Thursday, July 6, 2017

WATER PARK FUN CAN MASK HAZARDS

Water parks can make for refreshing family fun on a hot summer day. After all, who doesn’t love the thrill of speeding down a twisting slide and making that huge splash into the cool water at the end? That’s why approximately 85 million people visited the nation’s 1,300 water parks in 2015. But in addition to being a huge source of summer fun, water parks can be a place of danger. While most visitors head to the parking lot at the end of the day wet and tired but intact, the lack of national safety oversight, the slipshod design and construction (and spotty inspection) of some park attractions, and the Inconsistent enforcement of local and state safety codes inevitably mean that some visitors could get hurt or even killed. In fact, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that more than 4,200 people are taken to emergency rooms each year for scrapes, concussions, broken limbs, spinal injuries and other serious injuries sustained at water parks each year. Some visitors have even died from water park mishaps. So if you or a loved one is injured at a water park, it’s important to speak with an attorney to see what kinds of rights you might have. Depending on the situation, you might be able to hold the park’s operators (or the designer or builder of the ride) accountable. Take the case of Caleb Schwab, a 10-year-old boy who was killed at Schlitterbahn Waterpark in Kansas City last summer while riding the “Verruckt” (the German word for “insane”). On this particular attraction, which the park advertised as the world’s tallest water slide, riders sit in multi-person rafts and experience what the park boasts is a “jaw dropping” 17-story drop — taller than the Statue of Liberty or Niagara Falls — at speeds of up to 70 miles per hour before being blasted back up a second hill and dropped another 50 feet into a pool. While specific details are sketchy, some observers say Caleb was ejected from his seat, possibly due to faulty harness straps, and an anonymous witness said he was decapitated in the accident. The ride had been re-engineered midway through construction when sandbags flew off during early tests, and after it opened riders had complained of shoulder straps breaking, forcing riders to grip handles with their legs to hold on. One of the park’s owners also apparently admitted that he and the designer based their design calculations on roller coasters, which don’t necessarily translate well to water slides. What’s more, state regulators hadn’t inspected the park since 2012, two years before the ride opened. Caleb’s family ultimately sued the park’s Texas-based owner and the manufacturer of the raft. The case settled out of court for a confidential amount, but the family still may seek to hold other parties responsible, including the designer of the ride. Another recent case involves a man who visited Sahara Sam’s Oasis Indoor and Outdoor Water Park in New Jersey in 2010. The visitor, Roy Steinberg, fell off a simulated surfboard on the park’s “FlowRider” attraction. When he fell, he struck his head on the bottom of the pool, causing a spinal cord injury that left him a partial paraplegic. When he sought to hold the park responsible, a trial court threw out his case because before entering the park Steinberg had apparently signed a liability waiver absolving the park of responsibility for any harm he might suffer as a result of its negligence. But the New Jersey Supreme Court overturned the decision. According to the court, the park had committed “gross negligence” by failing to post updated safety instruction signs provided by the manufacturer that if followed might have prevented the injury. Further, patrons who sign a liability waiver are only waiving claims for “ordinary” negligence, not “gross” negligence, the court said. This provides an important lesson that even if you sign a waiver when you visit a water park, it’s still worth talking to a lawyer. Water parks without exotic, over-the-top attractions like Verruckt and FlowRider pose risks too. For example, while the water in most pools at water parks is shallower than three feet, there is still a risk of harm, particularly for weak swimmers or children. The risk is heightened in wave pools, where someone can be knocked over and suffer a concussion or even drown. None of this is to suggest that you shouldn’t be taking your family to a water park on a hot summer day. But you should know the risks and be ready to assess for yourself whether a particular feature seems safe for you or your kids. You might also want to look into who inspects the park and how frequently. If you do suffer an injury at a water park and you suspect it’s related to park operation and design, absolutely talk to an attorney to find out how you can best proceed. If you wish to speak to an Attorney and want free legal advise regarding your personal injury, please call Charfoos & Christensen PC (313) 875-8080

