October 21, 2012

23 deaths due to Fungal Meningitis

The numbers keep going up!

The Center for Disease Control is now reporting that there have been 23 deaths due to the fungal meningitis outbreak. The total number of cases know is 285. There are at least 16 known cases of fungal meningitis in Maryland and 41 known cases in Virginia. Needle.jpgThis outbreak is allegedly due to medicine made by a drug compounding company in Massachusettes. Patients across the country were given spinal injections with compounded medicine contaminated with fungal meningitis. What this means, in layman's terms, is that the fungal meningitis was injected directly into many patients spinal column. Government agencies estimate that as many as 14,000 back pain patients were given the contaminated medications.

If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with fungal meningitis call Goldberg, Finnegan & Mester, LLC at 888-213-8140 for a free phone consultation. Our medical legal team is currently investigating fungal meningitis cases.

What is the Food and Drug Administration saying about this epidemic? Well, they have confirmed that Exserohilum Rostratum in compounded drugs from the New England Compounding Company. The FDA is also providing doctors with a form letter to send to patients they suspect may have received contaminated medications. The form letter is located on the fda website.


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October 19, 2012

First Wrongful Death Lawsuit Filed Against Monster Energy For Death of a Minor Child

Goldberg, Finnegan & Mester, LLC has been investigating the dangers of energy drinks for several months now, and on October 17, 2012 filed (with local counsel) what is believed to be the first wrongful death lawsuit against Monster Energy in California for the death of a minor child. The firm is interested in speaking with others who believe they suffered serious injuries such as heart attacks and strokes after consuming caffeinated energy drinks. Call us at 888-213-8140 energy drinks pic of cans.jpg

The energy drink lawsuit was filed in Riverside County California on behalf of a 14 year old Hagerstown, Maryland child, Anais Fournier, who died after consuming two cans of Monster Energy Drink within 24 hours. A copy of the lawsuit is located at: Click here to see the Complaint.. The case was filed with co-counsel in California---Alex Wheeler and The R. Rex Paris Law Firm filed the lawsuit and it is anticipated that Kevin I. Goldberg will be moved in pro hac vice.

If you or someone you know has suffered a serious injury after consuming energy drinks contact us at 888-213-8140 for a free phone consultation about your legal rights.

Anais Fournier's story was reported on NBC's The Today Show in March 2012 and the episode can be seen here.

The story was also reported on Anderson Cooper's show "Anderson Live"

Anais Fournier was at home watching a movie when she went into cardiac arrest last December. Unconscious, Anais was rushed to the hospital. In an effort to save her life, doctors put Anais in an induced coma to reduce the brain swelling. Six days later she was removed from life support. The cause of death was caffeine toxicity according her doctors, the autopsy and death certificate.

Anais had consumed two 24-oz. Monster Energy drinks in a 24-hour period, the last drink just hours prior to her death. The two drinks combined are believed to have contained approximately 480 milligramsof known caffeine, the equivalent of almost 14 cans of Coca-Cola. The FDA requires soft-drinks contain no more than .02% or 71.5 mg per 12 oz of caffeine. However, Monster Energy's caffeine content is not regulated by the FDA because it is considered a "dietary supplement," and not a food, subject to FDA's caffeine restrictions, and the 24 ounce cans of Monster Energy do not specifically disclose the amount of caffeine. In addition to caffeine, like many other energy drinks, Monster Energy contains guarana and taurine, stimulants that contain caffeine or produce similar effects on the cardiac muscles. Monster Energy Drink also contains Panax Ginseng which is an herbal supplement that, according to the National Institute of Health's Medline Website, should not be consumed with caffeine.

The family filed a lawsuit today against Monster Energy for failing to warn about the product's dangers. The case was filed in California Superior Court (Riverside County). The Case Caption is Wendy Crossland and Richard Fournier, individually and as surviving parents of Anais Fournier v. Monster Beverage Corporation, Case No. RIC 1215551.

"I was shocked to learn the FDA can regulate caffeine in a can of soda, but not these huge energy drinks, said Anais' mother Wendy Crossland. "With their bright colors and names like Monster, Rockstar, and Full Throttle, these drinks are targeting teenagers with no oversight or accountability. These drinks are death traps for young, developing girls and boys, like my daughter, Anais."

"Nothing will replace the love and vitality of Anais. I just want Monster Energy to know their product can kill," added Crossland.

According to the Center for Food Safety Adverse Event Reporting System at the FDA, there have been six deaths and 15 hospitalizations reported associated with Monster Energy Drink since 2009.

