Veterans and Families Unable to Bring Claim against Camp Lejeune

A North Carolina federal court handed down a ruling this week impacting thousands of Floridians currently attempting to bring a case alleging injuries linked to their exposure to various carcinogens found in the drinking water at Marine Corps Base, Camp Lejeune. The group of Floridians was compiled by the Marine Corps, and exposures to the cancer-causing agents may reach back as far as 1953.

Unfortunately for the plaintiffs here, North Carolina has a statute of repose that puts a 10-year limit on the ability to bring claims and seek damages stemming from exposure to contaminants. However, plaintiffs assert that the North Carolina statute of repose cannot pre-empt current federal environmental law, and thus, should not be barred by the statute of repose.

Unfortunately with statutes of repose, unlike statutes of limitation, there is a much more difficult burden to bring claims, such as this one, despite the potentiality for devastating and deadly injuries which, from a gut-level assessment, should make one’s blood boil. Just how is it that someone is supposed to bring a claim within a statutorily mandated time period even though they might not experience any detrimental effects for years, even decades, after the statute has voided their ability to bring such a claim?

At this point, there is no way to definitively determine just how many people may have been exposed to this contamination. Some estimates put the number at over one million.  That means that possibly more than one million people, including veterans and their families who lived on the base from the 1950’s all the way through 1987, were exposed to chemical agents that cause cancers of the cervix, esophagus, kidney and liver, and Hodgkin’s lymphoma, among others.  Not that it solves the problem, but at least those who actually served could have their medical expenses covered by the Department of Veterans’ Affairs, but for those who didn’t, almost all civil remedies at their disposal have been voided.

From a legal standpoint, the ruling on the statute of repose is sound, however, this isn’t a victory that the government should be celebrating.

Are Enacting Helmet Laws Just a Matter of Using our Heads?

Earlier this month, a 24-year-old man suffered a serious (thankfully not fatal) head injury after rear-ending an automobile in Dania Beach.  According to the driver of the scooter, the vehicle pulled out in front of him, making the collision unavoidable.  As the driver of the scooter was taken to the hospital, a spokesman for the Broward Sheriff Fire Rescue noted, “A helmet would probably have saved him a trip to the hospital.”

The question of whether a motorist using a motorcycle or scooter should wear a helmet is one that seems to be split throughout the country. At the moment, only nineteen states have enacted universal helmet laws, requiring helmets for all riders.  Twenty-eight states currently have partial laws on the books, those which require riders or drivers meeting specific criteria to be helmeted.  That leaves three states, Illinois, Iowa, and New Hampshire, as the only states nationwide that have no motorcycle helmet laws at all.

Florida, a state that has enacted a partial law, requires those under 21 years of age, or those with less than $10,000 in medical coverage for motorcycle-related injuries to strap on a helmet. At one point the Sunshine State did have a universal law, though it was repealed in 2000.

There is a delicate balance between the government’s responsibility to ensure the safety of its citizens while also affording its citizens the freedom to make voluntary decisions in their personal lives, and is probably a driving factor (no pun intended) as to why the states are nearly split on this issue.

Proponents of universal helmet laws claim that such laws not only promote safety, but also save states substantial amounts of money in both the areas of taxpayer covered medical costs, as well as lost productivity of those who are injured. Thomas R. Frieden of the Center for Disease Control states that “In 2010, more than $3 billion in economic costs were saved due to helmet use in the United States.  Another $1.4 billion could have been saved if all motorcyclists had worn helmets.”  Now while it may be difficult to pin down precisely how “economic costs” are calculated, or moreover, how accurate that actual number is, it would be even more difficult to argue that wearing a helmet doesn’t diminish the chance of suffering a head injury in an accident.

