January 2013 Archives

January 26, 2013

Where to file Suit in Maryland ?

The outcome a Maryland trial can be pre-ordained depending on where the plaintiff attorney files the lawsuit. That is because jury pools vary significantly in Maryland. Obviously, a Western Maryland (e.g Hagerstown) Jury is going to have much different life experiences than a Baltimore City Jury. This week the Court of Special Appeals issued a well written opinion summarizing the law of forum non-conveniens in Maryland. Forum Non-Conveniens Motions are based on Maryland Rule of Procedure 2-327 (c). justice-scales-bw.jpg

The rule provides that:

(c) Convenience of the Parties and Witnesses. - On motion of any party, the court may transfer any action to any other circuit court where the action might have been brought if the transfer is for the convenience of the parties and witnesses and serves the interests of justice
In Smith v. Johns Hopkins Community Physicians the plaintiffs filed suit in Baltimore City (a preferred plaintiff's venue--in other words known for plaintiff verdicts and jury outcomes that fairly and properly compensate injured plaintiffs). It is a Medical Malpractice Wrongful Death Case. The Defendants then filed a motion to transfer venue based on forum non-conveniens asking the Court to transfer the case to Baltimore County (a preferred defendant's venue---in other words, known for defense verdicts and low verdicts). The Trial Judge in Baltimore City Circuit Court---Judge Cannon-reviewed the motion, the opposition to the motion and ruled without a hearing that the case should be transferred to Baltimore County because the plaintiff lived there.

The Plaintiffs filed an immediate appeal to Maryland's Court of Special Appeals. It is important to note that most trial court orders are not immediately appealable (you have to wait until the trial is over to take an appeal). However when a judge grants a motion to transfer based on forum non-conveniens the aggrieved party is entitled to an immediate expedited appeal. That is what happened here.

Maryland law required that the Court of Special Appeals review the trial judge's decision to transfer the case from Baltimore City to Baltimore County on an "abuse of discretion standard." What that means is that the Court must uphold the trial judge's finding unless it determines that the trial judge abused her discretion. This is a difficult legal standard to overcome---and as a practice note----trial lawyers know that if they lose the transfer of forum issue at the trial court level, getting the issue reversed on appeal is highly unlikely.

The bottom line is that the Court of Special Appeals ruled that the trial Judge (Judge Cannon) did not commit error and her transfer of the case to Baltimore County was upheld. The Court opinion concluded by saying

"Substantively we see no error. Baltimore County was far and away a more convenient forum than Baltimore City. A forum conveniens is always to be preferred over a forum non conveniens. Procedurally we see no error. Judge Cannon did everything she was required to do and she did it impeccably well."
This medical malpractice case is going to be decided by a Baltimore County jury rather than a Baltimore City jury. Frankly, this reduces the settlement value of the case.

January 13, 2013

Mr. Yuck and Energy Drinks---Poison Control Centers Report 3,147 Energy Drink Exposures in 2012

Remember Mr. Yuck? Well, Poison Control Centers are now tracking reports of calls related to energy drink exposures, and the 2012 data is disturbing.

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Poison Control Centers in the USA apparently received 3,147 reports of exposures to energy drinks, and that well over half of those reports were for children 18 and younger. This data was compiled by the National Poison Data System which is the only comprehensive poisoning exposure surveillance database in the USA. This data, coupled with the numerous adverse event reports that the Food and Drug Administration has received related to energy drinks is convincing! Energy Drinks are dangerous and can cause serious injuries or death for certain individuals---In particular, anyone with an underlying heart condition should not drink any energy drinks at all.

Poison Control Centers throughout the United States are telling people to use caution and common sense when consuming Energy Drinks and related products. The American Association of Poison Control Centers Website Reports that

"The American Academy of Pediatrics has concluded that "caffeine and other stimulant substances contained in energy drinks have no place in the diets of children and adolescents."

If you are concerned that you are having an adverse reaction after consuming an energy drink such as Monster Energy Drink, Red Bull, Rock Star or 5 Hour Energy, then you should seek medical attention immediately. The Poison Control Center's cautionary alert on energy drinks indicates that drinking too many energy drinks or drinking them too fast can cause increased heart rate, altered heart rhythm, chest pain, dehydration, seizures, kidney problems, increased blood pressure, mood changes and other symptoms. You can also report the Energy Drink Injury Incident to the Poison Control Center by calling 1-800-222-1222.

If you want to learn more about the dangers of energy drinks, visit the Goldberg, Finnegan & Mester, LLC Website at www.gfmjustice.com.

January 12, 2013

Energy Drink Related Emergency Room Visits Increase Exponentially From 2005 to 2011

Energy Drinks such as Monster, 5 Hour Energy, Rockstar and Redbull can be dangerous, and should not be consumed by anyone with an underlying heart condition. On January 10, 2013 SAMSA's Drug Ause Warning Network published an article titled "Update on Emergency Department Visits Involving Energy Drinks: A Continuing Public Health Concern" The Food and Drug Administration does not regulate energy drinks but their website does post adverse event statistics for certain energy drinks.

The article reports that Energy Drink related hospital emergency room visits have increased from about 1,494 in 2005 to about 20,783 in 2011. This is particularly problematic because it impacts our children and youngest adults. In 2011 alone there were apparently 1,499 energy drink related emergency room visits for children aged 12 to 17 years old. Looking at young adults, there were 7,322 energy drink related emergency room visits for people aged 18-25 years old in 2011 (up from 4,200 in that age range in 2007). A new finding in the Article is that older adults may also be vulnerable to the effects of energy drinks, and that the safety of energy drinks is questioned for individuals with medical conditions and/or who may be taking other medications.

Our law firm represents individuals who have suffered serious injuries as a result of consuming energy drinks. The most common events we are seeing that may be related to energy drink consumption are is cardiac events, arrhythmias, heart attacks, and strokes. Any individual who has an underlying heart condition, or even high blood pressure for that matter, should avoid consuming energy drinks. If you or someone you know is injured as a result of consuming energy drinks, call us at 888-213-8140 for a free consultation.

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