After an 11-week trial, a Louisiana jury rendered a historic verdict: $9 billion in punitive damages against Eli Lilly and Takeda Pharmaceuticals over claims that taking Actos increases bladder cancer risks. Richard J. Arsenault, along with co-trial counsel W. Mark Lanier and Paul J. Pennock, represented a New York man and his wife in the first federal Bellwether Trial. The award, one of the nation’s largest personal injury verdicts, is the first of nearly 3,000 lawsuits consolidated before Judge Rebecca Doherty.

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Group of Students on Field Trip at Alexandria Courthouse

A group of budding scholars!

We here at Neblett, Beard and Arsenault love being involved with our community.  For over a decade, we have organized and sponsored a field trip program, where local grade school classes can meet Law Enforcement officials, Lawyers and Judges and learn about the legal system.

Recently, Michael Koch, one of the partners here at NBA, organized a field trip for 24 Fourth graders from Cherokee Elementary School.  Michael took the class to the Louisiana Ninth Judicial Courthouse in Alexandria, where they got to meet Major Karla Ryder from the Rapides Sherriff’s Office.  Major Ryder told the kids what a law officer does, why they arrest people, and for what reasons people most often get arrested.  Then the students got to go to a courtroom and talk with a real Judge- Judge Mary L. Doggett, of the Louisiana Ninth Judicial District Court.  Judge Doggett spoke to the children about the role a Judge plays in the judicial system, and answered the students’ questions.  The class also got to visit the Rapides Parish jail, where Warden Clark spoke and took them on a jailhouse tour.

After listening to all the different people involved in the legal process, Michael brought the class back to the Courthouse, where the kids were each assigned a role for a mock trial.  Different students got to be lawyers, witnesses, parties, bailiffs, judge and jury, and they got to perform the trial by themselves (well, with a little help from Michael and their teachers!).  They did opening and closing statement and an examination of witnesses.  After the jury reached their verdict (a “0″), the class proceeded to celebrate their victory (or mourn their loss) with a pizza lunch at Cici’s pizza.  After lunch, Micheal brought them back to the Neblett, Beard and Arsenault main office, where they got to see what a law practice looks like.  They got a surprise pop quiz about the law and legal system from Michael and their teachers- with the winners getting prizes instead of grades.

The teachers advising the field trip complimented the program, saying it was “awesome” and that it “was the best field trip [they] had ever been on”.  We’re glad they had a fun day, and hope they learned a lot, too!

Neblett, Beard and Arsenault’s field trip program is open to any local school.  The program is available for all age groups, from Elementary to Junior and Senior High School, and provides a unique opportunity for students to get a firsthand learning experience about our nation’s legal system.  If you know a local school that would like to participate, call Neblett, Beard and Arsenault and ask for Firm Administrator Irene Duplechin.

Group of Students in front of NBA Law Firm Sign

"The best field trip ever"

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CooperVision Expands Contacts Lens Recall to include Avaira Sphere and Avaira Toric

Last month, CooperVision recalled over 750,000 Avaira Toric contact lenses because a silicon oil residue left on the lenses could cause eye injuries.  Yesterday, CooperVision extended their previous Avaira recall to include Avaira Sphere lenses.  Avaira Toric lenses are only worn by people with astigmatism, and Avaira Sphere lenses are generally worn by people who don’t have astigmatism.

This recent expansion of CooperVision’s previous recall of Avaira Toric Contact Lenses affects 6.6 million contact lenses which may cause side effects such as hazy vision, pain, and eye damage.  CBS News reports that the FDA thought CooperVision’s recall didn’t go far enough, and that’s why the FDA has issued “its own urgent warning about Avaira lenses”.

According-+ to the FDA, levels of a silicon oil residue found on the surface of contact lenses causes these eye problems. The world-wide recall involves lenses distributed to several countries including the United States, Canada, Australia, Spain, Hong Kong, Italy, and Germany.  Problems reported by Avaira contact lens wearers include severe eye pain, blurred vision, hazy vision, corneal damage and other vision associated problems.

