January 2012 Archives

Medical Neglect Leaves Elderly Man Subject to Insects Crawling Inside of his Trachea Tube - Medical Malpractice Claim Likely

January 26, 2012

Having a parent in an assisted living arrangement is hard for the entire family. It is difficult for the parent who may not be able to interact with their family as often as they would like, and it is also difficult for the children who worry whether their parent is being taken care of in a way that respects their parent's dignity. However, in the case of two brothers in Houston, Texas, the facility that was charged with the care of their father failed to ensure that he was cared for properly.

According to the Chron.com, two brothers were visiting their sick father at a west Houston hospital last year when they noticed ants and gnats crawling through a trachea tube and into his larynx, according to a medical malpractice and negligence civil lawsuit filed in Harris County District Court.

As reported by Chron.com, the two brothers were visiting their father, Willie Lee Simmons, 69, who was being treated at Select Specialty Hospital-Houston West for severe respiratory problems before he died last year, said Derek Deyon, an attorney representing the man's estate. The family alleges that workers at the hospital were negligent when they allowed insects to crawl into the tube, among other instances of negligence, he said. The lawsuit was filed January 12, 2012.

According to a spokesman for Select Medical, which owns the facility, the company had not been served with a lawsuit, and the spokesman went on to say that "the allegation of negligence is simply not true." The spokesman, Edwin Bodensiek, defended the facility by stating "They keep their rooms and their equipment clean and sanitary. We would take complaints extremely seriously and we act immediately to correct them and that was done in this case."

Select Medical, the defendant in the law suit filed by Simmons' family and his estate, operates 110 long-term acute care hospitals and 952 outpatient rehabilitation clinics nationwide. And, according to Bodensiek "[Select Medical is] obsessed with quality and I would say our patients' well-being is our top priority."

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Audit Calls to Attention Safety Concerns with MARTA

January 24, 2012

Metro Atlanta's popular public rail system, MARTA, may be in hot water after results from a 2010 audit revealed some concerning safety issues. An article in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution said that the audit pointed to several problems including: the death of a homeless man on MARTA rails, faulty indicator lights on the trains and a "near miss" accident between a train and work vehicle in a MARTA rail yard. Frequent MARTA patrons might be able to point to some additional issues, with faulty escalators being at the top of the list. In fact, the 2008 death of a transit man in the Georgia State University station occurred when the man fell on an escalator and was strangled when his clothing was pulled into the escalator combs. A MARTA police officer patrolling the station did not properly inspect the platform before the station closed and thus failed to discover the deceased man.

Wrongful death attorneys familiar with the system's history know it was the second time such an accident occurred within almost as many years. In 2005, another man lost his life in much the same manner, with one difference. In that earlier case, a MARTA attendant was present and able to press the Emergency button, stopping the escalator. Since the audit results were obtained, MARTA officials have cited a dearth of resources as the reason for the late discovery. Regardless of the number of officers available at the time of the2008 accident, that particular MARTA officer was charged with a duty that he failed to execute. A proper inspection may have resulted in timely medical attention for the decedent and proper review and maintenance of the security tapes may have yielded information that could prevent future incidents. Instead, the tape that captured the transit man's death was "destroyed as part of regular maintenance" - an event that clearly points to much deeper problems.

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Cruise Line Ship Safety Called Into Question after Captain Abandons Ship

January 20, 2012

The safety of cruise ships is once again being called into question after a captain's recent error led to a deadly crash in a reef. The Costa Concordia, which grounded of the coast of Italy before capsizing, has been making sensational headlines ever since. Officials are still endeavoring to discover exactly what happened in the moments leading up to the tragedy, but they do know that the captain abandoned ship, blatantly flouting the accepted code of ethics. So far he has been charged with manslaughter, causing a wreck and abandoning ship before ensuring the safe evacuation of the ship's passengers. Over 100 people were injured and while the death toll is capped at 16, that number is expected to increase as the search for bodies continues. As Costa Crociere SpA awaits the advent of wrongful death lawsuits that are sure to follow, the company has preemptively decided to compensate uninjured passengers with 11,000 euro ($14,460) apiece, as recompense for lost baggage and psychological distress. Should the uninjured passengers elect to accept this amount, the chances are that they will be precluded from launching lawsuits of their own.

