What parents should know about vaping from Legal Examiner:

In a recent article from Stanford University School of Medicine, Dr. Bonnie Halpern-Felsher discussed her research on young people’s perceptions of vaping products.

Dr. Halpern-Felsher explained that JUUL e-cigarettes contain over 41 milligrams of nicotine per pod which is the nicotine equivalent of 1 and a half to two packs of cigarettes. She also explained that JUUL uses a salt based nicotine which produces a less painful “throat hit” than what is inhaled from a combustible cigarette. Teens find it easier to smoke and become addicted to it more quickly.

Dr. Halpern-Felsher commented on JUUL’s marketing campaign which creates a false sense of safety among teens that an e-cigarette is a safer alternative to traditional cigarettes. It is clear this is not that case, as the Center for Disease Control has now documented nearly 3 dozen deaths nationwide directly associated with vaping.

Standford University is providing tools for parents, educators and health care providers to address the dangers of vaping with teens. “We really try to illuminate the role that marketing plays in getting kids to use nicotine products. We want young people to understand that they’re being manipulated by manufacturers.”

Dr. Halpern-Felsher closes the interview and encourages parents to talk with their teens re: vaping: Talk to your sons and daughters using open-ended questions. You can say, “I read an article about vaping products. I’m curious: What do you know about these?” Then you can share your concerns: “If you’re using these products, I want to understand so I can get you some help. I’m not going to be mad.” You can also talk with your kids about how to refuse, helping them plan responses so that they feel ready to say no.

With the vaping death toll rising nationally, it is critical that parents combat the misleading marketing of JUUL and have very frank talks with their children. Litigation has already commenced against JUUL filed by users who have been injured and even families of those that have died.

The newly formed Multidistrict Litigation involving JUUL will be procedurally similar to the MDLs formed in the Municipal Opioid Litigation and the Roundup Cancer litigation that Smith & Johnson is currently involved in. Smith & Johnson is currently interviewing potential Michigan claimants for inclusion in this Federal MDL re: JUUL e-cigarettes. If you have questions about this litigation and what rights you may have, please contact Attorney Tim Smith at (231) 946-0700 for a free consultation.

Authored by Attorney Tim Smith

Join us in congratulating Smith & Johnson Attorney Tim Smith for his selection for inclusion in The National Trial Lawyers List of Top 100 Civil Plaintiff Trial Lawyers in Michigan.

From the Press Release:

The National Trial Lawyers is pleased to announce that Timothy Smith of Smith & Johnson Attorneys, P.C., in Traverse City has been selected for inclusion into its Top 100 Civil Plaintiff Trial Lawyers in Michigan, an honor given to only a select group of lawyers for their achievements in the field. With his selection, Mr. Smith has proven that he exemplifies superior qualifications, leadership skills, and trial results as a trial lawyer.

The National Trial Lawyers is a professional organization comprised of the nation’s premier trial lawyers. The selection process for this elite honor is based on a multi-phase process which includes peer nominations combined with third party research. The result is a credible and comprehensive list of the most outstanding trial lawyers in the country.

Membership into the Top 100 Civil Plaintiff Trial Lawyers is by invitation only and is limited to the top 100 attorneys in each state or region who have demonstrated excellence and have achieved outstanding results in their careers in either civil plaintiff or criminal defense law. The National Trial Lawyers provides essential legal news, information, and continuing education to trial lawyers across the United States.

To learn more about The National Trial Lawyers, please visit: http://thenationaltriallawyers.org/.

To visit Tim Smith’s profile on The National Trail Lawers.com, please visit: www.thenationaltriallawyers.org/profile-view/Timothy/Smith/23315/

Michigan hospital performs first of it’s kind vaping-related lung transplant.

From Legal Examiner:

Doctors at the Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit “have performed a double lung transplant on a man whose lungs were damaged from vaping.”

“The hospital system announced Monday that it believes it is the first in the country to perform the surgery on someone who had irreparable lung damage from vaping.” – USA Today

The double lung transplant comes in the midst of the vaping epidemic in which more than 2,000 Americans have become sick over the past eight months, including at least 40 people who have died, one of which did so here in Michigan.

The newly formed Multidistrict Litigation involving JUUL will be procedurally similar to the MDLs formed in the Municipal Opioid Litigation and the Roundup Cancer litigation that Smith & Johnson is currently involved in. Smith & Johnson is currently interviewing potential Michigan claimants for inclusion in this Federal MDL re: JUUL e-cigarettes. If you have questions about this litigation and what rights you may have, please contact Attorney Tim Smith at (231) 946-0700 for a free consultation.

