$22.8 Million dollar default judgment was awarded to Cytimmune Sciences ---a Rockville Maryland company. The judgment came out of the United States District Court for Maryland in Greenbelt and the judge was Roger W. Titus. The Complaint was against Fischer Investment Group Holding AG about the failure to gain access to capital in European markets. The defendants did not respond tot he Maryland lawsuit, and therefore a default judgment was entered on July 8, 2011. It is unclear how CytImmune will go about collecting the judgment. Lookout Fischer Investment Group Holding AG----CytImmune is coming after ya!
August 2011 Archives
A scary new report was just released indicating that there are 5 known cancer causing chemicals in the dispersant that BP chose to use to cleanup (well--actuall just hide) the oil after the April 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The report can be foundOil Dispersants Report.pdf This report is based on information released from the EPA pursuant to Freedom of Information Act requests. The report also found taht there are 33 chemicals assocaites with skin irritations, rashes and burns, 10 chemicals suspected kidney toxins, and 11 chemicals are suspected to cause respiratory problems. The report also discusses the fact that
The dispersant chemicals linked to cancer that residents of the Gulf States may have been exposed to include Amides, coco, Cyclohexene 1-methyl-4, Ethanol, 2-butoxy and Petroleum distillates. For more information about the imapact of these possible carcinogens on humans and on marine life click here click here.
We represent many fishermen, oystermen, shrimpers and small business owners from St. Bernard Parish Louisiana with the law firm of Finckbeiner & Robin. Many of our clients are reporting that there is a huge decrease in the amount of white shrimp, and other abnormalities in marine life.
A few months ago I attended a Toxicology Symposium in Washington, D.C. and there was a presentation on the toxic impact of the combination of oil and dispersant on Gulf residents. The scientific conclusion was basically that the combination of dispersant and oil is much more toxic and dangerous than just oil alone. Professor C. Mitchelmare had done studies on this and in a nutshell, she determined that the long term consequences of dispersant exposure include decreased growth, that oil/dispersant combination is indeed more toxic than just oil alone, and that there will likely be long term consequences to BP's decision to use dispersant on the oil.
Winning any slip and fall lawsuit in Maryland is challenging because of the way our Court of Appeals has interpreted the assumption of risk defense and because Maryland is one of the few jurisdictions retaining the doctrine of contributory negligence (if you are one % at fault --you lose in Maryland). However, recently a ruling out of the Circuit Court for Baltimore City is allowing a slip and fall lawsuit against the state of Maryland to proceed. A lady fell on ice at BWI Airport in the parking lot. The lawsuit claimed the State as the owner of the airport owed a duty to the lady who fell and breached its duty to maintain the parking lot free of ice and in a safe condition. The State argued that the state was not the proper defendant and instead the Maryland Aviation Authority was the proper defendant. The Judge denied the State of Maryland's Motion to Dismiss but suggested that the plaintiff add MAA as a defendant.
In Maryland it is often especially difficult to locate the proper defendant in a claim against the government. The law requires that notice be provided to any "local government" within 180 days of the incident or else the doctrine of sovereign immunity would bar the claim. Claims against the State of Maryland fall under another statute called the Maryland Tort Claims Act which requires notice be provided to the State of Maryalnd within 1 year. Lawyers in Maryland need to be careful to identify the proper defendants early on in the course of their representation and make sure that proper notice if sent out.
The lawyers at Goldberg Finnegan & Mester handle slip and fall and premises liability cases where the injuries are significant and where we believe we can establish that the defendant had notice of the defective condition that caused the fall and an opportunity to correct the dangerous condition. Again, these cases are challenging.....but a good lawyer and proper fact investigation and discovery can allow the plaintiff to have a fighting chance to win. The good thing about premises liability cases in Maryland is that the applicable insurance policies are generally larger than a typical low limits automobile insurance policy. However, there are additional defenses to overcome and the ancient doctrine of contributory negligence and assumption of hte risk create challenges for lawyers handling these cases.
Just yesterday Judge Barbier, the Federal Judge overseeing the Gulf Oil Spill Litigation MDL, denied most of the Defendants motion to dismiss. The order applies to all private party plaintiffs (not to governments) who are claiming economic losses because of the spill. I believe that this will be seen as a victory for the plaintiffs in this litigation. A copy of the Memorandum Opinion is attached hereto for those interested in reading it.Order Motion Dismiss B1.pdf
First of all it is important to understand that a Motion to Dismiss tests the legal sufficiency of the Lawsuit. The Court will accept all factual allegations made in the Complaint as true and must also draw all reasonable inferences in the plaintiff's favor at the Motion to Dismiss stage.
