201802.01
0

Is WhatsApp HIPAA Compliant?

Following the introduction of end-to-end encryption, many Covered Entities are wondering is WhatsApp HIPAA compliant. Although end-to-end encryption protects PHI during transit, the popular messaging app does not include all the features required to comply with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act.

It is a common misconception that encryption alone make an app HIPAA compliant. In fact, HIPAA does not even stipulate that encryption is mandatory – instead classifying it as an “addressable” requirement that does not have to be implemented if a Covered Entity believes (and documents) an alternative safeguard is equally as effective at ensuring the confidentiality, integrity and availability of PHI.

Furthermore, even if an app encrypts messages in transit, other security mechanisms need to be present in order to for the app to be HIPAA compliant. WhatsApp lacks these security mechanisms so, although it is safe to send de-identified information via the messaging app, the answer to the question Is WhatsApp HIPAA Compliant is definitely “No”.

What Security Mechanisms are WhatsApp Lacking?

In order for WhatsApp to be HIPAA compliant, there would have to be a significant number of security mechanisms added to the software. These include:

  • On-device encryption. The end-to-end encryption provided by WhatsApp is only a tunnel. Once a message arrives on a device, it is decrypted.
  • Access controls to stop anybody picking up a mobile device onto which WhatsApp has been installed and reading confidential messages.
  • Similarly, WhatsApp would have to have an automatic time-out function to prevent unauthorized access to a mobile device left unattended.
  • Message notifications would have to be changed as, in their current format, they can be viewing without unlocking the device or opening the app.
  • There are no audit controls and chat history is stored on the device, so if a device is lost or stolen, there is no way of deleting messages remotely.
  • The issue about remotely deleting messages containing PHI also occurs should an employee leave the employment of a Covered Entity.

The above list is not exhaustive but unfortunately, it has been reported some healthcare professionals are using WhatsApp to communicate PHI. Not only does this risk the unauthorized disclosure of PHI, but users could delete PHI without it being properly recorded elsewhere. There is also a risk that the device could be hacked remotely – exposing all the PHI stored on the device to cybercriminals.

Issues with Regard to Business Associate Agreements

There are also issues with regard to Business Associate Agreements that further address the question of Is WhatsApp HIPAA Compliant. There is an argument that, as WhatsApp only acts as a conduit for the communication of PHI and does not have access to the content, a Business Associate Agreement would not be necessary.

However, WhatsApp could be required to comply with a court order to release user information that – although not including messaging content – could include personal information about the user, their profile, their address book and groups they belong to. In theory, these elements of a WhatsApp account could provide sufficient personally identifiable information to constitute a violation of HIPAA.

In conclusion, no messaging app should be considered HIPAA compliant because HIPAA compliance is about how users use the software rather than the software itself. Regarding the question of are alternative messaging service to WhatsApp HIPAA Compliant, Covered Entities should seek professional advice before permitting staff to use them for communicating PHI.

201802.01
0

Is Microsoft Outlook HIPAA Compliant?

Although Microsoft has developed a number of products to meet the needs of businesses in regulated industries, not all are HIPAA compliant. Is Microsoft Outlook HIPAA compliant? That depends on the version of Outlook used, how it is configured, and the content of the Business Associate Agreement supporting the service.

As HIPAA is technology neutral, it makes no recommendations about what software can be used or how it should be configured. What is stipulated with the HIPAA regulations is that any software used to create, maintain or transmit Protected Health Information (PHI) must satisfy the administrative, technical and physical safeguards of the Security Rule.

Furthermore, by providing a service to a HIPAA Covered Entity, Microsoft automatically becomes a Business Associate (as its systems have access to PHI). Therefore, before using any of Microsoft´s product or services to create, maintain or transmit PHI, a Covered Entity must sign a Business Associate Agreement with Microsoft.

Is Microsoft Outlook HIPAA Compliant?

This depends on which version of the software is used. Standard Outlook software is targeted at consumers and not suitable for communicating PHI. By comparison, the Outlook software packaged into Office 365 for Business can be HIPAA compliant if supported by an E3 or E5 Enterprise Agreement, Microsoft Exchange Online Protection and a Business Associate Agreement.

The reason for an E3 or E5 Enterprise Agreement being necessary is because Office 365 for Business alone does maintain audit logs – a feature that is required by HIPAA, but only available at a premium from Microsoft. Microsoft Exchange Online Protection provides many other HIPAA compliant features, such as encryption, data loss prevention, and the facility to remotely remove data from mobile devices.

Not only do these features have to be enabled in order for the enterprise version of Microsoft Outlook to be HIPAA compliant, but the software has to be configured for access controls, single sign on, data backups and two factor authentication. Thereafter, it will be necessary to provide training to end users on how the software is set up and how it should be used compliantly.

Check the Microsoft Outlook BAA Carefully

One further item to consider before deciding is Microsoft Outlook HIPAA compliant is Microsoft´s Business Associate Agreement (BAA). Even if a Covered Entity has subscribed to an appropriate Enterprise Agreement and Microsoft Exchange Online Protection, not every product and service provided will be included in the BAA.

Covered Entities need to ensure the products and services they wish to use in order to create, maintain or transmit PHI are covered by the BAA. They also need to be aware that having a BAA does not guarantee HIPAA compliance. As an answer given in Microsoft´s community forum relating to is Microsoft Outlook HIPAA compliant states:

“By offering a BAA, Microsoft helps support your HIPAA compliance, but using Microsoft services does not on its own achieve it. Your organization is responsible for ensuring that you have an adequate compliance program and internal processes in place, and that your particular use of Microsoft services aligns with HIPAA and the HITECH Act.”

Covered Entities and Business Associates unsure about using Microsoft products and services to create, maintain or transmit PHI in compliance with HIPAA should seek professional advice.

201802.01
0

HIPAA Training Requirements

Although the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act stipulates employee training is mandatory, neither the Privacy Rule not the Security Rule provide guidelines regarding the HIPAA training requirements. This can be a significant obstacle to Covered Entities working towards HIPAA compliance.

Businesses in the healthcare and health insurance industries (Covered Entities) and businesses providing services to Covered Entities (Business Associates) need their employees to know about maintaining the security, confidentiality and integrity of Protected Health Information (PHI). If PHI is accessed or disclosed without authorization, Covered Entities and Business Associates could be in violation of HIPAA.

Therefore training employees is essential. However, although HIPAA stipulates “necessary and appropriate” training should be provided for employees to “carry out their functions [in compliance with HIPAA]”, and that a security awareness and training program should be implemented, no light is shed on what the security awareness and training programs should consist of.

This leaves many Covered Entities and Business Associates in the dark. Naturally, training will be provided to employees who work with computer systems in order to mitigate the threats from malware, ransomware and phishing; but how will it be possible to know whether or not the training is sufficiently “necessary and appropriate” to comply with the HIPAA training requirements?

How to Resolve the HIPAA Training Requirements Issue

The way to resolve the HIPAA training requirements issue is to conduct a risk assessment on each employee with regard to how they “carry out their functions”. In some ways, an employee risk assessment is similar to that an IT manager would conduct on a computer network in terms of identifying how PHI is created, maintained and shared.

The employee risk assessment should be followed by a risk analysis, which – like a risk analysis on a computer network – should identify any areas in which PHI could be accessed or disclosed without authorization. Once any potential weaknesses and vulnerabilities have been identified, a schedule can be compiled that addresses the employee´s specific HIPAA training requirements.

The task may seem daunting at first for a Covered Entity with thousands of employees, but many employees will have similar HIPAA training requirements. Security awareness training – addressing similar weaknesses and vulnerabilities – can be provided for groups of employees simultaneously in order to cut down on the workload and ensure disruption to the workflow is minimized.

Tips for Delivering Effective HIPAA Compliance Training

In order to fulfill the HIPAA training requirements, HIPAA compliance training has to be effective. The ultimate objective of security awareness training is for employees to “carry out their functions [in compliance with HIPAA]”; and, if the training is ineffective, this element of the HIPAA training requirements will not be satisfied. Furthermore, PHI will be at risk of unauthorized disclosure.

Therefore, when delivering HIPAA compliance training, businesses should keep the training sessions short and relevant. No employee will be able to absorb the entirety of the Privacy and Security Rules in a six-hour training session, nor will likely pay full attention during a speech on the motives of the HIPAA legislation. Other considerations businesses may wish to bear in mind include:

  • Use whatever tools are at your disposal to make the training memorable. Interactive simulations and multimedia presentations can be accessed online, or purchased from a specialist HIPAA compliance company.
  • Ensure employees are made aware of the consequences of unauthorized disclosure – not just the financial consequences to the business, but also to themselves (via a sanctions policy), colleagues, and those whose PHI has been compromised.
  • Not only is it important that senior management is seen to be involved in the training, but it is a stipulation of the HIPAA training requirements that businesses “implement a security awareness and training program for all members of the workforce” (45 CFR §164.308).
  • It is important that all HIPAA compliance training is documented to meet the burden of proof it has been conducted (45 CFR §164.530). The documentation can be requested at any time by a Department of Health and Human Services inspector or an Office for Civil Rights auditor.

The consequences of failing to comply with the HIPAA training requirements can be substantial – particularly in the event of a breach of PHI, when the lack of effective HIPAA compliance training could be considered “willful neglect”. If a business subject to HIPAA law is unsure about its ability to deliver effective HIPAA compliance training, professional advice should be sought as a matter of urgency.

201802.01
0

Is Slack HIPAA Compliant?

To answer the question Is Slack HIPAA Compliant, one has to look at its functions and, more importantly, the mechanisms it has in place to protect the integrity of Protected Health Information at rest and in transit. Also, one has to look at the content of the company´s Business Associate Agreement.

Slack – an acronym for “Searchable Log of All Conversation and Knowledge” – is a real-time messaging and file-sharing app that also has search engine capabilities. Many businesses have implemented Slack as an effective collaboration tool so that team members can communicate without the use of email and SMS messaging.

In addition to being used for intra-business communications, Slack has also developed into a public platform. Private channels allow members of a larger group to conduct private conversations, and these private channels often expand into the public domain. This would imply the answer to the question is Slack HIPAA compliant a resounding “No”!

The Introduction of Slack Enterprise Grid

In order to overcome data security concerns, Slack Enterprise Grid was released in 2017 – a revised version of the basic app that allows administrators to control permissions and configure integrations on a per-workspace basis. The new app also incorporates several features that would appear to resolve the issues preventing Slack being HIPAA compliant. The new features include:

  • Data encryption at rest and in transit.
  • Customer message retention (to maintain an audit trail).
  • Support for data loss prevention via off-site backups.

In addition, mechanisms exist to remotely terminate connections, create access logs, and support two-factor authentication. Slack Enterprise Grid is compliant to the NIST standards required by HIPAA, is SOC 2 and SOC 3 certified and has achieved ISO/IEC 27001 and 27018 for its information security systems and the protection of personally identifiable information.

Is Slack HIPAA Compliant? It´s Still Unclear

Despite advertising the HIPAA logo on its security page and claiming that “organizations in highly regulated industries can take advantage of Slack´s FINRA and HIPAA Offerings” in the blog post announcing the introduction of Slack Enterprise Grid, the Terms of Service for Healthcare Customers would imply something different. The Terms read:

“Unless Customer has entered into a written agreement with Slack to the contrary, Customer acknowledges that Slack is not a “Business Associate” as defined in the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act and related amendments and regulations as updated or replaced (“HIPAA”), and that the Services are not HIPAA compliant.”

Although this leaves the door open for a Covered Entity to enter into a written agreement with Slack, there is no indication it would constitute a Business Associate Agreement as required by HIPAA. Furthermore, it has been reported that despite its enhanced controls, Slack Enterprise Grid can be used in a manner that is not compliant with HIPAA.

We recommend Covered Entities still wishing to use Slack as a HIPAA compliant tool seek professional legal advice about any written agreement offered. If the agreement is appropriate and the platform configured to prevent non-compliant use, policies and procedures will still need to be implemented – and employees trained – in order for the Covered Entity to use Slack in compliance with HIPAA.

201611.07
0

Claim for Pharmacy Accident Compensation Resolved in Court

A former hairdresser´s claim for pharmacy accident compensation has been resolved for nearly $1.2 million in a hearing of the Ventura County Superior Court.

Fifty-four year old Wanda Katz from Port Hueneme in California was visiting her local CVS Pharmacy when she was knocked over by an employee pushing a merchandize cart. Wanda – a former hairdresser who now holds a license in real estate cosmetology – was crouching down to look at goods on a lower shelf at the time and, when she was knocked over, she claims to have hit her head on the shelf.

However, Wanda did not believe she had suffered a serious injury and failed to seek professional medical advice for six weeks until she started suffering pains in her neck. Wanda´s doctor referred her for an MRI, which revealed a cerebellar lesion. Wanda was mistakenly told that she had suffered a stroke and it was not until eighteen months later that the correct cause of her injury was identified.

With the new information, Wanda made a claim for pharmacy accident compensation, alleging that the store´s employee had been negligent by not looking where they were going, and that CVS Pharmacy was vicariously liable for its employee´s actions. Wanda alleged in her claim that her brain injury had resulted in a balance and sensory disorder that prevented her from pursuing her career.

Due to the long passage of time between the accident and the diagnosis of persistent postural-perceptual dizziness (PPPD), CVS contested the claim for pharmacy accident compensation. The store also claimed that Wanda was exaggerating the extent of her injuries and had contributed to the cause of the accident by crouching down adjacent to the merchandize cart while it was stationary.

As no negotiated settlement could be reached, Wanda´s claim for pharmacy accident compensation went to be resolved at the Ventura County Superior Court, where the case was heard by a jury before Judge Rocky J. Baio. At the hearing, the jury were shown CCTV footage of how Wanda´s accident occurred and heard from medical experts about the injury that Wanda had sustained.

After ten days of testimony, and two days of deliberations, the jury found CVS Pharmacy 100% liable for Wanda´s injury and awarded her $1,190,105 in settlement of her claim for pharmacy accident compensation. The award covers Wanda´s past and future pain and suffering, and her past and future loss of income due to being unable to pursue her career.

201610.13
0

Sisters Awarded Compensation for Boat Accident Injuries

Two sisters from New Jersey have been awarded $9.5 million compensation for boat accident injuries following a hearing at Bergen County Superior Court.

Gina and Jamie Franzino claimed compensation for boat accident injuries after the boat they were passengers in was hit by a much larger boat in the Manasquan Inlet in Monmouth County, New Jersey. Such was the force of the impact that the two women had to be cut from the wreckage of the boat, put into a coma, and airlifted to Jersey Shore Medical Center.

As a result of the accident, Gina (23) suffered a shattered pelvis, multiple spleen lacerations, a broken hip and broken ribs. She underwent a splenectomy – due to which her immune system has been compromised – and high dose radiation treatment after the surgery on her hip. Due to being exposed to radiation, Gina fears that she will never be able to have children.

Jamie (19) was treated for a collapsed right lung, three fractures of her pelvis, nerve damage to her left foot and an injury to her right shoulder. After her discharge from the medical center, Jamie also developed anosmia – the loss of her sense of smell. She attended the outpatients department of her local hospital and attended physiotherapy sessions for more than a year.

Along with several other passengers that had been injured in the incident, Gina and Jamie claimed compensation boat accident injuries against the Edward McCarthy – who had been in command of the boat that hit them – and his marine sales business. For the purpose of establishing liability, the claims were consolidated. In January 2016, McCarthy was found negligent in the operation of his vessel.

Once liability was determined, the claims for compensation for boat accident injuries were treated separately – with the exception of Jamie and Gina´s claims, which were heard recently by a jury at the Bergen County Superior Court before Judge Charles Powers Jr. At the hearing, the extent of the sisters´ injuries and their subsequent PTSD diagnoses were explained to the jury by an expert witness.

Lawyers represented McCarthy tried to play down the extent and the consequences of the women´s alleged injuries. They argued that both sisters had made full recoveries from the accident. However, after five hours of deliberations, the jury awarded Gina $5.1 million compensation for boat accident injuries and Jamie $3.9 million compensation. The jury also awarded Gina $500,000 towards her future medical costs.

201610.03
0

Liability Equally Divided in U-Turn Crash Brain Injury Claim

The plaintiff´s and the defendant´s liability in a U-turn crash brain injury compensation claim has been equally divided by a jury at the Los Angeles County Court.

On 25th February 25 2014, thirty-eight year old Antonio Pureco – a gardener from the La Puente area of Los Angeles – was driving along the road leading to his apartment when he indicated right and pulled over to the side of the road in order to allow for the space on the narrow road to execute a U-turn.

As Antonio started to execute the U-turn maneuver, his car was hit on the driver´s side by a vehicle driven by David De La Torre Carrillo. The impact of the collision crushed Antonio´s car, and he had to be cut free and put into an unconscious state before being taken to Los Angeles County + USC Medical Center.

Antonio was diagnosed with a traumatic brain injury and underwent extensive therapy at Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center. Although making a significant recovery, the degree of his permanent brain injury means that Antonio will never be able to return to work, and he will require assisted living by the age of sixty due to the likely early onset of dementia.

Fortunately, Antonio was not so badly injured that he was unable to seek legal advice. He subsequently made a U-turn crash brain injury claim against De La Torre Carrillo on the grounds that the negligent driver had been traveling at an excessive speed for a residential round and had failed to keep a proper lookout.

Despite being cited for speeding, De La Torre Carrillo contested the U-turn crash brain injury claim. He argued that Antonio had been cited for a dangerous maneuver and that the accident would have happened – albeit with less serious consequences – had he been driving within the speed limit of 35 mph.

The U-turn crash brain injury claim was decided by a jury at the Los Angeles County Court, where the case was heard by Judge David S. Cunningham III. During the hearing, accident reconstruction experts demonstrated how the accident happened and, after nine days of evidence, the jury unanimously found the plaintiff and the defendant equally liable.

The set the value of the U-turn crash brain injury claim at $10 million based on Antonio´s reduced life expectancy, future medical costs, and future pain and suffering. Due to Antonio being found equally liable for the cause of the accident, the jury award was reduced to $5 million to account for his comparative negligence.

201609.05
0

Resolution found in Claim for a Dentist Dropping a Surgical Instrument Down Throat

An Illinois man´s compensation claim for a dentist dropping a surgical instrument down his throat has been resolved with a negotiated settlement of $675,000.

On October 1, 2014, Janusz Pawlowicz (64) from Des Plains in Cook County, Illinois, attended Gentle Dental Services Ltd. where he was due to undergo the first of a two-part root canal procedure performed by Beata Kozar-Warchalowska.

