vehicles involved. In the early morning hours of February 21, 2016, a series of late night car accidents on Roosevelt Boulevard in Philadelphia, PA demonstrated the catastrophic unpredictability of these events.

Police say that 11 people, including two 7-year-old children were injured in 3 separate car accidents on a 1 mile stretch of Roosevelt Blvd. in North Philadelphia.

The first accident occurred between Wissahickon Ave. and Broad Street. The driver of an SUV lost control of his vehicle, collided with the median, and rolled over. This terrible collision caused the driver and a 7-year-old child to be ejected from the vehicle. A second 7-year-old child was trapped inside. All three were rushed to the hospital in critical condition. Four other passengers were treated for minor injuries.

After that terrible car accident, two other vehicles, each with two passengers, collided along the same stretch of Roosevelt Blvd. The condition of the passengers was not released. Police have not determined the cause of the car accidents.

As for the first car accident, a driver of a vehicle has a duty to keep his vehicle under control at all times. History has shown that, for SUVs, this may prove more difficult, as SUVs are more prone to rollover car accidents than other vehicles. Why does this happen? Any vehicle can rollover, however, SUVs are more susceptible to rollover accidents because they are taller and narrower, giving them a higher center of gravity. Sideways forces, such as when a vehicle rounds a curve too fast, can dramatically shift the balance of the vehicle, causing it to rollover.

As for the subsequent car accidents, while the police have not suggested a cause, some car accidents are caused by motorists being distracted by the sight of another car accident. Did you know that in the United Kingdom, police may put up large screens around car accident sites, mainly to prevent traffic congestion? This is because, as human beings, it is difficult to resist the sight of twisted metal. We also want to be sure that everyone involved is okay, so we slow down and look at the car accident scene, instead of the road ahead. In the U.K., people who slow down to look at car accidents are called “rubberneckers.”

While the facts are not known as to what caused the later car accidents on Roosevelt Blvd., it is possible that “rubbernecking” could have played a role.

At The Beasley Firm, our Philadelphia car accident attorneys have well over 100+ years of combined experience advocating for our clients who are injured or killed in every type of car accident. If you or a loved one was injured or killed in a car accident, use our contact form or call us at 1-888-823-5291, and put our experience to work for you.

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Barbara Axelrod Wins Right For Family to Sue Nursing Home

By The Beasley Firm on November 19, 2015 - No comments

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court invalidated a nursing home’s contract requiring residents to submit all claims to binding arbitration under the National Arbitration Forum’s Code of Procedure.  After the mother was taken from the hospital to the nursing home, the nursing home administrator told the daughter to sign the contract “in order to have your mother admitted.”  She wanted her mother to get the immediate care she needed and signed it.  Barbara Axelrod wrote a brief on behalf of the Pennsylvania Association for Justice supporting the family’s right to sue the nursing home in court for gross neglect leading to their mother’s death.  She argued that the contract was unenforceable, because only the NAF was authorized to apply its Code, but the NAF had signed a Consent Judgment agreeing to stop handling consumer arbitrations following federal and state investigations revealing that its arbitrations were unfair to consumers.  The nursing home argued the contract was still enforceable if the court appointed a different arbitrator.  However, Barbara used her nationwide research to show that most courts had decided that the contract was unenforceable, because only the NAF was permitted to conduct arbitrations under its Code, and it could not do so as a result of the Consent Judgment.  The Pennsylvania Supreme Court noted that the Pennsylvania Association for Justice, in the brief Barbara wrote, “emphasizes that most courts have deemed Appellants’ Agreement unenforceable due to the unavailability of the NAF and its Code of Procedure” and agreed with “the majority of our sister jurisdictions.”  

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Jim Beasley Obtains Confidential Seven Figure Resolution of a Deadly Plane Crash Case

By The Beasley Firm on September 22, 2015 - No comments

The Firm’s client was operating a high performance single engine aircraft when he and the passengers crashed at night, causing all of the occupants to perish, with our young client leaving an unborn son. Years of litigation and deep investigations taking us around the globe resulted in a substantial, confidential settlement against the aircraft manufacturer, the United States, and the training facility where our client was trained to fly this aircraft. Because of Jim Beasley’s experience with high performance single engine aircraft he was able to quickly assemble the proper expert support and obtain the truth as to the reason this plane was uncontrollable when on a “go-around” when the landing attempt was aborted. This investigation revealed that there have been fourteen other similar crashes with this aircraft type. It was because of the Firm’s knowledge, tenacity and resources that this case was successfully prosecuted and an excellent result obtained for the clients.

