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p01 i55Vehicles traverse Interstate 55 in Edwardsville. This view looks south from the Illinois Route 143 overpass.
(Illinois Business Journal photo)

    The I-55 Corridor Development Code, a regulatory and zoning code that aims to quietly coordinate the growth of several interstate-blessed communities, but a source of its own growing pains, is finally coming to the end of one road — and the beginning of another.
    After 13, sometimes tumultuous years, the city of Edwardsville this summer is likely to sign off on documents that broadly link the interests of Edwardsville, Glen Carbon, Troy and Madison County, at least as far as they pertain to development along Interstate 55, the north-south axis that connects them all.
    Historically, Glen Carbon and Edwardsville have grown greatly at their core. Now, the I-55 Development Code is intended to address the next several years of growth from the core to the east, in the direction of the interstate.
    The planning began in 2003, and only a handful of people intimately involved with the process then are still involved at any level today. Edwardsville City Administrator Tim Harr was there at the beginning but as an employee of the Public Works Department. City Planner Scott Hanson took on much of the Corridor 55 planning when he arrived in 2009.

    A local conservancy group is getting considerable backing in an effort to protect and elevate the status of ancient mound sites in and around Metro East, but it remains to be seen if the campaign can get over the hump before President Obama’s term ends.
    The HeartLands Conservancy, based in Mascoutah, has been working the last four years to promote the status of Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site and to add protections for some of the 580 mounds sites located throughout the St. Louis region.
    U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Illinois, officially gave the idea his stamp of approval in a letter to the president on April 28. Specifically he asked the president to designate the Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site as a National Monument. Cahokia and other significant mounds would collectively be a unit of the National Park Service.
    Durbin, in December 2014, requested the National Park Service undertake a survey on the suitability of Cahokia Mounds as a unit of the National Park Service. That survey is not yet complete.
    Such a move, supporters say, would bolster the viability of Cahokia Mounds and further promote the region as one of the best examples of ancient culture in the United States.
    “At over 4,000 acres, Cahokia Mounds was the central hub of the large Mississippian Culture that ruled and traded over half of North America, more than 1.25 million square miles,” Durbin’s letter to the president says. “This area was the first known organized urbanization and government north of Mexico that also used mass production agriculture and commerce. Some of the mounds built between AD 900-1400 still stand as earthen monuments and remnants of Mississippian Culture — North America’s greatest prehistoric ancient culture and ancestors to many of today’s great Indian nations.”

p01 labelsA “wallpaper” style menu board was done as a test to show what Domino’s says is the complexity of menu board demands under new FDA rules.Photo courtesy Domino’s Pizza/American Pizza Community.

    Menu-labeling guidelines handed down by the Food and Drug Administration will do little to educate customers but plenty to hurt small businesses, many in the food-service industry say.
    Groups, including those representing pizza and convenience store industries, are urging Congress to enact legislation that will give their members flexibility in meeting new rules, including what they say is the expensive demand to place calorie menu boards at many establishments.
    At issue is the FDA guidance that came about after passage of the Affordable Care Act. Section 4205 of the act requires that chain restaurants and similar retail food establishments with 20 or more locations disclose nutrient information for standard menu items.
    The uproar over menu labeling began years ago when cities and counties began individually passing menu-labeling ordinances aimed at the fast food industry, trying to get food companies to be more transparent about the nutritional value of their products.
    McDonald’s as a corporation finally approached Congress about having a clear federal standard, which the government addressed as part of the Affordable Care Act.

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    ALTON – Simmons Hanly Conroy, a national litigation firm, announced that a Pennsylvania appeals court has upheld a $3 million verdict against Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc., a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson, for severe birth injuries resulting from the mother taking Topamax during pregnancy.
    Simmons Hanly Conroy attorney Andrew Williams represented parents Kelly and Brian Anderson against Janssen and Johnson & Johnson in the 2014 trial in the Court of Common Pleas in Philadelphia County. The Andersons’ daughter was born in 2008 with bilateral cleft palate and lip. The jury found the drug manufacturer was liable for failing to warn the mother’s doctors of the increased risk of birth injuries when Topamax is taken during the first trimester.
    On May 11, the Superior Court of Pennsylvania affirmed the jury’s ruling, finding that Janssen failed to make proper efforts, in general, to warn doctors about what risks it may have known about Topamax.
    “The Superior court’s decision again proves that big pharmaceutical companies consistently hide dangerous side effects from the American public, but that our legal system allows consumers and families to level the playing field and hold them accountable,” Williams said. “Simmons Hanly Conroy is pleased to secure justice for this well-deserving family and ensure their little girl receives the quality care and treatment she deserves.”
    On the appeal, Janssen argued it should not be found liable for failing to warn because it was unable to change the drug’s pregnancy warning level via the label without permission from the U.S. Food & Drug Administration.
    The three-judge panel disagreed, saying because Janssen is a name-brand drug manufacturer, it still had a duty to warn doctors and the labeling was a separate issue.  
    “Janssen’s argument fails to differentiate between the nonspecific, potential risk that Topamax’s Category C label implied and a known risk in which the drug has been scientifically established to cause particular birth defects,” the opinion said. “The evidence presented at trial indicated that Janssen knew of a causal relationship between Topamax and specific birth defects, including cleft palate, but failed to disseminate the information so that Kelly’s physicians would be adequately warned.”
    Topamax is prescribed to help prevent certain types of seizures and to prevent migraine headaches in adults. The Antiepileptic Drug Pregnancy Registry reports a 3.8 percent prevalence of oral birth defects in children exposed to Topamax in utero during the first trimester. Two of the particular risks listed by this registry are cleft lip and/or cleft palate in newborns, which is known to develop in the first trimester of pregnancy before many women even know that they are pregnant.
    The FDA required the pharmaceutical company to update Topamax’s label in 2011, three years after the Anderson child’s birth.
    Kelly Anderson took Topamax to treat migraine headaches in 2007 and 2008 while pregnant. She was unaware of the dangerous effects it could have on her unborn child. In August 2008, Anderson’s daughter was born with bilateral cleft palate and lip.
    Since then, the child has required more than 14 procedures, including several surgeries, to treat the condition. She has also suffered hearing loss, speech problems, and has been bullied because of her speech and appearance.
    The jury awarded $1.5 million to the little girl for non-economic damages and $1.5 million to her parents to pay for her anticipated health-care expenses.
    “The outcome is not about the money,” the family said in a prepared statement. “It’s about a jury giving us justice for us and our child. We hope this will help make sure no other children have to live with the injuries our daughter has endured.”
    The case is Anderson et al. v. Janssen Pharmaceuticals Inc., case number 2330 EDA 2014, in the Superior Court of the State of Pennsylvania.
About Simmons Hanly Conroy, LLC
    Simmons Hanly Conroy LLC is one of the nation’s largest mass tort law firms and has recovered more than $5 billion in verdicts and settlements for plaintiffs. Primary areas of litigation include asbestos and mesothelioma, pharmaceutical, consumer protection, environmental and personal injury. The firm’s attorneys have been appointed to leadership in numerous national multidistrict litigations, including Vioxx, Yaz and Toyota Unintended Acceleration. The firm also represents small and mid-size corporations, inventors and entrepreneurs in matters involving business litigation. Offices are located in New York City, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, St. Louis, and Alton, Illinois. Read more at www.simmonsfirm.com.