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Monday, August 31, 2009

Signs and Symptoms of Senior Abuse

It seems that we read and hear with increasing frequency accounts of children who are neglected, abused and sometimes even killed by parents or others who are responsible for their care and safety. It is unfortunate that stories about the abuse and neglect of our nation's elderly do not receive similar coverage. Many elderly adults and senior citizens are just as vulnerable as children and just as dependent upon others for their care, assistance, and safety.

The abuse and neglect of the elderly takes on many forms ranging from actual physical, sexual and emotional abuse to neglect of basic needs such as nourishment to financial exploitation by unscrupulous individuals trying to steal from or take advantage of a vulnerable person. Sadly, in many cases the offenders are people that the senior citizen knows such as a family member, financial advisor or care givers including those in our nation's nursing homes and assisted living facilities.

Currently, there are thousands of elderly and other individuals that reside in nursing homes and assisted living facilities in every state in the country. While many of these folks receive good care and treatment, many of them do not. If you or your loved one resides in a nursing home or is in any environment where they are dependent upon others to help meet their needs and take care of them it is especially important to make certain that they are receiving the best care and assistance possible.

Signs of Elder Abuse

If you notice any of the following signs of abuse or neglect, immediate action should be taken to protect your or your loved one's health and safety:

  • Unexplained injuries including bruises, cuts, scrapes or other injuries
  • Broken bones
  • Pressure Ulcers, decubitus ulcers and bed sores
  • Unexplained changes in behavior or demeanor including isolative behavior
  • Unexplained fear of a particular person or situation
  • Weight loss
  • Excessive hunger
  • Excessive thirst
  • Disorientation
  • Missing possessions including money or clothing

What to Do if you Expect Elder Abuse

Should your loved one exhibit any of these signs or symptoms of neglect or abuse, or, if for any reason, you suspect neglect or abuse, the following steps may be taken:

  • Report the neglect and abuse to the facility administrator
  • Report the neglect and abuse to the local authorities
  • Complain to the state Department of Health (most states have hotlines where such abuse and neglect may be reported)
  • Complain to the state ombudsman (most states have ombudsman programs where complaints of elderly abuse and neglect may be made)

If your elderly loved one has suffered at the hands of another, please contact the nursing home abuse and neglect attorneys at The Cochran Firm today to schedule a confidential consultation.


posted by Benjamin A. Irwin at 12:15 PM

Friday, August 28, 2009

Toyota Recalls Cars for Defective Brakes

This week, Toyota announced that they are recalling 95,700 cars across the United States due to defective braking systems. The defective vehicles are prone to accumulating ice on the brakes, causing safety hazards when trying to slow down.

The following vehicles are being recalled:

  • 2009 and 2010 Toyota Corolla
  • 2009 and 2010 Toyota Corolla Matrix
  • 2008 and 2009 Scion xD

All vehicles in the recall have 1.8 liter engines. When driven in very low temperatures, these vehicles may build up ice on the brakes system port, which will reduce braking power and create a longer stopping distance.

Toyota is only recalling vehicles in the following 19 cold weather states:

  • Alaska
  • Colorado
  • Idaho
  • Illinois
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Maine
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • Montana
  • Nebraska
  • Nevada
  • New Hampshire
  • New York
  • North Dakota
  • South Dakota
  • Vermont
  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming

If you live in a state not mentioned on this list but feel that your car is at risk of icing over, you should contact your local Toyota dealer to find out if you can participate in the recall as well.

The experienced defective product lawyers at The Cochran Firm can help you receive compensation for injuries caused by using defective products. Please contact us today to schedule your free initial consultation. We serve clients nationwide.


posted by Benjamin A. Irwin at 10:28 AM

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Supreme Court Petitioned Re Military Personnel

In March 2006, an active duty radar operator, Nathan Hafterson, was admitted to Naval Hospital in Jacksonville, Florida, for respiration difficulties. During treatment he was given a gas anesthesia through a mask and had an allergic reaction to it.

He died of malignant hyperthermia, a metabolic condition where the body cannot remove carbon dioxide from the blood quickly enough, nor absorb enough oxygen, and cannot regulate body temperature. The blood circulation fails, causing death. This is usually a genetic disorder and like most reactions to anesthesia, comes as a surprise to the medical personnel, who must rush to treat it promptly.

Ability to Sue the Government
Now two attorneys have teamed up to use this case in a petition to the U.S. Supreme Court. They are asking that active duty military personnel be allowed to sue the government. Back in 1950, a law was passed that restricts such claims to military dependents and retirees rather than active duty military people.

The Supreme Court receives thousands of petitions every year and can review only a few of them. They may or may not accept this one for review. If they do, it would open up a new group of potential plaintiffs for the law profession.

"It would be a landmark case. It would put military members on the same footing as civilians under the Federal Tort Claims Act," stated Bryan Gowdy, one of the two lawyers filing this petition. They expect a wait of about six months for a Supreme Court response.

If the current law were to be amended, Hafterson's parents, who are not military retirees and were not their son's dependents, would be able to file a medical malpractice claim in civil court for the loss of their son. Their claim was previously dismissed by a district court and the dismissal was confirmed by an appeals court.