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PBI Selects Three Beasley Firm Attorneys to Lead Plane, Train and Bus Accident Litigation Course

By The Beasley Firm on May 29, 2015 - No comments

plane-train-bus-accident pbiOver the past 50 years, The Beasley Firm has obtained numerous verdicts and settlements on behalf of parties injured by all manners of transportation vehicles. When the Pennsylvania Bar Institute decided who would lead their course on plane, train and bus accident litigation, they chose experienced accident attorneys Jim Beasley, Jr., Heidi Villari and Scott Bennett.

The July 9th course will cover all aspects of litigation that an attorney will encounter in a transportation accident case, starting at the accident scene all the way through trial. Those who take the course will get an in depth look into how to perform the initial data collection and analysis, choosing expert witnesses, accident reconstruction, and a litany of other investigation methods.

Each of the course planners were chosen because of their extensive experience litigating high profile transportation accident cases. Jim Beasley, who performs in his vintage planes at airshows around the world, has successfully represented scores of clients injured in aviation accidents as well as bus and automobile crashes. Heidi Villari spent more than a decade building a thriving practice as lead counsel for several transportation, construction, manufacturer and “premises operations” insurers before joining The Beasley Firm to exclusively represent injured plaintiffs. In his over three decade career, Scott Bennett has represented hundreds of people injured in motor vehicle and public transportation accidents.

The course is especially relevant with the fatal Amtrak derailment in Philadelphia making national headlines. Investigations are ongoing into the chain of events that caused 8 fatalities and sent over 200 riders to the hospital.

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Dr. Marsha Santangelo Obtains $4.875 Million Verdict For Spinal Surgery Malpractice Client

By The Beasley Firm on April 10, 2015 - No comments

On April 8, 2015, a jury in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas awarded $4.875 million to a medical malpractice victim represented by Marsha Santangelo, M.D., Esq., of The Beasley Firm.

The case involved a 50 year old woman who went to Dr. Eric Williams, an orthopedic surgeon at Albert Einstein Medical Center, for an elective spinal surgery including a decompressive laminectomy. A week after the surgery, she called the surgeon’s office to report that she had a fever and that her wound appeared to leak a fluid, both of which are signs of a wound infection. Without consulting the doctor, a staff member at the surgeon’s office told her they could give an appointment the next day, or that she could go to the emergency room. The patient then went to the closest hospital to her home, Underwood-Memorial Hospital in New Jersey, where the emergency room confirmed a wound infection with pus draining from the incision.

The emergency department staff at Underwood contacted Dr. Williams, who agreed to accept transfer of the patient to Albert Einstein Medical Center. Einstein, however, did not have enough beds, and so didn’t accept the transfer, and, according to Dr. Williams, never informed him that they couldn’t do the transfer. At Underwood, the patient continued to get worse, with severe pain in her legs that required intravenuous narcotics. She wasn’t transferred to Einstein until the afternoon the next day.

Incredibly, nearly all of Einstein’s records from those first few hours are missing, but the records that do exist show that the patient still had neurological functioning in her legs and feet. Over the next few hours, virtually nothing was done for the patient: no medication, evaluation, monitoring, or intervention. Six hours after she arrived at Einstein, she was taken to the operating room, but by then it was too late: because her surgical would infection and epidural abscess had gone untreated for so long, she is permanently paralyzed below the waist. Due to her injuries, she is confined to a wheelchair, requires assistance for normal daily living, and can no longer work her job as a Philadelphia school bus driver for handicapped children.

On behalf of the patient, Dr. Santangelo brought malpractice claims against Dr. Williams, against the surgical resident who oversaw the patient when she was transferred to AEMC, and against the hospital itself. Dr. Williams and Einstein denied they were negligent and claimed that the patient was already paralyzed by the time she arrived at Einstein, despite medical records from the transport service indicating that she still had sensation and activity in her legs and feet. Einstein also claimed that the patient’s injuries weren’t caused by the infection (which was later found to be MRSA) but by a “vascular insult” to her spinal cord.

For the trial, Dr. Santangelo obtained reports from seven medical expert witnesses, including:

  1. A former hospital CEO who is board-certified in hospital administration;
  2. A neurointerventional surgeon who is board-certified in radiology and neuroradiology;
  3. A board-certified orthopedic surgeon;
  4. A board-certified neurologist;
  5. A cardiologist who is board-certified in cardiovascular disease and internal medicine;
  6. A board-certified emergency medicine physician; and,
  7. An orthopedic trauma nurse.

