Wrongful Death – Tower Climbing Death and Question of Control

June 6, 2012

Understanding the contracting chain on cell tower jobs can be complicated, but crucial when workers die.

William “Bubba” Cotton, 43, was the first of 11 cellsiteworkers who died on AT&T projects from 2006 through 2008, years when the carrier merged its network with Cingular and ramped up its 3G network for the iPhone.

As ProPublica and PBS “Frontline” reported last month, tower climbing ranks among the most dangerous jobs in America, having a death rate roughly 10 times that of construction. The project Cotton was on involved several layers of subcontractors, which is common in the tower industry. The accident was more unusual. Most of the 50 tower climbers killed on cell site jobs since 2003 have died in falls, but Cotton was crushed to death by an antenna.

A wrongful death lawsuit subsequently filed by Cotton’s survivors, as well as a personal injury suit filed by his cousin and co-worker, Charles “Randy” Wheeler, explored two questions at the heart of every tower fatality: Who controlled the tower site? And who was responsible for the safety of the subcontractors working on it?

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via Anatomy Of A Cell Tower Death · OPB News.

tower death

The AT&T cell tower job in which William Cotton died involved several layers of subcontractors. This chart shows which companies in the contracting chain were investigated by OSHA and the results of litigation by Cotton’s family and his co-worker, Charles Wheeler.

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Wrongful Death – A Series of Mistakes Cause Girl’s Death

February 22, 2012

If not for a series of “mistakes” made by the four paramedics who treated Starks on that fateful day, attorney Brian Murphy argued that the girl would be alive today.

The first mistake was that the child was “intubated through the esophagus that leads to the stomach, instead of through the trachea that leads to her lungs,” Murphy said.

The second mistake involved ignoring a “standing medical order” issued by the Fire Department. According to Murphy, it states that, if a patient’s condition worsens, paramedics are to look into the patient’s mouth to “visually observe where the breathing tube was placed.”If the paramedics had done that, Murphy said, “They would have seen the tube was in the esophagus and not in her trachea and they would have removed it and properly placed it.”

The third mistake involved the “fender-bender” that delayed Starks’ transport to the hospital.Instead of proceeding to Trinity Hospital after determining that the driver of the other vehicle was not injured, the paramedics chose to follow, what Murphy called a “ridiculous general order” that states that, if you’re in an accident involving property damage, you remain on the scene.

via Paramedics’ alleged mistakes in girl’s death likely to cost taxpayers .

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Wrongful Death – Mother: Cop, Not Ex-Boyfriend, Deserves Prison Time

February 1, 2012

At what point negligence becomes willful and wanton disregard for a person’s safety?

This is the question that the alleged facts of the case below raises for me. The alleged facts are generally that the boyfriend was drink and calls on his girl to drive hum home. She has a suspended driver’s license and has no babysitter on call. So she puts the baby in the safety seat, as she should, and get the drunk boyfriend. On their way home, they are stopped by a police officer. Upon realizing that the girl friend’s license is suspended, he arrests her, and gives the keys to the car and the baby in the back seat to the drunk boy friend to go home. On their way home, the drunk boy friend crashes the car killing the baby.

Police officers have immunity from the negligent acts they commit while in the performance of their duties. However, police officers are still responsible for willful and wanton acts they commit that causes harm to others. That is, while a police officer may not be held responsible for running into a bystander while chasing a bad guy, he can be held liable if he runs into the bystander on purpose or the chase he has entered into is so dangerous and so unreasonable that it becomes tantamount to a willful and wanton act.

In the case below, the police officer allegedly gives the keys to a drunk person allowing him to drive the vehicle along with the baby in the backseat. Is this an act of negligence that is tantamount to a wilful and wanton disregard for the safety of others, namely the baby in the backseat? I suppose if the case does not settle, twelve jurors will be able to tell us the answer.

“This police officer might have prevented this offense, but he did not cause it,” stated Burmilla.

However, LaFond’s attorney, Mark Horowitz, countered that Officer Felicetti bears all of the responsibility.

“He controlled the situation. He’s the one that pulled her over. He could have ‘A’ told Kathie to drive the child home. He could have given her a ticket roadside. He could have said go home, don’t let me catch you out again,” he said.

via Mother: Cop, Not Ex-Boyfriend, Deserves Prison Time | NBC Chicago.

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Wrongful Death – Father Knows Best – Son’s Death in Salt-truck Was Avoidable

January 24, 2012

When a company designs and manufactures a product, the Law requires that manufacturer and/or designer to make sure that the designed product is reasonable safe for its intended use. Too often, it is the personal injury legal battle that brings about those simple changes, that were they implemented to begin with, the injury for which the lawsuit was brought would not have happened. It was the amputated leg of a homeowner whose legs were badly mangled up under his lawnmower when he felt and it back over his legs that prompted manufacturers to put that kill switch on the mower’s handle. It was the McDonald’s case that prompted car manufacturers to equip their cars with cup-holders. It was the avoidable death of several drivers that prompted car manufacturers to use the three-point seat belts. These simple modifications added to the cost of manufacturing, but has prevented additional injuries and death.

In the example below, and the wrongful death lawsuit that has been filed, the same principle is again at play. A simple cut-off switch and/or a protective panel could have prevented the death of a young man? The Jury will make that finding in due time I suppose.

“A suburban father filed a wrongful death lawsuit Monday, one month after he made a horrific discovery at the family’s business: His son had fallen on a salt-truck auger, and the younger man’s clothing had been pulled in to the mechanism, strangling him.

David Pittas filed the suit Monday in Cook County Circuit Court against the manufacturer and others tied to the sale of the salt spreader that killed his 26-year-old son Timothy Pittas. The younger Pittas would still be alive today had the salt-spreader been equipped with an emergency shut-off device or at least if the auger — the metal device that spins and spreads the salt — had a guard around it.