According to a November, 2011 report by the Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality, part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), there has been a tenfold increase in emergency department visits associated with energy drinks between 2004 and 2009, totaling more than 16,000 visits in 2008, and sales have increased 240 percent during the same period.

In fact, in 2010, the state of Virginia banned the use of energy drinks such as Red Bull, Monster and Rockstar by student-athletes during high school football practices and games after noticing an increase in emergency room visits associated with the products.

"Monster, with their targeted marketing practices and promotion of energy drinks to teenagers, put profits over the safety of America's youth," said attorney Kevin Goldberg, of Goldberg, Finnegan, and Mester, in Silver Spring, Maryland. "Nothing can bring Anais back, but we can tell the world these energy drinks are harmful." Kevin Goldberg was the 2009-2010 President of the Maryland Association for Justice, and is one of the attorneys representing Anais Fournier's parents.

"Our hope is discovery in this case will shed light on Monster Corporation's practices regarding what they do or do not tell the public and FDA about the safety of their products," added Goldberg. The lawsuit alleges strict product liability, failure to warn and negligence in the design, sale and manufacturing of the product, among other claims.

"I want Anais' life to send a loud and clear message to today's youth that energy drinks can kill," added Crossland. "I would like nothing more than to have these drinks regulated by the FDA and ban the sale to minors."

Anais had believed organ donation was important. Her right kidney and pancreas were able to save the life of a woman in her forties. Her left kidney and liver saved a retired male nurse in his sixties. Her corneas were able to give two people who were blind the gift of sight. Just fourteen years old, Anais passed away December 23, 2011 and is survived by her parents, her twin brother, Dorian, and younger sister, Jade.

There have been numerous articles in peer reviewed medical journals about the dangers of energy drinks including:

Pediatrics--"Health Effects of Energy Drinks on Children, Adolescents and Young Adultspeds 2009-3592 full.pdfSteinke.Effect Consumption on Hemo.pdf


# # #

Kevin Goldberg, Goldberg, Finnegan & Mester, 1010 Wayne Avenue # 950, Silver Spring, MD 20910 Phone: (301) 589-2999 x102. www.gfmlawllc.com

October 15, 2012

Fungal Meningitis Legal Update

Our medical legal team is providing free phone consultations to anyone concerned about the fungal meningitis outbreak. As of October 15, 2012 the CDC reports that there are 214 confirmed cases, have been 15 deaths, and cases come from 15 different states.

Today the Food and Drug Administration issued a Statement on the Fungal Meningitis Outbreak. The FDA reports that a new product manufactured by the New England Compounding Center (NECC) has been associated with possible meningitis and/or infections--that is triamcinolone acetonide. This product is another injectable steroid similar to the methylprednisolone acetate which was previously believed to be the only culprit. The FDA also reports that patients administered a drug made by NECC and used in open heart surgery to paralyze heart muscles may possibly be associated with Aspergillus fumigatus infections.

The FDA is advising health care providers to stop using NECC products for the time being. Doctors are being told by the FDA to contact patients who were given NECC injectable products and let them know of the possible risk of an infection. Patients who received NECC injectable products and who experience symptoms of infection should see a medical doctor or report to the emergency room right away.

The symptoms of meningitis include fever, headache, stiff neck, nausea and vomitting, light sensitivity, and altered mental state. Symptoms for the other infections which could be possibly linked to NECC products include fever, swelling, increased pain, redness, eye discharge, chest pain, and surgical site drainage. Doctors are asked to report any adverse events following the use of NECC products to the FDA Medwatch Program at 800-332-1088.

The CDC is having a phone conference for physicians on Tuesday October 16, 2012 called Fungal Meningitis Guidance for Clinicians at 2:00 PM EST. The call in number for this is 888-791-6180 (passcode 1281914). We suggest that patients diagnosed with fungal meningitis and their loved ones may want to call in for this phone call in order to be sure they are knowledgeable of the most up to date medical information about the meningitis outbreak.

Our legal team is investigating product liability, negligence, and wrongful death claims relating to the fungal meningitis outbreak. Call us at 301-589-2999

October 9, 2012

Meningitis Outbreak in Maryland-8 confirmed cases and two deaths

The lawyers at Goldberg, Finnegan & Mester are offering a free telephone consultation to anyone who has been diagnosed with fungal meningitis; or anyone concerned that they may have been infected. Needle.jpgThere are currently 119 cases and 11 deaths that have resulted from an outbreak caused by a drug compounding company. At least 32 of these cases of diagnosed fungal meningitis were in Maryland and Virginia.

