Categories
Consumer Law

Lieser Skaff Alexander Representing Xarelto Product Liability Claims

The Tampa personal injury attorneys at Lieser Skaff Alexander are pursuing product liability claims on behalf of patients who took the blood thinner Xarelto (rivaroxaban) and suffered uncontrollable bleeding or adverse medical reactions. Xarelto is manufactured by Bayer Healthcare AG and marketed in the United States by Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

Pharmaceutical companies owe a duty to the public to make sure that their medications are reasonably safe when used as intended. Drug manufacturers and marketers must also inform the public of the risks of taking their medications. FDA approval of a drug is not an assurance that the drug is safe and does not shield drug companies from liability.

Claims

Defendants introduced Xarelto in 2011 as a superior alternative to Coumadin (warfarin), the gold standard in blood-thinning therapies. Like Xarelto patients, Coumadin patients may be at an elevated risk of suffering bleeding problems. Some reports show that, unlike bleeding in Xarelto patients, bleeding in Coumadin patients can be stopped using Vitamin K.

It is alleged that Xarelto went to market without any approved and effective therapy to stop bleeding complications; and that Xarelto failed to warn patients that if they took Xarelto and suffered a bleeding event, there was no approved and effective treatment that will stop it. As a result of taking Xarelto, patients may have died or suffered serious health problems, including bleeding in the eyes, brain, stomach and intestines.

In addition to these allegations, several Plaintiffs are claiming that:

  1. Xarelto was marketed as a superior blood thinner despite studies that found higher rates of stomach and intestinal bleeding and transfusions in Xarelto patients than patients who took certain competing medications.
  2. Xarelto continues to be promoted as a safe blood thinning drug.
  3. There has been a failure to educate doctors about how to treat bleeding emergencies in Xarelto patients.

Compensation Sought

Plaintiffs can seek compensation from Defendants for past and future medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and in cases where Xarelto patients died, funeral expenses. Xarelto plaintiffs are also seeking punitive damages to punish Defendants for selling a defective and unreasonably dangerous drug and to deter them and other drug companies from taking similar actions in the future.

Time is Running Out

If you or a family member suffered a bleeding emergency after taking Xarelto, you may have personal injury claim for compensation or be part of a class action lawsuit. Contact the attorneys at Lieser Skaff Alexander for a free evaluation of your claim. Note that you have a certain amount of time after the bleeding injury or death occurred to file a claim for compensation, so do not delay in reaching out to us. We will review the details of your your case and tell you whether you are eligible for compensation.

Cost of Our Services

The Tampa personal injury attorneys at Lieser Skaff Alexander work on a contingency fee basis. This means that you pay us only if we obtain a positive result in your case, such as a settlement or jury award in your favor. If you or a family member are taking or have taken Xarelto and experienced bleeding problems as a result, contact us today for a free case evaluation.

Categories
Military Law

Upgrading Your Military Discharge

Upgrading Your Military Discharge

Ninety percent of Florida’s 1.6 million veterans received an “Honorable Discharge” when they left the military. That means that thousands of Florida veterans received an unfavorable discharge, a mark that can adversely affect their eligibility to obtain certain veteran’s benefits and civilian employment.

DD-214 Form

This is the most important document that a veteran receives upon discharge. Among other things, this form contains the classification of the discharge and the reason for it. The VA requires applicants for benefits to provide this form. Employers often request to see the DD-214 of job applicants. Therefore, veterans seek to change negative information on the DD-214.

Types of Discharges

The military characterizes discharges as either “administrative” or “punitive.” Administrative discharges are specifically classified as (1) Honorable, (2) General or (3) Under Other Than Honorable Conditions (formerly known as “Undesirable Discharge”).

More serious than administrative discharges, punitive discharges are classified as (1) Bad Conduct, (2) Dishonorable or (3) Dismissal.

A veteran’s discharge could be for reasons unrelated to misconduct, such as a medical disability based on a diagnosis that is incorrect, disputed or unfairly stigmatizing (i.e., personality disorder). In such a case, a veteran may want that prejudicial reference removed from their DD-214.  

Review Boards

You must apply to the Discharge Review Board (DRB) of the military branch in which you served if you wish to (1) upgrade an unfavorable administrative discharge, (2) upgrade a “Bad Conduct” discharge issued by a special court-martial or (3) change the reason for the discharge.