Federal law may protect urgent-care center patients

The Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act, or EMTALA, is a federal law that was put in place to make sure hospitals don’t “dump” emergency patients who may be indigent or uninsured by refusing to examine or treat them or by sending them to other hospitals. Instead, EMTALA requires that hospitals thoroughly screen all patients who report to emergency rooms and, if they are found to have a serious medical condition, to properly stabilize them before transferring or releasing them. Hospitals that fail to comply can be hit with significant fines. Additionally, the patient may be able to bring the hospital to court, obtain damages and have his or her attorney’s fees paid. Plus, depending on the state, patients may have more time to bring a claim under EMTALA than they would have to bring a standard malpractice claim in state court. Now a recent ruling by a federal judge in Rhode Is¬land suggests that EMTALA covers not only emergency-room visits, but also off-campus urgent-care clinics that are affiliated with hospitals. In that case, a 49-year-old woman reported to the urgent/walk-in care clinic at a local hospital complain¬ing of severe chest pain and pain in her right arm. Shortly beforehand, she’d texted co-workers that she was going to the “ER” to get checked out for possible heart-attack symptoms. The doctor diagnosed her with reflux and she was sent home with a “gastrointestinal cocktail.” She died the next day of cardiovascular disease. Her estate sued the hospital that operated the clinic for both malpractice and for violation of EMTALA. The hospital tried to get the case thrown out, arguing that EMTALA didn’t apply because the clinic wasn’t an “emergency care facility.” But the judge disagreed, finding that because it held itself out as treating emergency medical conditions on an urgent basis without a scheduled appointment, it fit the definition. In fact, the court said, this particular patient, based on her texts to co-workers, thought she was going to an ER when she visited the clinic. Thus her estate’s claim could proceed. If you wish to speak to an attorney and need free legal advice, Please call Charfoos & Christensen PC 313-875-8080

leading lawyer

David W. Christensen published in 2017 Leading Lawyers Magazine, Michigan Edition. Top 10 in Michigan in ALL areas of law, Top 10 Consumer, Top 10 Plaintiff Personal Injury. David W. Christensen has been practicing in Michigan for 44 years. Congratulations to All the lawyers published.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

What happens when the hospital fails to manage your labor & delivery?

