To Answer the Question, “How did this Happen?,” Ms. Joan Rivers’ Family Retains Counsel to Investigate the potential Medical Malpractice that may be linked to the Passing of the Late Female Star of Comedy ~ part 1.

beach walk for october 30 blogThis is a case that we have seen in the main stream media coming since the death of Joan Rivers’ on September 4, 2014 as the Rivers’ Family retains legal counsel to investigate and evaluate the medical procedure that is linked to the passing of the famous late star of comedy.

The first thing that came to my mind as I watched stunned that the vibrant Rivers was no longer with us to entertain us and make us laugh in so many instances was, “How did this Happen?”

As an attorney who has talked to hundreds of potential medical malpractice clients in her career, I know exactly how this can happen, but no matter how many times you hear a story and how many cases you become intimately involved in, I am still shocked in many cases at the negligence of the medical profession and the results when someone is met head on with said negligence.

The case of the late Joan Rivers is not yet completed and there will be much to do to uncover what has really happened in this situation. Medical Records will be gathered, experts in the field will evaluate the records, the health department findings will be evaluated and compared to the findings of medical experts (some of whom may very well become expert witnesses if this case is filed and goes to court), the medical examiner’s findings will be evaluated and re-evaluated, and every inch of the investigation with be scrutinized by legal counsel every step of the way.


Georgia High Court Holds Statutory Penalty is Time-Barred in Workers’ Compensation Case

file1521271603232 morguefile duboixThe Supreme Court of Georgia has found that an injured employee waited too long to request statutory penalties in a workers’ compensation case. In Marta v. Reid, an individual filed a workers’ compensation claim following a workplace injury that occurred in October 1999. Soon afterward, his employer began paying him total disability benefits. Eventually, the payments ceased when the employee returned to work. Apparently, 12 of the 32 disability payments the man received were untimely under the Georgia workers’ compensation statute. About eight years after the man returned to work, the employee demanded that his employer pay him statutory penalties for the untimely payments. His employer asserted that the man’s claim was time-barred and refused to remit the requested funds to the worker.

Next, the worker requested a hearing regarding the statutory penalties he felt he was owed before an administrative law judge (“ALJ”). At the hearing, the ALJ found that the worker’s statutory penalty claim was a change in condition that was barred by the two-year statute of limitations included in OCGA § 34-9-104. The State Board and the Superior Court later agreed. The Georgia Court of Appeals, however, reversed the ALJ’s decision and held that the worker’s claim was not subject to a statute of limitations. In response, the employer asked the Georgia Supreme Court to review the case.


The Douglas County Jail in Georgia is being Sued for Medical Malpractice and the Wrongful Death of an Inmate: And, it won’t be the First Time the Douglas County Jail in GA has had these Problems

photo of inmateIn 2012, Joe Dent, age 52 was in the Douglas County, Georgia Jail’s Medical Unit when he died after he was returned from the hospital that had diagnosed him with pericarditis (inflammation around an area of the heart), gout, and kidney failure. A day before his death, Dent was given Bactrim in a double dose which was an antibiotic that was listed in his chart as one that he was allergic too.

Mr. Dent’s mother, Joyce Dent, is now bringing a suit against CorrectHealth, who manages inmate healthcare in Georgia, as well as William, Corn, England, Eason, and Bell who have all been named as Defendants. The case is Dent v. CorrectHealth, No. 2014CV252453.

The night after Dent was administered the fatal dose, he complained that he had a shortness of breath and he requested oxygen. It has been noted, however, that there were no steps taken to address his complaints such as listening to his lungs or calling for a doctor. After numerous complaints by Dent that his lungs were filling up, that his feet were swelling, nurses’ might have acknowledged Dent’s complaints, but no nurse did anything about it.

Dent died shortly thereafter, even after other inmates banged on the medial unit door to get a nurse for Dent.

Although Plaintiff’s Counsel has been met with some resistance from other’s  he has consulted with on this case in the legal community including, but not limited to, that the damages will not be enough to pursue, that the Deceased will not be a very sympathetic character to the finder of fact, the Plaintiff’s Counsel has held fast, and correctly so, and he quotes, “My thought is, ‘Too bad, you still can’t just kill him.’ Sure, he’s in jail, but you can’t give him a drug and not care whether it kills him.”


Ebola Is Not Only a Hot Topic on the National Stage but also a Hot Topic in Atlanta, Georgia at the Public Health Law Conference ~ part 2

ebola blog part 2This is a continuation of my last blog post titled, “Ebola Is Not Only a Hot Topic on the National Stage but also a Hot Topic in Atlanta, Georgia at the Public Health Law Conference ~ part 1.

You can not help but ask:  How we can get control of the Ebola disease before the death toll rises in the United States? In Africa, there does not seem to be an end in sight. In the United States, where we are so accustomed to our liberties and freedoms, and rightfully so, how do we mentally handle the challenge of a potential quarantine of our Constitutionally based freedoms such as travel?

Although many are surprised that our President appointed an attorney, verses a doctor or other professional with more experience with urgent issues of this type, to be his eyes, ears and possible voice for this potential pandemic, I am not surprised given the legal issues that could transpire should the government not act in a timely, effective, and responsible manner regarding this situation.

