MICHAEL J. SUDEKUM Mr. Sudekum is an attorney located in St. Louis handling injury litigation and workers compensation cases. MORE »

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On December 22, 2014, the JPML (“Joint Panel on Multi-district Litigation”) established a MDL in the US District Court of Kansas (Kansas City) for all federal lawsuits. The court’s website summarizes the case as,

“These cases concern the Syngenta defendants’ decision to commercialize corn seeds containing a genetically modified trait, known as ‘MIR 162,’ that reportedly controls certain insects. Corn with this trait has entered U.S. corn stocks but has not been approved for import by the Chinese government, which has imposed a complete ban on U.S. corn with this trait. . . . Plaintiffs are corn growers and a grain exporter who suffered economic losses resulting from China’s refusal to accept MIR162 corn. All actions involve common factual questions regarding Syngenta’s decision to commercialize the MIR162 genetically modified corn trait in the absence of Chinese approval to import corn with that trait.” (footnote omitted.)”

A trade organization has stated the potential losses industry wide could reach as much as $2.9 Billion dollars. The National Grain and Feed Association (NGFA) has stated,

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Some cities think so. Some cities think not. While Missouri law prohibits drivers under 21 from texting and driving, an adult over the age of 21 is free to text, drive and be distracted on the road. Not satisfied with this result, three cities in the St. Louis County area have already determined that they can ban adults from texting and driving. Hoping to join Florissant, Manchester and St. John, the municipality of Kirkwood is considering a ban on texting and driving for all drivers according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

According to some attorneys, the current state of the law in Missouri may provide some difficulty in the ultimate enforcement of this municipal ordinance. In contrast, in Illinois, the use of all handheld cellular devices is currently illegal. However, in Missouri, there is no such ban for adults driving cars. The attempts to pass a ban on all texting and driving has met with some frustration in finding the right language. Others express concern over the enforcement of such a law. Still, the need for such a law is apparent to all of us who regularly drive on the roads. There’s nothing scarier than looking at the driver next to you who has his head down staring at the phone in the road.

Since this problem will obviously not go away, both states and municipalities will have to find new ways to enforce the safety of other drivers on the road. The balance between the convenience of mobile devices and safety of others is ongoing challenge for all drivers.

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In the obvious news category of the day, a recent article in St. Louis Post Dispatch notes that traffic tickets have a direct impact on the rates you pay for insurance. More interestingly though, the article contains contain information regarding the effect on insurance rates of certain traffic tickets in Missouri and Illinois. The rates increases are estimates from a industry group that tracks this type of information.

For example, while a seatbelt ticket will only cost you about $61 annually in Missouri; a DWI in Illinois will potentially increase your insurance rates $1324 a year. Further, a speeding ticket in Missouri could raise your insurance rates over $100 a year. The article notes that these penalties last at least three years on your insurance rates. By doing some quick math, a speeding ticket at 12 miles an hour over the speed limit may result in over $300 increase in premiums before any relief is given.

The take away from this article is simply that traffic tickets have the potential costing you more than just the fine. If you have a traffic ticket might be worthwhile to reach out to an attorney to see if he or she can help you resolve it and keep points off your record.

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I spent April 3-4, 2014 in Houston at the Texas Trial Lawyers Association at their Second Annual Pharmaceutical Conference and Medical Device Seminar. Some of the topics relevant to our clients include:

– Testosterone Therapy Litigation – Transvaginal Mesh Cases, and – Litigation strategies.

There were other medications and topics that were discussed that will be featured in later postings. However, the main take-away from the conference was the unfortunate reality that there are many medications approved and on the market that have serious health risks that do not contain adequate warnings of these risks for consumers.

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Lipitor is one of the most commonly prescribed statin medications used to treat high cholesterol in adults. It has been one of the world’s best selling prescription medications and a large source of revenue for its manufacturer, Pfizer.

Unfortunately, the medication has attracted attention for a different reason.

On October 10, 2013, attorneys representing a woman who claimed that she developed diabetes as a result of the prescription medicine Lipitor moved the Joint Panel for Multidistrict Litigation to consolidate all pending federal cases against the manufacturer of Lipitor, Pfizer. As part of its motion, the attorneys noted that there were at the time sixty-two (62) pending cases against Pfizer throughout the nation.

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I wanted to take a moment and thank my family, friends and my clients for a rewarding 2013. I really do appreciate the opportunity to represent you and help you navigate the complex and stressful legal issues that you are facing. I am hoping to update this blog more frequently in the future and hope you will check back in from time to time.

This year, I was honored to be awarded several distinctions and this seemed like a good time to say thanks to those organizations as well:

Top 40 Under 40 (Missouri) – The National Trial Lawyers; and

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An Associated Press article in the St. Louis Post Dispatch notes that the Missouri law prohibiting young drivers from texting and driving remains difficult to enforce. The article citing a Columbia Missourian article reports that less than four drivers a month receive citations for these traffic violations.

The article reports that the Missouri texting and driving laws are some of the most lenient in the country and remain difficult to enforce.

The enforcement of the prohibition against texting and driving is probably more difficult in practice than plan due to the design of many smartphones. From the outside of a car, it is not easy to differentiate whether a driver is dialing a number on a phone or texting a friend. Using the phone as a phone is not strictly against the law, so it is likely that officers are unable to stop a vehicle when he or she is unable to determine if the phone is being used as a phone or the driver is texting and driving.

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You may have noticed the phrase, “Don’t drive in-text-icated” popping up on cars and billboards in recent months. Similar messages that you can find with a simple google search include:

– Don’t tempt f8 that txt can w8 – Dnt txt n drv – Pay attention.

These are strong messages for all drivers, especially young drivers.

Recent statistics from the Official U.S. Government website on distracted driving highlight this point. The website, a joint collaboration between the National Highway Safety and Transportation Association and the US Department of Transportation reports that for drivers under 20 involved in fatal crashes, 11% of them were reported as distracted at or near the time of the crash.

For the parents who were wondering if your teen and his or her friends were getting the message, the website located at distraction.gov does little to increase your confidence. It states that almost half of all teens in a car with another driver report that the driver used a cell phone in a dangerous manner.

While distracted driving happens (kids, other drivers, unexpected noises, etc.), limiting these distractions is important to the safety of ourselves, our passengers and other drivers. Educating the drivers in your house is an important first step in reducing the number of motor vehicle accidents caused by distracted driving.
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mirena.pngA recent court filing by plaintiff lawyers and one filed by the manufacturer itself signals an increasing interest in the safety of another contraceptive device on the market. This time, the contraceptive is not a pill like Yaz, Yasmin or Ocella, but rather an IUD.

The court filings concern Mirena, an IUD contraceptive device manufactured by Bayer Healthcare Phamaceuticals. The IUD device is implanted by health care professionals usually in an office setting and is intended to last up to five years. In recent months, a number of law firms are investigating injuries sustained by women who had this device implanted into them.

According to one source (AdverseEvents.com), over 45,000 adverse event reports related to Mirena have been filed between November 1997 and June 2012. Further, there are currently eight federal lawsuits and over a dozen state court lawsuits pending against Bayer for injuries related to this medical device.

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According to its website dedicated to this issue, www.distraction.gov, the Department of Transportation has instituted several laws and regulations to curb distracted driving. These include:

– Banning federal employees from text messaging while driving on the job;

– Encouraging federal contractors to adopt and enforce a similar policy; and.