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Archive for the ‘ Court Radio ’ Category

$70M in Settlements in Truck Crash that Killed 5 Nursing Students

Image credit: © iStockphoto.com/alexskopie

More than $70 million in settlements are expected for the families of five nursing students who were killed in April 2015 when the two vehicles they were traveling in on a Georgia highway were struck from behind by a tractor-trailer that failed to stop when traffic came to a halt.

The students were carpooling to take their clinical exams at a Savannah, Ga., hospital early in the morning of April 22, 2015, when the tractor-trailer crashed into them as part of a chain-reaction collision on Interstate 16, according to May 3 story by The Atlanta Journal Constitution. Killed in the crash were Abbie Deloach, 20, of Savannah, Emily Clark, 20, of Powder Springs, Morgan Bass, 20, of Leesburg, Catherine “McKay” Pittman, 21, of Alpharetta, and Caitlyn Baggett, 21, of Millen. Two other students were injured, but survived the crash, the paper reported. They were all students at Georgia Southern University’s School of Nursing when the crash occurred.

The tractor-trailer was being driven by trucker John Wayne Johnson, 55 of Shreveport, La., when it crashed into the vehicles, the story reported. Johnson was driving the vehicle for Total Transportation of Mississippi and its parent, U.S. Express.

In depositions, Johnson, who was not hurt in the crash, admitted fault and said he “was using cruise control and failed to explain why he didn’t slow down,” according to an April 22 story by The Florida Times-Union. Johnson said in the depositions that he had not fallen asleep.

The families of the young women filed civil lawsuits in the case, alleging that the tractor-trailer was following too closely and too fast for conditions, with settlements of $14 million each being reached in several cases so far, the Times-Union reported. A $5 million settlement was also reached for a survivor of the crash. Other cases are pending, but the total payouts could total more than $70 million to $80 million, according to the paper.

An attorney for the family of one of the victims said that “Total Transportation should never have hired Johnson because he’d been fired from another company for causing a truck to roll over, and Total Transportation made him drive overnight without checking to see whether he was fatigued,” the story reported.

These kinds of tragic legal cases occur every day when innocent victims are severely hurt or killed in vehicle crashes through no fault of their own due to the actions, inattentiveness 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.

When Winning Matters Most, Call MyPhillyLawyer.

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$44M Jury Verdict to Brain-Injured Woman in Medical Malpractice Case

Image credit © iStockphoto.com/stuartbur

A Philadelphia woman who experienced an adverse reaction to blood anti-coagulation medication and was left with a serious brain injury as a result has been awarded a $44 million verdict by a Court of Commons Pleas jury in Philadelphia.

The woman, Andrea Tate, had gone to the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania in September 2011 to remove a mass in her head known as a meningioma, according to a May 6 story by The Legal Intelligencer. Tate was 57 years old at the time of the surgery, which was seen as a “routine surgical resection,” according to a plaintiff’s memo.

Tate “underwent a craniotomy and resection, and the size and location of the mass ‘made it a particularly difficult and complicated procedure,’” according to a defense memo. “The hospital’s memo said Tate had been having complications, including swelling, and an external ventricular drain was placed at the base of her head.”

Inside the hospital’s neurological intensive care unit, Tate was given the anti-coagulation drug, heparin, to help with post-surgical conditions, but after six days of testing to see how the drug was affecting the patient, the testing was stopped, the story reported. “For six days, those test results showed Tate’s coagulation was moving from the low end of the normal spectrum to the high end,” according to the plaintiff’s attorney. The results should have told medical personnel that she was at “high risk for brain hemorrhage,” but instead no additional testing was done, the story reported.

Several days later she was found to be comatose after suffering a massive bleed in her head, the story states.

After a 13-day trial, the jury awarded Tate and her family $44 million for her continuing care and pain and suffering due to the hospital’s error in not recognizing her adverse reaction to the heparin prior to her brain hemorrhage, the story reported. The jury found the hospital 65 percent liable and an ­attending doctor 35 percent liable in the case.

