Articles Posted in Wrongful Death

A chain reaction tractor-trailer crash in West Palm Beach that injured one and killed two – including a 29-year-old medical student – recently resulted in a $45 million verdict in favor of the med student’s parents.truck accident lawyer

As our West Palm Beach truck accident attorneys can explain, these kinds of cases tend to result in higher verdicts and settlements than your typical car accident lawsuit for several reasons, including:

  • Because of the size disparity between large trucks and passenger cars, any collisions between the two are likely to result in severe injuries to occupants of the smaller vehicle. More severe injuries and deaths are a greater loss to the victim and loved ones.
  • Anytime a trucking company or construction firm is involved in a personal injury or wrongful death, there are usually numerous defendants, many with varying degrees of liability.
  • Trucking companies and construction firms – particularly construction companies that work roadside – carry high liability insurance policies. Although insurance coverage does not determine the amount of damages (courts are often careful to make sure jurors aren’t informed of the existence or amount of this coverage, as it’s considered prejudicial), the fact that it’s there improves the chances that if high damages are awarded, they will actually be paid. Florida requires passenger vehicle motorists to be financially responsible for a minimum of $20,000 in bodily injury (which is paid in addition to personal injury protection – PIP – benefits of up to $10,000). Meanwhile, federal law requires all truckers to carry at least $750,000 in liability coverage. Those that haul hazmat materials have to carry at least $5 million.

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A federal judge has ordered the US government to pay the family of Michael Zinn $4.4M for his Port St. Lucie wrongful death from a Florida aviation accident that was partially caused by air traffic controller negligence. ZInn, 52, was from Boca Raton. He died in 2005 when he crashed his private plane into a house in Port St. Lucie.

In 2007, the National Transportation Safety Board determined that Zinn lost control of his Cessna P337H when he flew through, instead of around, stormy weather. The NTSB also found that the controller did not help Zinn with navigating the plane and failed to tell him about the weather conditions.

Although Miami U.S. Magistrate Judge Edwin G. Torres found Zinn to be 60% liable for the Florida plane crash death, he also said that Miami’s Air Route Traffic Control Center committed failures that played a key role n the tragic accident. He said that the controller breached his duty of care to Zinn and should have given him the information he needed to “make informed decisions.”

The Florida Department of Juvenile Justice announced today that it is firing six people who work at the Palm Beach Regional Juvenile Center in West Palm Beach in the wake of Eric Perez’s death. The 18-year-old died last July while in custody there. The department says it is no longer able to wait until Palm Beach County State Attorney Michael McAuliffe concludes his probe into what happened on July 10. The media have not reported at this time whether or not Perez’s family plans to file a Florida wrongful death claim.

Perez was in lockup on a marijuana possession charge. According to the Miami Herald, a detention center healthcare log indicated that even though the teenager threw up and screamed all night, a nurse did not examine him until 7:51 am in the morning (Perez also reportedly began hallucinating that an imaginary person was on top of him. Also, during the course of the night, guards tried to ask another nurse for “guidance” but she didn’t answer the phone). Perez was pronounced dead by paramedics at approximately 8:10am.

DJJ Secretary Wansley Walters reports that not all of the six who are being fired have been directly linked to Perez’s death. Some terminations are in the wake of the examination into detention center operations.

Three people who were fired, Albert Rios, Christian Lewis, and Darrell Smith, are accused of procedural violations on the night that Perez died. According to Rios, the guards “engaged in unauthorized physical contact or horseplay” with Perez because it was his 18th birthday.

If you or someone you love sustained serious injury or became sick while in police custody and law enforcement officers did not do enough to prevent the injury or provide the necessary medical care, you may have grounds for a West Palm Beach personal injury case. It doesn’t matter whether or not a crime was committed. You still have certain rights and protections whether or not you are behind bars and charged with/convicted of wrongdoing.

