Federal Judge in Georgia Sanctions Company over $ 40M due to Deceptive Advertising of Diet Supplements

pills for blog may 31 2015In Atlanta, Georgia, a federal judge, U.S. District Senior Judge Charles Pannell, Jr., ordered a Norcross company, Hi-Tech Pharmaceuticals, that sells dietary supplements, over $ 40M in sanctions for violating a six (6) year old order barring the company from making deceptive claims about several diet supplements’ effectiveness.

The Judge further ordered an immediate recall of supplements that the company has since marketed as weight loss or male enhancement products, and has further threatened to put the CEO, Jared Wheat, and Senior Vice President, Sean Smith, in jail if they fail to comply with the Judge’s order.

You may have heard of the supplements at issue which are: Fastin which is related chemically and pharmacologically to amphetamines and can lead to psychosis; Lipodrene which can cause nausea, dehydration, constipation, sleep complications, and cardiovascular issues, especially of the heart; Benzedrine which is really amphetamine sulfate and a stimulant and drug with the same or similar characteristics as the drug amphetamine; and Stimerex-ES which contains a long list of stimulants as ingredients that raise heart rate and blood pressure and are dangerous and unsuitable for many people.

This is not the first battle with the Federal Court for Wheat and Smith as they were ordered to pay $15.8M in regulatory fines for dispensed dissection back in 2008 which they have yet to fully pay. Furthermore, the Judge permanently barred Wheat from continuing to rely on these unsubstantiated representations to sell the expensive supplements. The contempt actions came at the request of the urging of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA), and Atlanta, Georgia Federal Prosecutors in an effort to stop Wheat’s diet supplement business.

The $40M which the Judge said in his order are gross revenues from the sale of the supplements for a specified period of time and are intended to pay consumers back who purchased the products and may have been induced to do so from the deceptive advertising. Fortunately, unlike in other scandals of this type that I have written about in my blog on the dangers of Energy Drinks, no deaths have been reported to date from taking these drugs.


A Disabled Man in a State Institution is Killed allegedly by Staff Members, and the Estate Receives an $11M Bill from the State

disabled may 30 blogOn August 6, 2012, a 33-year-old mentally disabled man, Rasheen Rose, died at a State Institution in New York . The death was ruled a homicide according to the New York Medical Examiner who concluded that Rose’s death was caused by being restrained at the Fineson Developmental Center, where Rose was living when he died, after he became unresponsive.

Rose’s sister, Shaneice Luke, brought a lawsuit in Federal Court seeking an undisclosed amount of punitive and other damages, and alleging that at least three (3) of the Fineson staff threw Rose to the ground, while one (1) sat on him and another stood by. The suit further alleges a history of abuse at the institution and failure by the supervisors to train staff properly or address the abuse.

It is not a new development that care centers for both the elderly and the disabled have been accused of abuse, failure to train staff properly, negligence, and the like as I have discussed on my website about Nursing Home Abuse . What makes this case interesting, however, is that after Luke filed her lawsuit, the State sent her a $ 11.67M bill for Medicaid assistance from August 6, 2002 through the day that Rose died on August 6, 2012.

The Office for People with Developmental Disabilities  (OPWDD) of New York, the organization that oversees and runs the facility, declined to comment on why it is asking for repayment under Medicaid. It appears, however, that others families who are suing under the same or similar circumstances are also receiving similar claim notices. The OPWDD is calling this problematic, and it has been deemed as Retaliation and an Outrage to send a bill to someone who has lost a loved one due to abusive care.  It is being seen as a way to punish people who bring this type of behavior and abuse to the eyes of justice,  I think, it also acts a deterrent to the filing of future lawsuits of this kind.


The Producers are Defendants in a Wrongful Death Case in Georgia involving Filming of the Movie “Midnight Rider”

film camera for blog may 29This is a follow up to the blog that I posted on May 23, 2014 about the young Ms. Sarah Jones who was killed on the film set of Gregg Allman’s movie, “Midnight Rider”, in which I discuss the Wrongful Death Case brought by the parents of Ms. Jones who died while on the set filming the movie on an historic train trestle in Georgia.

The list of Defendants in the lawsuit include the production company among several other Defendants including Gregg Allman himself, who was serving as an Executive Producer on the film. Our sympathies continue to pour out to the family who have lost a dear loved one in such a tragic manner.

The case sites a number of safety violations that led to Ms. Jones’ death including, but not limited to, the crew being mislead that the producers had permission from CSX to film on the railway, when it allegedly did not, and that several standard safety precautions were never taken on the set as well.

