Saturday, October 22, 2005

Lookout world, the USA is poised to give gun makers unprecedented immunity from lawsuits brought by victims of gun violence.

The US Congress passed the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, H.R. 800 at the urging of the National Rifle Association (N.R.A.), a powerful gun lobby. The bill immunizes gun manufacturers, dealers, distributors and trade associations from lawsuits. Even dealers that negligently sell guns to traffickers are immune from lawsuits. When signed by President Bush, the gun industry will be the only industry in America with such broad protection from legal responsibility for its actions. Firearms kill nearly twice as many Americans as all household consumer products. The legislation slams the courthouse doors shut on people maimed and killed by illegal and defective firearms and removes all incentives for sellers and manufacturers of these deadly weapons to act safely in the future. Those who sell guns that are sought by criminals need to be more careful than sellers of other products, not less careful. This is a shameful piece of legislation, passed by a Republican Congress bought and paid for by N.R.A. and the blood of innocent victims of gun violence.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Failed Back Surgery

The New Jersey, USA Office of Bagolie Friedman Injury Lawyers has created the International Charite Artificial Disc Practice Group in response to the serious problems encountered by the recipients of the artificial replacement disc. The devise was recently approved for use in the United States despite failures throughout Europe and Australia.

Bagolie Friedman Injury Lawyers, with offices in Jersey City and Clifton New Jersey and Hollywood Florida, has begun to review and accept injury cases from surviving family members and individuals who have suffered serious complications after receiving the Charite artificial disc. "Our Charite Artificial Disc Practice Group is international in scope as the device has been used and failing around the world for nearly 20 years," said Ricky Bagolie, founding partner of the firm. "We will be reviewing potential cases from the United States, Australia and Europe," said Bagolie.

Johnson & Johnson became the first company in the US to receive approval for an artificial spinal replacement disc though it had been on the European market since 1987. The disc, approved by the FDA on October 26, 2004, is made of plastic and metal similar to the materials used in hip and knee replacements and is being marketed as an alternative to complex spinal fusion surgery. Currently, spinal fusion surgery, while reducing motion in patients, offers the only safe option for patients with chronic pain. Analysts believe the market for spinal discs could top $1 billion within a few years.

Johnson & Johnson's DuPuy Spine unit beat competitors to the US market by securing FDA approval of their device, but some orthopedic surgeons have strongly criticized the FDA for its approval of the Charite devices. They cite flaws in Johnson & Johnson's clinical study and over 17 years of evidence from Europe, where the devices have been in use for some time. They found the Charite artificial spinal discs have regularly failed in Europe, leaving patients with life-threatening complications.

"This is a technically demanding operation that very few, if any, surgeons are qualified to perform and the correct sizing and positioning of the device is critical for best functionality and lowest chance of failure," says Ricky Bagolie. The margin of error is so small and the chance of misplacement so great that these artificial disc replacements should be recalled to protect the public,” said Bagolie.

If these devices fail or when they wear out, the revision surgery may be extremely difficult and fraught with potential dangers of vascular, visceral or nerve injury and the risk compounds should they need to be removed. In addition to the potential complications associated with undergoing surgery and general anesthesia, the complications associated with artificial disc replacement may include: breakage of the metal plate, dislocation of the implant, splintering of the plastic and infection.

Bagolie Friedman believes there will be thousands of people in the USA, the UK,, Europe and Australia who suffer Charite artificial disc failure. "It appears from our initial investigation that Johnson and Johnson is responsible for manufacturing a medical device they knew or should have known was unreasonably dangerous in an attempt to capture some of the lucrative multi billion dollar back surgery market. They downplay the risks," Bagolie says. If you believe that you, or a member of your family, has been injured as a result of receiving the Charite artificial disc, contact Ricky Bagolie or Alan Friedman toll free at 1-866-333-3529, e-mail at visit now for a confidential and free consultation. ###

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Public Workers Beware - New Ruling Extinguishes Workers' Compensation Benefits

More bad news for workers. The latest Appellate Division decision reduces pension benefits for all public workers including state workers, police officers, firefighters and teachers who are totally disabled. They will lose the ability to collect workers' compensation benefits when they also receive an Ordinary Disability Pension, the New Jersey Appellate Division has ruled.

