Tuesday, December 8, 2009

YAZ Birth Control Claims

The New York Times recently published a major news story on the growing safety concerns with Yaz. Numerous lawsuits have been filed against Bayer HealthCare Pharmaceutical for the birth control drug Yaz. Lawsuits and claims have also been filed related to Yasmin and Ocella. Yaz, Yasmin and Ocella birth control pills all contain drospirenone, a synthetic form of progestin which works in combination with ethinyl estradiol (estrogen) to prevent pregnancy. Drospirenone is not contained in other forms of birth control and is believed to be the major cause of side effects from Ocella, Yasmin and Yaz. Two recent case-control studies published in the British Medical Journal show that patients on the birth control pills containing drospirenone have a 200% higher risk of serious injury than those patients using first or second generation oral contraception.

Some of the known side effects of Yaz, Yasmin and Ocella may include:
•heart attacks
•deep vein thrombosis
•pulmonary embolism
•blood clots in the legs and lungs
•cardiac arrhythmia
•gallbladder disease
•sudden death

If you or a loved one is suffering from an injury caused by Yaz, Yasmin or Ocella please contact us for assistance and more information.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Story About Unfair Video Surveillance by Insurance Company

Follow the link below for an interesting story on Hartford Insurance Company's unfair use of video surveillance to deny benefits. Surprize, surprize.


Tuesday, November 10, 2009

GEICO owns geicosucks.com domain!

As has been reported on this blog and in our newsletter, Legally Speaking, GEICO has recently adopted a hard line approach to claim settlement in auto-negligence claims. Recently Digg.com has reported that GEICO owns the domain, geicosucks.com.

In years past when various insurance companies have adopted unfair claim practices, web sites have sprung up describing the unfair claim practices of the particular company. See for example famersinsurancesucks.com

Obviously, GEICO wants to limit any bad publicity from their unfair claim practices by owning the domain geicosucks.com. We consider this to be a tacit admission that they know their claims practices are unfair!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

M&W Press Release: Re GEICO claim practices

M&W today issued a press release for general media distribution regarding the unfair claim practices of GEICO. The body of the release is included below:


TO: Mobile Area Media Outlets
FROM: Moore & Wolfe, Attorneys
DATE: October 21, 2009
RE: GEICO Unfair Claims Practices

[NOTE: Because of pending litigation, the name of the client has been omitted.]

83 Year Old Great Grandmother has to File Lawsuit Because of GEICO’s Unfair Claim Practices.

On November 21, 2008 Mrs. Beatrice XXXX was rear ended as she drove her car in Mobile County, Alabama. She was at a complete stop when the driver of the car behind her drove his car into the back of her car. The Mobile Police Department, who investigated the collision, determined the other driver to be at-fault and determined that Ms. XXXX did nothing to cause or contribute to the collision. According to her attorney, Karlos Finley of Moore & Wolfe, Ms. XXXX received soft-tissue injuries which required a trip to the emergency room and some additional follow-up care for soft-tissue injuries. Her total medical bills were a little over $7,200.00. These bills were paid by her health insurance company and her own insurance carrier under the medical payments provisions of her automobile policy. According to Finley, these companies have asserted a subrogation claim for a refund for their payments from any monies recovered by Ms. XXXX in her liability claim against the at-fault driver who is insured by GEICO.

In an attempt to avoid the time and expenses of litigation, after Mrs. XXXX had completed her treatment and was released from her healthcare providers, Mr. Finley prepared a settlement package which consisted of $7,207.50 in total medical charges and began pre-litigation settlement negotiations with GEICO. Those negotiations broke off with GEICO making a best and final offer of $4,700.00 on behalf of their insured with full knowledge that Ms. XXXX’s own insurance company was asserting a subrogation lien of $5,000.00 for Medical Payment benefits afforded her through her automobile insurance policy. Even worse for his client reports Mr. Finley is that it took GEICO over 8 weeks to even begin negotiations after the claim material was submitted.

According to her lawyer, GEICO’s unreasonable settlement offer left his client with no option but to seek full restitution through the legal system and a lawsuit has now been filed against the at-fault driver for his negligence in causing the collision. In Alabama, even though the insurance company may be the one controlling the settlement offers, its their insured who has to be sued in Court. Mr. Finley went on to say, “This pattern of unfair claims handling is nothing new for GEICO. Over the past year we have seen this same pattern time and time again with GEICO. Their offers to settle claims without litigation are so low, that victims must either take a financial loss or proceed with a lawsuit.” In their recent law firm newsletter, Legally Speaking, Moore & Wolfe reported this problem was not just local but apparently a nationwide trend. The newsletter also explained why Alabama law favors insurance companies and allows them to get away with these type of unfair actions.

“I think GEICO assumed Ms. XXXX would not want to suffer the anxiety and stress of litigation and tried to use that to force her to accept an unreasonable settlement offer,” said Finley. He also reports that, “Ms. XXXX has never been in an automobile collision of any kind and has not injured her spine at anytime prior to the collision which brought about this legal action. She is a widow and native of Mobile, Alabama who graduated from Mobile County Training School in 1943. She is a great grandmother and has been a law abiding citizen who lives a very wholesome life.” He also said while his client is in fairly good health, he hopes the stress and strain of litigation does not cause her any medical consequences.