However, there are those that are willing to make that argument. The American Motorcyclist Association (“AMA”) believes that adults should be able to voluntarily make the choice whether or not to wear a helmet when riding.  The AMA responds to claims that helmet laws save money by citing studies purporting to show that the rate of injured motorcyclists actually rely on public funds at a lower percentage than that of the general public and only represent a fraction of healthcare costs overall.  Further, they say that drivers of automobiles and motorcyclists are covered by insurance at a nearly identical rate.  In addition, the AMA notes that mandatory helmet laws do nothing to prevent accidents and it supports increased motorcycle safety and education programs as a more effective alternative.

It seems that there is merit to both arguments when it comes to the debate surrounding motorcycle helmet laws. Perhaps Florida, and states like it, have the right idea.  While requiring minors or even passengers in general to be helmeted is smart, also requiring riders who decide to go without a helmet to carry enough insurance where an injury won’t necessitate taxpayer funds could alleviate concerns on both sides.  Because in all honesty, if a rider wants to have the freedom to go without a helmet, he should also have the responsibility of bearing any consequences that come with that risk.

 

 

Tracy Morgan, Wal-Mart, and Litigating in the Court of Public Opinion

By now, you’ve undoubtedly heard the news surrounding Tracy Morgan and Wal-Mart. To recap, on June 7 of this year, a Wal-Mart tractor-trailer struck a limousine bus on the New Jersey Turnpike, killing one and severely injuring others on board including comedian, Tracy Morgan. According to reports, Morgan’s limo was at a “dead stop” when it was struck by the Wal-Mart truck, which was estimated to have been traveling as much as twenty miles per hour over the posted speed limit (65mph in a 45mph zone) for at least sixty seconds before the collision.

In fact, the driver of the Wal-Mart truck is alleged to have been asleep at the time of the accident. According to reports, the driver had not only spent almost fourteen hours behind the wheel of the Wal-Mart rig, but his shift was immediately preceded by a drive from his home in Jonesboro, Georgia, to the Wal-Mart facility in Smyrna, Delaware, roughly a 750 mile trek.

Taking all of this into consideration, Morgan is well within his rights to pursue compensation from any and all available sources for what almost certainly amounts to negligence on the part of Wal-Mart. It stands to reason, as it is alleged by Morgan, that Wal-Mart clearly knew, or should have known, that requiring one of their drivers to log a fourteen-hour shift after driving most of the Atlantic coast is unreasonable at the very least. And after hearing this news, most of the circulating feedback was somewhat critical of Wal-Mart, and most seemed to acknowledge that Morgan was the victim.

Herein lies the issue with being the largest retail company in the world embroiled in litigation with a famous, and very well-liked comedian: the public is going to take an interest. Litigating a suit against a former Saturday Night Live star who still needs a wheelchair three months after this accident could result in a devastating impact on Wal-Mart’s image, and more importantly, its bottom line.

Indeed, Wal-Mart learned this lesson the hard way. In an effort to limit fault and mitigate its damages, Wal-Mart attempted to shift at least a portion of liability to Morgan. They claimed that he was negligent in not wearing a seat belt, and that negligence, in turn, was a major contributing factor in causing his injuries, which, let’s be honest, is a smart approach and just plain competent lawyering.

However, this approach gave Morgan’s attorney immediate leverage, allowing him to publicly bemoan that the retail giant was skirting responsibility by asserting that the faultless victim was responsible for his own injuries. This should have been anticipated by both the legal and PR teams at Wal-Mart, but apparently wasn’t. In a move that made them look flat-footed and unprepared, they went back on their position and publicly stated only one day later they wanted to settle the case as quickly as possible. While settling this case is probably the prudent strategy for Wal-Mart, taking a legal position, and a reasonable one at that, and then running from it because they were caught off guard makes them look much worse.

Again, there is a lesson to be learned here. Finding yourself involved in a high-profile case can be a great opportunity in terms of favorable publicity and establishing a reputation, but if mishandled, can quickly diminish credibility and provide opposing counsel with leverage they haven’t earned. It is important to weigh all sides of an issue and not be blinded by the desire to win, because in the long run, it may not be considered a victory at all.

