Articles Posted in Wrongful Death

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This year we’ll be celebrating Presidents’ Day on February 17. Originally established to celebrate George Washington’s birthday, President’s Day is now viewed as a day to celebrate all U.S. presidents.

We’re in mind of Thomas Jefferson, author of the Declaration of Independence and the third U.S. president, who said, “Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.”

Why did Jefferson think so? Because the media plays an important role and provides a great service to the public by informing them about topics that could have a direct impact on their life, liberty and pursuit of happiness. And why are we reminded of this just now? Because news organizations have been following and reporting on a situation of great importance to residents in our area – the groundwater contamination by a Hoechst Celanese polyester fiber plant previously located in Spartanburg. Residents of the Cannons Campground community allege that the pollution has exposed them to serious health issues, including cancer, sometimes leading to untimely death.

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Any surgery has risks, even those we think of as routine. We often don’t think twice about scheduling some procedures for our children because they are so common they seem to be harmless; and, of course, the vast majority of us would never knowingly subject our children to harm. But even “routine” surgeries can have complications, as these recent news reports show.

A 13-year-old girl in California was declared brain dead three days after undergoing a routine tonsil removal surgery in December 2013. The child’s physician recommended the surgery because she suffered from sleep apnea. During the patient’s recovery, she experienced excessive bleeding and trouble breathing, went into cardiac arrest and was declared brain dead. Whether or not she will remain on life support is a continuing issue before the courts.

Tonsillectomy is the most common surgical procedure in children. More than half a million tonsillectomies are performed in the United States each year. According to The Journal of Family Practice, mortality rates for the operation range from 1 in 10,000 to 1 in 35,000. The most common complication is postoperative bleeding, which usually occurs within the first 24 hours after surgery. About 1 in 200 patients is returned to the OR so that bleeding can be controlled. Other complications can include pain, nausea and vomiting. Many tonsillectomies are performed on an outpatient basis, but the Journal recommends that patients with sleep apnea, coagulation disorders, or other underlying diseases, and anyone younger than 4 years of age or living a long distance from the hospital should be admitted for overnight observation.

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Drunk driving has claimed another life in South Carolina.

The driver of a car that killed a state Department of Transportation worker on I-20 in Lexington County has been charged with DUI and leaving the scene of an accident.

There were 357 motor vehicle fatalities in South Carolina linked to alcohol impairment in 2010, the most recent year for which statistics are available. More than 19,000 arrests for driving under the influence were made.

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Last week Contra Costa County was ordered to pay over $13 million to settle two separate lawsuits. In one case they will pay $1.5 million to the family of a man shot by sheriffs in a wrongful death claim. The second suit requires they pay $11.7 million to the family of man who died in a crash on a county road.

The county will pay $1.5 million in the case of a man who was shot in 2009 in the emergency room at Contra Costa Regional Medical Center. The man had checked himself in for treatment of alcohol withdrawal symptoms. He became agitated and he attempted to cut the restraints off himself with a knife. His children, who filed the lawsuit, claimed the deputies used excessive force.

In the other case, jurors found the county failed to keep the road safe during road resurfacing work after a man died when he was struck by a vehicle that ran off the road after he stopped to help another driver. The wrongful death lawsuit alleged that “the county failed to cover higher speed limit signs and sweep off gravel during the resurfacing work..

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Sono Bello Body Contour Center, a cosmetic clinic in Bellevue, Washington, has agreed to pay $1.8 million to the family of a bride-to-be who went to the clinic for liposuction in May 2009 and died hours later. The 28-year-old went to the clinic for the procedure then checked into a nearby hotel to recover. The hotel maids found the woman’s body the next morning. The King County Medical Examiner ruled that she died from “acute lidocaine intoxication..

Lidocaine is a nerve blocker that is pumped into the body to suppress pain during liposuction. When a representative from the Society of Plastic Surgeons was asked by KING 5 News to interpret the levels of lidocaine found, she said they were “really, really high, stratospheric high..