In closing Mr. Finley noted that GEICO’s unfair claims practices have seemed to coincide with GEICO’s significant increase in advertising for their insurance products. “You can’t watch TV for 10 minutes without seeing a Caveman or a stack of money promoting GEICO products.” He summarized this observation as follows: “Maybe GEICO should re-direct some of their advertising dollars to fair claim payments so an 83 year old great grandmother who gets rear-ended by a GEICO insured can avoid having to be in the middle of a lawsuit.”

NOTE: Because of pending litigation, the name of the client has been omitted.

For general release: October 21, 2009

For more information on this matter, please contact Mr. Karlos Finley at 251 433-7766, or the GEICO claims representative on this matter: Rachel Collins at 478 621-1564, GEICO claim number:020816433010105003.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Ford Recalls Additional 4.5M Vehicles.

The AP (10/13, Krisher, Manning) reported, "Ford Motor Co. said Tuesday it will add 4.5 million older-model vehicles to the long list of those recalled because a defective cruise control switch could cause a fire. The latest voluntary action pushes Ford's total recall due to faulty switches to 14.3 million registered vehicles over 10 years, capping the company's largest cumulative recall in history involving a single problem." Ford "has struggled for a decade with the problem, which has prompted hundreds of complaints and dozens of lawsuits over fires allegedly caused by faulty switches."

Bloomberg News (10/14) reports, "The voluntary recall affects models of vans and trucks including Windstars, Rangers, and Explorers. The switch, made by Texas Instruments Inc., can leak and then overheat, smoke, or burn." No "deaths or injuries are linked to the defect."

Read more about this recall and the involved vehicles.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Thousands of Chinese drywall claims and lawsuits expected.

The Biloxi (MS) Sun Herald (10/3, Newsom) reported, "It's believed enough Chinese drywall to build 100,000 houses was shipped to the United States as the Coast was rebuilding from Hurricane Katrina, and South Mississippi attorneys and others expect thousands of lawsuits over those products to emerge in the coming months." James R. Reeves Jr., "a Biloxi attorney representing about 90 Mississippi homeowners in the lawsuits," said that "as many as 16 companies making the drywall are owned by the Chinese government," and that he "is unaware of a legal judgment ever being enforced against that government. Reeves said most Mississippians may be a little more fortunate, though, because it appears about 90 percent of the suspected drywall here was made in Chinese factories by KPT, a subsidiary of the German-based company Knauf International GmbH, which is not owned by a government and has assets."
Lawmakers seek to hold Chinese drywall manufacturers accountable.

The New Orleans Times-Picayune (10/4, Mowbray) reported, "With estimates of $3 billion of damage in Louisiana and as many as 40,000 households nationwide facing financial ruin because of toxic homes they can't afford to fix, members of Congress, officials at the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission and the parties to the national litigation in New Orleans are scrambling to find ways to hold about 20 foreign drywall manufacturers accountable. A bill in the U.S. Senate, the Foreign Manufacturers Legal Accountability Act of 2009, sponsored by Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., and Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., would require foreign companies doing business in the United States to agree to participate in litigation in U.S. courts." Another tool "that groups such as the Consumer Federation of America think could help limit defective or dangerous foreign products would be to require overseas manufacturers to post bonds when they sell products in the United States so consumers could collect against them in the event of problems."

The Sarasota (FL) Herald Tribune (10/4, Kessler) reported on Jim and Joan Norton of Manatee County, FL, who "could very well turn out to be among the first owners to be sold a home built using Chinese drywall in Southwest Florida, and possibly anywhere." The discovery of Chinese drywall in the Nortons' 2002 home in WCI's Waterlefe Golf & River Club "could stretch out the timeline of the drywall problem, previously considered to have started in 2004, to a full seven years." WCI "has publicly claimed it did not use imported drywall prior to 2004."
Virginia congressman tours some affected homes. WAVY-TV Portsmouth, VA (10/4, Marks) on its website reported that on Saturday, Rep. Glenn Nye (D-VA) met with Virginia Beach residents affected by Chinese drywall, toured some of their homes, and said that "he has legislation proposed to speed up the process to get money for those affected."

Sunday, August 16, 2009


Mark Wolfe of Moore & Wolfe was recently invited to join the Top 100 Trial Lawyers in Alabama by the American Trial Lawyers Association (ATLA). The following is an excerpt from the ATLA web site: “The Association is a national organization composed of The Top 100 Trial Lawyers from each state. Membership is obtained through special invitation and is extended only to those attorneys who exemplify superior qualifications of leadership, reputation, influence, stature, and profile as civil plaintiff or criminal defense trial lawyers.” Mark is only the seventh lawyer from the Mobile/Baldwin County area to be invited to join ATLA. In 2008 Mark joined the prestigious Academy of Trial Advocacy (ATA) which is limited to 1000 members across the United States. He became only the second lawyer in Alabama to qualify for membership in the ATA.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Get Geico. Get Sued?

