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Thursday, April 30, 2009

Crib Company Issues Third Recall of the Year

Jardine Enterprises, a Taiwanese-based company that sells their product nationwide, has announced they are recalling nearly 96,000 cribs. This is the third recall the company has issued on their cribs this year. The company has said this recent recall is for the same problem the last two recalls were for. The slats on the crib are in danger of breaking, which can leave a gap where children or infants may become trapped or even strangled.

The last two recalls were in June 2008 and January 2009. The June recall affected 320,000 units and the January recall affected 56,450 units. The US Consumer Product Safety Commission has received 31 reports of the crib slats breaking. Two of these reports are of children actually becoming entrapped in the gap. Ten of the incidents were of children actually breaking the slats while they were in the crib.

The recall involves seven different models of Jardine cribs. They are sold at KidsWorld, Geoffrey Stores, Toys R Us, and Babies R Us nationwide with the beginning dated of September 2005 until today. The models include:

  • #0102B00 Drop-side Natural Olympia Single, date coded between 9/2005-1/2007
  • #0122E00 Drop-side Dark Pine Olympia Single, date coded between9/2005-1/2008
  • #3002P00 Black Olympia Lifetime, date coded between 11/2005-5/2008
  • #0302C00 White Olympia Lifetime, date coded between 6/2006-12/2006
  • #0312D00 Americana Pecan 4-in-1, date coded between 5/2006-11/2007
  • #0308L00 Antique Walnut Capri 4-in1, date coded between 12/2005-11/2007
  • #0108C00 Drop-side White Capri Single, date coded 8/2006-11/2007

The company and the US CPSC have said the best remedy is to stop using the crib and call Jardine for full credit toward the purchase of a new crib. However, what about those whose children may have already been injured? Though there have been no reports of any children who have been severely injured, the company has been pulling this defective product from the market for nearly a year. Why not simply pull all of the models at once rather than wait for a child to be injured or killed? So far the only moderate injury reported is scrapes and bruises. The company should be thankful this is the only injury reported so far.

If your child has been injured by a defective product, such as a Jardine crib, please contact the experienced attorneys at the Cochran Firm today. We serve clients nationwide.

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posted by Benjamin A. Irwin at 1:42 PM

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

$13 Million Awarded in Wrongful Death Case

On August, 2004, one Christopher Maher, aged approximately 20, was test-driving a BMW in the Chicago area. In the back seat were two of his friends. In the front passenger seat was the dealership salesman, one Roger Czapski, aged 22.

Maher accelerated along a busy suburban road to about 95 mph, collided with a vehicle turning into a church driveway, bounced against a light pole, and exploded. Maher and his friends survived but the salesman was killed. He was pronounced dead at the accident scene.

Last week, in a Cook County Circuit Court, a jury awarded the salesman’s family $13.7 million for their son’s wrongful death. The trial lasted a week. The defense attorneys complained that some evidence was excluded from the trial that they thought should have been admitted. They claimed that Czapski contributed to his own death by allowing Maher to speed and to test-drive the BMW outside the established test-drive route.

Maher had been given a citation for driving 40 mph over the posted speed limit in that area, and had pleaded guilty. However, he had apparently been blaming Czapski for the accident during the four plus years between the accident and trial.

However, the jury did not see things that way. They found that Maher was 98 percent responsible for the fatal accident and Czapski only two percent responsible.

Czapski’s family is in deep grief. Wrongful death is a difficult event to deal with, when a loved one is killed because of another person’s negligence. If you have been trying to cope with such a situation, why not contact our wrongful death attorneys for a free case evaluation and some answers to your questions.

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posted by Benjamin A. Irwin at 3:29 PM

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Defective Roadway May Have Contributed to Woman's Death in Houston Flood

A Houston, Texas driver is missing after her car turned off Beltway 8's southbound frontage lanes near the Katy Freeway. A witness saw the dark-colored sport utility vehicle turn off the roadway directly into the ditch, and suspected that the driver, believed to be a woman, was attempting to turn onto a side road. The accident occurred at about 4:30 am, and at the time of this writing, police divers had not yet been able to reach the driver. The car is under several feet of water, and police divers have been very cautious about heading into the rushing current. They have been exploring the entire 1-mile length of drainage conduits that run the width of the Katy Freeway.

This is not a typical car accident. There are several aspects of this tragedy that point to defective roadway construction as a factor in the driver's probable death. If side streets were all more clearly marked, the driver would have been less likely to mistake the drainage ditch for a road. In addition, an effective barrier at the ditch should have stopped a car at likely turning speeds. Either one of these minor modifications could have prevented this wrongful death.