Janusz´s treatment required the use of local anesthesia and multiple dental tools, including a barbed broach – which, during the procedure, Kozar-Warchalowska dropped. Believing the surgical instrument had fallen onto the floor, the dentist continued with the treatment.

However, when Janusz returned for the second part of his treatment on October 10, he complained to Kozar-Warchalowska of nausea and abdominal pain. He subsequently attended the Resurrection Medical Center, where a stomach x-ray revealed the presence of the missing broach.

Janusz underwent an endoscopy and a laparoscopy before the surgical instrument was eventually removed via a resection of his small bowel. He was transferred to Loyola Medical Center to recover for three weeks, but subsequently developed an ileus and was placed on a liquid diet for the next two months.

After seeking legal advice, Janusz made a claim for a dentist dropping a surgical instrument down his throat, alleging that Kozar-Warchalowska had departed from the expected standard of care while performing a root canal treatment. He also sued Gentle Dental Services, Ltd. for being vicariously liable for the dentist´s actions.

Both Kozar-Warchalowska and Gentle Dental Services Ltd contested the claim for a dentist dropping a surgical instrument down his throat, arguing that there had been no deviation from the expected standard of care. However, an offer of settlement was forthcoming, amounting to $250,000.

Janusz´s lawyers considered that the injuries he had suffered should be valued at $1 million, and a hearing for the assessment of damages was scheduled for the Cook County District Court before Judge John P. Callahan Jr. However, before the hearing began, a settlement of the claim was negotiated amounting to $650,000 to account for Janusz´s past and future loss of normal life, medical expenses, and pain and suffering, as well as damages for permanent disfigurement for an abdominal surgery scar.

201608.01
0

Jury Increases Award of Compensation for Falling in a Hole Left by a Utility Company

A New Jersey jury has increased an award of compensation for falling in a hole left by a utility company after an arbitrated settlement was appealed.

In April 2012, the Jersey Central Power & Light Company (JCP&L) removed a broken pole from outside the Barnegat Township property owned by Nancy Jacobs. The removal of the pole left a four-inch by six-inch hole by the bottom of Nancy´s driveway that the utility company highlighted with iridescent paint and placed a warning cone over.

Over the next two months, grass grew around the hole – obscuring the painted area – and the warning cone vanished. Nancy´s partner considered the open hole to be a hazard, and he wrote to JCP&L complaining about the condition of the hole. The utility company did not reply or take any action to isolate or fill the hazard.

On June 18th 2012, Nancy was walking down the driveway outside her home, when she was diverted from the driveway by an operating sprinkler system. As she approached the curb, her right foot went into the hole – causing her to fall backwards in a twisting motion that resulted in a torn meniscus cartilage in her knee and the aggravation of an existing back condition.

After seeking legal advice, Nancy claimed compensation for falling in a hole left by a utility company. JCP&L denied liability and argued that – within the scope and extent of industry maintenance standards – the company had acted reasonable. Mandated arbitration led to Nancy being awarded $400,000 compensation for falling in a hole left by a utility company.

JCP&L appealed the arbitrated settlement and the case was heard by a jury at Ocean County Superior Court before Judge James Den Uyl. The jury determined that the value of Nancy´s claim was $650,000, but attributed her 20% comparative negligence as she had known for two months that the hole existed. Consequently Nancy will receive $520,000 compensation for falling in a hole left by a utility company.

201607.12
0

Guest Awarded Compensation for Emotional Distress due to Hotel Negligence

A former guest of the Sofitel Hotel in Philadelphia has been awarded compensation for emotional distress due to hotel negligence following a court hearing.

In November 2012, Heather Baumgardner was celebrating her thirtieth birthday by staying at the Sofitel Hotel in Philadelphia. On 11th November, at around 4:00am in the morning, Heather´s ex-boyfriend Christopher Werley entered the hotel and identified himself as Heather´s boyfriend and asked for a key to her room.

As Werley was not a registered guest, the front-desk manager made a call to Heather´s room. When she did not answer, the night manager accompanied Werley to her room and tried to gain access using a master key. On finding that the safety chain was in place, the night manager contacted the security supervisor who used bolt cutters to cut the chain and gain access to where Heather was sleeping.

The night manager and the security advisor then left – leaving Werley alone in the room with Heather. Allegedly, Werley went through Heather´s birthday gifts while she was sleeping, and was texting sexually explicit messages to men registered on her mobile phone when she awoke. Heather screamed and ordered Werley to leave. Heather subsequently called the police and claimed compensation for emotional distress due to hotel negligence.

In her legal action against the Sofitel Hotel and its owners – Accor North America Inc. – Heather claimed that she had suffered Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder due to its lack of security. An expert supporting her claim reported that the hotel had violated multiple industry and security standards by allowing Werley into her room, while Heather´s lawyer alleged that the hotel had shown reckless disregard and cared more about its profits than the safety of its guests.

The claim for compensation for emotional distress due to hotel negligence was disputed by the defendants. It was claimed that Heather was not entirely honest about her relationship with Werley (the couple restarted their romantic relationship about four months after the event) and that she had come to no physical harm. The case went to the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas where it was heard by a jury before Judge Angelo J. Foglietta.

During two weeks of testimony, Heather´s claim for compensation for emotional distress due to hotel negligence was supported by her doctor and psychologist – both of whom testified that Heather had suffered from Post- Traumatic Stress Disorder, hypervigilance, and paranoia. At the end of the hearing Judge Foglietta instructed the jury to find in Heather´s favor; and, after five hours of deliberations, the jury awarded Heather $25,000 compensation for emotional distress due to hotel negligence.

201607.06
1

Woman Settles Marriott Hotel Injury Compensation Claim

A woman, who suffered a compound ankle fracture when she slipped and fell by the side of a pool, has settled her Marriott Hotel injury compensation claim.

In June 2013, sixty-two year old Michelle Hairston was staying at the Marriott Fairfield Inn in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, when she slipped on the wet deck by the side of the swimming pool and fell – suffering a compound ankle fracture.

Michelle – a sales assistant for a major department store – required internal fixation surgery on the ankle; preventing her from driving to work and affecting her ability to stand for long periods of time or conduct her normal day-to-day activities.

After seeking legal advice, Michelle made a Marriott Hotel injury compensation claim against Beach Hotel LLC – the company responsible for the management of the hotel – alleging that the hotel had failed to install a slip-resistant surface by the side of the pool contrary to the local building code.

Beach Hotel LLC denied its liability for Michelle´s injury – contending that the poolside decking was covered by an adequate slip-resistant material, denying that a dangerous condition existed or that it had failed in its duty of care to warn hotel guests of the risk of slipping.

A hearing was scheduled to determine liability at the Horry County Court of Common Pleas. However, prior to the hearing, the two parties sat down to discuss a settlement. Michelle sought compensation for her pain and suffering, her loss of wages and $80,000 in medical expenses.

Beach Hotel LLC felt that the figure Michelle was asking for was too high. The company´s lawyers negotiated a $120,000 settlement of the Marriott Hotel injury compensation claim on the basis that there was no guarantee a jury hearing would find the hotel liable for Michelle´s injury.

201606.08
0

Claim for Injuries in a Single Vehicle Accident Settled Prior to Hearing

A compensation claim for injuries in a single vehicle accident has been settled for $26.55 million shortly before a court hearing was scheduled to begin.

The compensation claim for injuries in a single vehicle accident was brought by David Williams (32) – a landscape service engineer from Philadelphia in Pennsylvania. David had been driving his employer´s Ford F350 pickup truck through Clinton County in Pennsylvania, when the truck skidded off the road and David was thrown from the vehicle.

David suffered devastating injuries as a result of the accident and, despite multiple surgery and ongoing rehabilitation, is paralyzed from the waist down with only minimal use of his hands and arms. An investigation into the cause of the accident found that the two rear tires on the pickup truck were badly worn and nearly bald.

After seeking legal advice, David sued his employer for failing in his duty of care to provide him with a safe vehicle, and also made a compensation claim for injuries in a single vehicle accident against the two vehicle maintenance companies who had serviced the pickup truck in May and October 2011 – one of which had replaced the front tires on the vehicle, but not the back ones.

Attempts to settle the compensation claim for injuries in a single vehicle accident by mediation initially failed. The case was scheduled to be heard at the Court of Common Pleas in Philadelphia before Judge M. Teresa Sarmina. However, on the eve of the hearing it was announced that a settlement had been reached that each of the parties agreed upon.

According to the announcement, David´s employer and the employer´s parent company will pay $16.75 million compensation, one of the vehicle maintenance companies will pay $9.5 million compensation, and the second $300,000 compensation. The total settlement of $26.55 million is the highest compensation settlement recorded for a personal injury claim in Pennsylvania.

After the settlement of the compensation claim for injuries in a single vehicle accident had been announced, David´s attorney told the press: “The defendants were alleged to have knowingly and recklessly permitted a dangerous and potentially lethal bald tire on Mr. Williams’ 2005 Ford-350 truck. We would have demonstrated at trial how easy it would have been for the defendants to just do the right thing [and] remove the truck from service until the hazardous tires were replaced.”

201605.16
0

Material Handling Injuries at Work Head Travelers Injury Impact Report

Material handling injuries at work account for the largest proportion of workers comp claims over a five-year period according to recently released research.

The “Injury Impact Report” was compiled by the insurance carrier Travelers. Travelers handles more workers comp claims than any other insurance carrier in the country and was able to draw on data from more than 1.5 million claims made between 2010 and 2014 to determine what nature of accidents were the most common in the workplace.

At the top of the list, material handling injuries at work accounted for 32 percent of the total number of workers comp claims received during the period, with slips, trips and falls at work (16 percent) and injuries due to being struck by an object (10 percent) filling second and third places respectively ahead of accidents with tools at work (7 percent) and repetitive strain injuries (4 percent).

Due to the nature of the most common accidents in the workplace, it was no surprise that inflammations (91 days) and fractures (78 days) were the two injuries attributable on average for the longest absences from work. Strains and sprains also rated highly, with an average absence from work of 57 days.

Industry specific injuries were dominated by material handling injuries at work, with workers comp claims material handling injuries responsible for almost 40 percent of claims in the manufacturing and retail industries. However there was also a much higher proportion of injuries caused by fall from heights in the retail sector would normally be expected.

Woody Dwyer – the Second Vice President of Workers Compensation Risk Control – commented on the findings of the report by calling for a better culture of safety for employees. He said the most common injuries seen by the company could often be prevented if the proper safety measures were in place.

201604.27
0

Hospital to Appeal Award of Compensation for an Adverse Reaction to Anti-Coagulant Medication

A $44 million award of compensation for an adverse reaction to anti-coagulant medication will be appealed by the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.

In September 2011, fifty-seven year old Andrea Tate was admitted to the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania to have a meningioma removed from inside her head. Despite this being considered a routine procedure, Andrea underwent a craniotomy and a resection due to the size and location of the mass.

Following her operation, Andrea was kept in the neurological intensive care unit, where she was administered heparin – an anti-coagulant – to prevent post-surgical swelling around her brain. APPT tests were conducted to measure the rate at which Andrea´s blood clotted and, once the rate had risen from 19 seconds to 32 seconds, the tests were stopped.

However, Andrea suffered an adverse reaction to the heparin and suffered a brain hemorrhage three days later. When the APPT test was conducted again, the rate at which Andreas blood was clotting had risen to 61 seconds – a rate considered significantly higher than the typical reference range and likely to cause excessive bleeding of the brain.

As a result of the hemorrhage, Andrea is now severely brain damaged and essentially bedridden. She is unable to walk, feed herself or use the toilet without assistance, and is cared for full-time by her husband, Dwight.

On his wife´s behalf, Dwight claimed compensation for an adverse reaction to anti-coagulant medication, alleging that – had the APPT tests been continued – doctors at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania would have realized that Andrea was not responding as she should have been to the heparin.

The hospital denied the allegations and argued that the brain hemorrhage was a complication of the meningioma procedure. However, at the Court of Common Pleas, the jury found in Andrea´s favor and awarded her $44 million compensation for an adverse reaction to anti-coagulant medication – an award that the hospital has said it will appeal after having offered $15 million in pre-trial negotiations.

201604.20
0

Woman Awarded Compensation for the Failure to Conduct an MRI

A young Los Angeles woman has been awarded more than $7 million compensation for the failure to conduct an MRI, due to which she lost her leg to cancer.

Anna Rahm from Woodland Hills in Los Angeles was just sixteen years of age when she attended the family chiropractor in January 2009, complaining of a back pain that had started the previous summer and that had spread down to her right leg. After two months of unsuccessful treatment, the chiropractor suggested that Anna attend the Kaiser Permanente Woodland Hills Medical Center and undergo an MRI Scan.

Anna’s treating physicians at Kaiser Permanente initially refused to conduct the scan. Three months later, when Anna´s condition had deteriorated further, her mother convinced Anna’s primary care physician that the scan was necessary. The MRI was eventually performed on July 2nd, 2009, when a large and aggressive tumor – a pelvic osteosarcoma – was discovered in Anna´s pelvis.

Anna subsequently underwent ten weeks of chemotherapy but, due to the osteosarcoma failing to lessen, had an above-the-knee amputation of her right leg, the removal of half her pelvis and spine fusion surgery in October 2009. Anna resumed chemotherapy to rid her body of the rest of the cancer, but was unable to complete the full course of treatment due to developing a C.diff infection.

Eventually Anna´s treatment resumed, and was concluded in June 2010. It is still necessary for her to undergo a regime of check-ups, lab work, PET scans, bone scans, CAT scans and MRIs – and Anna understandably is prone to bouts of depression and phantom limb pain. Doctors believe that she is now 90% clear of the cancer and should not have to undergo chemotherapy again.

In July 2010, when Anna was still seventeen years of age, her parents – James and Lynette Rahm – made a claim for compensation for the failure to conduct an MRI when it was first requested. They alleged – on their daughter´s behalf – that the pelvic osteosarcoma was aggressive and fast-growing and, had it been diagnosed in March 2009 instead of in July 2009, Anna would have had other treatment options other than the amputation of her leg.

The Southern California Permanente Medical Group contested the claim, saying that the same surgery would have been necessary had the diagnosis been made in March 2009 because of the cancer´s location. However, a jury at the Superior Court of Los Angeles County found in Anna´s favor and awarded her $7,151,990 compensation for the failure to conduct an MRI.

The award of compensation for the failure to conduct an MRI is likely to be reduced by just over $1.5 million for the jury awarding more than the allowable $250,000 limit for pain-and-suffering awards in medical malpractice cases in California.

201604.14
0

Jury Awards $1.3 Million Compensation for a Trip and Fall Injury on a Cruise Ship

A jury in Florida has awarded a sixty-seven year old woman $1.3 million compensation for a trip and fall injury on a cruise ship on Christmas Eve 2014.

On the morning of 24th December 2014, Joan Higgs was a passenger on a Costa Cruise ship in the eastern Caribbean at Grand Turk when she tripped and fell over a bucket that had been left unattended in the dining area as she walked back from the ship’s breakfast buffet toward her daughter’s table.

As a result of her fall, Joan suffered injuries to her left arm and shoulder, including a broken elbow. She had to have twelve screws inserted to repair the broken elbow, additional surgery to heal the injury to her shoulder and six months of physiotherapy to regain the full facility of her arm.

After receiving treatment for her injuries, Joan claimed compensation for a trip and fall injury on a cruise ship against the owners of the Costa Cruise shipping line, Costa Crociere S.P.A. In her legal action, Joan alleged that there had been a failure to maintain the ship in a reasonably safe condition.

In support of her claim for compensation for a trip and fall injury on a cruise ship, Joan´s lawyer engaged the services of a maritime safety expert who gave the opinion that using cleaning buckets full of water violated cruise ship industry standards and that yellow hazard signs should have been placed beside the buckets to warn passengers of the risk of injury.

Costa Crociere S.P.A. denied liability for Joan´s injuries. The company argued that Joan could not prove that she tripped over a bucket nor identify exactly what had caused her fall. Lawyers for the defense claimed that Joan was the author of her own misfortune because she was not looking where she was going and that video surveillance proved she was overstating the extent of her ongoing pain and suffering.

The case went to the U.S. District Court, Southern District, in Fort Lauderdale, where a jury found in Joan´s favor. The jury awarded her $1,316,326 compensation for a trip and fall injury on a cruise ship – reducing the award by 15% to account for her comparative negligence.

201604.07
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Mom Agrees to Settlement of Compensation for a Child Falling Out of a Window

The mother of a girl, who fell from her third story bedroom, has agreed to a $5.5 million settlement of compensation for a child falling out of a window.

Rahniya Neal was just three years of age when, in December 2012, she fell from a third story unguarded bedroom window while playing on her bunk bed. Rahniya – from Philadelphia in Pennsylvania – fractured her skull in the fall and suffered brain damage. She was taken to hospital, where she underwent an emergency operation to relieve the pressure on her brain.

Rahniya has since returned to hospital for a second operation – this time to insert a prosthesis in order to fill the areas missing from her skull – and still needs speech, physical and occupational therapy sessions. It is debatable that she will ever be able to live an independent life as she grows older, and doctors are monitoring Rahniya´s progress closely.

Rahnisha Neal – Rahniya´s mother – claimed compensation for a child falling out of a window on her daughter´s behalf, alleging that the developer of the recently refurbished subsidized housing project, the owner, the contractor, architects and superintendent were all negligent for designing and constructing a property in which there was no alternative but to place a child´s bed next to an unguarded window,

The multiple defendants denied negligence and contested the claim for compensation for a child falling out of a window on the grounds that the building had not violated the city´s building code. The architects provided an alternate configuration of the room, showing how a child´s bed could be placed at a safe distance from the window, and it was argued that Rayniha had recovered well from her accident and was only showing mild cognitive defects that may be unrelated to her accident.

Despite the dispute over liability, the parties agreed to mediation. During the mediation, it was revealed that a jury could award as much as $22.5 million compensation for a child falling out of a window just for Rayniha´s potential loss of income. Worried about “significant juror sympathy”, the defendants made an offer of $5.5 million compensation – an offer that Rahniya´s mother agreed to on her lawyer´s advice.

201604.01
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Hearing of Compensation Claim for a Slip and Fall Injury in Lowes Begins

The hearing of a compensation claim for a slip and fall injury in Lowes has begun at the Nevada Eighth Judicial District Court before Judge Ronald Israel.

The compensation claim for a slip and fall injury in Lowes was made by Kelly Hendrickson (38) from Las Vegas, who visited the Home Improvement Store on S. Fort Apache Road in July 2013 to shop for palm trees.