Decided November 8, 2004, the case of Rosales vs. State of New Jersey, A-2110-02T, reversed the trial judge's finding that workers' compensation benefits may only be offset against Accidental Disability Pensions. Prior to this decision, a public worker who was totally disabled from a non-traumatic event could collect an Ordinary Disability Pension and benefits from the workers' compensation system at the same time. This decision flies in the face of the Legislature's clear intent as the applicable Statute permits public employees to receive their Ordinary Disability Pension without reduction by the amount of any post retirement compensation. Further, the Division of Pensions has consistently interpreted and applied the various statutory provisions to mean that there is no reduction of benefits for recipients of Ordinary Disability Pensions. The Division of Pensions in all of its publications, employee advisory releases and on its web site have told all public employees and employers that Ordinary Disability Pensions are not subject to a reduction for receipt of Workers' Compensation periodic benefits.

The impact of the decision is enormous as there is a huge difference between the various types of pensions that are available to public workers and and we will now need to fight harder to obtain the best benefit for our public employee clients.

The three basic types of pension benefits are: 1) Retirement based on years of service over 55 multiplied by the pertinent wage (not applicable here); 2) Accidental Disability Pension set at 72.67% of the pertinent wage; and 3.) Ordinary Disability Pension set at 43.6 % of the pertinent wage. There are also significant tax advantages to the Accidental Disability Pension as it has been classified as a Workers' Compensation benefit and, as such, is fully tax exempt from state and federal income tax. The Ordinary Disability Pension is subject to state and federal income tax and the Time Service Pension is fully taxable. The Police and Fireman's Pension Retirement Act (PFRS) and the State Police Retirement System (SPRS) standard for an Ordinary Disability Pension requires 4 years of employment for eligibility and the SPRS requires 5 years. Each of these provisions contain a disability test that the member be permanently mentally or physically incapable of performing usual duty or any other available duty to which the employer is willing to assign the officer. The Public Employees Retirement System (PERS)and The Teachers Pension and Annuity Fund (TPAF) statutory test for award of an Ordinary Disability Pension provides that a member,under 60 years of age, who has 10 or more years of credit for New Jersey service and that the member is physically or mentally incapacitated for the performance of duty and should be retired. No longer will a public employee be content to receive just an Ordinary Disability Pension. Because the benefits of an Accidental Disability Pension far outweigh the Ordinary disability pension, it is much more difficult to obtain. Procedurally, an employee who sustained an injury or occupational disease and who had to cease public employment would file for an Accidental Disability Pension and Workers' Compensation.

Very often the disability did not meet the "traumatic event" requirements of Accidental Disability and an award an Ordinary Disability Pension was given. Strategically, the employee would often not appeal the denial of the Accidental Disability Pension as they would be able to receive additional workers' compensation benefits and now this must change and more pension rulings will have to be contested. It is my opinion that disabled workers should obtain the help of an attorney before filling out their disability papers so that have a chance to maximize their recovery.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Deck Fires Cause Health Problems For Firefighters

Fighting a simple deck fire can lead to health problems. Over 90 percent of all outdoor wooden structures in the United States are made with arsenic-treated lumber. Known as Chromated Copper Arsenate, or CCA, exposure to the chemicals contained in this pressure treated wood has been linked to lung cancer, bladder cancer, skin cancer, kidney cancer, prostate cancer, cancer in the nasal passages, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease and diabetes. The effects of CCA exposure can also cause hair loss, itching skin and rashes, bleeding neurological problems, numbness in the arms and legs and gastrointestinal upsets.
CCA-treated wood, first used in India in 1933 and approved by the American Wood Preservers Association for use by Bell Telephone Co. in 1950, is resistant to insect infestation and rot. The copper and arsenic are fungicides and insecticides. The chromium is primarily a “fixing” agent, bonding the chemicals to the wood. The raw lumber is placed in a pressure cylinder where a vacuum sucks air and water from the wood cells. The cylinders is then filled with a mix of water and pesticides and pressure is increased to refill the wood’s cells with the mixture. As the wood dries, the chemicals are trapped inside.

CCA wood is most dangerous when it is burned and the arsenic is released into the air and it concentrates in the ashes. Just one tablespoon of ash contains a lethal dose of arsenic. "Wood decks, play sets and picnic tables all pose a risk and firefighters should protect themselves from the fumes emitted from these fires", said Ricky E. Bagolie, a Jersey City attorney with Bagolie Friedman who represents firefighters.