Tate had been a project manager at a financial services company before her surgery, the story stated. The brain hemorrhage “caused catastrophic brain injury, which left Tate unable to walk, feed herself, or use the toilet,” according to the story. She is now bedridden and given care by her husband. She was also left paralyzed in her left side and right leg.

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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How Texting a Driver Could Make You Liable for a Crash – Or Not?

Image credit © iStockphoto.com/tillsonburg

A driver is operating a motor vehicle and gets into a crash with another car just after receiving a text from an acquaintance on their mobile phone. In that case, can the driver sue the person who sent the text, blaming them for causing them to become distracted and crash?

That’s the issue in a recent lawsuit in Lawrence County in Pennsylvania, where a judge has allowed legal claims of negligence and wrongful death to proceed as the court system dives into the legal quagmire of technology devices and potential liability.

The case, Gallatin v. Gargiulo, came before Lawrence County Court of Common Pleas Judge John W. Hodge in March, and involves claims against two men who were texting a female driver who was involved in a fatal accident, according to an April 29 story in The Legal intelligencer. “The opinion follows a 2013 ruling from a New Jersey appeals court that established for the first time in the country a cause of action against those who knowingly distract drivers by sending text messages,” the story reported.

In the case, defendant Laura E. Gargiulo was allegedly texting someone on her smartphone when she drove her vehicle into a motorcyclist who had been traveling in front of her on a roadway, the story reported. The motorcyclist, Daniel E. Gallatin, later died from his injuries. “Distracted and inattentive, she struck the rear of Gallatin’s motorcycle, pinning him and dragging him under her vehicle for approximately 100 feet,” the report continued. Gargiulo’s texting was allegedly done in violation of Section 3316 of the commonwealth’s Vehicle Code.

One of Gallatin’s survivors, Mary Lou Gallatin, filed a six-count complaint against the driver as an individual and as executrix of Daniel Gallatin’s estate, the story reported. The lawsuit alleged negligence, wrongful-death and survival claims, and included Joseph M. Gargiulo and Timothy J. Fend as defendants because they were allegedly sending the driver text messages at the time of the crash, according to the story.

In Judge Hodge’s ruling to allow the claims to move forward, he “noted that an individual must know or have reason to know at the time of the accident that the person they are texting is driving and will view the text, establishing a high standard,” the story reported.

One of the defendants, Fend, “filed preliminary objections based upon Pennsylvania Rule of Civil Procedure 1028(a)(4), asserting that the claims were insufficient as a matter of law,” according to the judge. “Fend argued that there is no statute or case law imposing a duty of liability on a person who merely sends a text message to a person operating a vehicle.”

Certainly, this case is still in process and there are many legal issues to be decided, but it already introduces some fascinating arguments.

My first reaction is that the legal issues here are akin to a bartender who knows that someone is driving home from a bar after drinking and yet continues to serve that driver alcoholic drinks well past the point that the customer can safely drive home.

In that instance, there is clearly a volume of law on that subject that finds legal liability in a dram shop action against the bar and bartender. In such a case, there can be legal liability when a bartender continues to serve someone who is visibly drunk. That’s a clear example for finding liability against someone who enables a danger to our society.

In the texting case, though, things are different. Personally, I think that many courts would not find liability in this texting situation because it is a very different set of circumstances.

In the case before the courts in Lawrence County, the judge didn’t say he accepts the plaintiff’s arguments on their face, but he ruled to allow more discussions and reviews to continue. He didn’t actually decide that the persons who sent the texts are responsible. At that point, you really have a nominal bar to cross for evidence to be shown.

Under these conditions, and based on what I read and hear about this case today, I don’t think that allowing people to sue someone who texts them if they are involved in a vehicle crash is going to become a standard in the U.S.

One problem is that a driver’s motor vehicle insurance only covers them in the event of a vehicle crash while actually driving. So a plaintiff could not seek damages from a driver’s vehicle insurance in the event they received a distracting text from another person because it is not an actual crash event. In that case, it is likely that the only insurance that could potentially provide some kind of liability coverage is homeowner’s insurance, which would offer lower coverages for plaintiffs to pursue, perhaps making legal challenges not worth the damages that could be collected.