$1,500,000.00 Settled at ADR mediation Baby decedent died at six days of age secondary to hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy. His labor and delivery was managed at defendant hospital by a midwife, an obstetrician/gynecologist and nursing staff. Objective evidence on fetal monitoring strips revealed a baby that was not tolerating labor during his last hours in utero. Adding insult to injury, pitocin was administered during this intolerance period, augmenting contractions. The pitocin was turned off shortly thereafter, but not without inflicting additional damage. Baby decedent was born blue, floppy and without respirations. Resuscitation and intubation was accomplished and the baby was transferred to another hospital for neonatal interim care and attention. Baby decedent succumbed to the severity of his brain injury at six days post-birth. The prenatal course was uneventful. The mother presented to defendant hospital. A fetal monitor was placed. The fetal monitor is the best tool available to monitor fetal well-being. Initially, the fetal monitor strips were categorized as a Category I, which means normal heart rate, accelerations and variability. Category II means there are some abnormalities, decreased variability or evidence of decelerations or dips in the heart rate below baseline. Category II tracings need to be monitored closely for the very reason of what happened in this case. The idea is to intervene before the strips progress to a Category III level, which requires immediate emergent intervention. The fetal heart rate monitor revealed variable decelerations which were appropriately designated early in the labor, and the baby responded to resuscitative measures appropriately taken by the nursing staff. What began to occur is the decelerations became more frequent and baby decedent lost his ability to compensate. He did not respond to resuscitative measures in utero. Adding insult to injury during this time of intolerance, pitocin, a contraction augmentation drug, was administered. Recognizing the instant intolerance of the fetus, the pitocin was turned off 4 minutes later and a cesarean section was called. Baby decedent was born by cesarean section approximately 21 minutes later, meconium-stained with tight nuchal cord times 1. He was limp and blue with no respiratory effort. He was administered chest compressions for 20 minutes, epinephrine given, intubated, and cord gases were performed. His APGARs were 2 at 1 minute, 1 at 5 minutes, 10 minutes and 15 minutes respectively. At delivery, meconium was noted. Meconium is, in essence, the baby’s first bowel movement. The amniotic fluid at time of the rupture of membranes earlier in the labor was clear. Meconium presence is generally secondary to stressors on the baby. The cord was also noted around the neck. This is a common finding, the significance being that a cord, whether wrapped around the neck or a body part, can easily be compressed while in utero. Variable decelerations noted were related to cord compression. Pediatricians were present at the time of delivery and initiated resuscitation. Baby decedent was successfully intubated at approximately 20 minutes of life and was transferred to another hospital for neonate intensive care attention. At the second hospital, Phenobarbital was given as a seizure preventative as well as cool-capping, which is hypothermic treatment. MRIs of the brain confirmed the diagnosis of HIE. Ultimately, baby decedent expired secondary to severe hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy. Pathology was performed, which was consistent with said diagnosis. Plaintiff brought the action of medical malpractice in the failure to properly manage the labor and delivery, resulting in the death of baby decedent. Plaintiff relied on the expertise of numerous specialists, including obstetrics/gynecology, midwifery, maternal-fetal medicine, nursing, pediatric neurology, neuroradiology and placental pathology. The hospital’s defense was that fetal monitoring strips were appropriately interpreted and labor was appropriately managed. After the death of baby decedent, the relationship of the parents unraveled. As a result of this death, their lives were changed forever. They were parents for a moment. Submitted by: Co-Counsel: CHARFOOS & CHRISTENSEN, P.C. DAVID W. CHRISTENSEN P11863 MARY PAT ROSEN P34992 26622 Woodward Avenue, Suite 100 Royal Oak, MI 48067 (248) 399-0350 or (313) 875-8080 Fax: (248) 399-0351 dwchristensen@c2law.com mprosen@c2law.com CONYBEARE LAW OFFICE, P.C. MICHAEL D. MARRS P25117 519 Main Street Saint Joseph, MI 49085 (269) 983-0561 Fax: (269) 983-5327 mike@conybearelaw.com

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Wife & Mother Meets Girlfriend for a Drink and is Shot! Bar Staff Could Have Prevented Her Death if They Called The Police Instead of Breaking the Shooters Jaw Before He Had The Gun!

