Month: September 2015

Invokana Bone Fracture

FDA Strengthens Invokana Risk Warnings

Earlier this month, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that it will now require Johnson & Johnson to add new warnings regarding the potential risk of side effects for users related to Type 2 diabetes drugs Invokana and Invokamet (canagliflozin) after newer, updated data demonstrated a far greater risk than previously thought.

Invokana Bone Fracture Lawsuits

In the FDA statement announcing the increased warnings, the agency noted that they had concerns that side effects of the two drugs may include a risk of bone density loss even before they approved the drug and it was introduced in March 2013, but there were no warnings about bone fracture in either the “Highlights of Prescribing Information” or in the “Warnings and Precautions” sections; there was simply a small mention in the “adverse reactions” section of the drug label, saying that bone fractures were possible. Since then, however, updated clinical trial data demonstrates a far more certain link between Invokana and bone fractures, which is why they’re requiring Johnson & Johnson to strengthen the warnings.

Data from several recent studies suggest that fractures occur more frequently with canagliflozin than a placebo, and that the increased risk of fracture can occur as little as 12 weeks after starting treatment with the drug. The clinical trials demonstrated that even minor trauma can cause a fracture, including simply falling from a standing height. In addition to the clinical trials, the FDA also received additional information about the nature of the bone density loss related to Invokana and Invokamet, when a study of 714 elderly patients demonstrated that those taking Invokana and Invokamet saw loss of bone density in the hip and lower spine that was not present in those patients who were given a placebo.

The FDA will now require that the label for Invokana contain much stronger bone fracture warnings and that those warnings be placed prominently in the “warnings and precautions” section of the label. They are continuing research, but they have not yet named any other drugs that will be required to carry these warnings, because they have not yet determined whether the risk of bone fracture and bone density loss is also present in other Type 2 diabetes medications in the same class of sodium-glucose co-transporter 2 (SGLT2) inhibitors, a group which includes drugs like Farxiga, Xigduo XR, Jardiance and Glyxambi.

A number of lawsuits are being considered with regard to Invokana, because there seems to be evidence that the drug manufacturer, Johnson & Johnson, appears to have been aware of the potential bone fracture side effects of the drug even before they asked the FDA for approval. It’s entirely possible that, instead of providing accurate information for the medical community and consumers, the drug maker may have placed their quest for profits ahead of patient safety by minimizing the risk and providing everyone with warnings that were potentially misleading.

Invokana Side Effects Lawyers

The drug defect lawyers at Raizner Slania are evaluating potential claims for those users of Invokana and Invokamet who perhaps suffered a bone fracture, which could include spinal fractures, as a side effect of their treatment using this medication. If you have taken one of these drugs, please contact the firm so that we can take a look at the circumstances and see if there is a potential claim to be made.

GuideOne

In Re GuideOne Mandamus

On August 27, 2015, the Fifth Court of Appeals, Dallas, Texas denied GuideOne National Insurance Company’s petition for writ of mandamus in our bad faith insurance litigation against them. The petition stems from an action in the trial court wherein the insurance company asked the judge to compel an appraisal of our client’s commercial property.

The plaintiff’s property sustained both fire damage and wind and hail damage. GuideOne paid part of the fire damage claim but refused to pay the wind and hail claims. In an attempt to resolve their dispute over the wind and hail damage claims, the parties mediated; however, mediation proved unsuccessful.

Subsequent to the failed mediation, the insurer sought to invoke a portion of its commercial insurance policy provision that provides, “If the Named Insured and the Company fail to agree on the amount of the loss, the Company can demand that the amount of loss be set by appraisal.” The insurer wanted an independent appraisal undertaken to determine the amount of property damage. However, the court found that appraisals of this kind are intended as a pre-suit remedy and must be timely invoked, and that by waiting until after litigation had proceeded through a mediation, GuideOne invoked appraisal too late.

Dissatisfied with the trial court’s ruling, GuideOne sought interlocutory relief in the appellate court system. The Dallas Court of Appeals found that the insurance company had waived appraisal when it waited until after mediation to invoke this right under the policy.