FREE MENINGITIS CONSULTATION 888-213-8140

The individuals who have been diagnosed with fungal meningitis received epidural injections into their spine to treat back pain. These injections are often given by medical doctors and/or pain management specialists in an outpatient setting. The tainted injections were given starting May 21, 2012. Symptoms of fungal meningitis often do not appear for quite some time after the initial contact. Symptoms include headaches, dizziness, fever and neck stiffness.

We are especially concerned about our current and past clients because many of them have back injuries from car accidents and receive epidural steroid injections as part of their treatment regiment. The Center for Disease Control is recommending that

"Clinicians should actively contact patients who have received medicines associated with three lots of preservative-free methylprednisolone acetate (80mg/ml) recalled on September 26." 2012.

The Center for Disease Control Website has an up to date map showing the number of confirmed diagnoses of meningitis in each state. While Maryland has just 8 confirmed fungal meningitis cases so far, the number is expected to rise, and there have already been two deaths in Maryland. Tennessee has 39 confirmed cases and 6 deaths.

October 7, 2012

Bad Faith Insurance Claims in Maryland

In many car accident cases, we see severe injuries or even death, yet unfortunately the amount of insurance coverage available is insufficient to cover all of the damages. THe minimum amount of insurance coverage in Maryland is $30,000.00 per injured person and $60,000.00 per incident total. Therefore, there are many car wrecks where the victim has damages well in excess of the amount of insurance coverage available.

Just this week, a colleague of mine named Irwin Weiss published an article in Trial Reporter Magazine titled "Third Party Bad Faith: Getting More Than The Policy Limit." The article is well written and provides an excellent summary of the law governing third party bad faith insurance claims in Maryland. A few key points from the article are set forth below:

1. Maryland recognizes third party bad faith claims, and insurance companies owe a duty to their insured to use reasonable care in evaluating claims and settling cases within the available policy limits so as not to jeopardize the insured's assets. Sweeten v. National Mutual Insurance Co., 233 Md. 52 (1963); State Farm v. White, 248 Md. 324 (1967); Allstate v. Campbell, 334 Md. 381 (1994).

2. If an injured party obtains a judgment in excess of the policy limits of an insured, the cause of action for bad faith failure to settle the claim belongs to the insured and not to the injured party. Therefore, the injured party needs to obtain an assignment of the insured's bad faith claim in exchange for an agreement not to pursue the assets of the insured. The assignment procedure has been specifically approved by the Maryland Court's in Medical Mutual Liability Ins., Inc. v. Evans, 330 Md. 1 (1993). A lawyer can be helpful in properly obtaining the assignment of this bad faith claim, and our lawyers at Goldberg, Finnegan & Mester can be reached at 301-589-2999.

3. The damages in a third party bad faith claim in Maryland is the amount by which the judgment rendered exceeds the amount of insurance coverage. It is not clear whether an insured is entitled to emotional distress damages. Punitive damages are not available in Maryland unless it can be shown that the insurer acted with specific malice against its insured. Owens Illinios v. Zenobia, 325 Md. 420 (1992).

4. The factors considered in evaluating an insurance company's refusal to settle within policy limits are as follows: (i) severity of injuries/likelihood of verdict greatly in excess of policy limits, (ii) lack of proper investigation of accident, (iii) lack of skillful evaluation of plaintiff disability, (iv) failure of insurer to inform insured of a compromise offer within or near policy limits, (v) pressure on insured to make a contribution to settlement within policy limits as an inducement to settle, and (vi) actions demonstrating a greater concern for the insurer monetarty interest than for financial risk to insured. ( See State Farm. v. White).

5. It is important to hire a lawyer skilled and knowledgeable about how to proceed with obtaining compensation in excess of the policy limits. This includes hiring a lawyer who understands the importance and signficance of writing a "Bad Faith Letter" to the insurance company urging settlement within the policy.

Our team of lawyers has experience in handling bad faith claims in Maryland; and we will explore all options for locating additional insurance coverage and/or establishing bad faith so that compensation in excess of the coverage can be obtained. Of course it is not possible to obtain compensation in excess of the amount of coverage in every case. The important thing for those seriously injured to know is that they need to hire a lawyer who understands insurance coverage, bad faith, and knows how to increase the likelihood that full compensation for the injured party can be obtained.

