Archive for April, 2017

DUI and gun-safety bills pass legislature

Friday, April 21st, 2017

Lawmakers in Washington approved a list of bills including a legislation which makes the 4th arrest of an impaired driver a felony offense.

The change came as a legislative meetings were wrapping up with State budget meetings are at standstill with no resolution to K-12 school funding.

According Sen. Mike Padden, R-Spokane Valley, this week was a perfect opportunity to pass Democratic and Republic bills through the other party’s assembly room.

Padden’s bill, SB 5037, would make an impaired driver face a felony charge at the 4th DUI instead of the 5th DUI in 10 years for a repeat driver under the influence.

The proposal in recent years had usually been delayed by the Democratic House, however it did pass the Republic controlled Senate a few times.

A vote of 85-11 lead to the bills House approval on Thursday.

“I think it will save some lives,” chair of the Senate Law and Justice Committee, Sen. Mike Padden said Friday.

A Renton man was recently arrested for his 11th alleged DUI which helped the bill’s prospects according to Padden.

If the measure is signed into law 192 current gross misdemeanors would convert to felony DUI cases per year according to the bill’s fiscal note.

Measures at the top of the priority list for Democrats were also passed.

A legislation that had been sought by gun-safety advocates was also approved by the Senate on Thursday as HB1501.

HB 1501 states that when felons, domestic abusers, or others subject to court orders are denied to purchase a fire arm law enforcement and victims should be notified.

In March HB 1501 passed by a wide margin but on Thursday it passed unanimously.

“We are thrilled that the state Senate did the right thing by holding a vote on the Law Enforcement and Victim Safety bill, passing this meaningful legislation that will help save the lives of women and children here in Washington,”  said CEO of the Alliance for Gun Responsibility, Renée Hopkins.

HB 1614 was another measure passed by the Senate on Thursday by Democrats. The measure makes changes to the law regarding impaired driving.

DUI and gun-safety bills were described by Gov. Jay Inslee as “late-breaking successes.”

“There’s been some good things to come out of this session already,” said Inslee, there was also mention of birth control prescription refills, REAL ID and distracted driving agreements.

Before bills become laws they must be signed by the governor.

$33.8 Million Medical Malpractice Awarded to Miami Gardens Family

Thursday, April 20th, 2017

$33.8 million in medical malpractice awarded to Miami Gardens family will be paid by the federal government. A judge ruled on Monday that a decision made by a federally employed doctor cause a young mother’s baby boy to suffer unnecceraingly resulting in brain damage.

Marla Dixon and Earl Reese- Thorton the baby’s parents were awarded $3.3 million  by U.S. District Judge Robert N. Scola. They were also awarded $1.1 million for pain and suffering. Judge Scola awarded $21.7 in economic damages and $7.6 million for the boy’s pain and suffering.

A on-call physician by the name Dr. Ata Atogho was working the government funded community center which provides service to uninsured and undocumented patients.

Dixon while at the North Shore Medical center has been treated by an experienced labor and delivery nurse named Yolanda McCray. During the case McCray testified that the claims made by Atogho’s were false. She stated he did not offer Dixon a cesarean section in which Dixon declined.

In a testify by both McCRay and Reese- Thorton they stated Dixon the soon to be young mother yelling, “Just cut me!”

McCray recalls the baby’s slowed heart rate and Atogho ignoring her request leaving Dixon for another patients delivery. Another claim was that Atogho had been seen on his phone with his financial advisor. On Dec. 2, 2013 when the baby was born he was not breathing and unresponsive.

“At the anticipated, joyful moment of birth of a crying, bouncing baby, they are instead presented with the dreadful specter of a blue, floppy, lifeless child,” according to Scola’s order.

The pregnancy was not high risk. Due to lack of oxygen when the newborn was revived he suffered brain damage. A C-section could have prevented the baby’s brain damaged agreed the defense and the plaintiffs.

