Got Will?

Many people think estate planning is only for the elderly or the very rich; however, every adult should prepare a Will, regardless of age or income level. A Will ensures your assets are distributed according to your wishes. Without a Will, the law dictates these decisions.

Every adult should have a will, regardless of age or income level.

What is a Will?

Simply put, a Will is a legal document that directs how you want your property to be distributed upon your death. It also allows you to name a personal representative to oversee the process and allows you to name a guardian for your minor children.

Why do I need a Will?

Anyone who owns property, real or personal, even though the amount may seem small, should have a Will. An experienced attorney can help you draft your Last Will and Testament, ensuring that your wishes regarding disbursement of assets, guardianship of minor children and other important provisions are honored.

Important reasons for preparing a Will:

  • Without a valid Will, the state (not you) will determine who inherits your assets
  • A Will allows you to choose the Executor, the person responsible for administering your affairs after your death
  • A Will lets you nominate the guardian of your minor children after you’re gone
  • A Will can eliminate the need for an expensive surety bond, for which an administrator might otherwise have to pay

What happens if I don’t have a Will?

If no Will is found, the courts will appoint an Administrator to administer the estate. Your property will be distributed according to the Ohio Statute of Descent and Distribution. Unfortunately, very often the provisions of the law are not what the deceased would have wanted.

It is important that you review your Will periodically with your attorney in order to keep it up to date. Never mark up a Will; you may invalidate it. Changes should always be made by an attorney.

Remember, drafting a Will doesn’t have to be a somber experience. In reality, estate planning is really about taking care of the people you love. Whether you want to pass along grandma’s silver or your priceless collection of digital photos, a Will ensures your wishes are made clear. Taking the time to draft a Will with an experienced attorney will save your family time and money, and give you peace of mind.

Elk & Elk can help you prepare essential estate planning documents. We will listen to your concerns and customize a plan to meet your goals. Call Amy Papesh at 1-800-ELK-OHIO or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.

Actos Bladder Cancer Settlement

Pharmaceutical giant Takeda has agreed to a $2.4 billion settlement to compensate plaintiffs who allege they developed bladder cancer after taking the diabetes medication, Actos® (pioglitazone).

Takeda Pharmaceuticals has agreed to settle Actos® claims for $2.4 billion.Officials at Takeda Pharmaceutical Co. said the offer will resolve a “vast majority” of the more than 8,000 Actos bladder cancer claims. In a press release, the company explained, “The settlement will become effective if 95 percent of current litigants and claimants opt into the settlement. Once that threshold is achieved, Takeda will pay $2.37 billion into a settlement fund. However, that figure will rise to $2.4 billion if 97 percent or more of the current litigants and claimants opt to participate in the settlement.”

Under those terms, each plaintiff would be entitled to roughly $296,000, with individual breakdowns based on specific criteria such as smoking history, duration of ingestion, and severity of injuries. That may seem like a lot of money; nevertheless, with jurors awarding a single plaintiff $9 billion in an Actos case last year (that verdict was eventually reduced to $36 million), some people may decide not to participate in the settlement and pursue their claims individually.

In that case[1], U.S. District Judge Rebecca Doherty of the Western District of Louisiana chided Takeda and co-defendant, Eli Lilly, for their deplorable behavior and explained the reason for the significant punitive damages:

When, as here, two defendants have been found to have engaged in conduct of a high degree of reprehensibility and put not only the plaintiffs, but the public health and welfare at risk, all in order to generate tens of billions of dollars in sales, an award large enough to sufficiently punish in order to effectively deter such conduct would seem to be warranted.

According to court documents, more than 100 million prescriptions have been written for Actos in the United States, with more than $24 billion in cumulative sales since the drug went on sale in 1999.

Am I eligible for compensation under the Actos Settlement Program?

According to information posted on the District Court of the Western District of Louisiana’s website, The Program is open to claimants who fit all of the following criteria:

  • Allege that they have bladder cancer;
  • First used Actos prior to December 1, 2011
  • Either have a lawsuit currently pending or retained counsel to assert a claim within 3 days of the announcement of the settlement (i.e., by noon EDT on Friday, May 1, 2015)

Plaintiffs who do not qualify for the Settlement Program may still be eligible to file a claim.
Contact an experienced Actos Injury Lawyer today to discuss your case.



