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Some Monday Legal News

     Since I am coming back from a holiday/vacation, I thought I would just jump right in with some legal news. No, I don’t feel like this, even if tempted!long weekend

       Instead… here we go! This blog includes lawsuit news and a product recall.

     First, a lawsuit filed by Reese Witherspoon. (Inside Counsel) ran an ad with a picture of Witherspoon and a caption that read: ” Do you know my name?”. It was an advertisement to sell online jewelry. Clearly using her likeness for marketing. (below without the wording)


     Witherspoon’s lawsuit says that she did not give the company any permission to use her likeness. By using her picture,  it has exploited her name and face to sell jewelry. The picture is also an advertisement for a ring that is a copy of her engagement ring, as shown in the picture. I guess I am helping the online jeweler by even mentioning their site and the lawsuit.

     Next item is a recall from Cracker Barrel.  “Angel’s Touch Collections” Recalls Butterfly and Shell Lamps Due to Shock and Fire Hazards. I normally would not focus on a lamp recall but I enjoy shopping at Cracker Barrel!  Maybe we should just stick with the mints, hats and sweaters. Anyway, here is the recall notice  (I know, recalls can be like dry cereal) :

 “This recall involves “Butterfly Clip Light” (SKU# 416593) and “Shell Clip Light” (SKU #416955) lamps that feature a Tiffany-style stained glass shade resembling a seashell or a multicolored butterfly.  Both lamps use a 7-watt type C bulb and have a plug-in cord with a cord-mounted on/off thumb-switch. The SKU number can be found on the product’s packaging”

    Finally, a report on the dismissal of a libel lawsuit that was filed by a former NBC reporter against a CBS station. (Chicago Tribune) A Judge has dismissed a lawsuit brought by news reporter Amy Jacobson. She was fired by her NBC station in 2007 after a rival CBS affiliate had aired a report that showed her  in a bathing suit at the home of a person of interest, in a prominent criminal case that had been regularly reported on by all local stations.

     CBS showed her at an apparent pool party at the home of Craig Stebic. He had been the subject of speculation relating to the curious disappearance of his wife. In a nine-page ruling, Judge Jeffrey Lawrence stated that Jacobson had failed to show that CBS had fabricated unfavorable content about her. He also noted that critical comments and other materials in the CBS story were “constitutionally protected expressions of opinion”.

     She still has not been found and no one has been charged.  One of those news stories that makes you go hmm.

      And for pic o’ day, we stay with “evidence”:

find it

Akavar Class Action and Others

     It sounds like a great idea to be able to “Eat all you want and still lose weight”. Let’s put on our buffet pants right now. Unfortunately, you know the saying of “there’s no free lunch” . Now, we should also start saying that there is ” no all you can eat and don’t get fat lunch”. 

     A nationwide notice is being sent out, authorized by the United States District Court of Utah, relating to a class action lawsuit  that is being brought against the manufacturers of a weight loss supplement that is called Akavar 20/50.(Akavar) The lawsuit is called Miller v Basic Research LLC, et al. (Case No. 2:07-CV-871)

     In their ads for the supplement, the manufacturer made claims that the product had undergone “scientific evaluation” by a “team of doctors”.  The lawsuit alleges that there were no clinical trials; no scientific evidence that supported the claims of being able to eat anything you want and not gain weight; and that the advertisements were just making fraudulent claims.

          In 2009, Hydroxycut was recalled, because people claimed to have suffered severe liver damage injuries. I see their commercials again under the title of “Hydroxycut Advanced”. Now, they are pitching energy and weight loss in the same supplement. Notice, they hit the airwaves hard, right before swimsuit season. I wonder what change they made in the ingredients, that make it “Advanced”.

     Synerate weight loss was recalled, after more than 60 adverse events were reported. Many were deaths relating to heart attacks and strokes.

     The FDA just sent out a warning about an over the counter weight loss supplement called Fruta Planta. It is barred from the US and the warning went as far as to say that you should make sure that it gets thrown away, in a sealed container, so children and animals cannot  get to it.  

     It’s sad that people of bad character concoct some pill; set up a PO Box; and just start running TV ads that tout false claims. Meanwhile, people think that the ads are truthful and the pictures of the actors in their bathing suits, must be real. 

     The battle of the bulge lets these kinds of characters prey on the unsuspecting. History records that  Hitler believed that you should  “make the lie big; make it simple; keep saying it and eventually they will believe it”.

A Topamax Recall and Reminder

     “Something The Lord Made” is the HBO movie about controversial open heart surgery on an infant. At the time, it was extremely controversial to operate on the heart. Outside the United States, there had been some heart repairs as early as 1895.

     The movie discusses the religious opposition to open heart surgery at the time. There were some that allegedly believed that the soul resided in the heart and thus, should not be tampered with. Others believed that such medical conditions should be left to the determination of our Creator.

     I was reminded of this movie when I saw the recall for Topamax. Topamax is a medication that is prescribed primarily for epilepsy. According to the announcement by the manufacture, Ortho-McNeil Neurologics, the recall stems from four consumer complaints.

     The complaints resulted from an uncharacteristic odor in  pill bottles, that is thought to be TBA (tribromoanisole). TBA is a byproduct of a chemical preservative that is sometimes used on chemically treated wood. It could have gotten into a batch of Topamax, from wood pallets where the medication had been stored.

     Epilepsy  is one of the most common neurologic disorders. History tells us that it used to be sometimes known as the “Sacred Disease” because the resulting symptoms were believed to be a result of such things as demonic possession, or an attack by “other wordly” beings.  A 5th century treatise by Hippocrates discussed the attacks and their possible relationships to visions.