EVEN A CAVEMAN IS SMART ENOUGH TO KNOW THAT BEING SUED CAN ADVERSELY AFFECT HIS CONSUMER REPORTS. In a recent poll of auto-negligence lawyers across America, numerous attorneys who represent auto-collision injury victims say they are having to file more lawsuits to recover restitution for their clients when GEICO is involved. Steve Moore from M&W participated in the informal poll conducted through a national listserve for auto-negligence attorneys. “When we take on an auto-negligence claim for the victim, we explain it’s in their best interest if a fair settlement can be reached without having to file a lawsuit,” said Moore. He explained that lawsuits and litigation are expensive and time consuming for victims who are often in a difficult financial situation because of lost wages, co-pays and deductibles. “Companies like GEICO know Alabama procedural, regulatory and substantive laws are in their favor and they are really taking advantage of this situation,” he said. Moore went on to say that not only is GEICO taking advantage of the victim by making “ridiculously low” claim settlement offers but their own insureds as well. He explained that not only are lawsuits difficult for victims but it also means the at-fault drivers insured by GEICO are going to suffer. In Alabama even though the insurance company gets to control the payment, or non-payment, of a liability claim it’s their insured that must be named as the Defendant in a civil lawsuit for damages. Moore referenced the recent claim of one of his clients against GEICO as an example of just how unreasonable and difficult GEICO is being. The clients were rear-ended by a GEICO insured as they were stopped in traffic. GEICO’s last offer to settle the claim before litigation was less than the clients’ medical expenses and lost wages. “This is not a big case,” said Moore, “but GEICO has left our clients with the option of incurring an out-of-pocket loss of several hundred dollars or filing a lawsuit to try and recover full restitution." He noted that not only is GEICO re-victimizing the victim, but they are subjecting their own insured to the various adverse consequences of a civil lawsuit and possibly a civil judgment. "Being a Defendant in a civil lawsuit may have adverse consequences to consumer reports and is a factor to be disclosed on credit applications and job applications,” explained Moore. In closing he said, “I think the real cavemen at GEICO are the ones making these kind of unfair and unjust decisions.”

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Moore & Wolfe deemed "Most Highly Qualified."

Martindale-Hubbell, a peer review based attorney and law firm rating service, recently announced that the law firm of Moore & Wolfe has qualified for its Bar Register of Preeminent Lawyers. Michael Walsh, President and CEO for the company that monitors the peer review rating service (LexisNexis) reported that only 5% of all law firms in America qualify for this special listing.
"We are proud to be recognized as one of the few personal injury law firms in Alabama to qualify for this designation," said Steve Moore. In 2004, M&W was included in the top 15% of all American law firms when it received a prestigious AV rating from Martindale-Hubbell. Steve said, "I think the fact that we have now reached the top 5% shows we are continuing to improve and we are committed to always finding ways to improve our representation of injury victims."

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Moore & Wolfe Attorney Explains Victim's Rights to Educators

Moore & Wolfe attorney, Karlos Finley recently visited Blount High School to speak with teachers and administrators at the school regarding the protection of their rights following a motor vehicle accident. Mr. Finley spoke on the importance of first seeking medical treatment and then legal advice prior to signing any paperwork following an accident. The group of educators seemed surprised to hear that liability insurance adjusters will contact individuals who have been involved in auto accidents shortly after the accident and try to have them sign a release prior to getting any medical care or legal advice regarding their rights. The adjusters will often offer a few dollars to the victim as money for the victim’s "inconvenience." To get the money they tell the victim he or she must just simply sign some paperwork so the funds can be delivered. Mr. Finley laid out the typical scenario as follows:

ADJUSTER: Hello, Mr. Doe. This the adjuster with XYZ Insurance Company. I understand that you were in an automobile accident earlier today where my client ran into the back of your car. How do you feel?

MR. DOE: Oh, I’m fine. Just a little soreness in my neck and my low back’s a little stiff. It’ll probably go away in the next few days.

ADJUSTER: Well good Mr. Doe, I’m glad to hear that. Well I know you had to miss some time from work today because of this accident and it looks like our insured is at fault. I’d like to send you $75.00 today for your inconvenience. I just need you to sign some paperwork for my company so they can issue you the check........Oh by the way, I’m going to be out of town working some other claims for the next several weeks, so we need to take care of this today so I can get the check issued before I leave town. Are you near a fax machine?

MR. DOE: Yes sir! As a matter of fact, you can send it here to my work.

ADJUSTER: Good! I will fax this waiver over to you. You can sign it, and fax it back and I will put the check in the mail today.

MR. DOE: Well thank you very much sir. I appreciate that greatly.

Well of course Mr. Doe signs the waiver and release and Mr. Adjuster sends the check. By time the check gets to Mr. Doe, he is so sore that he can’t walk. It feels like his back is stiff and there are sharp shooting pains going down his back and legs. He calls Mr. Adjuster, only to receive a voice mail alerting him that all calls will be returned within 24 hours. Mr. Doe doesn’t know what to do next. So he waits 24 hours and calls back. The conversation goes something like this.

