BP Appeal Bogs Down Settlement Program Progress

Do I still have a BP claim? A question asked by many Gulf Coast business owners.  The simple answer is yes, but it will continue to take time and patience for business owners to receive a settlement payment. Deep Water Horizon spill Since the U.S. Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit lifted the injunction on settlement payments this summer, the Settlement Program has steadily increased payments to qualified business owners.  However, there continue to be significant delays and backlogs in processing due to the continued implementation of Policy 495, the policy requiring a business’s revenue to “match” with its corresponding expenses. In addition to the technical delays of implementing this sweeping policy, Settlement Administrator Patrick Juneau’s efforts to improve the handling of business loss claims continues to be frustrated with a flurry of objections, appeals, threats, and stall tactics made by BP.  Later this month, it is hopeful the U.S. Supreme Court will bring an end to BP’s largest challenge confronting the efficiency of the Settlement Program.  While it was largely expected the Court would announce whether it would hear BP’s request for appeal (writ of certiorari) on Monday, November 17th , the Court instead announced it would postpone its decision until after its next conference, November 25th.  Should the Court determine it will not hear BP’s appeal, business claimants can expect the claim process to become more productive by the end of the year.  Should you have any questions related to the Settlement Program or whether your business qualifies for a claim, please contact Knox Boteler at knox@bfw-lawyers.com

Accident Victims and Hospital Liens

Alabama accident victims are now being confronted with Hospital Liens for “unpaid” medical bills even when they have health insurance. The article below was written by attorney Knox Boteler and explains this current trend of hospitals filing liens for payment instead of billing health insurance. If you have questions about your injury claim and a hospital lien, please call us today: 251-433-7766.

A troubling trend is developing in Alabama’s healthcare system – hospitals are making every attempt to avoid billing a patient’s health insurance. Over the last year, more and more accident victims suffering injuries as a result of automobile collisions, slip and falls, and product defects found hospitals filing liens against them for payment of medical services rather than billing their health insurance. Through the use of Alabama’s Hospital Lien Statute (ALA CODE §35-11-370), hospitals are filing liens in Alabama’s probate courts in hopes of recovering a larger payment for its services to accident victims than what is allowed by the hospital’s contractual relationships with private health insurance carriers, Medicare, and/or Medicaid. It should come as no surprise that a majority of Alabama hospitals attempting to circumvent the health insurance system consider themselves “non-profit.”

By now, it is common knowledge there is a vast difference between what a hospital bills for services and the amount a hospital expects to receive as payment from private health insurance carriers, Medicare, and/or Medicaid. This concept, historically, left only the uninsured as those subject to the hospital’s high charges. Now, however, many Alabama hospitals are seizing upon the language found in the hospital lien statute and insurance regulations to circumvent an accident victim’s health insurance coverage. As recently published by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), avoiding insurance coverage can result in a reimbursement rate of three to four times higher for a hospital than the Medicare reimbursement for services.

Filing hospital liens against those with health insurance coverage ignores the original purpose of the hospital lien statute: to create an incentive for hospitals to accept accident victims who needed medical care, but who may be either uninsured or unable to pay for such services. Typically, through the filing of a lien in the probate court where the accident victim’s injury was sustained, hospitals could enforce a claim against those monies owed to the uninsured patient by anyone legally responsible for causing the injury. Should the lien be impaired or not satisfied, the hospital could seek a recovery not only against the uninsured patient, but all those responsible for impairing the lien, including the liability insurance carrier. Such an impairment would not be limited to one’s insurance liability limits.

A hospital’s decision to avoid health insurance coverage has uncertain consequences upon an accident victim. First, it all but forces a victim to file a liability claim against a wrongdoer, even in a fender bender situation. In many instances, particularly with the elderly, an accident victim does not want to be hassled and bothered with a liability claim; they simply went to the hospital to get checked out after an accident. Unfortunately, under the new collection strategy of many hospitals, a hospital lien will be filed as opposed to filing with the victim’s health insurance carrier in hopes of recovering a greater reimbursement. Such a tactic all but forces a victim to make a liability claim against a wrongdoer. Second, as insurance agents remind clients everyday, health insurance is one of many coverages that protect customers from those events that could have significant, long-term financial effects. A hospital’s attempt to circumvent an accident victim’s health insurance can close that umbrella of protection. For instance, a hospital’s filing of a hospital lien to collect its charges of $15,000.00 from a wrongdoer’s liability insurance policy of, only, $25,000.00 leaves much less for the accident victim to recover for lost wages and general damages than if the hospital had just filed the claim with the victim’s health insurance carrier. Last, no one knows for sure how the filing of a hospital lien impacts an accident victim’s credit rating. It is assumed, though, there is a negative impact; especially, those instances where the liability claim and the hospital lien remain pending for a year or longer. In those situations, it must be assumed the credit rating services are reporting the outstanding hospital liens as an unpaid debt owed.