At the same time, if cases begin showing up involving texting while driving claims against homeowner’s policies, you can bet that insurance companies will be quickly making changes and writing specific clauses to block such coverages. Mark my words on that one. That’s how quickly insurance companies close those kinds of loopholes.

Of course, there might be some circumstances where texting while driving claims could be pursued and envisioned. What if a driver is being viciously texted by someone who knows they are driving – should they have some kind of responsibility if they cause a driver to become upset and that leads to a crash? What if the driver texts back to say they are driving and can’t text, and the texting party continues their texting attack unmercifully? Or what if you are an employee and your employer texts you about locations where you need to go to make sales, which is taking your eyes off the road? In that case, maybe there could be liability.

All the possible scenarios raise many questions.

In the big scheme of things, no matter how these legal issues are resolved, it is not absurd, and it is in fact good, that the courts are thinking about and evaluating these kinds of issues. As we continue to become a more digital society, I think that there are going to be more opportunities to mete out liability in new ways that we have not seen before.

That’s how other legal issues have been sorted out over time.

We’ve come to the point where driving drunk is not something we accept any longer. In decades past, the police would stop a drunk driver and then take them home to sleep it off. Now there are serious consequences for driving drunk, including large fines, license suspensions and jail time. No one is just getting a ride home anymore.

It will be interesting to watch as the courts evaluate and rule upon the acceptable standards that we as a society need to abide by when it comes to texting and driving as our digital society continues to evolve.

These kinds of tragic legal cases occur every day when innocent victims are severely hurt or killed in vehicle crashes through no fault of their own due to the actions, inattentiveness 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.

When Winning Matters Most, Call MyPhillyLawyer.

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$1.2M Settlement to Injured Worker in Construction Fall

Image credit © iStockphoto.com/sturti

A construction worker who fell while walking on a 17-foot-high wall at a worksite and broke both ankles and feet in 2012 has reached a $1.2 million settlement with the contractor and general contractor in charge of the project.

The worker, David Markowski, who was 28 years old at the time of his fall, was working at a construction site on Misericordia University’s campus in Luzerne County when he fell from the wall on Jan. 16, 2012, according to an April 24 story in The Legal Intelligencer.

The university had contracted with defendant Sordoni Construction Services for its building project as a general contractor and for construction management services, while Rise Construction Co. was hired by Sordoni as a subcontractor for steel-related work, the story reported.

The plaintiff “contended that both Sordoni and Rise had common law and contractual duties to ensure the job site was safe, but they failed to create a safe work environment,” according to the story. According to a plaintiff’s memo, “Markowski was not given any fall protection, and there were no anchor points for him to connect with his safety harness” on the wall at the job site.

“Citing the company’s contract, Markowski contended that Sordoni had the ultimate responsibility as the general contractor,” while the plaintiff’s memo called the project safety supervisor “woefully unqualified,” the story stated. “The memo also noted that the company’s safety program required fall protection for workers exposed to falls greater than six feet.”

Defendant Sordoni postured in a pretrial memo that it “should be immune from suit under the statutory employer doctrine,” arguing that it was “a statutory employer under the contract with the owner of the project,” but that argument was rejected by the judge in the Southern District Court for the Middle District.

Rise Construction also filed a motion for summary judgment, according to the story, arguing that “it could not be held liable for the injuries since it was not required to monitor safety, it had no authority over Markowski and nobody from Rise was on site when the accident occurred,” the report continued.

As a result of his injuries, Markowski underwent open reduction, internal fixation surgery to repair his broken bones, followed by occupational and physical therapy, the story reported. He later underwent additional surgery, “in which hardware was removed and scar tissue debrided,” followed by cortisone injections.

Following his injuries, the plaintiff used a wheelchair to move around, followed by the use of a cane, the story reported.

The fall he suffered at the construction site “caused permanent limitations and severe arthritis,” the lawsuit argued. He also argued that he “used to have an active life playing sports, he became a shut-in after the fall, and [that] his life is [now] centered around rehabilitating his feet and ankles.”