It is duly noted, however, that Jones, was not a veteran to the film industry as she began her film career as an intern on the TV series “Army Wives.” Given that Jones did have experience in the film industry, I think it will be interesting to follow this case to see if any of the Defendants raise the defense of Comparative Negligence, which I have discussed in detail in my May 24, 2014 blog.

Comparative Negligence is a defense in tort actions where the Plaintiff’s damages are reduced by an amount determined by the percentage, if any, that the Judge or Jury may find the Plaintiff had as a part, or percentage, of the negligence that caused the Plaintiff’s injuries or, in this case, death to Ms. Jones, that could be attributed to Ms. Jones herself for her involvement in being on a film set that was alleged to be inherently dangerous.

Furthermore, will any of the Defendants raise the defense of Assumption of the Risk arguing that Ms. Jones Assumed the Risk by being on the dangerous set.  Assumption of the Risk in Georgia is an affirmative defense that bars the Plaintiff from recovering on a negligence claim if it is established that the Plaintiff, “Without coercion of circumstances, chooses a course of action with full knowledge of its danger and while exercising a free choice as to whether to engage in the act or not; a defendant asserting an assumption of the risk defense must establish that the plaintiff: (1) had actual knowledge of the danger; (2) understood and appreciated the risks associated with such danger; and (3) voluntarily exposed oneself to those risks. “ Sones v. Real Estate Dev. Group, Inc., 270 Ga. App. 507, 606 S.E.2d 687 (2004).


The DNR reports that Boating Accidents in Georgia over the 2014 Memorial Day Weekend were similar to 2013

boating girl for may 28 blog 2014The Georgia Department of Natural Resources reported that boating incidents over the 2014 Memorial Day Holiday Weekend were similar to 2013 with two (2 ) drownings in 2014, and two (2) drowings in 2013.  The drownings in 2014 were as follows: Eighteen-year-old (18) Chance Werner  drowned in Lake Allatoona after an accident at Dock D of Holiday Harbor Marina in Bartow County; and William Brown drowned in the Atlantic Ocean near Tybee Island.  Mr. Brown’s body was recovered from the Atlantic Ocean by Tybee Island Police Department.

Five (5) were Injured on Georgia Waterways During Memorial Day Weekend this year, while there were six (6) Boating-Related Injuries in 2013. Boating Under the Influence in 2014 was 32, down significantly from 42 in 2013, with BUIs this year on some of the larger lakes including Allatoona, 1; Lanier, 10; Oconee,1; Clarks Hill, 3; Sinclair, 1; Jackson, 1.

Boating Incidents in 2014 were nine (9), up one from eight (8) last year, and the incidents this year were as follows as Reported by Rangers:

• Lanier (5/24): PWC ran into a boat in Shoal Creek-0 injuries
• Lanier (5/25): Fire on a Pontoon-Bald Ridge Creek-0 injuries
• Lanier (5/25): Boat that Sank near Aqualand Marina-0 injuries
• Lanier (5/25): PWC and vessel collision near Van Pugh Park-2 minor injuries
• Hartwell (5/25): minor incident-0 injuries
• West Point (5/25): Tubing incident where a tuber was thrown off tube/injuring neck/shoulder
• Lanier (5/26): 15 year-old fell off a pontoon in Chestatee River area and was struck by boat (transported to NE Ga Medical Center)
• Lanier (5/26): Fisherman pushed his boat away from Lula Bridge and fell into water, inhaled water while under (transported to NE GA Medical Center)
• Lanier (5/26): Rangers working one incident in Burton Mill area (details not available)


A 22-Month Old Boy was Run Over by His Father in the Family Driveway in Georgia; the young boy is expected to recover

pedestrian zone sign for may 28 blogThis past Saturday afternoon of Memorial Day weekend a child age 22-months had walked out of his garage and was standing behind the Trailblazer driven by his father when his father was backing out of the drive way, and the child was subsequently struck by the vehicle . The child was first struck by the back bumper and then ran over by the back tire.

The parents both rescued him from under the vehicle and then took him to the fire station where a helicopter was called, and the child was flown by Children’s Health Critical Care Helicopter to Egelston Hospital where he was immediately treated by the critical care team. The young boy is now reported in stable condition and expected to recover. The case is being investigated and no charges are anticipated in this incident.

My heart goes out to this family and I hope for the young boy’s speedy and complete recovery. These types of cases, which I have written about before in my blog post about a grandfather who ran over his grandson and killed him, and on my website, about Pedestrian and Bicycle Accidents, are incidents can and do occur any where, any time, and even in our own driveways. These types of accidents can be devastating and many end in severe and deadly injuries.  As such, it is imperative that as both drivers and pedestrians that we use the best practices to watch out for each other on the roads to prevent these types of incidents.