If you have lost a loved one in an accident that is due in full or in part to defective roadways, the Houston, Texas car accident attorneys of The Cochran Firm are prepared to represent your rights. Schedule a car accident consultation today to learn how we can help.

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posted by Benjamin A. Irwin at 11:49 AM

Monday, April 27, 2009

Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect

Of the thirty six million people over the age of 65 in the United States, it is safe to say many of these older adults will require assisted living or nursing home care in the future. While many facilities provide excellent care and are staffed with devoted people dedicated to their chosen profession, some older adults find themselves in less than ideal circumstances. They are vulnerable to various forms of neglect and abuse and are often unable to communicate their fears to visiting family and friends.

The estimates of cases of nursing home abuse and neglect are staggering. It is estimated that over one million older adults are the victims of nursing home abuse and neglect every year. The consequences of nursing home abuse can be devastating often resulting in malnutrition, dehydration, debilitating medical conditions and even death.

When an instance of nursing home abuse and neglect is alleged, many complex legal issues arise. These issues could involve premises liability, medical malpractice or wrongful death. Nursing home residents have the legal right to receive humane and dignified treatment at all times.

If you live in New Orleans, Louisiana or the surrounding area and someone you love has been the victim of nursing home abuse or neglect, please contact an experienced nursing home abuse attorney at one of The Cochran Firm’s numerous offices today to schedule a confidential consultation at no cost to you to learn about your legal rights.

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posted by Benjamin A. Irwin at 7:17 AM

Friday, April 24, 2009

Tainted Water Bottles Sicken Kids at California Middle School

Twelve middle school aged children have been hospitalized after drinking water from bottles they got from a vending machine in Santa Clarita, California. Fire officials received reports that people were becoming ill at the school on Thursday afternoon. The children who became sick complained of cramps and headaches, and all were transported to nearby medical clinics. Along with local authorities, the FBI is investigating.

Though it isn't clear what was in the water to make those who drank it sick, it was cloudy and had a strange smell and could have been related to bleach, according to a county fire inspector. How it got in there is anyone's guess. The bottles do not appear to be tampered with, which indicates there could be a problem at the bottling plant.

However, the Pepsi Bottling Group, which owns Aquafina and the bottling plant, released a statement claiming there is no evidence that anything in their manufacturing process caused the illnesses. They examined and tasted other bottles that were produced at the same time, and conducted their own tests. The corporation believes this is an "isolated incident."

Until more tests are completed, there is no way of knowing what may have been in the bottles. One doctor has said this could possibly be a psychosomatic reaction of one child drinking water and becoming sick, and others who drank the water imagined they had the same symptoms. All children may imagine things, and some may overreact, but it is in the best interest of all to get to the bottom of this. If it turns out the water had some kind of toxin in it, the fact only 12 children were sickened may be a blessing.

If you or a loved one has become sick after ingesting something from a restaurant or vending machine, please contact the experienced product liability attorneys at the Cochran Firm. We serve clients nationwide.

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posted by Benjamin A. Irwin at 8:34 AM

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Bill to Place Caps on Nursing Home Abuse Settlements Fails

A bill to limit damage awards in nursing home abuse lawsuits failed to pass in the Tennessee state legislature. The bill failed on a tie vote that went entirely on partisan lines, with all three Republican members of the subcommittee voting for the bill and all three Democrats voting against it. The bill will most likely not be revisited before next year.

The proposed legislation would have placed a $300,000 cap on “non-economic” damages awarded in nursing home abuse lawsuits. Before the final vote, the bill was amended to raise the cap to $500,000. However, the increase was not enough to push the bill through the state legislature.

Proponents of the bill included lobbyists for the nursing home industry, who claim that the large number of nursing home abuse lawsuits brought by personal injury lawyers have diverted precious nursing home funds from the care of patients in order to cover the costs of these lawsuits.

Opponents of the bill included both trial lawyers and the AARP, who argued that the current system establishes greater accountability for nursing homes, which ultimately ensures better care for patients.

The nursing home abuse lawyers at The Cochran Firm have the skills, background, and experience necessary to help you receive the compensation you deserve when your loved one has suffered an injury due to the negligent care provided by a nursing home. Please contact The Cochran Firm today to schedule a consultation at one of our many offices nationwide.

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posted by Benjamin A. Irwin at 10:09 AM

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Asbestos Lawsuit Against New York City

In Queens there is a special-needs school that was purchased by the city’s Education Department in August, 2008. The Department had previously leased it from Temple Beth-El. For ten years, the Department received complaints about an annex which has lead paint in the rooms, along with asbestos and mold.