For more info the case is Morgan v. Wal-Mart Stores Inc., 14-cv-4388, U.S. District Court, District of New Jersey (Trenton).

For further discussion regarding this topic, or if you or someone you know has been involved in a similar incident please contact the Attorneys at the Schulman Law Group at 954-349-3300, 1-877-529-0444 or at info@schulaw.com

Millions Awarded For Texting While Driving Lawsuit

A Florida Court awarded over 4 million dollars to a brain injury victim of a car accident caused by an individual who was texting while driving.  The victim was 26 years of age.  The Florida Highway patrol testified that the victim was a passenger in a vehicle being operated by her then boyfriend.  The vehicle the victim was in vehicle that failed to stop for a stop sign and collided with a tractor trailer.  The driver of the victim’s car was texting which prevented him from observing the stop sign or the fact that a tractor trailer was in its’ path.

Accidents caused by texting are occurring everyday throughout Florida cities like Weston, Fort Lauderdale, Davie, and Pembroke Pines. For instance,  Sunrise, Florida residents are coming upon many intersectional accidents that occur near Sawgrass Mills Mall because someone is too busy texting while driving.

In the case which was decided in Flagler County, the victim remained in a coma for weeks and yet still requires assistance to ambulate.  In that case the party at fault was uninsured and yet the victim still wanted her day in court.   The case was tried solely before a Circuit Court Judge and no jury.

We now know that texting while driving is many times more dangerous than driving drunk.  There are texting and driving simulators that are being used in schools throughout Florida to demonstrate how serious it is.

Unfortunately, Florida’s legislature has failed to make texting while driving a criminal offense, and in fact, the fine is only $30.00 if you are caught texting while driving anywhere including Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

For further information or discussion on this topic feel free to contact the Weston, Fort Lauderdale Accident Attorneys at the Schulman Law Group at 954-349-3300, 1-877-529-0444 or at info@schulaw.com

Is Your Weston, Fort Lauderdale, Florida Smoke Detector Protecting You?

ESL, and INTERLOGIX hard wired smoke alarms are being recalled.  Apparently the Interlogix brand 400/500 series smoke detectors are experiencing radio frequency interference that can cause the units to fail to warn occupants in a room of detected smoke.

Anyone with such a smoke detector in Weston, Fort Lauderdale, Pembroke Pines, Florida or any other installed location, should immediately get in touch with their security system provider to determine if these recalled unit are part of their fire prevention system.   Consumers will receive a free replacement if their Davie, Fort Lauderdale Florida units have ESL/ INTERLOGIX 400/500 series smoke detectors.  There is a complete descriptions of both of these models by each manufacturer in the warning that is attached to this article.

These units were designed to be installed professionally in homes, college dormitories, apartments, commercial buildings, hotels, and the like.  If you review the warning from the manufacturer you will be able to determine whether your particular series number is involved in this recall for any of the units that may be installed in a Sunrise, Weston, or Fort Lauderdale, Florida dwelling are listed in the corporate recall notice.

While the corporate warnings claim that there have been no incidents of injury, needless to say, the more information concerning the potential for harm that is disseminated to the Weston, Pembroke Pines, Sunrise, Florida public the safer it will be for the ultimate intended user.

For further information or discussion on this topic feel free to contact the Weston, Fort Lauderdale Products Liability Attorneys at the Schulman Law Group at 954-349-3300, 1-877-529-0444 or at info@schulaw.com

Faulty Hip Transplants Lead To A Multi-Million Dollar Group Settlement

Biomet Inc., has agreed to pay over $50 million dollars to settle lawsuits filed with regards to defective hip prosthesis designed and manufactured by them.  The particular device that was part of the failures and litigation are known as M2a Magnum.  There are hundreds of reports of failures of these prosthesis that have led to injuries.