As Kelly was entering the garden center area of the store, she slipped on water on the concrete floor and fell. Kelly fractured her skull in the accident and sustained brain damage – due to which she has lost her senses of taste and smell.

Kelly sought legal advice and – after her lawyer had discovered thirty other slip and fall accidents in the company´s stores in the past five years – made a compensation claim for a slip and fall injury in Lowes.

Lowes denied all responsibility for Kelly´s injuries and argued that she should have watched where she was going as there was a four-foot-tall caution cone on the floor warning customers of the slip hazard.

As no resolution to the compensation claim for a slip and fall injury in Lowes could be negotiated, the case went to the Nevada Eighth Judicial District Court where it was heard by a jury before Judge Ronald Israel.

At the hearing, lawyers representing Lowes claimed that the company had an excellent safety record in its stores and that the thirty previous slip and fall accidents were “one in a million” events.

Kelly´s lawyers told the jury that Lowes had been negligent by failing to provide a safe shopping experience for its customers, and also for erasing the video tapes from thirty CCTV cameras that were located within the S. Fort Apache Road store.

The hearing of the compensation claim for a slip and fall injury in Lowes continues, and is expected to carry on throughout next week.

201603.24
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Las Vegas Man Claiming Compensation for Burns from an E-Cigarette Battery

A Las Vegas man is claiming compensation for burns from an e-cigarette battery that exploded in his trouser pocket, leaving him hospitalized for two days.

Daniel King (22), a slot technician from Las Vegas, was writing up notes in his car on February 8 2016, when he heard a loud “air-releasing noise”. The next second, the battery for his vaping device – that was placed in his left trouser pocket – caught fire and burned Daniel from his hip down to his calf.

Daniel was taken to the University Medical Center of Southern Nevada, where he received treatment for second and third degree burns on his leg, and a further burn on his hand from trying to extinguish the fire. He was kept in hospital for two days and continues to receive outpatient treatment at the hospital´s burns unit. Six weeks after the incident, Daniel is still unable to sleep on his left side.

Having sought legal advice, Daniel is claiming compensation for burns from an e-cigarette battery from the battery manufacturer and the vape shop at which it was purchased. He alleges that the manufacturer is aware of the risk of lithium ion batteries catching fight, yet the batteries contain no warnings nor safety instructions.

Lawyers supporting Daniel believe that his claim for compensation for burns from an e-cigarette battery has a solid chance of success. They claim that the batteries are not fit for purpose and point to the FAA´s endorsement of a ban on in-flight e-cigarette batteries which are known to have been responsible for several fires.

The claim for compensation for burns from an e-cigarette battery is also being supported by Daniel´s mother, Jane. She spoke with the Las Vegas Review Journal and said that the ordeal was devastating for her son. Jane explained that, after Daniel had been discharged from hospital, he spent a further three weeks recovering at home before he was able to work again.

201603.21
0

Claim for an Eye Injury due to Chemical Exposure Resolved at Court

A former sanitation worker´s claim for an eye injury due to chemical exposure has been resolved at a hearing of the Court of Common Pleas in Philadelphia.

Joseph Keith Jr. was working as a sanitation worker for Hatfield Quality Meats in Hatfield, PA., when he was splashed by sodium hydroxide while wrapping a hose that he had previously used to clean the facility.

According to Joseph´s claim for an eye injury due to chemical exposure, the hose struck him in the face as he was wrapping it and knocked off his protective glasses. The chemical had dripped into his right eye, burned the side of his face and his right ear.

Due to being unable to reach an eyewash station for ten minutes, Joseph is now blind in his right eye, has a permanent facial disfigurement and is partially deaf in his right ear. He claimed that his injuries would have been minimal and recoverable had he been able to access an eyewash station quicker.

Hatfield Quality Meats contested Joseph´s claim for an eye injury due to chemical exposure. The company argued that OSHA safety officials inspected the plant on a quarterly basis and questioned whether Joseph had been properly wearing his safety goggles at the time.

The claim for an eye injury due to chemical exposure went to the Court of Common Pleas in Philadelphia, where it was heard by a jury before Judge Mary Colins. At the hearing, the jury was told that the nearest eyewash stations were 155 feet and 210 feet away, rather than being within fifty feet of where exposure to chemicals was possible.

Joseph´s lawyer argued that his employer had failed to follow safety rules, but Hatfield Quality Meats argued that Joseph should have known where the nearest eyewash station was before working with chemicals that presented the risk of injury. The company claimed that Joseph´s level of injury was exacerbated by his own comparative negligence.

After nearly two weeks of testimony, the jury found in Joseph´s favor. It awarded him $1.8 million compensation in settlement of his claim for an eye injury due to chemical exposure, but reduced the award by 13 percent to account for his contribution to the extent of his injury.

201603.15
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Compensation for a Fatal Accident with a Lorry Divided Three Ways

A settlement of compensation for a fatal accident with a lorry has been divided three ways after a hearing of the Court of Common Pleas in Philadelphia.

Gail Walsh was killed in a tragic accident when, in January 2012, a lorry driving through an intersection in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, swerved to avoid a car that was encroaching. The lorry was carrying nearly fifty thousand pounds of sand and, as it swerved, the weight shift caused the lorry to tip over – unloading the full cargo of sand on top of Gail´s SUV.

Despite the efforts of the lorry driver – Ezequiel Rivera – and a group of passers-by, Gail died from compression asphyxia before she could be reached. Following an investigation into the accident, Gail´s widowed husband and her two sons claimed compensation for a fatal accident with a lorry against Rivera, the company that he worked for – Eureka Stone Quarry – and the driver of the car that had encroached onto the intersection, Max Becker.

The claim for compensation for a fatal accident with a lorry went to the Court of Common Pleas for the assessment of damages and to determine what part in causing the accident each party had played. It was alleged that Rivera had not maintained adequate control of the vehicle, his employer had failed to load the sand in a safe manner, and that Becker (who had died since the accident) had encroached onto the intersection in violation of traffic laws.

At the hearing before Judge Mark I Bernstein, an accident reconstruction expert testified that Rivera had responded adequately to the situation in the circumstances at the time. Becker´s widow – who had been a passenger in the car – denied her former husband had encroached into the intersection and Eureka Stone Quarry contested that it had negligently loaded the lorry in violation of safety rules.

After nine days of testimony the jury awarded Gail´s family $10.5 million compensation for a fatal accident with a lorry. $9 million compensation was awarded for wrongful death, with a further $1.5 million compensation for survival damages. The jury assigned Becker 50% liability for causing the accident, Rivera 35% and Eureka Stone Quarry 15%.

201603.08
0

Former UN Driver Claims Compensation for an Injury While Assembling IKEA Furniture

A former driver for the Swedish UN representative is claiming $1.7 million compensation for an injury while assembling IKEA furniture for his employer.

In May 2012, fifty-two year old Carlos Figueroa was working for the late Marten Grunditz – Sweden’s former representative to the UN. Carlos was asked to drive to the IKEA store in New Jersey and purchase a wardrobe for Mr. Grunditz’s private residence.

When the wardrobe was delivered by IKEA, Carlos was told that he would have to assemble it by himself. This was despite the assembly instructions stating that the construction of the wardrobe was a two-person job.

A couple of days later, Carlos was hanging the wardrobe´s doors from a stepladder when he overbalanced and fell. He was taken to hospital with back and leg injuries, but allegedly told not to tell anyone how his injuries were sustained and who he was working for.

Carlos returned to work after recovering from surgery on his back. Unfortunately he suffered a further back injury while working for the Swedish UN Mission and, unable to stand, sit or walk for long periods of time, Carlos was signed off from work in May 2014.

Since being signed off on medical grounds, Carlos claims not to have been paid by the Swedish UN Mission. He says he has been forced to claim compensation for an injury while assembling IKEA furniture because he is unable to support himself and has fallen into debt.

Lawyers representing the Swedish UN Mission argue that he has no right to compensation for an injury while assembling IKEA furniture. Frederick Braid told reporters that Carlos’ injury claim was “without merit” and would not be upheld in court.

Braid is also aiming to have a related claim for constructive dismissal due to discrimination dismissed on the grounds of diplomatic immunity. The Manhattan judge handling the claim for compensation for an injury while assembling IKEA furniture has said he will give an opinion in the next couple of weeks.

201603.04
0

Woman Awarded Compensation for Injuries in an Accident with a Rental Car

A Colorado woman has been awarded $3.25 million compensation for injuries in an accident with a rental car after a hearing at the Denver District Court.

Angela Rogers claimed compensation for injuries in an accident with a rental car after being rear-ended by a vehicle owned by the Hertz car hire company on I-15 just outside Monument in Colorado. Angela had slowed the speed of her own car as she approached stationary traffic, and had almost stopped when she was hit from behind by the rental car traveling at approximately 60mph.

Angela sustained a serious back injury in the accident that forced her to give up work. She claimed compensation for injuries in an accident with a rental car against Hertz as the car that had crashed into hers and caused $20,000 of damage had been driven by one of the company´s employees. The rental car was totaled as a result of the accident.

Despite acknowledging that it had entrusted one of its vehicles to a negligent employee, Hertz contested the claim for compensation for an accident with a rental car. The company argued that, although it was one of their vehicles driven by one of their employees, it was not liable for Angela´s injuries. Hertz made an offer of compensation amounting to just $6,000. The offer was rejected and the case went to Denver´s District Court.

At the hearing to determine liability, Hertz again acknowledged responsibility for the accident, but denied liability for Angela´s injuries. However, the jury found in Angela´s favor and awarded her $3.25 million compensation for injuries in an accident with a rental car – $75,000 for her past and future pain and suffering, and $2.5 million for her economic loss.

Speaking after the award of compensation for injuries in an accident with a rental car, Angela´s lawyer said: “We are so grateful that the jury understood the truth and awarded appropriate and just compensation to Ms. Rogers. This case was about accountability and, fortunately, Hertz has now been held accountable for its conduct and Ms. Rogers’ claims have been validated.”

201602.26
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Jury Awards $72 Million Compensation for Ovarian Cancer Caused by Talc

A jury at the Missouri Circuit Court has awarded the estate of a Birmingham, Alabama woman $72 million compensation for ovarian cancer caused by talc.

In October 2015, Jackie Fox (62) lost her battle against ovarian cancer two years after being diagnosed with the condition. Before she died, Jackie – who had used Johnson & Johnson baby powder for most of her life – discovered research that suggested there may be a connection between the talcum powder used in the product and an increased risk of ovarian cancer.

Jackie sought legal advice and claimed compensation for ovarian cancer caused by talc. She was joined in her legal action by almost sixty other cases, and her claim became the lead case in a class action against Johnson & Johnson. Following her death, the claim for compensation for ovarian cancer was pursued on her behalf by her estate.

At the Missouri Circuit Court in St Louis, Johnson & Johnson contested the claim on the grounds that the cause of Jackie´s cancer was not known and therefore could not be attributed to her use of baby powder. However, lawyers for Jackie´s estate produced an internal memo suggesting that the company had been aware of the risk of cancer since 1997.

At the end of the three-week hearing, the jury found in Jackie´s favor. It awarded the estate $72 million compensation for ovarian cancer caused by talc – $10 million for Jackie´s wrongful death and $62 million in punitive damages. Jury foreman Krista Smith later told reporters: “It was really clear they were hiding something. All they had to do was put a warning label on.”

The company has already said it will appeal the jury verdict and the award. In a written statement, Johnson & Johnson spokesperson Carol Goodrich said “the verdict goes against decades of sound science proving the safety of talc as a cosmetic ingredient in multiple products.” She cited research by the FDA and National Cancer Institute that contradicted research presented in court.

Should Johnson & Johnson´s appeal be unsuccessful, it is likely that the award of compensation for ovarian cancer caused by talc will be significantly reduced. Stanford University law professor Nora Freeman Engstrom told the Associated Press: “Big jury verdicts do tend to be reined in during the course of the appellate process, and I expect that to be the case here.”

201602.19
1

Compensation Claims for Negligent Burns Treatment Resolved in Court

Two compensation claims for negligent burns treatment at a Philadelphia hospital have been resolved after a hearing at the Court of Common Pleas.

Antonio Crespo and Edward Torralvo were working at one of the latter´s rental projects in June 2011, when both men suffered burns to their fingers from handling hydrofluoric acid while cleaning bricks. Antonio and Edward waited until the following day before attending the emergency room at the Temple University Hospital, where they were treated by the hospital´s burns specialist Dr. William Hughes and resident consultant Theresa Pagana.

The two men had injections of lidocaine and calcium gluconate directly into their fingers and were given nerve blocks. However, the treatment failed to work and resulted in both men experiencing more pain in the fingers. When Antonio returned to the hospital two days later with swollen and discolored fingers, one doctor likened his condition to frostbite and, in July, he was treated for gangrene and had the tips of his left index and middle finger amputated.

Edward also had to undergo drastic treatment to resolve the pain in his fingers and still suffers from tingling and numbness. Antonio still has extreme sensitivity on the top of his amputated middle finger and may have to undergo further surgery.

After seeking legal advice, both men made compensation claims for negligent burns treatment against the Temple University Hospital, Dr. Hughes, and Theresa Pagana, alleging that the treatment they received should never have been administered by injection. They supported their claims with expert evidence that the injections could have prevented the blood flow in their fingers and hindered the drugs´ effectiveness.

Liability in the compensation claims for negligent burns treatment was denied by the defendants. Their defense was that the injections were necessary because the two men had waited too long before seeking medical treatment and the recommended course of action – the administration of calcium gluconate in the form of a gel massaged into the fingers – would not have worked so long after exposure to the acid.

The compensation claims for negligent burns treatment went to the Court of Common Pleas in Philadelphia. It was heard by a jury before Judge Karen Shreeves-John, who – at the end of an eight-day hearing – found in Antonio´s and Edward´s favor. The jury awarded Antonio – who was an aspiring musician – more than $4.5 million compensation for the avoidable amputation of his fingertips, and Edward $500,000 for the nerve damage he had sustained due to medical negligence.

201602.12
0

Fatal Accident Claim against a Drunk Driver Resolved for $3.1 Million

A Pennsylvania jury has resolved a fatal accident claim against a drunk driver with an award of $3.1 million compensation in favor of the victim´s estate.

Twenty-seven year old Calvin Wilson was driving his motorbike along Belmont Avenue in Philadelphia on April 4, 2013, when an SUV driven by Kahlile Gray turned left immediately in front of him. Calvin had no way of avoiding the collision, and hit the SUV – the impact of the collision forcing him into the air and over the negligent driver´s vehicle.

Calvin landed badly on the surface of the road and was rushed to the Hospital of the University of Hospital by ambulance. Tragically he was pronounced dead soon after his arrival. An investigation into the accident found that Gray – the driver of the SUV – was over the legal blood alcohol limit and that his vehicle contained several opened alcoholic beverage containers.

Calvin´s estate made a fatal accident claim against a drunk driver in order to provide financial assistance to Calvin´s two children and their mother, to whom Calvin was engaged. Negligence was undisputed, but Gray´s insurance company – American Independent Insurance Co. – did not agree to how much compensation was being claimed.

The case went to the Court of Common Pleas in Philadelphia for the assessment of damages, where the insurance company argued that Calvin had contributed to his fatal injuries due to the negligent way in which he had been riding his motorbike at speed prior to the accident. Their claim was supported by a crash reconstruction expert.

However, a witness for Calvin´s estate testified that, although Calvin may have been riding recklessly prior to the accident, he had not been speeding when Gray pulled in front of him.

At the end of the five-day hearing, the jury found in favor of Calvin´s estate. They awarded the estate $1.85 million in survival act damages and $1.25 million in wrongful death damages for a total $3.1 million settlement of the fatal accident claim against a drunk driver. The jury did not consider that Calvin had contributed to his injuries by his comparative negligence, but also ignored a request by the estate´s lawyer to consider damages for conscious pain and suffering.

The estate´s lawyer told reporters after the fatal accident claim against a drunk driver were settled that he may sue Gray´s insurance company for not settling the claim earlier. “The verdict was a fair verdict”, he said, “and it was a verdict that American Independent Insurance Co. should have anticipated two-and-a-half years ago.”

201602.05
0

Compensation for being Attacked by an Animal Upheld on Appeal

A settlement of compensation for being attacked by an animal – reduced 35% due to comparative negligence – has been upheld by the Missouri Court of Appeals.

In March 2013, Fernando the bull broke through a fence dividing his owner´s land and a heifer breeding center. Concerned for the safety of his livestock, the owner of the breeding center – Ronald Coble – drove his ATV at the bull to scare it away.

However, rather than being frightened by the ATV, Fernando attacked it and flipped it over, trapping Coble inside. The bull continued its attack on the upturned ATV, with Coble sustaining a serious back injury and torn cartilages in his knee.

Coble claimed compensation for being attacked by an animal against the bull´s owner – Robert Taylor – stating that Taylor was liable for his injuries as Fernando had trespassed on his land in breach of Section 272.030 of Missouri´s fencing laws.

Taylor contested the claim for compensation for being attacked by an animal on the grounds that he had personally not been negligent in allowing the bull to escape, and that Section 272.030 of the fencing laws only applied to fences that divided a property from a road rather a neighbor.

In December 2014 the case was heard by a jury at the Circuit Court of Green County. The jury found in Coble´s favor and awarded him $1.8 million compensation for being attacked by an animal, before reducing it 35% to account for his comparative negligence in driving the ATV directly at the bull.

Both Taylor and Coble appealed the decision – Taylor arguing that the jury was wrong to attribute him with strict liability, and Coble arguing that the Green County judge had been wrong to instruct the jury to consider comparative negligence.

However the Missouri Court of Appeals upheld the verdict of the Green County jury. After reviewing the case, Judges Scott, Bates and Sheffield agreed that Taylor was strictly liable for Coble´s injuries and that the judge´s instructions to the jury were appropriate in the circumstances.

201602.01
0

Cyclist´s Broken Hip Compensation Settlement Upheld on Appeal

A cyclist´s $439,000 broken hip compensation settlement – originally awarded by a jury in 2013 – has been upheld by the Oregon Court of Appeals.

On 6th August 2011, John Currier was cycling in the Lloyd District of Portland, when he had to take evasive action to avoid a car that was waiting to pull out from the Washman car wash on Northeast Martin Luther King Jr Boulevard, and was blocking both the cycle lane and the sidewalk.

Rather than pull out from the cycle lane into the heavy traffic, John cycled around the rear of the vehicle and onto the forecourt of the car wash. Unfortunately the forecourt of the car wash was particularly slippery and John fell from his bike – breaking his hip and suffering a serious elbow injury.

