If you have undergone heart surgery recently, chances are a Stockert 3T Heater/Cooler was used during their procedure. LivaNova PLC, the manufacturer of the 3T, controls roughly 60% of the market for such heating/cooling devices. During a cardiac surgery, the patient’s body temperature is regulated through the use of the 3T’s temperature-controlled water tanks while the heart is stopped. Such heater/coolers have been known to improve patient outcomes.

However, LivaNova is facing growing scrutiny as many patients have acquired life-threatening infections after their surgeries due to the 3T. This machine utilizes three water tanks to properly regulate the patient’s body temperature, and some of that water is released from the machine in the form of water vapor. When this happens, a strain of mycobacteria called Mycobacterium chimaera, which is commonly found in drinking water, can be blown into the air and land on the patient’s surgical wound or infect sterile equipment. This can cause an often-deadly infection called nontuberculous mycobacteria (NTM). It may take several months or years for the symptoms of the infection to appear, but once they do, the patient only has a 50% chance of survival. Anywhere between 1/100-1/1,000 patients will become infected during their heart surgery.

Immediately consult your cardiologist if you or someone you love has had heart surgery in the last several years and is now experiencing one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Prolonged Fever
  • Muscle or Joint Pain
  • Nausea or Vomiting
  • Redness or Pus around the Surgical Site

LivaNova issued a Class 2 recall for all of its 3T devices, acknowledging the risk of NTM infection in 2015. Later that same year, the FDA issued an import restriction on the 3T after inspections of LivaNova’s manufacturing facilities in Munich, Germany and Colorado. They were found to have violated FDA Quality Systems Regulations. The FDA has issued other warnings and consumer suggestions in the time since. Many hospitals have since sent warning letter to former patients apologizing for using the 3T during their surgeries and warning them of potential infection exposure. This response by hospitals was directed by the CDC via advisory notice, which you can read [HERE]


opiate abuse

Just within the past several months, new and staggering statistics have surfaced that really place into perspective the overall scope and devastation of the opioid epidemic that is currently ravaging just about each and every community in the country.

To begin with the Centers for Disease Control issued their annual Vital Signs report that details, among other things, the number of ER visits that were reported to be associated with opioid abuse.  The report concludes just over a 30% increase in ER visits from July 2016 to September 2017.  All indicators show the epidemic getting far worse than originally anticipated.  Read the vital signs report here.

Next the US Surgeon General, just this past month, made an unprecedented announcement advising in essence the need to have Narcan, the opiate-reversing agent, “within reach” and to know how to use it.  His statement read:

I, Surgeon General of the United States Public Health Service, VADM Jerome Adams, am emphasizing the importance of the overdose-reversing drug naloxone. For patients currently taking high doses of opioids as prescribed for pain, individuals misusing prescription opioids, individuals using illicit opioids such as heroin or fentanyl, health care practitioners, family and friends of people who have an opioid use disorder, and community members who come into contact with people at risk for opioid overdose, knowing how to use naloxone and keeping it within reach can save a life.


See more about the Surgeon General’s alert here.

Finally, counties, municipalities and other third parties continue to file lawsuits in Federal Court seeking to hold both manufacturers and distributors of opiates responsible.

With legal representation for said counties and municipalities across the country on a contingency-fee basis, there is zero risk and zero reason why counties and municipalities across the country should not be seeking redress and contributing to the fight to end America’s greatest public health crisis.

After nearly four weeks from the tragic events that left 59 people dead and scores of individuals scarred for life both physically and emotionally, the questions are beginning to surface about liability.

At the center of this inquiry lies the Mandalay Bay Hotel.  The question persists, how could the hotel not have seen or caught on to the arsenal of 23 assault rifles brought into the room by the high roller gambler?  Or, perhaps, was it his high-rolling at the hotel that caused the hotel to not pay attention?  These questions abound and will no doubt be at the center of what is likely to be a number of lawsuits that will follow from the tragic events.

Wouldn’t it be interesting to juxtapose the level of scrutiny and “watching” that is done on the casino floor with the level of “watching” that occurs off the casino floor?