State officials fire 6 West Palm juvenile detention workers in connection with teen’s July death, Palm Beach Post, December 28, 2011
Lockup’s medical log details teen’s death spiral, Miami Herald, July 20, 2011

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A Case of Miami Gardens Personal Injury?: “Doctor” Injects Woman’s Butt with “Fix-a-Flat”, South Florida Injury Lawyer Blog, November 19, 2011
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The parents of Paul Merhige have filed a countersuit blaming the people that are suing them for Jupiter, Florida wrongful death damages. Merhige is the man who fatally shot family members at a gathering on Thanksgiving Day 2009.

While the hosts of the event, Muriel and Jim Sitton and Antoine Joseph, believe Carole and Michael Merhige should be held accountable for allowing Paul, who they knew was troubled, owned a gun, and wasn’t taking his medications, to attend the festivities, the Merhiges are blaming the Sittons and Muriel’s dad Dr. Antoine Joseph for letting Paul into the house.

Killed in the deadly rampage were the Sittons’ daughter Makayla, 6, Joseph’s wife and Muriel’s mom Raymonde, 76, and the Merhige’s twin daughters and Paul’s sisters, 33. Also suing the Merhiges for Palm Beach County wrongful death is Patrick Night, who was married to Lisa, one of Paul’s sisters that died. She happened to be pregnant at the time. Night was also seriously injured in the shooting.

The family of Robert Champion is getting ready to file a Florida wrongful death lawsuit against Florida A & M University. The 26-year-old student and marching band member died earlier this month from what is believed to be a hazing incident.

Following Champion’s death, the marching band director, Julian White, was fired. No arrests have been made over the incident so far-hazing is a third-degree felony in Florida-but four students have since been expelled.

Champion was unresponsive when he was found on a bus that was parked outside a hotel. Someone called 911 to report that Champion had finished throwing up and was not breathing.

The family of Othon Cortes has filed a Miami wrongful death lawsuit against American Airlines. They believe that the 73-year-old died last May because he ate contaminated chicken while on a flight going from Barcelona, Spain to New York.

Cortes’ daughter Sandra and widow Rachel say that the food contained Clostridium perfingens, which is a deadly bacteria. After they arrived in the US, Cortes reportedly began exhibiting signs of serious illness, including severe thirst and stomach cramps. His symptoms reportedly grew worse after they boarded their next flight to Miami. While the plane was in the air Cortes reportedly had a “cardiac event.” The plane made an emergency landing and he was then pronounced dead.

Also named as a defendant is Sky Chefs. However, the catering company said it played no part in preparing the meals on this particular flight. It is trying to get the case against it dismissed.

The family of Juan Carlos Rivera has settled their Coral Gables wrongful death lawsuit with the Miami-Dade School Board. A fellow student fatally stabbed Rivera in 2009.

Rivera and another student, Andy Rodriguez, reportedly bumped elbows and that was when the two Coral Gables Senior High students got into a fistfight. Rodriguez then stabbed Rivera numerous times, including one jab to the heart. According to prosecutors, the brawl was over a girl.

Rivera’s family had accused the high school of negligence, including poor supervision, inadequate security, and failing to properly determine which students were troubled. Meantime, Rodriguez has been found guilty of second-degree murder with a weapon. He will be sentenced later this month.

Even though state law puts a medical malpractice non-economic damages, the Florida Supreme Court has determined that the $10.3M Palm Beach medical malpractice verdict in Harvey Raphael’s Florida wrongful death case can stand. However, the court didn’t rule directly on the Raphael verdict. Instead, it referred to a decision it made earlier this year striking down a decision by the state’s legislature to make the medical malpractice caps law retroactive.

Raphael sustained irrevocable hurt damage in 2003 when ER Dr. James Schecter at Palms West Hospital failed to give him Retavase, which was the anti-clotting drug that he needed. This occurred three months before Florida’s medical malpractice caps went into effect.

While attorneys for the Schecter claimed that the Palm Beach County medical malpractice lawsuit was filed two years after the caps became official, the Raphael family’s Florida wrongful death lawyer contended that what mattered wasn’t the date of when complaint was filed but when Raphael actually got hurt, which was before the caps went into effect. The Fourth District Court of Appeal upheld the verdict in 2009. However, because Schecter’s insurance policy limit is $1 million, the plaintiffs’ Palm Beach medical malpractice attorney will have to pursue a bad faith claim against the doctor’s insurance company to push for the full verdict amount.