If you have been harmed by a medical error and would like to know more about your legal rights and options, please contact our personal injury lawyers today for a free case evaluation.


posted by Benjamin A. Irwin at 12:30 PM

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

5.5 Million Window Covers Recalled

Federal authorities at the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission and nationwide businesses have announced a massive recall of window shades and blinds blamed for the deaths of three children and the near deaths of seven more. Five and a half million of the Roman shades, cellular shades, roll-up blinds and traditional blinds have cords that children may strangle on.

The deaths include a one-year-old boy who strangled when the cord of a roll-up blind fell into his crib, another one-year-old whose head was caught between the inner part of the cord and the cloth on the backside of a Roman shade, and a four-year-old girl who was strangled in the vertical loop of a vertical-blind cord. The three deaths occurred in 2006 and 2007.

Six of the near strangulations involved Roman shades from Pottery Barn Kids, and one involved IKEA Roman blinds. The mother in the latter case found her two-year-old actually hanging from the looped bead chain of the blinds.

The U.S. CPSC urges replacement of the following recalled types of blinds:

  • Lewis Hyman Inc. Oval Roll-up Blinds and Woolrich Roman Shades sold at Target stores nationwide and at from March 2006 to December 2008
  • Lutron Shading Solutions Roller Shades sold through specialty dealers and at Expo Design Centers nationwide from January 2000 to April 2009
  • Victoria Classics Thermal Sailcloth and Matchstick Bamboo Roman Shades sold at Target stores nationwide and at from September 2008 to June 2009
  • IKEA MELINA Roman Blinds sold at IKEA Home Furnishings nationwide from August 2006 to June 2008
  • Pottery Barn Kids Roman Shades sold through Pottery Barn Kids catalog nationwide and at from January 2003 to May 2007
  • Vertical Land Inc. Horizontal and Vertical Blinds and Cellular Shades sold at Vertical Land stores in Panama City and Pensacola Florida from January 1992 to December 2006

Contact the companies to find out more details about these potentially deadly products. If your child has been injured by a recalled product, please contact the experienced defective product attorneys at the Cochran Firm today. We serve clients nationwide.


posted by Benjamin A. Irwin at 10:23 AM

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Michigan Supreme Court to Reconsider Car Accident Lawsuit Limits

If you are involved in a car accident in Michigan, your basic needs will be covered by your personal injury protection (PIP) insurance, a no-fault insurance that all drivers in the state are required to carry. This insurance even covers you if you are a pedestrian hit by a car. PIP covers medical bills and up to 3 years of lost wages. However, it doesn't recognize your non-economic damages, the pain and suffering or diminished quality of life that comes as a result of your auto accident. To get compensation for these less tangible losses in Michigan requires a lawsuit. Only a 2004 ruling by the Michigan Supreme Court, known as Kreiner, prevents most people from successfully filing such a lawsuit. Now, though, the Court will reconsider this ruling, probably between October and May.

In 1972, the Michigan Legislature wrote a law that provided for PIP coverage and allowed people who suffered "serious impairment of body function" as a result of a car accident to file a lawsuit for non-economic damages. The law was refined in 1995 after some legal issues arose. The standard for impairment was further defined as "an objectively manifested impairment of an important body function that affects the person's general ability to lead his or her normal life." This creates a three-point standard for determining whether a person can file a lawsuit:

  • Injury must be objectively manifest
  • An important body function - the ability to walk, use one's hands, to sit or stand without pain, and generally function without mechanical aids - must be affected
  • Ability to lead a normal life must be affected

After the 1995 revision, many believed that if a person met these three standards, including showing some effect on a person's life, regardless of its extent, that person could file a lawsuit for noneconomic damages.

However, in the Kreiner ruling, the Michigan Supreme Court focused on the language that a "person's general ability to lead his or her normal life" must be affected. The Court determined that in order to meet this standard, the "course or trajectory of the plaintiff's normal life" must be altered. In the case of Kreiner, the court decided that because Kreiner was a carpenter both before and after the accident, the course of his life was not altered, even though he could only stay on a ladder for 20 minutes at a time, only work 6 hours a day, not perform roof work, and suffered daily pain after the accident. Similarly, the Court found that although Kreiner could no longer hunt rabbits, his ability to hunt deer meant his life was not altered.

This ruling established what might be called a consolation prize standard in Michigan, where lawsuits were thrown out if insurance companies could show that a plaintiff still inhabited a hollow shell of his or her former life. This standard was so high that 140 of the first 165 cases and 194 of 244 total cases filed since the ruling have been thrown out. Cases are held to the same standard whether the responsible driver was drunk or grossly negligent.

The 2004 decision was written by a 4-3 divided Court, and with one of its supporters ousted the standard will likely be overturned when the Court reconsiders it.

If you have suffered serious injury in a car accident in Michigan, the Detroit, Michigan personal injury lawyers of The Cochran Firm stand ready to represent your right to compensation for noneconomic damages. Please schedule a free consultation today.


posted by Benjamin A. Irwin at 10:17 AM

Monday, August 24, 2009

Yaz – A Bitter Pill?

