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By Timothy Tomasik

Investigators determined that Boeing’s 737 Max jet, operated by Lion Air jetliner, experienced erroneous AOA readings causing pilots to battle the jet plunging at approximately 600 miles an hour into the Java Sea. The Federal Aviation Administration plans to order airlines to follow Boeing’s Operations Manual Bulletin (OMB), an advisory on how pilots should handle false readings from an AOA (Angle of Attack) sensor. Tragically, this catastrophe took the lives of 189 passengers and crew on October 29, 2018.

The AOA sensor determines whether the airplane, or its wings, are properly angled against oncoming wind in order to maintain lift and prevent the airplane from falling out of the sky. If the sensor malfunctions, however, the airplane’s control system erroneously reacts to an aerodynamic stall – as if the airplane were falling out of the sky – causing the plane to take corrective measures, such as abruptly diving.

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By Timothy Tomasik

A court has rejected the $72 billion dollar rideshare giant’s most recent attempt to force its riders behind closed doors. In reversing the lower court, the First Circuit ruled that Uber’s mandatory arbitration clause was unenforceable.

In the suit, Uber recognized riders confronted with lengthy sets of terms and conditions rarely, if ever, review the fine print on their iPhones while signing up. Notably, Uber did not argue that any of the Plaintiffs actually saw the arbitration clause which waived their right to a jury trial or even clicked on the "Terms of Service & Privacy Policy" button. Rather, it relied solely on a claim that its presentation of the clause was sufficiently conspicuous to bind the Plaintiffs whether or not they chose to click through the relevant terms and arbitration clause.

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By Lindsay Proskey

Recently, the Seventh Circuit dismissed thousands of claims against Pfizer, the manufacturer of a generic testosterone drug, Depo-T, for inadequately warning consumers that Depo-T increased heart attacks in older men.[1] The consumers' right to relief hinged on Depo-T’s classification as a generic or brand name drug. The Seventh Circuit found the plaintiff’s claims preempted under federal law and barred by Supreme Court precedent, leaving these consumers without recourse. The controlling Supreme Court precedent and outdated FDA rules collectively frustrate state tort laws, impede on consumer rights, prevent injured consumers from judicial relief, and insulate generic drug companies from state product liability law under the guise of preemption.

Federal Preemption

Federal law “preempts” or displaces state law when state and federal law conflict. The doctrine of preemption derives from the Supremacy Clause[2] of the United States Constitution. Upon state ratification, federal law became superior over state law, within the realm of constitutionally delegated authority, thereby granting states the rights and powers “not delegated to the United States.”[3]  Traditionally, states have the power to establish and enforce laws protecting the welfare, safety, and health of the public. Since federal and state governments have both exclusive and concurrent powers, a problem exists when both levels of government regulate the same subject matter. Where preemption applies, federal law trumps state legislatures, courts, administrative agencies, and constitutions. Thus, the Supreme Court accepts the Supremacy Clause as a “basic constitutional command that all conflicting state provisions be without effect.”[4]

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By Lindsay Proskey 

Recently, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”) warned that 149 individuals across 29 states have been infected with E. coli after consuming contaminated romaine lettuce. Of those infected, 64 people were hospitalized including 17 individuals who developed hemolytic uremic syndrome, a potentially life-threatening kidney failure caused by the abnormal destruction of red blood cells. Tragically, one death has been reported.

What You Need to Know About Shiga Toxin-Producing E. coli

E. coli are bacteria commonly found in the environment, foods, and intestines of people and animals. Although mostly harmless, E. coli can cause illness or death once escaped outside the intestinal tract. Symptoms such as abdominal cramping, bloody diarrhea, fever, or vomiting appear approximately two to eight days after consuming the bacteria. The most common mode of transmission to individuals is through consumption of contaminated foods, such as undercooked meat or through cross-contamination during food preparation. However, unhygienic person-to-person contact can also transmit the bacteria through the oral-fecal route.

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By Timothy Tomasik

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg delivered the opinion in Coventry Health Care of Missouri, Inc. v. Nevils, one of the last Neil Gorsuch-less cases before the nation’s highest court. Writing for the majority, the Notorious RBG made it clear that when it comes to states prohibiting insurance companies from claiming the proceeds of personal injury settlements - federal law reigns supreme.

The Nevils case stemmed from a 2006 car accident, in which Jodie Nevils, a former federal employee, was injured. Per Nevil’s employment with the federal government, Nevils was enrolled in and insured under a Federal Employees Health Benefits Act (FEHBA) plan offered by Coventry Health Care of Missouri. Soon after filing suit, Nevils recovered a settlement award against the defendant driver. Nevils v. Group Health Plan, Inc., 418 S. W. 3d 451, 453 (Mo. 2014).

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