As this trend develops, it is important for Alabama residents to notify their legislators of this tactic in hopes the legislature can stop this collection tactic for good. For now, though, it is necessary for individual accident victims to aggressively fight with their treating hospital on this issue. Unfortunately, because hospital say they can file hospital liens, many accident victims with health insurance coverage are assuming there is nothing that can be done – this is not the case. Recently, the Mobile, Alabama law firm of Boteler, Finley & Wolfe was able to void a hospital lien that was filed for a date of service outside the statute’s requirements defining eligible dates of service. In another case, the firm worked with the client’s automobile insurance carrier to successfully challenge the reasonableness of the hospital charges as presented in the hospital’s lien. While these recent successes were of a great benefit to the clients, both of whom had health insurance, and moral victories for the firm, this tactic needs to be challenged in more instances by accident victims and their lawyers. The more challenges made against the tactic, the more burdensome it makes this collection practice for the hospital. With these challenges, hopefully, sometime soon “non-profit” hospitals utilizing this tactic will recognize its unconscionable practice against accident victims and will return to filing medical charges with accident victims’ health insurance carriers. Call us today for a free consultation about Hospital Liens. 251 433-7766. Or email knox@bfw-lawyers.com and make sure to put “Hospital Lien?” in the subject line.   REQUIRED DISCLAIMERS: Alabama Rule of Professional Conduct 7.2: No representation is made that the quality of legal service to be performed is greater than the services provided by other lawyers. The Mississippi Supreme Court advises that a decision on legal services is important and should not be based solely on advertisements. Free background information is available upon request to a Mississippi attorney. The listing of any area of practice by a Mississippi attorney does not indicate any certification of expertise therein. See Mississippi Rules of Professional Conduct Rule 7.2(d), Rule 7.4(a), Rule 7.6(a) (1997). General Disclaimer: This information is posted for general information purposes to help those interested parties or persons with potential civil claims better understand their rights and potential causes of action. If readers are currently represented by an attorney on the subject matter of this post then they are encouraged to continue with said representation. No attorney-client relationship is established by this post.

Boteler, Finley & Wolfe – New office location

The Mobile, Alabama law firm of Boteler, Finley & Wolfe has recently relocated to the 65 Dauphin Medical & Financial Building on the northeast corner of the intersection of Dauphin Street and Interstate 65. Boteler, Finley & Wolfe is one on Mobile’s oldest personal injury law firms having represented injury victims since 1989. The attorneys have recovered millions of dollars in benefits for thousands of injury victims in our area. Mark Wolfe explained the firm’s decision to relocate from their long time location in the historic mid-town Burns-Sparks Building: “Since we first located in the Burns-Sparks building many years ago a lot has changed. Mobile’s population continues to expand westward and with the advent of electronic filing there is no longer a need for lawyers to be close to the Courthouse.” He said the new location is more convenient for clients and offers plenty of parking. Wolfe also said this move is just the first step in a three phase long term growth plan designed to increase their accessibility to clients, “by the end of this year or early 2017 we hope to have a small satellite office in Baldwin County and eventually a satellite office in North Mobile County.” Boteler, Finley & Wolfe law firm is well known for its advocacy for injury victims and consumers. “We will continue our mission to help injury victims and insurance claimants as well as our long standing tradition of community involvement,” said Wolfe. The attorneys at the firm serve as Board members and leaders for a number of area non-profit organizations and are active in many community improvement projects. The new firm address is: 3290 Dauphin Street, Suite 505 Mobile AL 36606. The phone number remains: 251 433-7766. Consultations on all legal matters continue to be offered at no charge.

