Archive for January, 2017

NYC Mayor Upsets Mothers Against Drunk Driving

Tuesday, January 31st, 2017

New York City Mayor, Bill De Blasio, comments during a television interview about drunk driving being a minor offense caught the attention on Mother’s Against drunk driving and they were not very happy with his statement.

MADD’s New York State director, Richard Mallow, released the following statement in response to what De Blasio  told CNN host Jake Tapper on “State of the Union”.

“There is nothing minor when drunk driving kills or injures 300,000 people every year,” Mallow said. “Drunk driving is always a major offense and we should never minimize the impact it has on families and victims.”

MADD’s statement was in response to comments from De Blasio while and Tapper explained how illegal immigrants who commit these “lesser offenses” in New York are protected from federal authorities.

In the discussion with Tapper, the Mayor said that minor offenses should not call for deportation. He explained the city cooperates with the federal government when it deals with one of the other 170 offenses that are considered serious or violent crimes.

Tapper asked, “is grand larceny or drunk driving a very minor offense?”

De Blasio responded with, “Drunk driving that does not lead to any other negative outcome I could define as that,” he continued with “If anyone does a serious crime, I agree, they shouldn’t be here.”

Mass Tort Spike due to Risperdal

Friday, January 27th, 2017

A mass tort program, Risperdal, could be the cause of Philadelphia’s recent high level increase in pharmaceutical inventory.

According to recent statistics from the First Judicial District regarding Philadelphia’s Complex Litigation Center, mass tort litigations have reached a staggering 5,601 pharmaceutical cases. In 2012, the court had aimed to begin making changes to theses pharmaceutical cases in order to start clearing the mass tort inventory. These pharmaceutical cases have been pending since the beginning of 2017, which is 200 more than in 2012.

Two pharmaceutical programs to see an increase in litigations since 2016 are Risperdal, an antipsychotic drug. and Xarelto, a blood thinner. However, the litigation over Reglan is still the largest mass tort program in Philadelphia. In 2016 about 6 to 100 percent of inventory was lost from all the remaining pharmaceuticals mass torts.

Xarelto, experienced the largest growth throughout 2016 with a 121 percent increase with 664 cases. Since the beginning of 2017 there have been 1,214 cases of Xarelto pending. Michael Weinkowitz, the attorney representing the plaintiffs, said the current program does not expect any further growth.

“We represented to the court that there would be about 1,000 cases, and we’re there,” Weinkowitz said. “We’ve reached a point where I don’t think there will be many more filings.”

According to a lead attorney in the litigation Risperdal grew by 550 cases and he states there are still more cases waiting.

Expected inventory by Thomas R. Kline, of Kline & Specter along with attorneys from Arnold & Itkin and Sheller P.C., leaders of the litigation, said it on its way to be above 2,000. Kline’s group have filed a total of 545 new cases into the program within the past two months.

A recent decision was made to end a tolling agreement by Janssen, the primary defendant in the Risperdal and Xarelto litigations. This decision according to Kline was the reason behind the recent increase. Kline, does not know why the agreement ended but he said, it ended in July after a Philadelphia jury awarded a man $70 million over his injury related to Risperdal.

A spokeswoman for Janssen, Jessica Castles Smith, did not have a comment as to why the agreement ended, she only added that Janssen will continue its defense where appropriate in the litigation.

In an email statement made by Castles Smith she said, “We do not have insight into plaintiffs’ choices regarding when and where they initiate lawsuits, what we do know is that Risperdal, when used as part of a comprehensive treatment plan, continues to help millions of patients with mental illnesses and neurodevelopment conditions.”

The court made some administrative changes in 2012 to combat the growing backlog of cases. They ended reverse bifurcation of cases and added a restriction on consolidation of pharmaceutical cases.

To ensure the Risperdal cases do not linger, since they are continually on the rise, Kline said he is going to advocate for more consolidation of trials among other administrative changes.

“The older the inventory becomes, the more significant a problem it is for the courts, but an even greater problem for the clients awaiting justice,” Kline said. “The court is obliged not to throw up its hands, but roll up its sleeves, which [Supervising Judge Arnold New] will ably do, I’m sure.”

However, Defense attorney Jim Beck of Reed Smith, suggests the court should focus on administrative changes that would make the law less appealing to plaintiffs.

The constant increase in inventory might be short lived according to Beck. He states the case Bristol-Myers Squibb v. Superior Court (Anderson), which the court will hear has the possibility to prevent plaintiffs from filing cases in jurisdictions not in defendant’s specified location.

“It should shrink out-of-state inventories everywhere,” Beck said. “This will affect the inventory. This is something that’s hanging over its head.”

4 Funeral Homes File for Bankruptcy Before Their Scheduled Auction

Thursday, January 26th, 2017

Four Orange County funeral homes that were scheduled for a foreclosure auction have filed for bankruptcy as protection.

The president of the four businesses, Anthony Ingrassia, filed four separate Chapter 11 bankruptcy petitions on Thursday in an effort to save his companies. The Bankruptcy petitions were filed a day before the foreclosure auctions were scheduled. The four properties include:

  • The Ralston-Lippincott-Hasbrouck-Ingrassia Funeral Home at 72 W. Main St. in Middletown
  • The Lippincott-Ingrassia Funeral Home at 92 Main St. in Chester
  • The Lippincott Funeral Chapel at 107 Murray St. in Goshen
  • The Strong-Basile Funeral Home at 4 Oak St. in Greenwood Lake

A combined $2.7 million in assets and about $2.2 million in liabilities was recorded between all four companies.

Orange Bank & Trust Company, sought to foreclose on the four funeral homes because of the $2.15 million owed. However, the bankruptcy filings caused a delay  in the foreclosure auctions. No comments were made by the owner, Ingrassia and his attorney, Mike Pinksy.

Ingrassia, indicated on the court documents, filed with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Poughkeepsie, that he plans to continue running all four funeral homes during the bankruptcy and will request to consolidate the cases.

According to court documents, the Catskill Hudson Bank is owed $42,000 and the Times Herald- record is owed about $11,000 as well.

The attorney for Orange Bank & Trust, Kevin Preston, had no comment on the case.

A hearing is scheduled on January 31, 2017 at the Poughkpsie court house to consolidate the four petitions.  A plan to reorganize the companies is due in November 2017.