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Simmons Hanly Conroy Investigates Legal Rights of Car Owners Impacted by GM Recall


Illinois and Missouri residents who have owned or leased one of the vehicles related to the recall of General Motor cars with ignition problems may be able to hold the automaker accountable for their defective vehicles. The Firm is currently investigating the legal rights of consumers who have been impacted by the GM recall.

In February and March, GM issued three recalls, the most recent on March 28, for a combined 2.6 million vehicles with possible ignition switch defects. Specifically, the faulty ignition switches slipped from the “run” to “accessory” position while the vehicle was in motion. This would cause the engine to stall, lose power and disable the brakes, power steering and airbags. A study commissioned by The Center for Auto Safety reviewed data compiled from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration accident reports and linked more than 300 deaths to failed airbags in two of the recalled models.

In 2006, a 2005 Chevy Cobalt’s ignition switch slipped into accessory position and killed two teenage girls. Investigators discovered the car had shut off within five seconds before the crash, which caused the steering wheel to lock up, shut off the electrical power and disabled the airbags. The 2005 Chevy Cobalt hit a raised driveway and flow 40 feet in the air before hitting a telephone pole and two trees.

GM acknowledges it has linked the ignition switch defect to 13 deaths and 34 crashes in the Chevy Cobalt and the Saturn Ions. Additionally, GM customers are claiming their vehicles lost significant value because of the ignition problems.

Media reports assert that General Motors knew about the faulty ignitions since 2001. The automaker proposed and developed a solution by 2004, however GM decided against implementing the fix by 2005. The company continued to put the vehicles on the market with faulty ignition switches. Those vehicles included:

  • Chevrolet Cobalt, 2005-2010
  • Pontiac G5, 2007 – 2010
  • Saturn Ions, 2003-2007
  • Chevrolet HHRs, 2006-2011
  • Pontiac Solstice, 2006-2010
  • Saturn Sky, 2007 – 2010

Even though there have been numerous investigations, the question still remains among consumers – why did GM take so long to address such a serious problem?

Class action lawsuits have been filed to help individuals who own a recalled vehicle. The Simmons Hanly Conroy is currently investigating the legal rights of owners of the vehicles listed above. If you or someone you know owned a vehicle recalled by GM, learn more about filing a GM recall lawsuit or contact us today.

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Aging Ameren Power Plants in St. Louis Pose Air Pollution Risk to Residents


meramec-coal-plantThe St. Louis area relies on aging coal-burning power plants owned by Ameren to provide the majority of its power. These coal-burning plants generate tons of coal ash waste that put Missouri and Illinois residents’ health at risk.

Coal ash, or fly ash, is toxic waste that’s left after burning coal.  The storage and disposal of the coal ash can create environmental disasters such as what recently occurred in North Carolina.  Just last week, millions of gallons of the toxic waste poured into the Dan River in Eden, North Carolina thanks to a broken pipe. Duke Energy, the responsible party, and environmental regulators are scurrying to investigate the cause and to determine how to remove the waste and repair the local area.

In Missouri, coal ash has been handled a variety of ways. For instance, it has been stored in disposal ponds at the Meramec Energy Center in Oakville, the Labadie Energy Center in Franklin County and the Rush Island Energy Center in Jefferson County.

The disposal ponds can be unlined—meaning that the coal ash seeps undetected into the groundwater thereby potentially compromising drinking water supplies. The disposal ponds are located in flood plains of the Mississippi, Missouri and Meramec rivers, which together provide drinking water to nearly 60 percent of the state.

Beyond disposal ponds, coal ash has been injected into old limestone mines and illegally dumped, in addition to other ways to deal with the large volume of waste. The storage and disposal of waste can have a significant impact on the people who live near the storage and disposal facilities, especially when things go wrong.

Since 1992, the Sierra Club reported that the Missouri Department of Natural Resources (MoDNR) has known that a 154-acre, unlined ash pond at Ameren’s Labadie coal-fired power plant has been leaking as much as 50,000 gallons a day. Yet, MoDNR has not required any groundwater monitoring or cleanup, despite the threat to local residents, according to the non-profit organization.

According to the EPA, coal ash contains arsenic, boron, chromium, mercury and other toxic chemicals. These substances are known to cause cancer, damage the nervous system, and aggravate existing breathing problems like asthma. Children are especially susceptible to the dangers of environmental pollution like coal ash, according to medical research.

