LAS VEGAS (Legal Newsline) - A Las Vegas woman who sustained severe injuries as a result of the chemicals used in her breast implants has filed a lawsuit against a New York City law firm best known for representing plaintiffs in asbestos litigation, arguing the firm entered into an agreement with the makers of the implants without her knowledge.
Beverly J. Ezra filed her 10-page complaint against Weitz & Luxenberg PC in the U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada last month. The other named defendants include Bristol-Myers Squibb and Company and Medical Engineering Corporation.
According to Ezra’s complaint dated Feb. 27, Weitz and the defendants entered into and filed with the court a stipulated agreement, thereby dismissing Ezra’s case with prejudice.
Dismissed with prejudice means that a case is dismissed permanently and cannot be brought back to court.
The August 2000 agreement was entered into without her consent or knowledge, Ezra alleges, and in direct contradiction to an agreed upon tolling agreement.
A tolling agreement is an agreement to waive a right to claim that litigation should be dismissed due to the expiration of a statute of limitations.
Ezra claims the “deceitful and unauthorized acts” of Weitz and the defendants have denied her the opportunity to reinstate her case and to pursue her “entitlements” for the injuries caused by the defendants.
Ezra, after sustaining severe injuries as a result of her exposure to the chemicals used in her breast implants, which were manufactured and distributed by Bristol-Myers Squibb and MEC, she retained attorney Sybil Shainwald in July 1997 to represent her in an action against the makers of the silicone gel implants.
Not even a year later, in January 1998, Shainwald filed a summons and complaints against the companies in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York.
Soon after, Shainwald’s office referred Ezra’s case to Weitz, who then assumed the role as Ezra’s legal representatives.
On or about Jan. 21, 2000, Robert J. Gordon, a member of the Weitz firm, sent a letter to Ezra indicating he had negotiated a tolling agreement with the attorneys for the defendants.
It was explained to Ezra that the tolling agreement would allow her to withdraw her case without costs and without prejudice to refile at a later time. The letter emphasized that it would be in her “best interests” to sign the agreement in that it would enable Weitz to keep her existing local case intact and later litigate that case using additional medical information soon to be published, which could be used to her benefit.
This would avoid the need for Ezra to endure excessive traveling, which would be harmful to her declining health, she alleges in her recent complaint.
“Ezra was further assured that she could refile her case at any time and that the statute of limitations will not run against her,” she noted.
Ezra signed the tolling agreement on Jan. 26, 2000.
Eight months later, Weitz and the defendants entered into the stipulated agreement.
Ezra said she didn’t know of the agreement until last year, when her current attorney, Alan S. Levin of Nevada, agreed to reinstate her case against Bristol-Myers Squibb and MEC.
“The undersigned then reviewed the referenced file on PACER and discovered that, contrary to Ezra’s belief, her case appeared to have been dismissed with prejudice,” she wrote in her complaint. “This was confirmed on Oct. 26, 2015 by a true attested copy of the Order of Dismissal from the Court.
“This was the first time that Ezra became aware of this fact.”
She is seeking more than $30,000 in general damages; more than $20,000 in special damages; punitive or exemplary damages; post-judgment interest; fees and costs.
“Defendants’ actions in the setting in which they occurred, by them inducing Plaintiff to enter into an Agreement with Defendants’ actual and/or apparent knowledge that Ezra would not be able to refile her case, was so extreme and outrageous as to go beyond all possible bounds of decency and would be considered atrocious and utterly intolerable in a civilized society; and further Defendants intentionally or recklessly caused severe emotional distress to Plaintiff beyond that which any reasonable person could be expected to endure,” Ezra’s complaint states.
From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by email at email@example.com.