“The court has considered all the evidence in the case, including the testimony of the defendant’s life expectancy expert, who has opined [the 3-year-old boy] has a life expectancy of an additional 9 to 12 years,” said Scola.

The government will have to pay the award in recurring payments since Florida does not have a statutory cap they did not restrict the award.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Miami represented the federal Governments defense led by Charles White. Two of Miami law firms: Vidian Mallard and Richard Sharp of Mallard & Sharp and Lauri Ross of Ross & Girten represented the Family.

Puerto Rico heading toward bankruptcy as deadline comes close

Wednesday, April 12th, 2017

May 1st is the deadline for Puerto Rico to restructure $70 billion in debt. As the deadline nears bankruptcy is looking like a possibility for the islands once widely held municipal bonds.

Last year PROMESA was a rescue law passed by the U.S. Congress. This law would freeze creditor lawsuits and assign an oversight board. Now negotiations in regards to the island lawsuits could be discussed and resolved out of court.

A Republican aide to the House Committee on Natural Resources, who is in charge of the territory said an extension to the deadline “not going to happen,”

Analyst say Puerto Rico will end up seeking protection from creditors with their equvilant of bankruptcy called PROMESA. Mediated talks will being on Thursday.

A source from the talks says a bankruptcy is “impossible,” although the tolerance deals could make negotiations continue until May 1st.

Governor Ricardo Rosello took office in January and a anonymous source from the talks said parties have increasingly started to grow apart.

Investors were shocked by the negotiating tactics Rossello and that board have presented. They were hoping for more of a creditor- friendly approach from both parties. However, the board is pushing debt repayments that are doubled than those presented by the former Governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla.

Stakeholders wanting to resist mediation, have come together to question the legality of a fiscal reversal blueprint which has already been approved by the board.

Hector Negroni, said he recalled “constructive comments” from Rossello and other members of the board “about protecting the priorities of creditors” in the boards infancy. “But their words are not being followed up by their actions,” said Negroni. Negroni’s Fundamental Credit Opportunities fund sustains Puerto Rico debt.

Heights Security analyst Ed Groshans said bankruptcy is “the most likely outcome.”

Rossello’s intermediary to the board, Elias Sanchez, said the government has hope for at least partial agreement. “We feel very confident we can strike some deals by May 1, maybe not all of them,” said Sanchez.

Francisco Cimadevilla, a spokesperson for the oversight committee said they are committed to pursuing an agreement out side of the courts. “A transaction is always better than a lawsuit,” he said.

“The more creditors insist that part of their position is that no one fare better than they do, the more difficult that is to effectuate outside of bankruptcy,” said Melissa Jacoby, a restructuring expert from the University of North Carolina School of Law.

A 45 percent poverty rate and the increase in emigration is at the root of the crisis Puerto Rico is trying to avoid.

Jacoby also mentioned bond markets will see the bankruptcy as a negative because now the debtors are able to impose payment cuts on creditor objections.

In recent weeks trading prices of Puerto Rico benchmark 2035 general obligation bonds have been dangerously high and cause for concern.

Creditors and the government a like want to avoid bankruptcy because the risks can affect both parties.

“Could go really bad for the government too,” said Sanchez about the fate of Puerto Rico in the hands on an unpredictable judge.

Dam owner in Whitefield is protected by filing bankruptcy

Sunday, April 9th, 2017

In Northern Lincoln County an owner of a dam has filed for bankruptcy protection. Pleasant Pond Mill LLC reveals its liabilities far outweigh its assets according to the U.S. Bankruptcy Court.

The company that foreclosed on the dam over a year ago, Medius L3C, is owed $115,000 by the limited liability company. They also owe $350,000 in back taxes, credit bills, and legal dues.

Stacked granite, a laid fieldstone structure, and a broken computer are listed as assets.

The dam is confined to the lake that is between North Whitefield on Route 218 and north of the Route 194 intersection.

Due to filling Chapter 7 bankruptcy the Pleasant Pond Mill will have its assets sold and any thing left over will be used towards the creditor debt.