As a condition of the settlement the manufacturer has to escrow $50 million dollars plus.  All recipients (including Weston and Fort Lauderdale, Florida residents) of either the Biomet M2a 38 or M2a Magnum hip prosthesis are scheduled to receive at least $200,000 dollars.  Claimants throughout Weston and Fort Lauderdale Florida are entitled to receive a minimum of $200,000.00 depending on whether or not the operative reports and pathology reports demonstrate ALVAL (aseptic lymphocyte-dominated vasculitis-associated lesion).

Apparently, the metal in these prosthesis enters into the blood and hip compartment, causing significant injury to the hip joint.   If one chooses to opt out of the settlement then that case would head to mediation and then if it cannot be resolved in a Fort Lauderdale or South Florida mediation then the case would continue in the Florida, Federal Court system.  The claims are predicated upon a determination that the claimant required surgical revision due to a condition named Metallosis.  Metallosis is caused by chromium and cobalt leaking from the prosthesis.  A South Florida, Weston or Davie or Fort Lauderdale claimant can either qualify for the $200,000.00 settlement amount or attempt to seek more if they can demonstrate unusual related infections, long term disabilities or other long term impairments as a result of the revision surgeries.

For further information or discussion on this serious topic feel free to contact the Fort Lauderdale Product Liability Attorneys at the Schulman Law Group at 954-349-3300, 1-877-529-0444 or at info@schulaw.com

 

Who Remains Silent about Alleged Sexual Abuse as a Boy Scout?

On Wednesday, July 23, 2014 a man in his fifties filed a very serious lawsuit against the Boy Scouts of America.  Unfortunately, the basis of this suit is founded upon alleged scout leader sexual misconduct.  The suit also identifies this scout leader as having been previously banned for providing alcohol to underage individuals.  The suit claims that the BSA allowed the particular branch of the Boy Scouts of America to hire Calvin Malone in the 1970’s, despite having been previously banned for intoxicating young boys. The lawsuit claims in part that the Boy Scouts of America failed to provide proper warnings to the parents, or the young boys in the scout group regarding this alleged predator.  Of course the suit against scouting is centered upon the perceived high moral level of trust that scouting functions upon and how that trust, at least in this particular instance, had been breached.  In this lawsuit, records have been allegedly uncovered that the Boy Scouts of America had a file on this particular scout leader establishing that they were aware that he had sexually abused a child previously, as well as they knew of his propensity to serve alcoholic drinks to minors.  The suit discloses that Malone apparently had a method of encouraging his scouts to get so drunk until many of them passed out. Since these alleged acts occurred in the mid 1970’s the Plaintiff (who is undisclosed in this case at this time, and appears as “Jim Smith”) is currently in his 50’s.  Of course the Boy Scouts of America refuse to comment on the litigation just filed but, issued a statement that this form of abuse is contrary to everything that the Boy Scouts of America stands for. I submit to you that the reason why this particular suit is of significance is that it raises the important question of how many other ex-scouts may be out there who may have been subjected to similar misconduct, and have sat silently still, suffering this long? For further information or discussion on this serious topic feel free to contact the Victim’s Rights Attorneys at the Schulman Law Group at 954-349-3300, 1-877-529-0444 or at info@schulaw.com

NEJM Releases Study of Risks Associated With Taking Niacin For Cholesterol

The New England Journal of Medicine has reported details from studies revealing almost confirmed side effect risks associated with taking Niacin in association with Statins.  Niacin has been prescribed to hundreds of thousands of patients as a means of controlling their cholesterol levels and for heart care.

Apparently, these studies are revealing that it may not be a proper protocol.  The studies have determined that Niacin is not only not effective, but it is not preventing any more issues than Statins alone, and is placing patients at high risk.  It seems as though there is an unusually high mortality rate associated with taking routine Niacin.

While physicians are stressing that no one should stop taking Niacin without first consulting with their doctors, there are over 700.000 prescriptions written for Niacin on a monthly basis.  The tests are reporting a nine percent (9%) increase in the risk of death for those taking TREDAPTIVE – a Merck Pharmaceutical drug.

