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Friday, October 30, 2009

Jury Awards $16.5 Million in Wrongful Death Lawsuit

A Sacramento jury has awarded the surviving family members of Jennifer Lea Strange more than $16.5 million in a wrongful death lawsuit related to her death in a radio station water-drinking contest approximately three years ago.

The jury voted unanimously against Entercom Sacramento LLC, claiming they were negligent in putting on this contest. However, the jury found that the parent company, Entercom Communications Corp. based in Philadelphia, was not guilty of any negligent actions.
The jury claimed that Entercom Sacramento LLC did not properly follow the rules and guidelines set by the parent company. Had they followed these guidelines, the contest either would never have been held, or at the very least, proper medical personnel would have been present to ensure the safety of participants.

The contest that led to Ms. Strange's death was called "Hold Your Wee for a Wii." The contest awarded a free Nintendo Wii to the person who could drink the most water without urinating or vomiting. Ms. Strange died of acute water intoxication as a result of participating in this contest. She is survived by her husband and three children.

If you have lost a loved one due to the negligent actions of another, the experienced wrongful death attorneys at The Cochran Firm can help you receive the compensation you deserve for your loss. It is important to act quickly because most states have statutes of limitations governing these claims.

Please contact The Cochran Firm today to schedule your free initial consultation. We serve clients nationwide.

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posted by Benjamin A. Irwin at 3:19 PM

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Montana Family Awarded $850K in Aluminum Bat Lawsuit

The family of an 18-year-old killed during a Helena, Montana baseball game has been awarded $850,000 by a jury. The jury found the maker of the Louisville Slugger baseball bat did not adequately warn about the dangers the bat posed. The family contends the aluminum bat makes the ball travel at a greater speed. As a result, their son did not have time to protect himself before he was struck in the head while pitching in 2003.

The $850,000 award includes $792,000 to the victim for his lost earnings, pain and suffering, and another $58,000 awarded to his family for their pain and suffering. The victim's amount will go to his estate. The judge in the case is still considering punitive damages.

The family said they never expected the amount they were awarded and were more interested in getting the truth of what happened out and to raise awareness that aluminum bats should be considered a dangerous product and the hope that more youth leagues will use wooden bats instead. The jury decided the bat was not a defective product, but a warning label should have been provided.

Attorneys for the manufacturer argued this was a tragic accident, but that accidents happen in sports. A sporting trade group said much the same thing and added the same event could have occurred with a wooden bat. However, many amateur teams have started using wooden bats after the death of the Montana victim.

Other suits are pending against the manufacturer. In 2006, a New Jersey 12-year-old suffered brain damage when he was struck by a line drive hit off an aluminum bat. That suit is pending in New Jersey Superior Court. Another family in Oklahoma won their verdict against the company and was awarded damages after a teenage pitcher was hit in the head, suffering severe injuries.

If your child has been injured by a baseball hit off an aluminum bat, please contact the experienced defective product attorneys at the Cochran Firm today. We serve clients nationwide.

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posted by Benjamin A. Irwin at 9:20 AM

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

$12.7 Million Awarded in Premises Liability Trial

On October 22, a Seattle firefighter was awarded $12.7 million for catastrophic injuries sustained when he fell down a pole shaft. Mark Jones was a former deputy sheriff, a member of the Honor Guard, and an enthusiastic outdoorsman. He was working a night shift at a fire station not his usual one, and woke about 3 a.m. in his second-floor bunk to go to the bathroom.

In the dark, he opened the door to the fire pole instead of the bathroom door. Both were on the same wall about six feet apart. There should have been a safety light over the fire pole door, but it had burned out. There should also have been a chain across the opening but it was not latched.

Jones fell about 18 feet to the first floor, sustaining ten broken ribs, many pelvic bone fractures, brain damage, and spinal cord damage. The state Department of Labor and Industries conducted an investigation of this incident and fined the Fire Department $800 for a safety violation. The Department has since put reflective tape around the fire pole shafts and installed glass doors with special handles that will only open if they are pushed in.

In 2006, Jones filed a premises liability suit against the City of Seattle. The City offered to settle before going to trial and offered an undisclosed amount that evidently was not accepted. Now that this $12.7 million award has been made, the City is debating whether or not to appeal. Seattle is insured for $5 million and their insurance carrier would be responsible for the rest of the $12.7 million.

Firefighters to the Rescue

Meanwhile, Jones is now unable to work at any kind of job. He lives with his twin sister, Lt. Meg Jones, who is his guardian and also a Seattle firefighter. The Firefighters’ Union has arranged for other members to cover her shifts without pay during this period, to save her having to use up her vacation and sick time to attend Jones’ trial.

A firefighter friend of Jones and his sister, one Andy Sappier, has organized an annual firefighter department softball tournament to raise money for Jones’ living expenses. Other firefighters have donated time to help Lt. Jones with errands, yard work, and picking up the medications her brother needs to get through each day.

