Boston Injury Lawyer Blog
Disclaimer - By publishing this information on this Web site, the Boston, Massachusetts law firm of Altman & Altman LLP is not claiming to represent any clients or cases mentioned here. The content provided is designed to inform readers and is not intended as legal advice.

Earlier this month, Star Trek actor Anton Yelchin was killed when his 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee pinned him between a fence and a mailbox pillar. The accident is being blamed on a confusing gear shifter in the vehicle. In response to Yelchin’s accident, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration conducted an investigation into the gear shifters on Fiat Chrysler vehicles and found a total of 266 crashes, injuring 68 people. Since the investigation, Fiat Chrysler has recalled 1.1 million vehicles. Contact a Boston Defective Products Lawyer Today.

In addition to the 266 crashes, investigators also found 686 shifter-related complaints and negative customer feedback that began almost immediately following the release of the vehicles. According to the agency, Fiat Chrysler also appears to have violated standard design guidelines with the shifters.

So, What’s the Trouble with the Gear Shifters?

On Yelchin’s Jeep and others like it, it is difficult for drivers to determine if the vehicle is in “park” once they have stopped. There are several reports of vehicles rolling off once the driver exited. In newer models, a warning chime goes off and an alert message is displayed if the driver’s door is opened while the car is not in park. In a recently released statement, Fiat Chrysler urged customers to use parking brakes as an added precaution. In fact, the manufacturer mailed out letters with these instructions on May 14. Whether or not Yelchin received such a letter is not known

Too Little, Too Late

Since Yelchin’s death, Fiat Chrysler has stepped up its efforts to prevent future accidents. Beginning on June 24, the company began sending letters to owners advising them to make an appointment for service as soon as possible. Dealers will be able to resolve the dangerous design flaw by loading a new software into recalled vehicles. This software will automatically shift the vehicles into park when the driver’s door opens while the engine is running. The updates will fix 3.6-liter and 5.7 liter engine vehicles, which account for the majority of the recalls. Fiat Chrysler assures us that a fix for the remaining vehicles will be available soon. Continue reading

The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) was enacted in 1977 and is the most widely enforced anti-corruption law in the United States.  The Act was passed in response to the discovery of widespread corruption of foreign officials by companies based in the United States.  Within the FCPA, there are two main provisions: the anti-bribery component and the accounting component.  The anti-bribery clauses prohibit bribery to foreign officials in order to gain new business or keep existing business.  The accounting clauses require issuers to keep up to date and accurate records thereby maintaining secure internal accounting controls.  The FCPA applies to two distinct groups, those with formal relations to the United States and those who participate in violating the FCPA within territory of the United States.  Outside U.S. territory, “issuers” and “domestic concerns” must also adhere to the FCPA.  An “issuer” is a person or company that has securities within the U.S. or is required to occasionally file reports with the SEC.  “Domestic concerns” include anyone who is a citizen, national, or resident of the United States, as well as businesses that are based in the U.S. or a territory, possession, or commonwealth of the U.S.  The FCPA is enforced by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Department of Justice (DOJ).

The FCPA prohibits five “elements” which the government must prove a person or organization guilty of in order to show FCPA violation.   These elements are 1) a payment, offer authorization, or promise to pay money or anything of value; 2) to a foreign government official (including a party official or manager of a state-owned concern), or to any other person, knowing that the payment or promise will be passed on to a foreign official; 3) with corrupt motive; 4) for the purpose of (a) influencing any act or decision of that person, (b) inducing such person to do or omit any action in violation of his lawful duty, (c) securing an improper advantage, or (d) inducing such person to use his influence to affect an official act or decision; 5) in order to assist in obtaining or retaining business for or with, or directing any business to, any person.  Persons or organizations found guilty of all five elements may be have to answer to criminal charges by the DOJ, resulting in prison time or fines.  The SEC can add further penalties of up to $500,000 on top of any punishment decided upon by the DOJ.  One point to note is that a bribe does not need to actually be paid in order to violate the FCPA, just the promise or offer of a bribe violates the Act.  Additionally, the individual making or approving the payment must have a “corrupt intent” meaning the payment would influence the beneficiary to exploit his official position to direct business unlawfully to the payer or someone else.  The FCPA specifies that the recipient of the payment only extends to “a foreign official, a foreign political party or party official, or any candidate for foreign political office” in terms of violating the Act.