Authored by Attorney Tim Smith

Even with all the news coverage about the health risks associated with vaping, in just three short years, the number of teens who reported vaping nicotine in the past month has more than doubled. The Journal of the American Medical Association on 11/5/19 reported that 28% of high schoolers and 11% of middle schoolers reported vaping in the last month.

Read Smith & Johnson Attorney Tim Smith’s write up about the issue in the Legal Examiner:

Teen nicotine vaping has become so prevalent in recent years that the Food and Drug Administration has called it an “epidemic.” An estimated 5.3 million teens use e-cigarettes, according to the study.

In an effort to lower the rates of teen vaping, the FDA is considering banning most flavors. The e-cigarette giant JUUL, who currently holds 59% of the market share, stopped selling some of its flavors just last month. But, it continues to sell tobacco, menthol and mint flavors.

“For young people, this is of particular concern,” the study’s authors wrote, “because it could promote … nicotine dependence, making it easier to initiate and proceed to regular e-cigarette use or transition to cigarette or other combustible tobacco product use.” – NPR

Increasing teen use is causing increasing concern for their health. Dr. John Carl, MD, a pulmonologist at the Cleveland Clinic explains:

“We know a lot of the short-term effects [on the lungs],” Dr. Carl says, explaining that vaping increases inflammation in the lungs. Vaping can also paralyze cilia, the “hair-like” projections in the airways of the lungs that remove microbes and debris, says Dr. Carl. When those cilia become paralyzed, they are rendered unable to do their job protecting the lungs, and this increases your risk of infection, like pneumonia. (Both lipoid pneumonia, a lung infection caused by the presence of lipids or fats in the lungs; and chemical pneumonia, a lung infection caused by inhalation of chemicals, have been linked to vaping.)

JUUL has know about these health concerns for years but has done little to educate their users as to the risks. As deaths and serious injuries to users respiratory systems continue to increase, so have the number of lawsuits filed against JUUL for its misleading marketing and failure to warn. On November 6th, Montgomery County Pennsylvania district attorney Kevin Steele filed a lawsuit against JUUL alleging illegal, predatory business practices that target teens.

“This lawsuit is necessary to protect the health and well-being of Montgomery County residents, most importantly, impressionable and vulnerable minors who have been targeted by JUUL, turning them into nicotine addicts to keep them coming back for the company’s own monetary gain,” Steele said in a statement. “We intend to hold the defendants accountable for their misconduct that has unquestionably created and perpetuated a widespread public health crisis with devastating consequences. We seek to put a halt to JUUL’s egregious sales and marketing tactics, the illegal sales to minors by retailers in our county and demand they remediate the harm their conduct has caused in our communities.” – CBS

Earlier this month, Pennsylvania health officials confirmed one person died in the state related to vaping. The state says there are nine confirmed and 12 probable cases of vaping-related lung illnesses and are investigating 63 additional cases. In addition to these state court cases, we are seeing a rise in Federal cases as well.

The newly formed Multidistrict Litigation involving JUUL will be procedurally similar to the MDLs formed in the Municipal Opioid Litigation and the Roundup Cancer litigation that Smith & Johnson is currently involved in. Smith & Johnson is currently interviewing potential Michigan claimants for inclusion in this Federal MDL re: JUUL e-cigarettes. If you have questions about this litigation and what rights you may have, please contact Attorney Tim Smith at (231) 946-0700 for a free consultation.

Authored by Attorney Tim Smith

Smith & Johnson, Attorneys was proud to participate on 11/7/19 in the 2019 Injury Board Day of Action – Smart Home Initiative. The Injury Board Day of Action is a nationwide campaign to not only build awareness, but also provide support to those who have suffered catastrophic injuries and are now in need of assistance with some of the things we take for granted in our day to day lives, such as turning on and off the lights or television, answering the phone, playing music or even finding out the day’s news or weather. The campaign is coordinated by Smith & Johnson, Attorneys, P.C. and the Injury Board, a professional non-profit organization of trial attorneys who pool their time, talent and resources to expand the footprint of grass roots organizations. In doing so, the association aims to contribute to the strengthening of our communities.

Home automation products that many people take for granted as a luxury become vital for those recovering from traumatic brain injuries. The ability to control lights, heating and air conditioning, turn on the television or simply summon assistance is fun technology for most consumers, but can make the difference between complete dependence and partial dependence for survivors of traumatic brain injury.

Smith & Johnson donated home automation systems to Lighthouse Rehabilitation here in Traverse City, Michigan in an effort to help therapists and medical professionals prepare their patients for life after they are discharged. By learning how to control everyday devices with their voice, patients and their family members will be better positioned to utilize “smart home” technology as they adapt to their new normal. Eric Rohring, Program Director at Lighthouse Rehabilitation, plans to use the smart home technology in their group living space.