John claimed compensation from Washman LLC for his injuries, and in 2013 an Oregon jury awarded him $439,000 compensation after finding that the driver of the car – Dorothy Williams – had done nothing wrong, and that John was 30% responsible for his injuries due to his comparative negligence.

Washman LLC appealed the broken hip compensation settlement on the grounds that, by choosing to cycle onto the forecourt of the car wash, John was effectively trespassing. Lawyers for the company argued that it was not established at the original hearing that John had any right to be on the property.

At the Appeals Court hearing, the panel of judges heard John´s lawyer argue that it was “community custom” for cyclists and walkers to cross the parking lots and driveways of businesses — and to assume they were allowed to do so.

The panel of judges agreed with John´s lawyer and upheld the jury´s broken hip compensation settlement. Presiding Judge Timothy Sercombe told the court that despite Washman LLC´s arguments, John was not trespassing and the car wash had a duty of care to keep its pavement safe.

201601.25
0

Compensation Claims for Illnesses Contracted at the Chipotle Mexican Grill

Compensation claims for illnesses contracted at the Chipotle Mexican Grill in Simi Valley have been filed in California following last August´s norovirus outbreak.

Last August, 234 customers of the Chipotle Mexican Grill in Simi Valley, California, contacted the Ventura County Environmental Health Division complaining of gastrointestinal illnesses. The source of their illnesses was a kitchen manager, who first displayed symptoms of an illness on August 18th, but who continued to work at the restaurant until he was diagnosed with norovirus on August 20th.

However, rather than inform the Health Division of the contamination at the time, the restaurant closed its doors for a day “due to staff shortages” and conducted a deep clean-up operation in an alleged attempt to cover up and conceal evidence of the norovirus outbreak. The norovirus outbreak was only reported to health officials once the restaurant reopened several days later.

Dozens of those affected by the kitchen manager´s negligence are making compensation claims for illnesses contracted at the Chipotle Mexican Grill. According to the lawyer handling the claims, the plaintiffs are seeking compensation for lost wages, medical costs, and additional damages. Many more customers of the restaurant may still decide to join the legal action.

The early indications are that the restaurant chain will contest the compensation claims for illnesses contracted at the Chipotle Mexican Grill. A company spokesperson said: “Generally speaking, the actions we took on the heels of this incident – including reporting it to county health officials – were appropriate.” This is despite the actions of the restaurant being the subject of a criminal investigation.

Chipotle Board Under Pressure from Investors

The restaurant company´s board of directors already have enough on their plate to deal with. Even before the compensation claims for illnesses contracted at the Chipotle Mexican Grill were filed last week at the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California the company had been served with a securities lawsuit by its own shareholders claiming that the company had mislead them about the nature of its sanitary procedures.

A number of outbreaks of foodborne illnesses have been attributed to poor hygiene standards at Chipotle restaurants; including an E.coli outbreak affecting twenty customers in Oregon, an outbreak of norovirus affecting 140 customers in Boston and an outbreak of salmonella food poisoning in Minnesota. Since last October, shares in the company have fallen 45 percent – a situation that will not be helped by the most recent compensation claims for illnesses contracted at the Chipotle Mexican Grill.

201601.09
0

Developments Escalate in Las Vegas Claim for Elder Abuse

The discovery of a previously unreported complaint form has implicated an assistant physical therapist in a Las Vegas claim for elder abuse.

The Las Vegas claim for elder abuse was made by the widow and daughter of Fredrick Knell – an eighty-nine year old resident of the Las Ventanas nursing facility in Summerlin, who was taken to the St. Rose Dominican Hospital on May 21, 2014, with a fracture of the left femur and severe bruising. Medical staff at the hospital also documented bedsores that were attributed to “severe neglect”.

Fredrick had surgery on his leg and was given a blood transfusion two days later. Tragically he never recovered from the trauma and died at the hospital in September.

While lawyers acting on behalf of the family were investigating the circumstances of Fredrick´s fractured leg, the presence of a complaint form came to light during an interview with the Director of Social Services at Las Ventanas – Sharon Shepherd. Ms. Shepherd told the lawyers that she had been told not to release the form, but the lawyers got a court order for Las Ventanas to hand it over.

The complaint form reveals that on the day prior to Fredrick´s admission to hospital, he had asked a nurse to call the police. According to the nurse´s report, Fredrick had pointed to his knee and told her “the therapist”. The nurse – Jackie Kinsey – did not call the police as she had been asked, but completed the form and forwarded it to her managers.

Following the discovery of the previously unreported complaint form, Charles Maribbay – an assistant physical therapist – and his employer, Aegis Therapies Inc., have been added as defendants in the Las Vegas claim for elder abuse. “The failure to disclose the document originally speaks for itself,” one of the lawyers told the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

The lawyer also told reporters that the director of nursing and the therapy manager at Las Ventanas were designated to investigate the complaint. Allegedly the section of the form that indicates what action was taken and whether the complaint was resolved remains blank. “This is a horrible, horrible case where even the police were requested to be called, but the facility did nothing,” the lawyer said.

Unless resolved beforehand, the Las Vegas claim for elder abuse is scheduled to be heard before Judge Gloria Sturman at the Clark County District Court in March 2017.

201601.04
0

Jones Act Used to Support Compensation Claim for the Partial Loss of a Kidney

The Merchant Marine Act of 1920 has been used in a Florida court case to successfully support a compensation claim for the partial loss of a kidney.

The Merchant Marine Act (also known as the Jones Act after its author Wesley Jones) was enacted almost a century ago as a protection measure for the domestic shipping industry. Within its chapters is a section that allows workers to sue their employers when they have been injured at sea and their injuries can be attributed to the negligence of an employer or coworker.

The Act was recently used in Florida to support a compensation claim for the partial loss of a kidney. The claim was made by an employee of Royal Caribbean Cruises, who alleged that the cruise company´s medical personnel had failed to order diagnostic testing or warn her of the risks of kidney damage after she had undergone treatment for hypertension and proteinuria.

The Background to the Claim

In 2004, Teresa Di Trapani – a loyalty sales ambassador for Royal Caribbean Cruises – had undergone treatment for hypertension and proteinuria at the company´s expense while her ship was docked in Miami. Despite her symptoms being an early warning sign for kidney damage, no diagnostic tests were ordered and the recommendation that Teresa should be referred to a nephrologist for follow-up care was never passed onto her.

Consequently, Teresa went five years without a follow-up – and would have gone without a follow-up for longer had she not been taken ill when, on October 10, 2009, the cruise ship docked in Lisbon, Portugal. Teresa was taken to a local hospital where she was examined and discharged with pain medication. The pain in her abdomen continued and the following day – when the cruise ship docked in Spain – she was taken off the ship and hospitalized.

Teresa was diagnosed with hemorrhaging in the right kidney and was flown home to Canada, where a tumor was discovered. Surgeons removed part of Teresa´s right kidney, but she subsequently suffered an umbilical hernia and a right-flank incisional hernia. Unable to lift weights, Teresa was limited to what day-to-day activities she could pursue and was unable to return to her job on the cruise ship.

The Compensation Claim for the Partial Loss of a Kidney Goes to Court

Alleging that she would not have suffered such severe injuries if her employers had ordered diagnostic tests and referred her to a nephrologist in 2004, Teresa made a compensation claim for the partial loss of a kidney against Royal Caribbean Cruises – using the provisions within the Jones Act to support her claim.

The cruise company denied it was liable for Teresa´s injuries and argued that they were due to unforeseeable causes which it had no duty of care to protect against. Royal Caribbean Cruises further argued that Teresa did not exercise “ordinary care, caution or prudence for her welfare” and that she had contributed to the extent and severity of her injuries due to her comparative negligence.

With no resolution possible by negotiation, the compensation claim for the partial loss of a kidney went to the Miami-Dade County Circuit Court, where it was heard by a jury before Judge Jerald Bagley. After five days of testimony, the jury took just one hour to unanimously find in Teresa´s favor.

The jury awarded Teresa $1,991,149 in settlement of her compensation claim for the partial loss of a kidney to account for her past and future pain and suffering, her past and future medical expenses and her past and future loss of income.

201512.23
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Jury Awards Compensation for a Back Injury in a Pick-up Truck Accident

A jury has awarded an injured driver $50,512 in compensation for a back injury in a pick-up truck accident after a hearing at Bibb County State Court.

Horace Thomas from Macon in Georgia made his claim for compensation for a back injury in a pick-up truck accident after being involved in a crash on 23rd August 2013. The accident happened as Horace was turning left into a private driveway, and was hit on the passenger door by another pick-up truck driver by Kenneth Brown.

Brown had been following Horace along the road and, believing he was pulling in to park on the right hand side of the road, went to overtake him. However, Horace turned left across his path and Brown had nowhere to go. Brown actually left the scene of the accident to unload his truck and returned later after Horace had been to hospital.

At the hospital, Horace was evaluated and diagnose with a soft tissue back injury. Due to the ongoing pain in his back, Horace attended the OthoGeorgia Sports Medicine Clinic, where he was treated by Jay Cranford D.C. on nineteen separate occasions.

To recover his medical costs and loss of income, Horace claimed compensation for a back injury in a pick-up truck accident against Brown – alleging that he had been negligent in the operation of his vehicle and negligent in trying to overtake Horace as he was turning left.

Brown contested the claim and repeated his argument that, when Horace had started maneuvering his vehicle, it appeared that he was pulling in to park on the right hand side of the road. With no resolution to the claim, the case went to the Bibb County State Court where it was presented to a jury.

As part of the testimony, the jury was shown an accident reconstruction in which the relative position of the two pick-up trucks before and during the accident was demonstrated. Following the accident reconstruction, the jury took just 1½ hours to find 90 percent in favor of Horace.

The jury initially awarded Horace $56,125 compensation for a back injury in a pick-up truck accident – $50,000 for his past pain and suffering, $5,425 for his medical costs and $700 for his lost earnings. This was subsequently reduced to $50,512 to account for Horace´s 10 percent comparative negligence.

201512.15
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Family Awarded $32 Million Compensation for Son´s Death in Car Crash

The family of a child killed by a speeding driver in his father´s disabled car has been awarded $32 million compensation for their son´s death in a car crash.

On May 1, 2012, Thomas Straw was driving along Route 28 near Aspinwall in Pennsylvania, when the hood of his Pontiac Vibe malfunctioned and released upwards. Thomas stopped the car in the center travel lane, with open lanes on either side of the vehicle.

Suddenly a Ford pick-up driven by Kirk Fair crashed into the back of the disabled Pontiac, sending both vehicles off the road and into the median. Thomas, his wife Jennifer and their four-year-old son were badly injured in the accident. Tragically, their six-year-old son Elijah died shortly after the accident at the Children´s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC.

An investigation into the accident found that Fair had been travelling at 71 mph in a 55-mph zone but should have had 20 seconds and more than 2,000 feet to react to a stationary vehicle in the middle lane. Fair´s failure to react until 0.6 seconds before impact was attributed to his use of Suboxone – a drug used to treat opioid addiction that can cause drowsiness.

Fair pleaded guilty to homicide by vehicle, three counts of aggravated assault by vehicle and four counts of recklessly endangering another person, among other charges. He was sentenced to six to 23 months’ imprisonment and 10 years’ probation; following which the Straw family claimed compensation for their son´s death in a car crash against Fair and the employer for whom he was working at the time – Golon Masonry.

At the hearing to assess damages, the jury was told that Golon Masonry had employed Fair and given him a company vehicle to drive despite a criminal record check showing that Fair had been charged with DUI in 1996 and 2008, and his license was still suspended from the latest conviction. The defense argued that the manufacturer of the Straw´s Pontiac should also be considered liable and attempted to introduce testimony from automotive repair facilities.

After six days of testimonies, the jury took just two hours to award the Straw family $32 million compensation for their son´s death in a car crash. $20 million of the award was directly for Elijah´s wrongful death, $3 million was awarded to each Thomas and Jennifer for their injuries and emotional distress, while Elijah´s younger brother, Rowan, was awarded $6 million – $4 million of which was for his past and future emotional distress.

201512.14
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Risperdal Side Effect Compensation Claim Resolved in Philadelphia Court

A Risperdal side effect compensation claim has been resolved in the Court of Common Pleas in Philadelphia in favor of the twenty-one year old plaintiff.

Wisconsin-born Timothy Strange was first prescribed the antipsychotic drug Risperdal to help control his symptoms of Tourette´s syndrome when he was eleven years of age in 2005. Over the next few years, Timothy gained 60 pounds in weight, which masked the fact that he had developed gynecomastia – a side effect of the drug that manifested as enlarged breasts.

As he grew older and began to lose the weight, the side effect of Risperdal became more apparent. Teased and tormented by his peers, Timothy underwent a double mastectomy when he was eighteen to remove the excess tissue. Timothy´s mother also sought legal advice and made a Risperdal side effect compensation claim on behalf of her son.

The Risperdal side effect compensation claim alleged that the manufacturers of the drug – Janssen Pharmaceuticals – were aware of the possibility of gynecomastia, but had failed to warn Timothy´s doctor of the risks. Janssen Pharmaceuticals denied liability, and a hearing commenced in October at the Court of Common Pleas in Philadelphia.

Four weeks into the hearing, it became apparent that the defense was using an out-of-date analysis of Risperdal to support its arguments. The case was adjourned so that a 2012 reanalysis of the drug could be presented to the court and the hearing resumed on December 8.

The new evidence revealed that Janssen Pharmaceuticals was aware of the potential for gynecomastia in 2002 – three years before Timothy was prescribed the drug. The jury took just three hours to find in his favor, and awarded him $500,000 in settlement of the Risperdal side effect compensation claim.

Timothy´s Risperdal side effect compensation claim was the fourth case against Janssen Pharmaceuticals to be heard in Philadelphia. Three have now been settled in favor of the plaintiffs, while no causation could be found in the fourth.

Commenting on why Timothy´s Risperdal side effect compensation claim was settled for considerably less than the two previously successful claims, Timothy´s solicitor said that his client´s injury had been lessened by the double mastectomy he underwent in 2012. Furthermore there was no forecast loss of life expectancy as had featured in the previous claims.

201512.08
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Costco Injury Compensation Claim Resolved at Court Hearing

A jury has awarded a shopper more than $2.5 million compensation in settlement of her Costco injury compensation claim made after a slip and fall accident.

On 8 June 2011, Yvette Gastello (35) was walking into her local Costco at Van Nuys in Los Angeles, when she slipped on fluid outside of the store that had accumulated due to a subcontractor washing out a temporary porta potty stall.

Although she did not feel any immediate injury, Yvette started to experience pain in her lower back three days later. She visited a chiropractor and an acupuncturist, but her pain persisted and Yvette was ultimately referred for an MRI by her doctor.

Yvette was diagnosed with an aggravation of a pre-existing spondylosis condition in her lumbar vertebrae. She underwent anterior and posterior lumbar fusion surgery, and made a Costco injury compensation claim after learning that the surgery would have been unnecessary had she not been hurt in the slip and fall accident.

The claim against Costco and the sub-contractor who had been washing out the temporary porta potty stall was heard at the Superior Court of Los Angeles County, where the jury was told that both defendants were jointly negligent due to their failure to warn customers of the hazard and divert them away from the slippery area.

Defense lawyers argued that Yvette was the author of her own misfortune by failing to look where she was walking when she entered the store. As Yvette could not remember under questioning whether she had seen the subcontractor using a hose before or after she fell, defense lawyers argued that she might not have noticed any sign warning of the hazard either.

The jury found in Yvette´s favor, and awarded her $2,856,000 compensation in settlement of her Costco injury compensation claim – subsequently reducing the award by 10 percent to reflect her comparative negligence. 50 percent liability for Yvette´s injury was attributed to the subcontractor, with the remaining 40 percent liability attributed to Costco.

201512.01
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Judge Awards $9.6 Million Compensation for Medical Malpractice at Birth

A judge has awarded a 3-year-old Californian girl $9.6 million compensation for medical malpractice at birth against the doctor who delivered her.

At 11:00pm on 29th April 2012, the unnamed girl´s mother was admitted to the Banner-Lassen Hospital in Susanville, California, in the advanced stages of labor. At the time of her admission she was dilated 4cm. By 2:00am the following morning, she had dilated to 9cm, but never progressed to 10cm.

From 2:00am, the fetal heart rate went from normal to variable, before showing more significant drops. At 3:45am, the mother´s consultant – Dr. Paul Davainis – told her to start pushing even though she was not fully dilated. At 5:00am, after more than an hour of pushing, Dr. Davainis ordered a C-section. A surgeon arrived at 5:15am, by which time the fetal heart rate was undetectable.

The baby girl was finally delivered at 5:28am with her umbilical cord wrapped around her neck. She was limp and blue, and needed to be resuscitated and intubated. She was then transferred to the UC-Davis Medical Center in Sacramento suffering from hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy caused by a lack of oxygen.

As a result of the delayed C-section, the little girl cannot walk, talk or care for herself. She is blind, suffers occasional seizures and is fed by a tube into her stomach. She will need full-time care for the rest of live – which is only likely to be until she reaches her mid-20s.

On the little girl´s behalf, her mother claimed compensation for medical malpractice at birth – alleging that Dr. Davainis had been negligent by waiting too long to perform a C-section despite evidence of fetal distress. On 28th October, Judge John Mendez at the Sacramento Federal Court found in her favor, and last week announced the settlement of compensation for medical malpractice at birth.

The judge awarded the girl a total of $9.6 million compensation for medical malpractice at birth to account for her pain and suffering, medical expenses and loss of income. The bulk of the compensation settlement will be used to pay for her ongoing care. The girl´s mother was also awarded $250,000 compensation for medical malpractice at birth to account for the emotional trauma she experienced during the delivery of her daughter.

201511.24
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Passengers Claim Compensation for Las Vegas Airport Injuries

Passengers who were injured when a plane caught fire on the runway of McCarran International are claiming compensation for Las Vegas airport injuries.

On September 8th, a British Airways Boeing 777-200 was engulfed in flames as it prepared to take off from McCarran International, bound for London Gatwick. The cause of the fire is still officially under investigation, but it is understood that a turbine blade detached from the left engine of the plane and sliced through fuel and hydraulic pipes – the fuel igniting and causing the fire.

All 172 people on board the plane, including 13 crew, managed to escape the inferno. However, some passengers suffered injuries during the evacuation and – according to the British press – are now claiming compensation for Las Vegas airport injuries against a number of potential defendants.