However, you must apply to the Board for Correction of Military Records (BCMR) if (1) you were discharged more than 15 years ago, (2) you received a punitive discharge issued by general courts-martial, (3) you wish to change your discharge to or from a disability or retirement discharge or (4) a DRB has already denied your application for an upgrade. Furthermore, you must apply within 3 years after discovering the error or injustice, unless the BCMR decides that it’s in the interest of justice to waive the 3-year time limit.    

Standard of Review

DRBs will upgrade an administrative discharge only on the grounds of “equity” or “propriety.” A discharge is “inequitable,” or unfair, if:

  1. the applicant wouldn’t have received the same discharge under current standards;
  2. the applicant’s discharge was not consistent with disciplinary standards at the time of the discharge; or  
  3. proper recognition was not given to the applicant’s good record, awards and decorations.   

A discharge is “improper” if the military (1) committed an error of fact, law, procedure or discretion or (2) issued a policy that retroactively applies to the discharge.

Note that DRBs and BCMRs will upgrade punitive discharges only on the grounds of “clemency,” or mercy.  

***
You bear the difficult burden of convincing the review board that a discharge upgrade is warranted. The convoluted and confusing review process makes that burden even harder to overcome. However, having an informed advocate on your side can significantly increase your likelihood of success. Jeff Lieser is an experienced military law attorney and U.S. Army Reserve Judge Advocate. As your counsel, he will thoughtfully prepare your application, synthesize the facts and the law and help you present a compelling case.

Categories
Firm Updates

Law Firm Announces Purchase of Office Building

The law firm of Lieser Skaff Alexander has moved to a recently purchased, 2,300 square foot office building in North Hyde Park, Tampa.

The new firm offices are located at 403 North Howard Avenue, just across the street from the $26 million Bryan Glazer Family Jewish Community Center (JCC), being developed on the grounds of the historic National Guard Armory. The 100,000 square foot JCC is the predominant reason why the area is being described by members of the press as Tampa’s “Next Hot Neighborhood,” and why Tampa’s Mayor recently stated that “over the next five years, the transformation [of this neighborhood] begins right here on Howard Avenue.”

The new location offers more convenient accessibility to the firm’s clients and terrific visibility from bustling Howard Avenue. “We chose to put down roots in North Hyde Park for many reasons, including visibility and that this area is about to boom,” said attorney, Ghada Skaff. Attorney Skaff also pointed out that the location is just blocks from Highway 275 and minutes to downtown Tampa and the courthouses.

The purchase of the beautiful, 10-year-old office building on Howard Avenue signals more carefully managed growth for Lieser Skaff Alexander, which also has plans to add additional attorneys soon. The LSA office contains 9 redesigned suites, conference rooms and work spacesHoward for the firm’s paralegals. “The shift from leasing to purchasing a building that has room we can grow into is a reflection of our commitment to our clients, our practice and this community,” stated attorney, Jeff Lieser.

Since moving in, Lieser Skaff Alexander has joined the North Hyde Park Alliance, a business-based organization, which is recognized as the voice of the neighborhood, and that was formed by like-minded business people who care about the area and its future development. Lieser Skaff Alexander also plans to participate in community events at the JCC. “We are absolutely thrilled to be part of this wonderful neighborhood during this incredible time in its history,” said attorney, Joe Alexander. “Our involvement in the revitalization of North Hyde Park will continue the firm’s ongoing commitment to the Tampa Bay community,” he said.

Categories
Firm Updates

Ghada Skaff named a Florida Super Lawyers “Rising Star”

Lieser Skaff Alexander is proud to announce that Ghada Skaff  was named a 2015 Rising Star by Super Lawyers. This organization selects the best and brightest from across the country for their prestigious distinction. Jeff Lieser was recognized as a Rising Star in 2013 and 2014, and Joe Alexander in 2014. Jeff Lieser and Joe Alexander also received this honor in 2015.

ghada_skaffThe Rising Star recognition is bestowed annually on approximately 2.5% of attorneys in the state who have passed a rigorous and patented review process. To qualify, lawyers must be no more than 40 years old and have been in practice for 10 years or less; they also must be nominated by other attorneys for consideration. Extensive research is then conducted, followed by peer review and ultimate determination.

