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Nationwide Insurance to Pay Couple $18 Million in Bad Faith Case

A Pennsylvania judge has ordered Nationwide Insurance to pay an $18 million “bad faith” damage award to a family after the company allegedly had the family’s severely damaged vehicle repaired even after an outside appraisal firm deemed that the vehicle should be replaced for safety.

The plaintiffs, Berks County residents Daniel and Sheryl Berg, “took their damaged 1996 Jeep Grand Cherokee to a facility participating in Nationwide Mutual Insurance Co.’s ‘Blue Ribbon Repair Program,’ where one appraiser told them the vehicle’s frame had been too twisted to fix and recommended that the vehicle be totaled,” according to a July 1 story in The Legal Intelligencer. “The Bergs submitted that the evidence showed Nationwide reversed that appraisal without informing them and ordered the vehicle off to another repair facility, court documents said.”

Instead of initially paying for replacement costs for the damaged Jeep, the story reported, Nationwide “knowingly returned them a vehicle with structural damages despite four months of repairs following a collision and then paid millions to drag out the litigation of their disputed insurance claim, according to court documents.”

Image credit: © iStockphoto.com/nycshooter

The plaintiffs alleged that Nationwide dug its heels in the case and fought it through despite the fact that its legal defense bills far outweighed the costs of simply replacing the Jeep.

Earlier, in the first phase of a bifurcated trial, a jury found Nationwide violated the Unfair Trade Practice and Consumer Protection Law in the case, The Legal Intelligencer reported. Later, Nationwide was granted a motion for a directed verdict on the bad-faith claim because the Blue Ribbon Program is apparently not a part of Nationwide’s auto-insurance policy, but a Superior Court ruling later reversed that decision, the story reported. Eventually, the Bergs were permitted to “argue that the jury’s finding that Nationwide violated the UTPCPL was evidence of the insurer’s bad faith.”

Later, Nationwide allegedly admitted that it spent about $2.5 million fighting the case, rather than replacing the Jeep, the story reported.

“Berks County Court of Common Pleas Judge Jeffrey K. Sprecher said that, by paying its lawyers so much, Nationwide ’screamed to the litigation world that it is ‘a defense-minded carrier in the minds of the plaintiff legal community,’” the story reported. “According to the judge, Nationwide also obstructed discovery in the Berg litigation by refusing to disclose one of its experts’ reports detailing the inadequate repair of the Jeep.”

Also demonstrating bad faith, according to the judge, was Nationwide’s “refusal to purchase and total the Bergs’ Jeep until 28 months after the accident, by which point the Bergs had paid off their lease,” the story reported.

Sprecher also said that had the ill-repaired Jeep ever been sold later to an unsuspecting buyer in such an un-crashworthy state that Nationwide’s “exposure to liability and damages to that innocent third party would have been astronomical,” the story reported.

“The judge issued his verdict, along with a harshly-worded opinion, finding that ‘Nationwide strong-armed its own policyholder rather than negotiating in good faith to compensate plaintiff for the loss suffered in the automobile collision,” the story reported.

Unfortunately, this kind of case in not unusual for victims to have to endure.  Left to their own devices, profit-motive-driven insurance companies often don’t do the right thing. They often don’t live up to their contractual and ethical obligations to pay claims when they are due. Instead, they put their own greedy corporate interests ahead of those of innocent victims.

The judge also ordered Nationwide to pay an additional $3 million in the case for the plaintiff’s legal fees.

Insurance companies exhibit bad faith when they refuse to pay legitimate claims in a timely manner. In the case of an insurance company, an insurer  contracts with a customer through the filing and underwriting of a policy and promises to handle any claims in certain ways, with specific benefits, payments and processes.  If those promises aren’t adhered to and if the company tries to deceive a customer in order to avoid paying legitimate claims, then they are acting in bad faith.  A lawsuit can then be brought against an insurance company for bad faith in handling a claim.

Bad faith is illegal and can cost insurance companies lots of extra damages, as it did in this case.

One lesson to remember in this case is that no insurance company will truly protect and preserve your legal rights. It’s up to your legal team to be sure that you are compensated fairly when someone else hurts you or your loved ones. Choose that legal team wisely to ensure that your family’s interests are well-protected. These kinds of injury cases occur every day when innocent victims are hurt or killed in vehicle crashes through no fault of their own due to the actions or indifference of others.