Takeda Agrees to Pay $2.4 Billion to Settle Suits Over Cancer Risk of Actos” by Andrew Pollack. New York Times, April 28, 2015.

Takeda, Lilly Win 99.6% Cut in Actos Punitive Damages” by Jef Feeley. Bloomberg News, October 28, 2014.


[1] Allen v. Takeda Pharmaceuticals North America Inc., 12-cv-00064, U.S. District Court, Western District of Louisiana (Lafayette)

None 4 Under 21 Focuses on Long-Term Consequences of Decisions

None 4 Under 21 Mock Crash Scene
Students viewed this terrifying mock crash scene as they entered None 4 Under 21.

Elk & Elk was the Presenting Sponsor of the 13th annual None 4 Under 21 and Choices Beyond Program, hosted by Portage County Safe Communities at Hiram College. Partner Marilena DiSilvio was the emcee of the afternoon, and Senior Partner David Elk spoke at the event.

Approximately 2000 high school students from Portage County and neighboring districts attended None 4 Under 21. The students witnessed realistic crash and funeral scenes as they entered and exited the event, and heard from several guest speakers about the long-term consequences of impaired and distracted driving.

The None 4 Under 21 Program “empowers young people to make appropriate choices by graphically demonstrating the consequences of poor decision-making.”

Every decision has an impact far beyond just you.

Ryan Streem was 14 years old when he was killed in a motor vehicle accident while riding in the bed of a friend’s pickup truck. His father, Marc Streem, shared his family’s story with the students.

“Every decision has an impact far beyond just you,” he cautioned them as he listed all of the things Ryan will never have the opportunity to do, such as attend prom or graduate from high school.

This message encompassed the theme of each guest speaker’s None 4 Under 21 presentation, and represents the far-reaching consequences of impaired, distracted and irresponsible driving.

I never thought that something like this could happen to me.

Next, students heard from a woman who is currently serving an eight-year prison sentence for aggravated vehicular homicide and a number of other charges after she killed a 15-year-old girl while driving intoxicated.

The woman, dressed in her orange prison jumpsuit, teared up as she described the events leading up to the crash.

“I never thought that I would be the cause of a roadside shrine,” she added. “I never thought that something like this could happen to me.”

Let the choices you make today be the choices you can live with tomorrow.

Aaron Cooksey, the final speaker of the afternoon, detailed the tragic mistake that resulted in the death of his best friend, a four-year prison sentence and a lifetime license suspension.

He advised the students to “let the choices [they] make today be the choices [they] can live with tomorrow.”

Following his presentation, Cooksey asked the audience to refrain from applause and instead observe a moment of silence.

Each incident did not affect one person, but many.

DiSilvio brought the afternoon full circle in her closing remarks, once again reminding the students that the decisions they make can change not only their lives, but the lives of their families, friends and even complete strangers.

“Although each speaker had a different experience, they are identical in the fact that the consequences [of their actions] will last forever… each incident did not affect one person, but many.”

Following the presentation students filed through the “Walk of Remembrance,” featuring eleven local families who lost a loved one as the result of a motor vehicle crash.

For more information about the incidents discussed by guest speakers at None 4 Under 21:

This video produced by TAC (Transport Accident Commission) Victoria was also shown to students during the program.

Loss of consortium claims for same-sex couples: Equal protection under the law?

In some states, married same-sex couples cannot receive benefits from personal injury claims that are afforded to married opposite-sex couples.

On April 28, 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the matter of Obergefell v. Hodges, one of four state cases[1] related to same-sex marriage scheduled before the nation’s high court this session. The petitioners in Obergefell asked the justices to decide whether the Fourteenth Amendment requires a state to recognize a marriage between two people of the same sex when their marriage was lawfully licensed and performed out-of-state.

Why does it matter?

You may wonder what same-sex marriage has to do with a personal injury claim. Under Ohio law, marriage provides couples with a myriad of legal rights such as favorable tax treatment, presumed parentage, and the right not to testify against a spouse in criminal proceedings. Also included among rights afforded to married couples is the right to make a legal claim in certain cases, specifically, where a spouse has been injured or killed.