As stated previously, we must teach our children about the rules of the road. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has set for very specific rules that we as Parent and Caregivers can teach our children to make sure that our children are safe every time they leave the house, and the the NHTSA has provided the following informational material on it’s website that we can use to teach our children the best practices as Pedestrians on the Road:

1.) Everyone is a Pedestrian!: This is is a brochure that reiterates that whenever you are not in your vehicle, you are a pedestrian! This brochure offers tips for both drivers and pedestrians to stay safe while sharing the road.


Midwife is Negligenct in Delivery of a Baby that Dies, and the Judge Awards $5 Million to the Parents of the Deceased Child, but it may take a long time for them to collect

may 28 blog on grielfIn 2012, baby boy Mangus died as a result of Midwife, Clairce Winker’s, negligence in the delivery of the baby that took place in a birthing center in Michigan.  The Parents of baby Mangus brought a Wrongful Death lawsuit against the midwife, and the midwife didn’t even bother to show up for Court.

Therefore, the Judge entered a Default Judgment in favor the Parents in for $ 5M. Although the midwife is ordered to pay, she did not have any medical malpractice insurance and, therefore, it will be difficult, but not impossible, for the Plantiff’s to  collect any money under the circumstances.

At Julie A. Rice, Attorney at Law, & Affiliates, we are truly sorry that this has happened to this family. We know how painful losing a child can be.  If you or a loved one has lost a child, or a child has been seriously injured, due to the negligence of another, the we are experts in these types of Medical Malpractice cases and we courage you to Contact Us  immediately or your free legal consultation. We will not only zealously represent you so that you receive the just compensation that you deceive, we make sure that you collect your money as well.

This case in point was in Michigan and I am not licensed to practice law in Michigan so I do not know the laws in Michigan that apply specifically to the collection of Default Judgements.  In Georgia, however, there are many post-judgement collection methods and if the Plaintiff’s are persistent in collecting this money then they could very well collect some, if not all, of the judgment over time.

Since the Judgement is of such a sizable amount, the process would be very slow . In the end, however, they would receive some just compensation for their little boy’s loss of life.  We all know that money will never bring baby boy Mangus back but the parents are entitled to see a check or two every month as a reminder that their baby boy did have value as a human being.


Man Walking home from Jail is Hit and Killed in Georgia and Widow Receives over a $1M Verdict in a Wrongful Death Action ~ part 2

in reminder of for blog may 27 part 2This is a follow up to my previous blog post titled, Man Walking home from Jail is Hit and Killed in Georgia and Widow Receives over a $1M Verdict in a Wrongful Death Action ~ part 1.

As stated in blog post 1, this case illustrates three (3) important doctrines of Georgia Law:  1.)  Wrongful Death and the determination of damages beyond just the economic value of a person’s life; 2.)  The theory of Comparative Negligence under Georgia Law; and 3.)  Stalking of Insurance Coverage and the use of the injured’s own uninsured and uninsured insurance coverage when the other parties coverage is not enough to provide for all of the insured’s damages.

This case illustrates the theory of Stacking Insurance Coverage in Georgia since although 23%, which was $ 375,590.00 was placed on the driver of the car, she only had $ 25,000.00 of insurance coverage which her insurance carrier, Mercury, that had already paid, and released her from any further liability since I am sure that the insurance company insisted on a Waiver of Liability being signed further releasing their insured from any further liability after payment of the policy limits.

Therefore, the Plaintiff’s Attorney is seeking to recover damages from his client’s own underinsured and uninsured motorist coverage with State Farm, under the theory of Stacking whereby a party can stack insurance from different insurance companies in a manner prescribed by Georgia Law, and use the Plaintiff’s own uninsured or underinsured insurance to pay for bodily injury to the insured as is set forth in the Official Code of Georgia (O.C.G.A.) Annotated Section § 33-7-11 that governs uninsured motorist coverage under motor vehicle liability policies.


Man Walking home from Jail is Hit and Killed in Georgia and Widow Receives over a $1M Verdict in a Wrongful Death Action ~ part 1

brbroThis is a very unfortunate case of Wrongful Death in which a man, Danny Daniel, of Georgia, who was released from jail on September 16, 2009 where he spent three (3) days after being arrested for Driving While Under the Influence (DUI), and was walking home from jail when he was hit and killed by two (2) vehicles on the highway.

