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Drop in Small-Business Bankruptcies - but California Tops Filings

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

According to a new survey, there has been a drop in the number of bankruptcy filings by small businesses, but California continued to top the list of bankruptcy filings nationwide.

According to the survey by Equifax, the number of bankruptcies involving small businesses in the first three months of 2011 was 15.2% lower than in the same period of time in 2010. However, even though the number of bankruptcy filings involving small businesses was down in the first quarter of 2011 compared to 2010, the number of filings was actually much higher than filings before the recession began. The number of filing is more than 30% higher than before the recession.

The biggest spike in bankruptcy filings was recorded in the city of Denver, where there was an increase of 26%. However, Western states saw steep declines in bankruptcy filings involving small businesses. Also across the country, the pace of these declines is beginning to bottom out.
California continued to top filings across the country. A total of four California metro areas occupied the top spots on the list. At the top of the list was the Los Angeles Metro area with than 1,028 small firms declaring bankruptcy in the first quarter of 2011. This was followed by Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario with 629 bankruptcies, Sacramento with 434 bankruptcies and San Diego with 400 bankruptcies.

The number of small businesses filing for bankruptcy protection in Orange County, for instance, increased by a staggering 110.3% in 2011, compared to the same period of time in 2008. During the first three months of 2011, there were 328 small business bankruptcy filings in Orange County.

There are a total of 24 million small businesses in the United States. For purposes of the survey, small businesses were defined as those that had less than 100 employees. If you are contemplating filing for a business bankruptcy, it is important to contact a Los Angeles business bankruptcy lawyer as soon as possible.

Supreme Court Denies Pfizer's Bid to Appeal $58 Million Prempro Verdict

Monday, August 29, 2011

The U.S. Supreme Court has denied pharmaceutical company Pfizer's bid to appeal a verdict of $58 million awarded to two women who developed breast cancer as a result of using the company’s menopause drugs, Prempro and Premarin.

Hormone replacement therapy drugs are typically used to ease the symptoms of menopause, and reduce the risk of developing osteoporosis. For several years, Prempro and Premarin were Pfizer's best-selling HRT drugs, totaling annual sales of more than $2 billion. However, in 2002, a study indicated that women using Prempro and Premarin had an increased chance of developing breast cancer. Thousands of women filed personal injury lawsuits against Pfizer, and at one point in time, these lawsuits numbered more than 10,000. California Prempro injury lawyers believe that more than 6 million women took Prempro and Premarin before the 2000 study.

The verdict of $57.6 million had been handed over to two women who had taken the HRT drugs and developed breast cancer. The original award in 2007 was $134.1 million, which was later lowered by a trial judge to $57.6 million. The Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal of the verdict which held that Pfizer's Wyeth unit had concealed the risks of developing breast cancer from consumers.

Wyeth tried to argue that the jury in the verdict had been biased against the company. Lawyers for the company claim that the trial judge, instead of reducing the verdict, should have ordered for a new trial. The verdict is now the single largest Prempro/Premarin verdict.

Pfizer has settled about one third of the total number of Prempro lawsuits against it. Last month, the company claimed that it had set aside more than $770 million to resolve these lawsuits.

NHTSA: Electronic Stability Control Has Reduced Fatal Accidents

Friday, August 26, 2011

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has evaluated the effectiveness of electronic stability control devices in reducing overall accidents The agency's findings are included in a report titled Crash Prevention Effectiveness of Light-Vehicle Electronic Stability Control, which examined data between 1997 and 2009.

The agency focused on the declines in fatal accidents, especially those involving loss of control like rollover accidents and side-impact collisions involving stationary objects. According to the report, electronic stability control devices have contributed to a 6% decline in the overall number of accidents, and an 18% decline in overall fatal accident numbers.

The agency’s report also breaks down the numbers further based on the type of motor vehicle accident. Some types of vehicles like light pickup trucks and sport utility vehicles have a much higher risk of rollover accidents. Fatal accident rates for light pickup trucks and vans dropped by 20% with the use of electronic stability control systems, and overall accident rates for these vehicles dropped by 7%. Overall accident rates for passenger cars dropped by 5% and fatal accident rates for passenger cars dropped by 20% with the use of the electronic stability devices.