We here at MyPhillyLawyer stand ready to assist you with your legal case if you or a loved one is ever seriously injured in a vehicle incident or accident anywhere in the United States. We represent the families of victims who die in such tragedies as well, to ensure that their families receive every penny of damages that they are eligible to receive.

Call MyPhillyLawyer at 215-227-2727 or toll-free at 1-866-920-0352 anytime and our experienced, compassionate, aggressive team of attorneys and support staff will be there for you and your family every step of the way as we manage your case through the legal system.

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$3.34 Million Med Mal Verdict Awarded to Former Athlete

A 27-year-old man who was scheduled to play professional soccer in Colombia after college has received a $3.34 million medical malpractice verdict from a Philadelphia jury to compensate him after a problematic groin surgery left him unable to pursue his soccer career.

The former athlete, Juan Duque, was injured during surgery in 2009 which left him with perforated bowels, according to a July 11 story in The Legal Intelligencer. The surgery had been undertaken to treat groin pain that he was experiencing, the story reported. Duque was three weeks away from heading to Colombia to play professional soccer when the surgery was performed.

Image credit: © iStockphoto.com/courtneyk

Duque filed a lawsuit against Hahnemann University Hospital and Dr. William C. Meyers after his bowels were perforated during the surgery, the story reported. “The real culprit, Duque’s attorneys argued at trial, was the subsequent use of barium for contrasting during a CT scan to determine why Duque was in so much pain a day after surgery,” according to the story. “That barium, according to court documents, caused significant infection and adhesions and to this day, there remains some barium in Duque’s system. Duque argued barium should never be used when there is the possibility of a perforated bowel.”

At the time of the surgery injury, Duque was attending Davidson College, where he was the captain of the Division I school’s soccer team, the story reported. He ended up seeing Meyers for the groin pain that he was experiencing at the time, the story said.

The perforated bowel he had suffered was not diagnosed when he was discharged on the day of the original surgery, according to The Legal Intelligencer. “Within an hour of going home, Duque had severe abdominal pain and was allegedly told by the hospital to get pain medication from the local pharmacy, according to Duque’s pretrial memorandum.”

The next day, Duque’s pain persisted and another pain medication was prescribed by the doctor, the story reported. Later, he was taken to an emergency room, where his doctor sent a resident to check on the patient. After hearing a report from the medical resident that Duque’s white blood cell count was high, the doctor was concerned that possible bowel perforation had occurred, the story said. The initial resident left for the day, but failed to inform another resident that bowel perforation was a concern, the report continued.

That led to the second resident ordering a CT scan with a barium contrast, which was an incorrect move under the circumstances, the story reported. “Barium contrast is absolutely contraindicated in any patient with a known or suspected bowel perforation,” Duque said in his memorandum. “The reason for this is that if barium leaks into the peritoneal cavity, it causes massive inflammation, severe peritonitis and extensive adhesions.”

Duque’s CT scan “showed the perforated bowel with spillage of bowel contents and barium throughout his system,” the story reported. Meyers then repaired the bowel, and Duque remained in the hospital for 18 days recovering from his injuries, the story reported. He had to undergo “another surgery to remove abscesses in his abdomen and had two drains placed in his back to drain the infected fluid that continued to accumulate around his organs,” the story continued.

Duque tried to get back into soccer after his surgeries, but he had lost 35 pounds and didn’t have the same core strength after having two surgeries that cut through his abdomen, the story reported. He was unable to resume his athletic career and now works as a consultant.

These kinds of cases are a somber reminder that patients and their families must be vigilant about the medical care they receive so they know what is being done for a patient’s care every step of the way. But at the same time, patients and families aren’t doctors and they can’t know every question to ask.

That’s where skilled, expert, compassionate and thorough legal representation is needed by patients and their families who have been harmed by medical errors or omissions during their treatment. These kinds of cases happen on a regular basis, but they can be fought by legal teams that are prepared to battle for their clients’ rights all along the way to a fair settlement or to a just verdict.

We here at MyPhillyLawyer stand ready to assist you with your legal case if you or a loved one is ever seriously injured in a similar medical malpractice, birth injury or related case anywhere in the United States. We represent the families of victims who die in such tragedies as well, to ensure that their families receive every penny of damages that they are eligible to receive.