For ten years, government officials did nothing. The school is for students suffering from autism and emotional disorders and has classes for kindergarten through fifth grade. Now fifty-one of the students and staff at the school have filed a lawsuit against New York City for $500 million.

The gym teacher, one Garry Patrylo, who has taught at the school since 2001, is quoted as saying: “[The city government] had full knowledge of the condition of the building ... and yet they didn't do anything about it. Although some may try to pretend as if this did not happen over the past 10 years, we have not forgotten."

The plaintiffs’ attorney, Ralph DeSimone, has said he will seek a court order for independent testing of the school buildings, something that he states the Education Department has so far not allowed. He is also seeking medical monitoring for the school’s staff and students.

The school’s children have sustained direct harm to their health. DeSimone sees the situation as illustrating “a range of educational practices that discriminate against developmentally challenged children …”

In the summer of 2008, the annex was closed for two weeks for crews to come in and correct some of the hazardous conditions. When it reopened in the fall, city officials promised more funding to pay for further repairs and cleanup. But plaintiffs regard this as too little and too late.

Asbestos Health Dangers
Asbestos fibers become airborne easily and can be breathed in. Being microscopically tiny, they become stuck in the lungs and over time, cause irritation which eventually develops into mesothelioma or asbestosis.

The body is unable to dislodge these fibers because of one of the properties of asbestos -- resistance to chemical change. The body’s blood cells which would normally remove foreign bodies cannot do their job with asbestos fibers and die in the struggle.

If you have been exposed to asbestos and have now been diagnosed with mesothelioma or asbestosis, please contact our personal injury attorneys to learn more about your legal rights and options.

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posted by Benjamin A. Irwin at 3:26 PM

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Toxic Tort Lawsuits against Tennessee Valley Authority over Ash Spill

Over 170 toxic tort and other lawsuits have been filed against the Tennessee Valley Authority over a major spill at one of its power plants. In December, a retaining wall designed to hold back a toxic pond of ash from the Tennessee Valley Authority's Kingston coal power plant. The ash poured out of the pond, flooding about ten homes, and contaminating the Emory and Clinch rivers as well as local wells.

Although water tests in some parts of the river showed "safe," dead fish were washing up miles downstream from the burst dam. The ash tested positive for both arsenic and two radioactive isotopes of radium 226 and 228. Although river water tested near the spill contains only trace amounts of arsenic, and no significant radiation, there are still many reasons to be concerned about the after-effects of the spill. As the ash dries, it turns into dust, which can be inhaled. The decay chain of both isotopes of radium include radon, and radium 228 also decays into thorium. Once inhaled, radium can subject residents to potential radiation exposure for decades to come. Radium 228 has a half-life of almost six years, and thorium a half-life of almost two years, so significant radiation exposure can persist for a long time. As a result of this spill, people in the area may suffer increased cancer rates, and the potential for arsenic poisoning.

The Tennessee Valley Authority has asked that it be granted immunity because it is a government entity, and has asked that some suits be dismissed because plaintiffs live too far away from the site.

But according to the Tennessee Valley Authority Act, plaintiffs' lawyers say, the entity can be sued. And there may be reason to believe that the failure of the dam could have been prevented. Five years ago, the same dam had a "blowout," a leak that filled a ditch and sent contaminated material onto a nearby roadway. Although that leak was fixed, an October 2008 inspection showed another leak in a different part of the dam, perhaps indicating that the reservoir was overstressed.

If your community has been hurt by a toxic spill, you need a law firm with the scientific, financial, and legal resources to pursue your complex case, no matter who is the opponent. The Memphis, Tennessee toxic tort lawyers of The Cochran Firm stand ready to help you. Schedule a free toxic tort consultation today to learn how we can help.

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posted by Benjamin A. Irwin at 7:22 AM

Monday, April 20, 2009

After my Car Accident, Do I Need an Attorney?

Car accidents occur very often on the roads today. In fact, most people will be involved in an automobile accident in their lifetime. If you have been in a car accident, you may be entitled to receive compensation, even if you were partly at fault. The laws governing car accidents differ from state to state, which is just one reason seeking advice from an attorney is imperative.

After you are involved in a car accident, an insurance adjustor representing the other drivers involved will most likely contact you and seek to get a statement from you over the phone. They may even make you an immediate offer in an effort to settle the case. What you must remember, however, is that you are in no way obligated to speak to any insurance adjustors. If you are not represented by counsel, simply refuse to talk to them, and if you are, refer them to your attorney.

Insurance companies will do everything in their power to deny you the compensation you deserve. If they do make you an initial offer, it is most likely much, much less than you are entitled to receive. Insurance companies are business, seeking to make a profit. The quicker they get rid of your case, the less money it costs them. Any offer they may make is in an effort to pay out as little money as possible to you.