One of the passengers – Steve Bingham (35) from County Down in Northern Ireland – suffered an arm injury and the effects of smoke inhalation. He has also been prescribed medication to help him cope with the emotional trauma. Steve told the British Daily Mirror:

“I’m still suffering from the incident and have regular flashbacks. You simply never expect something like this to happen. I am continuing to suffer from the effects of what happened but I know we are all incredibly lucky not to have been more seriously injured.”

Lawyers representing the passengers believe that they could be entitled to significant compensation for Las Vegas airport injuries. In addition to their physical injuries and the potential long-term harm caused by smoke inhalation, the lawyers say that the psychological injuries suffered by the passengers should not be underestimated.

The lawyers have urged the US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) to conclude their investigation quickly so that “appropriate measures can be implemented to improve flight safety” and in order that the passengers claiming compensation for Las Vegas airport injuries can have their claims resolved without unnecessary delays.

201511.16
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Woman Claims Compensation for an Accident at Dollywood

A woman is claiming compensation for an accident at Dollywood in which she suffered multiple injuries due to allegedly falling from an amusement ride.

In December 2014, Tedi Brown, her husband Derryl and five of the couple´s children visited the Dollywood amusement park in Tennessee. Despite the inclement weather, the family was assured that the Waltzing Swinger amusement – a revolving ride with individual seats ascending and tilting outwards 25 feet into the air – was safe to go on.

When she believed the ride was over, Tedi lifted the lap bar to exit her seat. However, she quickly realized that she was too far up in the air to exit safely; but, due to the wet conditions, Tedi lost her grip and fell ten feet head first onto the pavement below.

As a result of her fall, Tedi suffered a brain injury, a broken coccyx, a broken jaw torn ligaments and soft tissue injuries to her spine and neck. After Tedi had received medical treatment, Darryl sought legal advice and made a claim for compensation for an accident at Dollywood on his wife´s behalf.

In the legal action it is claimed that Dollywood failed to exercise due care by keeping the Waltzing Swinger operational during wintry weather “which rendered the seats and lap bars of that ride dangerously slick”. It is also alleged that the operators failed to warn Tedi against raising the lap bar until the ride was safely on the ground.

The owners of Dollywood – Herschend Family Entertainment Corp. and Dolly Parton Productions Inc. – have denied liability for Tedi´s injuries and moved to have the claim for compensation for an accident at Dollywood dismissed. They argue that the ride was safe to operate, that Tedi had to intentionally unlatch her lap bar to get off of her seat, and that she jumped at the end of the ride, rather than fell.

The claim is now waiting for a decision from the US District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee in Knoxville.

201511.09
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Family Resolve Claim for Mesothelioma Cancer due to Secondary Exposure

A family from Florence in Alabama has resolved its claim for mesothelioma cancer due to secondary exposure and been awarded $3.5 million compensation.

For 22 years, Barbara Bobo washed work clothes brought home by her husband, James, who was employed at the Browns Ferry Nuclear Plant and who regularly did clean-up work after asbestos insulation was installed at the plant.

James died of lung cancer due to exposure to asbestos fibers in 1997. In 2011, Barbara was diagnosed with mesothelioma cancer and had surgery to remove the lining of her lung. She also underwent chemotherapy treatment until her death in 2013.

As studies have shown that many workers unknowingly carried home asbestos fibers on their clothes, Barbara´s children made a claim for mesothelioma cancer due to secondary exposure against the owners of the Brown Ferry Nuclear Plant – the Tennessee Valley Authority.

The Tennessee Valley Authority denied its liability for Barbara´s death, but at the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama, Judge Lynwood Smith found in favor of the family and awarded Barbara´s children $3,537,000 compensation in settlement of the claim for mesothelioma cancer due to secondary exposure.

In his summing up, Judge Smith ruled that the Browns ferry Plant had violated worker safety regulations established by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). He said that “relatively simple, low-cost methods which if implemented … may have prevented Barbara Bobo’s contraction of mesothelioma.”

Secondary exposure to asbestos occurs when the person is not exposed to asbestos directly through his or her own work, but when he or she is exposed to asbestos dust and fibers from another source – such as in the case of Barbara Bobo. As with primary exposure to asbestos, symptoms of secondary exposure to asbestos can take decades to manifest – making it difficult to pinpoint where initial asbestos exposure occurred and establish liability in a claim for mesothelioma cancer due to secondary exposure.

201511.02
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Parents Awarded Compensation for a Lack of Care in a Nursing Home

An Orange County jury has awarded the parents of a boy who died after a seizure $10.2 million compensation for a lack of care in a nursing home.

Kevin Barr was born seventeen weeks premature in 1997. At birth he weighed just more than one pound and was diagnosed with cerebral palsy and a seizure disorder. When he was nine-years-old, Kevin became a full-time resident at Lonika´s Home Inc. in Mission Viejo, California – a specialist medical facility that promised it could provide 24-hour care.

However, early in the morning of 7th February 2012, Kevin was found in an unresponsive state following a seizure. None of the staff were able to perform CPR, and there was a delay of almost an hour before staff called 911. Tragically, Kevin died during the delay; and, when emergency services responded to the 911 call, staff at the nursing home failed to provide Kevin´s medical records.

Kevin´s parents – Mark and Michele Barr – sought legal advice and claimed compensation for a lack of care in a nursing home. In their lawsuit against Lonika´s Home Inc., Mark and Michele alleged that nursing staff had failed to give Kevin his anti-seizure medication, had avoidably delayed calling 911 and had attempted to cover up the cause of his death to prevent an autopsy.

The care home denied that it was liable for Kevin´s death and argued that he had died due to Sudden Unexplained Death in Epilepsy Syndrome. The facility also denied that they had avoidably delayed calling 911 or attempted to cover up the cause of Kevin´s death by destroying his medication and concealing his medical records.

The claim for compensation for a lack of care in a nursing home went to the Superior Court of Orange County in Santa Ana, where it was heard by a jury in the court of Judge James J Di Casare. The jury was presented evidence to support Mark and Michele´s allegations of negligence and also to prove that the defendant had attempted to conceal evidence of negligence after Kevin´s death.

At the end of the eight-week trial, the jury found in Mark and Michele´s favor. The jury unanimously agreed that Kevin´s death was attributable to willful misconducted and that Lonika´s Home Inc. was guilty of “malice, oppression and fraud” in trying to cover up its negligence. Mark and Michele were awarded $5.7 million compensation for a lack of care in a nursing home and a further $4.5 million in punitive damages.

201510.26
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Former Employee Awarded Compensation for Exposure to Benzene

A jury in Texas has awarded a man suffering from a variant of leukemia $8.2 million compensation for exposure to benzene contained in paints and thinners.

Between 1973 and 1996, Virgil Hood worked as a painter for Timpte Trailers – a manufacturer of semi-trailers – and Continental Airlines. Nearly every day during his working life, Virgil was exposed to benzene contained in paints and paint thinners, manufactured by E.I. Du Pont De Nemours (Du Pont).

In 2012 at age 57, Virgil was diagnosed with myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) – a condition which effects the production of the blood cells, and which invariably deteriorates into acute myeloid leukemia (AML). Virgil has undergone chemotherapy for his condition and a bone marrow transplant. He has suffered three bouts of pneumonia and temporary blindness due to the side effects of the medication he has been given to prevent his body rejecting the new bone marrow.

Once the cause of his condition had been identified as the toxins contained in the Du Pont paint products, Virgil sought legal advice and claimed compensation for exposure to benzene – alleging in his legal action that Du Pont had been aware since 1938 that benzene exposure causes bone marrow disease, and that in 1954 the company actually advised other paint manufacturers to remove benzene from their products.

The claim for compensation for exposure to benzene went to the 160th Judicial District Court of Dallas County in Texas, where it was heard by a jury before the Honorable Jim Jordan. During the hearing, the jury was told that Du Pont had failed to warn about the carcinogenic effects of benzene and that, in 1975, it had actually misled OHSA about safe exposure levels for workers.

After a two-week hearing, the jury found in Virgil´s favor and awarded him $6.7 million compensation for exposure to benzene for his pain and suffering – liability for which was divided 80 percent Du Pont and 20 percent Timpte Trailers – and $1.5 million punitive damages against Du Pont.

Speaking after the award of compensation for exposure to benzene, one of Virgil´s legal team commented: “What is most gratifying to us about this verdict is the impact it will have not just for the Hood family, but for the thousands of other families in America affected by benzene-related MDS/AML. For decades, the manufacturers of benzene-contaminated products have attempted to deny their accountability for injuring hard-working Americans.”

201510.20
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Injury Claim for a Cyclist Hit by a Truck Settled for $21 Million

An injury claim for a cyclist hit by a truck on Interstate 100 in Southwest Virginia has been settled for approximately $21 million during mediation.

On October 8th 2011, Michael Sprick (44) – a cross-country cyclist from Germany – was part way through his dream cycling holiday. Having arrived in Chicago a month earlier, Michael was on his way to Miami, from where he planned to fly home to Germany.

However, as he cycled along the shoulder of Interstate 100 in Pulaski County, Southwest Virginia, he was hit by a freightliner truck traveling at 55mph. Michael was thrown from his cycle and landed about 100 feet away from the point of impact.

Michael suffered severe injuries in the accident and went into cardiac arrest before he could be airlifted to hospital. As a result he suffered anoxic brain damage, and he remained in hospital for three months on a ventilator before being flown home on a medically equipped plane.

While Michael was receiving further treatment in Germany, his family made an injury claim for a cyclist hit by a truck on his behalf. The driver of the truck – Norman Merchant – initially denied liability for Michael´s injuries and said that he was forced to maneuver onto the shoulder by an oncoming vehicle.

Witnesses to the accident disagreed with Merchant´s version of events and, in December 2011, was convicted of reckless driving, fined and given a suspended sentence. With liability confirmed, the injury claim for a cyclist hit by a truck proceeded against Merchant´s employers – Hostess Brands Inc.

However, there was to be another twist in the injury claim for a cyclist hit by a truck when Hostess Brands Inc. filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Michael´s lawyers successfully moved to have the stay lifted, and refiled the claim in Virginia´s federal district court.

After an accurate assessment of Michael´s future needs was compiled, the two parties agreed on a settlement of approximately $21 million – with $13 million of the settlement being put aside to set up a fund for Michael´s future medical and life care costs.

201510.14
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Court Says No New Trial in Pedestrian Bus Accident Claim

The New York Supreme Court has refused plaintiffs in a pedestrian bus accident claim a new trial after a jury award of compensation was considered modest.

Leslie Lariviere (39) suffered a head injury on 9th December 2008 when she was hit on the head by a bus´s side view mirror as she crossed a street in Brooklyn. Leslie was taken to hospital by ambulance, where a CT scan failed to reveal any brain injury and she was diagnosed with concussion.

Told to go home and rest, Leslie experienced dizzy spells and feelings of nausea over the following weeks. In January 2009 she suffered a seizure and was hospitalized for four days. As she was often suffering headaches and migraines, Leslie was unable to return to her job as a restaurant hostess and became a recluse.

To recover compensation for her medical bills and loss of income, Leslie made a pedestrian bus accident claim against the New York City Transport Authority. She was granted a summary judgement on liability in 2011, and – after a failed appeal by the New York City Transport Authority – her pedestrian bus accident claim was heard at the New York Appellant Court for the assessment of damages.

At the Appellant Court, expert witnesses gave evidence that Leslie had a significant and ongoing brain injury. However, lawyers for the New York City Transit Authority argued that she was not being honest about her symptoms and persuaded the jury that Leslie´s injury was relatively minor and exaggerated by a pre-existing condition.

The jury awarded Leslie $152,000 compensation in settlement of her bus accident claim to account for her past pain and suffering as well as her medical bills and loss of income. Leslie´s husband, David, was also awarded compensation for the loss of services by his wife.

Leslie´s lawyers were unhappy with the award and entered a motion for a new hearing. They claimed that comments made by defense lawyers were prejudicial to the settlement of compensation awarded by the jury. However, the New York Supreme Court denied the motion – saying that in the context of the hearing, the comments had not denied Leslie a fair trial.

201510.07
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Senator Makes Compensation Claim for an Injury from Faulty Exercise Equipment

Nevada Senator Harry Reid has made a compensation claim for an injury from faulty exercise equipment against the makers of the TheraBand resistance band.

According to documents filed with the Clark County District Court, the compensation claim for an injury from faulty exercise equipment was filed by both Senator Reid and his wife – Landra Gould – and relate to events that occurred in the Senator´s Anthem Country Club home in Henderson on January 1st 2015.

In the lawsuit, it is alleged that Senator Reid was using a TheraBand resistance band to exercise in his bathroom, when the band snapped or slipped out of his hand – causing him to spin around and strike his face on a bathroom cabinet.

The Senator suffered terrible facial injuries including a loss of vision in his right eye, broken bones around his eye, severe disfigurement and bruising. He had to undergo several surgeries to repair the damage to his face and prevent blood from pooling in his damaged eye.

The compensation claim for an injury from faulty exercise equipment is being made against the manufacturers, marketers and distributors of the resistance band – Hygenic Intangible Property Holding Co., The Hygenic Corp. and Performance Health LLC for negligence and failure to warn.

Senator Reid alleges that the defendants knew or had constructive knowledge that there was a risk of injury to users – especially elderly users (Senator Reid is 75 years of age) who may not have such as strong hands and feet as a younger user of the resistance band.

An appropriate warning – Senator Reid states in his compensation claim for an injury from faulty exercise equipment – would have prompted him “to take precautions to avoid his injuries”. Senator Reid is seeking in excess of $50,000 compensation for his injuries.

201510.05
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Jury Awards Compensation for a Head Injury in a Multi-Car Pile-Up

A jury in San Diego has awarded a former student $17.3 million compensation for a head injury in a multi-car pile-up after a four week hearing.

In the fall of 2012, 24-year-old Russell Sheaffer was just completing his Ph.D. at Indiana University when he traveled to California to make a film documentary. On 3rd November, he was traveling southbound on Interstate 15, when he pulled up in a line of cars waiting at lights in Escondido.

While the cars were waiting for the lights to change, a 35,000 Freightliner driven by Thomas Mose crashed into the back of the line of cars – causing a concertina effect. Russell was thrown from his Toyota Corolla and landed in the back of the utility vehicle in front of him.

Russell was rushed to hospital suffering from concussion and several broken bones, including a broken jaw. He underwent surgery on his head injury and was checked for brain damage. He was discharged three days later, but his jaw remained wired up for a further eight weeks.

Russell sought legal advice and claimed compensation for a head injury in a multi-car pile-up. In his claim, Russell alleged that Mose had been negligent in the operation of his vehicle and his employer – NuCO2 Inc – was vicariously liable for his injuries.

NuCO2 Inc admitted liability for the accident; but, as no settlement of compensation for a head injury in a multi-car pile-up could be agreed, the case went to the Superior Court of San Diego County where it was heard by a jury before Judge Timothy Casserly to assess how much compensation Russell was entitled to.

After a four-week hearing, during which time the jury heard testimony regarding Russell´s future medical costs and his future employment prospects, the jury awarded $17.3 million compensation for a head injury in a multi-car pile-up. The compensation award covers Russell´s personal injury, his past and future medical costs, his future loss of income and his non-economic damages.

201509.28
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Family Awarded Compensation for a Fatal Fall from a Stretcher

The family of a woman who died following an accident prior to an ambulance transfer has been awarded compensation for a fatal fall from a stretcher.

On January 31st 2009, Barbara Grimes (67) from Plymouth in Massachusetts underwent her regular dialysis treatment at the Fresenius Medical Care Center, and was being taken to an ambulance that was to take her home to the Golden Living Center, when the stretcher on which she was being transported collapsed and tipped over. As Barbara fell from the stretcher she hit her head on the pavement and suffered a massive blunt force trauma. She died from a brain hemorrhage four days later.

On behalf of his sister´s estate, Barbara´s brother – Peter Zacarelli – claimed compensation for a fatal fall from a stretcher, alleging that the company responsible for taking Barbara home – American Medical Response (AMR) of Massachusetts had failed to train and supervise the Emergency Medical Technicians in charge of the stretcher. Peter claimed that the Emergency Medical Technicians had failed to properly secure the locking mechanism on the stretcher and had conducted a negligent turning maneuver that had caused the stretcher to collapse and tip over.

AMR disputed that it was liable for Barbara´s death and argued that what had occurred was a tragic incident outside of any negligence. Although admitting that the locking mechanism was not properly secured, AMR argued that the stretcher collapsed partially and unexpectedly, and it was Barbara´s weight shift that caused it to tip over. AMR added that it had a training and supervision policy in place which was stronger than the advisory issued by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.

Unable to resolve the case by negotiation, the claim for compensation for a fatal fall from a stretcher went to the Superior Court of Middlesex County where it was heard by a jury before Robert B Gordon. After seven days of testimony, the jury took two and a half hours to find in Peter´s favor and awarded Barbara´s estate $1,425,000 compensation for a fatal fall from a stretcher to account for Barbara´s pain and suffering during the last days of her life. Barbara´s three next of kin were also awarded $25,000 each.

201509.21
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Man Resolves Claim for Negligent Care following Knee Replacement Surgery

A man from Coldwater, Michigan, has resolved his claim for negligent care following knee replacement surgery at a hearing of the Branch County Circuit Court.

In September 2011, James Dorstal (72) underwent knee replacement surgery at the Community Health Center of Branch County. During his recovery from the operation, James was fitted with a continuous passive motion device to assist with his rehabilitation and to minimize any post-operative swelling.

However, the nurse caring for James mispositioned his knee at an angle of 75 degrees – rather than the recommended 40 degrees – resulting in James suffering unnecessary trauma to his knee. James can now only walk short distances with the help of a cane, and is unable to enjoy his previously normal activities.

James sought legal advice and made a claim for negligent care following knee replacement surgery against the Community Health Center of Branch County. James claimed in his action that, if the continuous passive motion device had been fitted properly, he would not have his current mobility problems or had to undergo a second operation to remove excess scar tissue that had developed post-operatively.

The Community Health Center of Branch County contested the claim for negligent care following knee replacement surgery. In the health center´s defense, it was argued that the motion device had been fitted properly and that the mobility issues James was experiencing were normal after undergoing knee replacement surgery. The health center maintained that it had not deviated from the acceptable standard of care.

The claim for negligent care following knee replacement surgery went to the Branch County Circuit Court, where experts from both sides presented evidence to the jury. After a three-day hearing and less than an hour of deliberations, the jury found unanimously in James´ favor – awarding him $225,000 in settlement of his claim for negligent care following knee replacement surgery.