By Farrest Taylor, Esq. and Catherine Walding, Legal Editor
Consumers have a right to expect truth in the advertisements they see, read, and hear. While consumers understand that companies are trying to sell a product, they also tend to assume that companies don't misrepresent or omit important facts concerning their product, as we know the Federal Trade Commission monitors these advertisements. According to FTC regulations:

  • Advertising must be truthful and non-deceptive;
  • Advertisers must have evidence to back up their claims; and
  • Advertisements cannot be unfair.

In a perfect world, companies would adhere to these rules in a sense of simple fairness. Unfortunately and too often, advertisements are misleading, containing omissions and outright misrepresentations.

Recently, Bayer Healthcare Pharmaceuticals, Inc. has come under fire for allegedly misleading advertisements for their birth control pills Yaz and Yazmin. Containing a form of progesterone called drospirenone, Yaz and Yazmin have the potential to raise the potassium level in a woman's body to such levels as to increase the likelihood of possible blood clots, stroke, heart attacks, and death.

Information about such dangerous side effects was not communicated to women using these products, while, at the same time, information about the efficacy of the products for other needs such as acne treatment was exaggerated and overstated. For example, Bayer failed to relate that their product is only indicated for moderate acne vulgaris, rather than all types of the skin disease.

The same ad implied that Yaz decreases the problems associated with Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD), despite Bayer having little or no evidence to back up such claims. Further, in the TV commercial, "Balloons," PMDD seems to have been deliberately confused with the more common Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS), leading women to believe that Yaz could help the similar symptoms of PMS, though the studies involved women with PMDD only. In a warning letter to Bayer, dated October 2, 2008, the Food and Drug Administration stated that two television ads "misleadingly suggest that Yaz is effective in a broader range of patients and conditions than has been demonstrated by substantial evidence or substantial clinical experience."

More importantly is the omission of dangerous side effects related to Yaz. In the same letter cited above, the FDA warned Bayer that the statement of such side effects given during the television commercial was unduly minimized by "distracting visuals, numerous scene changes, and other competing" effects which served to minimize the effect of the statement. Even as Bayer agreed to pull these ads, they continued the same marketing via the internet. A second letter dated March 26, 2009 revealed the FDA's concern about the internet marketing employed by Bayer, stating to the pharmaceutical company that the sponsored links leading consumers to the Yaz website failed to include any information concerning the risks of taking Yaz. This failure leads consumers to believe that Yaz is safer than has been found.

The end result of this marketing is that women who are at risk for the serious side effects are not sufficiently warned while, at the same time, they are drawn to the supposed benefits of Yaz, even in cases where they may not need or want birth control. Bayer laid claim to the benefits of their product without the proper evidence required by the FDA, putting millions of women at risk with their omission of the possible serious side effects.

If you have been harmed while taking Yaz, please contact The Cochran Firm today.


posted by Benjamin A. Irwin at 3:06 PM

Families Awarded in Defective Product Suit

Last week, a federal jury determined that two hunters who died while using a camping heater indoors were more responsible than the Coleman company, but the family was still awarded $500,000 following the deaths of the two men, Mark Torrey and his son, Christopher.

The jurors believed that the hunters were 67% responsible for their own deaths because the Coleman camping heater was not made for indoor use. While the jury awarded $2 million, the family's award will be reduced to approximately $666,000.

At the time of this writing, over 1 million Coleman radiant propane heaters are being used by consumers. Coleman maintains that the man and son could have died from carbon-monoxide emitted from two wood burning stoves that were at the campground.

The attorney for the Torrey family told jurors Coleman heaters had been implicated in other carbon-monoxide-related deaths but no recalls have been issued for the Focus 15 heater that was used by the Torreys.

If you or a loved one has been injured or killed due to a defective product, please contact The Cochran Firm, with offices nationwide today to schedule a confidential consultation.


posted by Benjamin A. Irwin at 10:01 AM

Friday, August 21, 2009

Florida Hospital Sued for Medical Malpractice

St. Mary's Medical Center in West Palm Beach, Florida has been sued for medical malpractice by a local family after a hospital error caused their baby to be born with severe brain damage.

The mother was admitted to the hospital last August while she was six months pregnant. She was placed on bed rest, and during her hospital stay, she was given the wrong medication. The medication error induced labor three months prematurely.

Unfortunately, the doctors and nurses did not catch their mistake and told the woman she simply needed to pass a bowel movement. They brought her a portable commode and instead of defecating, she gave birth to her baby in the commode.

As a result of the hospital's negligence, the 11-month-old baby needs a shunt to relieve pressure in her brain and requires feeding tubes. Her parents have already spent over $3 million on her medical care. They are suing the hospital for hundreds of millions of dollars in order to ensure that they will be able to provide their daughter with the proper care she will need over the course of her life.

St. Mary's Medical Center was also guilty of another medical malpractice incident on the same day. Four hours earlier, another pregnant woman was given a deadly dose of the same drug. She lost her twins due to the drug error.