Obtaining an attorney after you are involved in a car accident is very, very important. Some states allow you to receive compensation even if you are partially at fault. The laws governing car accidents can be very difficult to interpret, and dealing with the insurance companies can be even more frustrating. The quicker you talk to an attorney, the quicker your case can be resolved in a fair, just manner.

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

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posted by Benjamin A. Irwin at 7:24 AM

Friday, April 17, 2009

GM Faces Wrongful Death Suit over Defective Seat Belts

General Motors has been sued for wrongful death by Patricia Seals, a Texas woman who alleges that her daughter’s death in a June 2008 auto accident was the result of a defective seat belt. Ms. Seals is seeking at least $75,000 in damages from the auto manufacturer.

The daughter of Ms. Seals was sitting in the front passenger seat of a Chevy Cavalier at the time of the accident. During the accident, the webbing of the seat belt restraint system ripped. Ms. Seals claims that the malfunctioning of the seat belt restraint system directly led to the injuries resulting in her daughter’s untimely death.

Seals and her lawyer have argued that the defective seat belt restraining system was not properly constructed, and as a result failed to provide passengers with the necessary protection to avoid injury in the event of a serious auto accident. They have also argued that GM failed to properly test their defective product before releasing it on the market.

If your loved one has died as a result of the negligence of another party, the attorneys at The Cochran Firm can help you receive the compensation you deserve to help you move on with your life. Please contact The Cochran Firm today to schedule a consultation. We serve clients nationwide.

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posted by Benjamin A. Irwin at 12:11 PM

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Report Says Texas Medical Malpractice Reforms Discriminate

Four law professors, three of them from the University of Texas law school and one from the University of Illinois, released a study citing evidence that caps on non-economic damages medical malpractice cases are discriminatory in the state of Texas. Because of the caps, cases won by the plaintiff saw their damages reduced 47% of the time. It was found that the cases that had most of the damages reduced involved the unemployed, the elderly, and the deceased. It is believed this is so due to the groups do not have lost wages to “prop up” their claims.

If a jury found that there was enough evidence to show a medical professional acted in a negligent way, and the jury has determined what that plaintiff deserves in compensation, then one would think that all the money would get to them. However, 30 states have caps on medical malpractice claims, so it isn’t just Texas. But the study found that when there is a death involved in a Texas medical malpractice case, the elderly, unemployed, and the surviving children have their compensation limited to non-economic damages.

Fully compensating injured parties, especially those who have no other recourse, like the elderly, but especially the children, should be an important step and a concern of each and every state. If, as has been suggested in the study, and elsewhere, caps are keeping some attorneys from accepting medical malpractice cases from these groups, it can be argued that justice has not been served.

That being said, if you feel you have a medical malpractice case, please contact the experienced medical malpractice attorneys at the Cochran Firm. We serve clients across the country, and will gladly answer any questions you have concerning your claim.

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posted by Benjamin A. Irwin at 1:21 PM

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Defective Product: Class I Recall

ZOLL Medical Corporation has recalled its Automated External (AED) Plus Defibrillator in a Class I recall. This type of recall is used for defective medical devices which could cause severe injury or death if they continue to be used.

Atrial fibrillation is a very fast heartbeat that does not effectively pump blood around the body. A defibrillator is a device that monitors a cardiac patient’s heart rhythm, and sends an electrical shock to the heart if it goes into atrial fibrillation. The shock jolts the heart’s electrical system and restores it to a normal rhythm. Some defibrillators are implanted in the patient’s chest and some are external.

The ZOLL AED Plus™ Defibrillator

This defibrillator is an external one used by emergency response teams or medical workers with CPR training (Cardio-Pulmonary Resuscitation). It is designed for patients in cardiac arrest, meaning that their heart has stopped beating. Not all patients in cardiac arrest need a shock. About half will need it and the other half need CPR resuscitation.

The ZOLL AED has a graphical interface with text displays and voice prompts that walk a rescuer through each step in the right sequence. It can register what the rescuer is doing to help the patient, and will give messages to help make treatment more effective. For example:

  • If the rescue worker is not pressing on the patient’s chest hard enough, it will give a message to push harder
  • If the worker is pushing hard enough, it will say “Good compressions”
  • If the chest compressions are not fast enough, a metronome will beat at the correct rate
  • If the rescue work has not started yet, it will tell the worker when to start


This AED analyzes the patient’s heart electricity and if a shock is required, it directs the rescue worker to press a button that will deliver the electrical shock.