Essure Birth Control Implant – Warning!

Essure Birth Control Implant – Warning! FDA warningEssure is a device sold as a permanent, non-surgical birth control solution for women. Manufactured by Bayer HealthCare Pharmaceuticals (Bayer) and approved by the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) in November, 2002, the Essure device consists of small, flexible coils that are placed into the fallopian tubes by a catheter. Once in place, the device is designed to elicit tissue growth in and around the coils to form blockage of the tubes. The tissue barrier formed prevents sperm from reaching an egg; thus, preventing conception. The FDA has received over 5,000 reports of severe complications and unwanted side-effects from patients implanted with Essure. These include pregnancy, ectopic pregnancy, miscarriage, perforation of the uterus or other organs, migration of the device or its components from the fallopian tubes to the lower abdomen and pelvis, severe menstrual cramps and abnormal and/or heavy bleeding, and even death, as some reports have claimed. Other reported effects include vaginal infection, bloating, fatigue, skin allergies, hair loss, chronic pain, headaches, weight gain, and depression, among others. Several women have reported persistent side-effects so severe that they required invasive surgery to remove the implanted device. It has been further reported that many women who have had adverse consequences are having trouble finding a doctor that will perform the complicated removal surgery. Others have experienced pain so severe that a hysterectomy was their only option for relief. Several lawsuits against Bayer are now pending in Courts across the United States alleging the pharmaceutical company intentionally misled women implanted with Essure regarding its safety and actively concealed negative reports about the adverse reactions reported about the device. On March 4, 2016, the FDA issued an update on the agency’s review of the Essure System. In that update, the agency ordered Bayer to conduct a post-market surveillance study to obtain more data about Essure’s benefits and risks. Additionally, the FDA gave notice of its intent to require an expanded warning with the product and provide a “Patient Decision Checklist” for the Essure System to help women understand the risks and benefits of the device. For now, though, the FDA will not consider removing the device from the U.S. market. If you or someone you love has developed side effects from the Essure Implant System, we would welcome an opportunity to review this situation and further discuss the status of these potential claims and cases. Call Attorney Knox Boteler toll free at 1 866 975-7766 or email: knox@bfw-lawyers.com.     REQUIRED DISCLAIMERS: Alabama Rule of Professional Conduct 7.2: No representation is made that the quality of legal service to be performed is greater than the services provided by other lawyers. The Mississippi Supreme Court advises that a decision on legal services is important and should not be based solely on advertisements. Free background information is available upon request to a Mississippi attorney. The listing of any area of practice by a Mississippi attorney does not indicate any certification of expertise therein. See Mississippi Rules of Professional Conduct Rule 7.2(d), Rule 7.4(a), Rule 7.6(a) (1997). General Disclaimer: This information is posted for general information purposes to help those interested parties or persons with potential civil claims better understand their rights and potential causes of action. If readers are currently represented by an attorney on the subject matter of this post then they are encouraged to continue with said representation. No attorney-client relationship is established by this post.

Ovarian Cancer linked to Baby Powder!

A St. Louis jury recently returned a verdict of $72 million for a shower 2 showerwoman who developed ovarian cancer after regularly using talcum powder products for feminine hygiene. These products were made and sold by Johnson & Johnson and are called Baby Powder and Shower to Shower body powder. The verdict includes $10 million in actual damages and $62 million in punitive damages. The jury found Johnson & Johnson guilty of negligence, conspiracy and fraud. Internal documents introduced at trial revealed that Johnson & Johnson knew of the link between ovarian cancer and its products but hid it from the public. Testimony showed that as many as 1,500 women per year may die of ovarian cancer linked to Johnson & Johnson Baby Powder and Shower to Shower. If you or someone you love has developed ovarian cancer after regularly using these products, we would welcome an opportunity to review this situation and further discuss the status of these claims and cases. Call Mark Wolfe toll free at 1 866 975-7766 or email: mark@bfw-lawyers.com. Mark Wolfe - MultiMillion Dollar Associate       REQUIRED DISCLAIMERS Alabama Rule of Professional Conduct 7.2: No representation is made that the quality of legal service to be performed is greater than the services provided by other lawyers. The Mississippi Supreme Court advises that a decision on legal services is important and should not be based solely on advertisements. Free background information is available upon request to a Mississippi attorney. The listing of any area of practice by a Mississippi attorney does not indicate any certification of expertise therein. See Mississippi Rules of Professional Conduct Rule 7.2(d), Rule 7.4(a), Rule 7.6(a) (1997). General Disclaimer: This information is posted for general information purposes to help those interested parties or persons with potential civil claims better understand their rights and potential causes of action. If readers are currently represented by an attorney on the subject matter of this post then they are encouraged to continue with said representation. No attorney-client relationship is established by this post.

