CT Legislators Receive Weekly Civil Justice News from CTLA

08/28/2015 // Hartford, CT, USA // cttriallawyers // Neil Ferstand // (press release)

An ongoing effort by the Connecticut Trial Lawyers Association to transmit a variety of news items reflecting the importance and extent to which civil justice and the civil justice system enters our lives. Legislators this week received news of possible legal action being considered by Planned Parenthood against the pro-life organization that secretly used manipulated videos in an attempt to discredit its fetal tissue program. Additional news items include allegations against Costco for its alleged knowledge of the use of slavery by companies involved in its food supply chain, the recall of millions of tubes of toothpaste after consumers found the contents included wood fragments and, an FDA warning letter to Frito-Lay stating its Tennessee plant was dirty and poorly maintained. In other FDA news, the Agency has warned makers of medical scopes that have been associated with “superbug” outbreaks saying the companies failed to disclose problems associated with cleaning the devices.

Planned Parenthood: Videos illegal

Planned Parenthood is considering legal action against the pro-life organization that has released a series of secretly recorded videos scrutinizing the health provider’s fetal tissue donation program.

In an exclusive interview with The Hill, Planned Parenthood Executive Vice President Dawn Laguens said she believes the videos are illegal and that her organization is "considering everything" in going after the Center for Medical Progress, the group behind the videos.

"I absolutely do believe that they have violated laws in terms of how they secured these videos," she said in an interview at the group's Washington, D.C., headquarters. "But the fraud is also in how they have presented them and in the editing."



Costco faces a lawsuit alleging it knew about slavery practices in supply chain

The Guardian conducted an investigation last year that uncovered human trafficking practices in the Thai fishing sector. Men were regularly sold to work on fishing boats where they endured “horrific conditions, including 20-hour shifts, regular beatings, torture and execution-style killings. Some were at sea for years and some had seen fellow slaves murdered in front of them.” These men and their work became integral to the production of farmed shrimp, which are bought by the world’s four largest retailers — Walmart, Carrefour, Tesco, and Costco.


Organic food recalls up sharply in 2015

The New York Times (8/20, B3, Strom, Subscription Publication, 11.82M) reports that Stericycle, a waste disposal firm that conducts product recalls for businesses, said in its quarterly recall report that based on FDA and Department of Agriculture data, organic food product recalls increased from 2 percent of all food products last year to 7 percent this year. Stericycle Vice President Kevin Pollack said, “What’s striking is that since 2012, all organic recalls have been driven by bacterial contamination, like salmonella, listeria and hepatitis A, rather than a problem with a label. This is a fairly serious and really important issue because a lot of consumers just aren’t aware of it.”  
 Bloomberg News (8/20, Patton, 2.66M) reports that recalls on contaminated food “are on pace to surge this year from 2014,” as bacteria are being found “in everything from ice cream to spinach.” Data show that 3.7 million US food items have been recalled in the first half of the year, compared to a total of 5.03 million in 2014.

GSK recalls 3.9 million tubes of toothpaste because of wood fragments.

Fierce Pharma Manufacturing (8/21, Palmer, 139) reports that GlaxoSmithKline is recalling 3.9 million tubes of Biotene and Sensodyne toothpaste from the US, Puerto Rico, and Taiwan because “fragments of wood were found when the product was extruded onto a toothbrush,” according to the FDA Enforcement Report.
 Fierce Pharma (8/21, Palmer, 3K) reports that this recall may hurt GSK’s push to sell OTC products.

DOJ says gay couples eligible for Social Security benefits

The New York Times (8/21, Bernard, Subscription Publication, 11.82M) reports that same-sex married couples “who were living in states that did not recognize their unions and who previously filed claims for Social Security benefits will be able to collect those payments, the government said on Thursday.” The Justice Department told attorneys for a pair of plaintiffs that the Social Security Administration “would apply the Supreme Court’s June ruling declaring that marriage is a constitutional right, Obergefell v. Hodges, retroactively.” However, the Post says that details remain unclear.

The Hill (8/21, Becker, 471K) reports that Lambda Legal said the Justice Department announced the policy change on Thursday in federal court on Thursday, “more than a month after the Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage.” Susan Sommer of Lambda Legal “said the government’s decision ‘could right a wrong for hundreds of same-sex spouses’ who lived in the 11 states that didn’t recognize same-sex marriages before the Supreme Court’s decision in June.” Sommer said the decision “will hopefully pave the way for widows and widowers who lived in those states to get spousal benefits, and make it easier for same-sex couples to get retiree benefits.”

Justice Dept. Presses Civil Rights Agenda in Local Courts
WASHINGTON — Burlington, Wash., was a small city fighting what seemed like a local lawsuit. Three poor people said that their public lawyers were too overworked to adequately represent them in municipal court cases. The dispute went mostly unnoticed for two years, until the Obama administration became involved. Unannounced, the Justice Department filed documents in the case and told the judge that he had broad authority to demand changes in Burlington and nearby Mount Vernon. The judge quickly agreed and ordered the cities to hire a new public defense supervisor. He also said he would monitor their legal aid program for three years.



Merck recalls Temodar bottles due to broken child-proof caps

The AP (8/19) reports that Merck is recalling 276,000 bottles of its chemotherapy drug Temodar (temozolomide) “because the child-proof caps on the pill bottles may be cracked,” though Merck “says the problem affects about 1,100 bottles out of the 276,000 total.” The recall covers both the drug marketed under its name brand and its generic name, which is made and packaged by Merck, but sold by Novartis’ Sandoz unit.

MarketWatch (8/19, 901K) and Medscape (8/19, 232K) also report.


FDA issues warning letter to Frito-Lay factory in Tennessee.

Bloomberg News (8/18, Kaplan, 2.66M) reports that the Food and Drug Administration has issued a warning letter to PepsiCo Inc.’s Frito-Lay factory in Tennessee. The agency “said the plant was dirty and poorly maintained – with chocolate-chip cookie dough and other ingredients leaking out of machines.” The FDA conducted an inspection in May and June and found “serious violations” of manufacturing, storing products regulations. According to the article, “the company is now working to address the violations.”

FDA warns makers of medical scopes in wake of deadly ‘superbug’ outbreaks

The Food and Drug Administration has sent warning letters to manufacturers of a specialized medical scope that has been associated with outbreaks of a deadly “superbug,” saying the companies failed to adequately report problems with the devices and, in some instances, failed to ensure that they could be cleaned properly between uses.
The warnings come after the devices, known as duodenoscopes, have been linked in recent years to outbreaks of tough-to-fight bacterial infections involving carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae, or CRE.


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