Daniel’s widow brought a Wrongful Death Action against three (3) Defendants, the one who was driving the car that hit Daniel initially, Kelly Gitaitis, and the other two (2) Defendants who were, the garbage disposal company, Republic Services of Georgia, that owned the Mack truck, and the driver of said truck, Bobby Redmon, who hit Daniel subsequent to Daniel being hit by Gitaitis. The case is Daniel v. Republic Services, No. 11C-06439-6.

This case illustrates three (3) very important doctrines under Georgia Law that are:

1.)  Wrongful Death and how damages are figured in a Wrongful Death Action in Georgia that I have discussed in my previous blog about Wrongful Death;

2.)  The Comparative Negligence Law in Georgia that I have also discussed in my previous blog about the Comparative Negligence Law in Georgia; and

3.)  Staking of Insurance Coverage  that is discussed in my website under Auto Accidents.

This case further illustrates the importance of Pedestrian Safety .


The Standard of Care in Georgia for Diagnosis and Treatment of Ovarian Cancer ~ part 3

cat scan for blog post may 26 part 3This is a continuation of my blog posts titled, The Standard of Care in Georgia for Diagnosis and Treatment of Ovarian Cancer ~ part 1 and part 2, and the following are some additional questions that should be asked in the Diagnosis and Treatment of Ovarian Cancer, and why each question is important:

6.) What was the Result of the Transabdominal/Transvaginal Ultrasound?

Why is this important? Transvaginal Ultrasonography (TVUS), when used as a sole screening intervention for high risk women, has not been effective in identifying early-stage ovarian cancer, so other tests should be performed accordingly and not just a TVUS regardless of the results and most certainly if the results if the TVUS indicate further testing in appropriate under the circumstances.

7.) Did the Clinician Recommend Scheduled Follow Up Evaluations?

Why is this important?  Optimal follow-up for patients recovering from ovarian cancer must be individualized to the patient’s needs in much the same way as the treatment for other cancers is individualized to the patient’s needs and to the cancer itself for optimal results and to raise the survival rate.

8.) Was a Transabdominal/Transvaginal Ultrasound Recommended?

Why is this important?  Transvaginal ultrasonography (TVUS), as stated earlier, when used as a sole screening intervention for high risk women, has not been effective in identifying early-stage ovarian cancer. There is not, at this time, one specific, reliable, easy to administer screening tool.  A TVUS, however, should be recommended and performed and not overlooked so as to determine if other tests are in order as well.

9.) Which of the Following Studies were Performed?

Why is this important?  A CAT Scan and/or MRI scanning may be used for assessing metastasis, and since the TVUS, as discussed above, has not been effective as the sole screening method, other methods such as a CAT Scan or MRI, coupled with other screening methods, should be performed to detect the cancer in its earliest stages.


The Standard of Care in Georgia for Diagnosis and Treatment of Ovarian Cancer ~ part 2

medical doctor for blog post 2 on may 26As I have discussed in my prior blog posts about the Standard of Care in certain Medical Malpractice Cases, the following are some of the questions to be asked to determine if the Standard of Care was followed in the Diagnosis and Treatment of Ovarian Cancer in Georgia, and why each question is important:

1.) Were the Symptoms of Ovarian Cancer Elicited?

Why is this important?  As discussed earlier, Ovarian Cancer usually presents with non-specific symptoms that can be symptomatic of other diseases, such symptoms including, but not limited to, excessive fatigue, abdominal bloating, bladder or bowel issues, bleeding, and pain during intercourse. Therefore, the disease is not usually detected until it reaches the advanced stages when the cancer has spread to other places in the body outside the ovaries, and, in these cases, the survival rate reduces dramatically.

2.) Was a Detailed Medical and Family History Obtained and Documented?

Why is this important? A detailed medical history and family history must be obtained to alert the clinician of any risk factors associated with the development of cancer such as ovarian cancer the patient having had the disease in the past, was ovarian cancer present in the family prior to the age of 40, and is there a family or personal history of cancer of other types in the patient and/or the family such as breast and prostate cancer.  A number of reproductive, environmental and genetic risk factors have also been identified as being precursors to ovarian cancer such as age and not bearing a child, and a detailed medical and family history could alert the physician if the patient presented with risk factors for ovarian cancer.

3.) Was a thorough physical examination performed?

Why is this important?  A thorough physical examination, and other tests as further set forth herein below, must be performed to assess for any mass or suspicious finding of the abdomen as the symptoms of ovarian cancer are diffuse and non specific such as bloating, abdominal pressure, irregular or changing bowel or urination issues, fatigue, bleeding, and pain during intercourse, that can mimic other diseases and be mistaken for other diseases besides Ovarian Cancer.