The experienced medical malpractice lawyers at The Cochran Firm can help you receive the compensation you deserve when a medical professional's negligence results in serious injury to you or a loved one. Please contact our personal injury team today to schedule a free initial consultation. We serve clients nationwide.


posted by Benjamin A. Irwin at 9:34 AM

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Nationwide Chinese Drywall Saga Continues

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission received permission from the Chinese government this week to investigate the Luneng mine in Shandong province, thought to be the heart of the Chinese drywall problem. They will also investigate other mines in the area. This is in response to the ongoing health and premises problems homeowners have had as a result of toxic drywall linked to several Chinese companies.

The CPSC estimates that there were over six million sheets of drywall imported into the U.S. that may be toxic. At least three dozen different builders are involved. However, it is the prominent Chinese manufacturer Knauf Plasterboard Tianjin Co. Ltd. that is the focus. Other companies related to this one that are involved are Knauf Plasterboard Wuhu Co. Ltd., Knauf Plasterboard Dongguan Co. Ltd., and the German affiliate, Knauf Gips KG. Many other companies, including Beijing New Building Material PLC, are also involved.

Since the defective drywall story began, and in addition to the 6.2 million sheets of drywall imported, other statistics include:

  • 23 states report new homes affected with the toxic drywall
  • More than 2000 lawsuits have already been filed against U.S., Chinese, and German companies, as well as distributors, import brokers, builders, installers, and suppliers
  • 810 complaints filed with the CPSC
  • At least 20 drywall manufacturers may be involved
  • Several U.S. federal agencies, including the newly formed 14 member Congressional Contaminated Drywall Caucus led by Rep. Robert Waxler (D-FL) are involved
  • Cost to fix the problem will run into the billions of dollars

One of the companies, Knauf Plasterboard Tianjin, alleges they have taken most of the criticism due to their well-known name and the fact they labeled the product correctly. They claim they only account for 20 percent of the drywall and that the gases found in the product do not constitute a health risk.

New homeowners report the smell of rotten eggs, breathing problems including bouts of bronchitis and pneumonia, and skin irritation, as well as appliances, air conditioning and wiring that corrode. Pregnant women are being told to move out of affected homes so that there won't be problems with their unborn children.

This is a serious problem and it doesn't seem like it's going away anytime soon. The point has already been made that, unlike other defective Chinese products that can be recalled virtually immediately, the toxic drywall cannot just be discovered, removed, and then replaced. It is behind walls and ceilings, and has already affected plumbing, wiring, electronic, as well as the health of thousands of people.

If you believe you or your family has been sickened by toxic Chinese drywall in your house, please contact the experienced defective product attorneys at the Cochran Firm for an initial consultation.


posted by Benjamin A. Irwin at 12:07 PM

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Coleman Responsible For Defective Product?

Last week a federal jury awarded $2 million to the family of a father and son hunting pair who had mis-used a Coleman camping heater in 2006. It was a radiant propane heater. They used it indoors although it had a clear label saying "For Outdoor Use Only." Carbon monoxide has no smell and cannot be seen or heard and as the stove emitted it while generating heat, there was apparently no ventilation to send it outside the cabin.

The father and son, Mark Torrey and his son Christopher, died from breathing the carbon monoxide. Torrey's wife and daughter filed a product liability and wrongful death claim against Coleman. Christopher's wife also filed on behalf of herself and their son. The two cases were consolidated by the presiding judge.

A "Mighty, Ferocious Fight"
According to Torrey's wife, this lawsuit was a "mighty, ferocious fight." One of the plaintiffs' attorneys instructed the jury to send a message to Coleman because some of their other heaters had also been linked to deaths from carbon monoxide poisoning, but no recalls have happened. This particular heater was Coleman's Focus 15 propane heater.

Another plaintiff attorney informed the jury that a survey had been done on experienced hunters and 30 to 40 percent of them had thought that the propane heater could be appropriately used indoors.

Coleman's defense attorney suggested that the two men could have been poisoned by carbon monoxide emitted by either of the two wood-burning stoves in their cabin. He reminded the jury that the Focus 15 stove has a label right on it warning against indoor use. "Remember," he said, "an accident plus a product does not mean the product caused the accident."

67 Percent User Responsibility
The jury awarded that $2 million but also found Torrey and his son to be 67 percent responsible for their own deaths because of the clear warning label on the heater. That means the family will receive about $660,000 less attorneys' fees and costs. It is not known yet whether Coleman will appeal the case.

If you have been injured by a defective product, you may have a valid legal claim. Please call or email our defective product attorneys today to schedule a free case evaluation.


posted by Benjamin A. Irwin at 10:03 AM

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

How Much Difference Would Tort Reform Make for Healthcare Reform?

One of the ideas floated as a way to control healthcare costs in this country is to enact tort reform that stops frivolous medical malpractice lawsuits. Proponents claim that medical malpractice lawsuits are out of control, and they are driving the cost of medicine out of the reach of most people or driving doctors to retire, reducing our access to qualified physicians. Is this true?

