Archive for May, 2017

Felony DUI Offender Arrested After Crashing Bicycle

Tuesday, May 23rd, 2017

A man under the influence who was already previously convicted of a felony DUI was taken into custody for violating probation due to a crash involving his bicycle reportedly crashing into a vehicle.

After receiving a ticket for disobeying traffic lights Edwin Knight, 50 was arrested on a probation hold on Sunday.

Early on Monday Knight’s bail was set to $50k after he appeared at the Gallatin County Justice Court.

Knight’s probation report states he ran a stop sign while on his bike and according to the report the police alleged he hit and dented a vehicle. Two hours after the crash he was administered a breathalyzer test and his blood alcohol level reportedly was 0.322.

Knight was involved in a crash in October of 2014 where he was charged with a DUI. In 2015 Knight was convicted of a felony DUI.

In that case according to the report the Montana Highway Patrol were responding to an accident on the intersection of Kent Spur road where a car had been swerving and had eventually hit a power pole.

During this time, Knight already had three prior DUI convictions.

Knight pleaded guilty, he was committed to a 13 month alcohol treatment program at the Department of Corrections and five years of probation.

Knight’s probation officer reported Knights breath alcohol level was 0.273, that he did not attend the 13 month program, and went to a casino bar in Livingston. So in December the Gallatin County Attorney’s office petition to revoke his sentence.

“(Knight’s) history shows that he is unable to maintain an alcohol-free lifestyle. (Knight) has shown he is not suitable for community supervision,” wrote the probation officer.

Knight’s sentence has sense been revoked and a new sentence of a four year suspended sentence was administered.

Tinley Park Family Awarded $23.1 Million in Negligence Case

Friday, May 12th, 2017

A judge from Cook County awarded $23.1 million to a Tinley Park family of a 5 year old girl who continually endures health problems as a result of complications during delivery.

Dr. Thomas Myers, the neonatologist who over saw the birth of Drew Kerrins, was found to be negligent by Judge Kay Hanlon in a ruling on Monday said the family’s attorney Jim Ball. Myers worked for Renaissance Medical group and provided neonatology services at the Palos Community Hospital. He said the Palos Community hospital was not found to be negligent, they were however liable for $21 million in damages.

After suffering from a large amount of blood loss which was not fully transfused three hours after her birth and suffering brain damage she also has health problems including cerebral palsy and epilepsy as stated by Ball.

According to ball the medical malpractice case filed on May of 2014 was a record breaking amount for a birth injury lawsuit decided by a judge instead of the jury.

Drew has to have occupational, physical and speech therapy and is “reliant on someone for every single bodily function in her daily life,” said Ball. Becky, Drew’s mother holds a master degree in clinical counseling and worked for Mercy Home for Boys & Girls in Chicago as a program manager. She had to eventually quit her job, so she could care full time for her daughter.

At the age of 38, she was considered a high risk pregnancy, and she chose Palos due to its advertised neonatologist on site said her lawyer.

A caesarean section was performed to deliver the baby. The baby’s mother and the nurse both saw a pool of blood on the bed during the delivery and the court documents states the baby’s heart rate was nonexistent.

In case filed documents it states the staff at the hospital tried to reach Myers on his cellphone a various times. The hospital staff was able to get a hold of one of Myers associates and they came to Palos to oversea the care of the baby. In the end Myers was reached at his home and in 20 minutes made it to the hospital.

Ball said one of Myers’ associates ordered blood to be delivered for the baby but had to order more because it wasn’t enough and their was a delay in arrival.

In court documents it states the baby was in a “guarded” position while moved from Palos to the Advocate Children’s Hospital. The baby was in the neonatal intensive unit for 9 months.

Myers left his cellphone and pager at the hospital after he was done changing and on his way home from the neonatal intensive care unit “for the first and only time in 41 years” said Michael Huber, the attorney representing Myers.

“Dr. Myers made no excuses for his one-time human failing,” according to the attorney.

Huber said Drew experienced a fetal vessel rupture which cause her to lose 60 percent of her blood supply. Also, before she was delivered for 21 there was no heartbeat and had no signs of life once she was delivered.

“That combination caused massive brain damage before delivery,” said the attorney.

The lawyer noted that his client is a neonatologist and “only care for babies after they are delivered,” he added there was “no causal connection” with the girl’s brain damage and his client.

Before the case went to trial Huber had made a settlement offer of $2 million, which was identical to the verdict against Myers.

Patients Can Sue for Not Having an Opportunity of Recovery in Oregon

Thursday, May 11th, 2017

Patients in Oregon can now bring medical malpractice cases not only due to injury but also when the patient is denied treatment which could lead to a better recovery. This ruling came early this week from the Oregon Supreme Court.

Physician groups advise the ruling will result in more lawsuits, higher costs of medical liability insurance, and an increase in the practice of defensive medicine. Although, there was physician concern the trial lawyers said the new ruling would only apply to a small group of cases. The new ruling would provide extra protection to patients.

Stephen Hendricks, a lawyer Portland who represented the plaintiff in the case said, “This gives Oregon consumers of health care more rights.”