October 4, 2012

Fungal Meningitis Outbreak in Maryland and Surrounding States

The CDC has reported a fungal meningitis outbreak, and has linked the problem to epidural steroid injections used to treat back pain. Needle.jpg35 cases have been reported with cases in Maryland, Virginia, NC, TN and Florida. Victims who have contracted the meningitis have died and others are seriously injured. If you or a loved one have received injections for back pain and have odd symptoms such as headaches, dizziness or difficulty walking you should contact your doctor right away.

We have learned that New England Compounding Center in Framingham Mass apparently voluntarily recalled three lots of 80 mg injections of methylprednisolone acetate (PF).

You may wonder, what is meningitis? Meningitis is a medical condition when the spine becomes inflamed due to bacteria and/or viruses. The fungal meningitis that is the subject of this particular outbreak is not believed to be contagious from person to person. That said, however, the fungal meningitis condition is difficult to treat. It is often found in those with compromised immune systems such as cancer patients and individuals who are HIV positive.

NBC News has reported that 35 people have been diagnosed in this outbreak and 5 of them have died.

Goldberg Finnegan & Mester is evaluating product liability cases relating to this fungal meningitis outbreak in Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C. Call us at 301-589-2999 x102.

September 30, 2012

Caution---Uninsured Motorist Claims in Maryland Can Be Complicated!

Many of the cases we handle involve an insured having to sue their own insurance company for benefits owed. Insurance Claim Denied.pngThese claims are technically breach of contract claims, and they can become very complicated. Perhaps the most common type of claim we handle in this area is claims for uninsured motorist benefits. This week the Maryland Court of Special Appeals issued its opinion in Buckley v. The Brethren, and the opinion is favorable to Maryland consumers who purchase car insurance, and make a claim for uninsured motorist benefits.

In this case, the car insurance company, The Brethren Mutual Insurance Company, tried to pull a fast one on its own insured and wiggle out of paying benefits it clearly owed. You see, the handling of an uninsured motorist claim in Maryland is complicated, and generally is based on statutes including Section 19-511 of the Insurance Article of the Maryland Code.


To make a long story short, Ms. Ember Buckley was seriously injured as a passenger in a car crash in March 2007 and she incurred over $100,000.00 in medical bills. The crash was caused by Mr. Harvey Betts who owned and drove the car that Buckley was a passenger in. Mr. Betts vehicle had just $100,000.00 of liability coverage, and was covered by Geico Insurance Company. Ms. Buckley had her own car insurance policy in which she paid a premium for up to $300,000.00 in uninsured motorist benefits (also known as underinsured motorist benefits). Ms. Buckley's $300,000.00 policy was with The Brethren Mutual Insurance Company. Geico made a settlement offer of its insured's $100,000.00 policy limit in exchange for a release. As they are required to do, GEICO sent the policy limits offer in writing, but GEICO asked for a full and general release.

In the State of Maryland, uninsured motorist claims are goverened by Section 19-511 of the Insurance Article of the Maryland Code. The law allows an injured person to accept a policy limits settlement offer from a liability carrier so long as the written offer is sent to the uninsured motorist carrier by certified mail pursuant to the statute. The UM Carrier then has 60 days to consent to the acceptance of the policy limits offer (and allow for the injured person to execute a release), or to refuse to consent to the acceptance of the offer, but then to pay the amount of the offer to the injured person within 30 days of the refusal to consent. If the UM carrier consents to the acceptance of the offer (and presumably to the signing of a Release) then the UM Carrier waives its subrogation rights against the at fault party. If the Uninsured Motorist Insurer refuses to consent to the settlement, then the UM Carrier must pay the injured party the amount of the settlement, but its subrogation rights would be preserved (Because there would be no release).

In this case Ms. Buckley's lawyer sent Brethren Mutual the policy limits settlement offer by certified mail as required by the statute, and Brethren's insurance adjuster sent a letter back stating that they waived subrogation against Mr. Betts. Ms. Buckley then accepted the settlement offer from GEICO but signed a very broad general release that in and of it self, at least arguably, released the UM claim.

When Ms. Betts presented her uninsured motorist claim to The Brethren Insurance Company, Brethren's adjuster denied the claim based on the broad language in the release signed by Ms. Betts. What is disturbing is that Brethren knew that it owed uninsured motorist benefits in this case, and took a ridiculous position in order to save money. The Brethren admitted that it had consented to the settlement, but then argued that it nevertheless could lawfully deny the uninsured motorist claim because of the language in the release. This is a great example of how generally speaking insurance companies look out for their own bottom line and are not looking out for their insureds.

In any event, the Maryland Court of Special Appeals ruled in favor of Ms. Betts and against the insurance company. The Court held that so long as the Circuit Court agrees that The Brethren consented to the settlement, the uninsured motorist benefits were owed and that the only issue for trial was the amount of damages owed to Ms. Buckley. (It should be noted that Judge Eyler filed a dissenting opinion).