Sappier stated that this ordeal has brought the firefighters closer together:

  • "I think everybody feels a little bit closer in knowing this could be somebody they work with, or this could be them somewhere down the road. [Mark Jones] used to be a deputy sheriff and now he can't even sweep the floors. He's not viable to have any sustainable job or income or feel like he's part of something. The reason I did all that was that I never wanted him to be forgotten."

An award of $12.7 million would certainly be a great comfort from the point of view of expenses for living assistance, medical care, medications, etc. But having ones friends and colleagues rally around so supportively and productively is a comfort of another kind, perhaps more sustaining and healing to these twin firefighters than anything else could be.

If you or a loved one has sustained catastrophic injuries through another’s negligence, please contact our personal injury lawyers today for a free case review and consultation.

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posted by Benjamin A. Irwin at 10:55 AM

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Non-Economic Damages Cap in Kansas to Be Tested by Medical Malpractice Case

In 1988, the Kansas legislature believed that Kansas was being overrun by frivolous lawsuits and enacted a type of tort reform that is commonly advocated, placing a $250,000 cap on noneconomic damages awarded in lawsuits. According to advocates of the reform, it was necessary to stop runaway juries and jackpot justice from stifling the Kansas economy. (Never mind that the main effect of damage caps is to increase profitability of insurers and not to improve the economy, according to numerous studies that looked at tort reforms in Kansas and dozens of other states.)

The cap has remained on the books since then, but starting Thursday it will be facing a constitutional challenge. The source of the challenge is a small-town woman who went in for surgery in nearby Lawrence, only to come out with the wrong ovary removed. She sued the doctor for medical malpractice. The doctor's main defense of the lawsuit was that the second ovary probably would have had to be removed anyway, so no harm, no foul. The jury did not buy the defense and awarded the woman for $759,680, including $84,680 for past medical expenses, $100,000 for future medical expenses, $175,000 for loss or impairment of services as a spouse, $250,000 for pain, suffering, disability, and $100,000 for future pain, suffering, and disability.

Leaning on the damage cap, a District Court judge struck the $150,000 for future pain, suffering and disability, and the $100,000 for future medical expenses, prompting the woman's attorneys to take their challenge to the Kansas Supreme Court. The argument is that the damage cap is unconstitutional for two reasons. First, it violates the separation of powers because it represents the legislature usurping powers reserved for the judicial branch. Second, the cap is unconstitutional because it puts a special burden on people who have suffered the worst injuries.

Wrong-site surgery is an egregious surgical error, and this lawsuit highlights how even modest lawsuit verdicts can be significantly decreased, no matter how bad the mistake on the part of the doctor.

The medical malpractice attorneys at The Cochran Firm are prepared to fight for people injured and suffering as a result of a doctor's error. To learn more, please contact us today for a free case evaluation.

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posted by Benjamin A. Irwin at 3:21 PM

Monday, October 26, 2009

Maker of Prempro Found "Negligent" in Dangerous Drug Case

A Philadelphia jury decided that the drug company, Pfizer, Inc., maker of Prempro (a hormone replacement drug for women), is liable for $3.7 million in damaged to an woman in Illinois who developed breast cancer five years after starting the drug. Connie Barton, 64 is just one of the estimated six million women who have taken hormone replacement drugs to treat some of the uncomfortable symptoms of menopause including:

Night sweats
Hot flashes
Mood swings

Prempro (a combination of estrogen and progestin) is still on the market. The jury ruled that the drug maker concealed the breast cancer risks of Prempro. At this time, a total of 31 Prempro cases are set for trial; nineteen cases have been thrown out by judges or withdrawn by the plaintiff. Pfizer's Upjohn unit lost both of the cases that went to trial thus far. However, those verdicts were thrown out by trial judges at a later date.

The Philadelphia jury in the Barton case concluded that Pfizer’s Wyeth unit "negligently failed to adequately warn" Barton's doctors about the dangers of Prempro. The jury found that Wyeth’s conduct regarding hiding cancer risks was "willful and wanton," which makes the company open to punitive damages.

If you or a loved one has been harmed by a dangerous drug, please contact The Cochran Firm, with offices nationwide, today to schedule a confidential, no-cost consultation.

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posted by Benjamin A. Irwin at 12:05 PM

Friday, October 23, 2009

Truck Accident: Tanker Truck Explodes on Highway

A liquid propane tanker truck exploded on a Highway ramp near Indianapolis Thursday morning, sending flames and black smoke into the sky. Two major highways were closed as a result of the truck accident.

The truck driver was hospitalized with burn injuries, although doctors do not believe that they are life threatening. One other person near the accident scene was taken to a nearby hospital as well.

Two men working near the highway ramp helped pull the truck driver out of the burning tanker shortly before it blew up. Nearby drivers were forced to put their cars in reverse in order to escape the massive flames at the scene of the truck accident, which charred nearby billboards and a cellular phone tower.

