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Simmons Law Firm Founder Named One of Best Lawyers in America

August 16, 2016 at 2:38 pm

John S. Simmons, founding attorney of Simmons Law Firm in Columbia, S.C., was recently selected by his peers for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America 2017 in the field of White-Collar Criminal Defense. John was also named the 2017 The Best Lawyers in America White Collar Criminal Defense “Lawyer of the Year” for Columbia, South Carolina. Only a single lawyer in each practice area in each community is honored as the “Lawyer of the Year”.

Since it was first published in 1983, Best Lawyers® has become universally regarded as the definitive guide to legJSimmons-053-SMALL-300x200al excellence. Best Lawyers lists are compiled based on an exhaustive peer-review evaluation. Over 83,000 leading attorneys globally are eligible to vote, and Best Lawyers® has received more than 13 million votes to date on the legal abilities of other lawyers based on their specific practice areas around the world. For the 2017 Edition of The Best Lawyers in America©, 7.3 million votes were analyzed, which resulted in more than 55,000 leading lawyers being included in the new edition. Lawyers are not required or allowed to pay a fee to be listed; therefore inclusion in Best Lawyers is considered a singular honor. Corporate Counsel magazine has called Best Lawyers “the most respected referral list of attorneys in practice.”

In addition to this recent honor, John holds Martindale-Hubbell’s highest AV rating, is Lead Counsel rated, and is a member of the Bar Register of Preeminent Lawyers, the Million Dollar Advocates Forum, Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum, South Carolina Super Lawyers and the National Trial Lawyers Association Top 100 Trial Lawyers. In 1992, John served as the youngest Presidentially-appointed United States Attorney in the country, having been named to the post by President George Bush. After serving as United States Attorney, John was the Chief of the State Grand Jury in the South Carolina Attorney General’s Office. Prior to becoming United States Attorney, John was an assistant United States Attorney in charge of prosecutions involving environmental and white collar crimes.

THREE SOUTH CAROLINA LAW FIRMS CHALLENGE TURBEVILLE’S TRAFFIC ORDINANCE

June 26, 2016 at 1:06 am

On May 9, 2016, lawyers with Simmons Law Firm, Bluestein Nichols Thompson & Delgado, and Jordan, Rauton & Scott filed a lawsuit alleging that the Town of Turbeville has been enforcing an unconstitutional town traffic ordinance and imposing fines well in excess of those permitted by State law.

Police StopAccording to the Complaint, Drivers cited under the Turbeville ordinance are incentivized to pay the increased fines based on the Turbeville Police Department’s statements that the tickets are not reported to the DMV or to the driver’s insurance company. The complaint also alleges that when a driver challenges the validity of the ordinance, Turbeville has either altered the citation to a valid State traffic ticket or dismissed the charge to avoid judicial review.

Although the Attorney General’s Office has stated that “local authorities are absolutely prohibited from enforcing any traffic offense pursuant to State or local law using a local ordinance summons,” Turbeville officers have continued to write tickets to drivers who violate the town ordinance.

Therefore, the lawyers with Simmons Law Firm, Bluestein Nichols Thompson & Delgado, and Jordan, Rauton & Scott filed the class action lawsuit seeking a declaration that Turbeville’s traffic ordinance is unconstitutional and seeking recovery on behalf of two named plaintiffs and all others who are similarly situated.

Because this is a class action lawsuit brought on behalf of all persons ticketed under the Turbeville ordinance, we are currently not signing up additional clients or representing individuals with pending criminal charges under the Turbeville traffic ordinance.

Simmons Law Firm is committed to protecting the civil rights of injured South Carolinians. If you or someone you know would like to discuss a potential case, please contact the Simmons Law Firm at info@simmonslawfirm.com or (803)-779-4600.

FEMA’s Individuals and Households Program Offers Financial Assistance to Homeowners with Flood Damage

October 5, 2015 at 5:40 pm

Heavy rainfall and flooding has damaged many homes and vehicles in the Columbia, South Carolina over the last several days. Typically, flood damage is covered by car insurance policies if the policyholders carry comprehensive coverage. However, most homeowners’ policies specifically exclude flood damage unless the policyholder carries flood insurance.

FEMA

Undoubtedly, losing one’s home can cause extensive financial damage that is nearly impossible to recover from. For that reason, the Federal Emergency Management Agency has instituted an Individual and Households Program (IHP), which provides direct financial assistance to people who’s homes were damaged or destroyed by flood damage.