This donation by Smith & Johnson was part of a national outreach known as the Injury Board Day of Action – a collaborative effort by the nation’s leading plaintiff attorneys to make a difference in the local communities. “We wish a donation like this wasn’t necessary,” said Attorney Tim Smith at Smith & Johnson, Attorneys, “but we sadly see every day the struggles and difficulty of disabled accident victims adapting to life after a traumatic injury. Medical professionals and physical therapists routinely tell us how life altering their home automation devices can be for those that have no – or very limited – mobility.” “Lawsuits are in the news all the time,” said Attorney Tom Young, Founder of Injury Board. “But traumatically injured victims are often overlooked once the headlines fade. While home automation won’t help someone walk again, it can help them be just a little less dependent on others. We are passionate about helping victims regain independence.”

For more information, contact Tim Smith at the law firm of Smith & Johnson, Attorneys, P.C. at tsmith@smith-johnson.com or (231) 946-0700

ABOUT SMITH & JOHNSON, ATTORNEYS, P.C.: Based in Traverse City, Michigan, Smith & Johnson, Attorneys specialize in auto accident litigation, mass tort litigation, and wrongful death cases.

ABOUT INJURY BOARD: The Injury Board is a professional association of trial attorneys who pool their time, talents and resources to expand the footprint of grass roots organizations. In doing so, the association aims to contribute to the strengthening of our communities. For more information, please visit injuryboard.org.

ABOUT LIGHTHOUSE REHABILITATION: Providing Phenomenal Care to Brain, Spinal Cord Injury and Behavioral Health Patients in a Home Like Environment since 1987.

JUUL intentionally marketed e-cigarettes to teenagers knowing that they were more potent than the average cigarette.

JUUL’s sales force encouraged retailers to stock JUUL e-cigarettes by sharing a chart that showed with 5 minutes, JUUL could deliver 35% more nicotine into the bloodstream than the venerable Pall Mall cigarette.

From Legal Examiner:

“JUUL’s breakthrough “nicotine salts” formula for vaping liquid, now the industry standard, set off an epidemic of e-cigarette use by U.S. Teenagers. Now Investigators want to know if the company targeted young people as customers.” – Reuters

One thing is clear, JUUL executives knew teens were flocking to its breakthrough e-cigarette shortly after it went on sale in 2015. A former JUUL manager admits that its nicotine blend was so potent, engineers devised a kill switch to limit the dosage – but the idea was shelved.

Vincent Latronica headed up sales and distribution for JUUL on the U.S. East Coast from 2014-16. He said the company’s sales force found it difficult to convince reluctant retailers to give them shelf space. That is, until they began showing retailers charts depicting charts on how efficiently JUUL delivered nicotine into the bloodstream. It became a central selling point for its sales force, and, according to Latronica, “everyone wanted it”. The chart showed that within 5 minutes, JUUL could deliver 35% more nicotine into the bloodstream than the venerable Pall Mall cigarette.

In the early years of JUUL, they were seeing 500% annual growth in teen use. Some insiders in the company were uncomfortable with the early signs of teen use throughout their markets. “Company leaders clearly understood the long-term benefit of young users on the bottom line. It was well known that young customers were the most profitable segment in the history of the tobacco industry because research shows that nicotine user who start as teenagers are the most likely to become lifelong addicts”.

In the Spring of 2018, just days before the Food and Drug Administration were to announce a crackdown on youth access to and use of JUUL, JUUL announced a “comprehensive strategy” to curb youth sales. They said, “they were caught off guard” by teenage addiction rates to their product.

That narrative is undermined by two prominent tobacco researchers who told Reuters that they explicitly warned Juul’s founders and a top company scientist about the potential for youth e-cigarette abuse. Neal Benowitz at University of California-San Francisco, said he told Gal Cohen, the company’s director of scientific affairs, that widespread teen use could wreck the company’s business.

“Look, the one thing you have to do is make sure that this doesn’t get into the hands of young people,” Benowitz recalled telling Cohen about a year after the product launch. “If it spreads among kids, this product could be dead.” (Reuters)

What is undeniably clear today is that JUUL tore a page out of the Big Tobacco playbook as it marketed to teens and, as a result, their market share in the U.S. E-cigarette market skyrocketed from just above zero in 2016 to 42.3% in just 24 months.

Explosive growth on the backs of the health of our nation’s teens is not a business plan that should be tolerated.