The truck accident appears to have been caused by a rollover which separated the cab from the tanker. The tanker caught fire underneath an interstate bridge. The flames could be seen and the heat could be felt for two miles. The highways near the explosion have been closed indefinitely while engineers examine the bridge for safety.

If you have been injured in a truck accident caused by the negligence of a truck driver, the experienced personal injury lawyers at The Cochran Firm can help you receive compensation for your damages. Please contact our truck accident attorneys today to schedule your free initial consultation. The Cochran Firm serves clients nationwide.

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posted by Benjamin A. Irwin at 7:04 AM

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Injury Risk Leads to Recall of Office Depot Chair

Raynor Marketing and the US Consumer Product Safety Commission have recalled the Quantum Office Chair due to a potential risk of injury. This voluntary recall affects the chairs that were sold through Office Depot stores across the country.

The Multifunction Mesh Chair with Headrest and the Quantum Realspace PRO™ 9000 Series Mid-Back Multifunction Mesh Chair have both been reported to malfunction when they are being used. According to reports, the bolts in the seatback of the chairs can come loose and detach. When this happens, the user may fall off the chair. There have been over 30 injuries linked to falling out of the office chair.

The defective chair models are:

  • Quantum Realspace PRO™ 9000 Series Mesh Chair with Headrest SKU # 690690
  • Quantum Realspace PRO™ 9000 Series Mid-Back Multifunction Mesh Chair SKU # 510830


The chairs were sold through Office Depot stores and online from May 2006 to August 2009. Over 150,000 chairs have been purchased. They were recalled October 16, 2009. The defective product was imported through Raynor Marketing LTD in West Hempstead, New York and manufactured by Comfort Furniture, LTD, China.

If you have purchased one of these chairs, the CPSC asks you to stop using the chair and contact Raynor to be sent a free repair kit. Call (866-244-8180) or visit their website.

If you or a loved one has been injured by falling out of one of these defective chairs, please contact the defective product attorneys at the Cochran Firm. We serve clients nationwide.

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posted by Benjamin A. Irwin at 10:12 AM

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Tanker Truck Accident With Horse-Drawn Buggy

Yesterday, October 20, three Amish sisters were traveling on an Ohio road in a horse-drawn buggy. The oldest sister, one Verna Slabaugh aged 17, was driving the buggy, and her sisters aged 14 and 5 were passengers. They were on their way to visit their grandmother.

A commercial semi truck was traveling on the same road, both vehicles heading north. It was hauling a load of plastic. As the truck was beginning to pass the buggy, it turned left in front of the truck and there was an intersectional collision. The five-year-old child, Lydia, was thrown from the buggy and trapped beneath the truck.

Small Girl Conscious and Crying

Emergency workers took 45 minutes to extract her from between the two rear tandem tires of the semi truck. One Gary Conard heard news of the truck accident on his police scanner and went to see how the girls were.

  • "They had to raise the semi up to get her out of there," he said. "She's lucky to be alive."

When the medical workers retrieved her, Lydia was conscious and crying. She was flown by helicopter to Children’s Hospital in Columbus in critical condition. By that time, several members of the Slabaugh family had arrived and Conard drove them all to the hospital. The two older sisters sustained only minor injuries and the truck driver was not injured at all.

No Citations Issued Yet

As of Tuesday evening, no citations had been issued, although the accident is still under investigation. The Ohio Highway Patrol officer has said that the buggy lacked any rear reflective placard, which is required by law. However, there was no indication that such a placard would have made any difference in this accident. Since it was a left-turning accident, the trucker would not have seen any such placard.

As the news reports stand today, it would appear that the buggy driver erred in suddenly turning in front of the truck. Those huge vehicles need extra time and road space for stopping or slowing, and it is always important for smaller vehicles to keep enough distance from them for safety. But perhaps the truck’s brakes were not in tip-top condition, or there was some defect on the road, both of which factors often contribute to truck accidents. It remains to be seen what the continuing investigation will turn up.

If you have been injured in a truck accident and would like to consult a personal injury attorney about your rights and options, please contact our law firm today. We have offices nationwide for your convenience.

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posted by Benjamin A. Irwin at 2:06 PM

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

$13.5M Product Liability Lawsuit over Defective Fan Motor

In 2005, a fan manufactured by Lasko Products, Inc. of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania ignited a fire in a family home. A 7-year-old boy was trapped inside the house. Despite the efforts of rescue workers, the boy died of smoke inhalation and burns. Now, his mother and sister finally believe their quest for justice has been vindicated with a $13.5 million dollar verdict in their favor. The mother said she hoped that the verdict in the defective product case would call more people's attention to the recall of Lasko fans and save other families from experiencing a tragedy like hers.