MR. DOE: Yes, Mr. Adjuster, my back and neck have really taken a turn for the worse. I’m experiencing a lot of pain now. I think I need some medical attention.

ADJUSTER: Well, Mr. Doe I’m really sorry to hear that, but our file has been closed on this claim.

MR. DOE: But what about the doctors bills I’m going to have to incur? I need go to the doctor. The pain has spread from my neck down my entire back and into my thighs.

ADJUSTER: Well I don’t know sir, if you have health insurance, they may cover it.

MR. DOE: But what about you? Your insured caused this accident. Aren’t you responsible for this.

ADJUSTER: No sir, remember the paperwork you signed a few days ago. That paperwork releases our company from any further liability as it relates to this accident. That was all explained in the paperwork you signed. We have nothing further to do with this situation.
MR. DOE: Well I think that I’m going to see a lawyer. I don’t think that’s right.

ADJUSTER: Well sir you go right ahead and talk to a lawyer. Just make sure you tell them you signed a Release of All Claims and cashed the check we sent you. They’ll tell you under Alabama law there’s nothing that you can do. As I said before, this claim has been closed and this company has no further obligation to you. Good day.

Mr. Finley explained that, unfortunately, this scenario happens all too often in our State. In Alabama our Appellate Courts have strictly construed releases and documents signed by victims and consumers. Simply put when you sign a document in our State you are deemed to have read and understood the terms and conditions in that document, no matter what someone else tells you the document says or means. See, Foremost Insurance Company v. Parham, 693 So.2d 409 (Ala. 1997). This means adjusters are free to work loosely with facts and implications in order to secure a victim’s signature on a Release. Mr. Finley concluded his presentation by explaining to the group that the above scenario had recently occured to one of their members. That memeber had invited Mr. Finley to address the group so others would not be victimized in the future.

Friday, May 1, 2009


Debunking the CIVIL LITIGATION Myths
from the American Association for Justice

Drug, oil, and insurance companies have spent millions of dollars to generate myths about how lawsuits are out of control and responsible for all of America’s ills. The facts tell a much different story.

Myth: The number of lawsuits filed is skyrocketing.
Not true. According to the Justice Department under President George W. Bush, the number of federal tort (personal injury) cases resolved in U.S. District Courts fell by 79 percent between 1985 and 2003. In 1985, 3,600 tort trials were decided by a judge or jury in U.S. District Courts. By 2003, that number had dropped to less than 800.(1)
Additionally, the most recent statistics from the Administration’s Bureau of Justice Statistics show the number of tort trials at the state level has decreased. These statistics were compiled as part of the Bureau’s survey of state civil justice systems in the nation’s largest 75 counties. Among these counties, the number of tort trials decreased 31.8 percent between 1992 and 2001. (2)

Myth: Health care costs are rising and doctors are unable to practice due to litigation.
Health care costs are rising; however, medical malpractice litigation has nothing to do with it. According to the Congressional Budget Office, medical malpractice amounted to less than 2 percent of overall health care spending.(3) The Government Accountability Office also found that malpractice cases have not widely affected access to health care. (4)
According to the American Medical Association, the overall number of physicians is up more than 40 percent since 19905, while over the same time, the U.S. population increased by only 18 percent.(6) The number of emergency physicians, neurosurgeons, and OB/GYNs has also increased significantly over the same time period.

Myth: Legal reform is needed because lawsuits hurt small businesses.
Wrong. Multiple surveys have shown that lawsuits are not a concern for small business owners. A survey from the National Association of Manufacturers suggests that “lawsuit abuse” ranks at the bottom of concerns for manufacturers.(7) A 2008 survey from National Federation of Independent Business had similar results, with “costs and frequency of lawsuits / threatened suits” ranking 65th on a list of small business owners’ worries. (8)
In reality, only big corporations and their front groups want to destroy the legal system so they can’t be held accountable for negligence and misconduct. Drug, oil, and insurance companies have tried to hide behind small business owners to accomplish this; however, these surveys reveal their true intentions.

Myth: Trial attorneys are trying to drive corporations out of business.
Absolutely not. Corporations, large and small, are all entitled to have profitable businesses. Most do so without being negligent or engaging in misconduct.
A strong civil justice system allows deserving individuals to get justice and hold wrongdoers accountable. Civil justice attorneys work to make sure all people have a fair chance through the legal system – even when it means taking on the most powerful corporations.