For More information about the Gulf Oil Spill Case contact attorney Kevin I. Goldberg at 888-213-8140. Mr. Goldberg is representing claimants in conjunction with the law firm of Finckbeiner & Robin in Louisiana.
First the Judge Ruled that Maritime Law applies to this case because the explosion and oil leak occurred in the outer continental shelf on hte high seas. The Court ruled that the Deep Water Horizon and the Blow Out Preventer extending to the ocean floor was, in its entirety, a "Vessel" It should be noted that the only Defendant that argued it was not a "vessel" was Cameron. The Court simply did not buy into Cameron's argument.
The only portion of the opinion that went against hte plaintiffs is the fact that plaintiffs state law claims for negligence, trespass and fraudulent concealment were dismissed (see p.8 of hte opinion). The Court ruled that since maritime law applied, state law claims were preempted. The Plaintiffs argued that the state law claims could supplement maritime law claims. Simply stated, the Court rejected the plaintiff's argument.
The Defendants including BP, Transocean, Haliburton and others asked the COurt to dismiss all of the plaintiff's non-Oil Pollution Act Maritime law claims. The Court basically took a middle of the road approach and applied a well known and broadly applied rule known as Robins Dry Dock from a 1927 U.S. Supreme Court Case and dismissed all general maritime law claims except for those alleging a physical injury to propery/proprietary interest. The Robins Dry Dock Rule basically says that you cannot claim damages for purely economic losses unless you allege a physical injury to your property or proprietary interest (There is an exception for commerical fishermen that applies to the BP Litigation). The claims of Commercial FIshermen were not dismissed because Commercial FIshermen have always been an exception to the Robins Dry Dock Rule. A SIGNIGICAN WIN FOR THE PLAINTIFFS IS THAT THE COURT IS ALLOWING GENERAL MARITIME LAW CLAIMS OUTSIDE OF THE OIL POLLUTION ACT AGAINST NON RESPONSIBLE PARTIES FOR COMMERCIAL FISHERMEN AND OTHERS WITH A PHYSICAL IMPACT TO THEIR PROPERTY. General Maritime Law Claims against BP (The "Responsible Party Under the Oil Pollution Act) were dismissed however. The Court said " General Maritime Law Claims that existed before OPA may be brought directly against non-Responsible parties." (p.26).
Judge Barbier also specifically recognized that punitive damages under general maritime law will be permitted. This is another huge victory to the plaintiffs and will likely be a huge concern to the defendants who now have more exposure than they would have had if punitive damages were not permitted. THis is especially true because many insuance policies exclude punitive damages and these verdicts will have to be paid out of corporate bank accounts directly. The Court said "OPA does not displace general maritime law claims for those Plaintiffs who would have been able to bring such claims prior to OPA's enactment." Claims for Puntiive Damages, the Court went on to explain, can be made against responsible parties under OPA and non-responsible parties.
As expected the Court ruled that plaintiffs must make "Presentment" under the oil pollution act, but the Court did not dismiss those claims that had not yet made presentment. THe Court explained "The Court finds that Plaintiffs have sufficiently alleged presentment in their B1 Master Complaint, at least with respect to some Claimants." The Court chose not to engage in the process of sorting through thousands of individual claims to determine who has properly made presentment and who has not at this time. (Stay tuned though---this will be a significant issue down the road).
Another area considered a big win for hte plaintiffs is that the Oil Pollution Act claims for Vessel of Opportunity partificpants and those who lost their jobs due to the Moratorium were not dismissed. The Court recognized that the standard for causation is not "proximate cause" but rather a significantly lowered standard.
Judge Barbier also mentioned in the opinion that the February 2012 trial will indeed go forward in February 2012 (p. 31).
All in all, this opinion will bring clarification to all parties as to what claims relating to the Gulf Oil Spill are viable. It also shows that the MDL Court, run by Judge Barbier, is adamant and conscientious about moving this case forward, making rulings in a timely, fair manner, and most importantly, that the February 2012 trial date is pretty much set in stone.
On Saturday a man named Indy Saunders was killed whemn a PEPCO utility pole or power line struck him during a monsoon like rainstorm. This electrocution injury occurred in Prince George's County Maryland in Temple HIlls. If this man was struck by a live PEPCO powerline, he was likely hit with over 10,000 volts of electricity. The death and reasons for the PEPCO power line striking Indy Saunders are currently being investigated by P.G. County FIre officials. Neighbors interviewed after this incident said that they believed PEPCO should have cut the trees back prior to the storm. A spokes man for the fire department named Mark E. Brady said that Mr. Saunders suffered crush injuries and burns to a large percentage of his body, and that the death occurred because an enourmous tree fell onto PEPCO power lines causing the lines to and tree to snap a PEPCO utility pole.
Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family and friends of Indy Saunders. While a lawsuit is probably the last thing on anyone's mind right now, the family should know that it is crucial that a preservation of evidence letter should be sent to PEPCO and whatever officials have the electrical components, wires, and pole that caused Mr. Indy Rober Saunders death. Preservation of evidence after a serious injury or death is critically important to the success of any future product liability claim or negligence claim relating to the death. A lawyer can help make sure that evidence such as the PEPCO utility pole, wires and electrical components is preserved and maintained with a proper chain of custody documented. The family/friends should also consider that a notice of claim should be sent to the government officials who may have also been negligent. This notice typically needs to be sent certified mail pursuant to the Local Government Tort Claims Act, State of Maryland Tort Claims Act, or if in Washinton, D.C. pursuant to Section 12-309 of the D.C. Code. A lawyer can help make sure that this is done properly, and that evidence is collected so that a future lawsuit relating to the death of Mr. Indy Saunders can have the best chance for success.
The claims that can be considered include negligence claims, product liability claims, wrongful death claims and a survival claim. PEPCO is known for taking a strong stance against lawsuits and they typically vigorously defend claims brought against them and deny any responsibility for the death and injury to others. Our law firm---Goldberg, Finnegan & Mester---has had success litigating against PEPCO.
We urge any business or individual to have a lawyer who understands how the GCCF operates review the Gulf Oil Spill GCCF Determination Letter before accepting or rejecting an offer. We have noticed that quite often the calculations done by GCCF accoutants are wrong and that many of those victimized by the Gulf Oil Spill are being short-changed. Not only are the calculations done by the GCCF sometimes wrong, but it is equally important to carefully review the "Methodology Used To Calculate Projected Revenues." A lawyer who understands how the GCCF operates can review your Determination Letter and may be able to get the GCCF to do a recalculation based on a methodology that is more favorable to the claimant. For example, if an oysterman or fisherman had a much better year in 2008 than in 2009 for some reason, then it would be more advantageous to have the methodology rely on just the 2008 numbers for comparison rather than an average of 2008 and 2009 or even just 2009 numbers. The GCCF has shown some flexibility in this regard and if a good argument can be made as to why a single years as opposed to an average of years should be used, many of the GCCF accountants will accomodate this request and do a recalculation. The methodology used by the GCCF can be found at the top of Attachment A of the GCCF Evaluation of Claim Form.
Another area to carefully focus on is the Loss of Income Percentage (LOI %). We have noticed that the GCCF is making a lot of errors in calculating the LOI % and this is something that can have a huge impact on a victim of the 2010 Gulf Oil Spill's claim value (Not just the Final Payment Claim Amount, but also the Interim Payment Claim). In order to make proper arguments to the GCCF in order to get the Loss of Income Percentage recalculated it is important to understand what this percentage is. It is meant to reflect the amount of saved expenses, and therefore is the percentage of revenue that represents saved costs that were not incurred due to the spill.
If you received a Final Determination Letter from the GCCF it is important to take note of the expiration date of the FInal Payment Offer. This can be found on the GCCF Form 1012 which is the Election Form For Determination Letter On Lost Profits Claim.
Our team is available to discuss your determination letter at no cost to you. Call us at 888-213-8140 or email Kevin Goldberg at firstname.lastname@example.org. Remember that the GCCF is basically "BP" and you need to be careful when dealing with them directly.
As expected, August 2011 is shaping up to be a horrible month in terms of the number of catastrophic car accidents on Maryland roads. Today the Washington Post reports that 9 people died in Maryland area road accidents, including 4 peoples whose vehicle caught on fire. Many others were injured. AAA has reported that the most dangerous time to drive is generally August 1 through Labor Day. In fact, John Townsend, a spokesman for AAA Mid Atlantic Region, has explained taht stats from 2000-2008 indicate that 7 of the the 15 deadliest days to drive a car are between August 3 and September 2.
On Friday August 12, 2011, according to Maryland Police there was a horrible motor cycle accident in St. Mary's County, MD. A man named Devin Sweeting was driving a Yamaha motorcycle on Route 5 in Lexington Park and it left the street and struck a cement object, turned sideways and skidded for over 150 feet while Mr. Sweeting was still in the seat. Mr. Sweeting, according to the Washington Post suffered multiple pelvic fractures and other injuries. He was flown to Maryland's Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore, MD and later died from his injuries. (Unfortunately, many motor cycle insurance policies in Maryland do not have PIP Coverage).