The verdict included $4 million to the mother and $2 million to the sister for emotional distress. The verdict also included significant punitive damages against Lasko Products. Lasko had known about the defects in the Chinese-made motors in its fan since 1999, and had even developed corrective technology for the defect in 2004. But Lasko did not inform consumers or the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) about the defect until 2006. This despite a 2000 incident in which a 12-year-old boy was killed in a fire started by a Lasko fan. Lasko had reached a confidential settlement over the 2000 incident, a settlement that allowed Lasko to keep the incident secret and continue selling the defective fans without telling consumers of the CPSC until 2006, too late to stop more tragic loss of life.

Defective product lawsuits are about more than just getting compensation for your loss. They are also about protecting others. Regulatory agencies do have some power, but often that power is just enough for a company to want to conceal defective or dangerous products. For failing to report the defective fan motor, Lasko was fined only $500,000 by the CPSC, compared to the millions it would have cost the company to recall 5.6 million fans, as it was forced to do in 2006. But if a company is threatened with millions of dollars for every death their defective product causes, they are more likely to act in a timely fashion to protect consumers. If you have been hurt by a defective product, your lawsuit can literally save lives.

It is also important to work with a law firm that lets you stay in control. At the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania office of The Cochran Firm, we put our experience, our expertise, and our resources to work for you, but you remain in control. We will not accept a confidential settlement if you want a trial to publicize the risks of a dangerous product.

If you or someone you love has been injured or killed by a dangerous product and you want to take action against the company that could have protected you, The Cochran Firm can help. With our nationwide resources, we are capable to taking on any opponent no matter how large. Please, contact us today for a free consultation and case evaluation.

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posted by Benjamin A. Irwin at 2:56 PM

Monday, October 19, 2009

Premises Liability at Large Retail Chain

A man who claims he was injured in a slip and fall accident on water near a restroom in a Wal-Mart is seeking over $50,000 in damages. According to the lawsuit, Timothy Smith claims that on April 17, Wal-Mart allowed water to accumulate around the men's restroom causing him to slip and fall.

The suit claims that the store failed to use reasonable care to avoid the infliction of injury or distress on its customers and the public at large. The claim asserts that Wal-Mart negligently failed to inspect the area where the water accumulated, failed to warn of water, failed to inspect the men's restroom which allowed water to accumulate and negligently allowed water to accumulate in the area near the men's restroom and the area Smith had to use.

Smith claims the fall made him sick, sore, and disabled due to a brain injury and injuries to his fingers, hip, neck, and back. These injuries also caused him pain and suffering in addition to the numerous medical expenses.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a slip and fall accident in a store, on private property, in a parking garage, or around a public swimming pool, you may have a valid legal claim. Please contact the experienced premises liability attorneys at The Cochran Firm today to schedule a confidential consultation.

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posted by Benjamin A. Irwin at 6:48 AM

Friday, October 16, 2009

Sweat Lodge Deaths Upgraded to Homicide

The investigation into the wrongful death of two participants at a sweat lodge ceremony last week has been upgraded from an accidental death inquiry to a homicide investigation. The incident occurred last Thursday night at a spiritual retreat in Angel Valley Resort, just outside of Sedona, Arizona. Nineteen others were hospitalized with injuries. One person is still in critical condition.

Authorities have issued a search warrant for James Ray International Offices. Mr. Ray, a self-help guru and author, ran the five day spiritual retreat at Angel Valley. Participants were charged $9,000 to attend the retreat consisting of seminars, a 36 hour fast, a solo expedition in the forest, and a traditional Native American sweat lodge ceremony.

Investigators are hoping the search warrant will turn up documents discussing the construction of the sweat lodge, the proper use of these structures, and the potential warnings that may or may have not been issued to participants regarding the risks associated with a sweat lodge ceremony. Police have not yet released the findings of the search of Mr. Ray's office.

Sweat lodge ceremonies are intended to be used for spiritual enlightenment. Traditional Native American ceremonies are conducted in a structure made of willow branches covered in canvas. Rocks are heated in a fire pit and water is poured over them to create steam. Generally these ceremonies are capped at approximately 20 people so that the spiritual leader can monitor the health and safety of each participant.

Ray's ceremony crammed 55-65 people into a structure covered with blankets and plastic tarps which are not breathable. Sandalwood was used to simulate the effect of burning incense; however, studies have shown inhalation of sandalwood to be toxic.

It is uncertain at this time whether Mr. Ray and his associates will be charged with murder. However, they will most likely face two hefty wrongful death lawsuits from the families of the deceased victims.

If you have lost a loved one due to the negligent actions of another, the experienced wrongful death lawyers at The Cochran Firm can help you receive the compensation you deserve. Please contact The Cochran Firm today to schedule your free initial consultation. We serve clients nationwide.

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posted by Benjamin A. Irwin at 2:07 PM

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Train Derailment Accident Victims Settle Lawsuits against Metrolink

The January 2005 Metrolink train derailment accident that killed 11 and injured 150 has been settled for $30 million. The lead attorney for the plaintiffs says this will settle around 90 percent of the suits, including 15 serious personal injury cases and nine wrongful death cases.