In an industry where large consistent winnings can buy you a trip out of the casino, as well as an invitation to never come back, why and how can it be so difficult to spot a single individual hauling bag after bag large enough to hold assault weapons?

And is there liability beyond the hotel?  Does the concert venue and promoter have a responsibility to protect concert goers from such dangers?

Without question, dangers and risks are forseeable at a concert.  Such foreseeable dangers are reflected by the fact security is always present.  This includes guns and gun fire.

But defense will no doubt argue that an attack on this level is not foreseeable and they will point to the fact that such has never occurred on this level before.

But what about the night club events in Florida that left nearly 50 dead?  Does that same event not create foreseeability on the part of the concert promoters and venue?

These will likely be questions that will have to be decided by a judge at the summary judgement level, and if allowed to proceed, it will be the people of Clark County Nevada, and other jurisdictions who will get to determine what the standard of care is required of hotels and concert venues in like or similar circumstances.

At the Ochs Law Firm our hearts absolutely ache for the families hurt by this horrific tragedy.  We believe justice should be sought and accountability should be had and that the community should have the opportunity to declare the standard of care.

In a bombshell report early this October, the New York Times released an article exposing over three decades of sexual misconduct by Hollywood mega-producer, Harvey Weinstein. As a result, I am taking a brief detour from our usual “product safety” blog posts, and in light of the many sexual conduct cases I have handled over the years (both civilly and criminally as a former prosecutor myself), and in response to a number of people who have asked me, what kind of civil and criminal remedies, if any, may be available to the Weinstein victims, I have attempted to provide my best “quick” analysis of same here.

Weinstein’s acts include sexual battery, sexual harassment, and even rape. Allegations from dozens of different women subordinates in his company accused Weinstein of lude behavior at their offices and in various hotels across the United States and Europe. Many of the allegations followed the same pattern: Weinstein, using his status as their boss, would leverage career opportunities for sexual favors. If and when the women refused, he would persist and in some cases become violent. The companies would pay off the women to keep quiet after the encounter. Women who accepted these further agreed to abide by a confidentially clause written into their employment contracts. These stated that they could not harm the “business reputation” of the company or its employees.

Civilly, it is unlikely that Weinstein can be charged. This is because the states he has been accused of misconduct in, California and New York, have a very narrow statute of limitations for one to bring such an accusation to trial, one to two years. Most of the assaults happened in the 1990s, so there will not be a remedy for those victims in a civil court of law.

This is not to say, however, that Weinstein cannot face justice. Actress Lucia Evans claims Weinstein forced her to perform oral sex in his New York City office in 2004. This would be classified as felony sexual assault under state law. There is no statute of limitations for this crime in New York, meaning that Weinstein could potentially go to court over the accusation.

Prosecutors face two major obstacles in getting this case on the docket. First, due to the fact that the crime happened 13 years ago, there is little to no forensic evidence. Attorneys for Evans would have to rely on Weinstein’s pattern of abuse and confession, in which he appears to admit to abusing multiple women. Secondly, the Manhattan District Attorney, Cyrus Vance Jr, must agree to prosecute the case. He has already refused to move forward with sexual battery charges against Weinstein, making the future of Evans’s case look increasingly bleak. Former New York City prosecutor told The Guardian: “I don’t think he’s going to bend to political pressure. As much as what [Weinstein] did is deplorable, I don’t think they are going to charge a crime that is unlikely to result in a conviction.”

The Weinstein Company could also be charged with facilitating an environment where sexual misconduct was allowed to happen. Weinstein’s behavior was well-known within the company according to the NYT. The Board for Directors fired Weinstein after the assertions were made public as a way to express that they do not condone his behavior. It will be up a jury if that action is enough when weighing if the company owes the victims damages.

Weinstein has been fired from his own company and is regarded as a social pariah in Hollywood. These informal sanctions do not come anywhere near providing justice for the women deserve whom he hurt.

Johnson & Johnson (J&J) suffered yet another major blow to its brand on Monday August 21st, when a Los Angeles County judge ordered them to pay $417 million in damages to a plaintiff who alleged she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer as a result of using their talcum power products. While this is certainly not the first case regarding J&J’s powder to be decided upon, it is the the largest verdict to date. Three verdicts have been made to victims in Missouri for a total of $237 million this year, too.

