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PDH honored as a “U.S. Top Ranked Law Firm” by Martindale-Hubbell®

Pittman, Dutton & Hellums (PDH) has recently been selected for the second year in a row as one of Martindale-Hubbell’s® 2016 U.S. Top Ranked Law Firms.” This honor is awarded to firms who have at least one out of three attorneys who have achieved the AV Preeminent® Peer Review Rating. Only 2,513 firms nationwide have been given this honor.

An attorney who has earned a Peer Review Rating has been deemed by other legal professionals to demonstrate exceptional legal skill and ethical standards. These ratings are compiled using peer reviews provided by lawyers and members of the judiciary who have professional knowledge of the peer in consideration. The rating is designed to attest to the highest levels of professional excellence.

Martindale-Hubbell® has been the authoritative source for information about attorneys and the legal profession since 1868. Their Peer Review Rating and “Top Ranked Law Firm” awards are highly-esteemed in the legal industry. These designations also perform an important service for potential clients in helping them to select the best representation for their case.

About Pittman, Dutton & Hellums

Our law firm has been successfully representing clients for nearly three decades. From the Birmingham office, we serve the legal needs of the people of Alabama statewide. Clients can trust us to handle cases relating to auto accidents, personal injury, medical malpractice, commercial litigation, business torts, and more. Regardless of the case type, we know that our clients are more than a case number, and we are dedicated to treating each client with personalized attention and the utmost care.

Driving Tips That Could Save Your Life

Driving Tips

Absolutely no one wants to be in a car accident, but the reality is at some point in your life you will be. The automobile insurance industry estimates the average driver will submit an insurance claim about once every 18 years. Not all crashes are deadly, but in Alabama the likelihood of being involved in a fatal crash is twice as high as the average American’s. In light of this fact, being prepared to handle the worst is your best chance of survival.

Here’s a few tips on how you might save a life while behind the wheel:

Always Use Your Headlights. Naturally we know to use headlights at night and in inclement weather, but using headlights even on clear sunny days can reduce your chances of being involved in an auto accident by 32%.

Be Extra Cautious. Much of the reason for Alabama’s high automotive fatality rate is due to lack of hospital access in rural communities. The Alabama Rural Health Association reported that the mortality rate for residents living in rural areas is almost 56% higher than for those living in the cities. When traveling along rural routes, obey the speed limit and drive assertively.

Focus on the Current Traffic Conditions. Paying attention to the road seems like a no-brainer, but we often drive on automatic pilot. There’s a theory that the very same traffic signs meant to keep drivers safe actually endanger them by lulling drivers into complacency. A few cities in Europe have embraced this theory and started a movement called “Naked Streets,” where the removal of traffic lights and signs has improved both traffic flow and safety. While it doesn’t look like this initiative will pass in the U.S. any time soon, being mindful of what surrounding drivers are doing in the flow of traffic – not just trusting in traffic signs and signals – increases reaction time in the event of an accident.
Beware of Blind Spots. Those rearview mirrors weren’t made so you can see the rear sides of your car, they are designed to show oncoming vehicles hidden by a blind spot. Most drivers have their mirrors placed incorrectly, or rely on the rear-end alert technology in newer vehicles to help them maneuver around other vehicles. Your eyes and a properly positioned mirror are really the only tools you need to avoid a side-swipe or lane-change disaster.

Don’t Be a Distracted Driver. Technology: it’s supposed to make your life easier but sometimes it just complicates matters. This is especially true when it comes to using your cellphone. Distracted driving is the leading cause of death among drivers ages 18-24, but they’re not the only age group who thinks they absolutely have to answer a text when behind the wheel. The CDC reported in 2012, that 387,000 people were injured by distracted drivers. Unless you’re calling to report an accident, it’s best to text and phone when you’re not in the car.
Don’t Break for Blowouts. Tire blowouts are the least fun you can have in a car. Most people’s natural reaction to the sound and force of a tire blowout is to slam the brakes. This can actually cause your car to skid and roll over so please, please do not slam the breaks. In the event of a blowout, stay calm, grip the steering wheel, ease off the accelerator and move to the side of the road when possible. Only apply breaks when the vehicle is under control. Do this and you won’t look like you’ve suddenly decided to become a stunt car driver, with the injuries to prove it.