ZOLL AED Has Failed to Deliver the Electric Shock
By not delivering a required shock to the heart, this otherwise ingenious and helpful machine could endanger a patient’s life. In February, 2009, ZOLL sent an initial recall letter by certified mail to all its customers, reminding them to replace the device’s batteries every three years.

In March, 2009, ZOLL send a follow-up recall letter asking customers to download updated software for the defibrillator. It also sent this via email if it had an email address for the customer. ZOLL also plans to publish recall information in industry magazines. You can read more about ZOLL’s corrective actions on their Customer Support website page.

The FDA has extensive testing protocols and procedures in place for determining when a new product can be approved for marketing to the U.S. public. Sometimes an approved medical device or drug turns out to have a defect – whether in its functioning in all circumstances or in its labeling and warnings. A defective drug can be just as injurious as a defective medical device.

If you have been injured by a defective medical device, you may have a valid legal claim. To learn more, please contact our product liability lawyers today to schedule a free consultation and case evaluation.

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posted by Benjamin A. Irwin at 12:37 PM

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Small Vehicles Fare Poorly in Car Accidents with Midsize Vehicles

According to new tests by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), new, smaller cars that are being purchased by many people trying to conserve fuel may be more dangerous than other models.

Minicars, sometimes called microcars, are being promoted by car makers, partly to appeal to people looking for smaller, cheaper, and fuel-frugal cars. However, according to recent crash tests, they are more dangerous to drive than other cars. Most minicars do well on the Institute's offset barrier test, a good indicator of how well they will perform in an auto accident with another car of its size. However, when the Institute crashed three of the smaller cars into mid-size cars by the same manufacturer, each traveling 40 mph, they found that the smaller cars performed poorly.

The Honda Fit (31 mpg) was crashed into a Honda Accord (29 mpg). While the Accord scored a good rating, the Fit scored poor, showing likely injuries to the legs during a crash. The Smart Fortwo (41 mpg) was crashed into a Mercedes C-Class (25 mpg). Again, the C-Class achieved a good result, while the Smart Fortwo did far worse. It went into the air and spun 450 degrees, throwing the crash dummy around inside the car, with likely injury to head, neck, legs, and elsewhere. The Toyota Yaris (36 mpg) was crashed into the Toyota Camry (31 mpg). The Yaris showed likely head injury, neck injury, and leg injury.

For many of these cars, the increase in fuel economy is slight when compared to the increased likelihood of injury. In some cases, they may be considered defective vehicles for their inability to protect passengers. If you have been injured in an automobile accident, no matter what the car, you need representation to increase your likelihood of a settlement that covers your injuries. Please schedule a free, no-obligation auto accident consultation with the vehicle accident lawyers at The Cochran Firm today.

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posted by Benjamin A. Irwin at 11:33 AM

Monday, April 13, 2009

Defective Medical Devices

When we go to the doctor, we trust the medical professionals with our most important attribute – our health. Sometimes humans make mistakes; there are medical malpractice laws to protect us from those mistakes. However, it is also possible that the devices the doctors and medical professionals use may be defective. Defective medical devices can lead to injuries or even fatalities that you may not have had to face if those devices were manufactured properly or used as intended.

Take the shoulder pain pump, for example. The shoulder pain pump is a device that is used to deliver pain medication after arthroscopic surgery. However, it was later discovered that the shoulder pain pump was causing destruction of the cartilage in the joint of the shoulder.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is the federal agency charged with protecting the public from defective products of all types, including defective medical devices. The FDA has to approve medical devices for use and distribution to the public after ensuring that such product is safe for use. Physicians are also required to submit Medical Device Report if they encounter any medical device failure that resulted in an injury, illness or fatality.

The FDA approval only applies to the manufacturer, however. Physicians are not governed by the FDA in how they use medical devices. Even though a medical device is approved by the FDA for one use, a physician may use that device in a manner not approved by the FDA.

Whether the device fails when being used in a manner approved by the FDA, or if the physician was using it in another way, defective medical devices can often pose catastrophic risks to patients.

If you or a loved one has suffered due to a defective medical device, please contact the experienced attorneys at The Cochran Firm, with offices nationwide, today.

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posted by Benjamin A. Irwin at 7:14 AM

Friday, April 10, 2009

Michigan Debating a Repeal of Law Preventing Pharmaceutical Liability Lawsuits

For the last 13 years, Michigan residents have been unable to sue drug manufacturers for damages when their defective pharmaceutical products cause serious injury. In 1995, the state passed a law shielding pharmaceutical companies from product liability lawsuits if the drug was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Under this law, the drug manufacturers must have truthfully represented all of the research about the drug to the FDA in order to receive immunity from lawsuits.