Ghada Skaff’s primary focus is on business law, working with clients on local, state, national, and international projects and legal matters. In addition to her expertise in corporate structuring and complex sales or assignments of various types of businesses, such as restaurants and retail, she also assists clients with foreign trade processes. She is fluent in English and Arabic dialect, and is proficient in Modern Standard Arabic.

Her achievement will be published in both Florida Super Lawyer Magazine and Tampa Bay Magazine in July, and listed on her online Super Lawyers profile.

Categories
Military Law

Florida Court Rules TSGLI Benefits Are Not Marital Property

Congressionally created at the height of the Iraqi war, Traumatic Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance (TSGLI) is a rider to Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance (SGLI), a life insurance policy available to all military members. TSGLI covers medical expenses incurred by military members who have suffered a traumatic injury on or off-duty and whether located CONUS or OCONUS. Payments range from $25,000 to $100,000 depending on the severity of the injury.

Off-Duty Traumatic Injury

Traumatic Servicemembers' Group Life InsuranceIn a recent case this law firm handled, a married couple was involved in a serious vehicular accident. The husband, a Soldier, suffered a traumatic brain injury and was deemed entitled to TSGLI benefits. The husband requires around-the-clock medical treatment, while the wife suffered significantly less serious injuries.

TSGLI Not Marital Property

The wife filed for divorce after the accident. Lieser Skaff Alexander represented the husband. The wife listed $100,000.00 in TSGLI benefits as a contingent marital asset on her financial affidavit. She wanted half of that amount should the husband receive it. The Tampa Circuit Court Judge denied her claim, ruling in a case of first impression that TSGLI benefits are not part of the marital estate and, therefore, not subject to equitable distribution.

Husband Sole Beneficiary of TSGLI

Citing Ridgway v. Ridgway, 454 U.S. 46 (1981), the trial court determined it was federally pre-empted from interfering with this federal benefit. The court also held that the wife would be entitled to such benefits only if her husband died and she was listed as the SGLI beneficiary. Under federal law, the only time someone other than the military member can receive TSGLI benefits is if he or she survives seven full days after the traumatic injury, but then dies before all of the TSGLI benefits are paid. Under such circumstances, the balance of the TSGLI benefits is paid to the beneficiaries listed on the SGLI policy. Therefore, under the facts of this case, the court determined that, pre-emption aside, the wife was still not entitled to any portion of the husband’s future TSGLI benefits.

Tampa TSGLI Attorneys

As legal counsel for the husband in this case, the military divorce attorneys at Lieser Skaff Alexander were thrilled to have obtained this important result for this deserving client and any servicemembers in the future who are faced with this issue. Our goal is to help all our clients, including military members, protect their rights and secure their future.

For a copy of the court’s ruling, please contact attorney, Jeff Lieser.

Categories
Construction

Tampa Construction Defect Claims: Real and Synthetic Stucco Cracks and Water Damage Caused by Improper Installation

If properly installed and maintained, real cement stucco and synthetic stucco (properly called EIFS-Exterior Insulation and Finishing Systems) can both last for the life of the home. These systems are designed to shed rainwater immediately with only small amounts absorbed but dried out by the sun and wind. Stucco’s life span is dramatically reduced, however, when water passes through small hairline cracks. Trapped and unable to dry out, water saturates and rots the plywood or oriented strand board sheathing and framing, creating a breeding ground for toxic mold.

Florida HouseFaulty Stucco Installation

Channel 8, WFLA.com, ran a story (with contributions by Jeff Lieser) recently about an Apollo Beach homeowner who experienced stucco failure due to improper installation. After noticing small cracks in the stucco exterior of his home, he removed a section of the stucco and found rotten wood and mold underneath. An expert in stucco defects inspected the home and noted several reasons for the water intrusion:

  1. Stucco layers were too thin and were thus prone to cracking.
  2. Paper backing was lapped incorrectly, producing thin areas prone to cracking.
  3. Points where stucco intersected with windows lacked caulking to prevent water entry.

Other common reasons for cracking and water entry are:

    • Real stucco not cured properly
    • Water-resistant barriers not installed properly
    • Kick-out flashings not installed properly
    • Control joints not installed properly

A hairline crack can allow gallons of water to enter during one of Tampa’s rains, and if the stucco system as a whole was improperly installed, the damage can be catastrophic. Indeed, the expert informed the homeowner that all of the second floor stucco of the home had to be removed and replaced.