TV Lawyers

as seen on TVREADING THE FINE PRINT IN LAWYER TV ADS. Recently there have been numerous TV commercials for lawyers where someone brags about how much money the lawyer recovered for them. These people generally appear fine and gush about what a financial windfall the lawyer got them for their injury claim. The problem is the fine print disclaimers that accompany the commercials usually scroll across the screen so quickly, or are so small, you can’t read them. Many people don’t even see them let alone read them. Here’s a compilation of some of these disclaimers from some recent TV lawyer ads in our area: – Dramatization: Not an actual case. – Not an actual client testimonial or based upon a specific case.  – Actor portrayal, not a real client or case. – The monetary result referenced is not from an actual case.  – The monetary recoveries referenced are not typical of most injury claims and [law firm name omitted] in no way guarantees or promises similar results for specific injury claims. – Not a typical injury case recovery. – Not a real client or case result. – Not an actual case result or recovery. [Law firm name omitted] processes claims and cases via a referral to an affiliate law firm. Referral law firms are solely responsible for claim and case presentation and remit a portion of the attorney fees to [law firm name omitted.] – Actor and/or spokesperson is compensated for services and any reference to financial recoveries are of non-typical personal injury matters. – Actual results may vary. Not licensed to practice law in Alabama. Legal? Maybe. But doesn’t this smell of deception? A commercial runs with a “client” boasting of a huge financial recovery but hidden in the commercial is one of the above fine print disclaimers stating the results are not true or not typical. Seems like the old bait and switch sales tactics used by shady salesmen of days gone by. Trust between an attorney and his or her client is critical to a good relationship. Clients must rely on and trust their attorney to help them through a difficult time. There is a better way to go about hiring a personal injury attorney. Here’s a link to an article about how to hire the right personal injury attorney for your claim or case.  CLICK

Transvaginal Mesh Settlement Announced

$830 MILLION TRANSVAGINAL MESH/BLADDER SLING SETTLEMENT ANNOUNCED

Under the terms of a recently negotiated $830 million settlement,bladder sling photo 2 women who have complications because of an American Medical Systems’ (AMS) transvaginal mesh device can now receive compensation for their medical expenses and pain and suffering. Transvaginal mesh implants, often referred to as bladder slings, are medical devices that are designed to provide a less-invasive way to treat urinary incontinence and pelvic organ prolapse. These problems had previously been treated with abdominal surgery; however, the implants could be inserted vaginally. Though the transvaginal mesh was created to allow women faster recoveries, the device was created serious medical complications. An estimated 25,000 + women have suffered painful side effects and required removal of the devices. In some instances, multiple surgeries have been required. It is currently unclear how many women may have the dangerous device but have not yet experienced complications. AMS currently faces over 22,000 lawsuits in relation to the devices. The settlement will provide $830 million in compensation for those whose medical records reflect use of the device and with confirmation of properly documented compensable facts. There are still other transvaginal mesh manufacturers facing litigation over similar injuries caused by their products. If you, or someone you love, had an American Medical Systems device or any other transvaginal mesh product implanted and have suffered as a result, we can help you file and process your claim for damages. Contact Knox Boteler at knox@bfw-lawyers.com  (please put “Mesh Settlement” in the subject line of your e-mail) or call Knox at 1 866-975-7766 toll free. Learn more about our law firm here.

Required Disclaimers:

Alabama Rule of Professional Conduct 7.2: No representation is made that the quality of legal service to be performed is greater than the services provided by other lawyers.