In recent years, the SEC and the DOJ have participated in an increasing rate of enforcement actions regarding violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.  More and more cases are surfacing of violations of the FCPA.  This makes it essential for attorneys of insurers and insureds are familiar with the Act so that they may be able to most effectively defend their clients.

In response to the second duck boat-pedestrian collision in Boston this year, Boston Duck Tours will begin following new legislative requirements to prevent further deaths. Earlier this year, 28-year-old Allison Warmuth was killed when she was struck by one of the amphibious vehicles. And just last week, a pedestrian was hit by a duck boat on Newbury street, suffering non-fatal injuries.

Boston Duck Tours has voluntarily agreed to institute new requirements to prevent future accidents. These requirements include adding a second employee on board the tour. In previous years, the driver and tour narrator were one in the same. And this will remain unchanged until new legislation is implemented. With a non-driving narrator on board, the driver will be able to focus on what’s important, the road. In addition, the tour company will also add proximity sensors and cameras to each vehicle. Sensors will indicate when the vehicle is getting too close to another object, including other vehicles, cyclists, and pedestrians.

Just last month, state legislators proposed multiple new regulations for duck boats, including those mentioned above. “We are eager to move forward with this new staffing plan,” said Boston Duck Tours CEO Cindy Brown. “There is a lot of work to do. Boston is our home; we recognize what a privilege it is to serve residents and visitors and it has always been our commitment to do so utilizing best-in-class safety practices. This can only complement BDT’s current strong safety practices.”

Recruiting and Training New Employees Takes Time and Work

Although Boston Duck Tours is committed to the new regulations, the company admits that it won’t be easy. In a recent press release, the tour group emphasized the time and effort necessary to adequately train new staff. “This will take place through the remainder of this season, which ends in November, and will continue into the off season. The new employees will be in place at the start of the 2017 season next March,” stated the company in the release. So, while the company intends to make its tours much safer, the added safety measures won’t actually be put into effect until the start of next season. Continue reading

There are many theories about the rise in fatal motor vehicle accidents in the US; texting, talking on cellphones, and reckless driving to name a few. Recent accidents are even being blamed on the new game Pokemon Go. But according to Dr. Mark Rosekind, Administrator for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the increase in fatal accidents has more to do with an increase in miles driven. The NHTSA reports that approximately 3,200 people were killed in auto accidents in 2015, up 7.7 percent from 2014. Contact a Boston Motor Vehicle Accident Lawyer Today.

Reports show that 2015 was the deadliest year on American roadways since 2008. If our cars are constantly getting safer, why are deadly accidents skyrocketing? The reason may surprise you.

Low Gas Prices Play a Role, But So Does Driver Behavior

Cheap gas may be to blame for the rise in fatal car, truck, and motorcycle accidents. “As the economy has improved and gas prices have fallen, more Americans are driving more miles,” said Rosekind. However, he also pointed out that driver reaction plays a major role in the outcome of crashes. “Ninety-four percent of crashes can be tied back to a human choice or error,” Rosekind continued, “so we know we need to focus our efforts on improving human behavior while promoting vehicle technology that not only protects people in crashes, but helps prevent crashes in the first place.”

The steep decline in gas prices in 2015 resulted in more people on the road for longer periods of time. Combined with driver error, reckless driving, distracted driving, and negligence, this surge of vehicles on the road has had devastating consequences. Fortunately, we don’t need to raise gas prices and take cars off the road to reduce fatal auto accidents. What does need to happen, however, is improved driver safety education. This is especially true for young drivers.

Young Drivers Most at Risk

The age group most impacted by the increase in fatal accidents was drivers between the ages of 15 and 20. In fact, this group’s rate of fatality rose by 10 percent in 2015. But before we jump to conclusions and accuse all young people of texting and playing Pokemon Go, the surge in traffic fatalities in this age group has more to do with lack of skill. Compared to long-term drivers, new drivers simply don’t have the experience necessary to react in urgent situations. For this reason, it’s important to monitor driving habits of young people. You can help by limiting the number of passengers in your teen’s car, keeping teens off busy roadways as much as possible, telling young drivers to always keep their cell phone in the glove compartment when driving, and reminding them to obey the speed limit, avoid driving in inclement weather, and to always wear a seatbelt.