Maureen Stevens has settled her $50M wrongful death case against the federal government. Stevens is the widow of Bob Stevens, who was one of five people that died in 2001 after inhaling anthrax while opening mail at American Media. Inc (the home of the National Inquirer) in Boca Raton. He was a tabloid photographer. The terms of the settlement are confidential.

Had the Florida wrongful death case gone to trial, it would have once more brought to the forefront the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s claims that Bruce Ivins, an U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases researcher, was the only one behind the attacks. The air mail assault came on the heels of the 9/11 plane crashes. The government said that Ivins, who had a history of mental illness, created and mailed the spores. He later committed suicide before he could be charged over the attacks.

In her wrongful death claim, Stevens blamed the government’s inadequate security for allowing Ivins, a “mentally unstable man,” access to the “deadliest substances.” She also claimed that the anthrax bacillus was not properly secured at a military lab.

The family of Kellee J. Lee-Howard is suing her doctor for her Broward County wrongful death. Lee-Howard died on February 14, 2010, one day after undergoing liposuction.

Her surgeon, Dr. Alberto Sant Antonio was not certified to perform this procedure. According to Howard’s loved ones, he improperly administered the anesthesia to her, which resulted in her death.

Sant Antonio not only lacks the board-certification to perform plastic surgery, but also, per the plaintiffs, he lacks the qualifications to administer anesthesia, did not have someone that was present during the procedure, and was ill prepared to deal with the side effects that anesthesia can cause. According to USA Today, an expert witness for Lee- Howard’s family’s Broward County plastic surgery malpractice case said that the amount of Lidocaine in her body demonstrated a “basic misunderstanding” of patient safety and pharmacology.

Lee-Howard is not the first patient to die following plastic surgery while under Sant Antonio’s care. Another woman, Maria Shortall, went into cardiac arrest during liposuction. According to a complaint filed with the state, the surgeon failed to properly monitor Shortall’s vitals, did not have the necessary equipment to revive her, failed to provide her with appropriate emergency care, and did not diagnose that her heart had failed quickly enough. Shortall’s family is also suing for Florida wrongful death.

Unfortunately, in Florida, more doctors are performing cosmetic surgery even though they lack the proper training. Some even start performing plastic surgery after spending just a couple of days watching other doctors. For example, per USA Today, there are now dentists inserting best implants and gynecologists doing tummy tucks. The consequences can be catastrophic, such as for Rohie Kah-Orukotan, who died after liposuction in Weston. Lidocaine toxicity was cited as her cause of death.

The doctor who performed the surgery on Kah-Orukotan had a background in occupational health. Her family is suing for Weston medical malpractice and wrongful death.

Plastic surgery, even when done for cosmetic purposes, is still surgery. This often requires a surgeon to go cut into the body. It is important that the surgeon that perform your procedure is qualified to do a proper job. Otherwise, medical mistakes may occur that can cause serious health complications.

Lack of training can be deadly in cosmetic surgery, USA Today, September 15, 2011
Mother Dies Post-Op at Weston Plastic Surgery Clinic, Lawsuit Claims, BrowardPalmBeach.com, July 12, 2011
Fat tissue from plastic surgery killed Davie woman, autopsy shows, Sun-Sentinel, September 16, 2011
Lipo Doctor Tried to Save Patient: Attorney, NBC, September 30, 2009

More Blog Posts:

Man to File Lauderhill Medical Malpractice Lawsuit in Wife’s Broward County Wrongful Death Following Butt Enhancement Surgery, South Florida Injury Lawyer Blog, April 29, 2011
Miami Woman Dies After Undergoing Lauderhill Plastic Surgery, South Florida Injury Lawyer Blog, December 31, 2010
Boynton Beach Plastic Surgeon Pleads Guilty to Practicing Without A License in Florida, South Florida Injury Lawyer Blog, August 29, 2008 Continue reading