Voters in Maryland overwhelmingly approved a ballot measure yesterday that amends the Maryland constitution to make it so that a defendant only has a right to a jury trial if more than $15,000.00 in in controversy. The measure will help to unclog the Circuit Court system. The increase in the jury demand threshold was necessary because insurace companies would often demand a jury trial when injured parties filed a lawsuit in District Court asking for a bench trial. This would make it so that the injured party would have to go through expensive discovery including depostions and medical examinations in order to get to trial. Increasing the jury demand threshold from $10,000.00 to $15,000.00 will prevent insurance companies such as State Farm and Allstate from using this tactic. It will save judicial resources, and it will also make it so that jurors do not have to spend basically two days sitting through a Circuit Court trial deciding whether an injured person deserves $10,000.00 or $15,000.00 for their injuries. Apparently Louisiana has the highest jury demand threshold at $50,000.00. The constitutional amendment was supported by the Maryland Association for Justice,, and we worked really hard to get this legislation through the General Assembly during the 2010 legislative session when I was the president of the Maryland Trial Lawyers. For more information on this ballot initiative, click here.
Insurance companies cannot be trusted--especially in the way they treat car accident victims. I have noticed that insurance companies are becoming more and more aggressive about approaching victims of car accidents and offering them a small amount of money in exchange for releasing their liability claim. Unfortunately, many of those injured in car accidents are taking the bait and signing the release in exchange for the money. In my opinion, the main reason that this happens is that car crash victims are quite often suffering from financial hardship because they are unable to work and have lost wages because of their injuries from the crash. Therefore, when offered a couple of thousand dollars immediatley in exchange for a release it is hard to say no--they need to put food on the table for their family. The insurance companies send out highly trained adjusters with a checkbook to meet in person with accident victims and urge them to settle on the cheap. These insurance adjusters are trained to be nice, compassionate, and to essentially trick the car crash victim into thinking they are on their side (which is never true). Here is what Maryland victims of car crashes need to know about signing a release:
1. Don't sign a release without at least talking to an attorney. If you have an injury that may be permanent, then a release should not be signed until you know the full extent of your injuries and the cost of the future care.
2. Generally speaking, if you sign a release, you are giving up all of your rights to make a claim for further damages from the accident. The fact that you felt pressured to sign the release is not going to help get it voided.
3. If an insurance company tells you that you do not need a lawyer, then you need a lawyer.
4. In Maryland, there is a new law that essentially makes it so that if a release is signed within 30 days of an accident, it is voidable for 60 days so long as certain conditions are met such as returning the money and providing the insurance company with written notice.
If you have peanut allergies, stay away from Raisinets! On october 22, 2010 Nestle Corp voluntarily recalled a batch of rasinets that may contain peanuts even though the label says it does not contain peanuts. The tainted raisinets were distributed to Target, Shot Rite and Don Quixote stores. The Food and Drug Administration issued a press release on this issue and it can be seen if you click here.
Nestle has indicated that any purchaser of the tainted raisinets candy can call 800-478-5670 for a full refund. The tainted raisinets are in the 10 ounce fun bags.
If you or someone you love is injured as a result of consuming a tainted food product, you may have a legal claim for product liability, breach of warranty and/or for a violation of state consumer protection laws. In these kinds of legal cases, it is very important to save the tainted product so that proper testing can be done to prove that it was in fact tainted (dangerous) and that it in fact caused the injury complained of.
The short answer is YES. In the state of Maryland, if your child is injured due to the negligence of school officials including teachers and volunteers you have the right to sue, but the damages would ultimately be collected against the school board and its liability insurance carrier--not against the teacher or principal. This area of the law gets somewhat complicated though because of the doctrine of sovereign immunity. First of all, you cannot sue the school for failing to educate your child. Maryland does not recognize educational malpractice as a tort. But if your child suffers a personal injury or is killed and it is the result of the negligence of the school's employees you can indeed file a lawsuit. The crux of Maryland law is that teachers and school employees are not personally liable for negligence so long as they acted without malice and so long as the jury does not find that their actions constitute "gross negligence" See MD Code Cts. Jud. Proc. 5-518. Any lawsuit against a teacher must include the school board. The school board itself is not immune for amounts up to $100,000.00 and also is not immune for amounts above $100,000.00 if they have liability insurance covering them. The immunity provisions do not apply to car accidents.
A hot topic these days is bullying. If a school fails to take appropriate action to protect a child from being bullied, the child--through his parents-could file a lawsuit against school officials for any physical/emotional injuries. If a judgement was obtained against, say for example and teacher and a school principal, the judgment would only be collectable against the School Board, and not against the individuals (unless they acted with malice or with gross negligence).
