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February 2016 Archives

Serious Injury Lawsuit Against Nightclub Settled For $500K

Serious injury lawsuit filed by Massachusetts man claiming traumatic brain injury and severe internal injuries inflicted by club security settled for $500K.

A Massachusetts man's serious injury lawsuit against a Manchester, NH nightclub, in which he claimed a confrontation with bouncers ended with him suffering traumatic brain injury, has been settled for $500,000. Marc Shields, 23, suffered severe internal injuries that required multiple surgeries after the confrontation at Drynk at 20 Old Granite St. on Dec. 11, 2013, according to Joseph M. Orlando Sr., a Gloucester, Mass., attorney who represented Shields. Orlando filed a civil suit seeking $1 million in damages. The case went to a mediator and was settled on Jan. 15, according to a document from Massachusetts Dispute Resolution Services signed by attorneys for both parties. Shields, a student at Southern New Hampshire University at the time of the incident, is still recovering, Orlando said. "He's still looking forward to going back to school," Orlando said. "Because of this he wasn't able to graduate." Drynk is no longer in business, former owner Thomas Svoleantopoulos said Friday. Svoleantopoulos said the club was purchased in October by the group East Coast Service Industry Companies Inc., which opened a new club called Whiskey's 20 at the same location with Svoleantopoulos serving as principal owner. Although Svoleantopoulos disputed the claims club security "assaulted" Shields and other claims in the lawsuit, he said the settlement was handled by the former club's insurer, Hospitality Mutual Insurance Co. of Westborough, Mass. "These were unfortunate circumstances," Svoleantopoulos said. "No one wants to see anybody get hurt." Svoleantopoulos said he was not aware of the incident until the lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in Boston. According to the lawsuit, Shields and a friend were asked to leave the club for unspecified reasons. Shields and his friend obliged, but a confrontation ensued when a security member grabbed Shields around the neck and shoulder, the lawsuit states. Shields attempted to free himself, pushing the bouncer away and accidentally struck a female member of the security team, according to the lawsuit. Svoleantopoulos disputed the claim that Shields was merely trying to defend himself. "Had the young man not assaulted security, there would have been no need to restrain him," Svoleantopoulos said. Shields was taken first to Elliot Hospital after the incident, then transferred to Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. Orlando said he had severe internal injuries and a traumatic brain injury. "If this type of overreaction is to be avoided in the future, it was important that the club be held accountable for the conduct of his employees," Orlando said in a statement. Originally posted by Doug Alden in Union Leader online. Serious Injury Lawsuit - Ball & Bonholtzer Trial Attorney - Los Angeles

Supreme Court To Rule On Judicial Conflict In Pennsylvania Death Penalty Case

Death row inmate claims judicial conflict on part of DA-turned-judge who signed off on death penalty prosecution.

In a hearing on Monday, Supreme Court justices appeared favorable to an inmate's claim that a Philadelphia DA-turned-state high court judge, who had approved his original death-penalty prosecution, should not have been involved in his case. The justices indicated that inmate Terrance "Terry" Williams should get a new hearing in Pennsylvania's Supreme Court because then-Chief Justice Ronald Castille voted to reinstate Williams' death sentence in 2014. A lower court judge had thrown out the sentence because prosecutors working for Castille had hidden evidence that might have helped the defense in Williams' 1986 murder trial. Justice Sonia Sotomayor was among several justices who focused on Castille's actions in 1986, when he was the Philadelphia district attorney. "The judge here actually signed his name to the review of the facts and the decision to seek the death penalty," Sotomayor said. When Philadelphia Deputy District Attorney Ronald Eisenberg told the justices that the passage of time had lessened concerns about judicial conflict, Justice Anthony Kennedy was almost incredulous. "So the fact that he spent 30 years in solitary confinement actually helps the state?" Kennedy said. The conditions of Williams' confinement could be an issue in the outcome of his case. Pennsylvania has not executed anyone since 1999, and Gov. Tom Wolf has declared a moratorium on executions. But even if the chance of Williams' being put to death is small, he continues to be held in isolation along with other death row inmates in Pennsylvania. The court also confronted whether Castille's participation in the case made a difference on a court that ruled unanimously against Williams. Stuart Lev, the assistant federal defender in Philadelphia who is representing Williams, said the vote should be tossed out because no one knows, other than the Pennsylvania justices, what took place in their closed-door deliberations. Chief Justice John Roberts, who at times seemed skeptical of Williams' case, seemed to agree with Lev on that point. "I mean, if the individual who should have been recused occupied a dominant role in the discussion and was successful in persuading colleagues and all that -- and of course, that's the sort of evidence you certainly can't have access to," Roberts said in an exchange with Eisenberg. Castille, now retired, refused defense requests to recuse himself. "In Pennsylvania, we leave it up to the judge's personal conscience. I've always been confident that I can be fair and impartial," he said in an interview with The Associated Press last week. Williams, who had been a star high-school quarterback, was accused of killing a church deacon. He already had been convicted of killing a high-school booster for which he was sentenced to up to 27 years in prison. Williams claims both men sexually abused him. Prosecutors had information that the deacon was molesting boys and failed to turn it over to defense lawyers. Originally posted by Mark Sherman on The Morning Call. Judicial Conflict - Ball & Bonholtzer Trial Attorney - Los Angeles

$30 Million Awarded To Family Of Boy Disabled For Life After Dozens Of Surgeries

Family of boy disabled for life following more than two dozen surgeries awarded $30 million in medical malpractice case.