The train accident occurred when a man intending to commit suicide parked his SUV on the train tracks. The man changed his mind at the last minute and jumped out of the SUV, but the speeding train hit the vehicle. The Metrolink then derailed, hit a parked locomotive and then collided with another Metrolink traveling in the opposite direction. The man who parked the SUV was convicted of murder and sentenced to 11 consecutive life terms.

If there is a civil trial, attorneys for the plaintiffs plan to argue the collision could have been avoided had the train engineer applied the emergency brake immediately. Instead, data shows he hit the service brake for approximately six seconds. The engineer contends he hit the emergency brake as soon as he realized the SUV was parked on the tracks.

This was the deadliest train accident in California history until last year's Metrolink accident killed 25 people when the commuter train hit a freight train in Chatsworth.

If you or a loved one has been seriously injured in a train accident, please contact the experienced personal injury attorneys at the Cochran Firm. We serve clients nationwide.

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posted by Benjamin A. Irwin at 1:00 PM

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

New Ruling Allows Comair Widow to File for Loss of Consortium

In August 2006, Comair Flight 191 crashed while taking off from Lexington, Kentucky to go to Atlanta, Georgia. The pilot did not realize that he was on the wrong runway. It was too short, causing the jet to crash, killing all 47 passengers and two of the three crew.

According to the later analysis of the cockpit voice recorder, the captain, Jeffrey Clay, confirmed “Runway two-two” with the air traffic controller but then taxied onto Runway 26 which was unlit. He gave control of the plane to his First Officer. As the plane reached 120 mph, the First Officer said, “There is no lights” and Clay answered, “Yeah”.

But apparently neither one of them tried to abort the takeoff. The plane reached 158 mph, failing to lift its nose, then crashed into a berm, rose into the air, and then collided with trees. The cockpit and fuselage separated from the tail and a fire destroyed the plane. All occupants died instantly except the First Officer, who was severely injured but survived. He suffered brain damage and has no memory of the attempted takeoff or the crash.

Change in Kentucky Law

Lawsuits were filed by survivors of all the passengers and all but one of them were settled by August, 2008 before going to trial. The one not settled was filed by one Jaime Herbert, the widow of Bryan Woodward and mother of two teenage daughters.

Previously, Kentucky law did not allow a spouse to sue for loss of consortium. But that became an issue after the Comair crash and on October 1 of this year, the State Supreme Court ruled that an unrelated case could go forward for loss of consortium. Then on October 10, a U.S. District Court Judge ruled that Herbert could reinstate her claim for loss of consortium against Comair. A jury trial is scheduled to start on December 1. This will likely be the first loss of consortium claim tried in Kentucky.

Further, because Herbert wants Comair to publicly take the responsibility for this crash, a second trial is planned for punitive damages. None of the previously-settled cases had included punitive damages.

Losing your spouse because of another person’s carelessness is surely one of the most painful losses we can suffer. By receiving monetary damages, the survivor at least has financial relief to compensate for the lost spouse’s salary and benefits. A wrongful death claim can give you that benefit, as damages can include funeral costs, medical costs, lost income and other items as well as loss of consortium.

If you have lost a loved one due to somebody else’s negligence and are wondering about your legal situation, please contact our wrongful death lawyers today for a free case review.

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posted by Benjamin A. Irwin at 9:45 AM

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Medical Malpractice: Hospital Exposes over 200 Patients to Dangerous Radiation

At one of the most famous hospitals in Los Angeles, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, 206 patients were exposed to 8 times the normal dose of radiation during CT (Computed Tomography) brain scans. The patients were given scans over an 18-month period from February 2008 to August 2009 on a CT machine set to a higher dose than normally used. The report prompted the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) to issue a nationwide warning to hospitals to review their safety and quality assurance protocols for CT scans. Included is a basic reminder that dose indices are displayed on the control panel and that people performing scans should know what an expected dose should be.

During the 18 months that this machine was used at its elevated setting, more than one patient experienced signs of high radiation doses, including reddened skin and hair loss. It was the latter symptom which finally lead hospital officials to investigate the machine and discover it had been set to a higher dose.

As a result of the higher dosing, patients were exposed to as many as 4 grays of radiation to the head, instead of the expected 0.5 grays. A gray is a measure of radiation absorbed per kilogram. For comparison, a set of dental x-rays typically results in a brain exposure of 0.005 milligrays, or 0.000005 grays. A full-body exposure of 8 grays is considered lethal.

At this point, no medical malpractice lawsuits have been filed, but if they are, they will most likely be for what is known as hospital malpractice. In this type of lawsuit, an entire facility is held responsible because systematic errors by numerous persons contributed to the error. If any person during the 18 months that these 206 scans were conducted had actually checked the dosage, further patients could have been saved from dangerous radiation exposure.