The Michigan legislature passed this law in the belief that it would help bring pharmaceutical companies to Michigan, thereby creating many jobs for the state’s struggling economy. However, the law has not produced its desired results. In recent years, many pharmaceutical companies have actually moved their operations out of Michigan to states that did not have similar immunity laws.

There is an obvious ethical question associated with this law. Is sacrificing the rights of injured victims acceptable to create new jobs? The many Michigan residents who have been unable to receive fair compensation for injuries caused by the negligent actions of pharmaceutical companies most likely do not feel that it is acceptable. How can a state reasonably justify placing corporate profits and the creation of jobs over human rights?

Recently, Michigan Democrats have proposed a bill that would repeal this law. If it passes, Michigan residents would once again have the ability to hold drug manufacturers accountable when their products inflict serious injury on unsuspecting consumers. However, this bill faces strong opposition by state Republicans, and it is uncertain whether it will pass.

Interestingly, Michigan’s immunity law was not affected by last month’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Wyeth v. Levine, which stated that pharmaceutical companies should not be protected from lawsuits under the doctrine of preemption.

It will be interesting to see how this bill plays out in the Michigan state legislature. This bill carries high stakes for many people on each side of the debate.

If you have suffered an injury from taking a dangerous or defective drug, the attorneys at The Cochran Firm can help you receive the fair compensation you deserve. Our product liability lawyers have years of experience fighting major pharmaceutical companies in defective drug claims, and we have the skills and resources needed to provide you with the greatest likelihood of success in your claim.

Please contact The Cochran Firm today to schedule an appointment with one of our experienced product liability attorneys. We serve clients nationwide.

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posted by Benjamin A. Irwin at 10:14 AM

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Nursing Home Abuse Allegations in Tennessee Just Part of Larger Problem

When we take our elderly to nursing homes, we do so with regret and sadness, but probably also with some relief. We know they will be taken care of on a daily basis in ways we can’t. At least we hope this is the case. However, reports of nursing home abuse are in the news every single day. For whatever reason, these stories don’t seem to draw as much attention as do reports of child abuse, even though some of these elderly patients are as helpless and defenseless as our young are in many ways.

Take the story of a nursing home on the border of Tennessee and Virginia, for example. For nearly a decade, workers claim that a nurses’ aide molested those who were supposed to be in his care. These allegations come from both employees, as well as patients. While this may not necessarily be news, in the sense that this happens more than people care to admit, what is news is that despite complaint after complaint, the man was allowed to keep his job.

The nursing home is part of the National HealthCare Corp. (NHC), a conglomerated of nursing homes stretching across the country. Employees of the nursing home have described the managers at NHC as seemingly indifferent when they told them of the nurses’ aide’s conduct. As a result of this attitude, many of the employees quit in frustration. This went on until 2007 when the nurses’ aide was given the ultimatum of leave or be terminated. However, he quickly began working at another nursing home nearby. The case is now being investigated by Tennessee authorities. However, NHC has made the news before due to lack of quality care, payments made to injured patients and families, as well as a fire that killed 16 patients in a Nashville nursing home in 2003. (The law in Tennessee didn’t require the home have sprinklers, so they were never added.)

This is simply one example of what goes on. There are many cases that never make the news and many cases of family members confused as to why their elderly loved ones seem to be acting in ways that leave the family with questions and suspicions. Unfortunately, getting answers from the nursing home administration may be difficult. If a nursing home patient has dementia, how can what they say or how they act be trusted?

Nursing home abuse and neglect may be due to several factors. One of those is that many nursing home employees are spread thin. Even in an economic downturn, there simply are not enough people working in nursing homes. The home in Tennessee was supposed to be one aide per eight patients, but the managers tried to stretch this to one per twelve. So, perhaps it is a case of higher ups not wanting to pay out more for caregivers. As a result, burnout, stress, and short tempers are common with nurses’ aides.

But this is just a part of a larger picture, and a growing problem. As the nation gets older and more families look to nursing homes to care for their family members, there may be further reports of abuse and neglect.

If you suspect your loved one may be the victim of nursing home abuse, please contact the experienced nursing home abuse attorneys at the Cochran Firm. We have offices nationwide.

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posted by Benjamin A. Irwin at 9:27 AM

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Brain Injury Research on Accident Victims

A national traumatic-injury study has been going on for several years, funded by the National Institutes of Health, in ten medical centers. Included is the Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) in Portland, Oregon. This part of the study includes emergency medical service agencies and is studying accident victims.

The goal has been to find the best way of helping people recover from traumatic shock, from either excessive bleeding or traumatic brain injury (TBI). Such catastrophic injuries occur too often as a result of automobile accidents or truck accidents.