201509.15
0

Woman Settles Compensation Claim for a Trip and Fall at Dunkin Donuts

A woman, who suffered serious burn injuries from hot coffee that spilled on her, has settled her claim for a trip and fall at Dunkin Donuts for $522,000.

Early in the morning of 19th January 2012, Maria Marsala was walking through the parking lot of Dunkin Donuts store in Highland Park, New Jersey, when she tripped and fell over a dislodged curb stop in the restaurant parking lot. As she fell, the cups of hot coffee she was carrying spilled over her – causing substantial scalding to her face and neck.

Maria was treated at the scene of the accident by the Highland Park First Aid Squad for the cuts and bruises she had sustained in her accident, and then taken to the Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick for further treatment on her burn injuries. When she was discharged, Maria sought legal advice and made a compensation claim for a trip and fall at Dunkin Donuts.

In her claim against Dunkin Donuts, the franchisee who ran the Highland Park restaurant, and the owner of the mall in which the Dunkin Donuts store was located, Maria claimed that the three defendants had failed in their duty of care to maintain the parking lot in a safe condition. The three defendants denied their liability for Maria´s injuries, and a court date was set for the case to be heard at Middlesex County Superior Court.

However, prior to the hearing, Ed Rebenack – Maria´s attorney – announced that the compensation claim for a trip and fall at Dunkin Donuts had been settled out of court for $522,000. Rebenack said: “Ms. Marsala is hopeful that the settlement will serve to remind business owners that their customer’s safety should always be a priority. Basic property maintenance would have saved Ms. Marsala from years of debilitating injuries.”

201509.07
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Family Awarded Compensation for Burn Injuries due to Heater Safety Failings

A Californian jury has awarded a family compensation for injuries due to heater safety failings following a fire at their home which a woman died.

On 5th January 2011, Kenneth and Amy Shinedling were sleeping in the master bedroom of their home in Piñon Hills, Los Angeles, when a fire started in the room. Kenneth escaped from the fire with minor burn injuries and was able to rescue the couple´s three children, but Amy died from severe burns and the inhalation of toxic fumes.

An investigation into the cause of the fire discovered that the automatic safety switch on the couple´s Sunbeam quartz-style space heater had failed to operate when bedding had come within three feet of the heater, and it was this heater safety failing which had caused the fire to start.

Kenneth and his three children claimed compensation for burn injuries due to heater safety failings for their own injuries and for Amy´s wrongful death. In their action it was claimed that no warnings were given against leaving the heater on all night and that the heater failed the consumer expectation test for design defect and failed the risk-benefit test for design defect.

Sunbeam Products denied their product was responsible for causing Amy´s death and the family´s injuries and argued that the Shinedlings were at fault for allowing bedding to get within three feet of the heater. The company claimed that more than 10 million of their heaters had been sold without any other report of a serious fire.

The claim for compensation for burn injuries due to heater safety failings went to the United States Central District Court in Los Angeles, where it was heard by a jury before Judge Cormac Carney. During the six-day hearing, the jury heard a Sunbeam safety engineer testified that the automatic safety switch had a known fault.

After two days of deliberations, the jury found that Sunbeam’s heater failed to perform as safely as an ordinary consumer would have expected it to and found 80% in the Shinedling family´s favor. They awarded Kenneth and his three children a total of $46.92 million compensation for burn injuries due to heater safety failings to account for their own personal injuries and the loss of Amy Shinedling as a wife and mother.

201508.26
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Jury Awards Compensation for an Injury due to a Tracheostomy

A jury in Pennsylvania has awarded a plaintiff $2.78 million compensation for an injury due to a tracheostomy after a hearing at the Delaware County Court.

Bonnie Semple (56) was taken to the Crozer-Chester Medical Center in March 2009 after being injured in an auto accident. Bonnie was unconscious but underwent surgery for internal bleeding and a lacerated liver, during which time she was intubated.

After recovering from her surgery, Bonnie was diagnosed with swelling in her airways. She was prescribed steroids, but when the swelling failed to respond to medication the original tube used for the intubation was replaced with a smaller one so that Bonnie could breathe more easily.

Bonnie was discharged from the medical center in mid-April, but returned in early May with an infestion in her neck and chest. Her doctors found that her airway had collapsed and a review of her condition by a surgeon at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania noted that Bonnie had a “high tracheostomy”.

Reconstruction surgery to rebuild Bonnie´s larynx and trachea was unsuccessful and Bonnie will have to breathe through a tube for the rest of her life. Bonnie can only speak by using a special valve attached to the tube and her reliance on the breathing apparatus has prevented her from being as active as she previously was, and made it dangerous for her to be around water.

Bonnie claimed compensation for an injury due to a tracheostomy against the Crozer-Chester Medical Center and the surgeon who performed the tracheostomy – Dr. Muhammad Budeir. Both defendants denied the allegations, arguing that the tracheostomy had been performed correctly and that Bonnie´s infection had developed as the result of non-compliance with her home care regimen.

It was also argued that, due to being morbidly obese, Bonnie´s “short, thick neck” had prevented her from being weaned from the original endotracheal tube; however, at the Delaware County Court in Pennsylvania, a jury found in Bonnie´s favor – awarding her $2.78 million compensation for an injury due to a tracheostomy.

201508.17
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Claim for Paralysis due to Medical Negligence Resolved in Court for $12.5 Million

A man´s claim for paralysis due to medical negligence has been resolved at the Court of Common Pleas in Delaware County, PA, for $12.5 million.

On 17th June 2011, fifty-seven year old Kenneth Del Grosso from Upper Darby in Delaware County, PA, went to the Emergency Room of Delaware County Memorial Hospital complaining of a pain in the left side of his neck and tingling in his left arm.

Kenneth was admitted overnight during which time his condition deteriorated and he developed a fever. He was evaluated by the hospital´s infectious disease specialist – Bonnie Rabinowitch – who identified symptoms of a spinal cord epidural abscess and ordered an MRI.

However, radiologist Ben-Zion Friedman and neurologist Hussam Yacoub failed to identify a cervical abscess on Kenneth´s spine and an emergency operation was avoidably delayed – surgery only being conducted at Rabinowitch´s insistence.

Due to the avoidable delay in undergoing surgery to remove the abscess, Kenneth is now paralyzed from the chest down and has lost the function of his bowel and bladder. He is unable to wash, clothe or feed himself and has to rely on his wife Elizabeth for all his daily needs.

Kenneth made a compensation claim for paralysis due to medical negligence of the three doctors primarily responsible for his treatment – Rabinowitch, Friedman and Yacoub. The three defendants denied their liability for Kenneth´s paralysis, arguing that the outcome would have been no different had he undergone surgery sooner.

The claim for paralysis due to medical negligence went to the Court of Common Please, where it was heard by a jury over two weeks. At the end of the hearing the jury found in Kenneth´s favor, attributing Friedman 67 percent liability and Yacoub 33 percent liability for his injuries. Rabinowitch was not considered to have contributed to the medical negligence.

The jury awarded Kenneth almost $12 million compensation in settlement of his claim for paralysis due to medical negligence to account for his past and future medical expenses, his loss of income and loss of amenity. Elizabeth was awarded $500,000 compensation for her loss of consortium.

201508.10
0

Passenger Settles Rear End Accident Injury Claim for $875,000

A painter, who suffered a debilitating spine injury while a passenger in his employer´s van, has settled his rear end accident injury claim for $875,000.

In July 2010, twenty-eight year old Gabrielle Nufris from Trenton in New Jersey was a passenger in a work van owned by his employer – DG Painting – travelling to a painting job. As the lights turned red at the intersection of Olden Avenue and Hamilton Avenue in Trenton the van came to a stop, and it was hit from behind by a car travelling at some speed.

Gabrielle suffered a spine injury in the accident, and he was taken to hospital where he was treated for a two-level disc herniation. Gabrielle had to undergo a fusion procedure to repair the damage to his herniated discs and, although he has been able to carry on working as a painter, Gabrielle still experiences pain in the base of his neck, is unable to crane his neck, and suffers from limited motion.

Yvens Joseph – the driver of the car that hit the work van – acknowledged that the rear end accident was caused by his carelessness, and he admitted liability for Gabrielle´s injuries. However, the negligent driver´s auto policy was limited to $15,000 and Gabrielle made an underinsured motorist rear end accident injury claim against Harleysville Insurance – his employer´s auto insurance company.

Following arbitration, Gabrielle was awarded $835,000 in settlement of his rear end accident injury claim; but, as the insurance policy had a provision allowing Harleysville to contest the nonbinding agreement, the insurance company demanded that the case went to a full court hearing for the assessment of damages.

A court hearing was scheduled for Gabrielle´s rear end accident injury claim to be heard by US Magistrate Judge Tonianne Bongiovanni at the US District Court for the District of New Jersey. However, prior to the court hearing taking place, an agreement was reached following discovery to settle Gabrielle´s rear end accident injury claim for $875,000.

201508.07
0

Injury Claim for a Slip in a Nevada Hotel Allowed to Proceed

The Nevada Supreme Court has allowed an injury claim for a slip in a Nevada Hotel to proceed after it was originally dismissed by a Nevada District Court.

On 9th October 2010, Sandra Biscay (79) was travelling with her family from California to visit her sister in Las Vegas. Rather than arrive at the sister´s residence late in the evening, Sandra and her family chose to book into the Gold Strike Hotel in Jean, NV, which would leave them a short journey to Las Vegas the following morning.

Due to her mature years, Sandra requested a suite that was suitable for the handicapped. When the family retired later that night, Sandra decided to take a shower; but, as she came out of the shower, she started to slip when she stepped onto the mat. Sandra reached out for something to hold onto, but the bathroom had no railing and she fell.

Initially, Sandra did not think that the slip and fall had caused her any injury; but, when her breathing was labored the following morning, Sandra reported the accident to the front desk, who summoned paramedics. The paramedics suggested that Sandra go to hospital, but as it was unlikely that the Las Vegas hospital would accept Sandra´s Californian insurance, she declined.

Instead Sandra filed an accident report and checked-out of the hotel to continue the journey to her sister. Because of the pain she was experiencing, Sandra was only able to stay in Las Vegas for two days, before returning to California. When she got home, she immediately visited her doctor, who diagnosed her with multiple rib fractures and a sprained shoulder.

After seeking legal advice, Sandra made an injury claim for a slip in a Nevada hotel against the owners of the Gold Strike Hotel – MGM Resorts International. In her legal action Sandra alleged that the disabled suite she had requested was not suit for purpose, and she supported her claim with the copy of the accident report on which a hotel employee had voluntarily added that the hotel was at fault.

As they were entitled to, MGM Resorts filed a demand for the security of costs in September 2012. Sandra did not file the security until March 2013, and nine days later MGM Resorts moved to have the injury claim for a slip in a Nevada hotel dismissed – alleging that Sandra had failed to file the security bond within thirty days of the demand notice contrary to NRS 18.130(4).

The Nevada District Court found in MGM Resorts favour and dismissed the injury claim for a slip in a Nevada hotel; but Sandra appealed the decision to the Nevada Supreme Court – who ruled that MGM Resorts´ motion to dismiss should have been denied, and that the District Court´s decision was an abuse of its discretion.

The injury claim for a slip in a Nevada hotel has now been returned to the District Court for a hearing to be scheduled later this year.

201508.01
0

Family Agree to Settlement of Compensation for a Passenger in a Fatal Auto Accident

The family of a man who died from a massive head trauma in a crash has agreed to a settlement of compensation for a passenger in a fatal auto accident.

On 19th October 2010, Justin Gatzke (29) was the front seat passenger in a Honda Accord driven by his girlfriend – Jennifer Bujnowski – when their car rear-ended a tractor-trailer rig improperly stopped on the service road to Route 23 in Wayne, New Jersey.

Despite wearing a seatbelt, Justin suffered a massive head trauma and was pronounced dead at the scene of the accident. Bujnowski (20) was found to be high on PCP and was sentenced to three years for vehicular homicide and driving while intoxicated.

On behalf of Justin´s estate, his mother – Donna Galella – claimed compensation for a passenger in a fatal auto accident against Bujnowski, the driver of the rig Anthony Parravai, the company he worked for and the company from whom the rig had been rented.

Donna blamed the three defendants associated with the rig for her son´s death, as the rig had stopped illegally on the side of the road without placing a warning sign ahead of the vehicle or activating its hazard warning lights.

The three defendants denied their liability and argued it was Bujnowski´s impaired condition that was the primary cause of the accident. Unable to initially agree a settlement, a court date was scheduled. But, three days before the hearing was due to be heard at the Essex County Superior Court, a settlement of compensation for a passenger in a fatal auto accident was negotiated.

According to the terms of the settlement, Justin´s estate will receive $600,000 compensation for a passenger in a fatal auto accident – $500,000 of which will be paid by Bujnowski´s insurers. $97,500 compensation for a passenger in a fatal auto accident will be paid for by Anthony Parravai´s employer and the remaining $2,500 will come from an umbrella insurance policy taken out by Bujnowski´s mother.

201507.28
0

Student Awarded $26 Million Compensation for Car Crash Injuries

A student from South Carolina has been awarded $26 million compensation for car crash injuries after only barely surviving a rollover accident in 2009.

In July 2009, Jeremy Vangsnes (21) from Spartanburg in South Carolina was returning to the Southern Baptist Convention’s North American Mission Board in Yellowstone National Park, after having visited relatives staying in the Glacier National Park with his two brothers – Ryan (19) and Daniel (23) – and a fellow missionary student Scott Minear (20), .

As the Jeep Cherokee driven by Minear approached Billings in Montana, the vehicle drifted over onto the grass on the side of the Interstate 90. Minear tried to correct the direction of the vehicle, but he over-compensated when trying to get the Jeep Cherokee back on the road and spun the vehicle over.

Jeremy was the most severely injured of the vehicle´s four occupants, sustaining a severe blunt force trauma to the head. He was initially declared dead at the scene of the accident before being airlifted to St. Vincent´s Hospital in Billings after paramedics noticed some brain activity.

After recovering sufficiently to be allowed home to continue his rehabilitation, Jeremy´s father claimed compensation for car crash injuries on behalf of his son. In his action against the North American Mission Board it was alleged that Jeremy was acting within the course and scope of his association with the mission group at the time.

The claim for compensation for car crash injuries was disputed by the North American Mission Board, and the case proceeded to the District Court in Montana where it was heard by District Judge Mike Salvagni.

At the hearing, Judge Salvagni heard Val Simmons – the head of student missionaries for the North American Mission Board – testify that the students had been allowed to make the journey to visit relatives subject to them maintaining the board´s lifestyle and policy guidelines at all times.

Based on Simmons´ testimony, the judge ruled in Jeremy´s favor and awarded him $26 million compensation for car crash injuries. The award was made without an admission of liability by the North American Mission Board, and the Board´s insurers have said that it will not contest the award.

201507.21
0

Court Upholds Settlement of Compensation for Oxygen Deprivation at Birth

The Philadelphia Superior Court has upheld a $32.8 million settlement of compensation for oxygen deprivation at birth awarded to a six-year-old girl.

On 14th November 2008, Leslie Proffitt gave birth to daughter – Lillian – by an emergency cesarean section that had been necessitated by a sudden drop in the fetal heartrate. However, a significant delay in escalating the situation to Leslie´s attending physician had resulted in Lillian being deprived of oxygen in the womb.

One of the two nurses responsible for the delay – Christine Winter – only had six months practical experience and had never been trained in the procedures to follow when a fetal heartrate monitor registers a sudden drop. The second nurse – Lana Jones-Sandy – had attempted to help Winter during the emergency, and did not have the thought to advise Leslie´s attending physician of the situation.

Lillian was born limp and blue-gray in color. She was resuscitated and transferred to the Children´s Hospital of Philadelphia, where she was diagnosed with brain damage due to being deprived of oxygen. Due to the lack of oxygen prior to her delivery, Lillian is now a spastic quadriplegic and requires full-time care.

Leslie – on her daughter´s behalf – claimed compensation for oxygen deprivation at birth against the Phoenixville Hospital as employer of the two nurses. The hospital denied liability for Lillian´s injuries and the case was heard by a jury in January 2013 at the Chester County Court.

The jury found in Lillian´s favor and awarded her $32.8 million compensation for oxygen deprivation at birth. However, the Phoenixville Hospital appealed the verdict – claiming that the delay in escalating the emergency situation happened at the beginning of the delivery process, and not at the end when Lillian suffered brain damage due to being deprived of oxygen.

The appeal was heard recently by the Philadelphia Superior Court, where a three-judge panel upheld the verdict of the Chester County jury. In their written verdict, Judge Paula Francisco Ott wrote: “Phoenixville Hospital fails to recognize that the delay, no matter when it occurred in the delivery process, subjected Lillian to the additional 10-13 minutes of oxygen deprivation that ultimately led to her injuries.”

201507.13
0

Judge Awards $1.3 Million Compensation for an Injury due to a Dog Bite

A judge from Harris County in Texas has awarded a former owner of a dog boarding business $1.3 million compensation for an injury due to a dog bite.

Amber Rickles was running a dog boarding business in Spring, Harris County, when she received a request from Jennifer Romano in January 2013 to board her pit bull. Romano told Amber that the dog had no behavioral problems while it had been in her possession, and Amber accepted the request.

After four days of looking after the dog, Amber left a message on Romano´s phone asking to ask her to retrieve the dog because it was being aggressive towards the other dogs. On 7th February – one week after entering the boarding kennels – the dog attacked Amber and fractured her wrist when it bit her.

Amber was taken by ambulance to an emergency room, where surgeons attempted an internal fixation of her right ulna. Unfortunately Amber developed an infection in her wrist which delayed her recovery for six months, after which Amber underwent a year of physical therapy and rehabilitation.

As a result of the pit bull attack, Amber has lost grip strength in her dominant right hand and has permanent scars down her forearm. She was forced to close her dog boarding business and was out of work for a year before she found employment where the weakness in her right wrist has not a handicap.

After seeking legal advice, Amber claimed compensation for an injury due to a dog bite against Romano – alleging that she had been misled about the dog´s aggressive tendencies. Romano´s disputed the claim and said that Amber had advertised herself as a fully-qualified dog trainer when she was not.

The claim for compensation for an injury due to a dog bite went to the Harris County District Court, where it was schedule to be heard by Judge Patricia J Kerrigan. However, after Romano failed to appear in court, the Judge found in Amber´s favor and awarded her $1,302,296 compensation for an injury due to a dog bite to account for her past and future pain and suffering, her loss of earnings and her medical costs.

201507.10
0

Woman Settles Injury Claim for a Slip on a Grape in a Supermarket

A woman, who injured her lower spine when slipping and falling in a Stop & Shop store, has settled her injury claim for a slip on a grape in a supermarket.