Health care costs have risen by an average of 8.4% per year in this country since 2004, based on the figures of the Milliman Medical Index (MMI), an assessment of medical costs published by the employee benefits consulting firm Milliman, Inc. The MMI estimated that medical care for a family of four cost an average of $8400 in 2001, but has grown to $16,700 by 2009, an average of 8.9% per year. How much of this growth is the result of rising medical malpractice payouts?

According to insurance company data, payouts for medical malpractice lawsuits have dropped by about $730 million, or 13% since 2001. How can a 13% drop in payouts be responsible for a 198% increase in costs? However, while payouts were dropping, medical malpractice insurance premiums were rising. From 2001-2008, premiums rose by over $3.2 billion, an increase of 43%. This increase in premiums has allowed insurance companies to post significant profits. Even during 2008, when many companies (even many branches of insurance companies) were posting losses, medical malpractice insurers posted profits, albeit slightly less than their record profits of over 15% in 2007.

But even profit-taking by medical malpractice insurers who gouge your doctors with outrageous rates is not responsible for rising healthcare costs. The total cost of premiums paid by all doctors in the United States accounts for 0.45% (less than one half of one percent) of all healthcare expenditures in this country, and actual payouts are only 0.20% (one fifth of one percent). Clearly, whether you believe that tort reform is effective at reducing costs for doctors or not, its potential contribution to any healthcare reform would be miniscule.

At The Cochran Firm, we stand up for the rights of people who have been injured by a doctor's error, and we believe that protecting these rights should be an essential component of healthcare reform. If you have been injured by a doctor, we will fight for you. Schedule a free consultation with us today to learn more about your rights.


posted by Benjamin A. Irwin at 2:56 PM

Monday, August 17, 2009

Mesothelioma and Asbestosis

Asbestosis is a disease that affects the lungs and is caused by inhaling asbestos fibers. These fibers scar the tissues of the lungs. Asbestosis develops after long-term exposure to asbestos.

Asbestos fibers are very small, but very sharp. When they build up in the lungs, they trigger a response from your immune system. As your body tries to rid your lungs of these fibers, your lungs become inflamed, resulting in difficulty breathing.

The symptoms of asbestosis often take decades to appear after the exposure to asbestos. The symptoms of asbestosis include:

  • Difficulty breathing, even while resting
  • Cough
  • Loss of voice
  • Pain in the chest
  • Insomnia
  • Swelling
  • Coughing up blood

Asbestosis is often misdiagnosed for several reasons. The symptoms associated with asbestosis are also associated with a number of less severe illnesses such as asthma. Also, most patients are unaware that they have been exposed to asbestos.

The federal government now heavily regulates asbestos and asbestos products. Asbestos also occurs naturally in the environment, so some exposure is normal. Asbestosis only occurs after direct, heavy, long-term exposure.

If you or a loved one has suffered from asbestosis, please contact the experienced asbestosis attorneys at The Cochran Firm, operating numerous offices nationwide, today.


posted by Benjamin A. Irwin at 7:02 AM

Friday, August 14, 2009

Ft. Lauderdale City Officials Overcharged Floridians Over $4 Million

An investigation by the South Florida Times has revealed that residents and business owners in Fort Lauderdale, Florida may be entitled to refunds in the millions of dollars for fees that the city overcharged them to send police and firefighters to false alarms. Due to the current state of the economy, paying out these refunds could prove to be disastrous for the city of Ft. Lauderdale.

According to investigators, the city charged residents and business owners over $4.5 in the year 2008. Ft. Lauderdale city auditor, John Herbst, has determined that because the fees residents paid to respond to false burglar and fire alarms have been higher than what the city actually pays for these services, the overcharges were actually fines and should have gone through a legal process that would have allowed the offenders to challenge the fines. The city of Ft. Lauderdale may be violating state law because it does not have a process for challenging fines or fees. The fees were supposed to cover expenses such as gas for emergency vehicles, mailing violation notices, wages for processing and legal review, and other various costs.

Civil Rights Violation?

Article I, Section 9 of the Florida Constitution states, "No person shall be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law, or be twice put in jeopardy for the same offense, or be compelled in any criminal matter to be a witness against oneself."

According to officials, residents who are repeat offenders for false fire alarms have been charged upwards of $400 per incident; business owners that are repeat offenders have also been charged a similar fee for false fire and police alarms. Herbst alleges he has been warning the city’s officials about this issue for over a year now.

At the time of this writing, Ft. Lauderdale city officials have not made public the list of residents and business owners who have been overcharged. However, the South Florida Times is on the list and was cited three times in 2007 for false burglar alarms.

If your civil rights have been violated, you must take legal action now. Please contact The Cochran Firm, with offices nationwide, to meet with an attorney and have your claim reviewed.


posted by Benjamin A. Irwin at 11:45 AM

Michael Phelps Involved in Auto Accident

Olympic swimming sensation Michael Phelps was involved in an auto accident Thursday night in Baltimore, Maryland when his Cadillac Escalade collided with another vehicle. He was not injured in the accident.