The IHP provides assistance for temporary housing, repair, replacement, and other forms of financial assistance if certain prerequisites are met. Recipients must meet the following criteria to be considered eligible:

  • You must have losses in an area that has been declared a disaster by the President of the United States.
  • Your primary residence has been affected, and damages to your primary residence are disaster related.
  • Your primary residence is uninhabitable or inaccessible.
  • The disaster-caused need cannot be met through other forms of disaster assistance or insurance.
  • You have insufficient or no insurance.

If you are eligible for this assistance, you can apply by calling FEMA at 1-800-621-FEMA or by visiting: https://www.fema.gov/what-information-do-i-need-apply

All money provided by FEMA is tax-free and must be spent to rent another place to live, to make the home repairs identified by FEMA, or to replace or repair personal or real property.

Please stay safe during the next few days.  Events like this are a great reminder about how important community is, so make sure to lend a helping hand to your friends and neighbors during this time of crisis.

Simmons Law Firm Attorneys Unwrap Medicare’s Mysteries

September 25, 2015 at 2:26 pm

Resolving legal claims involving Medicare beneficiaries can be challenging, and as the number of Medicare recipients continues to grow, attorneys will face more and more of these claims.

Dealing with carriers under Medicare’s more watchful eye

Click the image above to read the full article.

In an effort to address many of the issues surrounding Medicare claims, Simmons Law Firm Attorneys John S. Simmons and Derek A. Shoemake recently published an article in Trial magazine, Dealing with carriers under Medicare’s more watchful eye, which discusses the law governing Medicare beneficiaries and the steps attorneys must take in complying with Medicare’s requirements.

As the article highlights, Medicare has just unveiled an electronic portal where attorneys can resolve Medicare issues online. The article gives step-by-step instructions on how to navigate this new electronic portal while also detailing the traditional steps involved in resolving a Medicare claim.

Additionally, insurance carriers have begun invoking many of Medicare’s long-standing regulations and newer reporting requirements as a way to interject themselves into the resolution process – including a demand that the carrier pay and deal with Medicare directly. The article walks through these newer reporting requirements, explains why the insurance carriers are asking too much, and discusses options on how to deal with such carriers.

The article should help attorneys representing Medicare beneficiaries deal with carriers who demand an intrusive role in resolving Medicare claims before having to take those carriers through the process that unnerves insurance companies more than Medicare recovery: trial.

 

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ATTORNEYS FOR AT&T MAKE A $40 MISTAKE

September 8, 2015 at 5:25 pm

On March 19, 2015, the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit determined that attorneys defending AT&T in a patent infringement case made a $40 million mistake.

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AT&T’s problems began when Two-Way Media, LLC filed a lawsuit contending that AT&T infringed upon several patents. A jury found in favor of Two-Way Media, awarding it $27.5 million in damages. The trial court also awarded costs and interest, bringing the total judgment to approximately $40 million. After the verdict, AT&T filed a number of post-trial motions, seeking judgment as a matter of law or a new trial. A little over a month later, the trial court denied AT&T’s motions and sent electronic copies of the orders to 18 lawyers and legal assistants. However, the orders were incorrectly labeled in the federal court’s electronic docketing system.

AT&T claimed that it did not realize that it’s post-trial motions were denied for almost two months, at which point the deadline to appeal had passed. AT&T requested that the trial court reopen the appeal period, but the trial court denied this request. AT&T appealed the trial court’s decision and the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit affirmed in a split decision, finding that AT&T’s failure to read the orders and file a timely appeal was not excusable. Thus, AT&T was liable to Two-Way Media for the entire jury verdict.

This case is a stark reminder that attorneys must be familiar with court rules and diligent in maintaining their files in order to effectively advocate for their clients. When considering your appellate options, time is of the essence so it is vital to contact a qualified appellate attorney as soon as possible.

SOUTH CAROLINA COURT OF APPEALS ISSUES AN ORDER CHANGING THE LANDSCAPE OF TRIAL AND APPELLATE PRACTICE

August 29, 2015 at 4:49 pm

In an Order representing a sea change in the way that attorneys must handle appellate filings, the South Carolina Court of Appeals held this week that the time period for filing an appeal starts running upon receipt of an email referencing or attaching a filed copy of the order or judgment.

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On Wednesday, August 26, 2015, the Court of Appeals issued an Order dismissing an appeal based on a new interpretation of the South Carolina Appellate Court Rules (SCACR). Rule 203(b)(1), SCACR, requires a party seeking to appeal an order or judgment to serve a copy of the notice of appeal on opposing parties within “thirty (30) days after receipt of written notice of entry of the order or judgment.” This rule has been commonly understood to begin the thirty-day time period when a party receives a copy of the order or judgment in the mail.

In Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. v. Fallon Properties South Carolina, LLC et al., the master-in-equity sent the attorneys in a foreclosure action an email on December 15, 2014 stating: “Please see attached copy of signed and clocked Form 4 and Order. I have also mailed a copy to all listed on the Form 4.” The losing party’s attorney received a hard copy of the Order in the mail on December 18, 2014. Following the traditional interpretation of Rule 203(b)(1), SCACR, the losing party’s attorney filed a notice of appeal on January 15, 2015—thirty-one days after the attorney received the email but only twenty-eight days after the attorney received a hard copy of the Order in the mail. Opposing counsel filed a motion to dismiss the appeal as untimely, which was granted by the Court of Appeals.

In addition to altering the way attorneys must handle appellate filings, the broad language in the Order also has wide-ranging repercussions for trial lawyers who file motions for reconsideration under Rule 59(e), SCRCP, which contains identical “receipt of written notice of entry of the order or judgment” language. Although it is entirely possible that the South Carolina Supreme Court will reverse the Court of Appeals’ Order and revert to the traditional method of calculating timelines, in the meantime this Order is bound to cause confusion among practicing attorneys of all experience levels.

This case is a stark reminder that attorneys must be familiar with court rules and diligent in maintaining their files in order to effectively advocate for their clients.

All of the attorneys at Simmons Law Firm have experience clerking for state or federal judges and are intimately familiar with the rules for handling state and federal appeals. When considering your appellate options, time is of the essence so it is vital to contact a qualified appellate attorney as soon as possible. If you or someone you know would like to discuss your appellate options, please contact the Simmons Law Firm at 803-779-4600, toll-free at 888-715-8818, or online at http://www.simmonslawfirm.com/contact.php for a free initial consultation.

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SIMMONS LAW FIRM FOUNDER NAMED ONE OF BEST LAWYERS IN AMERICA

August 25, 2015 at 8:38 pm

John S. Simmons, founding attorney of Simmons Law Firm in Columbia, S.C., was recently selected by his peers for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America 2016 in the field of White-Collar Criminal Defense.

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Since it was first published in 1983, Best Lawyers® has become universally regarded as the definitive guide to legal excellence. Best Lawyers lists are compiled based on an exhaustive peer-review evaluation. Over 79,000 leading attorneys globally are eligible to vote, and Best Lawyers® has received more than 12 million votes to date on the legal abilities of other lawyers based on their specific practice areas around the world. For the 2016 Edition of The Best Lawyers in America©, 6.7 million votes were analyzed, which resulted in more than 55,000 leading lawyers being included in the new edition. Lawyers are not required or allowed to pay a fee to be listed; therefore inclusion in Best Lawyers is considered a singular honor. Corporate Counsel magazine has called Best Lawyers “the most respected referral list of attorneys in practice.”

Simmons previously served as the United States Attorney for South Carolina, having been named to the post by President George Bush. After serving as United States Attorney, John was the Chief of the State Grand Jury in the South Carolina Attorney General’s Office. Prior to becoming United States Attorney, Simmons was an assistant United States Attorney in charge of prosecutions involving environmental and white collar crimes.

In addition to this recent honor, Simmons holds Martindale-Hubbell’s highest AV rating and is a member of the Bar Register of Preeminent Lawyers, the Million Dollar Advocates Forum, Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum, South Carolina Super Lawyers and the National Trial Lawyers Association Top 100 Trial Lawyers.

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Electronic Cigarettes, Including the Eleaf iStick and Cloupor Mini, May Have Serious Safety Issues

July 23, 2015 at 8:38 pm
Many popular models of electronic cigarettes are exploding and catching fire at alarming rates.

Many popular models of electronic cigarettes are exploding and catching fire at alarming rates.

The device many use as a safer alternative to cigarettes could actually pose an unanticipated hazard: fire and explosion.

In recent months, several serious safety issues have been reported in connection with several popular models of e-cigarettes. Most notably, many users have reported that the Eleaf iStick 50W, one of the most popular batteries on the market, “autofires,” meaning that an unattended battery spontaneously heats up the metal coil in the atomizer – the coil that is heated when a user presses a button on the battery. Although Eleaf advertises that its devices have numerous safety features, including an automatic cutoff after 10 seconds of use, many users have reported that their devices have bypassed this cutoff and caught fire or exploded after repeatedly “autofiring.” To date, Eleaf has not responded to these reports.

Problems have also been reported with batteries manufactured by Cloupor, including the Cloupor mini. Specifically, users have reported that the battery housing has burned or melted when the unit is charged using a computer USB charger or a car charger. Cloupor has acknowledged that some of its devices have a defect, which may cause the device to “overheat or short circuit.”