The government, including the President, may not be able to hide behind the governmental immunity shield should we become a nation that is paralyzed by a disease that transpired thousands of miles away and that our government failed to effectively control, especially when it could have contained the issue before it spiraled out of control. The warning signs are here now, and now is the time to act before it is too late.

Unlike HIV and AIDS, it is still unclear exactly how this disease is transmitted from person to person and that makes it a much more deadly and massive potential case scenario. I am not sure we have wrapped our heads around this disease in any real fashion except to say that if you have had contact with an infected individual that you may now be an infected individual.


Ebola Is Not Only a Hot Topic on the National Stage but also a Hot Topic in Atlanta, Georgia at the Public Health Law Conference ~ part 1

ebola virus photoThere are numerous medical, political, and legal issues engulfing the topic of Ebola. The National Stage is being set for an outbreak that could potentially spiral out of control here in the United States as it has abroad. From Hospitals to Airplanes, Buses, the closing of schools, and the closing of businesses, there does not seem to be a clear end in sight on this issue.

As an attorney, I began to immediately see the potential legal issues associated with these cases. Not so much with the first two (2) infected individuals to arrive in the United States at Emory University for treatment, but more so with the death in Texas of a person who lied to authorities of his recent travels, and the diagnosis of the two (2) nurses who treated the now deceased Ebola patient in particular.

For example, the legal claims that these nurses and their families could potentially have include, but are not limited to, the following:

1.) Workers’ Compensation: They most likely contracted the virus in the course of employment.

2.) Medical Malpractice: The evidence seems to show that the Hospital did not have appropriate practices in place to protect its workers or others from this deadly disease in the hospital setting.

3.) Federal Tort Claims: The evidence is mounting that the CDC (Center for Disease Control) also does not have adequate measures to deal with an outbreak of this disease nor does the Federal government.

In Atlanta, Georgia this past week at the Public Health Law Conference the topics on the agenda were, among other things, tobacco, obesity, and the policy for vaccinations, but the topic that everyone who attended ultimately came back to was Ebola, and how could it not take center stage?


Automobile Accident that Causes a Chain Reaction brings a Georgia Plaintiff a $ 5.475 Million Dollar Recovery, but not without some mystery to the case ~ part 2

blog october 11 2014This is a continuation from my last blog titled, “Automobile Accident that Causes a Chain Reaction brings a Georgia Plaintiff a $ 5.475 Million Dollar Recovery, but not without some mystery to the case ~ part 1,” where I began my discussion of a case that appeared to be one thing, but turned out to be another.

The case in point was a multi-vehicle accident that occurred in March, 2013 when Plaintiff Tricia Burke’s car was struck by a van who had been hit by Defendant Suzanne Myers who was trying to make a left turn when she hit the van. Plaintiff Burke was severely injured in the crash resulting in her spending months at Grady in Georgia and The Shepherd Center in recovery.

She now has damage to her nerves that is permanent and has made it impossible for her to return to work. Ms. Burke’s medical bills and injuries were catastrophic and substantial, and her case was worth anywhere from $ 5 Million or more.  It appears that these facts were not in dispute.

It also appeared that the accident report was not in dispute as it stated that Defendant Myers failed to yield the right of way to the van. The complaint that was filed in the accident was based on the information in the accident report as well as conversation’s with the driver of the van and his insurance company during the initial investigation.

Throughout the investigation of the case, it was also not in dispute that Defendant Myers was at fault in causing the accident, at least not until a surprise witness seemed to appear out of nowhere who was adamant that it was the van driver, James Siders, who ran the red light and failed to yield to Defendant Myers which, if true, would mean that the accident was not Myer’s fault, but the van driver’s fault along with his company.


Automobile Accident that Causes a Chain Reaction brings a Georgia Plaintiff a $ 5.475 Million Dollar Recovery, but not without some mystery to the case ~ part 1

light speed blog oct 5 2014This is a very interesting case that began as a relatively straightforward auto accident case in Georgia involving three (3) vehicles where the accident report and the complaint both seemed to clearly establish the negligent driver in the accident.  This case, however, turned into a case with many twists and turns where not only the police report, but also the complaint filed with the court, were in conflict with a witness who mysteriously appears later and calls into question who actually caused the accident.

As most of us Automobile Accident Attorneys know, there is no such thing as a slam dunk in any case, or, as known in the legal field, rarely are you fortunate enough to have a case that stands on all fours (i.e. where all the elements of the incident along with the case law are 100% in your favor). There are, however, some cases that are less complicated than others, and often in Automobile Accident Cases if you can prove liability on the part of the other party, or as in this case other parties, then you are half way there to a favorable result in your case as the next hurdle is to negotiate, settle, or prove at trial damages which tend to be less ambiguous.


The Parents of their Slain Cobb County, Georgia Daughter who was Attending Auburn University seek $ 1 Million Dollars For Inadequate Security on Campus

parking lot blog oct 7 2014As I have stated in my website about Premises Liability, Premises Liability is not just limited to Slip and Fall Cases and can often apply to cases in which there was Inadequate Security when the property owner or manager knew or should have known about the dangers of the property and did not make the property safe for its guests or invitees.