Phelps had two other passengers in his vehicle at the time of the auto accident. Both of them left the scene unharmed. The woman driving the other vehicle was taken to a local hospital for precautionary measures, but it is uncertain whether she sustained any serious personal injury as a result of the crash.

Police are currently investigating the accident to determine who was at fault. Phelps was interviewed at the accident scene last night before being sent home. Alcohol is not believed to be a factor in the collision.

If you have been seriously injured in an auto accident caused by the negligence of another driver, you may be entitled to receive compensation for your damages. The experienced auto accident attorneys at The Cochran Firm can help you receive a fair settlement that will cover your medical expenses, property damage, and lost wages from time away from work while you recover.

Please contact the legal team at The Cochran Firm today to schedule your free consultation. We serve clients nationwide.


posted by Benjamin A. Irwin at 9:34 AM

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Little Tikes Nationwide Toy Recall

The US Consumer Product Safety Commission announced this morning that Little Tikes of Hudson, Ohio, is voluntarily recalling 1.6 million units of their Little Tikes Workshops Sets and Trucks. The company is recalling the product after reports of an 11-month-old boy who choked on a toy nail. The South Carolina boy was hospitalized, but has made a full recovery.

All units of the workshops and trucks have oversized plastic nails that can pose a choking hazard. This potential defective product is red or blue, have an oversized head, and are about 3 and 1/4 inches long.

The toys have been sold through retailers nationwide, including Toys 'R' Us, from March 1994 through June 2009. They retail for $25 to $100.

The CPSC says consumers should take the toy nails away from their children and contact Little Tikes for a free replacement.

Choking hazards with toys are not a new development, so it is sometimes surprising that we continue to hear about parts on toys that can choke. As anyone who has children or has spent time around them will tell you, they will put anything and everything in their mouths. While it is certainly up to the parents or guardian to make sure children aren't trying to swallow things like a Little Tike nail, toy manufacturers need to consider that their toys may cause a hazard which can lead to serious injury or death.

If your child has been injured by one of their toys, please contact the experienced defective product attorneys at the Cochran Firm. We serve clients nationwide.


posted by Benjamin A. Irwin at 9:09 AM

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

First Fosamax Trial

On August 11 (Tuesday this week), the first Fosamax jaw damage lawsuit was scheduled to go to trial. Attorneys and others are watching to see its outcome, as it may indicate whether other such cases will be settled out of court.

What is Fosamax?
Fosamax is a drug made by Merck and used to treat osteoporosis. It is one of the bisphosphonates (also called diphosphonates), designed to prevent loss of bone tissue. Bones are continually replacing themselves, with some cells creating bone and others absorbing it. Bisphosphonates work by inhibiting the resorption of bone cells. Some other bisphosphonates are Actonel, Reclast, Zometa and Skelid.

Like all drugs, bisphosphonates have side effects and one is ONJ (Osteonecrosis of the Jaw, also called Dead Jaw Syndrome). Necrosis means death, and in ONJ, the jawbone (upper or lower) fails to heal after a mild trauma like a dental extraction. The blood flow is impaired so that insufficient oxygen and nutrients are reaching the bone tissue.

The affected jawbone can eventually be exposed for lack of healthy gums and infection may set in, or it may be fractured. Long-term antibiotics can help slow the process down and surgery can remove the dying bone tissue. However, these measures do not cure the ONJ.

FDA Involvement
Between 2002 and 2004, the FDA received about one hundred reports from oral surgeons who associated ONJ with use of bisphosphonates. In 2005, the FDA required that Fosamax and other bisphosphonates have updated labels that included ONJ warnings. After that, over 1,200 plaintiff groups formed and have filed 900 Fosamax lawsuits nationwide.

The Fosamax lawsuits claim that Merck did not warn physicians or patients that this drug could impair blood flow to the jaw, even in the updated labeling. This first Fosamax suit involves a Florida woman aged 71 who took Fosamax between 1997 and 2006 for osteoporosis, and suffered jaw and dental problems.

There are two more Fosamax lawsuits scheduled for trial this year, one in an Alabama court and one in a federal court.

If you have taken Fosamax or one of the other bisphosphonates and have experienced jaw problems, you might have a valid legal claim. Please call or email our personal injury law firm today and one of our defective drug attorneys will be happy to give you a free case evaluation.


posted by Benjamin A. Irwin at 9:31 AM

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Army Determines Negligence not "Proximate Cause" of Pennsylvania Soldier's Electrocution Death

The Department of Defense has decided it will not file criminal charges over the death of a Green Beret from Pennsylvania who was electrocuted in the shower by faulty wiring. In January 2008, the 24-year old staff sergeant was taking a shower in his Baghdad quarters when he was electrocuted by an improperly grounded water pump at the building. The wiring at the quarters, a converted palace of Saddam Hussein, was performed by KBR, a former subsidiary of Halliburton and one of the largest recipients of lucrative military contracts. Although the wiring was found to be responsible for the soldier's death, the company was absolved of criminal charges because the Army did not set explicit standards such as "electrical equipment should not electrocute soldiers" and did not exhaustively inspect the company's work.