Builder Refuses to Repair

The home was built in 2006 and sat unoccupied for some time until the homeowner purchased it in July, 2013, as a bank-owned foreclosure. At this time, a home inspector had observed a few small cracks, but the homeowner went ahead with the sale after being assured by the builder that any necessary repairs would be covered by warranty through 2016. Now the builder denies that the warranty applies because the home was not maintained when no one lived there. The builder asserts that the cracks should have been caulked and sealed as part of the general maintenance required of every home.

That may be true, but every serious problem with stucco can be traced back to installation errors. Hairline cracks will develop in real and synthetic stucco over time due to normal internal and external forces. But moisture intrusion should not be a problem if the weatherproofing components were properly installed at the time the home was built.

Do You Have Water Damage?

You may not know for years whether your stucco-clad home has sustained water damage, rot and mold. Visual inspection often doesn’t reveal internal water damage. The best way to diagnose water damage is to hire a professional water intrusion expert to test your home at least annually for the presence of moisture in the interior wall cavity of your home.

If your inspector determines that that your stucco system has suffered water damage and needs repair, removal or remediation, you should make a demand on your builder to fix the problems. If he refuses, you should contact the Tampa construction defect attorneys at Lieser & Skaff to discuss your available options. We try to resolve your case without resorting to litigation, but if filing a lawsuit becomes necessary, we work with your insurer, contractors and other parties to resolve the dispute as quickly and efficiently as possible

Deadline to File Stucco Lawsuit

If the statute of limitations for filing a construction defect lawsuit is quickly approaching, our Tampa building defect attorneys will suggest that you sue all potentially liable parties to preserve your legal claims. In Florida, you must file suit within four years after discovering the water damage, but in no event can you sue after 10 years from the date the construction of the home was completed.

For example, the Apollo Beach resident’s home was built sometime in 2006. He would have to file a complaint against the builder by sometime in 2016 if the builder refuses to make the repairs. The homeowner has a 10-year construction warranty, but let’s assume that it was for only five years and had expired in 2011. The homeowner would still have until 2016 to take legal action. Note that he would not have until 2018, which is four years after he discovered the damage, because the law does not permit a homeowner to sue a builder more than 10 years after the home was built.

Source:  WFLA.com, Fla. homeowners with building defects have protection, Shannon Behnken, June 5, 2014.

Categories
Business Law

Analyzing the Recent Verizon-Netflix Business Dispute Under Florida’s Unfair Business Practices Law

Ahhhhh…the weekend is here. It’s time to relax and watch your favorite Netflix show. Uh-oh. Why is it taking forever to download? What are all those little dots?

“The Verizon Network is crowded right now.
Adjusting video for smoother playback…”

Smart tv and hand pressing remote controlA few hundred thousand customers of Verizon and other internet service providers (ISP) recently saw this error message while experiencing slow downloads and grainy picture quality as they were trying to watch videos on Netflix. Worried that the message would tarnish its otherwise sparkling reputation, Verizon sent a message of its own to Netflix in an indignant cease-and-desist letter dated June 5, 2014.

Verizon demanded that Netflix take down the message, calling it a deceptive and unfair business practice. Verizon wanted proof that the diminished service was solely Verizon’s fault, as well as a list of Verizon customers who were shown the message. Failure to provide this information, Verizon warned, could lead to legal action. Unaffected by the threat, Netflix stated on June 9, 2014, that the error message had been sent to customers of Verizon and other ISPs as part of a test that would continue until June 16, 2014.

Categories
Real Estate

Getting Rid of Squatters Living In Your Florida Home

Kicking strangers out of your home may be harder than you think. Just ask the Army Soldier whose Pasco County, Florida home was invaded by a couple of squatters while he was away serving his country. Two complete strangers moved into the Soldier’s home, changed the locks and refused to leave. If that wasn’t distressing enough, the Pasco County sheriff’s office told the Soldier that police could not do anything to remove the squatters.

Verbal Agreement

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Before his deployment to Afghanistan two years ago, the Soldier asked a friend to keep an eye on his home. The friend enlisted the help of one of the squatters to renovate the home while the Soldier was gone. Two months after the work was completed, the friend discovered the squatters living in the home, much to her surprise.

The squatters claimed that the Soldier’s friend agreed to allow them to live in the home rent-free in exchange for performing the renovation. Although the friend denied that such an agreement existed, the squatters’ claim was enough to place the matter outside of police intervention. In other words, the case was now a civil matter.