In 2004, the people of the State of Ohio adopted Ohio Issue 1, an amendment to the Ohio Constitution, which provided that Ohio would refuse to recognize the validity of same-sex marriages even if they were valid in the state where the marriage was performed.

Loss of Consortium and Wrongful Death Claims

In a personal injury claim, damages for loss of consortium cover the losses one spouse experiences when the other is injured as a result of the defendant’s negligence or other wrongful acts. Loss of consortium damages may include damages for loss of services, damages for loss of support, and damages for loss of quality in the “marital relationship,” which includes things like providing affection and emotional support.

If the injured spouse dies from his or her injuries, the surviving spouse may also file a claim for wrongful death and seek monetary compensation for loss of support that roughly equals what the injured person would likely have made, had he or she not died prematurely.

Can I file a same-sex Loss of Consortium claim in Ohio?

Each state has its own limitations on the availability of loss of consortium and wrongful death claims. In most jurisdictions, for example, in order to bring a claim for loss of consortium, you will need to show that a valid marriage exists. Under current Ohio laws, same-sex couples are unable to benefit from a loss of consortium claim or wrongful death action.

While no one knows how the Supreme Court will rule, many same-sex couples are hopeful the state cases will follow the Court’s decision in United States v. Windsor[2], which ordered the federal government to recognize the validity of same-sex marriages entered into in the states that allow them.

The audio recording and written transcripts of the oral arguments for Obergefell v. Hodges and consolidated cases can be accessed directly through links on the homepage of the Court’s Website:”

Same-sex marriage laws by state

Click a state for details. (Data current as of April. 2, 2015.)

Same-sex marriage legalized
Civil unions or domestic partnerships
Constitutional or statutory provisions prohibiting same-sex marriage


[1] The Court will rule on four cases, focusing its review on two key issues: (1) the power of the states to ban same-sex marriages and (2) to refuse to recognize such marriages performed in another state. The Kentucky case (Bourke v. Beshear) raises both of the issues that the Court will be deciding, the Michigan case (DeBoer v. Snyder) deals only with marriage, and the Ohio (Obergefell v. Hodges) and Tennessee cases (Tanco v. Haslam) deal only with the recognition question.

[2] United States v. Windsor, 133 S. Ct. 2675, 570 U.S. 12, 186 L. Ed. 2d 808 (2013)

Diabetes Drugs Linked to Heart Failure and Death

Diabetics taking certain DPP-4 inhibitors should be warned about an increased risk of heart failure and death, says an advisory committee to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The panel concluded that diabetes medications Onglyza® and Nesina® should have their labels updated to include safety warnings based on recent studies.

DPP-4 Inhibitors Linked to Heart Failure

Diabetes drugs linked to heart failure and death.
Photo: Chance Agrella/Freerange Stock

The FDA requires all applicants of new diabetes drugs to show that their product will not result in an “unacceptable increase of cardiovascular risk.” Documents released ahead of the FDA review indicated that AstraZeneca’s diabetes drug Onglyza (saxagliptin) is associated with a 27% increase risk of heart failure and a potential increased risk for death.[1] Data for Takeda Pharmaceutical’s Nesina (alogliptin) also showed a modest increase of these risks.[2] The studies, which were presented to the committee on April 14, 2015, raised new concerns over DPP-4 inhibitors, a class of diabetes medications that have been linked to serious side effects and patient harm.

What are DPP-4 Inhibitors?

Some people with type 2 diabetes do not make enough of a hormone called incretin. Dipeptidyl peptidase-4 (DPP-4) inhibitor medicines help the body to retain existing incretin for a longer time. This triggers insulin to be released, which lowers blood sugar. Another DPP-4 inhibitor called Januvia (sitagliptin) is still awaiting review, as Merck Pharmaceuticals has yet to release its post-market study. However, some panelists felt that heart failure and death could be a class-wide problem. 

Diabetes Drugs are big business

Approximately 9.3 percent of the U.S. population has a diagnosis of diabetes, and another 37 percent have pre-diabetes.[3] People with diabetes may develop serious complications such as heart disease, stroke, kidney failure, blindness, and premature death. Without intervention, prediabetes will likely develop into type 2 diabetes in 10 years or less. What does this mean for Big Pharma? Last year, global sales of the combined diabetes franchise of Januvia/Janumet (which contains the popular type-2 diabetes drug metformin) reached $5.7 billion.