And it’s not just motor vehicle drivers and passengers who are involved in these fatal crashes. According to the NHTSA, there was a 10 percent increase in pedestrian fatalities and a 13 percent spike in cyclist fatalities in 2015. The bottom line – drivers have to keep their eyes on the road at all times, and they shouldn’t limit that focus to just other cars and trucks. Continue reading

 

A pedestrian was struck by a duck boat in Boston on Sunday morning.  The accident occurred on the corner of Newbury and Clarendon Streets around 11:30 a.m.  Boston police said the pedestrian suffered non-life-threatening injuries but was taken to Tufts Medical Center with some head trauma.  The woman who was hit admitted that she was crossing the street against the crossing signal.  Witnesses confirmed that the duck boat had the right of way.  Police said the investigation is ongoing with no charges being filed to date.  Boston Duck Tours made a statement saying, “We are grateful to learn from police that no one was seriously injured in today’s incident.”  This is the second crash involving a duck boat in Boston in three months.  In April, 28-year-old Allison Warmuth was riding a moped near Boston Common when she was struck and killed.  Earlier this week, Warmuth’s parents were in Boston addressing lawmakers regarding adding regulation to the vehicles.  Anna Warmuth, mother of Allison, made a statement saying, “Anybody that is near them is at risk because the driver may not see them, just like the driver did not see my daughter.”

Some are going even further than requesting more regulations.  Bob Mongaluzzi, Philadelphia attorney, asks, “How many deaths will it take for cities and organizations to wake up and ban the ducks?”  Mongaluzzi has been asking this question for years, claiming the duck boats are inherently dangerous “both on land and on the water.”  He goes on to state the major hazards with the vehicles, stating, “They take up almost the entire lane of travel. They’re cumbersome. They have huge blind spots. They are built on chassis from the 1940s.”  Mongaluzzi represents the families of three people killed by duck boats dating back to 2011.  He has also uncovered more than 20 deaths involving duck boats since 1999.  He notes the first major duck boat tragedy occurred in Arkansas in 1999 killing 13 people after they were trapped beneath the canopy of a capsized duck boat and drowned.  Mongaluzzi believes that the design of the boats is an “intrinsic safety flaw.”  Aside from the sheer design of the boat being difficult to maneuver, the driver also acts as a tour guide for the vehicles.  “Having an operator who is also a tour guide, telling jokes at the same time, is an enormous distraction,” Mongaluzzi states.  After last year’s collision between a duck boat and a charter bus in Seattle that killed five and injured 50 others, Seattle enacted several new rules to make the vehicles safer, including separate tour guides on board the duck boats.  Continue reading

For working Massachusetts parents, day care is often a necessity. However, there can be benefits for the whole family when children spend time away from home. A good daycare facility provides socialization with adults and other children, entertainment, and an opportunity to learn and play in a safe environment. But what about ‘bad’ daycare facilities? Negligence, cruelty, and even criminal behavior, are a parent’s worst nightmare when they place their child in the care of another.

Children can get hurt in the best of daycare facilities. It’s a fact of life. But some injuries are avoidable with proper supervision. Serious injuries are always cause for concern, but even minor accidents can indicate negligence. Likewise, even a minor lapse in proper care can result in serious injuries and death. In 2011, for example, a three-year old was fatally injured when he swallowed a pushpin. Apparently, the child found the pushpin when he was permitted to use the bathroom unsupervised. Paramedics were unable to revive the boy after he swallowed the object and choked. Although the boy died, the facility was only fined $150 by the state. In a case like this, a civil lawsuit can make a significant difference. Although compensation can never bring a child back, it can give the family extra time to heal.

Common Signs of Daycare Abuse and Neglect

Lack of supervision is the number one cause of daycare injuries, and inadequate staffing is often a factor. However, many other factors can come into play. Below is a list of possible indicators of daycare neglect and abuse. Although some of these potential signs can be entirely benign on their own, you may want to take action if you begin to notice a pattern.

