The recent tornado which devastated Moore, Oklahoma, posed serious health and safety concerns for residents for a variety of reasons. While the initial devastation of the tornado was clearly the main source of concern, other consequences of the disaster may continue to be felt for years, or even decades, to come. This is because, as a result of the devastation, many public health experts are worried that residents of the area may be exposed to asbestos.
Asbestos is a mineral that was commonly used in construction until the late 1970s, largely for its ability to provide fire-resistant insulation in homes and other buildings. However, its use was prohibited in most industries because exposure to asbestos has the potential to cause serious health problems. The most worrying of these is the development of mesothelioma, a rare form of cancer that affects the inner lining of the body’s internal organs. Sadly, many homes and other buildings devastated by the recent tornado may have asbestos-containing materials in them, exposing clean up crews and even residents to significant health risks. For this reason, it is important that the cleanup in Moore, Okla., be conducted quickly and by experienced professionals, in order to ensure that residents aren’t exposed to further health dangers.
Attorney Rob Jenner made the important point in a recent article that while women are representing more and more of the legal community in terms of law school graduates, practicing lawyers, state court judgeships, and even on the United States Supreme Court, there are still areas of leadership where women are shockingly and inexplicably unrepresented. Specifically, mass torts are an area in which a disproportionately small percentage of women are involved in leadership positions.
Mass torts deal primarily with large-scale cases involving dangerous drugs and defective medical devices, and such cases often result in enormous settlements for injured parties as well as large scale media attention. In stark contrast to most other areas of law, fewer than 10% of the attorneys involved in mass tort litigation are women, despite the fact that many of these cases involve products which are used and consumed primarily by women.
An unfortunate example of this can be seen in recent lawsuits that have been filed against Bayer AG regarding a popular intrauterine birth control device. Despite the obvious relevance and importance of the female perspective in such cases, the 35-odd plaintiff firms which met to select an executive committee for litigation produced an exclusively male group, prompting the New York federal judge overseeing the lawsuits to recommend that there be female attorneys included in leadership positions.
Some of the most significant mass tort cases which have occurred in the United States over the last 20 years have involved products and devices created for and marketed exclusively toward women, driving home the point of relevant perspective. Such reasoning should not be necessary however, as there is simply no reasoning or rationale by which it can be justified today that an entire field of law be dominated by men. By identifying the gender gap in mass tort law, we can hope to address and overcome that inequality in the future.
Partner Jim Hart is scheduled to speak at the United Steelworkers’ Local 13-2001 Scholarship Event tomorrow, May 21.
USW Local 13-2001 is the largest union to represent employees at the ExxonMobil Chemical Plant and Refinery in Baytown, Texas. Since 1963, the union has been working to ensure that the operations, instrument, lab, and technical employees at this plant receive the treatment they deserve at work, including fair pay and safe working conditions.
Our team at Williams Khekher is proud to work with the United Steelworkers’ Union and be affiliated with those working to achieve fair working conditions for chemical plant and refinery workers. To learn more about USW Local 13-2001 or this scholarship, visit their website.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released a drug safety communication yesterday reporting that the anti-seizure medication Depakote is now believed to decrease IQ scores in children born to women who took the drug while pregnant.
Although Depakote had previously been found to cause a number of other serious birth defects in babies, such as Spina Bifida, club foot, scoliosis, club hands/fingers, cleft lip, and more, the Neurodevelopmental Effects of Antiepileptic Drugs study was recently completed and found that children who were exposed to Depakote in the womb had lower IQ levels by the age of six compared to children who were not exposed to the drug.
As a result of this study, the FDA has recommended that Depakote’s label include stronger warnings regarding using the drug during pregnancy and plans to alter the warning category for use in preventing migraines from a class “D” to a class “X.” This change reflects the increased danger Depakote poses, as the FDA now warns that rather than being possibly acceptable for preventing migraines despite its dangers, Depakote is now considered to have a risk that “clearly outweighs any possible benefit.”