The victims in this study are unable to give their consent to being in the study, because of their injuries. Therefore the work is being done under FDA guidelines that permit research without any patient authorization, in some life-threatening circumstances.

Two Methods Used to Help Victim Recovery

1. Normal saline solution
2. Hypertonic saline solution (with a greater salt content than blood)

These solutions are infused into the patient’s bloodstream to replace lost fluid when severe bleeding is present. The hypertonic solution has been found in past studies to reduce swelling and increase blood flow to the brain, which would presumably help with brain function recovery.

Part of the Study Halted

The researchers have been looking at survival rates and brain function recovery rates. Part of the study has been halted – the part studying people in shock from severe blood loss. Researchers were finding that results for this group were equal for both types of saline solution, except in one respect: they found that victims given hypertonic solution were more often dying before reaching a hospital whereas victims given normal saline died later during the following 28 days.

The other part of the study is continuing, to discover whether hypertonic saline solutions can help TBI patients six months after their injury.

If any person in the Portland area does not want to be part of this study should they be injured in a car accident, they can obtain an alert bracelet saying “No Study” by calling 503-494-8083.

If you or a loved one has sustained a brain injury, whether in an automobile accident, from a defective product, or in some other way, please contact our brain injury attorneys for a free case evaluation.

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posted by Benjamin A. Irwin at 12:38 PM

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Cruise Ship Injuries

A cruise ship is like a city. A random combination of people from assorted countries is packed into a certain amount of space and must somehow get along. News reports of cruise ship injuries have been increasing in recent months. All the same crimes can occur on a cruise ship as on land, such as burglary, rape and murder. All the same injuries can also occur from such actions, as well as more routine accidents such as slip-and-fall, food poisoning, and head injuries from falling objects.

In addition there are some accidents that are specific to shipboard life, such as falling overboard and nearly drowning or being bitten by a shark.

Television ads give a false, glitzy image of cruises. A cruise line does not necessarily run a background check on its crew members before hiring them. Nor does it always check into the safety records of companies providing activities in the various ports of call, such as scuba diving, tours, and fishing expeditions.

Which Laws Apply?
Generally, when you have left the U.S. on a cruise ship, U.S. law no longer applies. If you are injured while in the care of the cruise ship company, whether on board or in a port, General Maritime Law may apply, and/or the laws of the country whose flag your ship is flying. In some cases, contract law may apply, or deceptive trade practices law. However, if a death occurs, there is a U.S. law that will apply.

Death on the High Seas Act (DOHSA)
The Death on the High Seas Act covers fatalities that happen more than three nautical miles from any state’s coastline. A decedent’s personal representative can bring a claim under the DOHSA, but can claim only monetary damages. No non-pecuniary damages such as loss of consortium are allowed.

If you or a loved one have sustained a severe injury while on a cruise, it would be a good idea to consult with an experienced cruise ship injury lawyer. Prosecution of these claims can be very complex.

To arrange for a free case evaluation, please call or email our cruise ship injury lawyers today.

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posted by Benjamin A. Irwin at 10:30 AM

Who Should Bear the Cost of Medtronic's Defective Product?

When Medtronic introduced the Sprint Fidelis defibrillator lead, it was quickly adopted as the new standard in defibrillator leads. Over the next three years, more than a quarter-million people around the world, including over 150,000 Americans, had the leads implanted, until Medtronic abruptly stopped selling them in 2007 after five people with them died. Medtronic acknowledged that the breakage rate for this defective product was about 2.3 %, much higher than the original estimated 1%.

The failure rate continues to climb and now stands at 5% confirmed failure rate, with some studies showing Sprint Fidelis defibrillator lead failure rates ranging as high as 12%. Since the possibility exists that many of the leads will fail without warning signs until the defibrillator does not give a life-saving electric shock, the failure rate may actually be much higher. Now, people who have faulty leads must have them removed and replaced with more reliable leads. The operation is expensive, around $20,000, and potentially deadly. Already, at least four people have been killed during the operation. Who is responsible for these wrongful deaths and who should pay the cost of these operations?

Should the patient pay? Of course, the patient knew there was a risk the product would fail, but they were not told it would fail so quickly and in such great numbers. Should the implanting physician pay? The physician performed his or her job implanting the leads, and according to the company's data, selecting the Sprint Fidelis lead would not constitute medical malpractice. Should Medicare or a private insurer pay? Currently, they are the ones paying, but when they decided to cover the cost of Sprint Fidelis lead implantation, they were also not informed about the high failure rate. Should the manufacturer pay? Medtronic manufactured the defective medical product. They marketed the product, sold it, and collected profits from the product. They should be responsible for paying the price.