The ruling was a result of a malpractice case involving Joseph Smith. Joseph Smith went to the Hood River emergency room with stroke like symptoms in 2011. The Doctors did not order and MRI or prescribe clot- busting drugs and instead discharged him. An MRI confirming a stroke didn’t happen until a week later and due the negligence Smith experienced significant brain damage.

The lawyer representing Smith argued that the failure to take proper care of his client cost him the chance for treatment. Treatment which usually helps 1 in 3 stroke victims recover with minimal side affects. However, the case was dismissed by the Multomah County Circuit Court because “loss of chance” is not considered medical malpractice in Oregon. When Smiths lawyers appealed and courts decision remained they took the case to the Supreme Court.

41 states have already administered on loss of chance according to 2014 reporting. These 41 states allowed the ruling as a base for the negligence the rest had to show more that their injuries  weren’t mostly due to negligence.

Travis Eiva an attorney in Portland wrote an article for the Oregon Trial layers association for the case, “That’s not how people think,” said Travis Eiva, “If we have a 33 percent chance of beating cancer, that’s a valuable thing. In fact, we’ll pay $100,000 for that treatment tomorrow. So it’s something of great value.”

According to the court decision patients are now allowed to seek damages if their doctor doesn’t follow the standard protocol of care and the opportunity is taken away.

“I think most people would agree that if they walked into a hospital and didn’t receive their 1 in 3 chance of saving their life, they would want some accountability for that,” said Eiva.

On Friday afternoon Smith, 49 at the time, was experiencing problems with his vision, speech, and a headache. He was admitted to the emergency room at the Providence Hood River Memorial Hospital.

While at the Hood River Emergency Rom he was seen by Dr. Linda Desitter. The court ruling said Desitter failed to complete a physical exam and the neurological examination was not thorough enough. There was no bleeding on the CT scan but doctors should have used a clot minimizing drug called tPA if they had diagnosed it correctly as a stroke. There was a recommendation for an MRI from the radiologist if Smith’s symptoms persisted.

Instead Desitter dismissed Smith’s symptoms as a result of a sleep aid he had taken, she advised Smith to get his eye sight checked and he was discharged.

Smiths pain returned the following night and he found himself in the emergency room again under the care of Dr. Desitter. Smith complained his symptoms were worse and Dr. Desitter prescribed Vicodin as a remedy for his diagnosed headache.

Smith saw his family physician Dr. Michael Harris at the Hood River Medical Group on Monday and an MRI was finally done but was not made into a priority. Both Doctors Desitter and Harris were sued by Smith for their medical negligence. He argued that because the doctors didn’t take the proper steps concerning his symptoms he was not offered the correct treatment and a chance at a full or partially full recovery.

“This is a significant ruling because it creates a brand-new legal theory of medical liability in Oregon,” said general counsel for the OMA, Mark Bonanno, “Logic dictates that, with an expanded definition of what physicians can be held liable for, we expect to see more litigation. We do not think more litigation is better for patients and our health care system.”

However, Hendricks said he does not expect the ruling to allow trial lawyers to bring that many more cases. The decision is only for a small part where medicine by its own account says, “we don’t know that we can save all people but we can save some so it’s incumbent on us to try to get the best outcome for the most people,” he said. “Since that’s a small subset of medicine, it’s going to be a small subset of any medical malpractice cases.”

A statement provided by Providence Health was released saying they were reviewing the case and preparing for the return of the lawsuit to circuit court. The ruling from the supreme court applies to the issue of whether such cases should go to trial.

At the time of the stroke Smith was a weightlifter and a restaurant manager, he is suing for his lost wages and other damages.

“He’s barely able to hold down a job as a custodian at a church,” said Hendricks. “A regular custodian job was too much for him. He’d mop the floor and go away, and come back to mop the same floor again.”

Bumble Bee Tuna Caught in a Guilty Net

Monday, May 8th, 2017

“[We] will continue to hold these companies and their executives accountable for conduct that targeted a staple in American households,” said Andrew Finch, acting assistant attorney general of the Justice Department’s antitrust division, in a statement.

After meetings with other packaged seafood representatives between the years of 2011- 2013 they agreed to “fix, raise, and maintain prices of packaged seafood” said the Justice department prosecutors according  to the felony charge filed by the U.S. District Court. Bumble Bee has cooperated with the department of Justice and it takes the matter “very seriously” throughout the investigation.

“We accept full responsibility for needing to earn back any lost trust in our Company and will do so by acting with integrity and transparency in every way we operate our business,” according to a statement made by Jill Irvin, Bumble Bee General Counsel.

Jill Irvin also mentioned that last fall the company hired a chief compliance office and has also reviewed and edited their internal companies policies.

The federal officials do not know how much the company overcharged their customers at this time.  In December Bumble Bee Senior Vice President of sales and Senior Vice president of marketing both agreed to plead guilty for their roles in the conspiracy. They remain on paid leave at this time. The seafood industry has suffered from ongoing limited competition.