If your child was injured due to the negligence of school officials feel free to call Goldberg Finnegan & Mester for a free telephone consultation. 888-213-8140
On Thursday evening Maryland Terp Offensive Tackle Pete DeSouza was injured when he was struck by a car while he was riding on a motor scooter on the University of Maryland's campus. The driver of the car that struck Mr. DeSouza was operating his vehicle in a negligent manner and was given a traffic ticket. The accident occurred at about nine pm on Campus Drive at the University of Maryland College Park Campus which is in PG County Maryland. Unfortunately, Mr. DeSouza fractured his legs and will require surgery and will be out for the rest of the season. We certainly wish Pete a speedy recovery.
Its astonishing that banks and foreclosure attorneys now admit that thousands of foreclosures throughout the United States have been based on fraudulent documents and improperly executed affidavits. What is not as clear, is how prevalent these improper foreclosure practices were in Maryland. Circut Courts throughout Maryland are reviewing foreclosure petitions to see if there is apparent evidence of improper documents (The Washington Post reported that the Prince George's County Circuit Court is reviewing 14,000 filings). Two law firms have already filed corrective affidavits---Covahey, Boozer, Devan & Dore in Towson and Bierman, Geesing, Ward & Wood in Bethesda, Maryland.
Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley wrote to the Chief Judge of the Maryland Court of Appeals about his concerns for Maryland consumers and Maryland homeowners over the foreclosure scandal. He urged Judge Bell to take "immediate action." A new Maryland Rule is being considered by the Maryland Court of Appeals this week that will allow Circuit Court Judges to summons Maryland lawyers into Court if there is suspicion that the supporting affidavits for the foreclosure were not signed by the lawyer. The Rule will also allow Maryland circuit courts to designate lawyers to serve as a Special Master to review foreclosure documents for irregularities in signatures and to make appropriate recommendations to the Courts.
If you believe that you are a victim of an improper foreclosure or that the documentation supporting your foreclosure was improper, you should call a Maryland lawyer.
On Sunday October 10, 2010 in the early morning hours two pedestrians were struck and killed by a car on Rockville Pike near the White Flint Metro Station. Those killed, Rory Weichbrod and Adam Hosinski, were only 26 years old. The driver of the car that struck these young men was arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family of those killed. What is disturbing though, is that news reports suggest that Montgomery County knew that the roadway in that area was unsafe and that they will soon be making changes. Montgomery County Pedestrian Safety Coordinator Jeff Dunckel says the crash happened on the edge of a known hot spot for pedestrian accidents along Rockville Pike" and that within the next year, drivers will see obvious changes including new signals, medians and other traffic calming devices. Are you kidding me? If the County knew the roadway was unsafe, the fact is that the roadway should not have been built that way in the firstplace and the changes should have occurred long ago. Roadway safety is generally governed by standards set forth in the MUTCD--Manual for Uniform Traffic Control Devices. Montgomery County and/or the contractors who designed the unsafe roadway likely contributed to this tragic incident. Legal claims against the County require that notice be provided pursuant to the Local Government Tort Claims Act---and this must be properly done within 180 days of the incident.
Another disturbing aspect of this incident is that the driver who hit the young men may have been drunk. Unfortunately, under Maryland law, even if he was intoxicated, he will not be subject to punitive damages. There has been proposed legislation to change this aspect of Maryland law, but so far it has not passed.
Just yesterday a Baltimore City jury returned a $20 Million dollar verdict in a lead paint case against the Baltimore City Housing Authority. About $825,000.00 were awarded in economic damages and about $20 Million Dollars in non-economic damages. The jury did not consider punitive damages (punitive damages are very difficult to get in Maryland). This jury verdict will be reduced because of Maryland's cap on non-economic damages. Just last week, the Maryland Court of Appeals upheld Maryland's cap on non-economic damages There will surely be post-trial motions and a motion for remittur so the plaintiff will not be collecting $20 Million Dollars.
Lead paint is known to cause serious brain damages to children. Unfortunately, many homes in Maryland and Washington, D.C. are contaminated with lead paint. In this case where the $20 Million dollar jury verdict was rendered yesterday, the plaintiff's IQ was diminished by 10 points to 89 which is below average.
I happen to know a lot about cardiac stent procedures in Maryland because my father is a cardiologist and because I have friends and family members who have undergone the procedure. The fact is that for certain patients, stents can save lives. In the aftermath of the stent scandal in Maryland though, certain journalists have taken the bait and tried to make it seem that all stent procedures are bad. A perfect example is Jay Hancock's article in the Baltimore Sun. To see the article click here.
I wrote a letter to the editor responding to the ridiculous statements in this article. To see my letter to the editor click here.