After 18 US soldiers were electrocuted by defective wiring in Iraq, the Department of Defense initiated a task force to assess fire and electrical safety issues. The task for has inspected more than 67,000 pieces of equipment and facilities, and fixed nearly 14,000 deficiencies, meaning that approximately 1 in 5 wiring jobs performed by military contractors was done poorly. At one point, one of the inspectors declared that shoddy wiring was everywhere, and nearly a third of the buildings inspected had such serious problems that the wiring had to be fixed within four hours or the building evacuated.

Although criminal charges have been dismissed, the family of this soldier is pursuing a premises liability lawsuit against the contractors. If you have lost someone to the negligence of a corporation, you need an ally prepared to take on the largest foes. The Cochran Firm is prepared to be that ally. Contact the personal injury lawyers at our Philadelphia, Pennsylvania office today to schedule a free consultation.

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posted by Benjamin A. Irwin at 8:15 AM

Monday, August 10, 2009

Plane vs. Helicopter Accident Leaves Seven Dead

At the time of this writing, seven people are confirmed dead following the mid-air collision of a private plane and a sightseeing helicopter near Hoboken, New Jersey this weekend. The aircraft went down into the Hudson River; the private plane carried a family from Pennsylvania and the helicopter carried five Italian tourists. The plane collided with the helicopter (which had just departed for a short 12-minute tour) by hitting it from behind and clipping it with a wing. Both aircraft split apart and plunged into the murky river.

Rescue workers fought strong, swift currents and low visibility as they brought the bodies to the surface and onto boats. A crane belonging to the US Army Corps of Engineers lifted some wreckage out of the water. A sonar scanner found the plane's wreckage, and more of the plane was found farther out in the river about 50 feet below the river's surface.

The search for the remaining victims resumed Monday morning, August 10, 2009.

If your loved one was killed in an aviation accident, you may have a valid wrongful death claim. Please contact the experienced aviation accident and wrongful death attorneys at The Cochran Firm, with offices nationwide, today to schedule a confidential consultation.


posted by Benjamin A. Irwin at 11:45 AM

Friday, August 7, 2009

Family Files Product Liability Suit after Child Suffers Burns from Temporary Tattoo

The family of an 11 year-year-old girl has filed a product liability lawsuit against a local mall and one of the kiosk companies doing business there. The child suffered burn injuries that have left painful and permanent scars after she got a temporary tattoo at the kiosk in the mall.

The family claims that the temporary tattoos sold at the kiosk contain the chemical black henna, which has been banned by the FDA for use on products applied to the skin due to the risk of this type of reaction. Currently, the young girl suffers from painful blisters that continuously develop as previous ones burst.

The child has also been forced to explain her scarring and disfigurement to peers at school, which has caused her a great deal of psychological distress. She is currently seeing a dermatologist to treat the scars, but it is uncertain whether this treatment will be effective.

Her family is seeking both punitive damages and compensation for medical expenses incurred as a result of the defective tattoo.

If you or a loved one has been injured from using a defective product, you may be entitled to receive compensation for your damages. The experienced product liability lawyers at The Cochran Firm can help you through this difficult process so that you can start moving on with your life.

Please contact the personal injury lawyers at The Cochran Firm today to schedule your initial consultation. We serve clients nationwide.


posted by Benjamin A. Irwin at 10:00 AM

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Recalled Beef in Fresno may have Drug Resistant Strain of Salmonella

Beef Packers, Inc. in Fresno, California announced today that they are recalling over 825,000 pounds of ground beef products that may be tainted with salmonella. It is believed the beef is linked to an outbreak of drug resistant Newport Salmonella strain that appeared earlier this summer in Colorado. The US Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service announced the ground beef was produced from June 5 to June 23. The establishment number printed on the case code labels says "EST. 31913" and was distributed to centers in California, Colorado, Arizona and Utah.

The USDA says consumers should check with the store they bought the beef from to find out if it is part of the recall since it has been sold under different retail names.

Recalled Items

The recalled items are:

  • 60 pound cases of "GRD Beef Sirl Fine 90/10." Identifying case code is W69012. Use/Freeze by dates are 06/23/09, 06/26/09, 06/28/09, 06/29/09, 06/30/09, 07/03/09, 07/05/09, 07/06/09, 07/07/09, 07/10/09 and 07/11/09
  • 60 pound cases of "Grnd Bf Fine Sir 90/10 10/60 H". Identifying case code is W69064. Use/Freeze by dates of 06/26/09, 07/03/09, 07/06/09, 07/07/09 and 07/14/09
  • 60 pound cases of "Grnd Beef 90/10 Fine 60." Identifying case code W69063. Use/Freeze by dates of 06/23/09, 06/26/09, 06/30/09, 07/03/09, 07/07/09, 07/10/09 and 07/11/09
  • 80 pound cases of "Grnd Beef Fine 91/09 10#/80." Identifying case code is W69108. Use/Freeze by dates of 06/30/09, 07/06/09, 07/08/09 and 07/13/09
  • 60 pound cases of "Grnd Beef Fine 93/07 10/60." Identifying case code is W69363. Use/Freeze by dates of 06/23/09, 06/26/09, 06/28/09, 06/29/09, 06/30/09, 07/03/09, 07/07/09, 07/10/09 and 07/11/09
  • 60 pound cases of "Grnd Beef Fine 93/07 10#/60 H." Identifying case code is W69360. Use/Freeze by date of 06/26/09, 07/03/09, 07/06/09, 07/10/09 and 07/14/09
  • 40 pound cases of "GRD BEEF FINE 96/04-10#/40." Identifying case code is W69602. Use/Freeze by dates of 06/23/09, 06/30/09, 07/03/09, 07/07/09, 07/10/09 and 07/11/09