Practice Pointer regarding Maryland Uninsured Motorist Claims----Be sure that the letter from the UM Carrier clearly consents to the settlement and signing of a release with the liability carrier. Also, carve out the UM claim in any release signed.

September 30, 2012

Uninsured Motorist Claim Case in Maryland This Week

Many of the cases we handle involve an insured having to sue their own insurance company for benefits owed. Insurance Claim Denied.pngThese claims are technically breach of contract claims, and they can become very complicated. This week the Maryland Court of Special Appeals issued its opinion in Buckley v. The Brethren, and the opinion is favorable to Maryland consumers who purchase car insurance.

In this case, the car insurance company, The Brethren Mutual Insurance Company, tried to pull a fast one on its own insured and wiggle out of paying benefits owed. You see, the handling of an uninsured motorist claim in Maryland is complicated, and generally is based on statutes including Section 19-511 of the Insurance Article of the Maryland Code.

To make a long story short, Ms. Ember Buckley was seriously injured as a passenger in a car crash in March 2007 and she incurred over $100,000.00 in medical bills. The crash was caused by Mr. Harvey Betts who owned and drove the car that Buckley was a passenger in. Mr. Betts vehicle had just $100,000.00 of liability coverage, and was covered by Geico Insurance Company. Ms. Buckley had her own car insurance policy in which she paid a premium for up to $300,000.00 in uninsured motorist benefits (also known as underinsured motorist benefits). Ms. Buckley's $300,000.00 policy was with The Brethren Mutual Insurance Company. Geico made a settlement offer of its insured's $100,000.00 policy limit in exchange for a release. As they are required to do, GEICO sent the policy limits offer in writing, but GEICO asked for a full and general release.

In the State of Maryland, uninsured motorist claims are goverened by Section 19-511 of the Insurance Article of the Maryland Code. The law allows an injured person to accept a policy limits settlement offer from a liability carrier so long as the written offer is sent to the uninsured motorist carrier by certified mail pursuant to the statutue. The UM Carrier then has 60 days to consent to the acceptance of the policy limits offer (and allow for the injured person to execute a release), or to refuse to consent to the acceptance of the offer, but then to pay the amount of the offer to the injured person within 30 days of the refusal to consent. If the UM carrier consents to the acceptance of the offer (and presumably to the signing of a Release) then the UM Carrier waives its subrogation rights against the at fault party. If the Uninsured Motorist Insurer refuses to consent to the settlement, then the UM Carrier must pay the injured party the amount of the settlement, but its subrogation rights would be preserved (Because there would be no release).

In this case Ms. Buckley's lawyer sent Brethren Mutual the policy limits settlement offer by certified mail as required by the statute, and Brethren's insurance adjuster sent a letter back statuign that they waived subrogation against Mr. Betts. Ms. Buckley then accepted the settlement offer from GEICO but signed a very broad general release that in and of it self, at least arguably, released the UM claim.

When Ms. Betts presented her uninsured motorist claim to The Brethren Insurance Company, Brethren's adjuster denied the claim based on the broad language in the release signed by Ms. Betts. What is disturbing is that Brethren knew that it owed uninsured motorist benefits in this case, and took a ridiculous position in order to save money. The Brethren admitted that it had consented to the settlement, but then argued that it nevertheless could lawfully deny the uninsured motorist claim because of the language in the release. This is a great example of how generally speaking insurance companies look out for their own bottom line and are not looking out for their insureds.

In any event, the Maryland Court of Special Appeals ruled in favor of Ms. Betts and against the insurance company. The Court held that so long as the Circuit Court agrees that The Brethren consented to the settlement, the uninsured motorist benefits were owed and that the only issue for trial was the amount of damages owed to Ms. Buckley. (It should be noted that Judge Eyler filed a dissenting opinion).

September 26, 2012

Left Turn Accidents and Right of Way

Friends-

Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family of Elizabeth Colvin Colton who was killed in an accident that occurred last week in Montgomery County as a result of an improper left hand turn. Maryland drivers need to remember to yield the right of way to oncoming cars whenever making a left hand turn.

We are seeing a lot of very serious accidents resulting from improper and illegal left hand turns. It is important to remember that if you are making a left turn you must always yield the right of way to on-coming traffic before making your turn. It is also important to remember to use your turn signal. Way too often a driver will attempt to make a left turn in front of an oncoming vehicle thinking that they have plenty of space. Well, the fact is that not everyone drives the speed limit, and not all drivers are paying attention to what is ahead of them. It may look like the left turning vehicle has plenty of room to make the turn, but if the oncoming vehicle is speeding, and/or if the left turning driver's perception is off at all, a tragic collision can occur.