Myth: Lawsuits are out of control. Someone even sued because they spilled hot coffee on their lap!
Those looking to destroy the civil justice have continually mocked Stella Liebeck and the McDonald’s coffee case. Unfortunately, the actual facts of this case make it no laughing matter.
Ms. Liebeck’s injuries include third degree burns—the most severe—to her groin, inner thighs, and buttocks. She was hospitalized for eight days, during which time she underwent skin grafting and debridement treatments (the surgical removal of tissue).
Ms. Liebeck sought to settle her claim with McDonald’s for $20,000, but they refused. McDonald’s eventually produced documents showing more than 700 claims by people burned by its coffee between 1982 and 1993, some involving third degree burns similar to Ms. Liebeck. This history documented McDonald’s knowledge about the extent and nature of this hazard. McDonald’s own quality assurance manager testified that a burn hazard exists with any food served above 140 degrees; their coffee was kept warm at 185 degrees.
A jury awarded Ms. Liebeck $200,000 in compensatory damages, but reduced it to $160,000 because they found her 20 percent at fault for the spill. The jury also awarded her $2.7 million in punitive damages, equal to two days of McDonald’s coffee sales. This was eventually reduced to $480,000, even though the judge called McDonald’s conduct reckless, callous, and willful. Jurors expressed similar sentiments in interviews after the trial. Ms. Liebeck and McDonald’s eventually entered a post-verdict settlement.

Myth: Trial attorneys are charging outrageous hourly fees and leave victims with nothing if they win.
Civil justice attorneys do not charge by the hour like most other attorneys. Instead, their clients pay on what is called a “contingency fee basis.”
For over 200 years the contingency fee system has provided Americans who must go to court with a degree of access to justice that is unheard of in most other countries. Our system allows people who cannot afford to pay legal fees to obtain representation on a contingency fee basis. In personal injury and death cases, and in certain other types of litigation, the fee is based on a percentage of any money damages that are recovered.

Myth: My insurance rates are skyrocketing because of lawsuits.
Your insurance premiums may be going up, but it has nothing to do with lawsuits. Look no further than the insurance industry’s annual profit reporting. In 2007, insurance companies reported a near-record profit of $61.9 billion. In comparison, the insurance industry’s 2004 profit was $38.7 billion, which broke all previous records. Their profits continue to rise, and unfortunately, your premiums are following suit.
The insurance industry has also made the argument that awards and damages should be limited; however, have later admitted that caps will not lower premiums. For example, American Insurance Association spokesman Dennis Kelly told the Chicago Tribune in 2005 that, “We have not promised price reductions with tort reform.”

Myth: Lawsuits cost taxpayers X hundreds of dollars each year.
Several so-called “independent” think tanks or organizations have devised the notion that American families pay a yearly “tort tax,” or that the cost of litigation is passed on to taxpayers. These organizations, funded by oil, drug, tobacco, and insurance companies, produce studies that are a prime example of junk science. There is no methodology or academic basis for their results. Trying to pass off these organizations and their studies as legitimate is yet another scheme by corporations to avoid accountability in the courtroom and stack the deck against every day Americans.

Myth: Schools are canceling recess because they are afraid of litigation.
Wrong. School districts across the country are almost universal in blaming the elimination of recess on the need to meet requirements for teaching and testing hours.(9)

Myth: People aren’t volunteering to help with Little League, Boy / Girl Scouts, etc., because they are afraid of lawsuits.
Wrong again. Similar to the previous myth, these lies are peddled by groups interested in destroying the civil justice system.
The Volunteer Protection Act of 1997 was passed to provide immunity for volunteers of nonprofits in the course of their charity work.
1. "Federal Tort Trials and Verdicts, 2002-03”, Bureau of Justice Statistics, 8/17/05
2. "Civil Trial Cases and Verdicts in Large Counties, 2001”, Bureau of Justice Statistics, 4/04
3. "Congressional Budget Office, “Limiting Tort Liability for Medical Malpractice,” 1/08/04
4. “Medical Malpractice: Implications of Rising Premiums on Access to Health Care,” GAO, 9/29/03,
5. “Physician Characteristics and Distribution in the U.S.,” American Medical Association, 2006 edition, p.312
6. U.S. Census Bureau data:
http://factfinder.census.gov/servlet/SAFFPopulation?_submenuId=population_0&_sse=on; http://factfinder.census.gov/servlet/DTTable?_bm=y&-geo_id=01000US&-ds_name=PEP_2005_EST&-mt_name=PEP_2005_EST_G2005_T001
7. “National Manufacturing Week 2006 Annual Survey Results,” National Association of Manufacturers, http://www.nam.org/s_nam/doc1.asp?CID=6&DID=236617
8. “Small Business Problems and Priorities,” National Federation of Independent Business, http://www.nfib.com/object/2008problemspriorities.html
9. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/05/31/AR2006053101949_pf.html; http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/local/191407_recess18.html; http://online.wsj.com/public/article/SB116044203663787613-OWTfLOXAilkTcNPcqP3tS75OWcE_20061108.html?mod=tff_main_tff_top

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Thursday, April 23, 2009

Wolfe Speaks at New Jersey Seminar

Moore & Wolfe attorney, Mark Wolfe recently did a presentation for New Jersey attorneys on Practice Building. The presentation was done in Atlantic City at the New Jersey Association for Justice's annual Boardwalk seminar. The Boardwalk seminar is one the largest programs in the United States for personal injury attorneys and consumer advocate attorneys. This year's program had over 1100 attorneys register according to Christie Reha of AAJ-NJ. The two day program featured speakers from all over the United States.