The Concordia tragedy has highlighted some prevailing and certainly troubling issues concerning cruise line emergency procedures and practices. Some personal injury attorneys believe that cruise line passengers will quickly begin to see changes when it comes to sailing safety rules, standards, and mariner training. Others are more than convinced that the tragedy is highly unlikely to prompt big changes anytime soon. There are several reasons for this disbelief, with cost being the primary, and understandable, challenge. In fact, David Loh, a maritime lawyer with Cozen O'Connor in New York and a former lieutenant commander in the U.S. Navy, told a reporter at Reuters that imposing a heavier "level of training and certification [on ship crew] would be perceived as being quite onerous."

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Young Boy Left Blind as a Result of Doctor's Malpractice

January 17, 2012

It is always potentially dangerous when a physician misdiagnoses a condition, because the misdiagnosis could lead to the lack of treatment, or the patient receiving the wrong treatment. Unfortunately, according to The Hartford Courant.com, a Connecticut boy and his parents know firsthand the damage that can be caused by a doctor's error. It is the contention of the young boy's family, who has sued his pediatrician for medical malpractice , that the child's physician failed to diagnose his bacterial meningitis, resulting in his losing his eyesight.

According to the complaint filed by Katherine Mlodzinski earlier this year, the mother of Adam Mlodzinski, the complainits of the then 7 year old Adam were not heeded when presented to Healthwise Medical Associates, doing business as Vernon Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, and Dr. Judy Huang-Bulger, who has a Manchester office. The complaint alleges that instead of recognizing that Adam had life-threatening bacterial meningitis, an inflammation of the membranes that cover the brain and spinal cord as a result of a bacterial infection, Huang-Bulger first diagnosed Adam with an ear infection.

According to the Federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, early diagnosis and treatment of bacterial meningitis is critical. However, according the Mlodzinski family attorney, Joel Faxon "The doctor blew off basically the severe headache that Adam had. That delay in treatment caused the meningitis to worsen, the brain infection to worsen, and now Adam is blind."Also according to the CDC's website, "If symptoms occur, the patient should see a doctor immediately." In this case Adam did that, but unfortunately, he and his family maintain it didn't help.

The family alleges that Adam, who is now 9, fell ill on Halloween 2009. Despite several visits to Huang-Bulger, his condition worsened over the next couple of days. After Dr. Huang- Bulger diagnosed Adam with and ear infection, his parents were dissatisfied with the diagnosis. So, the boy's parents called the doctor again for yet another appointment, the lawsuit states. But a receptionist sent Adam away.

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Tennessee Doctor Sued for Leaving New Born Baby for Dead in Hospital

January 12, 2012

The birth of a child is an event that for the mother should be one of the most cherished memories of her life. However, for one Tennessee mother, this date of her child's birth marks one of the most terrible and devastating days of her life. This is so, because according to the mother, instead of providing her and her new born child with the necessary care that was required, the doctor who delivered her baby neglected giver her new born baby any care at all.

According to the Tennessean.com, a Robertson County, Tennessee mother, Jennifer Marie Marlin, acting on behalf of her child, is suing the doctor that delivered him for medical malpractice. The lawsuit claims that Matthew Allen Marlin, who is now a toddler, was left for dead in a plastic bin for more than four hours before a nurse noticed he was alive and gasping for breath. Marlin's mother filed the lawsuit in late December 2011 against Dr. John W. O'Donnell III in Robertson County Circuit Court. According to the lawsuit, baby Marlin was born early June 13, 2009, with irregular gasping breaths and heart rate. Also according to the lawsuit, a nurse noted that he "made a small cry at delivery and had movement of arms and legs."

The lawsuit, which claims that Dr. O'Donnell is guilty of negligence, goes on to state that "The baby was fighting for his life and Dr. O'Donnell decided on his own - without any consultation from anyone else - that the baby had no chance of living." The Tennessean.com reports that Marlin was put in a plastic bin and left on a counter "until the family could decide what to do with the body," but a nurse who passed the area noticed he was gasping for breath a few hours later.