This insurance law ruling by an appellate court is significant because it sets down more precedent for the timeframe within which an insurer will be reasonably allowed to request an appraisal. This ruling appropriately finds in favor of the insured, and protects a consumer’s right against insurance company bad faith practices.

Metal Roof Hail Damage Claim

Insurance Companies Increasingly Deny Metal Roof Hail Damage Claims

As the storms seem to become more frequent and more intense, the state of Texas finds itself at the center of a crisis with regard to lawsuits for hail damage. It is estimated that lawsuits are filed every day claiming hail caused significant damage to a metal roof and, perhaps predictably, many insurance companies are trying to avoid paying claims by claiming the damage to the roof was “cosmetic” and did not affect the roof’s function at all.

Many metal roof hail damage claims denials are bogus and unfair on their face. The idea that a metal roof can’t be damaged by hail except cosmetically is ridiculous. Hail can cause “cosmetic” dents in the roof, but it can also reduce the lifespan of the roof, harm it’s water shedding capabilities, and damage seams between metal panels, leading to leaks, which can cause further damage. Therefore, what can sometimes seem to be “cosmetic” damage to a metal roof can often lead to losses down the road.

Cosmetic Metal Roof Damage Is Still A Direct Physical Loss

Also, the “cosmetic” nature of the damage shouldn’t matter. Even if the damage to the roof was “only” cosmetic, it still meets the definition of a direct physical loss, if we assume that “damage” is defined as physical loss or harm that results from a type of event, or covered loss, under the insurance policy. When you look at it closely, before the storm, the policyholder had a roof without dents and now the roof has multiple dents that will deteriorate over time and may even cause leaks now; that is damage, and it reduces the value of the property by a certain amount, which means even if an adjuster considers it to be “cosmetic,” it should be covered. The purpose and principle of indemnity is to restore the policyholder to the state they were in just before the incident occurred, which means returning you to having a damage-free roof.

Read Your Insurance Policy Carefully: Look For Cosmetic Damage Exclusions

The problem of denial has become so acute that some insurance companies are writing exclusions for what they call “cosmetic” damage into their policy. And since their adjusters call virtually all hail damage to a metal roof “cosmetic,” they are effectively writing policies that cover nothing. In doing so, the insurance companies are claiming that, because minor dents don’t allow leaks, reduce the service life of the roof in any significant way, they shouldn’t be covered. Unfortunately, these policy exclusions may soon become the norm, especially in areas more prone to hail, such as the Midwest and large parts of Texas.

Insurance companies advertise themselves as protectors and promise to cover everyone when your business or your home is damaged, but in reality their main purpose is to collect as much money as possible and pay out as little as they can get away with. The latest wrinkle, when it comes to excluding “cosmetic” damage to metal roofs, is unfair and needs to be stopped. Insurance companies need to be held accountable for doing what they say they will do whenever you suffer damage to your property.

Raizner Slania Handle Metal Roof Hail Damage Claims Nationally

If you have suffered damage to a metal roof and the agents for your insurance company are trying to label the damage “cosmetic” to avoid paying for it, contact the Texas Insurance Attorneys at Raizner Slania LLP as soon as possible, so that we can help you protect your rights. Our attorneys have a long history of fighting insurance companies and winning on hail damage cases and we know how to counter the tactics of insurance companies and get a resolution to your situation.

hailstorms

Houston Apartment Complex Owner Sues Lloyds and Vericlaim

Large wind and hail storms are just part of the experience of living in Harris County, Texas. They don’t happen often, but when they do happen and our property suffers damage as a result, we expect that the insurance company we’ve been paying premiums to over the years will come out and help us repair the damage and get things back to where they should be.

One such storm occurred on October 27, 2013. There was lots of wind and hail and damage was widespread all over Harris County, and one company that was especially hard-hit was an apartment complex owned by our client. However, our client did not receive the money they felt they deserved from their insurance, so they have filed suit in Harris County District Court against several carriers, including Lloyd’s of London, Indian Harbour Insurance Company, Princeton Excess and Surplus Lines Insurance Company, QBE Specialty Insurance Company and Steadfast Insurance Company, as well as their insurance adjusters, Vericlaim.