Monday, March 23, 2009

GMAC Insurance Adjuster Fails to Disclose Facts

When a GMAC Insurance adjuster offered a claimant $1,742.88 to settle her bodily injury claim, the adjuster led the claimant to believe that would all be her money. The adjuster failed to tell the claimant she would have to repay her health insurance company out of that money. Lucky for the claimant, before she accepted the settlement proceeds and signed the release, she contacted Steve Moore at Moore & Wolfe. Steve reviewed the facts of the motor vehicle collision and the claim with her. He pointed out the fine print in the proposed release that said the claimant would have to pay back her health insurance company from the settlement proceeds. "In this case, it appears the health insurance company's subrogation claim will exceed the $1700 offer, so she would've received no benefit from the settlement," said Moore.

In Alabama bodily injury claimants have two things working against them when trying to deal with an insurance adjuster. First, liability insurance adjusters are considered adversaries and therefore claimants are not entitled to rely on statements made by adjusters. In some stunning case law, our Courts have said claimants should know better than to rely on a representation made by a liability adjuster. The second factor that works against claimants is that a signed document trumps an oral representation. This is because in Alabama if you sign your name to a document, you are deemed to have read and understood the content and terms of the document, no matter what somone may have told you.

In the situation above, even though the adjuster said or implied the settlement funds would belong to the claimant, the release said otherwise. If she had signed the release and accepted the funds, then she would have been stuck paying her health insurance company back even though the adjuster may have said or implied otherwise.
This just another example of the difficulties faced by personal injury victims and claimants in Alabama. At M&W we have been advocating and lobbying for an Insurance Claimant's Bill of Rights for many years. Simply put, we need legislation to protect claimants in these type situations. Moore said, "we see situations every day where legitimate claimants suffer because the rules and regulations of our State benefit the insurance companies over the rights of the victim."

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Finley Attends Ala Constitution Convention

Karlos Finley of Moore& Wolfe recently attended the Mock Constitution Convention sponsored by the Alabama Citizens For Constitutional Reform Foundation (ACCR) at the Marriott Legends Conference Center in Prattville, Alabama. The Honorable Albert Brewer and The Honorable Gorman Houston served as Convention Deans. Karlos served as a delegate for House District 97. 105 citizens representing each of Alabama’s House Districts convened to discuss drafting a new State Constitution that would replace the current one which was drafted and ratified at the Constitution Convention of 1901. The issues that got the most attention were the state’s tax structure (Property v. Sales), home rule, education funding, racist language contained within the current constitution, and the cost of amending the current constitution close to 800 times. State Representative Demetrius Newton spoke to the group about the proposed House Resolution (HJR-91) that is before the legislature now. It would allow the citizens of Alabama to vote on allowing a Constitutional Convention to be held in order to replace the 1901 document. "A Constitutional Convention is our best chance to adequately address all of the issues that our current constitution has.", expressed Mr. Newton. The documentary "It’s a Thick Book", was shown and given a standing ovation. It is available for viewing, along with Alabama’s 1901 Constitution at the ACCR website, http://www.constitutionalreform.org./ The group will meet again in the State’s Capital on April 25-26, 2009 for a second session to build on the work of this session. The Delegates will unveil the final product of the Mock Convention on August 27, 2009.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Dangerous Drugs and Medical Devices

The following drugs and/or medical devices have been linked to injuries and/or death of patients. Many are now the subject of mass tort actions. If you think you may have a claim, please contact our office and we can help you locate the primary attorneys and law firms handling these claims and cases: mcw2@moore-wolfe.com

Accutane - (isotretinoin) used as an acne treatment but has shown to have side effects of depression, suicidal thoughts/actions, birth defects and may cause inflammatory bowel disease resulting in severe permanent complications.

Bextra - (valbecoxib) used as a treatment for mild to severe arthritis (osteoarthritis & rheumatoid arthritis) and other chronic pain. Bextra has been linked to heart attacks, strokes, gastrointestinal problems and Steven Johnson syndrome, a potentially fatal skin condition. Drug recalled in April 2005.

Boniva - ibandronate sodium tablet taken once-a-month to treat or prevent osteoporosis. Boniva, a bisphosonate, the family of drugs shown to cause osteonecrosis (death) of the jaw bone.

Digitek - (digoxin tablets) used in the treatment of congestive heart failure and other heart-related problems. In April 2008, healthcare professionals were notified of a recall of all strengths of Digitek due to the possibility that the tablets may contain twice the approved level of the active ingredient. Digitalis toxicity can cause nausea, vomiting, dizziness, low blood pressure and cardiac instability.

Fosamax - (alendronate sodium) used for bone pain, fractures and bone loss. Side effects linked to Fosamax have been; osteoneocrosis of the jaw (dead jawbone), muscle & joint pain, headaches, abdominal problems, eye discomfort or skin rash.