When you undergo a CT scan, it is worthwhile to ask your doctor how much radiation you will be exposed to, and even to ask that they check the dosage on the machine. Also, you should look for signs of acute radiation exposure, including:

  • Nausea and vomiting: the closer to the scan, the higher the dose
  • Red skin
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Hair loss
  • Bloody stool or vomit
  • Poor wound healing


These symptoms may be delayed by several days. If you experience any of these symptoms, talk to your doctor right away.

If you believe you have been exposed to excessive doses of radiation or otherwise been injured through medical malpractice, the medical malpractice attorneys at the Los Angeles office of The Cochran Firm stand ready to help. Please contact us today for a free case evaluation.

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posted by Benjamin A. Irwin at 1:07 PM

Monday, October 12, 2009

Elders Being Attacked by Violent Felons in Nursing Homes

Though it's not new, there is a little known but very disturbing trend taking place in our nation's nursing homes: the housing of criminally insane, violent felons in nursing homes right alongside frail, helpless elderly people who cannot defend themselves against these violent criminals.

During the last year and a half, Illinois nursing homes have reported the following incidents:

A senior citizen is raped in her room by a 21-year-old convict housed for acute psychiatric problems
An elderly man confined to a wheelchair dies after being beaten about the head with a baseball bat by a 24-year-old mentally ill prostitute/drug addict
A man’s throat is slashed by a gang member who had allegedly attacked the elderly man the year before in the same facility

Illinois, more than any of the other states, houses mentally ill patients in nursing homes, but these younger, often-violent residents are not being monitored closely enough, and the senior citizens who reside in these homes are just not safe.

In Illinois, approximately 15% of the state’s total nursing home population is comprised of mentally ill patients. Of the 92,225 nursing home residents on record, the number of residents who have been convicted of violent crimes is 3,000, of which 82 are murderers, 179 are sex offenders, and 185 are armed robbers.

An investigation conducted by staff at the Chicago Tribune indicates that the nursing homes with the highest number of convicted felons are also the homes with the lowest nursing staff levels.

As our country’s elderly population continues to grow, more and more of those who can afford it are choosing home health care or assisted-living options over traditional nursing homes. It's bad enough to have to put your loved one in a nursing home; no one would ever think you were putting your loved into close proximity to a murderer or rapist.

If your elderly loved one has suffered abuse and/or neglect in a nursing home, please contact the experienced legal team at The Cochran Firm today. With offices nationwide, we surely have a location near you.

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posted by Benjamin A. Irwin at 7:36 AM

Friday, October 9, 2009

Hospital Pays NY Family $43 Million in Medical Malpractice Suit

A Schenectady, New York jury has found Bellevue Hospital guilty of medical malpractice. The hospital must pay the family of Tiffany Bisone $43 million due to their negligent actions resulting in severe birth injuries.

Bisone developed cerebral palsy after the hospital staff failed to properly resuscitate her at birth. She is currently 25 years old, and this case has been in the courts since 1991. This case is rare for two reasons: due to the length of time it took to resolve as well as for the extremely large verdict that was delivered.

The $43 million verdict is one of the largest medical malpractice verdicts ever delivered in the area for a case involving birth injuries.

If you or a loved one has been injured due to the negligent actions of a medical professional or hospital, you may be eligible to receive compensation for your damages. The experienced medical malpractice lawyers at The Cochran Firm can help you receive a fair settlement which can help you offset major medical bills so that you can start to move on with your life.

Please contact The Cochran Firm today to schedule your free initial consultation. We serve clients nationwide.

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posted by Benjamin A. Irwin at 12:30 PM

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Nearly 2000 Hospital Patients in Fort Lauderdale Warned of Disease Exposure

Patients and former patients at Broward General Medical Center in Fort Lauderdale, Florida are being told to get tested for hepatitis B, C, and HIV after a nurse admitted to reusing disposable IV equipment on patients. The nurse, who has resigned, was allegedly seen using the same saline bag and tubing on multiple patients during adult cardiac chemical stress tests.

Though Fort Lauderdale police are investigating to see if any crimes have been committed, the hospital suspended the nurse pending the outcome of the investigation. Police add that the nurse is not a suspect, and that no victims have come forward yet. A hospital spokesperson says the nurse knew exactly what she was doing and that this is a violation of standard nursing infection control procedures.

A chemical stress test is used on patients who cannot undergo a traditional stress test, which requires walking on a treadmill with electrodes attached. The chemical test increases the heart rate as if the patient is exercising using different medicine.

The hospital believes the chance for infection is low, but believes it is important for patients to get tested. The hospital will pay for the tests and is reviewing her patients' records going back to January 2004 at the time of her hire.

As of Tuesday, October 6, over 600 calls had been received by the hospital and 30 people inside the hospital counseled. A 24-hour hotline has also been established for patients enquiring about this situation. Call 800-545-5716.