The bottom line is that if you or someone you love had a stent procedure you very well may have needed the procedure and it may have saved your life. Then again, some patients have had cardiac stent procedures who did not need them. If you suspect that your stents were unnecessary, you should have a Maryland medical malpractice lawyer review your case.
Maryland has a terribly unfair cap on damages in personal injury cases. On September 24, 2010 the Maryland Court of Appeals upheld the cap in DRD Pool Service, Inc. v. Thomas Freed. The case is a very sad case about the swimming pool drowning of Connor Freed, a healthy 5 year old boy. A swimming pool drowning lawsuit was filed in the Circuit Court for Anne Arundel County, MD. Legal Claims were made for the drowning death and for the conscious pain and suffering of the young child who drowned to death. Although the trial judge excluded evidence of conscious pain and suffering of the drowing victim, the Court awarded over $4 million dollars. Unfortunatley, pursuant to Maryland's cap on non-economic damages the total award to $1,002,500.00. The young drowinging victim's family appealed to the Maryland Court of Speial Appeals and theat Court upheld the Maryland cap. The Maryland Court of Appeals granted certiorari. Friday's decision affrimed the Court of Special Appeals and rejected the constitutional arguments that were made agains the Maryland cap on damages. The decision is based on the legal concept of stare decisis which basically means the court should not generally change prior precedent ---latin for "to stand by the thing decided." The Court said "overall the constitutional challenges purt forth by the Freeds are essentially the same challenges that we rejected in Murphy and Oaks." It should be noted that Judge Murphy filed a dissenting opinion arguing that the case should go back to the Circuit Court for them to use a heightened scrutiny test to determine if the Equal Protection Guarantee of the Constitution was violated.
It has been over 5 months since the Deepwater Horizon Exploded in the Gulf of Mexico. A quick update as to what is going on in the Gulf Oil Spill MDL located in the Eastern District of Louisiana.
1. Today Judge Barbier appointed Professor Francis McGovern as a Special Master in the Gulf Oil Spill Litigation. Professor McGovern is a well regarded professor at Duke University School of Law and he is known as one of the nations best when it comes to mediating and resolving mass tort cases.
2. Monday is the deadline for Gulf Oil Spill lawyers to file their application to be on the Plaintiff Steering Committee. So far, from what I can tell about 40 people have applied.
3. The GCCF is up and running. Some of our Gulf Oil Spill clients have even received their 6 month emergency payment. From what we can tell though, the pay outs are calculated using the lowest possible numbers and the emergency payments are less than fair. Unfortunately, there is no mechanism in place to appeal the emergency payment.
4. A great way to keep up with currrent developments in this litigation is to go to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana website.
Yesterday Avandia was banned in Europe. Here in the United States, because of lobbyists for the pharmaceutical industry, our FDA has not banned the drug. Rather they have indicated that it should only be used by patients whose blood sugar cannot be controlled by other means. What a joke. Doctors don't even realize it, but they were just stabbed in the back by the drug company. What just happened is that the drug companies lobbying efforts have made it so that now rather than just the drug company getting sued, doctors may now get dragged into these lawsuits for failing to find appropriate alternatives for their patients. If you know of anyone on Avandia who had a heart attack, have them call us at 888-213-8140. At our law firm we keep the focus of these claims where they belong---on Glaxo. We will not sue your doctor.
Avandia was the world's most popular drug to treat Type 2 diabetes, and it was approved as safe by the FDA. Unfortunatley, GlaxoSmithKline chose not to share with doctors, regulators, and the public the fact that it also causes heart attacks (one of the leading causes of death for diabetics). Avandia is a bad drug, and if you know anyone on it, you should tell them to ask their doctor for an alternative.
If you had hip replacement surgery and are suffering from hip pain, joint pain or having difficulty walking, then you should check to see if the recalled Dupuy product was used. Unfortunately, individuals in Maryland, D.C. and Virginia who underwent hip replacement surgery and received a DuPuy Orthopedics hip may very well need a revision surgery.
This is because DuPuy has recently issued a recall for its ASR XL Avetabular System and DePuy ASR Hip Resurfacing System. The DuPuy recall was announced in late August 2010. These products have been used by Maryland/Virginia Orthopedic Surgeons doing hip replacement procedures because they were believed to be stronger than other products on the market. Unlike other hip replacement products, these are a metal on metal system, and there is concern that tiny pieces of metal can break off into the human body. The metal contains chromium and other metallics that can cause non cancerous tumors.