While the research and the panelists’ recommendations may seem compelling, it is important to remember that the FDA is not required to follow the advice of its advisory panels.



FDA Panel Backs New Safety Warnings on Two Diabetes Drugs” by Alicia Ault, Medscape Medical News, April 14, 2015.



[1] Scirica BM, Bhatt DL, Braunwald E, et al. Saxagliptin and Cardiovascular Outcomes in Patients with Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus, N Engl J Med 2013;369:1317-26. DOI: 10.1056/NEJMoa1307684

[2] . White WB, Cannon CP, Heller SR, et al. Alogliptin after acute coronary syndrome in patients with type 2 diabetes. N Engl J Med 2013;369:1327-35.

[3] National Diabetes Statistics Report: Estimates of Diabetes and Its Burden in the United States, 2014. Atlanta, GA: US Department of Health and Human Services; 2014.


Faces of Change Luncheon Raises Over $250,000 for Victims of Sexual Violence

Faces of Change 2015
Members of the Elk & Elk team attended the 2015 Faces of Change Luncheon.

On Wednesday, April 15, members of the Elk & Elk team enjoyed an inspiring afternoon at the Cleveland Rape Crisis Center’s annual Faces of Change Luncheon. Elk & Elk served as a sponsor for the event, which raised more than $250,000.

Faces of Change Luncheon

The 2015 Faces of Change Luncheon honored the work of the Cleveland FBI Violent Crimes Task Force and their efforts to aid local survivors of rape, sexual abuse and human trafficking.

Michelle Knight, one of three women kidnapped and held captive by Ariel Castro, gave the keynote address. Knight, who now goes by Lily, discussed her path to recovery and positive outlook on the future with writer and journalist Connie Schultz.

Pledges for CRCC donations were made by text throughout the event.

View a recap of Knight’s Faces of Change keynote address courtesy of Fox 8 News.

Knight has become very active on social media since her rescue, accumulating more than 48,000 likes on her Facebook page. She uses the platforms to communicate with her supporters and other survivors of sexual violence.

In addition to working on a second book, Knight has been recording music and serving as an activist. Her first book, “Finding Me: A Decade of Darkness, a Life Reclaimed: A Memoir of the Cleveland Kidnappings,” can be purchased here.

Cleveland Rape Crisis Center

The Cleveland Rape Crisis Center offers a variety of free services and resources for survivors of sexual violence, including a 24-hour hotline, support groups, professional training and Project STAR (Sex Trafficking Advocacy and Recovery).

The CRCC recently earned a three-year accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities, making it the first and only CARF-accredited independent rape crisis center in the nation.

To make an online donation visit the Cleveland Rape Crisis Center website.

Cleveland Rape Crisis Center 24-Hour Hotline: (216) 619-6192

Medical Apps for Injury Victims

Forgetting or choosing not to take your medicine is never a good idea, but for injured clients, it’s imperative to follow their medical provider’s care plan. In both personal injury and medical malpractice claims, the validity of an injury may come into doubt if you don’t follow up with your doctor and adhere to all prescribed treatments. During a trial, jurors will question the motives of someone who stopped medical treatment and may assume they do not deserve full compensation for their injuries.

Medication Reminders

Medical apps can help you track your recovery after an injury.Anyone who has multiple prescriptions knows it can be difficult to remember to take medications. The following apps can help make medication compliance easier.

MediSafe helps you manage and take your medication on time and lets you know when it’s time for refills, provides doctor appointment reminders, and provides a place to store doctor phone numbers and addresses. Users also have the option to allow their family, friends and caregivers to help with compliance by being alerted as to whether or not you medication was taken.

MedCoach makes it easy for users to follow their medication and vitamin schedule as prescribed by a doctor. It delivers friendly reminder messages to your phone. The app can even connect you to your pharmacy for prescription refills.

Track Medical Records

Medical expenses are by far the most important component of any personal injury case. Whether your case is settled out of court or decided by a jury, you must have complete medical records to back up your claim.