The dissolution manager for the Pleasant Pond Mill, Paul Kelly, said the decision to move forward with the bankruptcy was due to the overwhelming debts and the lack of a solution for repairing the dam.

Apparently, Kelly says the structure may or may not be a dam, if it turns out it is not a dam then it whether or not it can hold water is questionable.

The Federal bankruptcy trustee assigned to the Pleasant Pond Mill case will have to figure out the ownership of the dam stated Kelly.

Pleasant Pond Mill LLC is unclear of how the bankruptcy will effect the proceeding’s.

The state Department of Environmental Protection in January of 2014 issued an outlined course of actions in regards to water level. These actions were exactly what the Pleasant Pond Mill needed to repair and operate the decrepit dam. The Pleasant Pond Mill fought back by filing an appeal and sought mediation. However, over a year has gone by an there has been no resolution.

“It is now unclear whether, and how, the Order can be enforced,” said Sheldon.

The Department of Environmental Protection issued a notice of violation in September 2015.

Paul Kelly of Pleasant Pond Mill LLC is listed on the notice of violations. There is a laundry list of violations spelled out by Richard Smith and AquaFortis Associates LLC. The notice of violations lists the following offenses failing to meet the water level of 2014, failing to have DEP approval for water level management, not installing gauge, and not allowing the lake to raise between 2015 and August first gradually during the ice-out.

Arthur Enos who a decade ago sold the dam to Pleasant Pond Mill assigned the mortgage to, Medius L3C in July 2015. Medius L3C is a low profit limited liability company who organized the foreclosure and sale.

On January of 2016 Medius L3C held a public action for the foreclosed property on the steps of the Lincoln County courthouse.

No change of ownership has been noted in the Lincoln County Registry of Deeds. A man who owns lake front property in Clay Lake attended the auction and handed the auctioneer a sealed envelope. It has been 15 months since the even and still no change in ownership has been seen.

During the time the foreclosure was filed the DEP made sure to notify Medius L3C that if ownership of the dam were to change the new owners would be subject to the same conditions. The DEP would still subject the new owners to the water level order and they would need to review and approve an transfer.

The Lincoln County Registry of Deeds does however have a waiver of foreclosure of tax lien against Pleasant Pond Mill on file from September 2015.

Due to unpaid property taxes the Whitefield selectmen have never foreclosed on the dam.

“It’s not a big amount,” a chairman of the board of selectmen named Tony Marple, said. “We hope to be in the queue for whatever comes.”

The lake level needs to be restored and so town officials hope a solution can be found quickly.

During the drought of the previous summer grass has begun to grown on the upstream side of the dam. The Clary Lake level of water has been so low that many people are unable to use their docks and a boat landing built by the state in now unusable.

The Augusta Amory on May 1st at 9 a.m. will host a meeting of the creditors.

Paralyzed Woman in Colorado Awarded $14.9 Million in Malpractice Case

Thursday, April 6th, 2017

An Epidural steroid injection that attorneys say was clearly label not for epidural use was given to their client Robbin Smith.

The injection according to her attorneys paralyzed Robbin Smith permanently from the waist down.

The second largest medical negligence verdict in Colorado history was awarded to Robbin and Ed Smith in an amount of $14.9 million. The couple from Castle Rock  was awarded by a Douglas County jury against their suit with The Surgery Center at Lone Tree.

The ambulatory Surgery Center at Lone Tree is surgical care that does same day procedures.

Bruce Braley and Brian Aleinikoff of the firm Leventhal & Puga PC in Denver, are the Smith’s attorney’s and they state Robbin Smith was 57 years old in 2013, when she was given the injection of the Kenalog Steroid while admitted under the care of The Surgery Center.

Robin Smith became paralyzed from the waist down shortly after receiving the injection. The injection caused a spinal cord infarction which obstructs blood supply to an organ or area of tissue causing the tissue to die.