Call MyPhillyLawyer at 215-227-2727 or toll-free at 1-866-920-0352 anytime and our experienced, compassionate, aggressive team of attorneys and support staff will be there for you and your family every step of the way as we manage your case through the legal system.

When Winning Matters Most, Call MyPhillyLawyer.

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Paralyzed Victim Awarded $55.3M Jury Verdict in Acura Car Crash

As he drove his 1999 Acura Integra along a Maryland road in May 2010, a tire on Carlos Martinez’s car blew out after striking a nail, causing the car to veer off the road, go into a ditch and roll over multiple times.

The crash, which occurred at about 33 mph, caused catastrophic injuries to Martinez when his head struck the roof on the inside of the car as it rolled, leaving him a paraplegic, according to a July 8 story in The Legal Intelligencer.  After hearing testimony in the product liability case, a Philadelphia jury has rendered a verdict in Martinez’s favor, awarding him $55.3 million in damages from the car maker in connection with the case, the paper reported.

The jury found that the victim’s injuries were “caused by the Integra’s defective seat-belt design and that defendant American Honda Motor Co. was negligent for failing both to redesign the seat belt and to warn consumers that they were at risk of hitting their heads on the roof if the vehicle rolled,” the story reported, based on the jury’s decision. Acura is a division of American Honda Motor Co.

Image credit: © iStockphoto.com/creatingmore

The defendant “blamed Martinez’s own negligence in its own pretrial memorandum,” but the jury rejected that view, according to the story.

Several experts testified for the plaintiff that the car’s restraint system and its body design contributed to the severity of the victim’s injuries in the crash. “The only reason Mr. Martinez sustained catastrophic and paralyzing injuries was because the defective design of the subject vehicle failed to keep him, a seat-belted occupant, from loading his neck during the rollover event, resulting in serious damage to his spine,” the plaintiffs’ memorandum said, according to the paper.

The victim’s legal team argued during the trial “that the seat belt should have been attached to the seat, rather than one of the ‘pillars’ separating the vehicle’s windows,” the story reported. The plaintiffs also argued “that Honda had performed rollover tests for the 1999 Integra in which the crash-test dummy repeatedly hit its head on the roof, but never corrected the problem before bringing the vehicle to market,” according to the story.

Since the crash, Martinez has had multiple urinary tract infections and gastroesophageal reflux disease, and he continues to suffer from chronic weakness, numbness, pain, spasticity, neurogenic bowel and neurogenic bladder as a result of his paralysis, the story reported.

The jury reached its verdict quickly after a nine-day trial, awarding $25 million to Martinez for past and future noneconomic damages, $15 million to his wife for loss of consortium, $14.6 million for future medical expenses and about $720,000 for past and future lost earnings, the story reported.

These kinds of injury cases occur every day when innocent victims are hurt or killed in vehicle crashes through no fault of their own due to the actions or indifference of others. That’s why it is critical to have a legal team on your side that uncovers every fact to bolster your case and maximize your damage award.

We here at MyPhillyLawyer stand ready to assist you with your legal case if you or a loved one is ever seriously injured in a vehicle incident or accident anywhere in the United States. We represent the families of victims who die in such tragedies as well, to ensure that their families receive every penny of damages that they are eligible to receive.

Call MyPhillyLawyer at 215-227-2727 or toll-free at 1-866-920-0352 anytime and our experienced, compassionate, aggressive team of attorneys and support staff will be there for you and your family every step of the way as we manage your case through the legal system.

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Woman’s 2008 Cancer Death Leads to $16.7 Million Malpractice Verdict

When Jeanne Ellis went to a hospital emergency room in October 2006 in Boston complaining of a persistent cough, a doctor ordered a chest X-ray and then sent her home with antibiotics to treat what he said was an upper respiratory infection.

Thirteen months later, as her symptoms worsened, Ellis again went to the hospital, where this time she was discovered to suffer from advanced lung cancer. Less than a year later, Ellis died in August 2008 at the age of 47 after the cancer spread throughout her body.

Now, almost six years after her death, a Massachusetts jury has awarded a $16.7 million medical malpractice verdict in the case to Ellis’ daughter, who sued the doctor and the hospital in connection with her mother’s care, according to a June 30 story in The Boston Globe.

Image credit: © iStockphoto.com/stuartbur

The verdict was awarded after the jury found that Ellis’ “radiologist missed evidence of the cancer in a chest X-ray,” the story reported. The lawsuit was filed by the victim’s daughter, Johnette Ellis, against defendants Dr. Peter Clarke and Brigham and Women’s Hospital, where the patient was seen.