According to an FDA informational page concerning the recall:

If you wear Avaira Sphere contact lenses and experience any symptoms, CooperVision recommends that you stop wearing the lenses immediately. Contact your eye care practitioner for advice.  CooperVision will launch a recall site  on Wednesday November 16th for wearers to enter the package lot number found on the contact lens carton or blister label to determine if their lenses have been recalled.

If you have experienced symptoms as a result of these contacts, check with your eye care practitioner immediately. The FDA requests that you report any problems or symptoms via their MedWatch Reporting program.


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Possible Link Between Infuse and Higher Cancer Risks

Infuse, a Medtronic developed bone growth stimulator, is also known as Amplify when used in higher doses. While Infuse received very limited approval from the FDA, Amplify was not approved due to potential cancer risks.

Now, it appears that startling new information relating to inappropriate Infuse usage has been discovered. At a national spinal surgeon convention, Dr. Eugene Carragee noted that undisclosed clinical trial data “showed a significantly higher number of cancers in the study group that received Amplify when compared to a control group that received a bone graft as part of a spinal fusion….”

In that same article, Dr. Carragee also noted that Infuse may have been used off-label at higher-than-approved levels, levels possibly higher even than intended for Amplify, resulting in potential cancer risks to recipients.

Medtronic has responded to these claims by forking out $2.5 million to allow Yale researchers to independently analyze the Infuse data. This study has not been released; however, its results will likely provide additional insight into the safety of Infuse.

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Medtronic’s Infuse Bone Graft

Infuse, a bone growth stimulator produced by Medtronic, has been at the center of a medical controversy in recent months. When incorporated into neck surgeries, findings show that severe complications can result. Although FDA approval was granted in 2002, the approved use of Infuse was solely in conjunction with anterior approach lumbar fusions. However, it appears that Medtronic promoted use of Infuse for other neck and cervical surgeries.

The result of this un-FDA sanctioned use of Infuse – patients suffering severe medical complications including difficulty breathing, swallowing, speaking, airway compression, respiratory problems, nerve damage, infection, bone loss, unwanted bone growth, sterility in males, and death. Additionally, indicated that reports from the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel highlighted potentially inappropriate financial links between Medtronic and Infuse researchers. The Senate Finance Committee is currently looking into this claim. Also of note, in 2008, the FDA announced that improper Infuse use could cause medical problems.


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Life Insurance and Death Benefits

Life insurance provides peace of mind. Purchasing whole or universal life insurance policies helps policy holders ensure the future financial stability of their estate and their loved ones. Recent news reports have indicated however that certain life insurance companies maybe retaining unclaimed benefits owed to policy holders or beneficiaries. If you believe you have not received life insurance policy benefits to which you are entitled, you may have a legal claim.

Recently, Western & Mutual Holding Co. and Columbus Life Insurance Co., both Ohio companies, failed to examine Social Security’s Death Master File. The master file would have provided the insurance company with up-to-date information concerning whether or not policy holders were still alive. Using this master file would ensure that policy beneficiaries receive timely payouts of benefits whether or not the beneficiaries were aware that the policy existed. Estimates by researchers indicate that unpaid benefits could reach into the hundreds of millions of dollars annually. If this occurs each year then life insurance companies could be reaping undeserved benefits which belong to either a policy holder, a beneficiary, or the state government.



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Avaira Toric Contact Lens Recall

Toric contact lenses provide astigmatism sufferers with an effective alternative to glasses. Convenience, appearance, and easy of utilization are all benefits associated with contact lens usage. However, CooperVision’s recently instituted a world-wide recall of Avaira Toric Contact Lenses due to side effects such as hazy vision, pain, and eye damage suffered by lens wearers.

According to press releases issued by Cooper, a residue found on the toric lenses causes the eye problems. The world-wide recall involves lenses distributed to several countries including the United States, Canada, Australia, Spain, Hong Kong, Italy, and Germany.  Problems reported by toric lens wearers include severe eye pain, blurred vision, hazy vision, corneal damage and other vision associated problems.