After a nurse discovered that baby Marlin was indeed alive and struggling to survive, baby Marlin received resuscitation therapy and was transferred from NorthCrest Medical Center in Springfield, Tennessee to Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville. Baby Marlin remained at Vanderbilt University Medical Center for three months where he received specialized care for the brain injuries and other injuries he had sustained.

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Families of the Victims of the Upper Big Branch Mine Disaster Finally Receive Compensation

January 11, 2012

According to both the Charleston Gazette and USA Today, on Tuesday January 10, 2012, Alpha Natural Resources finally finalized a deal that resolved the last of the wrongful death workers compensation claims and wrongful death lawsuits of the families of the 29 miners who died in the Upper Big Branch Mine Disaster. This deal comes almost 2 years after the tragedy of the April 2010 explosion. Although Virginia-based Alpha Natural Resources had not confirmed the agreement or otherwise comment at the time of the news reports, attorney Mark Moreland said the final deals were cut Tuesday afternoon after a marathon mediation session which endured for more than 4 days. Although some of the lawsuits resulting from the 2010 tragedy had long since been settled, mediation of the final 13 began last week and continued through Tuesday the 10th.

Just weeks after the April 5, 2010 explosion, which has been labeled the worst U.S. mine disaster in four decades, Massey Energy, the company who owned the mine at the time of the explosion, offered $3 million to each victim's family. Some accepted, but most refused; saying the lives of their loved ones had no price tags. Alpha inherited the mine and the lawsuits when it bought Massey Energy last summer. It has since settled several unrelated lawsuits against other Massey operations. According to an Alpha company spokesman said last month that Alpha was eager to shed the legacy problems and move forward.

According to the Charleston Gazette, Charleston lawyer Tim Bailey, who represented two miners' families and helped lead a group of lawyers with the bulk of the cases stated: "On behalf of the families we were privileged to represent, we're happy we could provide some measure of closure on this particular part of this tragedy." Despite the financial compensation that the families will be receiving as a result of these settlements, Bailey and the other lawyers for the Upper Big Branch families emphasized that what their clients really want is for the top Massey managers responsible for safety conditions at the mine to be prosecuted. According to Bailey, "Compensation is one thing, but justice is another. Based on what happened at this mine, there is not going to be justice until some people are indicted and some people go to jail."

According to reports by USA Today the families may indeed get exactly the justice that they desire. In December, Alpha reached a $210 million settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice that spares the corporation criminal prosecution. Individuals, however, can still be prosecuted, which is exactly what many families have publicly demanded. So far, one person has been held accountable in criminal court: Former security chief Hughie Elbert Stover was convicted in November of lying to investigators and trying to destroy mine records. He is awaiting sentencing. The DOJ settlement included $46.5 million in restitution to the victims' families, guaranteeing them and two survivors of the blast $1.5 million apiece. That $1.5 million will be deducted from the wrongful death settlements.

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Dog Bite Case Holds Georgia Jury Captive, Calls Attention to Local Dog Bite Laws

January 3, 2012

In March of last year, 8-year-old Erin Ingram was playing in her own front yard when she was suddenly attacked and mauled by her neighbor's two dogs. Details in an article by April Hunt of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reveal the attack was so brutal that medical doctors had to amputate the young girl's left arm below the elbow. In court, almost a year after the incident, jurors listened to the eight minute 911 call in which Ingram could be heard screaming for help.

Typically, the right to recover for a dog bite in Georgia will be dependent upon either the dog's history and/or the leash laws applicable in the county or city where the dog attack occurred. This dog attack took place in Dekalb County, an area with a strict vicious dog ordinance, and came just months after that very same county was considering lifting its pit bull ban. It's the only county to have such a law, a 2005 proposal for a statewide ban against pit bulls was met with failure. Animal rights activists advocated a repeal of the ban, refusing to attribute the tendency to attack to any particular breed of dog, and choosing instead to criticize bad owners for their pets' behavior. The dog bite incident in March seemed to underscore this point - one dog was a full-blooded pit bull, the other was a mutt. The owner was charged with reckless conduct, violation of county's vicious dog ordinance and not having the dogs immunized for rabies - two counts each, and could face up to five years in jail if found liable and convicted.

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