When the doctor first examined Ellis during her original ER visit in October 2006, her ordered the chest X-ray to rule out pneumonia and after examining the results, he determined it to be normal, the paper reported. When the patient returned to the hospital 13 months later, a CT scan ordered by a different doctor turned up “advanced lung cancer,” according to the Globe story. “Within seven months, the cancer spread to her kidney, liver, spine, and pubic bone before she died.”

The Ellis family’s legal team “presented evidence that the original 2006 chest X-ray showed a 1.5-centimeter nodule in Ellis’ upper right lung, which grew to about 2.5 or 3 cm. by November 2007,” the story reported. Many new nodules throughout her lungs were also found through the CT scan that were not present at the time of the original chest X-ray, the story reported.

These kinds of cases are a somber reminder that patients and their families must be vigilant about the medical care they receive so they know what is being done for a patient’s care every step of the way. But at the same time, patients and families aren’t doctors and they can’t know every question to ask.

That’s where skilled, expert, compassionate and thorough legal representation is needed by patients and their families who have been harmed by medical errors or omissions during their treatment. These kinds of cases happen on a regular basis, but they can be fought by legal teams that are prepared to battle for their clients’ rights all along the way to a fair settlement or to a just verdict.

We here at MyPhillyLawyer stand ready to assist you with your legal case if you or a loved one is ever seriously injured in a similar medical malpractice, birth injury or related case anywhere in the United States. We represent the families of victims who die in such tragedies as well, to ensure that their families receive every penny of damages that they are eligible to receive.

Call MyPhillyLawyer at 215-227-2727 or toll-free at 1-866-920-0352 anytime and our experienced, compassionate, aggressive team of attorneys and support staff will be there for you and your family every step of the way as we manage your case through the legal system.

When Winning Matters Most, Call MyPhillyLawyer.

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MyPhillyLawyer is Coming to Serve You Where You Live

MyPhillyLawyer has just opened its first-ever office in Northeast Philadelphia, far from the bustle of Center City, where we can now begin serving our clients in the neighborhoods where they live and work.

This is the first time since the birth of our founding law firm in 1976 that MyPhillyLawyer has opened an office away from Center City. The idea of the new office, which is located at 10819 Bustleton Avenue at Lawler Street in the Northeast section of the city, is to bring our talented, compassionate and tireless attorneys out into the neighborhoods to make it easier for our clients to consult with us for their legal needs.

For some clients, it can be inconvenient or nerve-wracking to come into Center City to meet with their attorneys. So we wanted to move our brand into areas in and around Philadelphia where we can now bring our quality legal representation closer to the clients we serve.

The Bustleton office, just north of Washington High School, is just the first of some five locations we will be opening throughout the area over the next 24 to 36 months, in locations where we are visible to the entire community.

MyPhillyLawyer, which as a brand will celebrate its 14th anniversary in November 2014, is a Philadelphia institution. The opening of our first-ever new office is a milestone that’s exciting and I’m very proud of it. We here at MyPhillyLawyer represent the best legal expertise and help for people who need a strong advocate in their fights against insurance companies, employers, other individuals and a myriad of legal situations.

Staffing our first neighborhood office on Bustleton Avenue fulltime is Ms. Irena Shiloh, an attorney who recently joined MyPhillyLawyer after working in her own practice. A graduate of Drexel University’s Earle Mack School of Law, she received her undergraduate degree in business administration from Institut Franco-Americain de Management in Paris, France. During law school, Irena interned for two years for Judge Sandra Mazer Moss in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas. This enabled Irena to become intimately familiar with the judicial system and to gain invaluable procedural and substantive experience in the litigation of products liability, personal injury, venue and jurisdictional matters. She also previously worked on mass torts at the Complex Litigation Center, mostly on asbestos motions for summary judgment.

Irena Shiloh, MyPhillyLawyer's new attorney in our Bustleton Avenue offices.

Irena received the Judge Sandra Mazer Moss Award and scholarship from the Louis D. Brandeis Law Society. She previously worked for eight months at the AIDS Law Project of Pennsylvania, which is a nonprofit law office which represents and advocates for people living with HIV.

Irena focuses her practice predominantly on family law, including custody issues, divorce, child support and domestic relations, as well as personal injury law and more.