  • Unexplained scratches or scars
  • Child appears depressed or withdrawn
  • Child is often extremely hungry or thirsty at pick-up time
  • Child is frequently involved in altercations with other kids
  • Child is found outside of the facility

When choosing a daycare facility, look for the following:

  • Adequate staffing
  • Clean environment
  • Proper safety standards and protocol
  • Well-stocked and easily accessible first aid tools and supplies
  • Proper feeding schedule with nutritious food and adequate portions
  • Easy access to water
  • Proper and clean bathroom facilities
  • Children who look happy
  • Caregivers who appear happy, well-rested, relaxed, and who seem to like their job

Continue reading

Malignant mesothelioma is a rare, asbestos-related cancer that forms on the thin protective tissues that cover the lungs and abdomen.  It typically develops after people are exposed to asbestos in the workplace, often times in industrial settings, shipyards, auto repair shops, old houses, schools and public buildings.  Mesothelioma usually develops after long-term exposure to asbestos, but short-term and one-time exposures have also been found to cause the cancer in some cases.  Asbestos refers to the set of six naturally occurring fibrous minerals, chrysotile, crocidolite, amosite, anthophyllite, tremolite, and actinolite.  These natural fibers are extremely durable, able to withstand fire and most chemical reactions.  Its durability made asbestos ideal for use in various commercial and industrial capacities, such as roofing shingles, floor tiles, ceiling materials, cement compounds, textile products, and automotive parts.  However, it was discovered in the late 1970s that asbestos was hazardous to humans and is now known to be a human carcinogen.  The microscopic fibers are easily inhaled and become lodged in the soft respiratory systems of humans, causing inflammation, scarring, and genetic damage.

One type of cancer that asbestos exposure can cause is Mesothelioma.  This cancer can take anywhere from 20 to 50 years after exposure before symptoms appear.  Many mesothelioma symptoms are so mild that few people notice them until the cancer progresses and symptoms worsen.  Symptoms include, fatigue, pain near tumor, shortness of breath, dry cough, weight loss, fluid buildup, bowel obstruction, and difficulty swallowing.  Although there is no cure or mesothelioma currently, many patients have been able to manage it with some traditional treatments such as chemotherapy and surgery.

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, you may be entitled to substantial compensation.  For victims of mesothelioma, there are several types of compensation available, including bankruptcy trust funds, settlements and trial verdicts.  Veterans also can seek compensation from the Veterans Association.  Mesothelioma claims hold companies accountable for exposing employees to asbestos and also compensate those employees financially for their medical bills and lost wages.  Compensation can range from small amounts to millions of dollars depending on the claim.  Continue reading

Gretchen Carlson, former Fox News Channel anchor, filed a suit against chief executive Roger Ailes on Wednesday, claiming she was terminated after she denied his sexual advances and complained about sexual harassment at work.  Ailes replied in a statement denying all allegations and also claiming Carlson was prompted to file the lawsuit in retaliation for her contract not being renewed.  Carlson had worked at Fox for 11 years was abruptly fired on June 23.  According to Carlson, it was nine months earlier in a meeting with Ailes in which she addressed her feelings of discrimination.  During this meeting, Carlson claims that Ailes said, “you and I should have had a sexual relationship a long time ago.”  This is not the only comment the 50-year-old Carlson alleges Ailes made.  Carlson, named Miss American in1989, claims that the 76-year-old Ailes constantly gawked at her, made numerous comments about her legs, insisted she wear form fitting clothes to enhance her figure and also said she was sexy but “too much hard work.”

These allegations are not without consequence.  Ailes is one of the most dominant moguls in the media business and will, no doubt, put up a fight.  Ailes built the Fox News Channel from the ground up starting in the 1990s.  It has since become a top-rated television news network with a significant sway on politics.  It is a greatly lucrative network for its parent company, 21st Century Fox.  Carlson says that she was terminated as host of the morning show “Fox & Friends” in 2013.  This was followed by a pay cut with the transfer to a daytime slot.  Carlson alleges this is a result of her complaints about being sexually harassed.  One of her co-hosts from “Fox & Friends,” Steve Doocy, “had created a hostile work environment by regularly treating [her] in a sexist and condescending way” according to Carlson.  She goes on that Ailes’s response to these complaints was to condemn Carlson as a “man hater” who should learn to “get along with the boys.”  Her account also alleges that Ailes punished her by reducing the amount of political interviews she conducted and stopped her regular appearance on Bill O’Reilly’s prime-time program.  21st Century Fox made a statement saying it has full confidence in Alies and Doocy but they have launched a full investigation into the matter.  Continue reading

If you’ve been involved in a car accident in Boston or anywhere else in Massachusetts, it is crucial to document as much as you possibly can. This can be done by writing down witness statements and contact info, and by jotting down your own perceptions of the accident before your memory begins to fade. But nothing beats pictures. Once you’ve made sure that everyone involved in the accident is safe, grab your camera. Fortunately, most of today’s cell phones are equipped with cameras. For tips on how to take quality pictures, read on.