These kinds of tragic legal cases occur every day when innocent victims are severely hurt or killed in construction accidents through no fault of their own due to the actions, inattentiveness 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 construction accident, vehicle crash or other incident 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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$20M Medical Malpractice Settlement to Family of Brain-Damaged Child

Image credit © iStockphoto.com by stuartbur

The family of a three-year-old San Diego, Calif., girl who was the victim of a nursing error in a hospital four days after she was born in January 2013 will receive a $20 million settlement to pay for her continuing medical care.

The girl, whose name was withheld to protect her identity, was born five weeks prematurely and was placed in a newborn intensive care unit (ICU), where four days later her mother found her “pale and lifeless” when she went to see the baby, according to an April 13 story by KGTV Channel 10 News in San Diego. The baby was premature but healthy when she was born.

When her mother found the infant in the ICU, the baby’s diaper was soaking wet, “as if a pitcher of water had been poured into it,” the mother told the TV station. “On the floor was a puddle of water, which turned out to be a leak from the [baby's] feeding bag,” which was connected to the child via a tube.

The mother quickly notified a nurse and medical personnel responded, the story reported. Later it was determined that there had been a “human error” involving the baby’s feeding tube, which accidentally overloaded the infant with food, and in turn overloaded her internal systems, the story reported.

“This was a nursing error,” the family’s attorney told the TV station. “The machine was not calibrated or put on correctly, so that certain amounts of food went into [the] child. The child was overloaded with glucose, which caused an electrolyte imbalance. That changed the composition of the blood such that oxygen can’t get to the brain.”

The child developed cerebral palsy from the incident, leaving her struggling to walk and speak, according to her family. The baby will require around-the-clock care for the rest of her life, the story reported.

Her family filed a medical malpractice lawsuit due to the incident and the $20 million settlement that resulted is apparently the largest ever such settlement in California history, according to the story. The name of the hospital and medical personnel who were involved were not released due to a confidentiality clause in the settlement.

The family told the TV station that they hope “the settlement will lead to additional safeguards in all hospitals” for important procedures including hooking up a feeding bag and double-checking and documenting it.

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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$5.5M Settlement to Child Severely Injured in Fall from Window

Image credit: © iStockphoto.com/courtneyk

The family of a 7-year-old child who suffered brain damage after falling from a third-story window in an apartment in a subsidized housing development in North Philadelphia has reached a $5.5 million settlement with the developers, contractors and architects of the development.

The settlement will be received by the family of Rahniya Neal, who was three-years-old in January 2012, when she was playing on the top bunk of a bed with a cousin and fell through a nearby window, according to an April 8 story in The Legal Intelligencer. The child fell about 30 feet to the ground.

Her mother, Rahnisha, filed a premises liability lawsuit in connection with the incident, alleging that the contractor, architect and developer were negligent in designing the renovation project in their home by not installing a guard on the window, even though it was three feet above the floor, the story reported.

The plaintiffs argued the defendants “should have either protected the window, or redesigned the room to allow the bed to be placed more safely against the wall,” especially since they “knew small children lived in the apartment building, and noted that studies have shown that children living in subsidized housing are more likely to fall from windows,” the story reported.

Window guards were installed on other windows elsewhere in the apartment, and leaving the upper window unguarded “breached their duty of care,” according to the plaintiff’s attorneys.

The building was owned by Arch VI Temple N. Gratz Street, LP and was renovated by 1260 Housing Development Corp. Columbus Property Management & Development was the project’s general contractor, Complete Carpentry General Construction was the superintendent, McDonald Building Co. was a subcontractor, and Kramer Marks was the architect, according to the story.

The child suffered severe traumatic brain injury, multiple skull and forearm fractures and had to undergo an emergency decompressive craniectomy to relieve pressure on her brain after her fall, the story reported. She has since had to “undergo speech, physical and occupational therapies, and was also hospitalized again to have prosthesis implanted to account for missing portions of her skull.”

These kinds of tragic legal cases occur every day when innocent victims are severely hurt or killed in a myriad of incidents through no fault of their own due to the actions, inattentiveness 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, structure, workplace or other location 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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