The Justice Department expressed concern during a sale to Thai Union group, which owns Chicken of the Sea. However, the plans to purchase the company were stopped.

Women Seek Lead Roles in Mass Torts

Tuesday, May 2nd, 2017

Lori Andrus a San Francisco plaintiffs lawyer for the last 20 years has held many leadership roles in mass tort cases such as Farmers Group, Bayer and Johnson & Johnson over pay discrimination, defective birth control and other pills.

She hopes more women will follow.

With evidence of an ongoing gender imbalance in mass torts, Andrus and others are hoping to inspire more women to come forward and be appointed in leadership roles by judges.

“There has been incremental progress over the last four decades, but change is not happening fast enough,” Andrus said, who is co-founder of San Francisco plaintiffs firm Andrus Anderson. “We have to think differently.”

According to a new study only an average of 16.6 percent of women are attorneys appointed to a class council or as a part of the plaintiffs steering committee in litigations filed from 2011 to the middle of 2016, “Vying for the Lead in the Boys’ Club,” done by Temple University Law School’s Women in Legal Leadership Project, Dana Alvar. In 2015 according to the study their was an increase to 27.7 percent.

Competition for appointments is high, over one hundred plaintiffs are affected by lawyers who handle litigations. A multi-plaintiff litigation in a leadership role has a huge pay off in the form of prestige and a significant financial outcome.

Andrus was co- class counsel last September and won a discrimination settlement for 300 female lawyers of $4 million against Farmers Group. Although, the Farmers group denied the alligations they still agreed to reform their pay practices. Andrus was appointed to the plaintiffs steering committee in February by a California superior court judge. This case involved a mini- MDL claiming Essure caused serious injuries when women used the device as a birth control.

In the Essure case the majority of leaders we women which included Fidelma Fitzpatrick of Motley Rice as lead counsel.

In Aspen last fall, Andrus encouraged her fellow colleagues to raise female plaintiffs awareness to federal and state court judges at the Women En Mass annual meeting. “They’re the ones who make the appointments,” she said.

Women En Mass is in its fifth year and it currently has a list of 400 women lawyers who share advice. “It’s a myth that women are not out there,” said Andrus. In April Andrus with the help of Adam Moskowitz of Miami plaintiffs firm Kozyak Tropin & Throckmorton organized a conference to help increase the number of women and minorities leading class actions and MDLs. Veteran plaintiffs, defense lawyers and 14 federal judges attended the conference held by Duke Law School’s Center for Judicial Studies.

The conference helped start an initiative to create the best mass tort practices including judges who are responsible for appointing lead plaintiff lawyers. Judges have the freedom of deciding and placing lawyers in lead roles in mass torts. They base their decision on ability, experience, and their financial resources. Many of the judges have not been involved in multi- plaintiff case and as a result choose lawyers with prior experience and are usually a group of white men.

SPlaintiff lawyers usually fund litigations which leads to their leading of the litigations. It helps that this small group has deep pockets.

According to Andrus, the organization comes from the plaintiff lawyers, they assemble the leaders followed by the judge sign off. “How that happens can be a bit of a mystery if you are not part of the in-group,” she said.

However, change is in the air. More judges, as in the Essure case are widening the appointment making net.

Andrus also said, “We want the judges to know we’re here, we’re ready and we’re able.” 

Sacramento Runner Killed Collision by suspected Drunk Driver

Monday, May 1st, 2017

According to California Highway Patrol the man involved in the collision which killed Theresa McCourt, a well known Sacramento runner, was arrested and suspected of drunk driving.

The accident happened last week in south Sacramento, McCourt, 58, was hospitalized as a result of being hit with the vehicle. She was in the hospital over the weekend before she unfortunately passed away Sunday night.

McCourt struggled with a memory disability and according to the Sacramento Police she went missing from her home in the 4200 block of U street in the morning on Thursday. Officers started to search her neighborhood and surrounding areas that evening.

The California Highway Patrol informed the Sacramento police at about midnight that they had found her body and it had been hit by a car.

A Sacramento man by the name of Andre Pointer, 41, hit McCourt with his vehicle around 10:45 p.m. on Thursday. McCourt had been walking on the westbound roadway on 47th Avenue in an eastbound lane.

According to CHP, McCourt was rushed to the hospital after Pointer saw her in the path and tried to slam on his breaks but was unable to stop.

On Friday she was reported to be in critical condition. Unfortunately, she was taken of life support and died on Sunday night.

CHP said Pointer remained at the crash scene. Officers interviewed him and discovered he had been driving under the influence. He was then arrested and taken to the Sacramento County Jail to be booked.

The CHP Representative Officer Michael Bradley said the alcohol and other factors will be taken into account and will be a deciding factor on whether or not Pointer will face manslaughter.

Clocking in a 2 hour and 50 minute marathon, McCourt was known for her speed during her early running career.

In 1994 McCourt won the inaugural Run to Feed the Hungry 10K in 38:17, it went through East Sacramento.

When McCourt was a young mother she helped start a group “Moms on M Street,” for stroller pushing parents.

They would walk down East Sacramento as a means of fitness and friendship said The M street group.