In a settlement reached with the hospital and doctor allegedly responsible for his injuries, the family of a young boy permanently disabled following 25 surgeries that failed to connect his esophagus to his stomach will receive over $30 million. On Feb. 18, Cook County Judge Edward S. Harmening, saying the two sides had reached a settlement resolving the case, dismissed the medical malpractice action brought in 2013 by plaintiffs Ethel and Oscar Chavez, parents of a child identified in the complaint as E.C., against defendants including pediatric surgeon Mark J. Holterman and Rush University Medical Center in Chicago. Terms of the settlement were not disclosed in court documents. However, in a news release, attorneys from the Chicago medical malpractice law firm of Romanucci & Blandin, who represented the Chavez family, said the family was awarded $30 million dollars. Neither the release nor the court documents indicated how much the Chavez family's lawyers, including Stephan Blandin, would receive from the settlement. According to the release, E.C. was born in November 2009 with a "non-life threatening, easily correctable" congenital condition known as esophageal artresia, a condition in which the esophagus does not connect properly to the stomach. However, the release said, on the day after E.C.'s birth, Holterman "failed to exercise due care" when performing the surgery that would typically correct the problem, causing more problems that eventually led to two dozen "experimental procedures" on the child which Romanucci & Blandin said "were not authorized by the hospital and not pursuant to clinical trial protocol." During the final surgery, however, the release from Romanucci & Blandin said E.C.'s pulmonary artery was severed as the result of "an inappropriate, off-label use of an endoclose needle," which left E.C. disabled for life, with "profound, irreversible brain injury and cerebral palsy." In the release, Blandin said Holterman's actions in the child's case were "medically careless and personally irresponsible," as they "repeatedly exposed this young boy to the hazards of surgery and risky, novel operations." Blandin further said the case indicated "a dramatic lack of oversight" on the part of Rush University Medical Center. The order from the judge instructed the parties specifically to not discuss Rush's participation in the settlement "in any statements or writings." According to the Romanucci & Blandin release, the award for the Chavez family marked the fourth largest medical malpractice award for a minor in Illinois, and the largest settlement for a child born with esophageal artresia in the state. Originally posted by Jonathan Bilyk on   Disabled For Life - Ball & Bonholtzer Trial Attorney - Los Angeles

Attorney Conflict Of Interest Causes Delay In Murder Trial

Defendant must seek new counsel due to attorney conflict after revelation that his lawyer represented state's witness.

An Indianapolis man scheduled to stand trial for murder this week in the 2014 fatal shooting of a man outside an Illinois nightclub must find a new lawyer after his private attorney was found to have a conflict of interest.

Negligence Lawsuit Brought By Doctor's Estate Against Houston Firms

Estate of Houston doctor files negligence lawsuit against two firms and attorney for allegedly mishandling lawsuit.

The estate of Houston doctor Craig Jefferies seeks more than $1 million in damages from Texas firms Thompson & Knight and Cunningham Darlow and Houston lawyer Richard Zook, claiming they didn't keep Jefferies directly informed of all facts related to a lawsuit in which they represented him.

Fresenius To Settle GranuFlo And Naturalyte Class Action Lawsuits

Manufacturer Fresenius Medical Care agrees to $250 million settlement of several GranuFlo and Naturalyte class action lawsuits.

Fresenius Medical Care will settle out of court with multiple plaintiffs in U.S. class action lawsuits over the company's failure to warn healthcare providers of the risks of heart attack, stroke, and sudden death associated with use of its dialysates Granuflo and Naturalyte. Fresenius reached the agreement with a committee designated by the plaintiffs to resolve litigation. The settlement amount would be $250 million, and 97% of the plaintiffs must agree to the settlement by July 2016. Insurers would fund the settlement amount with $220 million.

GlaxoSmithKline Asks Court To Dismiss Zofran Lawsuits

Manufacturer GlaxoSmithKline seeks early dismissal of hundreds of Zofran lawsuits.

Claiming insufficient evidence of a connection to increased risk of birth defects, Zofran manufacturer GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) filed a motion on December 11, 2015 asking the Court to dismiss all failure-to warn Zofran lawsuits. The U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) consolidated all federally filed Zofran lawsuits in the District of Massachusetts in October 2015. The MDL has been underway only a short time, but already there are over 200 Zofran lawsuits pending there. GSK is taking action quickly in an effort to avoid litigation on their anti-nausea drug, which was initially approved in 1991 for the treatment of nausea and vomiting in patients going through surgery or cancer treatments. The FDA never cleared the drug for use in pregnant women, but GSK ran an aggressive advertising campaign that plaintiffs allege sought to to convince doctors and pregnant women that the drug was safe for the treatment of morning sickness. The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) brought charges against the company for, among other things, their aggressive marketing of Zofran to pregnant women, which was illegal because the drug was never approved for that purpose. The company agreed to a fine of $3 billion in 2012. Judge Dennis Saylor was scheduled to review GSK's motion to dismiss on January 14, 2016, during a status conference. According to their motion, the defendants ask the court to dismiss "all causes of action against it in this multidistrict litigation as preempted by federal law." Defendant argues that there are no human studies specifically addressing the birth defect risk of taking Zofran during pregnancy. This, despite several studies that indicate a risk, including the following:

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