Weitz & Luxenberg has a long-standing tradition of participating in critical legal learning opportunities. This spring is no different.
Several of our attorneys are participating at the New Jersey Association for Justice (NJAJ) Boardwalk Seminar 2023. The event is being held from April 26 to 28, at Harrah’s Resort in Atlantic City, New Jersey. W&L is proud to be a platinum sponsor of this legal seminar.
Murtha Co-Chairs Women Trial Lawyers Caucus
Attorney Michelle C. Murtha, from our Mesothelioma and Asbestos Practice Group, is co-chairing the NJAJ’s Women Trial Lawyers Caucus Seminar. This event is taking place on April 27, from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. The seminar brings women in the legal profession together to discuss the latest topics of the day.
Ms. Murtha advocates for the legal rights of victims of corporate greed. She is driven by a strong desire to hold negligent corporations accountable for exposing innocent people to the dangers of asbestos.
“I am proud to be co-chairing the Women Trial Lawyers Caucus program for the second year in a row at the NJAJ Boardwalk Seminar. This program was brought back by popular demand to discuss the areas of imposter syndrome, compassion fatigue and burn out. We are focusing the panel discussion on ways to recognize these issues and overcome them through personal and organizational behavior modification,” explains Ms. Murtha.
Relkin Co-Chairs Mass Tort Program
Recognized nationally for their skill and knowledge, several attorneys from our firm’s Drug and Medical Device Litigation practice group are speaking at the Mass Tort program also being held on April 27. These W&L members include partner and practice group chair Ellen Relkin, and attorneys Brendan A. McDonough and Erica Garcia.
Ms. Relkin is co-chairing the day-long Mass Tort track at the conference. “The important role multidistrict and multicounty litigation plays in getting justice for clients cannot be overstated,” insists Ms. Relkin. “I am very proud to be co-chairing this important day, and sharing information with my fellow attorneys who focus on getting justice for clients.”
Ms. Relkin has represented thousands of clients harmed by defective medical products, including failed hip and knee implants. She is noted for serving in multiple multidistrict litigation (MDL) leadership roles, including her recent appointment as co-lead counsel for In Re: Exactech Polyethylene Orthopedic Products Liability Litigation MDL. Other appointments include co-lead counsel for In Re: JUUL MDL, lead and liaison counsel for the New Jersey In Re: Stryker Rejuvenate & ABG II Modular Hip Implant Litigation, and Executive Committee member of In Re: Invokana (Canagliflozin) Products Liability Litigation.
Hot Topics in Mass Tort
Ms. Relkin and her W&L colleagues are presenting on important MDLs during the session on Hot Topics in Mass Tort, from 10:45 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. These include:
Exactech – Ms. Relkin.
CPAP – Mr. McDonough.
Hair Straightener – Ms. Garcia.
W&L is currently accepting clients in these cases, as well as those affected by the toxic water at Camp Lejeune.
Defective Exactech Hip and Knee Implants Liners
W&L is currently accepting clients who had or need a revision surgery due to failure from their defective Exactech joint replacement products. Exactech recalled hip, knee, and ankle devices due to excessive polyethylene wear and improper packaging.
“The harm these defective polyethylene liners has caused is overwhelming. This material has destroyed bone, tissue, and ligaments in many patients. Revision surgery is often the only option to attempt to repair the damage,” says Ms. Relkin. “There is no way to turn back the clock for our patients.”
Philips CPAP and BiPAP Devices Recalled
Mr. McDonough is currently representing W&L clients harmed by Philips Respironics’ recalled CPAP, BiPAP, and mechanical ventilator devices. These products are used to treat obstructive sleep apnea. He serves on the Science Committee of the MDL and is working closely with experts on medical causation.
Millions of users are affected by the recall. They could suffer life-threatening health complications, including serious pulmonary problems and certain cancers. The polyurethane sound abatement foam used in the airway of these devices degrades and off-gases. Users then inhale and ingest these potentially carcinogenic and toxic compounds.
Mr. McDonough says, “Even though we are still in the early stages of discovery, much of what we’ve suspected about the company’s negligent conduct and prior knowledge of the defect is proving to be true. In addition, many thousands of complaints have been submitted to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the FDA, since the recall in June 2021. And many more injured users of the affected products have come forward. We look forward to continuing to investigate and ultimately prevail on our many clients’ claims of pulmonary injuries and cancers of the lungs, blood, and respiratory pathway, among other things.”
Mr. McDonough adds a one-of-a-kind skillset as a biomedical engineer, with a degree from Cornell University’s College of Engineering, to his legal abilities. He has presented across the country about the chemical dangers of degraded foam particles and their off-gassing.
Hair Relaxing Products and Uterine Cancer
Many chemical hair straightening products are dangerous. They contain toxic chemicals that ultimately disrupt a woman’s hormones.
Some of these chemicals are carcinogenic. Hair straightening products that contain hormone-disrupting chemicals are linked to a higher risk of hormone-sensitive cancers, including ovarian, endometrial, and uterine.
Ms. Garcia explains, “Many women have used hair relaxers from a young age, and it becomes a part of their beauty routine. Unfortunately, their frequent use of these products has exposed them to harmful chemicals that contribute to these hormone-sensitive cancers. As a result, many of these women undergo extensive medical treatment to combat these life-threatening injuries. I welcome the opportunity to speak about the danger of hair relaxers and the legal remedies for victims.”
Ms. Garcia has worked on several defective drug and device cases, including JUUL e-cigarettes. She was recently appointed to serve on the Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee for the hair straightener MDL.
Sotomayor Discusses Working with Asbestos Clients
W&L attorney Eduardo R. Sotomayor, from our Mesothelioma and Asbestos Practice Group, is a NJAJ member. He was asked to present during Magic vs. Mayhem at Trial as a speaker within the NJAJ Rising Stars section. It happens on April 28, from 1:30 to 3:00 p.m.
Mr. Sotomayor is presenting on April 28, as part of the 1:30 – 3:00 p.m. panel, on
Working up the Plaintiff’s Mass Torts (Asbestos) Case. He is discussing multiple topics, including what to do as soon as a new case comes into an attorney’s desk, the importance of good relationships for successful client interaction, working with your client to build up the case, research tools, and handling the discovery process.
“I am thrilled to have an opportunity to share my ideas and perceptions with others about how to build up a plaintiff’s asbestos case from the very first client meeting. My session focuses on how crucial it is for clients to trust you and open up to you, so they are able to share their story,” emphasizes Mr. Sotomayor.