Unfortunately, the manufacturer is the one person who doesn't have to pay. According to the US Supreme Court decision in Riegel v. Medtronic, medical device manufacturers are immune to lawsuits based on FDA-approved devices that could make them pay the monetary and human costs of their defective product. Instead, Medtronic is offering only replacement leads for free. A replacement product is adequate when the product is a toaster or paddle-ball, but not when the defective product has such expensive and deadly consequences.

Hundreds of lawsuits over this defective medical device are on hold, but hope exists. Currently, Congress is considering legislation to overturn Riegel v. Medtronic and allow patients to receive compensation for their injuries. Schedule a free, no-obligation defective product lawsuit consultation with the product liability lawyers at The Cochran Firm today to learn whether you can pursue a lawsuit for your injuries related to this or other defective products.

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posted by Benjamin A. Irwin at 9:14 AM

Monday, April 6, 2009

Spinal Cord Injuries

The spinal cord contains multiple nerves that serve as the messenger between the brain and the body. Every move we make as humans is delivered from our brain, through our spinal cord, to the appropriate destination, such as our arms or legs. The spinal cord plays a vital role in our day-to-day movements, and this is why spinal cord injuries most often result in partial or total loss of movement and feeling.

The location of the injury plays a large part in the effects suffered as a result. If the damage to the spinal cord at a lower point on our backs, there is usually loss of movement from the waist down, but if the injury is high up on the spinal cord, in the neck area, there is usually paralysis of all extremities from the neck down.

There are multiple causes of spinal cord injuries, including:
• Sports injuries
Slip and falls
Automobile accidents
• Acts of violence, such as a gunshot wound or stabbing
• Diseases, such as arthritis or cancer

Spinal cord injuries are not always immediately obvious. In some cases paralysis or loss of feeling may result immediately after the trauma; however, in other cases, the symptoms of a spinal cord injury may slowly become more debilitating as the swelling in the spinal cord increases over days.

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

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posted by Benjamin A. Irwin at 7:08 AM

Friday, April 3, 2009

Product Defect – Rocket Fuel Found in Baby Formula

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has found traces of perchlorate, a chemical used in rocket fuel, in several different brands of powdered baby formula. The study has not specified which brands of baby formula are contaminated with the toxic chemical.

The amount of perchlorate found in baby formula could be very dangerous to a newborn if mixed with water that has also been contaminated with the chemical. Perchlorate has been known to occur naturally in drinking water, but the contamination of our water supply with the toxic chemical is generally a result of defense and aerospace waste.

Excessive amounts of perchlorate can cause thyroid problems in a fetus or newborn. The thyroid is responsible for governing your body’s metabolism, and thyroid conditions can adversely affect the brain development of a fetus or infant.

It is still uncertain how serious the risk of thyroid damage is based on the CDC study. Factors such as the infant’s size and the amount of formula consumed will affect an individual baby’s level of risk. Furthermore, iodine, which the government requires baby formula to contain, may offset some of the hazardous effects of perchlorate.

The experienced product liability attorneys at The Cochran Firm can help you receive the compensation you deserve if your baby has developed a thyroid condition from drinking toxic baby formula. Our lawyers will work tirelessly to ensure that no aspect of your case is overlooked.

If you have a product liability claim, please contact The Cochran Firm today to schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys. We serve clients nationwide.

posted by Benjamin A. Irwin at 11:47 AM

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Truck Accident in California Kills 2 and Injures 12

A truck transporting cars lost control coming off a highway and crashed into a bookstore in La Canada Flintridge, California. The truck careened through an intersection during rush hour, smashing several vehicles before coming to rest in the bookstore. A man and his 12-year-old daughter were killed when the truck ran over the car they were in, and twelve others were injured. Three people remain in critical condition. Besides the damage done to the bookstore, a wine store and nail salon were also damaged.

The highway the truck accident occurred on runs through the town near Los Angeles. Authorities have said the truck lost control as it was coming off the highway and could not make a turn. City officials in La Canada Flintridge have complained to CalTrans about the dangers of the intersection. After a collision involving a semi-truck that injured one person in September, the city asked the state to prohibit trucks on other parts of the highway, post warning signs about the steep grades of the road, and install an escape lane uphill from the dangerous intersection.

Truck accidents like this can occur for many reasons. Defective roadways, defective vehicles, and the negligence of the driver are just some of these. If you or a loved one has been injured in a truck accident, please contact the experienced truck accident attorneys at the Cochran Firm. We serve clients nationwide.

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posted by Benjamin A. Irwin at 10:54 AM

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