The Mississippi Supreme Court advises that a decision on legal services is important and should not be based solely on advertisements. Free Background information is available upon request to a Mississippi attorney. The listing of any area of practice by a Mississippi attorney does not indicate any certification of expertise therein. See Mississippi Rules of Professional Conduct Rule 7.2(d), Rule 7.4(a), Rule 7.6(a) (1997).

General Disclaimer: This information is posted for general information purposes to help those interested parties or persons with potential civil claims better understand their rights and potential causes of action. If readers are currently represented by an attorney on the subject matter of this post then they are encouraged to continue with said representation. No attorney-client relationship is established by this post.

Stryker Hip Replacement Settlement

$1.4 BILLION DOLLAR HIP REPLACEMENT SETTLEMENT ANNOUNCED The recent settlement related to the hip replacement device manufactured by Stryker is an example of how the Mass Tort laws work to help thousands of victims recover compensation. Drug and medical device manufacturers have a duty to notify their customers/patients of any side effects or defects caused by the use of their products. This duty continues even after the drug or device has completed clinical trials and received approval from the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) to be distributed. When a manufacturer learns of a side effect or defect, it has a responsibility to notify physicians and patients, immediately, so to protect the safety of the public. If a manufacturer fails to properly warn of a side effect or defect and, as a result, patient suffers an injury, a lawsuit can be brought against the drug or medical device manufacturer for compensation. Failure to warn claims against drug and medical device manufactures have evolved into a very complex area of law, an area commonly referred to as Mass Tort Law. While victims share a common injury or damage, the victims are often spread out over a diverse geographic area. As a result, thousands of lawsuits are often filed in state and federal courthouses throughout the country. To coordinate or centralize the handling of the pretrial proceedings in the federal cases, often the manufacturer and/or a lawyer(s) representing the victims will request the United States Judicial Panel on Multi-district Litigation (MDL) transfer the cases to one federal court. By statute, the MDL panel’s job is to 1) determine whether the cases involve one or more common questions of fact such that the actions should be transferred to one federal district for coordinated pre-trial proceedings; 2) select the judge or judges and court assigned to conduct such proceedings; and 3) appoint a victim’s/plaintiff’s steering committee, a committee of plaintiff lawyers set-up to coordinate the pre-trial proceedings. Typically, the federal court assigned will not, only, oversee the pre-trial proceedings, but will, also, oversee “bellwether trials.” In these trials, the judge and parties will select a representative sample of cases, usually between five (5) to ten (10), that are fully prepared and tried to a jury. Ultimately, the goal of these bellwether trials is to provide the parties a good indication as to what will happen in future cases and assist with settlement discussions. Those cases not filed in the federal system, but within a state court’s system, are coordinated similarly to those in the federal system. In fact, the state court judge assigned to the drug or device defect cases will often coordinate the scheduling of pre-trial proceedings with the federal judge assigned the cases by the MDL. The current hip replacement litigation is a real world example of this multi-jurisdictional legal process. In July, 2012, Stryker, the manufacturer of Rejuvenate and ABG II metal hip devices, announced the metal hip devices were to be pulled from the market as a result of metal corrosion and other substantial defects requiring revision surgeries. In the months leading up to this announcement and following, over a thousand lawsuits were filed on behalf of victims in New Jersey state court (the corporate headquarters of Stryker is located in New Jersey) and federal courts throughout the country. Ultimately, the MDL panel met and chose the U.S. District Court of Minnesota as the court to assist with the pre-trial proceedings and appointed a plaintiff’s steering committee (PSC). From there, the federal court in Minnesota coordinated pre-trial proceedings with Stryker and the PSC and worked with the judge in New Jersey toward a common goal, resolution. In 2014, the New Jersey Superior Court held several bellwether trials in 2014. As a result of the process and those bellwether trials, a $1.4 billion dollar settlement was announced in the Superior Court of New Jersey and U.S. District Court of Minnesota wherein victims who underwent a revision surgery to remove the Rejuvenate and ABG II metal hip devices BEFORE November 3, 2014 qualified for compensation. Knox Boteler is a partner in the law firm of Boteler, Finley & Wolfe. The firm assists those injured as a result of accidents, defective products, or other wrongful actions. If you have any questions related to the Stryker hip replacement settlement, please contact Knox Boteler at knox@bfw-lawyers.com or 251-433-7766.   REQUIRED DISCLAIMERS Alabama Rule of Professional Conduct 7.2: No representation is made that the quality of legal service to be performed is greater than the services provided by other lawyers. The Mississippi Supreme Court advises that a decision on legal services is important and should not be based solely on advertisements. Free Background information is available upon request to a Mississippi attorney. The listing of any area of practice by a Mississippi attorney does not indicate any certification of expertise therein. See Mississippi Rules of Professional Conduct Rule 7.2(d), Rule 7.4(a), Rule 7.6(a) (1997). General Disclaimer: This information is posted for general information purposes to help those interested parties or persons with potential civil claims better understand their rights and potential causes of action. If readers are currently represented by an attorney on the subject matter of this post then they are encouraged to continue with said representation. No attorney-client relationship is established by this post.