If you believe you or a loved one may have become ill as a result of this negligence or another situation like it, please contact the experienced medical malpractice attorneys at the Cochran Firm. We serve clients nationwide.

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posted by Benjamin A. Irwin at 12:03 PM

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Wrongful Death of a Minor: How to Calculate the Damages?

An interesting issue of wrongful death cases when the decedent is a minor is how to calculate the amount of damages that would be fair for the survivors. Somehow the forensic economist must estimate what sort of earnings the child would probably have made over his/her working life and add the estimated value of job benefits, then translate this to a current amount.

Although any amount that is finally arrived at will be approximate at best, there is a general procedure for achieving maximum accuracy in each individual case.

1. Determine the minor’s probable education level

There are several places that supply statistics about education levels and the most often used is that of the U.S. Census Bureau’s Current Population Surveys. That data can be broken down by:

  • Race
  • Gender
  • Grade level achieved
  • College but no degree
  • An Associate Degree
  • B.A., M.A., Ph.D, or any professional degree such as D.D.S or M.D.

If the deceased minor had college-educated parents, statistics show that the child would probably have also gone to college. Recent studies have suggested that while 86 percent of males aged 25 and over are high school graduates or better, only about 30 percent have a B.A. or higher. The minor’s particular family would be considered, as to whether they had started any savings for college tuition, how important they considered their child’s school performance, did they help the child with homework, etc.

2. Determine probable earnings

Once a probable educational level has been determined, recourse can be had again to the Census Bureau data. With the Department of Labor, they publish average earnings based on age and education level. According to the decedent minor’s individual specifics, a forensic economist would choose appropriate data. Did the child’s parents have a profession in mind for him or her? Did the child have a particular ambition? Such questions can be answered with more certainty when the minor was a teenager than when he or she was a young child.

3. Estimate probable earnings growth or shrinkage

Average earnings regardless of education level tend to increase more quickly during the 20s and 30s, then slow down in the 40s and level off or decrease in the 50s and 60s.

4. Factor in inflation and discount to present value

Once some salary figures are calculated, they must be modified for inflation and in this step, data from the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia, the Congressional Budget Office, and the Social Security Administration can be helpful. However, those last two might be best avoided as their data can be influenced by policital agendas. The discount rate can be pegged to a long-term Treasury rate for the least risk.

There is more to consider, such as the minor’s work life expectancy and whether the minor’s probable type of employer would have contributed to his or her 401(k) plan, if the minor had one.

As you can see, there are a lot of assumptions that must be made and a lot of potential disagreement in the numbers determined. But this road map does exist and a reasonable amount of damages is usually arrived at in each wrongful death of a minor.

If you have lost a child because of another person’s carelessness, and would like to know more about your legal choices, please contact our law office today for a free case review. Our offices are conveniently located in all states.

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posted by Benjamin A. Irwin at 2:24 PM

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Maryland Editor Killed in Car/Truck Accident

The business editor of the Baltimore Sun Times was killed and his daughter seriously injured in a car accident Monday morning. He was performing a left turn when his vehicle was struck in the driver's side by a UPS truck. The editor was killed and his daughter suffered serious head injuries. Although it is typically assumed that the left-turning motorist is at fault for most accidents, it is too early to determine whether this is the case or not.

Local residents say that defective roadways may partly be to blame, since a traffic light installed at the intersection where the accident occurred has been observed to cause dangerous behavior. At most times, the light is a flashing caution light, but during morning and evening commute times, the light turns solid red one direction and solid green the other, which local residents say encourages drivers to recklessly speed through the intersection.

The accident may also be due to dangerous driving on the part of the UPS truck driver. Delivery truck drivers sometimes feel pressure to complete their rounds rapidly, which can make them less cautious of other drivers and increase the likelihood of deadly truck accidents. At the time of the accident, the car would have had a flashing red light and the UPS truck a flashing yellow.

If you have lost a family member in an accident that you believe is the result of the other driver's negligence, The Cochran Firm can help. Please call or email the Washington, D.C. office of The Cochran Firm today for a free case evaluation.

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posted by Benjamin A. Irwin at 8:46 AM

Monday, October 5, 2009

Premises Liability vs. Adult Responsibility

In Nashville, Tennessee, there is a bar called the Coyote Ugly Saloon. It is part of a chain featured in a 2000 movie about a similar bar in New York. The Coyote Ugly saloons invite patrons to dance on the bar.

In September of 2008, one Brittany Barnes, a college student from Kentucky, was out on the town in Nashville with some friends. They had dinner and then went on a tour of downtown bars, ending up at Coyote Ugly. When an employee invited patrons near the end of the evening to dance on the bar, Barnes got up there to pose for a photograph with her friends, but fell backwards and struck her head on the ground. An ambulance took her to a nearby hospital where she was treated for a brain injury.