Then, there was another fatal car accidneti in Montgomery County, Maryland on the Capital Beltway near Silver Spring, Maryland on 15700 block of Holly Grove Road in Cloverly. A 2002 Subaru was on fire and two people were found dead inside of the vehicle when rescue workers arrived. Crash investigators are still investigating the cause of this crash but reporters have indicated that they think the vehcile was going on Holly Grove Road and may have crashed into a tree. (Anyone with info about this crash is asked to call the Maryland Accident Reconstruction Unit at 301-840-2435).
A few hours later there was another fatal Maryland car crash on the Baltimore Washington Parkway in Prince Georges County Maryland. A Sports Utility Vehicle left the roadway and crashed into a tree causing vehicle occupants to be ejected from the vehicle. Two people were pronounced dead as a result, and at least 5 others including several children were taken to Maryland hospitals in critical condition. Tragically, it is reported that a 3 year old child also later died in this crash. (Those involved in this crash should strongly consider hiring a lawyer to make sure the vehcile is preserved and to evaluate the vehicles crashworthiness as there could be a product liability claim against the car manufacturer. A lawyer can help with this).
Maryland residents need to know that our roadways are indeed very dangerous this time of the year and drivers need to drive defensively. Drivers should not be using their cell phones or sending text messages while driving in Maryland. To do so is now against the law. It seems that we are seeing more and more single car crashes in Maryland where vehicles are straying off of the roadway and crashing into trees, telephone poles and other fixed objects. I believe that this is often the result of driver distraction, drivers checking their email on their cell phones, and/or drivers texting while driving.
The families and friends of those killed in these Maryland car accidents are obviously grieving right now. Our thoughts and prayers go out to them. These families should know and undestand that they most likely have Personal Injury Protection Benefits (also known as PIP Benefits) that can help pay for funeral expenses and medical bills. These are no fault benefits meaning that it does not matter who is at fault for the crash. The next of kin just needs to contact the insurance company and a check for $2,500 will be sent (An estate may need to be opened first---depending on the insurance company). Family members should also strongly consider engaging an experienced car crash lawyer to conduct an investigation and make sure that all evidence is properly preserved. For example, skid marks fade, witness memories fade, and vehicles invovled in the crash are often junked or salvaged if immediate action is not taken. Since there is liked limited liability insurance coverage for drivers invovled int he crash, whenever there is a wrongful death car accident in Maryland it is important to consider whether there may be a product liability case. If there is, the vehicle (the product) needs to be preserved in the proper way. For more information about alternative theories of liability in catastrophic car accident cases in Maryland read the article titled "Not So Fast...Don't Accept a Low Policy Limits Settlement Offer for Your Catastrophically Injured Client."5D.pdf">summer-article-2008.pdfsummer-article-2008.pdf
While getting a lawyer now, in the immediate aftermath of a tragIc car crash, may seem seedy to some, it is crucially important in light of the fact that evidence can disappear and memories can fade. Evidence preservation and proper investigation is crucial (and it is NOT ALWAYS SUFFICIENT TO JUST RELY ON THE POLICE INVESTIGATION). Furthermore, there are strict deadlines such as statutes of limitations and notice requirements to governmental entities that need to be complied with. The notice deadlines can be as short as 6 months after the car crash. The bottom line is that the insurance companies who will be defending the legal claims related to the crash are doing everything possible to minimize their potential liability. You cannot trust insruance companies to make srue that crucial evidence is preserved or that the crash facts are properly investigated. An experienced personal injury lawyer can help with this and ususally, with absolutely no out of pocket costs to the person hiring the lawyer. Injury lawyers almost always do not charge a fee unless there is a recovery, and the lawyer/law firm usually will advance the costs of the investigation/preservation efforts.
Medicare recently released data that shows that hospitals that have been given high marks for patient care by patients are not always the safest hospitals. Some hospitals have high death rates for heart failure patients despite the fact that patients applaud the hospital's patient care. The data looks at death rates and readmission rates for heart failure, heart attacks and pnemonia. Medicare basically looked at 4,600 hospitals throughout the USA and found that 323 of them had above average death rates for heart attack, heart failure and pnemonia.
These new statistics indicate that nationally 15.9 percent of patients who suffer a heart attack will die, that 11.3% of patients who suffer heart failure will die, and 11.9% of patients who have pnemonia will die.
In the State of Maryland the death rates for those admitted with a heart attack are as follows:
Howard County General Hospital 12.3%
Shady Grove Adventist Hospital 14.4%
Montgomery General Hospital 14.5%
Suburban Hospital 14.9%
Holy Cross Hospital 15.7%
Prince George's Hospital 16%
University of Maryland 16.2%
This information can be helpful to those who have risk factors for heart failure or heart attack. It is good to know which hospitals have the lowest and highest death rates for heart failure and heart attacks because if, God forbid, you or a loved one suffers from a heart attack you want to be able to choose the hospital which has the most resources and the best track record and survival rate.