Take It Slow When It Snows (or Rains). Wet and snowy weather is another collision causing culprit, especially in the fall and winter. During El Nino (which is happening this year), Alabama receives colder than average temperatures. To better handle hazardous weather conditions, drive the speed limit and definitely don’t tailgate. Plan extra travel time on bad weather days. Vehicles with all-wheel drive are the best at handling slippery roads; something to consider for your next car purchase.

Always Use Your Emergency Brake. The parking (emergency) break prevents your car from rolling backwards or forwards when parked on an incline. The emergency break is like a muscle, if you don’t use it, it will atrophy and die. Literally. The parking break overrides the hydraulic mechanism that controls your breaks. If you don’t use it, the cables corrode and fall apart. You don’t want your car to keep rolling after you’ve parked, or fail you in an emergency. Pull the break up and you’ll have good drivers luck.

Buckle Up. This is another tip that seems obvious, but you’d be surprised at how many drivers disregard the law by disregarding their seatbelt. October of this year saw one of the worst traffic fatality streaks in years, with 340 fatal incidents. According to the University of Alabama’s Center for Advanced Public Safety, 65% of the vehicle’s occupants were not using their seatbelts.

Who We Are

Pittman, Dutton & Hellums is a Birmingham personal injury law firm with a solid record of success in handling Alabama motor vehicle accident cases. If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident, we’d like to help you on the road to recovery. You can contact us today at (866) 515-8880 for a free case evaluation. Consultation is always free and at no obligation to you.

Attorney Spotlight: Jon Mann

When he’s not representing clients in defective product, or personal injury cases, attorney Jon Mann likes to unwind in one of Birmingham’s restaurants or cafes. He enjoys grabbing lunch on the patio at the Garage Café (one of the city’s hidden gems in his opinion) or eating Mexican fusion cuisine at El Barrio, or an Italian meal at Bottega Café, with his wife. On the weekends, he might hit up Post Office Pies or Carrigan’s Public House after going to local farmers’ markets.

Of course, what is appreciating Birmingham fare if not relishing some local BBQ? Like most of us, Jon likes to get his hands on some tasty pulled pork with all the fixings at his favorite cookout spot, Saw’s BBQ.

Who is Jon Mann?

Born in Tennessee and having lived in Alabama since he was a teenager, Jon has spent his life in Southern sunshine. A longtime lover of the outdoors, he likes to fish, or just relax at one of Birmingham’s beautiful lakes.

When he doesn’t have the time for a full afternoon of water activities, he gets his outdoor fix at one of the local parks, including Railroad Park. This acres-long green space in the middle of Birmingham is a perfect way to enjoy a nice evening. He enjoys just strolling alongside the park’s wetlands, ponds and streams with his family.

Jon is also an avid college football fan. In the spring and summer, when football season is over, he likes to head out to Region’s Field and cheer on the Barons. The outstanding local AA minor baseball team has won the Southern League Championships several times, most recently in 2013, and is affiliated with the Chicago White Sox.

Jon graduated from Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama on a debate scholarship and graduated in 2005 with a Bachelors of Arts degree. He went on to the Cumberland School of Law at Samford University where he excelled academically. He made the Dean’s List and was awarded the top grade in Scientific Evidence, Mediator Advocacy, and Constitutional Law.

Jon was also an Executive Trial Board Member for the Cumberland Trial Advocacy Board and also competed on the National Arbitration Team and Client Counseling Team. He served as a law clerk for Pittman, Dutton & Hellums (PDH) throughout law school, rounding out his outstanding legal training.

Jon unites his legal background with a real personal touch to benefit his clients. He knows that his clients, just like him, want what’s best for their families and their future. He looks forward to a legal career where he continues to use his strong legal skills to right wrongs, and help clients heal from accidents and incidents that have unfairly hurt them.

Three Important Pharmaceutical & Medical Device Cases in 2015

Medical Device Cases in 2015
The last year has seen a number of high profile lawsuits against major pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturers. As in previous years, lawsuits have been brought against manufacturers who rush their products to market without thorough research into their product’s weaknesses.