In the case in point, Lauren Burk, the now deceased daughter of Jim Burk and Viviane Guerchon, on the 4th day of March, 2008 was kidnapped from a parking lot on the Auburn University Campus. Young Lauren Burk was a High School Graduate of Walton in Cobb County, Georgia in 2007, and a freshman at Auburn at the time she was kidnapped.

After the kidnapping Ms. Burk was located on a road four (4) miles North of Campus where she was dying from a gun shot wound in her back.  It should be duly noted that Courtney Lockhart, a soldier who had been dishonorably discharged, was arrested in Alabama three (3) days after the abduction.  He was later convicted by a jury for the crime of the death of Lauren Burk, and sentenced to death for the commission of this crime.

Lauren Burk’s parents are making a claim similar to another blog that I posted about a death at a Motel 6 Hotel in Georgia where the parents are seeking damages under a similar theory as the case in point; Inadequate Security in a Known Dangerous Location.

The difference in this case, however, is that the parents are seeking damages from the Alabama Board of Adjustment in the amount of $ 1 Million Dollars for the Wrongful Death of their daughter under the theory that Auburn University had made a decision, the wrong decision according to the parents of Lauren Burk, to merge the University’s police force with the City of Auburn’s police force to save money, and this decision was an alleged contributing factor to the Inadequate Security of the University’s Parking Lot where the kidnapping occurred resulting in the death of Lauren Burk.


Settlement of $ 12 Million Dollars for an Augusta, Georgia Family Man Who was Severely Brain Damaged in a Trucking Accident ~ part two

light speed blog oct 5 2014This is my continuation of a very interesting case from my last blog post titled, “Settlement of $ 12 Million Dollars for an Augusta, Georgia Family Man Who was Severely Brain Damaged in a Trucking Accident ~ part one.”  As I discussed in my last blog post, there were many factors that finally led up to the insurance company of the Defendant’s Employer to decide to settle the case early and for an amount that was double the amount of the actual compensatory damages of the Plaintiff.

In continuing that discussion, there were other issues at play such as the fact that the Defendant was not hurt at or after the accident, but that the Plaintiff sustained a catastrophic injury to the brain including a fractured skull and a brain hemorrhage leaving him now living in a home in Augusta, GA that is a home for the exclusive treatment for people with injuries to the brain who no longer need medical care, but are not ready to go home yet.  Mr. Bellamy’s mother has also been appointed as his legal guardian.

In addition, after the deposition of the eyewitnesses at the scene of the accident, who collaborated with the Plaintiff’s version of the events, and also described in detail the scene of the accident, then the defense really began to take notice and think about the value of settling the case verses continuing the case further.

What you might find most interesting in this case is that the actual damages sustained by Mr. Bellamy by the wreck totaled $ 1.38 million in medical bills, $ 4.2 million for future life care, and lost future wages of $ 776,810.00 for a total of just over $ 6 Million Dollars in actual damages.  Some money was also most certainly factored in for past, present, and future pain and suffering as well.

The case, however, resulted in an ultimate settlement by the Plaintiff of $ 12 Million Dollars which is double his actual compensatory monetary damages. This is unusual even taking into consideration pain and suffering, and other damages not mentioned such as a possible permanent brain injury.


Settlement of $ 12 Million Dollars for an Augusta, Georgia Family Man Who was Severely Brain Damaged in a Trucking Accident ~ part one

tractor trailer blog october 3 2014Who says that the character of your client isn’t going to make a difference in a case, or the severity of the crash scene itself as recalled by eye witnesses (who aren’t always the most credible in remembering the details as the actual scene happened) isn’t going to change the mind of the insurance company about when and for how much to settle, or whether or not the particular severity of your client’s injuries may have an impact on the final judgement of the insurance company about whether or not to settle or prepare the case for trial?

For the most part, the insurance company is in the business of saving money and legal counsel hired for the insurance company is in the business of making money as well, but not necessarily for the insurance company.

For example, on the one hand, legal insurance counsel wants to save as much money as it can for the insurance company by settling for as little money as possible in any particular case. On the other hand, the insurance company’s legal counsel would like to lengthen the time of the representation of the case as long as possible so that the attorney makes more money, unless they are in-house counsel, which, in turn, costs the insurance company more money in legal fees instead of claimants’ payouts.

Unless, of course, you have an ethical insurance company attorney who will do the right thing whether or not it saves the insurance company money and/or makes the attorney more or less money in any particular case.  I will leave that up to you to decide on a case by case basis as that discussion can be all over the map.

Either way, one thing is for sure and that is that the insurance company attorney is not looking out for you; no matter what they tell you or what good cop, bad cop game they play with you. It’s a cat and mouse game, and you are the mouse, not the cat, in this game.

Unless, of course, you have competent legal counsel on your side and that is imperative if you expect the insurance company to take you seriously and show you any respect at all in your case no matter what the circumstances.