As a personal injury lawyer, I can tell you that in Maryland the driver of the left turning vehicle in this type of accident will practically always be found to be at fault. Occasionally the vehicle that had the right away may also be found at fault if it can be shown that vehicle was speeding or perhaps on a cell phone and texting and not paying attention, but this would be rare. Police investigating crash scenes will usually ticket the driver of the left turning vehicle. This is true even if the oncoming vehicle is speeding and not paying attention. Bottom line....if you are making a left turn, YIELD THE RIGHT OF WAY TO ONCOMING TRAFFIC.

Just this week there was a terrible crash on Great Seneca Highway near the Kentlands and Lakeland's community resulting from an improper left turn. A lady named Elizabeth Colvin Colton was the passenger in a vehicle driven by Seymour Baden. Apparently Mr. Baden attempted to make a left turn from Great Seneca Highway without yielding the right of way to oncoming traffic into the Lakelands neighborhood when he was struck by a vehicle driving on Great Seneca. Mr. Baden's passenger took the brunt of the impact and died as a result of her injuries.

September 20, 2012

Caution---Outpatient Surgical Facilities Are Unregulated in Maryland

Outpatient cosmetic and surgical procedures done at unregulated facilities can be dangerous. This is a growing problem in Maryland because there is no state licensure requirement for outpatient surgical centers. By contrast, hospitals where surgical procedures are traditionally done, are subject to State and Federal oversight and often have better safety procedures in place.

An example of this problem has occurred at Monarch Med Spa in Timonium, Maryland. A woman died and two others have acquired infections after having liposuction procedures done at Monarch Med Spa in Timonium, Maryland. State of MD Inspectors shut the surgical center down on Wednesday. According to The Washington Post, State officials have indicated that it is likely that the facility did not have proper infection control practices in place. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of the lady who died. monarch-med-spa.jpg

STATE OFFICIALS ARE URGING ANYONE WHO HAD PROCEDURES DONE AT MONARCH MED SPA AND WHO ARE CONCERNED ABOUT INFECTION TO CHECK WITH THEIR DOCTORS IMMEDIATELY.

The woman who died apparently acquired a bacterial infection known as invasive streptococcal infection (Group A Strep-tococcus). When bacterial infections like this infect body systems such as the blood, muscle and lungs, it is also known as "invasive GAS disease." GAS Disease has about a 10 to 15 % mortality rate. Perhaps the most severe kind is necrotizing fasciitis (Flesh Eating Bacteria)

Shockingly, cosmetic surgery centers (all outpatient procedure centers for that matter) in Maryland are not subject to State licensing or oversight. Hopefully the Maryland Legislature can address this issue in the 2012 Legislative Session. Peter Provost, a Senior Executive at John's Hopkins Health Care has said that the increasing number of outpatient procedure centers including outpatient surgery centers poses risks to consumers and, according to the Washington Post indicated that "It's a bit of the Wild West out there, ....There's no oversight.....We have closer inspections of restaurants than we have of health care."

The lawyers at Goldberg, Finnegan & Mester are interested in speaking with anyone injured at an outpatient surgery center in the State of Maryland. Our medical/legal team provides a free telephone consultation. Call us at 888-213-8140.

September 18, 2012

Don't Eat Those Mangoes

The Food and Drug Administration has warned consumers not to eat mangoes produced by Agricola Daniella because Salmonella has been found in their mangoes. The Center for Disease control has indicated that there has been an outbreak in salmonella cases in the USA with 105 salmonella diagnosis in 16 states. Daniella-Mangoes.jpg


FOOD POISONING CASES ARE ESSENTIALLY PRODUCT LIABILITY CASES. CALL US AT 888-213-8140 FOR A FREE CONSULTATION.

Salmonella is an illness often associated with food poisoning. Infants, the elderly and children are most at risk for acquiring salmonella. The symptoms include diarrhea, fever and stomach aches about 12-72 hours after the infection sets in. Salmonella can spread from the intestine to other body systems including the blood stream. It is a serious illness that can cause death if not treated properly. If you or your family members have signs or symptoms of salmonella, you should immediately call your doctor.