Estate of Plaintiff’s Decedent vs. Defendant Bar Owner, Defendant Bar Operator/LLC, Defendant Security Companies, Defendant Bouncers and Defendant Bar Customer State of Michigan, County Circuit Court Regarding settlement $250,000.00 with Bar Owner and Settlement $3,500.00 with Defendant Security Companies Case Evaluation: $129,500.00 Settled following facilitation Facts: This is a case of a bar out of control with foreseeable tragic results. The defendant bar operator/LLC, operating under a lease and agreement with defendant bar owner who held the liquor license, should not have been operating on the night that Plaintiff’s decedent was fatally shot. It remained in operation even after the city police, who believed the bar was a menace to the safety of citizens and patrons, notified defendant bar owner that operations should be terminated immediately. The defendant owner insisted on abiding by a 10-day notice provision in the operating agreement with the defendant bar operators/LLC, which was the only reason the bar was allowed to remain in operation. Four days after police said the operating agreement should end immediately, altercations and threats involving defendant bouncers/security and customers led to gunfire which killed Plaintiff’s decedent. Plaintiff’s decedent died from a bullet wound to her head. She was married and the mother of a minor son, enjoying an evening with female friends at the defendant bar. It was Plaintiff’s decedent’s first visit to the bar and she was unaware of the bar’s notorious history among city police detectives. Police had documented numerous violent incidents including shootings, assaults and drug dealing at the venue. The defendant bar was owned and operated by the defendant owner and bouncers were provided by other defendant security companies. Defendant owner owned the building and liquor license which it licensed to defendant bar operator/LLC under an unusual arrangement that was not approved by the Michigan Liquor Control Commission (“MLCC”). Earlier, the defendant bar owner was informed by the city police department of ongoing problems at defendant bar, and several meetings were held in an attempt to remedy the problems. During the next three months, the problems involving assaults, thefts, overcrowding, and use of controlled substances, among other problems at the bar increased in frequency and severity. The Michigan Liquor Control Commission suspended defendant owner’s liquor license for failure to provide proof of financial responsibility and police reported the bar for various violations. Suspension notice was received by the city police. Days before the tragic death, the city police held a meeting with defendant bar owner. Following that meeting, defendant owner sent an e-mail to city police advising them that defendant bar operator/LLC would be notified that defendant bar owner was revoking defendant bar operator/LLC’s use of defendant bar owner’s liquor license. However, two days later defendant bar owner notified city police that he had been informed by an attorney that an agreement between defendant bar owner and defendant bar operator/LLC provided for a 10-day notice period before termination, and therefore, defendant bar would be operating with the liquor license for 10 more days. City police responded to defendant bar owner informing him that the 10-day notice period applied to the lease and the liquor license could be revoked immediately. According to the agreement, defendant bar owner as licensee was responsible for the conduct of the operation of the licensed business and the actions of the manager in the conduct of the licensed business, in the same manner as he would be with respect to his own employees. This agreement was never approved by the MLCC and should have been deemed nonbinding. Despite this knowledge, defendant bar owner did not revoke the rights of defendant bar operator/LLC to operate under its liquor license but instead allowed it to continue to use the license. Two days later, Plaintiff’s decedent was seated with her friends inside the defendant bar. On the other side of the bar, its bouncers staffed by defendant security companies, some of whom were armed, had an altercation with three male customers. One of the male customers, also a defendant, threatened to get a gun and “shoot the m*** f*** club up” after being punched by a defendant bouncer. None of the defendants called police at this time. Defendant bouncers removed the customers to the bar’s parking lot where defendant bouncers beat the defendant customer a second time, causing him to spit up blood, and another removed customer suffered a broken jaw at the hands of defendant bouncers. The defendant customer returned to his car, bloodied and humiliated. Still, none of the defendants called police at this time. Defendant bouncers retreated inside the bar’s locked glass doors. The defendant customer sat in the front seat of his car. He wiped the blood from his face, changed his bloodied shirt and got his gun. His friend, seated in the passenger seat, saw the gun and tried to counsel defendant customer against using the gun. About five minutes later, defendant customer and his friend returned to the bar’s entrance, calling for the bouncers to come out. The defendant bouncers brandished their guns from inside the glass doors. But the police were still not called. About 25 seconds later, defendant customer fired several shots at the building. One bullet went through a glass window, striking Plaintiff’s decedent. The first call to city police was logged 24 minutes after the altercations between bouncers and defendant customer. Police and emergency medical technicians attempted to treat Plaintiff’s decedent at the scene. She was pronounced dead upon arrival at the hospital. Plaintiff’s decedent died as a result of breaches of duty by all the defendant participants, who had a duty to maintain a safe premises. Plaintiff’s decedent was 33 years of age, a wife, a mother and was gainfully employed. Settlement was achieved with the defendant bar owner, with minimal contribution from the defendant security companies. Defendant bar operator/LLC claimed they were operating under the operating agreement. Defendant bar owner and security companies claimed if city police had been called the death would not have been prevented.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Apprentice Tradesman Burned to Death at Industrial Company