When laws, regulations, and best practices are ignored by pharmaceutical and medical device companies, doctors provide care based on limited knowledge of new drugs and devices. This can have devastating consequences for a patient. Victims may pursue lawsuits, using the damages they collect to help them recover. This also helps to hold manufacturers accountable for neglecting to inform medical providers and consumers of possible risks.

Transvaginal mesh, hip implants and Type-2 diabetes drug Actos have turned out to be the three largest lawsuits against pharmaceutical and medical device companies in 2015.

Actos Settlements: One of the Largest Drug Company Payouts Ever

Since 2011, more than 10,000 lawsuits countrywide were filed against Takeda Pharmaceuticals Co. for injuries related to taking their Type 2 diabetes medication Actos.

The past two years, the company lost five bellwether trials, although two verdicts were later overturned on appeal. With this momentum against them, 9,000 claims nationwide were settled in April 2015. As the size of the plaintiff class grows, this settlement total could rise up to $2.7 billion.

Despite the settlements, the drug maker still maintains that the benefits of Actos outweigh the negative side effects. The company believes that they did not act improperly in marketing the product.

The amount each claimant may be awarded will be calculated with a “Points Matrix.” Each claim will be awarded points based on meeting certain criteria. The more points awarded, the greater the damages a claimant could receive.

Some of the criteria include:

  • Age
  • Extent of injury and treatment
  • Duration of when Actos was taken
  • The amount of Actos taken
  • Risk factors for bladder cancer, including smoking

Not all plaintiffs may agree to the settlement, leading Takeda to set aside additional funds for other settlements.

Transvaginal Mesh Manufacturer Settles for $200 Million

Medical device manufacturer C.R. Bard recently agreed to settle around 3,000 MDL consolidated cases with a $200 million settlement to victims of its transvaginal mesh. Lawsuits against Bard represents only about 20% of lawsuits against all transvaginal mesh makers. To date, manufacturers have lost verdicts or chosen to settle, resulting in over $1 billion dollars in payouts.

Transvaginal mesh is used to treat women who develop pelvic organ prolapse (POP) or stress urinary incontinence (SUI) after childbirth, menopause or hysterectomy. The mesh is typically made from polypropylene plastic (though Bard has also been under fire for its mesh composed from porcine tissue), and inserted into a woman’s vagina.

Mesh lawsuits claim that manufacturers failed to ensure product safety and effectiveness, and gave false and misleading information. C.R. Bard maintains their device is safe, and has not admitted fault in court settlements.

In addition to a high surgical complication rate, transvaginal mesh can erode over time. The result is often painful nerve damage, infections, scaring and associated muscle deterioration that requires reconstruction surgery.

In cases that have gone to trial, the company diligently tried to reverse decision in appellate court, however the courts upheld previous verdicts. This led Bard to settle cases before they go to trial. The first settlement the company agreed to pay was in 2014 in the $21 million dollars, which resolved 500 lawsuits. Presiding Judge Joseph Godwin warned Bard they were likely to lose more suits in trial and convinced the manufacturer to settle pending claims. To satisfy ongoing lawsuits, Bard increased its settlement amount to $997 million dollars.

Jury Awarded $4.5 Million in First Wright Hip Replacement Lawsuit

In June, Wright Medical Technology lost a $4.5 million verdict in the first trial over alleged defects in its hip implants. This bellwether case is significant since there are more than 1,000 lawsuits against this manufacturer. This case may be setting the benchmark as to what damages are for failed hip implants, and the damages number in this case is high.

Every year, hundreds of thousands of Americans receive hip replacement devices with the promise of improved mobility and quality of life. Some patients claim their hip implant has caused debilitating injuries and considerable pain. Patients allege that Wright’s CONSERVE product line failed early and released metal debris into the body.

The Los Angeles County Superior Court jury found that Wright’s Profemur R was defectively manufactured, however the design was not. Wright Medical plans to appeal this by stating,

“This was a one-off case involving a particular component with a strong track record of clinical success.”

Who We Are

Pitman, Dutton & Hellums is a Birmingham personal injury law firm with a strong record of scoring victories for our clients. If you or a loved one has been injured, contact us at (866) 515-8880. A case review is always free and at no obligation.

Pittman Dutton and Hellums

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 2001 Park Pl #1100, Birmingham, AL 35203


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