The Lawyer’s Perspective On the Wrongful Death Case of Richard Swick

On February , in a U.S. District Court, a three-judge panel of the federal court ordered that all Wright cases between the many named defendants be consolidated into a single court for the purpose of expediting their claims. The order is significant in that it is the first time that this type of motion to consolidate has been allowed by the parties. Specifically, the three-judge panel held that a class of consumers who were injured in accidents that occurred as a result of defective products had standing to seek damages from the manufacturers of those products. This decision is significant not only for the large class of injured persons, but also for the manufacturer defendants who have sought to avoid class action suits of this type in the past.

Most recently, another manufacturer, GlaxoSmithKline, was ordered to pay $65 million to settle claims brought by thousands of Class Action plaintiffs who were injured while using GlaxoSmithKline’s newest line of hip replacements.

According to the complaint, GlaxoSmithKline did not ensure that its new hip replacements complied with safe safety standards, including the requirement that they provide a sufficient amount of oxygen for healing. Further, the company knew that a significant number of its hip replacement devices were improperly designed with lead that could induce lead poisoning and other related consequences. Essentially, GlaxoSmithKline was found to have knowingly and negligently caused needless injury and death.

The implications for manufacturers are clear.

If they are found to have willfully violated federal and state safety statutes, and their products are found to have caused injuries and death, they may be subjected to large financial burdens and possibly even have to go to huge litigation and arbitration proceedings in an effort to satisfy the class-action lawsuit. As previously noted, however, there are numerous class-action lawsuit plaintiffs who are successfully seeking damages for injuries sustained as the result of defective products that GlaxoSmithKline manufactured. These cases demonstrate clearly that the failure rate of artificial hip implants can be extremely high, particularly when compared to the success rates of other similar replacement prosthetic devices.

In addition to seeking financial compensation for wrongful death, victims of GlaxoSmithKline negligence may also be entitled to additional compensation for their pain and suffering.

Although the complaint against the company does not detail exactly what pain and suffering is meant to include, courts typically have discretion to include various types of suffering when determining compensation. For example, a victim of neck or back pain would likely be eligible for damages for suffering resulting from an improper surgical procedure, as well as suffering caused by the post-operative pain and discomfort associated with that surgical procedure. A victim of an improperly installed implant may be able to seek damages for pain and suffering arising from the device’s failure. Similarly, a victim of a neck or back injury may be eligible for damages that relate to lost earning capacity, medical bills and other costs associated with a failed neck or back replacement implant.

When seeking compensation in this case, it will be important for victims to speak with an attorney skilled in personal injury law.

This is because the precise form of damages sought in a wrongful death or mesothelioma case will vary from that of a mesothelioma suit. In a wrongful death case, for instance, the family of the deceased may seek financial damages for funeral expenses, burial costs and other expenses incurred, while in a mesothelioma case, victims may be seeking monetary damages for past and future health care expenses related to exposure to asbestos. If a victim’s wrongful death suit is based on a faulty LASIK procedure, the deceased’s next of kin may be eligible to collect damages for lost future wages and vocational training, if they could have pursued alternative treatments for their loved one.

Another aspect of the lawsuit that should focus on GlaxoSmithKline’s attention is its handling of the issue of the cause of the death of Richard Swick.

According to the complaint, Swick’s wife “was in constant and substantial fear of” the risks of a potentially life-threatening surgery involving a “high-risk” surgical instrument called the LASIK procedure, which was previously utilized only on patients who needed corrective eye surgery. Swick, the complaint continues, was an experienced and caring medical professional who “was routinely subjected to aggressive and overbearing supervisor” in his job at GlaxoSmithKline. Moreover, Swick was not the subject of a workplace accident or claim filing by another employee, as was required under California’s Workers’ Compensation Code. As a result, his wrongful death lawsuit against GlaxoSmithKline was denied class and prospective damages.

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