Personal Representative of the Estate of a 21-year old Deceased vs Defendant Industrial Corporation and Defendant Trades. Settlement: $4.25 Million Dollars, February 2012. Plaintiff’s Decedent was an apprentice tradesman working at Defendant Industrial Company, as were Defendant Trades. All parties were present at Defendant Industrial Company for the purposes of unblocking a gas washer. Defendant Industrial Company developed a plan and sequence utilizing all of Defendant Trades and Plaintiff’s Decedent’s Trade to unblock the gas washer. At the date and times these events were to take place, Defendant Industrial Corporation eliminated the safest access to address the blockage. Defendant Industrial Corporation altered the plan so that Defendant Trades would attempt to unblock the gas washer by attempting to vacuum or water jet out the clean out lines and/or replace a 40-inch clean out pipe at the bottom of the clogged gas washer. If these attempts were unsuccessful, Plaintiff’s Decedent’s Trade would remove a flange attached to the bottom of the gas washer. Defendant Trades were unsuccessful in their attempts at unclogging the gas washer. All Defendants were aware that any material in the gas washer was known to be super heated. After Defendant Trades were unable to unclog the gas washer, Defendant Industrial Corporation advised Plaintiff’s Decedent to proceed in removing the flange. The flange was located at the bottom of the gas washer in an area that subsequently was defined as a confined closed space, meaning there was limited ingress and egress. Plaintiff’s Decedent was standing in front of the flange removing every other bolt as instructed by Defendant Industrial Corporation in preparation for its removal. After completing the task of removing every other bolt, Plaintiff’s Decedent was instructed to begin removing the rest of the bolts. With one bolt left, the flange opened, engulfing Plaintiff’s Decedent in hot steam water and mud. Plaintiff’s Decedent was burned over 95 per cent of his body. Plaintiff’s Decedent expired the following morning.

Hospital & OB-GYN fail to order a c-section; Cerebral Palsy

Case Name: Baby Girl v Hospital and OB/GYN. Settlement: $3.25 Million with the assistance of facilitation. This is a claim of medical negligence in the management of the birth and delivery of Baby Girl at Defendant-Hospital. At 40 weeks gestation, mom presented to the hospital with spontaneous rupture of membranes. Amniotic fluid was ample and clear. Pre-natal management was unremarkable. A physician examined the patient. Fetal heart tones on fetal monitor were noted as good and reassuring. At approximately eight hours later, a pattern began to emerge on the fetal monitoring strip of one of minimal to absent variability and prolonged and late decelerations. There was an under appreciation by the Defendants, including the OB/GYN and the Hospital nursing staff that changes were occurring. The ominous pattern continued to progress, yet, no action was taken towards delivery or discussions regarding Cesarean section. Approximately another hour and a half later, the infant was born without spontaneous respiration. Resuscitative personnel had to be called into the delivery room, at which time the baby was intubated for a short period of time. The baby remained floppy, pale and limp with a cord blood gas of 6.82. Blood cultures were drawn, which later revealed negative findings. Blood work at the time revealed normal white blood count. Also at the time, the baby had a normal temperature. The baby was transferred to another hospital for intensive care management, at which time during that hospital stay, the baby developed rhythmic movements potentially a seizure. A CT scan at approximately 38 hours of age revealed cerebral edema, consistent with hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy. Claims against the Defendants were: in failing to recognize and appreciate the signs and symptoms of a non-reassuring fetal heart tone and to order timely Cesarean section. That the labor and delivery nursing staff failed to appreciate the signs and symptoms of fetal distress and to call this to the attention of the Defendant-OB/GYN in a timely manner. Given testimony provided by the Defendant-OB/GYN at the time of deposition, the Defendant, too, did and would have failed to appreciate the signs and symptoms of fetal distress and, therefore, the nursing staff would have had the responsibility to go up the chain of command to see that the interests of the infant were being met within the standard of care. Plaintiffs relied on the expertise of physicians in various specialties: obstetrics and gynecology, neonatology, neuro radiology, pediatric neurology, placental pathologist, life-care planning and an economist. The Defendants set forth a defense that the fetal monitoring strips did not reveal ominous signs and symptoms of fetal distress (although testimony was inconsistent between their own experts). The main defense was one of placental and fetal infection, in which they engaged two placental pathologists, one that had been disqualified as an expert on causation in the State of Michigan, in another case. The Defendants’ pediatric neurologist and neonatologist relied on the opinions of their placental pathologist, opining that the most likely cause of the child’s brain damage was infection and in doing so, they merely played a game of statistics, totally disregarding the evidence of fetal distress and hypoxic injury. The Defendants did not have a neuro radiologist to refute Plaintiffs’ neuro radiologist’s opinions. This baby has been diagnosed with cerebral palsy, is spastic, is quadriplegic, precocious puberty, blind, is fed by a feeding tube, is in need of 24-hour care and is being taken care with unconditional love by her mom, dad and younger sister. The settlement was reached through the assistance of a facilitator with a non-disclosure agreement.