The manufacturer of Kenalog, Bristol- Myers Squibb, requested and received permission from the FDA to change the label to read as follows: “Not for Epidural Use.” According to Smith’s attorneys the label change was done two years before Robin Smith getting the injection.

Smiths attorneys during the trial showed the jury examples of the warning printed on the labels, bottles and packages.

The attorney’s said the Kenalog warning was thorough and it clearly explains the neurologic warning and the specific reaction that paralyzed Robbin Smith. “Spinal cord infarction, paraplegia, quadriplegia, cortical blindness and stroke (including brainstem), have been reported after epidural administration of corticosteroids.”

Their attorneys said the Smiths had not been made aware of the label changes that were made before Robbin’s injections.

The Surgery Center at Lone Tree attorney unfortunately could not be reached for a comment on Thursday.

Robin Smith will now require full time assistance, so Ed smith retired and will become the fulltime caregiver. Her injuries are permanent and for the rest of her life will need care.

“We hope this is a wake-up call for ambulatory surgery centers and the people who run them,” said Ed Smith. “It’s one thing to say that patient safety is your first priority; it’s another thing to actually make it your top priority. It’s one thing to say that patients have a right to participate in their healthcare decisions; it’s another thing to actually give patients the information they need to be fully informed of what they’re getting into. Both Robbin and I hope this never happens to another family in Colorado or anywhere else.”

In 2015 Leventhal & Puga took the case which last month took place in Douglas County District Court.

“This verdict won’t restore Robbin’s ability to walk,” said  Bruce Braley an attorney from Leventhal & Puga. “But it will give Robbin and Ed the chance to make the most of the life they now have.”

Children’s Hospital Colorado in 2015 was involved in a malpractice with lead attorneys Leventhal & Puga. Their main practice is personal injury and medical malpractice and that case eventually awarded the largest medical malpractice amount of $17.8 million.

Ohio Enforces New Law Aiming to Stop Repeat Drunk Drivers

Wednesday, April 5th, 2017

A new law in Dayton, Ohio was designed to help protect the public from repeat drunk drivers. The new law is called Annie’s Law and it went into effect on Tuesday.

This new law not only geared toward repeat offenders, it also increases penalties for first time offenders.

Four years ago in Ross County Annie Rooney was hit and killed by a repeat drunk driver and so the new law bears her name in her memory.

There is an option of an interlock device which is a breathalyzer system that prevents a vehicle from starting if the driver blood alcohol level is above the legal limit. According to the new law installing a interlock device will reduce a 13 month license suspension by half for first time offenders.

First time operating vehicle impaired offenders will have a an increase of the mandatory minimum driver’s license suspensions. The drivers license suspension would increase the suspension from six months to one year.

Another change will occur during the offenders sentencing. The judge will now look at 10 years worth of driving records instead of the usual 6 years.

In 2012 Sophie Kerrigan died in a car crash, and her mother Janet Carpenter said she is happy to see the new law go into effect and hopes it will help reduce drunk driving incidents.

Carpenter said losing someone due to a drunk driving accident is life altering and everyone is vulnerable to it.

“You will never have that same life again,” said Carpenter. “You will never have the extreme peace — at least that I used to — knowing my kids were safe, going to school. They were productive individuals. You don’t have that anymore.”

Her biggest worry she said was wondering who would be the next victim.

“It’s not, ‘Oh it won’t happen.’ It’s scary. Who are you going to know who’s going to lose another child to that situation, another loved one.”

Last year operating a vehicle impaired related deaths made up about 40 percent of traffic related deaths in the state of Ohio according to Sgt. Chris Colbert of Dayton’s Ohio State Highway Patrol.

“On average, there’s between high 900 to 1,200 people a year killed in fatal crashes,” said Sgt. Chris Colbert. “You take away a third of that, that’s 300 people. That is significant. Every person that is killed is someone’s brother, son, mother, father, cousin. Those people are important to someone.”

Other states have seen a decrease in OVI deaths of about half since similar laws have gone into effect.