According to the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA), “[e]lectronic cigarettes, also known as e-cigarettes, are battery-operated products designed to deliver nicotine, flavor and other chemicals.” The popularity of e-cigarettes has increased rapidly, particularly among people who are attempting to quit using traditional tobacco products, such as cigarettes and chewing tobacco. Despite this increase in popularity, e-cigarettes are largely unregulated and have not been extensively studied, so the potential risks and the efficacy as a smoking cessation aid are currently unknown.

The problems associated with these devices appear to be widespread and pose serious risks to users of e-cigarettes. The attorneys at Simmons Law Firm have years of experience investigating and litigating cases involving defective products. If you or someone you know would like to speak to an attorney regarding your legal rights, please contact the Simmons Law Firm at 803-779-4600, toll-free at 888-715-8818, or online at www.simmonslawfirm.com for a free initial consultation.

Simmons Law Firm Critical to $136 Million Dollar Appeal Victory Over Johnson & Johnson Subsidiary

May 12, 2015 at 12:45 pm

In a strongly worded opinion, the South Carolina Supreme Court on February 25, 2015, affirmed a jury’s finding that Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen unit violated South Carolina law with its “reprehensible” and “callous disregard for the health and welfare of the public” in marketing its anti-psychotic drug Risperdal. The decision also awarded damages against Janssen of more than $136 million, marking one of the largest damages awards in South Carolina history.

Simmons Law Firm – which was one of three firms representing the State of South Carolina in the proceedings – played a critical role in the trial victory and John S. Simmons, the firm’s founder, argued the appeal before the South Carolina Supreme Court. As the jury found and the appellate court agreed, Janssen violated South Carolina’s Unfair Trade Practices Act in several ways.

• Janssen sent misleading letters to more than 7,100 doctors in the state downplaying Risperdal’s links to diabetes and improperly claiming the drug was safer than competing medicines;

• Janssen deceptively marketing Risperdal in another 36,372 instances, including sales calls to physicians; and

• Janssen deceptively labeled Risperdal.

The Supreme Court was blunt in holding that Janssen’s “deceit was substantial.” According to the Court, Janssen’s “furtive efforts to mislead prescribing physicians about the risks and side effects associated with Risperdal were reprehensible.” The Court went on to note that Janssen’s “desire for market share and increased sales knew no bounds, leading to its egregious violation of South Carolina law, . . . irrefutably linked to its longstanding efforts to conceal the truth regarding Risperdal.”

Who are all the attractive people in the doctor’s waiting room?

February 27, 2015 at 12:18 pm

Have you ever waited in the doctor’s office and wondered about all of the attractive sales people moving through the offices with familiarity? More often than not, these are sales people for various pharmaceutical companies.

A couple of questions come to mind about sales from Big Pharma:

(1) What are the doctors receiving from the companies? and (2) how much influence does these sales people have over prescribing practices?

At Simmons Law Firm, we have deposed and/or cross examined hundreds of doctors and sales representatives about sales practices. Some of the testimony and evidence is pretty enlightening. For example, in one case, the notes from sales meetings exposed that the representative and doctor were playing golf and betting on how many prescriptions the doctor would write for the rep’s drug.

Other doctors across the country have been questioned about the gifts they have received from pharma companies, including extravagant trips and payments into the hundreds of thousands of dollars for delivering “canned speeches.” Ghostwriting has also been reported. In response to whistleblower lawsuits and settlement requirements, many pharma companies have been required to post spending amounts to doctors.

The related question: How does this influence what drugs a doctor prescribes? Physicians like to emphasize their independence and proclaim that the sales pitches, gifts and trips don’t influence their professional judgment. We are sure that this is the case with many professionals.

However, there are numerous studies showing the influence pharma wields over physicians and other health care professionals.  This influence raises other issues. How much time does a busy physician really have to investigate and understand dozens and dozens of drugs available for his or her prescribing? Perhaps more importantly, what about the information provided to the physician from the drug company? Have unfavorable studies been buried or minimized?

Many of these questions remain unanswered, but it seems clear that pharma has influenced doctors in the past, and will likely continue to do so.

If you or someone you know would like to speak to an attorney regarding your legal rights, please contact the Simmons Law Firm at 803-779-4600 or http://www.simmonslawfirm.com/contact.php for a free initial consultation.

 By Simmons Law Firm LLC of Simmons Law Firm, LLC posted in Pharmaceutical and Medical Device Litigation on Thursday, March 6, 2014.