Gadolinium - serves as a contrasting agent within the patient's body during MRI or MRA. Gadolinium became popular with the medical community because it aided doctors in seeing the patient's internal structures more clearly. Prolonged exposure to gladolinium can result in the development of Nephrogenic Systemic Fibrosis (NSF - a.k.a., Nephrogenic Fibrosing Dermopathy or NFD.) The results of these disorders lead to thick, coarse, hard skin, severely restricting the movement of joints.

Ketek - (telithromycin) in the class of drugs called ketolide antibiotics and is used for treating bacterial infections of the sinuses and lungs. Associated side effects have been, liver damage, liver disease, liver failure and hepatitis.

Kugel Mesh Patch - designed to make hernia operations easier and to reduce post-op surgical pain. Problems started to surface in 2002 shortly after the introduction of the large and x-large models of the hernia mesh patch. The flexible plastic "memory recoil ring" is prone to breakage causing injury to internal organs & tissue, bowel perforations, bowel obstructions and chronic enteric fistulas.

Ortho Evra - transdermal system birth control, better known as "The Patch." In November 2005, FDA warned that the patch exposes women to higher levels of estrogen than most birth control pills and puts the user at an increased risk for blood clots, strokes and heart attacks.

Paxil - (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor - SSRI) used as a treatment for depression, anxiety and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). This drug is linked with suicidal behavior, violent behavior and a rare birth defect (if taken at 20 weeks of a pregnancy or later) called persistent pulmonary hypertension (PPHN).

Prisma Dialysis - a type of kidney dialysis system with built-in alarms that alert the user of potential fluid imbalance that has occurred during the course of the dialysis treatment. If these alarms are missed, ignored or unresolved, excessive fluid may be removed from the patient resulting in serious injury or death.

Quinine - typically used to treat malaria, quinine was also used for the treatment of nocturnal leg cramps. In 1994, the FDA banned the use of quinine as a night-time leg cramp treatment, but, in spite of the ban, several pharmaceutical companies that manufactured the drug continued to promote, market and sell quinine as a treatment for nocturnal leg cramps. Use of quinine for treating leg cramps can lead to cardiac arrhythmia, renal failure, blindness, hearing loss, and quinine related blood disorders.

ReNu - ReNu with MoistureLoc® Solution is a saline solution used with contact lenses. The makers of this solution issued a recall in April 2006 because the solution was linked with a serious fungal eye infection, Fusarium keratitis. This infection is an inflammation of the eye's cornea and, if not properly treated, can lead to blindness.

Stevens-Johnson Syndrome - (SJS) usually results from a drug-related allergic reaction. SJS symptoms are characterized by facial swelling, tongue swelling, hives, skin pain, red or purple rash that spreads, blisters on the skin (especially mucous membranes, nose, mouth & eyes) and shedding (sloughing) of skin.

Tequin - (gatifloxacin) used to treat lung, sinus and other bacterial infections and is linked to hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) and hyperglycemia (high blood sugar), which can lead to seizure, coma or death. The maker of Tequin stopped selling the drug as of April 27, 2006.Trasylol - (aprotinin) used to help reduce blood loss during heart bypass surgery. Use of the drug is now linked with an increased risk of kidney failure, heart attack, stroke and death.

Viagra - (sildenafil) used for impotency and erectile dysfunction. Viagra has been linked to vision problems, blindness and deadly nitrate interaction.

Vioxx - (rofecoxib) prescribed for rheumatoid arthritis and chronic pain. Side effects have been gastrointestinal problems, heart attacks, strokes and death. Vioxx was recalled in September 2004.

Zelnorm - (tegaserod maleate) for short-term treatment of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and chronic constipation. Sales of Zelnorm were suspended in March 2007 after reports of adverse side effects such as, heart attack and stroke. As of April 2008, Zelnorm is now further restricted to treating only the sickest patients who have IBS.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Health Insurance Companies May Be Under Paying Claims

What happens if you are traveling and have to visit a hospital or doctor? Or what happens if you need to see a local doctor immediately who may not be in your health insurance company's “approved network of doctors?” You would expect your health insurance company to pay a reasonable amount towards those bills, wouldn’t you? But that doesn’t always happen.
Recent cases from across the country indicate health insurance companies may be significantly under paying out-of-network claims. This means consumers are unfairly left to pay the balance of these charges. In a recent Federal case, California based Health Net Inc. agreed to repay $215 million to its customers for using an out dated and lower than reasonable payment schedule for out-of-network claims. The company also agreed to spend $40 million to update its claims processing protocol to avoid this problem in the future.
DO YOU THINK YOU’VE BEEN THE VICTIM OF AN UNDERPAYMENT FOR AN OUT-OF-NETWORK CLAIM? Please call us or e-mail us at mcw2@moore-wolfe.com and put “underpayment” in the subject line. You may be entitled to a refund.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

State Farm Must Pay Victim

A Mobile County jury ruled against State Farm and in favor of their insured in a civil trial that concluded on January 7th. Moore & Wolfe attorneys, Steve Moore and Karlos Finley, represented Francilla Ridgeway during the two day trial. Ms. Ridgeway was the victim of a serious motor vehicle collision that occured on Novemebr 14, 2006 near Chickasaw. The collision occured as she moved into an intersection with a green light and was hit by an Alabama State Trooper vehicle that was involved in a high speed chase. The jury concluded after only about an hour and a half of deliberation that State Farm owed their insured $100,000.