U.S. Supreme Court Ends BP’s Oil Spill Appeal

The U.S. Supreme Court has ended BP’s attempt to undo the settlement it negotiated with Gulf Coast residents and businesses in 2012.  Pursuant to the Settlement Agreement originally agreed to by BP, Gulf Coast residents and businesses will have until early June, 2015 to file their claims with the Deepwater Horizon Claim Center.  BP OilThe Supreme Court’s decision of December 9, 2014 was widely expected by legal analysts.  BP lost its appeal at every level of the federal appellate court system.  As many analysts pointed out throughout the appeals process, BP had made too many statements contrary to its position taken on appeal for the Fifth Circuit or the U.S. Supreme Court  to rule in its favor. Specifically, BP agreed with the Claim Administrator’s interpretation of the Economic and Property Damage Settlement Agreement in a letter of September 28, 2012 and BP requested the District Court give its final approval of the agreement on December 21, 2012. BP then completely reversed its position and joined an appeal pending with the Fifth Circuit in early 2013.  As legal experts quickly pointed out, BP’s challenge of the settlement terms previously agreed to was in direct conflict with its agreement to “support the final approval and implementation of this Agreement and defend it against objections, appeal, or collateral attack.”  While unfortunate that BP’s appeal delayed the claims process and payments for almost a year, its ability to contest the Economic and Property Damage Settlement Agreement is over.  It is expected the Claim Administrator and his staff will be working expeditiously to issue claim payments in 2015.  For more information regarding the Deepwater Horizon Economic and Property Damage Settlement Agreement please contact Knox Boteler at Knox@bfw-lawyers.com or call him toll free at 1-866-975-7766.

STRYKER HIP IMPLANT MANUFACTURER ANNOUNCES SETTLEMENT

Stryker, the manufacturer of Rejuvenate and ABG II metal hip devices, has settled class actions pending in the Superior Court of New Jersey and U.S. District Court of Minnesota. In July, 2012, the metal hip devices were pulled from the market as a result of metal corrosion and other substantial defects requiring revision surgeries. An estimated 20,000 people were implanted with Rejuvenate and ABG II metal hip devices. Pursuant to the terms of the settlement, only those victims who underwent a revision surgery to remove the device BEFORE November 3, 2014 qualify for compensation.  stryker hip replacement Knox Boteler of Boteler, Finley & Wolfe has already helped several people review their potiential hip replacement claims and he can file the necessary claim forms for victims. If you have any questions related to the settlement agreement or whether you qualify for a claim, please contact Knox Boteler at knox@bfw-lawyers.com and put “hip replacement” in the subject line. Or call toll free at 1 866 975-7766   Required Disclaimers:

Alabama Rule of Professional Conduct 7.2: No representation is made that the quality of legal service to be performed is greater than the services provided by other lawyers. The Mississippi Supreme Court advises that a decision on legal services is important and should not be based solely on advertisements. Free Background information is available upon request to a Mississippi attorney. The listing of any area of practice by a Mississippi attorney does not indicate any certification of expertise therein. See Mississippi Rules of Professional Conduct Rule 7.2(d), Rule 7.4(a), Rule 7.6(a) (1997). General Disclaimer: This information is posted for general information purposes to help those interested parties or persons with potential civil claims better understand their rights and potential causes of action. If readers are currently represented by an attorney on the subject matter of this post then they are encouraged to continue with said representation. No attorney-client relationship is established by this post.