After 8 days of trial, the jury unanimously found for The Beasley Firm’s client, finding negligence by the orthopedic surgeon (who was 34% responsible), negligence by the senior orthopedic surgery resident (who was 33% responsible), and negligence by the hospital (which was 33% responsible). The jury found the patient’s damages were $4,875,200.14, broken down as:

  • Past medical expenses $20,180.14
  • Past lost earnings $266,444
  • Past noneconomic damages $750,000
  • Future medical expenses $2,825,566
  • Future lost earning capacity $263,010
  • Future noneconomic damages $750,000

It is unknown at this time whether the defendants intend to appeal, but, if they do, Dr. Santangelo and The Beasley Firm’s two full-time appellate lawyers will be ready.

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Malpractice Insurers Sneak Exception Into Quality Of Care Bill

By The Beasley Firm on April 1, 2015 - No comments

It is no secret that healthcare costs are out of control. It also should not be a secret that one of the causes of increasing healthcare costs is rampant malpractice throughout the healthcare industry. One study by the Society of Actuaries found that “measureable” medical errors — i.e., the errors that are reported, which are just a fraction of the overall errors every year — directly caused $17.1 billion in avoidable follow-up care. (Another study found that the cost to society of preventable deaths alone was between $735 billion and $980 billion).

 

The smart folks at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) came up with one solution back in August 2007: they created a list of preventable errors (many of which are on the so-called “never events” list) and told hospitals and doctors that they would no longer pay for the additional costs associated with those preventable errors. For example, since February 2009, CMS has not paid for any costs arising from “wrong-site surgeries.” Several states and private health insurance companies have followed suit.

 

It’s easy these days to complain about “bureaucrats,” but the truth is that many government agencies are doing good work. The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) has produced a wealth of information about medical standards that have reduced costs and saved lives. Recently, a bill was introduced into Congress that would require the government to measure the quality of healthcare provided by physicians, and to rate them accordingly, but, according to The New York Times, the malpractice insurance companies snuck in some sweetheart language:

 

WASHINGTON — A little-noticed provision of a bill passed by the House of Representatives with overwhelming bipartisan support would provide doctors new protections against medical malpractice lawsuits.

 

The bill, which requires the government to measure the quality of care that doctors provide and rate their performance on a scale of zero to 100, protects doctors by stipulating that the quality-of-care standards used in federal health programs — Medicare, Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act — cannot be used in malpractice cases.

 

The provision is nearly identical to legislative language recommended by doctors and their insurance companies. They contend that federal standards and guidelines do not accurately reflect the standard of care and should not be used to show negligence by a doctor or a hospital.

 

To draw an obvious analogy, this is like saying that, when a worker is injured by a contractor that blatantly violated the standards set by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the worker can’t show the OSHA standards at trial to prove negligence. Of course they can. An OSHA violation isn’t the end-all-be-all of occupational safety, but it is undeniably relevant in determining the standard of care.

 

Over forty years ago, our firm litigated and won the leading case on the “standard of care” in medical malpractice cases in Pennsylvania. As Justice Roberts wrote in his concurring opinion, “The standard of care required of a specialist or general practitioner should be that of a reasonable specialist or general practitioner in similar circumstances practicing medicine in light of present day scientific knowledge.” Incollingo v. Ewing et al., 444 Pa. 263, 299 (1971). This has long been the rule across most of the country. See, e.g., Landeros v. Flood, 551 P. 2d 389, 408 (Cal. 1976)(“we have consistently held that a physician is required to possess and exercise, in both diagnosis and treatment, that reasonable degree of knowledge and skill which is ordinarily possessed and exercised by other members of his profession in similar circumstances.”).

 

Are the standards carefully developed by CMS and AHRQ through years of research, scholarly input, and feedback from the healthcare industry relevant to that question? Of course! If the defendant doctor or their expert witnesses believe otherwise, they’re free to tell the jury how wrong CMS and AHRQ are.

 

Unsurprisingly, this special-interest giveaway is coming from the same legislators who claim they believe in “federalism” and “limited federal government.” If they really believe that, why are they trying to set up a federal law that limits states’ rights to determine what evidence they will or will not admit in their own medical malpractice trials? If a state doesn’t want juries to look to the CMS guidelines, the state legislators and state judges can decide that for themselves.

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FDA Finds Further Proof Diabetes Drugs Cause Pancreatic Cancer

By The Beasley Firm on December 16, 2014 - No comments

For more than a year now, our firm has been entrenched in litigation against the manufacturers of several “incretin mimetic” diabetes drugs, including Januvia, Janumet, Victoza, Byetta, and Onglyza, which, we allege, cause pancreatic cancer.

No trials have been held, and so much of what has occurred there remains confidential, but two recent developments may fundamentally alter the course of the lawsuits — and may help protect unwary patients from one of the most feared diseases known to man. 