Legal cases related to food poisoning in fruits and vegetables such as salmonella are, essentially, product liability cases. Ideally, it is important to save/preserve the food that was contaminated and have it tested (a lawyer can help with this process). The causes of action to be considered for most food poisoning cases include: negligence, strict liability failure to warn, breach of warranty of fitness, and violation of consumer protection statutes. If you or someone you care about has suffered an injury as a result of consuming contaminated food (often fruit or meat), call Goldberg, Finnegan & Mester, LLC at 888-213-8140. We provide a free phone consultation regarding your food bourne illness legal claim.

September 16, 2012

Additional VA Benefits for Vietnam Vets

Did you know that many Veterans who served during the Vietnam War are entitled to VA Benefits that they are not currently receiving? The back benefits owed can be substantial and we urge those who served in Vietnam to contact a Veteran's Disability Lawyer to discuss their claim.vietnam_3.jpg

This is because there is an expanding list of health conditions and diseases that the Veteran's Administration attaches a presumption of "service connection" to for Vietnam Veterans. The conditions now include some of the most common ailments in the general population including type 2 diabetes, ischemic heart disease and parkinson's disease. What this means, in a nutshell, is that Vietnam Vets who have these illnesses can claim VA disability benefits and health benefits without having to prove that their condition was connected to Agent Orange Exposure. This new 2010 policy applies to those who served in Vietnam from January 9, 2962 until May 7, 2975.

Call Goldberg, Finnegan & Mester today at 888-213-8140 for a free phone consultation on your rights to Veteran's Benefits.

The decision to add parkinsons disease, diabetes and heart disease to the list of presumed service connected disabilities was made based on an independent study done by the Institute of Medicine titled"Veterans and Agent Orange: Update 2008." It should also be noted that the VA recently indicated it was going to "fast track" the claims process for service connected disabilities due to Agent Orange Exposure.

The list of conditions which receive a favorable presumption for service connected disability benefits now includes:

Type II Diabetes
Heart Disease
Parkinsons Disease
Peripheral Neuropathy
Chloracne
Porphyria Cutanea Tarada
Lung Cancer, Bronchus Cancer, Larynx Cancer, Hodgkins Disease,
Multiple Myeloma
Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma
All Chrnnic B-Cell Leukemias
Certain Soft Tissue Sarcomas
AL Amyloidosis
Certain Birth Defects in Children of Female Vets (including Spina Bifida)

The birth defects that are covered include achondroplasia, cleft lip and cleft palate, congenital heart disease, congenital talipes equinovarus (clubfoot), hip dysplasia, Hirschsprungs disease, hypospadias, hydrocephalus due ot aqueductal stenosis. For more information about the conditions covered for Vietnam Veterans review the document titled Agent Orange Review.pdf

Goldberg, Finnegan & Mester, LLC works with a team of lawyers who provide free consultations to Veterans and their families about the additional benefits that they may be entitled to. Generally speaking the types of benefits include service connected disability benefits, Compensation for Injury or death caused by VA Healtcare Malpractice, Pension Benefits For Veterans with Non-Service Connected Disabilities, and VA Benefits for Family Members of Veterans who served in the armed forces.

September 12, 2012

Left Turn Accident Results in Death of Motorcyclist

Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Michael George Balcom who died in a motorcycle accident in Gaithersburg Maryland. The incident occurred on Great Seneca Highway and Longdraft Road--not far from Shady Grove Hospital where the motorcyclist was taken before he died. It seems that a BMW driven by Toney Williams Moses made a left turn in front of the motorcycle without yielding the right of way to the motorcycle. Assuming the accuracy of these facts, the crash was not Mr. Balcom's faullt, and his estate and next of kin could bring a negligence claim against the driver of the vehicle that made the illegal left turn.

Those injured in motorcycle accidents often need legal representation because insurance companies and the police often have an unfair bias against motorcycle drivers. Our law firm has experience representing motorcyclits and the families of motorcyclists injured/killed in accidents on Maryland highways. A few things to keep in mind:

1. This crash was not Mr. Balcom's fault. In Maryland a vehicle turning left must yield the right of way to on-coming traffic. That said, it is quite possible that an insurance company will deny this claim and somehow argue "Contributory Negligence" on the part of Mr. Balcom. Therefore, it is crucial that Mr. Balcom's family conduct an independent investigation of the crash. Too often, especially in cases where a driver is killed, the police only get one side of the story and they do not do a thourough and complete investigation.

2. Motorcycles are not required to carry PIP insurance in Maryland. Therefore, it is unlikely that motorcyclists can make a PIP claim for accidents in Maryland.