Arsenic and chromium are carcinogens and mutagens, according to the EPA and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. EPA declared that use of chromated copper arsenate, CCA, was to end by December 2003. "Exposure can occur through breathing or through repeated skin contact. High or repeated exposure can cause cancer, neurotoxicity, including paralysis, warty skin growths, and liver and kidney failure, all of which should be covered under the Workers' Compensation System" said Bagolie.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Silicosis Claims

We have expanded our workers’ compensation practice to include silicosis claims. Silicosis is a potentially deadly lung disease caused by the inhalation of silica, mineral dust and sand. More than one million U.S. workers are exposed and each year hundreds of these workers die from silicosis. The crystalline silica is commonly found in sandstone, granite, slate, coal, and pure silica sand. It is generally recognized that people working in the following industries have the greatest risk of being exposed to silica dust and contracting silicosis: construction, mining – tunneling, sandblasting, stone crushing, rock quarries, masonry - cement work , foundry workers, demolition, sandblast dust exposure to other non-sandblasters in work area, cutting or manufacturing heat-resistant bricks (fire brick), manufacturing of glass products, railroad construction, plumbing & painting. Workers exposed to silica dust are often exposed to asbestos as well and many will develop asbestos lung diseases including a rare lung disease called mesothelioma.

We are reviewing injury cases from surviving family members and individuals who have been diagnosed with Silicosis or have been injured from exposure to mineral dust and sand. Silicosis is a completely preventable disease if the appropriate protective equipment is supplied by the employer. This includes protective clothing and respiratory protection.

Damage to the lung tissue means that the lungs cannot perform their function of supplying oxygen to the blood as well as they should. The symptoms resulting from this include a cough, with or without sputum, shortness of breath particularly on exertion, chest tightness, fatigue, loss of appetite and cyanosis (bluish skin). These symptoms of silicosis develop over time as the lung tissue becomes irreversibly damaged by fibrosis and is replaced with solid nodules of scar tissue. This gets getting worse as the lung damage increases. Silicosis treatment is very limited as there is no cure for the disease

If you or a loved one experience any of the symptoms listed above, see a doctor so that a proper diagnosis can be made and know that you may have a legal remedy.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Back injury with artificial disc replacement

If you suffered from a back injury on the job, you may be presented with the option of spinal fusion or the placement of an artificial disc. Get the facts before you make the decision.

Johnson & Johnson's DePuy Spine Unit began selling Charite Artificial Spinal Discs in 2004. This product was supposed to reduce the need for spinal fusion and other serious spinal surgeries. However, the Charite artificial discs have been associated with life threatening side effects which have made many surgeons reluctant to use the product.

In a recent report issued by, Charles Rosen, a university-based spine surgeon said he can't imagine using one now being promoted by Johnson & Johnson. Rosen, recently filmed by PBS performing another new procedure, likes to provide his patients with cutting-edge services.

However, when Rosen learned more about the Charite discs he became alarmed. Rosen says he found that the devices have regularly failed in Europe, leaving patients with life-threatening complications. He says he finds it "unbelievable" that the Food and Drug Administration ever approved the devices.

"Any prudent person, who does not have a financial conflict or industry tie, would reasonably conclude that their safety and effectiveness has not been proven by the FDA," says Rosen, an associate clinical professor of spine surgery at the University of California at Irvine. "These artificial disc replacements should be recalled by the FDA to protect the American public."
Not surprisingly, Johnson & Johnson calls the implants as "the best solution for the appropriate patients" while stressing that "patient selection is key." In any case, banning the implants could hurt Johnson & Johnson and its competitors, who see the market as a lucrative growth opportunity.

To win over the FDA, Johnson & Johnson set out to establish that Charite discs work at least as well as Bagby and Kuslich, or BAK, cages used in spinal fusions. But Rosen saw an immediate problem with the study design. "The stand-alone BAK is a failed operation; it hasn't been done in years," Rosen says. "So they picked the worst possible operation to compare these things to."
Sarah Colamarino, a spokeswoman for the DePuy Spine unit of Johnson & Johnson, says the BAK was "the standard treatment for single-level degenerative disc disease" at the time the study began. Regardless, Rosen claims the company still failed to prove its case. An FDA transcript shows that the agency's own statistician portrayed the study as "strongly biased" in favor of Charite. The statistician also noted that the company had excluded important data about patients involved in the randomized clinical trials.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Welcome to the Workers' Comp Law Blog

When you get hurt on the job, who will give you the answers you need? What are my rights? Who chooses the doctor and pays the bills? How will I get paid? Don't count on the job or their insurance company, they want to get you back to work as fast as possible. Speak with a lawyer that is familiar with the workers' compensation laws of your state. In most cases, it will not cost you anything and the information in invaluable.