In the settlement neither Sono Bello nor the doctor, admitted any wrongdoing. The family’s lawyer said that Sono Bello offered a higher, undisclosed amount if they would keep the settlement confidential. The family refused to do so and accepted a lower amount.

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The family of a teenager who was killed in a June 2009 auto accident has sued the town of Cary, North Carolina for wrongful death, alleging the town failed to maintain a safe roadway. The town has not had a similar suit brought against them in over 15 years.

The 16-year-old was a front-seat passenger when the car in which she was riding swerved at the intersection of Cary Glen Boulevard to avoid striking another vehicle. The driver, the girl’s stepmother, then lost control of the vehicle which flipped several times. There was not a stoplight in the intersection at the time, but after the death and public outcry, a traffic light was installed.

The lawsuit claims the town “negligently failed to install a traffic signal” where the girl died. They are seeking financial damages in excess of $10,000.

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A widow and her two sons were awarded $6.7 million by a jury in Fresno County, California in the death of her husband who was struck by a tractor-trailer while filling the bus he had been driving with fuel. The wrongful death award also included over $500,000 for a nephew who witnessed the accident and has suffered from depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.

The deceased had volunteered to drive the Sierra Pines Church of Oakhurst bus. When he pulled over on the side of highway State Route 99 in Merced County to put fuel into the bus in April 2009, two approaching semis “became entangled as one attempted to pass the other.” One of the trailers hit the man and the bus.

Lawyers presented testimony, which led to a verdict well beyond the $3 million offered as settlement, regarding the wife who was one of 25 students on a bus in 1976 that was commandeered by three armed men. The men buried the children and the bus driver underground in a moving van. All of the victims survived after digging their way out when their kidnappers fell asleep. The testimony was key because the woman’s husband had helped her overcome her fear of buses by getting his bus-driver’s license so she would feel comfortable enough to get on a bus with him.

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Nebraska Medical Center (NMC) in Omaha has been named in a wrongful death lawsuit filed by the parents of a child who died at the Center in March of last year after receiving 10 times the amount of heparin she was prescribed. The 23-month-old child was in the hospital for an infection following a liver, pancreas and small bowel transplant she received there in December 2009.

The parents filed the lawsuit, also naming a dialysis center that provides nurses for NMC, claiming their child’s condition had been improving when a nurse mistakenly gave the girl the wrong dosage of heparin. Heparin was administered intravenously over a five-hour period.

According to the lawsuit, the overdose caused severe bleeding in the toddler’s brain, excruciating pain during the next 48 hours and, ultimately her death. The hospital acknowledged that an overdose of heparin contributed to the toddler’s death, but said it may not have been the sole cause.

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The family of a motorcyclist who was killed in an April 2009 auto accident sued the city of San Diego for wrongful death for failing to install a traffic signal at the intersection in which the man died. The City Council unanimously approved the settlement earlier this month, although they do not acknowledge any wrongdoing under the deal.

The accident occurred when the motorcycle was traveling northbound on Pacific Highway when a Toyota Corolla heading in the opposite direction turned left on Cedar Street in front of the cyclist. The cyclist was tried to veer out of the way, but struck the rear passenger side of the vehicle dying of traumatic head injuries.

The lawsuit claimed the accident was foreseeable and preventable. The suit claimed, “This turn lane’s position combined with the position of the then existing traffic signals gave drivers the confusing illusion they had the right-of-way on a green signal to turn left onto Cedar Street..

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The family of a 2-year-old who fell from a luxury box last year and died has filed suit against the owners of the Staples Center, Anschutz Entertainment Group, and the operator of the arena, L.A. Arena, Co.

The toddler fell at least 30 feet following a Lakers game last year. The lawsuit alleges the barrier in front of the boxes was only 2 feet high and that the owners did not adequately warn patrons of the dangerous conditions. It further alleges that the dangerous conditions were allowed to continue so the arena would make more money if fans had an unobstructed view of the games.

As the family was reviewing pictures they had taken, they found that the toddler somehow made his way over the barrier, fell at least 30 feet, and landed on a row of empty seats. He died the next day at the hospital.

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