Bonnie Gutierrez (50) was shopping with her husband – Milton – on 31st October 2010 at her local Stop & Shop. As the couple waited their turn by the checkout, Bonnie walked into the adjacent land to throw an item into a wastebasket.

As she moved towards the wastebasket, Bonnie slipped on a grape on the floor and fell hard on her back. She was taken to a nearby emergency room by ambulance, where she was treated for pain in her lower back, x-rayed and advised to see an orthopedist.

The orthopedist diagnosed Bonnie with an annular tear and a herniated disc, and administered a course of treatment which included four epidural steroid injections, three nerve blocks, and two discograms. Bonnie also underwent lumbar fusion surgery and a year of physical therapy.

However, none of the treatment has been able to relieve Bonnie of a pain in her back. Since her accident, the ongoing pain has prevented Bonnie from returning to work. She is unable to bend or lift, cannot sit or stand for long periods of time, and experiences broken sleep because of the pain when she changes position.

After speaking with a lawyer, Bonnie made an injury claim for a slip on a grape in a supermarket – alleging that the floor surface in Stop & Shop was hazardous. Bonnie claimed in her action that both she and her husband had seen squashed grapes on the floor by the checkout, and that there were dust balls and other unidentified debris littering the supermarket.

Stop & Shop denied negligence and disputed the injury claim for a slip on a grape in a supermarket. Stop & Shop argued that the floor of the supermarket was reasonably clean and that Bonnie was the creator of her accident by failing to watch where she was going. The supermarket also claimed that Bonnie was comparatively negligent.

With the dispute of liability continuing, a date was set for Bonnie´s injury claim for a slip on a grape in a supermarket to be heard at the Somerset County Superior Court. However, shortly before the hearing was scheduled to commence, Bonnie agreed to an out of court settlement of her claim amounting to $950,000.

201507.08
0

Man Settles Claim for the Loss of a Leg in a Construction Accident

A man has settled his claim for the loss of a leg in a construction accident just as the Pennsylvania Superior Court affirmed an order granting a new trial.

In the summer of 2009, Ruick Rolland from Delaware County in Pennsylvania was a contractor working for Senn Landscaping when the company was engaged to construct a replica of Augusta National Golf Course´s iconic Hogan Bridge over a pond at the home of Bruce Irrgang.

To assist with the construction work, Irrgang had arranged for the hire of a five-ton bulldozer through his company – United Construction Service Inc. – but, when the bulldozer was delivered to the construction site, the ten-year-old son of Steven Senn climbed into the cab and started operating it.

The driver who dropped off the bulldozer reported it to his supervisor – who opted not to ask any questions – and the young boy continued to drive around the estate in the bulldozer until he drove too close to Ruick and crushed the contractor´s left leg as he was working.

Ruick had to have the leg amputated, after which he sought legal advice and made a claim for the loss of a leg in a construction accident against Senn Landscaping, United Construction Services and Modern Equipment Sales and Renting Co – the company that had delivered the bulldozer and whose supervisor had not taken any action to prevent the ten-year-old boy from operating the machine.

A summary judgement was made in favor of Ruick, but a proposed $6 million offer of settlement was declined, and the claim for the loss of a leg in a construction accident was heard by a Delaware County jury in March 2013 for the assessment of damages only.

The jury awarded Ruick $18 million compensation and his wife $2 million for her loss of consortium, but the award was appealed by the defendants on the grounds that summary judgement was improvidently granted, a workers´ compensation file with information about the accident was excluded from the trial and that Ruick had been comparatively negligent by not stopping the boy from operating the bulldozer.

The Pennsylvania Superior Court upheld the appeal, and ordered that a new trial should be held to assess a more appropriate award of damages. However, before a new hearing date could be arranged, Ruick settled his claim for the loss of a leg in a construction accident for $12 million – $5.5 million of which will be paid by both United Construction Service Inc. and Modern Equipment Sales and Renting, with the remaining $1 million being paid by Senn Landscaping.

201507.01
0

Carpenter Awarded Compensation for a Shoulder Injury on a Construction Site

A carpenter has been awarded $2.5 million compensation for a shoulder injury on a construction site after he fell from an unstable temporary stairway.

John White was working in Philadelphia as a carpenter on a renovation project when, in January 2012, he was asked to remove the handrails on a temporary stairway that was going to be replaced by a permanent staircase the following day.

John started to descend the stairway, but before he could start remove the handrails, the stairway collapsed. John fell to the floor one level below – sustaining a broken shoulder and soft tissue injuries to his neck and back, as well as suffering concussion.

An ambulance took John to the Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, where he underwent treatment for a displaced fracture of his left scapula. He was discharged with his arm in a sling after having several injections in his shoulder. Subsequently John had seven months of physical therapy.

As a result of his accident, John will have permanent mobility issues with his should and still suffers back pain. He has been unable to work as a carpenter since his accident and his injuries have affected his personal life – John being unable to swim or play catch with his young children.

John claimed compensation for a shoulder injury on a construction site against the company responsible for the installation of the stairway and two drywall companies that worked on the renovation project. John alleged in his claim that the stairway had not been installed safely and that the drywall companies had had removed supports from the stairway that had not been replaced.

John´s claim for compensation for a shoulder injury on a construction site was disputed by the stairway installation company and the two drywall companies, despite being supported by other workers on the renovation project who had complained to supervisors that the stairway was unstable.

Unable to reach a negotiated settlement, John´s claim for compensation for a shoulder injury on a construction site was heard by a jury at the Court of Common Pleas in Philadelphia before Judge Kenneth Powell.

The jury heard two weeks of testimony from expert witnesses before deliberating for a day and finding in John´s favor. The jury awarded John $2.5 million compensation for a shoulder injury on a construction site and John´s wife $500,000 for her loss of consortium – finding both the stairway installation company and one of the drywall companies 40% negligent, while the second drywall company was found to be 20% responsible for John´s accident and injury.

201506.22
0

$1.2 Million Compensation for an Injured Motorcyclist Not Seen by the Driver

A Court in Dauphin County, Pennsylvania, has awarded more than $1.2 million compensation for an injured motorcyclist who was not seen by the driver of a car as he pulled out from a Harrisburg restaurant.

On 4 June 2011, Tracey Thompson was riding her motorcycle along Derry Street in Harrisburg, when she was hit by a Toyota Corolla as it pulled out of a restaurant parking lot. Despite wearing a high visibility clothing, the driver of the vehicle – Elwood Smith – failed to see Tracy as he turned a sharp left from the parking lot into Derry Street; and he accelerated away from the parking lot of the wrong side of the road until hitting Tracey with such an impact that she was thrown over the roof of the car – landing awkwardly on the road.

Tracey was taken to the Hershey Medical Center suffering from a pelvic fracture, a sacral fracture, a broken jaw, fractures to her arm and wrist and a lacerated liver. After receiving emergency care and undergoing surgeries on her pelvis and wrist – during which time a blood filter was inserted to prevent a possible embolism – Tracey spent a week recovering in the hospital´s rehabilitation center before being confined to her bed for eight weeks. Tracey was confined to a wheelchair for the next six weeks and used a walker to aid her mobility for the following seven weeks.

Tracey made a claim for compensation for an injured motorcyclist not seen by the driver, and Smith admitted liability for Tracey´s injuries. However, Tracey´s claim was for significantly more than Smith´s insurance company was prepared to settle for due to Tracey having to leave her well-pad IT position at Commonwealth Engineering & Technology because of her injuries and take a lower paid job for the Harrisburg School District. Tracey also had to take two part-time jobs.

As there was a dispute over how much compensation for an injured motorcyclist not seen by the driver Tracey should receive, her case went to the Dauphin County Court of Common Pleas, where it was heard by a jury before Judge Andrew Dowling. At the hearing the jury heard how Tracey would lose between $268,000 and $312,000 in income because of her injuries and that her life expectancy would be shortened as a consequence of the accident.

The jury awarded Tracey just over $1.2 million compensation for an injured motorcyclist not seen by the driver to account for the pain and suffering she had experienced at the time of the accident, the wrist pain she continues to experience and her future medical costs. Her loss of income and the reduction in her life expectancy were also included in the jury award.

201506.11
0

Man Awarded $3.7 Million Compensation for the Misdiagnosis of Skin Cancer

A man from New York has been awarded $3,706,000 compensation for the misdiagnosis of skin cancer by a jury at the Nassau County Supreme Court.

In June 2012, John Ficke (52) had a biopsy performed on a lesion on his sternum, which was diagnosed by pathologist Dr. Asher Rabinowitz from the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in Manhattan as a dysplastic melanocytic nevus – the equivalent of a benign mole.

Still concerned by the lesion, John underwent a second biopsy the following June that revealed he had a desmoplastic melanoma – a rare cancer of the skin that was considered malignant. Further tests revealed that the cancer had metastasized and entered one of John´s lymph nodes.

John started radiation treatment, but in February 2014 was diagnosed with stage-IV lung cancer. John started more aggressive chemotherapy treatment, but the size of the tumor in his lung tripled. A change of chemotherapy reduced the tumor´s size, but his condition has been diagnosed as terminal and John is expected to survive no longer than five years.

John sought legal advice, and his lawyer had the initial biopsy from 2012 re-examined. The expert pathologist working on John´s behalf found that Rabinowitz had misdiagnosed the original biopsy and gave the opinion that the error constituted a departure from an accepted standard of medical care.

With this evidence, John claimed compensation for the misdiagnosis of skin cancer against Rabinowitz and the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. The pathologist denied that he had been negligent, and produced evidence showing that a rare, desmoplastic melanoma would not normally be located on the sternum.

Despite denying liability, Rabinowitz and the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons made an offer of compensation for the misdiagnosis of skin cancer amounting to $675,000. The offer was rejected, and the case went to the Nassau County Supreme Court, where it was heard by a jury before Judge F. Dana Winslow.

After nine days of evidence, and six hours of deliberations, the jury found in John´s favor. They awarded him $3,706,000 compensation for the misdiagnosis of skin cancer, which included $3,256,000 for his pain and suffering and $450,000 towards his wife´s past and future loss of services.

201506.08
0

Jury Awards $3 Million Compensation for Unnecessary Skin Graft Surgery

A man who burned himself in a cooking accident has been awarded $3 million compensation for unnecessary skin graft surgery by a jury in Philadelphia.

On May 1st 2011, Wismond Brissett (45) was frying fish in his kitchen when the cooking grease caught fire. The flames from the burning grease flared up and burned Wismond – who was not wearing a shirt – on his chest and arms.

Wismond quickly extinguished the fire and was driven to the South Jersey Regional Medical Center by his girlfriend, where he was treated for first and second degree burns on eight percent of his body surface.

Wismond visited his family doctor a few days later, and was referred to Dr. David Watts of the Plastic & Cosmetic Surgery Institute; who diagnosed Wismond as having first, second and third degree burns over fifteen to twenty percent of his body.

Dr. Watts told Wismond that he needed surgery very quickly to give the skin the best chance to heal, and he scheduled Wismond in for outpatient surgery the next day.

When Wismond returned the following day, skin was taken from his thighs and grafted to both forearms and the right side of his chest. However, after the surgery, Wismond was left in a considerable amount of pain and, as there was also significant scarring, Wismond sought the opinions of several other doctors.

The doctors unanimously agreed that Wismond´s wounds would have healed without surgery and left only minor scarring. They found that burns that had been characterized by Dr. Watts as third degree had healed very well where surgery had not been performed – indeed, far better than any burns the plastic surgeon had treated.

Wismond sued Dr. Watts for compensation for unnecessary skin graft surgery; supporting his claim with testimony by a competent surgeon that Wismond had not experienced any third degree burns. His expert witness also stated that Dr. Watts had scheduled surgery too soon after the cooking accident.

Watts denied that he had been negligent and found his own expert witness who said that the plastic surgeon´s treatment of Wismond had met the required standard of care. With no mediated or negotiated settlement obtainable, the claim for compensation for unnecessary skin graft surgery proceeded to court, where it was heard by a jury before Judge Shirley Robins-New.

After four days of testimonies, the jury took just one hour to find in Wismond´s favor, and they awarded him $3 million compensation for unnecessary skin graft surgery.

201506.01
0

1,867 Dog Bite Injury Claims in California Last Year Recorded by Insurance Institute

According to the Insurance Information Institute, there were 1,867 dog bite injury claims in California last year, more than 10% of the national total.

Cal. Civil Code §3342 makes dog owners who fail to control their pets and prevent them from biting members of the public strictly liable for dog bite injury claims in California, except in cases in which members of the public are trespassing on the owner´s land.

Unlike in some other States, there is no “one-free-bite” rule; where the dog owner is only liable for a dog bite injury if the owner is aware that their dog has an inclination to bite humans – i.e. the dog is known to have bitten somebody else already.

However, considering that a large percentage of all dogs kept as pets in the U.S. reside in the Golden State, it is actually surprising that there were “only” 1,867 dog bite injury claims in California last year out of a national total of 16,550.

The dog bite injury claims resulted in the payment of $62.8 million in compensation settlements in California in 2014 (the national total was $530.8 million) but, due to higher jury settlements elsewhere, the average settlement value was only slightly higher than the national average at $33,649 per claim.

Not included among the dog bite injury claims in California were dog attacks on postal carriers. Postal carriers injured while they are delivering mail can claim workers compensation for their injuries, rather than have to go through civil procedures to make dog bite injury claims in California.

The large number of successful dog bite injury claims in California paints a slightly misleading picture as the figure could be much higher. Courts in California have recently tended to dismiss dog bite injury claims that are not strongly supported by evidence of negligence and compensation has been denied to victims who are considered to have provoked a dog, caused an attack by their own negligence or assumed the risk of an attack by a dog.

Consequently, it is in your best possible interests to consult with a lawyer at the earliest possible moment if you or your child have been attacked by a dog and intend making dog bite injury claims in California.

201505.25
0

Spinal Injury Compensation Claim Resolved at Court Hearing

A man from Tennyson in Indiana has settled his spinal injury compensation claim against his insurance company after it failed to pay out his claim for workers compensation.

In 2010, Donnie Grubb was forced to quit his successful cleaning business when he suffered a spinal injury while working. Seven years before his injury, Donnie believed that he had covered himself and his sole employee with workers compensation insurance from Indiana Farm Bureau. Donnie had even continued paying the premiums after his sole employee left so that he was still covered.

However, when Donnie made a spinal injury compensation claim to Indiana Farm Bureau, his claim was denied. Indiana Farm Bureau said that Donnie had never been insured on the policy, and rather than receive two-thirds of his average weekly wage and his medical expenses, Donnie had to sell his business, his equipment and his vehicles to pay his bills.

Donnie sought legal advice and sued Indiana Farm Bureau and the agent who sold him the insurance policy. The insurance company and the agent argued that it was not their fault that Donnie had maintained payments to insure an employee who no longer worked for him, and the spinal injury compensation claim went to the Vanderburgh Superior Court where it was heard by a jury.

At the hearing, Indiana Farm Bureau produced evidence to show that Donnie had never been covered by the workers compensation policy, and the jury heard that Donnie has already undergone two major surgeries on his back and a significant amount of physical rehabilitation. Donnie´s outstanding medical bills were estimated at $245,000 and the jury was told that he will need a spinal stimulator implanted in the future.

At the end of the two-day hearing, the jury found in Donnie´s favor. They awarded him $1.5 million in settlement of his spinal injury compensation claim so that Donnie will be able to pay his outstanding medical bills, have more treatment for his injury in the future and invest a sufficient amount so that he has an income for the rest of his life.

201505.16
0

Paralyzed Driver Awarded $14 Million Compensation for a Truck Accident

A driver who was paralyzed when his faultily-service truck went out of control has been awarded $14 million compensation for a truck accident after a hearing at Mobile County Circuit Court.

Colin Lacy from Mobile, Alabama, was driving his employer´s tractor-trailer along Interstate 10 near Niceville in Florida when – on July 14th 2011 – he lost control of the vehicle. He tried to stop the truck safely, but the antilock brake system failed and the vehicle overturned.

Colin´s spine was severed in the accident and as a result spent more than two months in hospital followed by a long period of intense rehabilitation. He is now paralyzed from the waist down and will be confined to a wheelchair for the rest of his life.

After speaking with a lawyer, Colin claimed compensation for a truck accident against Empire Truck Sales LLC – the company who serviced his truck shortly before the accident – and the manufacturer of the vehicle´s seat belt, Indiana Mills and Manufacturing Inc.

In his claim for compensation for a truck accident, Colin alleged that his employer´s truck had been serviced by Empire Truck Sales in June; but three days before the accident he had noticed that the truck was vibrating and had returned it to the dealer for an inspection.

The mechanics at Empire Truck Sales failed to notice that a lateral rod had been left detached during the original service and allowed Colin to drive it away.

The claim for compensation against Indiana Mills and Manufacturing Inc. was settled out of court for an undisclosed sum; but no agreement could be reached on how much compensation for a truck accident Colin was entitled to from Empire Truck Sales.

Consequently the case went to Mobile County Circuit Court, where it was presented to a jury before Judge Michael Youngpeter. Although both the plaintiff and the defendant were based in Mobile, the trial was heard under the laws of Florida – where the accident happened – and the jury was asked to rule of what proportion of blame should be attributed to Empire Truck Sales.

After two weeks of testimony, the jury retired to consider their verdict. While they were deliberating a “High/Low” arrangement was agreed between the parties so that Colin was assured of a minimum $2 million compensation for a truck accident and a maximum of $14 million. Consequently when the jury returned a verdict of $18.79 million, the $14 million cap was applied to the settlement.

201505.14
0

Jury Awards $25 Million Compensation for a Pedestrian Brain Injury

A Californian jury has awarded more than $25 million compensation for a pedestrian brain injury to a woman who was knocked down at a dangerous intersection.

On January 21st 2011, twenty-year-old Talbot Clarke was hit by a van as she was crossing El Camino Real after leaving the Santa Clara University – at which she was a student – to catch a train from the Caltrain station in Santa Clara.

Talbot suffered several fractured ribs and brain damage in the accident. She was taken to Santa Clara Valley Medical Center, where she was treated for a subdural hematoma with intracranial bleeding to both sides of her brain.

She remained in hospital for five months – during which time she underwent twelve brain surgeries – before being transferred to the Mount Sinai/NYU Langone Medical Center in New York, as her family come from Connecticut.

On Talbot´s behalf, her mother Maureen claimed compensation for a pedestrian injury against the driver of the van – Joyce Caggiano – and the City of Santa Clara, the County of Santa Clara and the State of California – alleging that there was insufficient time for pedestrian´s to cross the 110-foot-wide intersection.

