Mark O’Mara to Speak on Civil Rights vs. Police Brutality at Mass Tort Nexus Course on June 13th

Mark O’Mara will be speaking on the topic of “Civil Rights vs. Police Brutality” litigation at the Mass Tort Nexus course on Saturday, June 13th in Ft. Lauderdale. Mark will speak on cases involving violations of individuals’ civil rights under the color of authority, committed by Law Enforcement Officers or Correctional Officers, leading to the injury and often death of the victims of these acts.

The George Zimmerman case thrust Mark into the national consciousness, where he remains today due to his frequent appearance on CNN, HLN, Court TV and all the major networks. A fact not as well known to the non-legal community is that Mark, prior to the Zimmerman case and after, has been the “go to attorney” for many individuals, often African Americans and other people of color, who have been victims of civil rights violations.

Mark’s experience in MDL leadership, from his work on the Benicar MDL to his co-lead position in the CenturyLink MDL, combined with his broad experience in civil litigation in the representation of those who had their civil rights violated by law enforcement, are accolades on Mark’s resume which the public and the legal community at large are often not aware. Mark represented the estate of Sam DuBose, an African American man stopped for a tag violation by an off-campus University of Cincinnati police officer, Ray Tensing. As can be seen in a widely published body cam video, Sam was executed by Tensing, who then created a story of self-defense, even though it was belied by all the evidence. Mark also represented the estate of Mathew Ajibade, a 20-year old black college student beat up, held in a restraint chair and tased in the crotch by officers at the Chatham County Jail. Mathew succumbed to his abuse and died while still in the restraint chair.

He is presently representing the estate of 17-year old Adrein Green, shot in the back and killed from 20 feet away by a homeowner who was already in his home and on the phone with police. This shooting occurred about two miles from the shooting of Trayvon Martin, in Sanford, Florida. While the investigation is still underway, no charges have been filed.

Given the sea change in public attitude towards police brutality, we offer the unique opportunity to learn from an expert on the front lines, and get his insight on the recent cases of Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd, and the now infamous Central Park dog walker, Amy Cooper.

We would like to believe that the “sea change in public attitude towards police brutality” and the increase in cell phone videos and body cams might alter the behavior of those police officers with a tendency towards excessive and unnecessary use of force, but the Floyd homicide tells us we have a long way to go.

Unfortunately, while these horrific acts could lay the foundation for some positive change in the way we police each other, recent reactions to the protests have already demonstrated a willingness to use tear gas and force against those peacefully protesting, are troubling.

In order to rebuild the tattered trust that our minorities have for the criminal justice system, we must be willing to tear down the Blue Wall code of silence, and hold those that are silent as accountable as those who act. Only when we accomplish that can we bring about a day when a young man of color can walk or drive down the street, see a police officer and not automatically feel fear.

Politicians, as well as Local, State and Federal Governments have clearly failed to stem the tide of excessive police violence. Plaintiff civil rights lawyers are the country’s last and best hope to bring about the change that will maintain the viability of our justice system.

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Litigation Starts over Diet Drug Belviq, Yanked from Market Because of Cancer Risk

After being on the market for 8 years, the marginally-effective diet Drug Belviq, made by the Japanese drug company Eisai, has been pulled off the market because it may cause cancer.

Eisai, based in Woodcliff Lake, New Jersey, voluntarily withdrew Belviq from the market in February 13, 2020, at the behest of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Earlier, in January 2020, the FDA had alerted the public about a possible risk of cancer associated with lorcaserin, the active ingredient in Belviq, based on preliminary analysis of the data.

A range of cancer types were reported, including pancreatic, colorectal, and lung. The FDA instructs patients to stop taking the drug.

Litigation underway

Plaintiff law firms are actively marketing to Belviq patients now. Lawsuits against Eisai began to be filed in March 2020, considering it may have a high average case value litigation.

Barbara Zottola of White Plains, NY, filed a class action complaint in March 2020 against Eisai Inc. in U.S. District Court in White Plains, accusing the drug maker of pushing the product to market, despite evidence that it was defective. Zottola is represented by Manhattan attorneys Andrew J. Obergfell and Joseph I. Marchese and Miami attorney Sarah N. Westcot.

The lawsuit also names Arena Pharmaceuticals Inc., the San Diego company that developed and licensed lorcaserin, the active ingredient, and CVS Health Co., the pharmacy chain from which Zottola purportedly bought the drug.

In April 2020, Barbara Zottola of New York filed a class-action lawsuit against Eisai, Inc., claiming it knew about Belviq’s cancer-causing potential for years, yet kept pushing it to market.

The complaint by Saunders & Walker of Pinellas Park, Florida, asks the federal court to certify a class of hundreds of thousands of people across the country who purchased Belviq. The suit seeks damages for alleged breach of an implied warranty, deceptive acts, false advertising, unjust enrichment, fraud, and conversion.

Risk of cancer

Eisai Co., Ltd. is a Japanese pharmaceutical company headquartered in Tokyo, Japan. It has offices in New Jersey, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania. Eisai, originally a marketing partner on Belviq, acquired the sole rights to the drug from Arena Pharmaceuticals for only $23 million in cash in January 2017.

Belviq revenues for 2017 totaled $21.3 million. The company promoted prescriptions for the weigh-loss drug for $40 with savings cards for commercial-insured patients. Ordinarily, it costs approximately $300 a month and is not covered by most insurance companies.

Belviq was approved by FDA on June 27, 2012, for use with a reduced-calorie diet and increased physical activity to help weight loss in adults who are obese or are overweight and have weight-related medical problems. Belviq is a serotonin 2C receptor antagonist indicated for chronic weight management in adults who are obese, or overweight, and who have at least one weight-related condition, such as high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, or high cholesterol. It is supposed to work by increasing feelings of fullness so that less food is eaten. It is available as a tablet (Belviq) and an extended-release tablet (Belviq XR).

A four-year study, requested after Belviq’s approval in 2012, showed a possible link to increased cancer risks in patients with either an established cardiovascular disease or multiple risk factors.

In December 2012, the US Drug Enforcement Administration proposed classifying lorcaserin as a Schedule IV drug because it has hallucinogenic properties at higher than approved doses and users could develop psychiatric dependencies on the drug. On May 7, 2013, the US Drug Enforcement Administration classified lorcaserin as a Schedule IV drug under the Controlled Substances Act.

Interestingly, back on September 16, 2010, an FDA advisory panel had voted 9–5 against approval of the drug based on concerns over both efficacy and safety, particularly the findings of tumors in rats. On October 23, 2010, the FDA at first decided not to approve the drug. This was not only because cancer-promoting properties could not be ruled out, but also because the weight loss efficacy was considered “marginal.”

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