Electronic stability control systems detect when the vehicle is about to lose control, and apply braking force and slow down engine output to regain control over the vehicle. The systems prevent the driver from overcorrecting or the vehicle from fishtailing. Electronic stability control systems act quickly and discreetly to prevent accidents. The system activates automatically when it detects that the driver is unable to stop an impending rollover. Los Angeles car accident lawyers believe that these features have made electronic stability control some of the most successful safety aids and most prominent safety features in many automobiles. Under an NHTSA directive, all vehicles from the 2012 model year onward will be equipped with electronic stability control systems

Pfizer Wins Viagra Patent Infringement Case against Teva Pharmaceuticals

Friday, August 19, 2011

Pfizer Inc. has achieved a victory after a federal judge upheld the company's patent for the impotency pill Viagra, holding that the patent is valid until 2019.

The case is the result of an attempt by Teva Pharmaceutical Industries to market a generic version of Viagra. Israel-based Teva had claimed that Pfizer's patent was not valid and could not be enforced.

Teva’s lawyers used information that emerged in a Canadian patent case. The lawyers alleged that Pfizer's lawyers had engaged in inequitable conduct, a serious charge that the attorneys beached their duty of good faith to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. However according to the federal judge, Teva’s lawyers failed to prove the invalidity of the patent through “clear and convincing evidence.” The judge also held that there was simply no evidence suggesting that Pfizer intentionally withheld documents from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. As a result of this decision, Pfizer will now be able to block generic versions of Viagra from the marketplace until 2019.

According to pharmaceutical industry analysts, this decision sends a strong message to generic drug companies, as they try to override patents. Los Angeles patent infringement lawyers expect other generic drug companies to take similar action, but believe that pharmaceutical companies have sensed a strong victory in the Pfizer decision. It's possible that pharmaceutical companies will now push back against any attempts by generic drug companies to override patents.

Viagra is one of Pfizer's best-selling drugs, contributing heavily to the company’s net income of $8.26 billion last year. Viagra totals $1 billion in sales for Pfizer in the United States alone every year.

Other companies are involved in similar litigation with generic drug manufacturers. For instance, Teva is currently involved in litigation with Bayer over the latter's anti-impotence drug, Levitra.

IRS Says No Refunds of FAA Plane Ticket Taxes

Monday, August 15, 2011

Airline passengers who flew during the Federal Aviation Administration budget fiasco, will not be eligible for a refund of their ticket taxes. The Internal Revenue Service has confirmed that no passengers who flew on flights during this period of time will be eligible for refunds.

The question of refunds of the FAA’s ticket taxes has intrigued tax relief lawyers in California and throughout the nation which had been left hanging in the air since the partial FAA shutdown ended. The impasse was triggered on July 23rd as a result of Congress's failure to approve a reauthorization of the FAA budget. The failure to pass a budget meant that the Federal Aviation Administration no longer had the authority to collect taxes on airplane tickets.

The U.S. Senate then adjourned without resolving the matter. This meant that airlines were not required to collect the taxes that were to be paid to the Federal Aviation Administration on every ticket. During this time, airlines retained the amount that they would have had to pay on each ticket. Most of the airlines chose to raise ticket prices to the levels that they were at if they had been taxed. The IRS then released a statement saying that taxpayers who paid taxes as part of their fares would be eligible for refunds.

Now, the IRS has backtracked on its earlier statement. The agency now says that passengers who purchased airline tickets during the shutdown will not receive refunds.

Untrained Pilots and Errors Contributed to Air France Plane Crash

Friday, August 12, 2011

A French aviation investigative agency has blamed two factors that California plane crash lawyers frequently come across - pilot error and lack of training - for a deadly plane crash in 2009. Air France flight 447 was on its way to Rio de Janeiro when it crashed into the Atlantic just a few hours after it took off from Paris, killing all 228 passengers and crew members on board.

According to the report, it is very likely that the pilots could have prevented the crash if they had reacted appropriately to the emergency at hand, and had been trained to do so. The trouble began when the speed sensors of the plane froze, shutting down auto pilot and the auto trust system. Because of this, the pilots lost vital readings, and were required to begin flying the plane manually. However, they were not prepared to do so.

Further, according to the report, the pilots repeatedly ignored stall warnings, even when one of them had gone on for about 54 seconds. They also failed to react appropriately to the stall warnings.

The report by the investigative agency comes with a number of recommendations to prevent similar crashes in the future. One of the recommendations urges authorities to enhance pilot training procedures to include training for stall approach and recovery. The report also recommends that pilots get regular airplane handling training.

But the one fact that stands out in the report is that during this crash, the pilot was not in the cockpit, and was on a rest break. He had handed over the cockpit to the copilot, without giving him the necessary instructions about duty sharing in handling the plane in his absence. The investigative agency has found that there were no established procedures in place for situations like this where the pilot was not the cockpit. The report calls for the establishment of procedures in circumstances in which the pilot is resting, leaving the cockpit to the copilot.