According to an FDA informational page concerning the recall:

On August 19, 2011, the firm sent a recall notification letter to the US and Canadian distributors and health care practitioners. Other foreign distributors were sent the recall letter a week later.

Consumers should return their lenses to their eye care practitioner if they have the affected contact lenses. In addition, if a consumer who is wearing Avaira Toric contact lenses and experiences any symptoms, it is recommended that they stop wearing the lenses immediately and contact their eye care practitioner for advice.

If a consumer is wearing Avaira Toric contact lenses and is NOT experiencing symptoms, Cooper Vision recommends going to their recall web page at and enter the lot number of their package to determine whether their lenses have been recalled. If the lenses are on the recall list, they should immediately remove their existing lenses, discontinue all lens wear, and return them to their eye care practitioner or point of purchase.

If you have experienced symptoms as a result of these contacts, check with your doctor immediately. If you are uncertain if your contacts were part of this recall, visit the CooperVision website for additional information.



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Nostrilla Nasal Decongestant Spray Recalled Due to Possible Bacterial Contamination

The following was posted by the FDA.

Insight Pharmaceuticals, LLC of Langhorne, Pa., is recalling one lot (34,092 bottles) of Nostrilla Nasal Decongestant nasal spray to the consumer level, because it may contain the bacteria Burkholderia cepacia.

Burkholderia cepacia may cause serious infection in individuals with a compromised immune system or chronic lung condition (i.e. cystic fibrosis).  However, the possibility of infection is remote in healthy individuals.

Nostrilla Nasal Decongestant, lot #11G075, UPC Code 6373673005, was distributed nationwide through normal retail outlets and pharmacies. The product comes in a 1/2 ounce, plastic bottle marked with lot #11G075 on the label and with an expiration date of 05/2014 stamped on the side. No illnesses have been reported to date in connection with this problem.

The recall was initiated following internal investigations which determined the potential presence of a microbial contaminant that exceeds the product specifications and may consequently result in a subpar product. This contaminant has been found sporadically throughout only the respective manufacturing lot, #11G075.

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FDA Posts the Following Recall on Cooper Vision Avaira Toric Contact Lenses

In full cooperation with the United States Food and Drug Administration, CooperVision, Inc. is continuing to work with the FDA, distributors, customers, eye care practitioners and lens wearers to complete the worldwide recall initiated on August 19, 2011 on certain lots of Avaira™ Toric contact lenses.

“Our first priority is always the health and safety of all CooperVision lens wearers and as such we responded quickly to complaints from our customers by initiating a voluntary recall” said Christine Moench, vice president, Global Regulatory Affairs and Quality Assurance. “We want to ensure that all consumers are aware of this action and know where to go for more information.”

If you wear Avaira Toric contact lenses and experience any symptoms, CooperVision recommends that you stop wearing the lenses immediately. Contact your eye care practitioner for advice.

The recall was initiated because of the unintended presence of a residue on certain lots of Avaira Toric lenses, which may cause hazy vision, discomfort, or eye injuries requiring medical treatment. Not everyone experiences the same symptoms. Since the initiation of the recall, the company has received some additional complaints of severe eye pain. Avaira Toric contact lens wearers that experience any symptoms should stop wearing the lenses immediately and speak with their eye care practitioner.

We have ongoing relationships with practitioners to continue to identify all the affected lots in the market. To date, the recall has impacted approximately 600,000 Avaira Toric contact lenses in the U.S.


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Arsenault to Teach Program at LSU Law Today

Neblett, Beard & Arsenault’s senior and founding partner, Richard J. Arsenault, will be presenting ” Illnesses With Long Latency Period” at the Litigation & Liability in the Workplace Continuing Legal Education program at LSU Law Center.

The program will investigate the legal issues related to handling an on-the-job injury or employment cases. The ever-changing interrelationship between workers’ compensation and tort law and the overlap of new state and federal laws related to Medicare and Medicaid create new and challenging issues for the attorney handling either side of employment-related cases.

Arsenault is a frequent chairman and speaker at state, local and national legal seminars and is alumni of LSU Law.

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