3. Evidence from the crash scene should be preserved. Photos should be taken of any skid marks.

4. The Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration offers motorcycle training classes to Maryland motor cycle riders. Statistics show that 90 percent of riders involved in crashes did not have formal training. Participation in such classes is not required by law for adults. The MVA also has a Motorcycle Operator Manual available, and it can be accessed by clicking the highlighted link. Motorcycle Operator Manual.pdf

Goldberg, Finnegan & Mester, LLC is happy to give a free telephone consultation to anyone involved in a motorcycle crash and to the family members of anyone killed in a motorcycle crash. If we take the case, there will be no attorney fees owed if there is no recovery. Call us at 301-589-2999 x102

September 8, 2012

Contributory Negligence in Maryland---Will Comparative Fault Be Adopted?

Many of our clients are shocked when we tell them that the law in Maryland negligence injustice.jpgcases is that if a person is even 1% at fault in an accident then they are barred from recovery. This is because Maryland is one of only four states in the entire country that has retained the common law pure contributory negligence standard. The other 3 states are Virginia, Washington, D.C., North Carolina and Alabama. Contributory negligence can lead to extremely harsh and unfair results, especially when it comes to children and the mentally ill. I feel strongly that contributory negligence is a harsh and antiquated doctrine that needs to be changed in Maryland. By contrast, in comparative negligence jurisdictions if a person is say 5 % at fault, then the jury verdict would simply be reduced by 5%. This seems to be a much more fair way of addressing negligence claims.

On Monday September 10, 2012 the Md. Court of Appeals will hear oral argument in a case that urges the court to adopt comparative negligence. The case is Coleman v. Soccer Association of Columbia, and involves a person who was injured by a soccer goal that collapsed on him when he grabbed onto the crossbar. The case was tried by my friend and colleague Bruce Plaxen. The jury found that the defendant Soccer Association was negligent for failing to maintain the goal, but that Mr. Coleman was also contributorily negligent. Therefore, although Mr. Coleman was seriously injured, no damages were awarded to Mr. Coleman.

I have seen particularly harsh results in negligence cases based on premises liability such as slip and fall accidents. This is because in these cases, the defendant will always argue that our client was at least 1% at fault for failing to watch where they are going. If Maryland adopts comparative negligence it will encourage landlords and businesses to be more careful and avoid dangerous conditions that cause injuries.

The specific issue that the Court of Appeals will address is "Should this Court ameliorate or repudiate the doctrine of contributory negligence & replace it with a comparative negligence regime?" You can watch a webcast of the oral arguments at 10:00 am on Monday (there are 3 cases scheduled so it may not be starting right at 10 am).

September 6, 2012

Energy Drinks Are Dangerous--Especially to those with underlying heart conditions

Energy Drinks such as Monster Energy, Rockstar, and Redbull can be extremely dangerous to individuals who have any sort of underlying heart condition. If you or someone you love suffered a heart attack after consuming an energy drink, call us at 888-213-8140 for a free telephone consultation. We believe that energy drink manufacturers may be responsible for injuries and deaths caused by their products because they do not properly warn consumers of the possible dangerous effects, and many companies seem to market directly to children.

There is no doubt that the combination of caffeine, guarana and other herbals supplements in these energy drinks can cause the heart to beat faster. There are documented cases of children having cardiac arrhythmias and/or heart attacks as a result of consuming energy drinks. The Official Journal Of The American Academy of Pediatrics published an article titled "Health Effects of Energy Drinks on Children, Adolescents and Young Adults in 2011. The article concludes that

Energy Drinks have no therapeutic benefit and consuption of the drinks may put some children at risk for serious adverse health effects; (2) energy drinks typically have high levels of caffeine, taurine, and guarana, which have stimulant properties and cardiac and hematologic activity, but manufacturers claim that energy drinks are nutritional supplements which shields them from the caffeine limits imposed on sodas and the safety and testing labeling required of pharmaceuticlas, (3) energy drinks contain other ingredients which are understudied and are not regulated, (4) youth aimed marketing and risk taking adolescent developmental tendencies combine to increase overdose potential (5) high consumption is suggested by self report surveys but is underdocumented in children and (6) interactions between compounds, additive and dose depenedent effects, long term consequences, and dangers assocaited with risky behavior in children remain to be determined.

In my opinion, The theories of liability for holding energy drink companies legally responsible for the injuries they cause may include product liability claims, negligence claims, consumer protection violation claims, failing to warn consumers of dangers, and negligent marketing of their product.

Our lawyers are evaluating claims related to injuries caused by energy drink consumption. Call us at 888-213-8140 for a free telephone consultation.