If you or a loved one has been sickened by eating tainted beef, please contact the experienced product liability attorneys at the Cochran Firm. We serve clients nationwide.


posted by Benjamin A. Irwin at 11:47 AM

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

N.Y. Auto Accident Kills Eight

On July 26, 2009, one Diane Schuler was heading home from a campground she had visited many times before. She had her two-year-old daughter, five-year-old son, and her brother's three young daughters in her Ford minivan.

As she drove on various roads, she straddled the center line, veered from one lane to another, tailgated, flashed her headlights, honked repeatedly, and tried to pass one vehicle by using the highway shoulder area. During this period, six drivers called 9-1-1 to report the dangerous driving.

On the Taconic Parkway, driving on the wrong side of the road, she crashed head-on into a SUV. The three men in that SUV were killed, as were Schuler and all but one of her young passengers. Only her little son survived.

Alcohol and Marijuana
Police investigating the car accident spoke to Schuler's husband who had been camping with her and their children. He had left the campground separately to go on a fishing trip. He said that his wife had appeared fine when she left that morning at about 9:30 a.m. Police also spoke to Schuler's brother, who said that she had called him about 30 minutes before the auto accident to say that she felt unwell and disoriented. Her cell phone was later found at a rest stop.

When Schuler's body was examined her blood alcohol level was found to be 0.19, which is twice the legal limit of 0.08. A large broken vodka bottle was found in the wreckage and the Westchester County Medical Examiner found six grams of undigested alcohol in her stomach. In addition, blood tests showed that she had smoked marijuana somewhere between 15 minutes to an hour before the car crash.

This incident illustrates again the fact that though we call such events "accidents," they are not random or unpredictable. There is always some type of cause that could have been removed if anyone had been there to do it. In this case, six people called 9-1-1 but any follow-up that occurred from that was evidently not prompt enough.

If you have been badly injured by another person's reckless driving, or if you have lost a loved one that way, please contact our office today. We will be glad to schedule a free case evaluation for you.

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posted by Benjamin A. Irwin at 12:51 PM

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

15-Year-Old Girl Dies from Possible Medical Malpractice

A 15-year-old Milwuakee girl who had her tonsils and adenoids removed in an outpatient surgery to correct snoring and possible obstructive sleep apnea died two days later at home. The surgery was performed on Friday, and on Sunday afternoon she died. She was healthy with no prior medical concerns. According to her family, she seemed fine after the surgery, but on Sunday she sat down in a chair after getting ready for church. She fell asleep and could not be awakened. Shortly afterward, she died.

Although the exact cause of the girl's death is not yet known, it is a reminder that the postsurgical period can be as dangerous as the time when you are under anesthesia. Medication errors are one of the most common forms of medical malpractice, and many people die or suffer serious injury each year from painkillers and other prescriptions written by their doctors. In the case of this girl, she was prescribed a painkiller that made her groggy and may have been related to her death.

If you have lost a loved one as a result of a prescription medication error, sometimes a medical malpractice lawsuit is the only way to get the truth of what happened. Please contact the Milwuakee medical malpractice lawyers of The Cochran Firm today to learn about your legal options.


posted by Benjamin A. Irwin at 9:52 AM

Monday, August 3, 2009

Number of Car Accidents in Jacksonville Tops Nation

According to a new report just released from the Florida Highway Patrol, you are more likely to be involved in a car crash in Jacksonville than any other part of the state of Florida. In 2008, Jacksonville was the top city for automobile accidents, which might make the city home to some of the country's worst drivers. There were approximately 14,000 car accidents in Jacksonville in 2008.

After you are involved in a car accident, an insurance adjustor representing the other drivers involved will probably contact you and try to record your statement over the phone. They may even make you an immediate offer in an effort to settle the case. You are not obligated to speak to any insurance adjustors. If you are not represented by counsel, simply refuse to talk to them, and if you do have an automobile accident attorney, refer the insurance company to your attorney.

Insurance companies will do everything in their power to deny you the compensation you deserve. Insurance companies are businesses out to make a profit. Insurance companies will offer you a quick settlement hoping your case will go away. The sooner a case goes away, the less money an insurance company typically has to pay out.

The laws governing car accidents can be very difficult to interpret, and dealing with the insurance companies can be even more frustrating.

With over 25 offices across the nation, the automobile accident attorneys at The Cochran Firm can help you after your automobile accident. Please contact a location near you today.


posted by Benjamin A. Irwin at 9:27 AM

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