She has lived in several foreign countries and is fluent in Russian, Serbian, Macedonian and Bulgarian. The mother of two teen-age twin boys, she is also an accomplished singer, songwriter and music producer.

We welcome you to stop in or call to talk with Irena about your legal needs in our new Bustleton Avenue office in the Northeast.

From the streets of Philadelphia’s incredible neighborhoods to the Jersey Shore, to Delaware, Maryland and north to Allentown, Easton and Bethlehem, the attorneys and staff of MyPhillyLawyer work hard every day to serve a diverse range of clients who are involved in a myriad of legal cases.

MyPhillyLawyer’s original law firm, Silvers & Langsam, was started in 1976 by the late Arnold Silver and Saul Langsam, who remains with the firm today. Later, I joined the firm, eventually inspiring another name change for the firm to Silvers, Langsam & Weitzman. Since November 2011, MyPhillyLawyer has been the online and public face of the firm and its attorneys and staff.

We here at MyPhillyLawyer stand ready to assist you with your legal case if you or a loved one is ever seriously injured in a vehicle incident or accident anywhere in the United States. We represent the families of victims who die in such tragedies as well, to ensure that their families receive every penny of damages that they are eligible to receive.

Call MyPhillyLawyer at 215-227-2727 or toll-free at 1-866-920-0352 anytime and our experienced, compassionate, aggressive team of attorneys and support staff will be there for you and your family every step of the way as we manage your case through the legal system.

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$2.4 Million Verdict to Philadelphia Bicyclist Severely Hurt in Crash

A Philadelphia woman has been awarded $2.4 million in compensation by a Philadelphia Common Pleas Court jury after she was severely injured in a bicycle accident on Broad Street as she headed home from classes at Temple University on Feb. 23, 2011.

The woman, Ashley McKean, who was 24 years old at the time of the crash, was hurt when the door of a parked vehicle was flung open in front of her and she was then struck twice from behind by another vehicle, according to a June 17 story in The Legal Intelligencer. The crash occurred near the intersection of Broad and Spring Garden streets.

The driver of the parked car, Marci Shepard, allegedly and inadvertently opened the driver’s side door of her vehicle into McKean’s path, the story reported, resulting in McKean being halted as she and her bike struck the open door with her right thigh. McKean was then struck from behind by an MCT Transportation van that was being driven by Robert E. Crawford, causing her to fall forward into the street and into the path of Crawford’s van, which ran over her left leg, the story reported.

Image credit: © iStockphoto.com/sshepherd

The victim suffered multiple injuries from the crash, including several bone fractures and injuries to the ligaments, a urinary tract infection, bowel dysfunction and extensive scarring, the story reported. She now “suffers from permanent chronic pain that causes limited mobility,” according to the report.

McKean has undergone five surgeries, 23 diagnostic tests, emergency room treatment, 10 days of inpatient hospital treatment, 18 days of inpatient rehabilitation treatment, 15 doctor visits, 16 outpatient physical therapy sessions and uses a variety of orthopedic appliances and prescription medications, while incurring about $587,947 in medical bills, The Legal Intelligencer reported.

The jury’s award in the case included $1.3 million for pain and suffering, $880,000 for future medical expenses and $225,000 for disfigurement, the story reported.

The $2.4 million award was deemed as significant by Sarah Clark Stuart, the deputy director of The Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia, in an interview with Newsworks, the online home of WHYY-FM News 90.9. “I think that it does send a very strong message that bicyclists need to be taken seriously, and their safety needs to be taken seriously,” Stuart told Newsworks. “So I hope that it gives everyone pause to follow the rules of the road and keep safe out there.”

These kinds of injury cases occur every day when innocent victims are hurt or killed in vehicle crashes through no fault of their own due to the actions or indifference of others. That’s why it is critical to have a legal team on your side that uncovers every fact to bolster your case and maximize your damage award.

We here at MyPhillyLawyer stand ready to assist you with your legal case if you or a loved one is ever seriously injured in a vehicle incident or accident anywhere in the United States. We represent the families of victims who die in such tragedies as well, to ensure that their families receive every penny of damages that they are eligible to receive.

Call MyPhillyLawyer at 215-227-2727 or toll-free at 1-866-920-0352 anytime and our experienced, compassionate, aggressive team of attorneys and support staff will be there for you and your family every step of the way as we manage your case through the legal system.

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