In addition to gastrointestinal and sugar level issues, the reports speak to a higher rate of infections and bleeding.  Essentially, the tests cause great concern that there are serious risks associated with continuing the use of Niacin in the control of cholesterol along with Statins.

Needless to say, if one has these issues they should immediately consult with their cardiologist or internist.

For further information or discussion on this topic feel free to contact the Fort Lauderdale Products Liability Attorneys at the Schulman Law Group at 954-349-3300, 1-877-529-0444 or at info@schulaw.com

ARE LIMITS ON DAMAGES IN MALPRACTICE (OR ANY INJURY LAWSUIT) JUST?

The Florida Supreme Court is about to hear argument on a case concerning the limitation on damages for pain and suffering.  In this particular case a jury awarded the amount of one million five hundred thousand ($1,500,000.00) dollars, but the Court reduced the award to five hundred thousand ($500,000.00) dollars, pursuant to a Florida Statute, which came into effect in 2003.

The question in this case is whether the limitations should be applied retroactively.  While the lawsuit was filed against Dr. Daniel Weingrad in 2006, the injury occurred three years before that.  The Court will weigh whether retroactive application violates the Plaintiff’s due process rights.

The Defense in this case is once again relying upon the alleged “medical malpractice crisis” that allegedly drove up medical malpractice insurance costs, as the legislative intent for retroactive application.

Of course, in its deliberations herein, the Supreme Court of Florida cannot consider whether the crisis was in fact real, or allegedly manufactured by the insurance companies that write malpractice insurance coverage, as part of their relentless attempts to legislate victims’ rights to recover damages, out of the law.

One can surely argue that the financial data to support either argument may not be entirely reliable.   But one thing is for sure, that the burden of lifelong pain and suffering should not justly be arbitrarily “capped” for the victim in our system of a just and civil society, simply out of a concern to provide more profitability for a parasitical corporative entity.

One could strongly argue that despite our country’s commitment to a capitalistic economy, a just society should neither profit from its health-care systems, nor profit from insuring against its neglect.

So while the Court may be analyzing such legal concepts as legislative intent and constitutional issues of due process, eventually our legislature needs to ultimate consider what type philosophically just society we want to protect individuals’ interests.

For further information or discussion on this topic feel free to contact the Fort Lauderdale Malpractice Attorneys at the Schulman Law Group at 954-349-3300, 1-877-529-0444 or at info@schulaw.com

 

COUPLE AWARDED $5 MILLION DOLLARS IN MALPRACTICE LAWSUIT

A note-worthy ruling was recently made regarding a couple’s malpractice lawsuit for the loss of a son following a breeched delivery by a mid-wife.  The child survived 13 days in the neonatal intensive care unit before passing away from severe brain damage and organ failure following a loss of oxygen from being delivered breeched.  It opened its eyes just before he passed. The $5 million dollar award is remarkable for several reasons. Firstly, the mid-wife in the case did not carry malpractice insurance and therefore it is unlikely whether the Plaintiffs in this suit will ever see $1 dollar from this case.  One has to seriously question the wisdom of such an action in principal having been brought; considering all the additional suffering the parents had to further go through in re-living such a tragic loss for trial – to obtain an uncollectable judgment.  Nevertheless, those parents were commitment to making the public aware of why this tragedy occurred. Secondly, the next interesting aspect of this outcome is the fact that it was from a JUDGE’S VERDICT, without a jury; and therefore speaks volumes of how much a judge considered the parents suffering to be deserving of. In Florida, we have gone through decades of debate over the concern that jurors, if left up to their own sense of right or wrong (sympathy) would provide outrageous jury verdicts on pain and suffering alone.  Yet, this judge, in a conservative community and left up to his own conscience found that $5 million dollars was an appropriate value.

For further discussion regarding this topic please contact the Fort Lauderdale Malpractice Attorneys at the Schulman Law Group at 954-349-3300, 1-877-529-0444 or at info@schulaw.com