My Medical™ for iOS is a comprehensive record-keeping app for your personal medical information. My Medical can keep track of medications, surgeries, hospitalizations, tests, physicians, allergies, immunizations, assistive devices and much more. It meets the industry standard Continuity of Care Record format, which makes it easy to transfer records from one system to another. For extra security, data is stored directly to your device and not on a remote server.

Healthspek for iPad allows you to easily track, collect and safely share your personal and family health records, manage medications and store legal documents. Account holders can manage medications, medical charts and images, track vitals, access care, and record physician, insurance and emergency contacts, among other features. With the patient’s permission, doctors can access records through Healthspek’s–providing convenience for both you and your physician.

Be cautious of apps that make bold claims

Medical apps abound for consumers looking to use their mobile devices to improve their health and users can easily find apps that promise to promote mental health, aid sleep, cause weight loss, control food allergies, aid self-diagnosis, manage pain, and help in every other conceivable medical condition. However, the FDA regulates consumer health apps at its own discretion, depending on the possible risks to users.

“If an app claims to treat, diagnose or prevent a disease or a health condition, it needs to have serious evidence to back up those claims,” said Mary K. Engle, associate director of the F.T.C.’s division of advertising practices. “We hope marketers will take heed of that and do their homework before they get into the marketplace.”


 Elk & Elk Co., Ltd. does not endorse or recommend any commercial products, processes, or services. This information is not intended to treat, diagnose, cure or prevent any disease. All material provided on this Site is provided for information purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider.

Stress Awareness: 5 Ways to Unwind in Ohio in April

Stress awareness month poster.
April is Stress Awareness Month

April is National Stress Awareness Month. Stress doesn’t just afflict your mind; it can also affect you on a cellular level. In fact, long-term stress can lead to a wide range of illnesses – from headaches to stomach disorders to depression – and can even increase the risk of serious conditions like stroke and heart disease.

Doing things you enjoy is a natural way to fight off stress, so be sure to make time for fun and relaxation. Check out these great Ohio events that we found on

1. Big Spring (Cuyahoga County)

Say goodbye to your winter slumber and enter a fantastical world of towering flowers and larger-than-life ladybugs. Cleveland Botanical Garden awakens your senses with Big Spring, a supersized indoor and outdoor celebration full of vibrant colors, fresh scents and the familiar sound of spring showers. Now in its third year, Big Spring invites those young and young at heart to explore a wonderland of imagination and fun.
Saturday, March 22 – Sunday, April 27, 2015 (Closed Mondays) – Cleveland Botanical Gardens

2. Blooms & Butterflies (Franklin County)

Spring returns to Columbus with the emergence of hundreds of colorful, exotic butterflies. Watch them take flight in the Pacific Island Water Garden, a tropical haven filled with bright nectar blooms. Newly emerged butterflies are released during educational presentations every day at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m.
Now through September 27, 2015 – Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens

3. Latin American and Latino Art at the Allen (Lorain County)

Expand your cultural horizons while enjoying more than 100 works by Latin American and Latino artists – many on view for the first time – that exemplify major artistic styles of the 20th and 21st centuries. All come from the Allen’s diverse Latin American collection, which ranges from Mexican Revolution-era prints by Diego Rivera to contemporary works by prominent artists from 12 countries.
Now through June 28, 2015 – Allen Memorial Art Museum

4. Dogwood Festival (Pike County)

Come and enjoy all Piketon has to offer while taking in the quilt show, woodworkers, fiddle contests, and wonderful bluegrass and Appalachian music. There’s plenty of great food throughout the festival, including delicious apple butter, which you can watch being made by the Dailyville Church. Visitors can also enjoy scenic trails on foot, bicycle or horseback. Don’t miss the great collection of antique cars at the car show held on Saturday.
April 24 – April 26, 2015 – visit for more information.