The trooper was pursuing Daniel Keith Gibson who, just seconds before the collision, had gone through the intersection at over 90 miles per hour and was headed directly towards a school zone just a block away. Ms. Ridgeway testified at trial that she did not see or hear the approaching trooper vehicle. When pressed on cross examination by State Farm's attorney, Ms. Ridgeway said she was distracted by Gibson's vehicle and when her light turned green she moved into the intersection but was looking down the road in the direction of the fleeing vehicle. That afternoon, Gibson led law enforcement officers on a high speed chase through Mobile, Saraland and Chickasaw. He admitted to speeds in excess of 140 miles per hour and said he attempted to ellude police because he, "didn't want another speeding ticket."

State Farm, who provided underinsured motorist coverage to Ms. Ridgeway, never offered her any of those benefits under the policy, claiming Daniel Keith Gibson was not at-fault in causing the collision which left Ms. Ridgeway with over $24,000 in medical bills. They maintained this position even though Mr. Gibson's insurance carrier had earlier paid his policy limits to Ms. Ridgeway. "Underinsured motorist coverage is a safety net that you pay a premium for," explained Steve Moore. "If you are injured through the fault of someone else and they don't have enough insurance to cover all of your damages, then you can use your underinsured motorist coverage to make up the difference," he explained.

Besides incurring over $24,000 in medical expenses, Ms. Ridgeway lost almost $8,000 in wages as she recovered from shoulder surgery necessitated by the collision. At trial, State Farm said the accident was not the fault of Mr. Gibson but rather the fault of Ms. Ridgeway, in closing argument State Farm's attorney even implied that Ms. Ridgeway lied under oath when she said she was not on her cell phone at the time of the collision as he suggested maybe she was distracted by talking on her cell phone.

"For over two years State Farm has refused to pay the benefits owed under this policy by continuously blaming Ms. Ridgeway for this accident. She was an innocent victim of Mr. Gibson's idiotic decison to run from the police," said Moore in closing argument. Ms. Ridgeway is a single mother of four with her oldest son in college at the University of South Alabama. She testified that every month for years and years she struggled to pay her insurance premiums to State Farm, which she said were about $70 per month. "At her income level she had to work about 10 hours every month just to cover her premiums and this is what she gets for her hard work," her attorneys told jurors in closing argument referencing State Farm's blaming her for the collision.

For additional information on this story visit the Mobile Register online.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Innocent Victim of High Speed Chase has to sue her own Insurance Carrier for Benefits

The Mobile Press Register recently reported on an interesting case pending in Mobile County involving a State Farm insured who was an innocent victim of a high speed chase. On November 14, 2006 Francilla Ridgeway was injured when a State Trooper vehicle collided with her vehicle at an intersection in Chickasaw, AL. Ms. Ridgeway entered the intersection on a green light and did not see or hear the approaching Trooper vehicle. The Trooper was engaged in a high speed pursuit of a fleeing motorist who had led law enforcement on a 30-40 minute high speed chase throughout the Mobile, Saraland and Chickasaw area. The fleeing motorist, Daniel Gibson, was driving a highly modified Ford Focus and admitted to traveiling in excess of 140 miles per hour and driving recklessly as he attempted to evade the pursuing law enforcement officers.

Ms. Ridgeway originally named Gibson as a defendant in the civil action claiming his negligence or wantonness caused the collision with the Trooper vehicle. Mr Gibson's insurance company paid their liability limits but the amount was insufficient to cover the full extent of Ms. Ridgeway's injuries. Under her policy with State Farm, Ms. Ridgeway has "underinsured" motorist coverage which provides additional benefits if an at-fault driver does not have enough liability coverage. State Farm denied Ms. Ridgeway's claim and never offered any underinsured motorist benefits to her claiming the collision was not Mr. Gibson's fault but rather Ms. Ridgeway's fault for not seeing the oncoming Trooper even though she entered the intersection with a green light.

Steve Moore, Ms. Ridgeway's attorney said he elected not to sue the Trooper involved in the incident because he did not believe he did anything wrong. "While some people may look at this situation and say the Trooper should have backed off from the pursuit or maybe he should have gone through the red light at a slower speed, I just felt legally the person who should be accountable is the person who caused this situation to begin with and that is Daniel Gibson." State Farm "stands in the shoes" of Mr. Gibson for any damages he may legally owe Ms. Ridgeway per the terms and conditions of the underinsured motorist provisions of their policy with Ms. Ridgeway. "They do not want to pay benefits that Ms. Ridgeway paid a premium for so they argue that the accident wasn't Mr. Gibson's fault and have forced their insured to litigate this case," said Moore.

The Mobile Press Register online at al.com has more on this story.