The drug companies still vehemently deny any connection between these drugs and pancreatic cancer. Their drugs mention all kinds of nuisance side effects, like flatulence and burping, but not one has a word about pancreatic cancer. That may be about to change.

First, in a study published in October 2014, one of the FDA’s own labs confirmed that giving a GLP-1 agonist to mice causes precancerous injuries to the pancreas, particularly if the mice eat a high fat, high carbohydrate diet. (“Extended Exenatide Administration Enhances Lipid Metabolism and Exacerbates Pancreatic Injury in Mice on a High Fat, High Carbohydrate Diet.”)

In people with type 2 diabetes, the beta cells in the endocrine pancreas don’t work as well as they should, and the incretin diabetes drugs are supposed to work by making the beta cells in the endocrine pancreas function better. For example, the incretin diabetes drugs could cause more beta cells to proliferate, or could cause them to grow bigger, or live longer. 

Problem is, you can’t pick and choose which cells you make proliferate, and at some point, when cells proliferate too much, they become cancerous. Pancreatic cancer is, in many ways, just too many cells growing, and growing too quickly, in the duct of the pancreas.

Technically, the FDA researchers found injuries to the pancreatic ducts consistent with “focal proliferation of the exocrine pancreas and possibly pre-neoplastic PanIn lesion development.” That is, they saw the drug — specifically, Byetta — causing mice to develop more cells in their exocrine pancreas. Worse, those cells were damaged in a lot of worrying ways, damage that could make them become “PanIn lesions,” which are precancerous.

As the FDA researchers said, they didn’t quite see cancer, their findings were “consistent” with the extremely worrying results reported back in 2013 by a team of researchers that found people treated with Januvia and Byetta had evidence of precancerous changes in their pancreas. (“Marked Expansion of Exocrine and Endocrine Pancreas With Incretin Therapy in Humans With Increased Exocrine Pancreas Dysplasia and the Potential for Glucagon-Producing Neuroendocrine Tumors.”) That’s a pretty big deal, and the FDA researchers said the next step was to look at mice with genetic mutations that made them better mimic pancreatic cancer in humans.

Second, also in October 2014, Health Canada revealed in a communication to physicians that, “[a]s of July 31, 2014, Health Canada received 13 reports of pancreatic cancer suspected of being associated with all incretin-based therapies.” Further, the agency “has initiated an epidemiological study through the Drug Safety and Effectiveness Network (DSEN) to assess the potential association between pancreatic cancer and incretin-based therapies and will continue its ongoing monitoring of this potential safety issue.”

The study covers Nesina (alogliptin)‎, Tradjenta (linagliptin), Onglyza (saxagliptin), Januvia / Janumet (sitagliptin), Byetta (exenatide), and Victoza (liraglutide). 

We’ll see if either action causes some serious change in these products, like perhaps a withdrawal, as Public Citizen has recommended for Victoza, or at least better warnings. Patients have the right — the legal, ethical, and moral rights — to know the risks of the drugs they pay for and put into their bodies.

If you or a loved one developed pancreatic cancer after taking Byetta, Januvia, Janumet, Victoza, or another diabetes drug, please read more about our pancreatic cancer lawsuits.

 

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Heidi Villari Wins $8M Award for Helicopter Crash Victim

By The Beasley Firm on August 15, 2014 - No comments

A Luzerne County Judge awarded $8 Million+ costs for the victim of a helicopter crash caused by a distracted driver in a damages hearing handled by attorney Heidi Villari of The Beasley Firm. The helicopter had been operated for a charity golf event for crippled children. Unfortunately, the helicopter pilot was operating the helicopter 200 ft. above ground at an unsafe speed, and nose-dived simultaneously. This caused a crash to the ground and  plaintiff was partially ejected out of the seat.  He never lost consciousness, and recounted the accident, multiple surgeries and lengthy stays in rehabilitation to the Court.

Joseph Matteo the plaintiff, age 69 at the time of the crash, who was solicited to drop golf balls onto a golf course as a belted passenger suffered from incomplete paraplegia, neurogenic bladder and bowel, nerve pain as a result of the accident. While he could move his legs, stand and walk with a walker, he is not able to walk about freely. Mr. Matteo, who lives alone, testified that his life had become “a living hell” not only because he had become wheelchair-bound but because of the unbearable pain he endures from nerve damage.

Since 1958, The Beasley Firm has fought for the rights of victims of aviation accidents across the country. To date, we have obtained over $2 billion in awards for our clients. If you or a loved one has been injured or suffers from nerve damage and/or spinal injury as as result of an accident, contact us for a free consultation by filling out our online contact form or by phone at (888) 823-5291.

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