“The only reason we’re doing this is so no other person has to go through what I’m going through, or what my wife is going through or my [other] son is going through or my daughter is going through,” a choked up David Pittas told the Sun-Times, referring to his wife Mary and their two surviving children. “It’s wrong to bury your son, and it’s wrong that we had to. If I can save one other person’s life with this then Tim didn’t die in vain.””

via Father says son’s death in salt-truck accident didn’t have to happen – Chicago Sun-Times.

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If you or a loved one has been a victim of personal injury in Chicago or the surrounding area, contact or call us at 312-252-5252 for a free no obligation consultation to discuss your legal options.

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Wrongful Death – Personal Injury – Frivolous lawsuits Are Not The Issue – Carelessness Is.

January 3, 2012

We have heard so many tales of woes about how medical malpractice lawsuits are ruining the medical health of this country by making healthcare expensive for all and by causing the exodus of doctors from the so-called “judicial hellholes” (of which Illinois is supposedly one) toward States where there are limits on justice that a victim of a doctor’s carelessness can hope to obtain.

The problem with that proposition is that it is simply not true. What causes medical malpractice lawsuits are not patients and/or juries and their verdicts or lack of caps on those verdicts, but medical malpractice. The best way to prevent a lawsuit based on medical malpractice is to not commit carelessness.

Note that here, we are not talking about things that may go wrong in the natural progression of a treatment: there are times when a treatment goes wrong through no fault of the medical provider and/or the attending physician. Things may go wrong because Medicine is an art. What we are talking about here are actual damages caused to individuals that are the direct result of carelessness–that is different from simply not getting the intended result. For example, damages that could cause for failure of a doctor to simply read objective tests that are performed and that are ready to be reviewed but the doctor simply decides not to avail himself f the useful information those tests provides him. That is when medical malpractice lawsuits may be expected.

NYT: Doctors at Harlem Hospital Didn’t See Most Reports

Nearly 4,000 tests for heart disease performed over the last three years at Harlem Hospital Center – more than half of all such tests performed – were never read by doctors charged with making a diagnosis, hospital officials acknowledged Tuesday.
The echocardiogram tests, a type of ultrasound used to evaluate heart muscle and valve functions, were ordered by doctors at the hospital. The tests were stored on a computer and basically forgotten, officials said. The lapse occurred because the cardiology service at the hospital had developed a system by which technicians were given the responsibility to scan all tests and flag any that looked abnormal, so that they would be given priority when doctors read them.

It appears, officials said, that the tests that were not flagged were put aside and forgotten.

The city’s Health and Hospitals Corporation, which runs the public hospital system, including Harlem Hospital, and Columbia University, whose medical school supplies the cardiologists who work at Harlem Hospital Center, acknowledged the problem in a joint statement on Tuesday, after being asked about it by The New York Times.

“While the process the doctors followed may have alerted cardiologists to those echocardiograms that were most likely to be abnormal, the failure to read the echocardiograms in a timely manner is inexcusable and may have placed patients at risk,” Alan D. Aviles, hospitals corporation president, said in the statement. It was unclear who developed the screening system, hospital officials said.

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Know Your U.S. Chamber

March 4, 2010

Is Taxpayer Money Being Funneled Through The Chamber Of Commerce To Kill Health Reform?

To preserve brand identity and maintain secrecy, many businesses use groups like the Chamber to launder money for political means. For instance, health insurance companies lied and told the public all last year that they were supportive of reform — while simultaneously funneling up to $20 million dollars for attack ads through the Chamber (the other $80 million spent on Chamber attack ads against health reform is still unaccounted for).

Although reform would benefit the business community at large by controlling insurance costs and improving worker health, the Chamber is taking a rigid, ideological approach. Indeed, the Chamber is known to have become increasingly partisan under the leadership of Tom Donohue; an analysis by the Wonk Room found that the Chamber’s board is dominated by Republican donors. The Chamber seeks to kill large progressive reforms in order to kill progressive policies in general. Chamber officials have even gone on record noting they hoped to block health reform as a tactical measure to kill clean energy reform, a priority of many Chamber member companies.

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Tort Reform Is Anti-Victim/Consumer

February 22, 2010

Tort Reform Caps Result in Double Tragedy

The award sounds pretty significant at first glance; $1.3 million for the death of a daughter and mother. Would any of us give our lives or the lives of our parents for that amount of money? But, it gets worse. In Texas, where the verdict was rendered, there are limitations on the amount of money a jury or judge can award for mental anguish, pain & suffering in medical malpractice cases. The award will be limited to $250,000 per defendant. Tort reform strikes again, and this time it punishes two young children and their grandmother who must raise them.

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A Mortgage Is Not A Moral Contract

February 10, 2010

Let me repeat. A Mortgage is not a moral contract. It is a legal document between two parties spelling out obligations between them. There is nothing moral in this nor moral and morality has any room to wiggle its way in this agreement. If, during the course of the existence of this document, it turns out that it makes more economic sense for one party to breach the contract, then breach it. If it makes more sense to just walk away from a home you are struggling to pay mortgage on and the mortgage is for more than the house is worth, consider walking away. No Moral dilemma here. This is simply an economic/legal consideration.

Home Underwater? Walk Away from Geithner’s Perverse ‘Homeowner Relief’ Plan

The homeowner relief plan adopted by President Obama and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner has not been working for a full year now. What’s worse, as the program is currently structured, its chief benefits accrue directly to the nation’s largest banks, leaving troubled borrowers to twist in the wind. But despite the administration’s indifference, underwater borrowers can still take matters into their own hands. If you owe more than your house is worth, just walk away.

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