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A drug by any other name? Supreme Court considers if generic drug suits are federally preempted (access required)

Two years after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Wyeth v. Levine that state law failure-to-warn claims against brand-name drug makers are not automatically preempted by federal law, the justices are considering whether that same rule applies to generic drug makers. The plaintiffs in PLIVA. v. Mensing and consolidated cases allege that the makers of the drug metoclopramide, the generic version of the diabetes drug Reglan, should have amended its label to include stronger warnings of the risk of tardive dyskinesia, a severe neurological movement disorder.

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Peer-review privilege keeps file locked (access required)

A confidential file on a patient who was injured while trying to escape a Beaufort hospital in 1999 wasn't discoverable, even though it held evidence that the hospital knew the patient was a danger to himself. So said the S.C. Court of Appeals in a ruling that centered on the patient's battle to unlock a statutory peer-review privilege that rendered the file confidential. The patient, Danny R. Prince, sued Beaufort Memorial Hospital after suffering injuries in a fall from the window of his room in 1999. He sought disclosure of the file because it contained the findings of the hospital's quality-assurance committee that investigated his fall.

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‘Tyger River’ demand nets woman hit by shorn-off tire $489K (access required)

Mount Pleasant sweetgrass basket maker Geneva Gathers was tending her stand on U.S. Highway 17 when a tire that was shorn off a Lexus in a collision with a truck bowled her over. Gathers later threatened to sue the driver of the Lexus, who was alleged to be at fault in the crash. "We made a Tyger River demand," attorney D. Nathan Hughey, who represented Gathers, told Lawyers Weekly. The claim settled for $489,613 last month before any suit was filed.

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Ready, aim, CLE: Course combines primer on gun law with target practice, weapons permits (access required)

Get ready to channel your inner Daniel Boone or Annie Oakley. There's still time to sign up for two South Carolina Bar-sponsored courses that will teach attorneys the ins and outs of gun law - and allow them to spend their afternoons firing weapons to qualify for concealed-weapons permits. Incorporating target practice is a newfangled twist on the average firearms CLE, which is offered by bars in several states. But "the South really likes their guns," said Doug Kim, an intellectual property attorney who is helping coordinate the May 6 CLE in Greenville.

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$4.4 million verdict over power line that stayed live after crash

An Upstate teen who emerged unhurt from a single-vehicle wreck only to suffer electrocution when he touched a downed power line has won a $4.4 million verdict against Duke Power Co. in a negligence suit. A Greenville County jury awarded actual damages to plaintiff Xavier Massey on March 11 in Massey v. Duke Power Co., civil action No. 2009-CP-23-7220. Judge Robin Stilwell pre-sided in the Greenville County Court of Common Pleas. Massey's lawyers said a key factor in winning the verdict was countering a corporate policy under which Duke claimed evidence from the scene wasn't subject to disclosure.

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Leadership In Law 2011

South Carolina Lawyers Weekly recognized 15 outstanding members of the state's legal community at the Leadership In Law awards presentation and dinner, on Thursday March 24, at the Francis Marion Hotel in Charleston. Presenting the awards were Tonya Mathis, South Carolina Lawyers Weekly Publisher and Managing Editor Greg Froom. Among the honorees were: Laurie A. Becker, W. Howard Boyd, Jr., Robert T. Bockman, Rita Bragg Cullum, Anne S. Ellefson, Ronald L. Motley, J. Bennett Mullinax, Edward W. Mullins, Jr., David T. Pearlman, Steven J. Pugh, Louis T. Runge, Jr., Carl L. Solomon, Daniel R. Unumb, Robertson H. Wendt, Jr. and Marguerite S. Willis.
Click here to read the event publication online.

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Patient gets $805K award in case with allegedly fake records (access required)

A woman who blamed a Rock Hill chiropractor for causing her to suffer a herniated disc has won $805,000 in damages after arguing that he committed medical malpractice and faked records to cover it up. But her lawyer told Lawyers Weekly that when she came to him for help, he wondered at first whether she had a case at all. That was because medical records she had obtained from the practice said nothing about her receiving the spinal manipulation she claimed had caused the herniation, said lawyer Robert V. Phillips (pictured) of Rock Hill.

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Justices hear SC case on right to counsel in child support nonpayment matter (access required)

The U.S. Supreme Court considered March 23 whether a civil contempt proceeding that results in a jail term triggers the constitutional right to counsel. Turner v. Rogers - formerly Turner v. Price - involves Michael Turner's failure to pay more than $5,000 in child support. After failing to appear at a contempt hearing, he was ordered to be jailed for six months or until he paid the outstanding amount. At another contempt hearing, where Turner was not represented by counsel, he said was unable to pay due to his incarceration, drug addiction and physical disability. The court sentenced him to a term of incarceration not to exceed 12 months or until he could pay.

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Border in the court! The battle for immigrant protection in criminal cases (access required)

Immigration cases are often won in criminal court, or conversely, lost forever. Attorneys engaged in the defense of aliens cannot underestimate this fact. Sports fans might liken the criminal proceeding to a late touchdown to tie the game. The immigration court proceeding is the extra point for the win. The U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Padilla v. Kentucky makes clear that defense attorneys can no longer ignore the issue. We are required to give affirmative advice, and anything less constitutes ineffective assistance.

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Future of class actions in U.S. Supreme Court’s hands (access required)

When the U.S. Supreme Court rules in the case Wal-Mart Stores v. Dukes, it will not only decide whether more than 1.5 million female Wal-Mart workers can proceed as a class in a lawsuit alleging that the company systemically paid them less than male employees. The Court will also decide a broader, hotly contested legal issue: just how similar must plaintiffs' claims be in order for a case to be certified as a class action? The answer will have far-reaching implications.

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