The newly formed Multidistrict Litigation involving JUUL will be procedurally similar to the MDLs formed in the Municipal Opioid Litigation and the Roundup Cancer litigation that Smith & Johnson is currently involved in. Smith & Johnson is currently interviewing potential Michigan claimants for inclusion in this Federal MDL re: JUUL e-cigarettes. If you have questions about this litigation and what rights you may have, please contact Attorney Tim Smith at (231) 946-0700 for a free consultation.

We’ve been keeping an eye on developments with the Zantac recall. Zantac and generic ranitidine products are used to treat heartburn and have been recalled due to concerns that the medications contain probable cancer-causing agents.

Zantac and other ranitidine products were recalled last week as the “U.S. Food and Drug Administration is investigating whether the popular heartburn drug Zantac causes carcinogens to form in the bodies of users” (Reuters).

Harvard Health Publishing reports:

The drug companies Novartis (through its generic division, Sandoz) and Apotex announced that they were recalling all of their generic ranitidine products sold in the US. Ranitidine (also known by its brand name, Zantac, which is sold by the drug company Sanofi) is available both over the counter (OTC) and by prescription. So far, only Novartis/Sandoz and Apotex have recalled products. Ranitidine distributed by other companies remains on store shelves.

Walmart, CVS Pharmacy and Walgreens recently announced they would halt sales of ranitidine medications because of concerns they might contain the impurity. In September, drug maker Novartis said it was halting distribution of all ranitidine medicines made by Sandoz [a drug manufacturer with headquarters in Germany].

Smith & Johnson will be sharing updates as news develops.

JUUL knowingly shipped over one million contaminated pods, as claimed by former JUUL Senior Vice President Siddarth Breja. Breja claims he was fired for raising concerns over the issue.

As reported by Legal Examiner:

Breja filed suit over the incident and in his pleadings alleged that JUUL CEO Kevin Burns responded to Breja’s concerns about the contaminated pods saying, “Half our customers are drunk and vaping like mo-fo’s, who the f*** is going to notice the quality of our pods?”.

From Tech Crunch:

Breja alleges that when he complained about Juul’s refusal to issue a product recall or health and safety notice, Danaher [JUUL CFO] said doing so would cost the company billions of dollars in lost sales, hurting its then-$38 billion valuation. About a week later, Breja says the company fired him, telling him that it was because he had misrepresented himself as former chief financial officer at Uber. In the lawsuit, Breja says the claim was “preposterous,” and that he had accurately represented his former position as a chief financial officer of a division at Uber.

The timing of Breja’s lawsuit coincides with JUUL announcing mass layoffs of 10-15% of it’s workforce and the departure of four executives. As lawsuits continue to mount against JUUL arising out of the death and serious injuries to their customers, more and more facts are coming to light regarding the dangers of vaping. The Center for Disease Control announced on October 17th that 33 people have died from vaping related lung illnesses as the nationwide outbreak continues to grow (Live Science).

The newly formed Multidistrict Litigation involving JUUL will be procedurally similar to the MDLs formed in the Municipal Opioid Litigation and the Roundup Cancer litigation that Smith & Johnson is currently involved in. Smith & Johnson is currently interviewing potential Michigan claimants for inclusion in this Federal MDL re: JUUL e-cigarettes. If you have questions about this litigation and what rights you may have, please contact Attorney Tim Smith at (231) 946-0700 for a free consultation.

Many bicyclists take to the roads to enjoy the fall colors and take advantage of the end of the riding season, others jump on their bikes to make their daily commutes. As a rider your safety is important.

To enhance your safety while on a bike we recommend you:

  • wear a helmet,
  • wear brightly colored and/or reflective clothing,
  • make sure to have front and rear lights if you ride at night,
  • do not wear headphones or earbuds while riding.

As you ride please make sure to follow the rules of the road to help create a safe environment for both you and other road users:

  • Go With the Flow. Ride on the right in the same direction as other vehicles.
  • Obey All Traffic Laws. A bicycle is a vehicle and you’re a driver. When you ride in the street, obey all traffic signs, signals, and lane markings.
  • Yield to Traffic When Appropriate. Like when you are driving a car, follow the normal yielding procedure – make sure to remember to also yield to pedestrians.
  • Be Predictable. Ride in a straight line, do not weave in and out of cars. Make sure to signal your moves toothers.
  • Stay Alert at All Times. Use your eyes AND ears.
  • Look Before Turning. When turning left or right, always look behind you for a break in traffic, then signal before making the turn. Watch for left- or right-turning traffic.
  • Watch for Parked Cars. Many bicycle accidents happen when drivers open car doors. Make sure to give parked cars plenty of space and keep an eye on them for any movement (either opening doors or pulling onto the roadway).