     Because the condition was not understood, some considered it to be contagious or poisonous. Treatments went as far to include literally drilling a hole in a person’s skull, to possibly attempt to either let the poison out or the evil spirit.

     This recall serves to remind us of how fortunate that we are with medical treatment and understanding today. Past medical conditions that were not understood, were given explanations that are obviously considered outrageous today. Maybe some of the treatments today, will also be deemed as an archaic to future medical care providers. 

     The other reason I blogged on this recall, is that it serves as a reminder to pay attention to our personal medications. A bad odor is cause for concern. Some may simply ignore their pill bottle when taking the medication. Also, medications are transported like other cargo and subject to issues beyond the manufacturing.

     In this instance, Ortho-McNeil is saying that the recall is related to fewer than 6000 bottles. Probably there’s a bit of a “conspiracy theory nut” in me, to always question the immediate discounting of any concern.

     I’m glad medicine has made such strides. I’ve been a benefactor of those advancements. Personal vigilence is also important and this recall is a reminder of that.

From The Notebook

      I’ve decided to “clean out the notebook” by posting a few  things that never made it to blog status. Like cleaning out the closet.  I guess it’s really not my notebook. More like cleaning out the thoughts and attachments.

     If you have seen movie  “Food Inc” , then you have seen the discussion of fast food hamburgers. One hamburger could be the product of many cows. Always makes me shake my head when I think about it.  Anyway, here is another one. The Washington Post is reporting that  a Maryland Safeway has recalled 220 lbs of ground meat. It was shown to be contaminated with plastic and ink from a pen. Odd place to keep the office supplies, I guess.  

       My next notebook topic deals with happiness. Recently, an older lady was asked about her secret to happiness. Her response, “When I work, I work hard; When I rest, I sit loose; when I worry, I go to sleep.” Not a bad philosophy for happiness.

     I jotted a note down about Netflix, because of a recent event. My wife and I were cruising right along with the movie on our DVD player. All of a sudden, it started to stick and then it “garbled”. Then, nothing. Right in the middle of a  good scene too. 

      Whenever I send a movie back, I receive an email that lets me know that Netflix has received it. It then asks me to fill out a survey on the movie and the quality. I always just delete those emails. Not this time. I couldn’t wait to click the boxes with that forceful “X”. 

      Then, it hit me;  Isn’t that the way it is?  Why don’t I comment on the good instead of the bad? I guess it’s like real life where it’s too easy to complain about someone, instead of congratulating them for something good.  I might be happier by just “Sitting loose”  and not complaining.  Next time, maybe I should check the “X” of happiness. A Netflix lesson to me.

     I know this is getting too long for some notebook cleanup; So, the last scrap.  A California candle company has issued a recall for  33,000 metallic and silver candles.  General Wax & Candle provided product to Yankee Candle that was sold in October and the beginning of November. Unfortunately, the candles were recalled because the paint ignited  too easily and caused a fire. I guess you can’t hold that candle and sing, “This little light of mine”.

The Irritation of Lexus

     I started to title this blog “The Irritating Lexus Commercial“. Then, I thought that I should google that term to see if there were multitudes of blogs on that topic. No, but it concerned me that irritating bowel syndrome came up and I wanted to steer clear there. Although, on second thought, you’ll see why those topics might be related.

     I am talking about the Lexus commercial that aired incessantly during the US Open last week. Now, let me explain how irritation at  Lexus can be related to my legal blog. I know, you think I am really taking you on a ride.

     I am guessing that if you watched any of the golf  last weekend, you were like me, asking, “What in the world”.  If you missed it, then experience is no teacher for irritation for you.

     It was a commercial that showed a Lexus car that was anchored down. I think the intent was to show how quiet it could run at high speeds. They placed a wine glass, sans wine, at the back of the exhaust. Then, they revved up the engine to some high speed and placed the glass behind it. Soon, the glass broke.

     Now I’m not kidding. That commercial must have aired over 150 times. I thought, for humor they will put something else back there like a banana or watermelon to see what happens. No such creativity. Instead, just repetition and I’m not even sure why.

     I know that the US Open supposedly reaches a high income demographic. However, the car costs in excess of 350K. Remember, it’s a Lexus. I’ll just let that concept ferment right there.

     Let’s move to the connection of my blog and the commercial of torment. Remember, there is a recall of Toyota and Lexus engines because the gas pedal sticks and drivers have no control to stop the car. 

     So, this US Open commercial stops the car in a garage by anchoring it down, so it demonstrate the power of  breaking a wine glass. How is that tapping our subconcious mind? For me, we would always just say, “Look, here is the stuck accelerator commercial again”  Maybe, the commercial just got jammed at the stations and they couldn’t stop it from running.

Toyota Accused of Deceptive Practices

Last week, I was interviewed on radio station WRVA regarding the Toyota acceleration cases that have been filed.  I have not blogged on this to date because there are still a lot of unanswered questions.  Plus, it seems that everybody is doing a blog on it.  Download Interview

One new lawsuit described in USA Today (article here) did grab my attention because it is being brought by the Orange County District Attorney.  A lawsuit has been filed against Toyota Motors, Inc., claiming that the company was aware of the potential for sudden acceleration in their cars and SUV's and sold them anyway.

This lawsuit accuses Toyota of engaging in deceptive business practices by withholding information from the public.  Toyota has been reticent about producing a lot of their documents and memos because they say that they contain trade secrets.  Maybe, they just contain downright secrets.  The DA lawsuit seeks $2500 per violation under the Unfair Business Practices Act.  Now that is worth keeping an eye on.  In the meantime, later this month, it will be decided where the lawsuits in the US will be consolidated against Toyota,  There are currently 5 states that are being considered. 

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