A Premises Liability Charge

Now Barnes is suing the Coyote Ugly chain for negligence in allowing the bar to be wet and slippery. She is asking for $500,000 because she claims that she has lost her sense of smell. She apparently has no other residual injury from that fall. Her lawyer, one Rob Shelton, states that the bar has “… a duty under Tennessee law to provide a safe place for their patrons” and that if the saloon is going to invite people to dance on the bar, then the bar “should be kept dry just like the floor of the bar or the aisle in a grocery store”.

Defendant Denies Liability

Coyote Ugly states in legal filings that its employees were not negligent, but that Barnes was careless when she climbed on to the bar. Barnes’ own attorney states that she “had had a few drinks” that night, which would stand to reason since she had visited a series of bars and evidently stayed till closing time at Coyote Ugly. There is no proof at this point that the bar was indeed wet or slippery – that is just the claim of this plaintiff who refers to the “wet and slick bar” in her filing.

Coyote Ugly’s attorney has not made any statements about this case other than to say that the bar is denying any liability. A week ago, some signs were posted at that bar saying “Attention ladies, dance on the bar at your own risk”.

Somewhere there is a line between adult responsibility and true premises liability. Time will tell where the judge and jury in this case place that line.

If you would like to discuss your own slip and fall accident with one of our personal injury lawyers, please contact us today for a free case review. We have offices nationwide.

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posted by Benjamin A. Irwin at 12:24 PM

Friday, October 2, 2009

Cochran Firm Los Angeles Files Suit in Police Shooting

The Cochran Firm's Los Angeles office has filed suit against the L.A. County Sheriff's Department on behalf of Darrick Collins, a 36-year-old father of two who was shot and killed by a deputy on September 14 even though he was unarmed.

The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department has had 13 fatal officer-involved shootings so far in 2009, 4 of which involved unarmed victims. The Cochran Firm is committed to helping victims of police brutality and the families of those who are left behind after a wrongful death.

To read the article about the lawsuit, click here.

If you have been a victim of police brutality or have lost a family member in a shooting with officers anywhere in the U.S., contact the Cochran Firm today.

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posted by Benjamin A. Irwin at 12:43 PM

Obama Administration to Seek Bans on Text Messaging for Truck and Bus Drivers

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has announced that the Obama administration will seek to implement federal regulations which would ban text messaging by truck and interstate bus drivers. They also plan to exert pressure on states to pass distracted driving laws.

These laws are intended to address the growing dangers on our nation's roadways caused by the increasing use of cell phones, mobile devices, and iPods by drivers. Obama administration officials cited a study indicating that last year, more than 6,000 people died in auto accidents and truck accidents caused by distracted drivers.

The Obama administration plans on modeling this campaign after similar efforts intended to curb drunk driving and to increase the use of seat belts. Late Wednesday, President Obama signed an executive order banning all federal workers from texting while driving on government business or while using government vehicles. This is just the first in a series of actions which should ultimately cut down on the damage caused by distracted drivers.

If you were injured in a motor vehicle accident caused by a distracted driver, the experienced personal injury lawyers at The Cochran Firm can help you receive the compensation you deserve. Please contact our auto and truck accident lawyers today to schedule your initial consultation. The Cochran Firm serves clients nationwide.

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posted by Benjamin A. Irwin at 11:37 AM

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Target Hit with Penalty for Selling Lead-Based Toys

The US Consumer Product Safety Commission hit retail behemoth Target with a $600,000 penalty for importing and selling lead-based toys. The CPSC says this violated a 30 year ban on toys with lead in them. Furthermore, the CPSC says Target knew the toys had high levels of lead in them and failed to take any action to keep these defective products away from the public. Target denies these allegations, however has agreed with the penalty.

The lead-based toys were imported from China and sold between May 2006 and August 2007. These include Kool Toyz Products, Happy Giddy Gardening Tools, Sunny Patch Chairs, and Anima-Bamboo Collection Games. Target sold around 350,000 of them before the items were recalled in 2007.

Minneapolis-based Target Corp. issued a statement that read in part, "Based upon information from our vendors, Target believed that items in the product lines identified in the CPSC/Target civil penalty settlement did meet our standards and were compliant with all product safety laws when delivered to Target." The company further states the recall was voluntary after they discovered the toys had excess levels of lead.

Lead has been known for decades to cause lead poisoning and developmental problems in children. Slower mental acuity in children with lead poisoning is still a problem in some areas of the country, not to mention to world where lead is not as stringently regulated as it is in the US. The CPSC has issued 39 penalties this year to companies, most of those for lead violations, for an almost ten million dollar assessment.

CPSC Chairman Tenenbaum said of the Target payment, "This penalty should remind importers and retailers that they have always had the same obligation to meet the strict lead limits as the manufacturers."

If you or a loved one has lead poisoning as a result of a defective product, please contact the experienced personal injury attorneys at the Cochran Firm. We serve clients nationwide.

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posted by Benjamin A. Irwin at 1:30 PM

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