In her legal action, Talbot´s mother alleged that Caggiano was negligent in the operation of her vehicle, and the dangerous nature of the intersection crossing was the fault of the other three defendants. Lawyers representing Talbot noted that, since her accident, the time allowed to cross the road had been increased by ten seconds.

In a pre-trial summary judgement, the City of Santa Clara and the County of Santa Clara were dismissed from the case, and the State of California was considered to be the sole owner of the intersection. Significantly, Judge Brian C. Walsh ruled that the condition of the pedestrian crossing presented a foreseeable risk of injury.

However, as Joyce Caggiano denied that she had negligently operated her vehicle, and there was also the question of whether Talbot had contributed to her injuries by her own lack of care, the claim for compensation for a pedestrian brain injury went to the Superior Court of Santa Clara, where it was heard by a jury before Judge Walsh.

At the hearing, an accident reconstruction expert told the jury how the accident happened and that Caggiano´s view would have been obstructed as the light in her lane changed from red to green. It was also the expert´s opinion that Talbot had started crossing the road when the red “don´t walk” sign was illuminated.

The jury cleared Caggiano of any wrong doing and attributed Talbot with 5 percent comparative negligence. It awarded Talbot $26,604,014 compensation for a pedestrian brain injury; which after apportionment was reduced to $25,273,813.30.

201505.07
0

Jury Awards $2.8 Million Compensation for Dental Negligence after Court Hearing

A jury in Georgia has awarded a woman $2.8 million compensation for dental negligence after a hearing at the DeKalb County State Court.

In February 2008, Haley Buice attended the Coast Dental of Georgia practice in Acworth, DeKalb County and was evaluated by James Cauley DMD. Cauley recommended the placement of multiple crowns and veneer implants – a course of treatment that would cost in excess of $20,000.

Cauley agreed to discount the cost of the treatment in return for being paid in cash but, when Caulet resigned from Coast Dental the following year, the dental practice refused to continue Haley´s treatment as there was no record of her cash payments.

Over the course of the next few months, the crowns inserted by Cauley began to fall out of Haley´s mouth. An evaluation by another dentist revealed that Cauley had failed to treat many of Haley´s teeth that were in poor condition and had instead placed crowns on perfectly healthy teeth.

Haley claimed compensation for dental negligence against Cauley and Coast Dental of Georgia – alleging that Cauley had failed to meet the required standard of dental care and that the dental practice was vicariously liable as his employer.

According to Haley´s lawsuit, Cauley had failed to treat teeth that were in obvious need of repair and had improperly fitted more than a dozen crowns – many unnecessarily. Cauley settled the claim against him for an undisclosed amount of compensation for dental negligence, but Coast Dental argued that Haley´s condition was caused by a pre-existing condition and was not the result of dental malpractice.

The dental negligence compensation claim proceeded to the DeKalb County State Court – where it was heard by a twelve-member jury before Judge Stacey Hydrick. At the hearing, Haley claimed that she was embarrassed by the condition of her teeth and had suffered depression as a result.

The jury was told that Haley sought compensation for her emotional trauma, the unnecessary pain she had suffered, and the cost of repairing the damage to her teeth. At the end of the four-day hearing, the jury deliberated for just forty minutes before finding unanimously in Haley´s favor and awarding her $2.8 million compensation for dental negligence.

201505.04
0

Birth Injury Compensation for Damaged Nerves Awarded at Court

A boy from Grand Falls in Michigan has been awarded $9.43 million birth injury compensation for damaged nerves after a jury hearing in Kent County.

Digby Maring (now 4½ years of age) was born weighing 9 lbs in October 2009. His mother´s pregnancy had been without complications until Digby developed shoulder dystocia during the later stages of his delivery. The physician in charge of the delivery – Stacyann Steen M.D. – ordered the family attending the birth out of the delivery room while she tried to free Digby´s shoulder but, due to using excessive force, Digby was born with damaged nerves in his shoulder and now only has 10% use of his arm.

Dr. Steen´s responses when questioned about Digby´s arm was that it would be better by the next day; but, whereas many less-traumatic nerve damage injuries can heal within several days or weeks, Digby´s condition failed to improve. In December 2009, Digby was diagnosed with avulsion nerve root injuries caused by excessive force. It transpired that during Digby´s delivery three nerve roots had been ripped from his spine – causing permanent nerve damage.

Through his mother – Emily – Digby claimed birth injury compensation for damaged nerves against Dr. Steen and her employers – Advantage Health Physicians PC. Medical experts supporting the claim said that Digby´s nerve damage had been caused by Dr Steen “torquing” the infant´s head to free the trapped shoulder. Dr. Steen denied the allegations that she had failed to implement the necessary standard of care and used excessive force during Digby´s delivery.

With no resolution reached through negotiation or mediation, the claim for birth injury compensation for damaged nerves went to the Kent County Circuit Court where it was heard before Judge Mark A. Trusock. At the hearing, lawyers representing Digby claimed that his damaged nerves would be a hindrance to his earning capacity later in life and that he would need specialized care and attention while he was growing up and during adulthood.

After a four-day hearing, the Kent County jury voted 6-1 in favor of Digby´s claim, and awarded him $9.43 million birth injury compensation for damaged nerves to account for his past and future pain and suffering, and for his future loss of earnings.

201504.24
0

Family Awarded $4.5 Million Compensation for a Bus Accident on Vacation

A judge has awarded a family from Pennsylvania more than $4.5 million compensation for a bus accident on vacation after the negligent party failed to enter a defense.

In October 2012, the Yuschak family from Dresher, Montgomery County PA, was staying at the Los Altos Beach Resort and Spa in Costa Rica. They decided to spend a day on the beach and boarded the resort-owned shuttle bus to take them there – a converted truck with a canvas roof and two horizontal benches for seats.

Access to the beach is via a twisting and turning downhill track and, as the bus approached the foot of the track, the driver lost control of the vehicle and crashed it into a tree – flipping the bus onto its side and sending the family flying from their seats to all be on the driver´s side of the vehicle..

The mother of the family – Susan – sustained a depressed fractured of the skull in the accident, while her daughter – Caitlyn – fractured bones in the lumbosacral region of her lower back. Her son – Eric – suffered ligament damage in his left knee, and her husband – James – fortunately suffered no physical injuries.

The family was taken to a local hospital where they received rudimentary treatment for their injuries before Susan was transferred to a regional care center. James took his two children back to Pennsylvania the following day, where Caitlyn received professional care for her back injury and Eric had to undergo surgery to repair his torn ligaments.

When Susan returned to the United States in December, she was diagnosed as having suffered traumatic brain injury. Susan was unable to return to her job as a part-time pharmacist due to her short-tem memory loss and other issues with her cognitive ability. She also suffered from depression and developed suicidal tendencies – affecting the marital relationship with her husband.

The family claimed compensation for a bus accident on vacation against the Los Altos Beach Resort and Spa, alleging that the converted truck was unfit for its purpose as a bus. In addition to claiming for the physical injuries that the family had suffered, James made a claim for the emotional trauma he had suffered and was still suffering as his marriage deteriorated.

The Los Altos Beach Resort and Spa failed to enter a defense against the claim for compensation for a bus accident on vacation, despite being in communication with the Yuschak family lawyer. Subsequently – at the US District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania – Judge Mitchell S. Goldberg entered a default judgment against the resort and awarded Susan $3.4 million compensation for her pain and suffering and her future lost income.

Other awards of compensation for a bus accident on vacation were made to Caitlyn ($700,000) for her back injury; Eric ($700,000) for his ligament injury; and James ($150,000) for the emotional trauma he continues to suffer.

201504.20
0

Medical Negligence Claim for an Avoidable Stroke Resolved in Court

A jury in Delaware County, Pennsylvania, has awarded $7.4 million compensation to a man after hearing his medical negligence claim for an avoidable stroke.

On April 16, 2010, Finis Cuff (61) from Darby in Delaware County visited his physician – Dr Douglas L Keagle – at the Mercy Fitzgerald Hospital for a check-up and to have his blood pressure measured. Finis had, for many years, suffered from high blood pressure and diabetes, and he had already been prescribed medication to address both health issues.

Dr Keagle recorded a blood pressure reading of 184/94, and he told Finis to continue with his medication. On his next check-up, Finis´ blood pressure had risen to 200/80. Dr Keagle increased Finis´ medication and told him to return in four weeks; but, two days later, Finis suffered a large hypertensive stroke.

Due to the stroke, Finis lost the use of his right arm and both his legs, and had to rely on his wife for day-to-day care. However, Finis´ wife died in tragic circumstances when she suffered a fatal asthma attack and – unable to call for help or attend to her needs – she died in front of him.

After seeking legal advice, Finis made a medical negligence claim for an avoidable stroke against Dr Keagle – alleging that as a direct proximate cause of the doctor´s failure to intervene and provide appropriate medical attention, Finis´ elevated blood pressure was allowed to elevate to the level at which he suffered a stroke.

Dr Keagle contested the medical negligence claim for an avoidable stroke, and argued that Finis´ stroke had been brought on by years of self-neglect. The defense prepared on the doctor´s behalf claimed that Finis smoked a packet of cigarettes a day and took no medications to control his diabetes, hypertension and hyperlipidemia between 2006 and 2008.

It was also claimed by the defense that Finis had been diagnosed (in 2008) with high cholesterol and obesity, and that the stroke was not attributable to high blood pressure, but atherosclerosis – the hardening of the arteries – which had developed over many years due to Finis´ refusal to follow the advice given to him by Dr Keagle.

With no negotiated resolution to the medical negligence claim for an avoidable stroke, the case went to the Delaware County Court of Common Pleas, where it was heard by a jury before Judge Spiros Angelos. After a seven day hearing, and four and a half hours of deliberations, the jury returned a partial verdict in favor of Finis – assigning him 39% comparative negligence.

The adjusted settlement of his medical negligence claim for an avoidable stroke was $7.4 million and included $3.5 million for his pain and suffering, $2.6 million for future medical expenses and care needs, and $350,000 for future loss of earnings. The remainder of the settlement ($950,000) was awarded to the estate of Finis´ wife.

201504.13
0

Claim for an Injury due to a Negligent Hair Removal Treatment Resolved in Court

A claim for an injury due to a negligent hair removal treatment has been resolved in court with the plaintiff being awarded $1.5 million.

Paige Peterson (22), a student from Hunterdon County in New Jersey, made her claim for an injury due to a negligent hair removal treatment after visiting the Hunterdon Family Practice and Obstetrics Clinic in Flemington in July 2010, and undergoing hair removal treatment on her arms.

The physician who attended Paige – Dr. Lisa Plunkett – had performed the treatment on Paige several times before but, soon after this appointment, Paige developed rectangular-shaped second-degree burns from her wrists up to the middle of her forearms.

It took a year for the 1.5 x 0.5 inch stripes along Paige´s arms to diminish – during which time she had to wear sunscreen lotion under long-sleeved clothing. When she was allowed to dispense with the precautions against further damaging her skin, Paige found that when her arms tanned, the burned portions of her arms remained pale.

Page subsequently made a claim for an injury due to a negligent hair removal treatment against Dr. Plunkett – alleging that the physician had deviated from the standard of care for laser hair removal treatment by performing the procedure while Paige had significantly sun tanned arms.

In her legal action, Paige claimed that the laser device used in the hair removal treatment cannot differentiate between dark hair and dark skin pigmentation, and this resulted in the laser burning her skin. She also claimed that the injury was permanent and that she will have to wear long-sleeved clothes for the rest of her life.

The claim for an injury due to a negligent hair removal treatment was contested by Dr. Plunkett, whose legal representatives argued that Paige´s condition was caused by a naturally occurring and known reaction to the treatment. Unable to come to a negotiated settlement, the case was heard by a jury at the Hunterdon County Supreme Court before Judge Michael F. O´Neill.

After nine days of testimony and 3 hours of deliberations, the jury returned a verdict in favor of Paige – awarding her $1.5 million compensation in resolution of her claim for an injury due to a negligent hair removal treatment.

201504.06
0

Mechanic Awarded $3 Million Compensation for an Injury due to an OHSA Violation

A mechanic has been awarded $3.271 million compensation for an injury due to an OHSA violation after losing two fingers in a sugar silo gearbox accident.

John Mullin (49) – a father of six from Vacaville in Solano County – attended the Jelly Belly Candy factory in Fairfield on 4th June 2009, in order to obtain the part number of a gearbox located beneath a multi-storey sugar silo.

When John located the gearbox, he crouched down to read the part number, only to find the gearbox covered in sugar dust. As John reached out his right hand to wipe the sugar dust away from the label, a chain that controlled the flow of sugar from the silo activated – trapping the third and fourth fingers of his right hand.

John´s fingers were damaged so badly that they had to be amputated. John also developed complex regional pain syndrome, and he underwent several unsuccessful procedures to manage the pain including various nerve blocks, a thoracic sympathectomy and revision amputation.

After seeking legal advice, John made a claim for compensation for an injury due to an OHSA violation – alleging that Jelly Belly Candy Co was in violation of Occupational Safety and Health Administration standards by failing to have a protective guard around the chain and the sprocket mechanism that activated it.

The confectionary manufacturer denied its liability for John´s injury and contested the claim for compensation for an injury due to an OHSA violation – arguing that John was responsible for his own injury by failing to heed a warning not to touch anything while the machinery was still switched on.

Lawyers acting on behalf of Jelly Belly Candy Co – while acknowledging that there had been a failure to properly guard the chain and the sprocket mechanism – said that the violation of OHSA was not a substantial factor in causing John´s injury. They argued that John´s employers – Bearing Engineering of San Leandro – were the negligent party for failing to train him on proper lockout procedures.

An offer of settlement made by the Jelly Belly Candy Co amounting to $300,000 compensation for an injury due to an OHSA violation was rejected by John´s lawyers, and the case was heard by a jury at the Superior Court of Solano County in Fairfield, before Judge Harry S Kinnicutt.

After four weeks of testimony, and three days of deliberations, the Solano County jury found in John´s favor – although attributing him with 23% comparative negligence. After the reduction for the contribution John had made to his accident and injury due to his own negligence, and an adjustment for sick pay and workers compensation benefits he had already received, the final settlement of John´s claim for compensation for an injury due to an OHSA violation came to $3,271,607.

201504.01
0

Jury Awards Compensation for an Injury on a Roller Coaster Ride

A jury in Brooklyn has awarded a woman $600,000 compensation for an injury on a roller coaster ride after allocating her 60% comparative negligence.

Paula Noone (52) from Tucson, Arizona, made her claim for compensation for an injury on a roller coaster ride after riding on the Cyclone Roller Coaster in Coney Island on June 12th 2008. Due to her head being propelled back and forth during the ride, Paula suffered two herniated discs and concussion. She was also subsequently diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

In her claim, Paula alleged that her injuries were caused by the roller coaster ride – which was first constructed in 1927 – being in a hazardous condition. She claim that the lack of any neck or head support led to her suffering “serious, severe and permanent injuries”. The then owners of the Coney Island Amusement Park disputed their liability for Paula´s injuries, and the case went to the Brooklyn Supreme Court.

At the hearing, the jury was told by defense lawyers that Paula should not be entitled to compensation for an injury on a roller coaster ride, as there was a sign prominently positioned at the start of the ride that advised passengers with neck injuries not to ride on the roller coaster. They produced evidence that showed Paula had suffered a sprained neck five years previously and argued that her injuries were due entirely to her own negligence.

Paula´s lawyer argued that previous injuries had no bearing on her entitlement to compensation for an injury on a roller coaster ride, but the Brooklyn jury did not entirely agree with him – awarding Paula $1.5 million compensation for an injury on a roller coaster ride and attributing her with 60% comparative negligence – reducing the final award to $600,000.

Since Paula sustained her injury, the new owners of the amusement venue in which the Cyclone roller coaster is situated have introduced new safety measures. This not only follows Paula´s case, but also a fatal accident in 2007 when a Californian guitar salesman – Keith Shirasawa – died five days after snapping his neck on the ride.

201503.23
0

Compensation Claim for a Skiing Injury Resolved after Court Hearing

A compensation claim for a skiing injury – brought by a woman who was paralyzed in an accident on a beginner ski slope – has been resolved following a hearing at the Superior Court of Los Angeles County.

In March 2012, Leslie McLaughlin went skiing at the Mountain High Resort in Wrightwood, Southern California, with her friend James Tollins. For their fourth run of the day, the couple chose to ski down a beginner slope into Woodworth Gulch – a run which neither of the skiers had attempted before.

As the couple approached an uphill portion of the ski run, which extended across the width of the gulch and which Leslie believed was part of the natural terrain, she was suddenly launched into the air and fell backwards – landing on her upper back.

The impact of her fall caused Leslie to suffer a burst C6 vertebra, and she was airlifted to the Huntingdon Memorial Hospital in Pasadena, where she was diagnosed with multiple fractures of her neck and spine. Leslie spent six months at the Pasadena hospital, before undergoing three months of rehabilitation at the Craig Hospital in Denver.

As a result of the accident, Leslie is now a quadriplegic and is paralyzed from the chest down. Although she has use of her arms and hands, and is able to get around using a wheelchair, Leslie requires a substantial amount of care and she will never be able to work again in her profession as an equine veterinarian.

Leslie made a compensation claim for a skiing injury against the Mountain High Resort; alleging that the uphill portion of the ski run – which was actually a staging area intended for skiers and snowboarders to perform jumps – had “unreasonably increased the risks inherent in the sport of skiing” as it had been constructed across a beginner ski slope and was not signposted as a hazard.

The Mountain High Resort denied its liability for Leslie´s injuries – arguing that the “all-terrain features” throughout the park are well signposted and that, since this particular staging area had been constructed in 2004, almost 3 million visitors to the park had used the ski runs without sustaining a similar injury.

The compensation claim for a skiing injury claim went to the Superior Court of Los Angeles County, where lawyers on behalf of the resort produced a forensic witness who testified that Leslie had been skiing too fast in a designated “slow zone”. The expert gave evidence that Leslie had been travelling at between 39mph and 45 mph, and should have slowed down as she approached the uphill portion of the ski run until she had determined what it was and that it was safe to continue.

After a case lasting thirty-six days, the jury found in Leslie´s favor; but due to her comparative fault as described by the resort´s forensic expert, reduced a compensation settlement of $21,987,215 by 82 percent to account for the contribution Leslie had made to her own injuries – thus resolving the settlement of the compensation claim for a skiing injury for $3,957,698.