According to the complaint, the October 27, 2013 wind and hail storm caused a significant amount of damage to their apartment complex, including significant roof and exterior damage, as well as damage to the HVAC and some of the interior portions of the property. When they discovered the damage, our client filed a claim against their insurance for the damage they noticed. In response to the claims, the insurance companies assigned the claim to third-party adjusting firm Vericlaim, which immediately assigned the claim to one of its internal adjusters, who was given decision-making authority over the claim. Vericlaim, it is alleged, assigned unqualified consultants to the claim and in the end conducted what Our client characterizes as an “unreasonable and inadequate investigation.”

Vericlaim and the other consultants denied that there was any wind and hail damage to the roofs, windows, HVAC and other parts of the building, and what little damage they did accept was significantly undervalued. Our client had no choice but to hire its own representative to re-inspect and reevaluate the property and make note of the obvious damage that the adjuster ignored. In addition, Vericlaim and the other consultants misrepresented that some of the damages that they did accept were not covered under the policy, when in fact they were.

To date, nearly two years later, no payments have been issued under the policy because, our client alleges, the claims were wrongfully denied. Thus, the delay has impacted our client’s ability to make repairs to their apartment complex property. Due to all the delays and denials, our client has made numerous allegations of violations of the Texas Insurance Code having to do with the insurance companies’ inability or unwillingness to conduct a timely and thorough inspection and investigation of the claims, as well as their failure to provide a reasonable explanation for denying such claims. They claim that all of the defendants misrepresented what was in the insurance policy, as well as the extent of the damages, and that they breached the contract and acted in bad faith. In addition to actual damages, our client is also seeking punitive damages for bad faith and fraud, as well as statutory interest and attorneys’ fees.

hailstorms

Hail Insurance Dispute Filed for Amarillo Grocery Store Owner

A big storm hit Amarillo, Texas on May 28, 2013, dropping hailstones that were described by some as “the size of tomatoes or apples” in many places and doing damage to thousands of vehicle windshields and roofs of houses and other buildings all over the city. Insurance adjusters were busy for weeks after the storm, the damage was so extensive. One building that suffered significant damage was a grocery store that our client owns. After a failure to timely and appropriately pay the insurance claim, the owners of the grocery store property have filed suit against Praetorian Insurance Company and its adjusters in Randall County District Court.

The food market was badly damaged by hail, including the roof, HVAC and both exterior and interior portions of the building. Immediately after the storm, its owners immediately filed a claim under their policy with Praetorian, asking them to cover all damages caused by the storm.

When they responded to the catastrophic claim, Praetorian assigned an adjuster to the claim, and our client alleges in their petition that the insurer failed to equip and train its adjuster to properly handle the claim. The lawsuit alleges that the insurance company’s inspections of the property were substandard and that they “grossly underestimated the extent and value of the damages to the property.” The insured also asserts that the insurance company adjuster misrepresented that much of the damage was not covered under the policy and also refused to provide information to the insured during the claims process.

Given the failures by Praetorian, the commercial property owner was forced to hire its own consultant to conduct an independent assessment of property damages because, they allege, Praetorian refused and continue to refuse to reevaluate the results of their investigation and continued to deny timely payment of the costs of storm damage, which has left the insured unable to make necessary repairs to the property. These delays then led to even greater damage to the property over time, including the roof and the interior of the building.

In the petition, the owner of the food market alleges numerous violations of the Texas Insurance Code by Praetorian and its adjusters regarding their wrongful refusal to pay the claim in a timely manner. They also allege that the insurance company and the adjuster failed to properly explain why they had denied the claim and that they had failed to conduct a reasonable investigation into the circumstances surrounding the claim. The complaint also points out that they allegedly misrepresented the coverage of the insurance policy and the conditions under which it is supposed to provide coverage for the damage sustained in the storm.

The plaintiff also cites numerous other failures and delays that constitute a violation of the Texas insurance code, as well as a breach of contract and bad faith on the parts of both Praetorian Insurance and its adjusters. They also allege significant violations of the Deceptive Trade Practices-Consumer Protection Act (DTPA) and Texas fraud laws. The Hail Insurance Dispute complaint seeks to recover more than $1 million in damages, as well as interest and attorneys’ fees, in addition to punitive damages for bad faith.