Despite being prescribed to treat various health concerns, Depakote has been shown to be extremely dangerous to pregnant women and their children. If you have a child who now suffers from a birth defect related to Depakote use during pregnancy, speak with the lawyers at Williams Kherkher about pursuing legal action by calling (888) 220-0640.
At yesterday’s monthly Houston Police Officers Association (HPOA) meeting, John Eddie Williams Jr. was honored by HPOA President Ray Hunt. Williams was honored for being the most generous donor to an effort to raise money for the family of police officer Hans Wagner who died in September 2012 from injuries he suffered in a car accident a few months before. At the meeting, Hunt presented Williams with a plaque that reads: “With Appreciation and Gratitude The Men and Women of the Houston Police Department Would like to Thank John Eddie Williams Jr. For Your Dedication and Support In Honoring the Memory of Fallen Police Officer Hans Wagner.”
John Eddie Williams Jr., Steve Kherkher, and the other attorneys at the firm are honored to have the opportunity to work with and support the HPOA and their members.
Attorney Margret Lecocke is scheduled to speak at the upcoming TXLM Conference, which will be held in San Antonio from June 11-13. The theme of this year’s conference is “Our Future is in Our Hands — Building a Better Texas Together.”
Lecocke is scheduled to present on June 11 in the workshop “What Do You Want From Your Arbitrator, and What Does the Arbitrator Expect From You?”
Read more about this upcoming event here.
Armi Easterby, a member of the Williams Kherkher legal team, has been helping business owners to pursue claims for compensation as part of the BP class action settlement, relating to the devastating oil spill in 2010 which heavily affected business activity in the Gulf region. Easterby helps business owners to determine whether or not they may qualify for compensation for damages their business may have suffered in the immediate aftermath of the disaster.
It is important to note that business owners aren’t required to provide specific documents demonstrating particular losses resulting from the oil spill. Instead, a part of the class action settlement mandated that BP establish a formula to examine businesses’ revenue both before and after the oil spill to determine whether any losses may have been attributable to the spill. Armi’s work in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, and Texas is helping business owners to understand that they, too, may be eligible for compensation. The entire states of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama are in the zone, so if a business owner in those states is far from the Gulf Coast, they still may have a claim.
To see a recent news story on a Town Hall Armi led in Shreveport, read the full story here.
At Williams Kherkher, we’ve been helping victims of the BP oil spill since the very beginning of the claims process, and we know what it takes to help a claimant secure the compensation they need. For the experienced, knowledgeable representation you need on your side, contact an experienced Oil Spill claims lawyer from Williams Kherkher at (888) 220-0640 to take the first step towards protecting your financial stability and your future.
Late this evening, a fertilizer plant in West, Texas, a town outside of Waco, exploded, resulting in several home fires and trapping residents of a nearby apartment home in their facility. The explosion was so massive that it could be felt as far away as Dallas, Texas, which is almost 100 miles away from West. According to officials with the Department of Public Safety, several people have suffered severe injuries. At this time, it is unknown what caused the explosion or how severe the damage from the explosion is.
We will be sure to follow this story closely and will post updates as more information becomes available.
Recently, Williams Kherkher partner Jim Hart and attorneys Jim Soto, Eloy Gaitan, and Margret Lecocke conducted a steward training presentation for local electrical workers to help explain some legal areas of interest for the group. Jim Hart explained the grievance process and how best to prepare a grievance file for arbitration. Jim Soto covered critical aspects in developing an effective will. Eloy Gaitan covered workers’ comp, changes in the law, and what people need to know to protect their rights. Finally, Margret Lecocke gave an update on pharmaceutical and medical device recalls. The meeting was well attended, and our presenters answered questions from the audience throughout the session. Williams Kherkher is proud to show our support of unions.
John Eddie Williams and John Boundas will be featured speakers at the first TTLA (Texas Trial Lawyers Association) Seminar dedicated solely to pharmaceutical and medical device litigation on April 25th and 26th. John Eddie and John are proud to join other TTLA Legends to discuss and debate a variety of mass tort topics that are central to this important and constantly-changing area of the law. For more information on this event, visit http://ttlapmdseminar.com/.
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