5. Queen City Baseball: Diamonds and Stars (Hamilton County)

Housed in the former Cincinnati Union Terminal, the Cincinnati Museum Center presents Queen City Baseball. The exhibit features baseball-related materials from the early days of the Cincinnati baseball in the 19th century through the modern era. Artifacts and archival documents, video and sound will have you calling for the peanut man as you step into the gallery and onto the field. Items in the exhibit include 19th century players’ contracts and payment records, autographed baseballs and baseball cards from the early 20th century. Relive the 1919 World Series and the infamous “Black Sox Scandal” through archival newsreel footage and listen to one of the famous rain delay broadcasts of Reds play-by-play announcer Waite Hoyt.
Open through July 26, 2015 – Cincinnati Museum Center

If you find that stress is becoming overwhelming for you, get help.

For more information about stress, visit the FOH National Stress Awareness Month Page.

Additional resources, including treatment options, are available through your local mental health board and The Anxiety and Depression Association of America.


FDA Issues Warning for Low-T Users

Last year, we told you about an alarming new trend: doctors prescribing testosterone replacement therapy for men who may not need it. Now, the FDA has announced that prescription testosterone products are only approved for the treatment of specific medical conditions, not for low testosterone levels due to aging. Additionally, manufacturers of all low-T medications must update their labels to include information about the possible increased risk of heart attack and stroke.

Testosterone medications linked to cardiac eventsIn 2014, consumer watch group Public Citizen petitioned the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to add a Boxed Warning to all testosterone medications and require manufacturers to inform patients about the increased risks of heart attacks and other cardiac events. Also referred to as a “black box” warning, this type of labeling is only issued when a drug carries a significant risk of serious or life-threatening adverse effects.

Based on evidence from several studies and expert input from an Advisory Committee meeting, the FDA issued a statement in March 2015, requiring manufacturers of prescription testosterone products to change their labeling to clarify the approved uses. Manufacturers must also add information to the labeling about a possible increased risk of heart attacks and strokes in patients taking testosterone.

According to FDA officials, “Health care professionals should prescribe testosterone therapy only for men with low testosterone levels caused by certain medical conditions and confirmed by laboratory tests.”

Testosterone is a male hormone, which is produced in the testicles and regulated by glands in the brain. Low testosterone, also known as androgen deficiency or hypogonadism, can result from problems in the testicles or the brain. This is different from the normal decrease in testosterone levels in men over 30, which is a normal part of the aging process and does not necessarily require treatment.

Prom and Graduation: Safe Driving

Prom and graduation season is exciting, but unfortunately, the months of April, May, and June are also the most dangerous times for high school students. Car crashes are the leading cause of death for teens. One out of three teen crashes is alcohol related and distracted driving results in thousands of deaths.

To help reduce teen deaths and injuries and encourage safe driving, each spring, Elk & Elk sponsors None 4 Under 21 and Choices Beyond. This community-based event encourages high school students to make safe driving choices and demonstrates the serious consequences of drunk and distracted driving.

While drunk driving is a serious problem, distracted driving has emerged as a dangerous epidemic on America’s roadways. That’s why we feel it is important to go beyond the message of drinking and driving and talk about the message of distractions.

Distracted driving is any non-driving activity a person engages in that has the potential to distract them from the primary task of driving and increase the risk of crashing. Distractions include, talking or texting on a cell phone, grooming, eating or drinking, changing radio stations, or talking to passengers.

Distracted Driving: Alarming Teen Statistics

  • In 2013, 3,154 people were killed, and an estimated 424,000 were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving a distracted driver.
  • A recent analysis of crash videos revealed distraction was a factor in nearly 6 out of 10 moderate-to-severe teen crashes, which is four times higher than previous official estimates.
  • Sending or receiving a text takes a driver’s eyes off the road for an average of 4.6 seconds—the equivalent of driving blind at 55-mph for the length of an entire football field.
  • If you text and drive, you’re 23 times more likely to be in a car accident.

Take the Pledgeth-pledge

We know talking to young adults about drunk and distracted driving can be difficult. To help start the conversation, we encourage you to join Elk & Elk’s effort to promote safe driving by downloading our free Parent-Teen Pledge. It is designed to help families set ground rules for both teen drivers and adults. After you sign it, hang the Pledge by the car keys or near the front door as a reminder to drive responsibly. Don’t just sign the Pledge, take it to heart. It just might save a life.



AAA: Distracted driving a huge factor in teen driver crashes” by Wyatt Andrews, CBS News, March 25, 2015