Despite the health risks created by coal ash pollution, Ameren has put its bottom line above the health of its customers.

In 2011, an Ameren executive told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, “if we went after the potential that we’ve seen in our own [energy efficient] study, we wouldn’t have to build another power plant for 20 years and we could retire Meramec and we’d be OK,” he said. But, “we’d lose $30 million a year. And we just can’t do that. It’s that simple.”

The Sierra Club has taken steps to hold Ameren accountable for its air pollution by serving notice of its intent to file a civil lawsuit this spring against the power company for alleged air pollution violations. Based on public records, the group received from MoDNR, more than 10,000 violations of air pollution regulations have allegedly occurred at the Meramec, Labadie and Rush Island plants.

Environmental attorneys at the Firm are currently investigating the rights of residents who live near the power plants and may have suffered physical injuries and property damages because of the pollution.

Learn more about filing a coal ash pollution lawsuit >>>

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Simmons Hanly Conroy Files First Testosterone Treatment Lawsuits, Bloomberg Reports


Attorneys at the Firm filed yesterday the first testosterone treatment lawsuit on behalf of five men against Abbott Laboratoes and AbbVie, Inc.

The men range in age from 50 to 63 and have either experienced a heart attack, stroke or mini-stroke after they started using AndroGel, according to the complaint.

The litigation, filed in federal court in Chicago, comes just days after the U.S. Food & Drug Administration announced the launch of an investigation into the risks of testosterone treatment drugs. Recent medical studies have found that men who take testosterone therapy face an increased risk of suffering heart attack, stroke and even death.

Bloomberg reported on the testosterone treatment lawsuit. Read the full article here.

The cases are Aurecchia v. AbbVie Inc. (ABBV), 14-cv-00772; Benn v. AbbVie, 14-cv-00774; Gallagher v. AbbVie Inc., 14-cv-00776; Marino v. AbbVie Inc., 14-cv-00777 and Myers v. AbbVie Inc., 14-cv-00780; U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois (Chicago).

The law firm Morelli Alters Ratner LLP in New York is co-counsel.

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London Metal Exchange Concedes to Demands of Aluminum End Users


LME overhauls rules for warehouse queues

In November, Agfa Corporation filed an antitrust class action suit against the London Metals Exchange and other bankers for stockpiling aluminum in warehouses and causing the price to increase through shortened demand. It is one of the latest – though perhaps the largest – in a string of lawsuits accusing LME and several big banks, including JP Morgan Chase & Co and Goldman Sachs Group, of conspiring to drive up the cost of aluminum for end users.

That same week, the LME announced a rules overhaul to its policies that would cut wait times for aluminum by as much as half.

As recently as July, the LME’s warehouse storage practices for aluminum have drawn scrutiny from industry regulators in the United States, the European Union and Britain. Additional scrutiny of big bank involvement in the aluminum market was highlighted by a New York Times investigation that reported on the relationship between the two and how it increases prices for the average consumer of retail items like aluminum cans.

The new rules would not go into effect until spring 2014. However, the move could be seen as a concession by the organization that its warehouse storage policies were a cause for concern. LME executives have said a fix will not ‘happen overnight’ and it could take as long years to eliminate the current queues.

The Firm represents Agfa Corporation. Any business that has directly purchased aluminum in the United States since 2011 may be eligible to join the suit.

Learn more about the antitrust aluminum class action lawsuit >>>

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Shareholder Derek Brandt Analyzes Recent Whistleblower Lawsuits in Chicago Lawyer Magazine


Attorney Derek Brandt, chair of the Firm’s Complex Litigation Department, writes about the growing trend of whistleblower lawsuits in his August column for the Chicago Lawyers Weekly.

Lance Armstrong’s professional cycling team, an International generic drug manufacturer and a Swiss bank are “among a growing list of entities” being held responsible by whistleblower lawsuits, Derek writes.

He goes on to sketch out each case in order to explain how federal prosecutors are relying more on using whistleblower lawsuits to hold companies accountable. This is an advantage especially as government contracting and outsourcing grows, he writes.

“The takeaway is that whistle-blowers are playing ever-bigger roles in uncovering ever-expanding frauds. With shrinking government outlays for fraud-fighting, incentivizing whistleblowers and private lawyers to do much of the work makes good sense,” he concludes, noting that he expects the trend to continue.

Click here to read his full column >>>

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