Johnson and Johnson, after having broken records in 2016 for record verdicts against a major company in one year, apparently is looking to even break last year’s record year with the year it continues to have in 2017.  See more here.

Talc is a clay-based mineral derived from both magnesium and silicon. Many times, these elements are mined in close proximity to asbestos, and there is a possibility of contamination. For this reason, steps are prevented to promote quality control.

Eva Echeverria, age 63, started using J&J’s talcum product when she was eleven years old. She did this, like many Americans, to sooth irritation and prevent chafing on her inner thigh and groin. Echeverria was under the impression that the powder was safe.  Her case is just one of the over 4,500 nationwide and the over 300 in California pending.

Many studies suggest that there is a link between talcum-based powder use and eventual ovarian cancer diagnosis. The first of these reports dates back to 1971, where Welsh scientists found traces of talc in both ovarian and cervical tumors in patients that had used the products for an extended period of time. Another study, which was cited by plaintiff’s attorneys, stated that there was a 92% increase in ovarian cancer in patients that used talcum powder.

A third study done by Harvard Medical School in conjunction with the National Nurse Health Study gave ambiguous results, which can be capitalized on by attorneys for both plaintiffs and defendants. While the conclusion of the study stated that there was not a connection between talc and ovarian cancer, it does state that there is a “modest elevation in risk” for one variety of the disease, the type Echeverria was diagnosed with. Many other unmentioned analyses take a similar tone: While they cannot definitively say that talc leads to cancer, researchers are not so quick to dismiss any cause-effect relationship between the two.

Talc, if it is placed around the genitals, is classified by the International Agency for Research on Cancer as a possible carcinogen.

Ovarian cancer accounts for 1.3% of all diagnosed cancers in the United States, and less than 50% of all women diagnosed survive five years after a tumor is found.

While this was a victory for patients in the short term, J&J stated that they are planning to appeal the decision. Attorneys for J&J are confident that they will be successful because “[they] are guided by the science, which supports the safety of Johnson’s Baby Powder.”

While that claim is certainly up for debate, here’s hoping that everyone that has been afflicted by ovarian cancer by way of J&J’s talculm powder products gets the justice they deserve.


The World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) recently declared the weed killer Roundup a “probable human carcinogen” amidst numerous studies linking it to non-Hodkin’s lymphoma, multiple myeloma, and leukemia. A number of journal reviews have specifically linked Roundup to non-Hodgkin lymphoma, including studies performed by the International Journal of Cancer, Occupational and Environmental Medicine, and Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers.

Roundup, a popular weed killer, is used both residentially and commercially to prevent the growth of weeds. The active chemical in Roundup, glyphosate, inhibits an enzyme that is critical to the growth and development of plant life. The chemical, produced by Monsanto, took off in popularity in the 90’s and is currently used on over half the farmlands in the United States.

It is likely that glyphosate is in the food supply as it is used on over half of the farmlands. The USDA, however, does not test foods for glyphosate. They did test food in 2011 and found ranges between .26 and 18.5 ppm, below the 20 ppm limit set by the EPA. A study published by the journal Entropy in 2013 found that residue from Roundup could enhance the damage caused by other toxins.

The strongest link seems to exist between Roundup and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL), with one study indicating that individuals exposed to glyphosate are twice as likely to contract NHL. NHL is a cancer of the lymphatic system. Signs of NHL include swollen lymph nodes, abdominal pain, chest pain or coughing, fever, fatigue, and weight loss. A physician can diagnose NHL through imaging tests, blood tests, and a biopsy of the lymph nodes.

For their part, Monsanto adamantly denies that glyphosate may increase the risk of cancer, noting a lack of new research, evidence, or scientific data. Bottles of Roundup do not warn of any carcinogens or of the fact the chemical glyphosate has been linked to NHL. Several individuals, including a farmer and a horticulturist who developed cancer after extensive exposure to glyphosate have filed suit against Monsanto.