Bottom line is that if you have had hip replacement surgery and one of the recalled systems was used, you very well may need a revision surgery. There is a 12-13% 5 year revsion surgery rate for those who have the recalled products. About 93,000 of the recalled Dupuy Hip Replacement Systems have been surgically implanted. The lawyers at Goldberg, Finnegan & Mester can answer your questions about your hip replacement surgery and help you determine whether you have a valid legal claim. www.gfmjustice.com 888-213-8140.
Dupuy Orthopedics is a division of Johnson & Johnson. J&J has had numerous product recalls in the last year or so, and this is troubling. It should also be noted that the FDA issued a Warning Letter to DuPuy President on August 19, 2010 indicating that they were illegally marketing certain hip replacement products including the Corail Hip SYstem and the TruMatch Personalized Solutions System--basically marketing the products without the required pre-market approval. Hip replacement surgery is often used for those with serious osteoarthritis, traumatic arthritis, congenital hip sdysplasia, avascular necrosis of the hip femoral head, acute traumatic hip fractures, hailed prior hip surgeries, and certain types of ankylosis.
Goldberg, Finnegan & Mester represents baby with cerebral palsy and brain damage: settles case for $5.175 million
Partners Christian Mester and Jean Jones, R.N., J.D. resolved a case for $5,175,000 on behalf of a baby who suffered permanent brain damage and cerebral palsy when the health care providers mismanaged his mother's labor and delivery. The money (which is controlled by a trustee pursuant to applicable state law) going to the child allows the family to obtain much needed additional care and services for the child that will enable him to achieve optimal medical care. In this case, the mother's labor and delivery care was handled by certified nurse midwives at a hospital. Mr. Mester and Ms. Jones alleged that when the mother presented to the hospital for induction of labor, there was a lack of appropriate and timely interventions, including that the defendant health care providers inappropriately ignored warning signs on the fetal monitor tracings that the mother's uterus had become hyperstimulated (the contractions were coming too close together and lasting too long), and the baby was not compensating, as exhibited by persistent variable and late decelerations (reductions in the heart rate of the fetus below baseline), as well as episodes of prolonged decelerations, tachycardia and bradycardia. The lack of appropriate and timely interventions caused undue stress to the baby and eventually exhausted the fetal reserves. The health care providers could have avoided permanent neurological damage to the baby had they adhered to the standard of care and delivered the baby in a timely fashion - what this means is that had the health care providers not ignored these signs, the baby would have been born normal, with no injuries. Mr. Mester and Ms. Jones further alleged that the health care providers' failures to take proper measures led to the baby's hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy, which is brain damage due to lack of oxygen. The health care providers denied any improper treatment and further denied the allegations that any improper care caused or contributed to the baby's subsequent injuries.
These types of cases, sometimes referred to as delay in delivery cases or brain damaged baby cases, are some of the most complicated and expensive medical malpractice cases to handle and prosecute. They involve numerous medical specialties (obstetrics, midwifery, neonatology, nursing, pediatric neurology, pediatric neuro-radiology, pediatric infectious disease, and life care planning, to name a few), and the medicine at issue is likewise complex. Plaintiffs' firms routinely spend over $100,000 and usually double that amount to prosecute the case and take it through trial. Mr. Mester and Ms. Jones, who is a registered nurse attorney, have much experience in cases like these, having prosecuted such cases on a national basis (in states where they are not licensed, they would get specially moved in by attorneys in those states). Being able to assist a family whose life has been a struggle since birth with a monetary settlement such as this is extremely rewarding and it is something the Goldberg, Finnegan & Mester, LLC medical negligence lawyers take very seriously.
If you or a loved one has been injured at the hands of a health care provider, call Goldberg, Finnegan & Mester, LLC at 1-888-213-8140 When looking for any lawyer, make sure they are able to afford to prosecute the case fully and properly and that they have experience in the field of law in which you are calling. At Goldberg, Finnegan & Mester, LLC, we look forward to answering your questions and earning your trust.
Well, I just got back from another trip to St. Bernard Parish Louisiana. The people there are still struggling. Although some of the waters are now open for fishing, the charter boat operators do not have enough customers. I have heard first hand accounts of how there are not nearly as many shrimp as there once were for the Louisiana shrimpers and fishermen. As of Monday August 23, 2010 BP closed down their claims operations and those making claims are now required to file with the Gulf Coast Claims Facility. For more information about this new claims process and what damages are recoverable, please check out this video:
Although Kenneth Feinberg has indicated that businesses that are not in close proximity to the Gulf do not have a valid claim, we continue to believe that businesses and inviduals that suffered losses as a result of the Gulf Oil Spill may indeed have a valid legal claim under the Oil Pollution Act, and therefore a claim should be submitted to the GCCF. The GCCF will be making emergency payments for up to 6 months. Then you must submit your final claim. Again, for more information about the process check out the video link above.