As a rider you have rights to the road. If you are riding below the posted speed limit, you are required to ride as close as practically to the right hand curb or the edge of the road (MCL 257.660a). However, it is recognized that there are exceptions or situations where it is unsafe for the rider to hug the fog line. The following are the 5 exceptions that allow a rider to ride to take up more of the road:

  • When passing another bicycle or a vehicle proceeding in the same direction.
  • When preparing to turn left.
  • When conditions make the right hand edge of the roadway unsafe or unreasonably unsafe for bicycle users, including, but not limited to:  Surface hazards (i.e., ruts in the pavement or potholes);  An uneven roadway surface; Drain openings; Debris; Parked or moving vehicles or bicycles; Pedestrians; Animals; Other obstacles; or the lane is too narrow to permit a vehicle to safely overtake and pass a bicycle.
  • When operating a bicycle in a lane in which traffic is turning right, but the cyclist intends to proceed straight through the intersection; and
  • When riding on a one-way highway or street that has two (2) or more lanes. In this situation, the cyclist may also ride as close to the left curb or edge of the roadway as practicable

The 3 foot Rule: In 2018 the Michigan Legislature finally recognized the importance of a rider’s safety and passed a law requiring motorists overtaking bicyclists traveling in the same direction to pass with at least three feet of distance to the left of a bicycle. These three feet create a safer environment for both cars and riders. Even with the implement of the 3 foot rule, increased bike lanes, and heightened awareness of the rights of riders, accidents do happen.

Common injuries that we see occur from bicycle accidents include:

  • Concussions and Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) – helmets reduce your chances of suffering a TBI, but cannot fully protect from moderate to severe TBIs.
  • Broken bones – broken bones can occur as small bone chips to severe breaks.
  • Contusions – contusions/bruises can limit mobility and have a range of healing times.
  • Lacerations – lacerations/cuts can result in blood loss and stitches.
  • Neck and spine injuries – these injuries are common in both care and bicycle accidents and often occur in tandem with TBIs. Neck and spine injuries often occur because of the rapid change of forces that the body is subjected to in a crash.

The number of deaths from bicycle incidents increased 29% over an eight-year period, from 793 in 2010 to 1,024 in 2017, according to Injury Facts®. Of the 1,024 bicyclist deaths in 2017, 679 involved motor vehicles.

If you are involved in a bicycle accident contact Smith & Johnson now, TOLL- FREE at 1-866-946-0700, to schedule your free consultation and protect your legal rights or visit our Personal Injury Cycling Accidents webpage.

With all the news around the Roundup lawsuits and Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, you may be wondering if Roundup really does cause cancer.

In 2019 a study found that there is a “compelling link” that exists between glyphosate exposure and the risk of developing non-Hodgkin Lymphoma. Study researchers were “convinced” about the carcinogenic properties of the chemical.

In March 2015, the International Agency for Research on Cancer classified glyphosate as “probably carcinogenic to humans”.

The IARC Monographs evaluation is based on the systematic assembly and review of all publicly available and pertinent studies, by independent experts, free from vested interests. It follows strict scientific criteria, and the classification system is recognized and used as a reference all around the world. This is because IARC evaluations are based on independent scientific review and rigorous criteria and procedures.

To reach these conclusions, IARC reviewed about 1000 studies. Some of the studies looked at people exposed through their jobs, such as farmers. Others were experimental studies on cancer and cancer related effects in experimental systems.

Exposure to the carcinogenic properties of glyphosate prompt DNA change in the human body that can cause normal lymphocytes to become lymphoma cells and develop tumors, thus causing the development of Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma

Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma is cancer that originates in your lymphatic system, the disease-fighting network spread throughout your body. In non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, tumors develop from lymphocytes — a type of white blood cell. – Mayo Clinic

Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma generally involves the presence of cancerous lymphocytes in your lymph nodes. But the disease can also spread to other parts of your lymphatic system.

Multiple juries have found that dangers associated with Roundup exposure include the risk of developing Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. More than 13,000 cancer patients and their families have filed lawsuits against Monsanto alleging that the company knew of the potential dangers associated with glyphosate exposure and failed to warn consumers. Three of the lawsuits have already resulted in large damage awards for injured plaintiffs.

Smith & Johnson, Attorneys, P.C. is now interviewing prospective claimants who have been exposed to Roundup®/glyphosate and have been diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. We currently represent victims throughout Michigan and the United States.

For more information regarding your potential rights as it relates to the Roundup®/glyphosate litigation, please contact, Attorney Timothy P. Smith, at Smith & Johnson, Attorneys to discuss the facts of your particular case (231) 946-0700 or tsmith@smith-johnson.com.