Female Veterans Struggle with Homelessness

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

In spite of the fact that more than 230,000 female veterans are believed to have participated in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, there is very little awareness of their role in combat or appreciation of the special hardships they face when they return. As a result, thousands of female veterans around the country face physical or mental conditions, unemployment and homelessness.

According to estimates, more than 120 female veterans have died in service in Iraq and Afghanistan. More than 600 female vets have been injured in these wars. Female vets are not exposed to just combat injuries. They are also subjected to sexual harassment and assault. In fact according to some estimates, approximately 22% of female veterans have experienced some kind of sexual assault, compared to just 1% of male veterans. Other studies indicate that the levels of harassment and sexual abuse that female veterans face is probably much higher than we currently know.

Many of these veterans are returning home with untold stories of sexual abuse, harassment, in addition to the horrors of combat. Not surprisingly to California veterans lawyers, many returning female veterans suffer from symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, reducing their ability to integrate, and increasing the risks that they will end up homeless and unemployed.

A study titled Trauma - Informed Care for Women Veterans Experiencing Homelessness by the Department of Labor, indicates that up to 90% of female veterans have been exposed to some abuse. Their suffering is compounded by the environment they return to from combat. However, female veterans who return find that VA services offered for veterans by the federal administration are targeted towards males.

According to the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, more than 40% of returning female veterans have children. Approximately 30,000 of our female veterans are single mothers. These factors add an extra level of strain to the already stressed environments that female veterans return to.

Knowledge of Hand Hygiene Rules Linked to Lower Risk of Transmitting Infections

Monday, August 08, 2011

A new study links hand hygiene knowledge to a lower risk of health care workers transmitting infections in hospital. The results of the study, which have been published in the American Journal of Infection Control, stress to Arizona medical malpractice lawyers the importance of emphasis on hand hygiene to prevent hospital-acquired infections.

The study assessed a group of subjects, including nurses, infection control specialists and hospital environmental services managers based on how they performed in a related study. Each person in the study was exposed to sixteen real-life simulations. These simulations were designed to assess the person’s hygiene knowledge levels as well as internal health locus of control, or ability to perceive one’s own influence in controlling infections.

The researchers found that healthcare workers typically found surfaces as being safer to touch than patients’ skin. They believed this even though it's a fact that touching contaminated surfaces can spread infections quicker. In fact, when a person touches a single contaminated surface, he's at risk of contaminating the next seven surfaces that he has touched. The researchers believe that in spite of the knowledge of the contaminated surfaces, health professionals likely don't have an appreciation for the kind of risk that comes from touching contaminated surfaces and then patients.

Hand hygiene compliance rates are low in many hospitals in the country. This is in spite of the fact that there are enough studies proving that regular washing and sterilizing of hands before and after attending to patients, can significantly reduce the spread of bacteria. The Centers For Disease Control and Prevention recommends that health care workers use alcohol-based hand rubs to sterilize the hands before and after contact with patients, after coming into contact with bodily fluids and broken skin, and after touching medical equipment.

Scientists Successfully Use treatment to Treat Breathing Interruption in Patients with Spinal Cord Injury

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Neuroscientists have successfully used an experimental nerve graft treatment to treat one of the most serious problems arising after a spinal cord injury - interruption in breathing.

Persons who suffer a cervical spinal cord injury that is located at or above the C-3, C-4 and C-5 vertebrae, may suffer serious breathing dysfunction. Such people may need to be placed on artificial respirators. The use of artificial respirators in turn comes with more complications, including the development of respiratory infections. In order to find a treatment for spinal injury-related respiratory interruption, the scientists experimented with a peripheral nerve graft therapy on lab rats.

The use of a small section of nerve graft to treat breathing interruption after a spinal injury is not new. These treatments have been used before, but researchers had always faced one major complication - the emergence of scar tissue that blocked the growth of new nerve cells. The scientists found a solution for this problem by using injections of an enzyme called chondroitinase ABC. This enzyme prevented the development of scar tissue, and as a result, the researchers found that the site of the diaphragm that had been paralyzed and unable to move as a result of the spinal cord injury, began to move again, facilitating easier breathing.

After a period of ten weeks, the researchers found that the breathing function returned in most of the rats. Approximately 80% to 100% of the breathing function in the rats was restored. What's even more encouraging is that the progress was maintained over a period of time.

It's too early to say whether this treatment could be replicated in human beings. Researchers want to continue testing on lab rats before they can begin to test the therapy on human volunteers. However, if the treatment is found to be equally successful in human beings, then California spinal cord injury lawyers believe it would take care of one very serious problem facing the treatment of patients with spinal cord injury.

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