Use a Camera to Make Your Case

If the accident is serious, resulting in injuries and/or severe property damage, contact the local police before doing anything else. The next step, if you’re able, is to take pictures of the accident scene.

  • The number one rule of photographing a car accident is to take as many pictures as possible from as many angles as possible. Pictures no longer need to be developed, so taking ‘too many pictures’ is not a concern.
  • Although obvious damage to the car is important to photograph, there are other factors that may come into play. If there is any damage to surrounding property, such as other vehicles, fire hydrants, light poles, or mailboxes, snap away.
  • Photograph contributing factors. Was the road icy or wet? Was a stop sign blocked by an overgrown tree or large truck? Did you swerve to miss large road debris that had fallen off another vehicle? If any contributing factors can be photographed they may help make your case.

More Specifics

The above tips give a general idea of how to photograph the scene of a motor vehicle accident. Here are some more specific tips to help you really hone in on what counts. Be sure to photograph:

  • Damage to all vehicles
  • Skid marks
  • Vehicle parts and debris, such as shattered glass
  • Weather conditions
  • Visible bodily injuries on you, or other victims

And try different angles and distances

  • Take pictures from at least three different distances and angles.
  • Close up pictures: stand one to five feet from what you are photographing.
  • Medium distance: 10 to 15 feet away.
  • Long distance and panoramic: 20 or more feet away.
  • Keep a common landmark in as many pictures as possible. This helps show distance and scale.
  • Be aware of how weather conditions and direct sunlight affect your pictures. If necessary, use a variety of flash intensities, and take some with and without flash.

Continue reading

More than 100 patients have become infected with antibiotic-resistant superbugs after being treated with the medical device known as a duodenoscope. The camera manufacturer, Olympus, also makes about 85% of the duodenoscopes on the market today. After 25 superbug outbreaks and three deaths linked to the scopes, Olympus has announced it will finally recall the defective device. Unfortunately, this decision comes too late for many patients. Contact a Boston Personal Injury Lawyer Today.

A design flaw in the duodenoscope makes it nearly impossible to disinfect the device between uses. This defect has exposed hundreds of patients to an antibiotic-resistant bug called carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE).

What is a duodenoscope?

The duodenoscope is a medical device used to perform internal examinations of the body. Specifically, it is a flexible tube with a light that allows physicians to treat and diagnose intestinal problems related to the bile ducts and the pancreas. These reusable scopes must be disinfected and sterilized after each use. However, a problem with an internal mechanism has made proper sterilization virtually impossible.

In addition to a design flaw, improper sterilization is also related to inadequate training. Many of the duodenoscopes simply aren’t being cleaned well enough. “The cleaning protocols for flexible endoscopes need improvement, such as guidelines tailored to the type of scope or identifying if there is a critical step missing in the manual cleaning process, and documented quality-control measures,” said Marco Bommarito, lead research specialist at 3M Infection Prevention Division. “These types of improvements could have a positive impact on patient safety.”

What is CRE and What are the Symptoms?

CRE is a family of bacteria that have developed a high level of resistance to antibiotics. This bacteria can cause a range of health problems, including gastrointestinal illness and blood infections.
CRE can also cause urinary tract infections, ventilator associated pneumonia, intra-abdominal abscesses, and death. Symptoms include sores that don’t heal, fevers and chills, and extreme fatigue.

Olympus Knew About the Risks in 2012

Although Olympus knew about this serious health risk as far back as 2012, the industry giant failed to properly warn the medical community and neglected to recall its defective devices. In addition to not recalling the devices, Olympus actually began increasing duodenoscope prices as hospitals started to ask for safer scopes.

According to a Congressional report, Olympus and two other duodenoscope manufacturers, “failed at every level to meet basic expectations of transparency and openness and to actively engage with FDA to address contamination issues.” The U.S. Justice Department is currently investigating the company’s role in the CRE outbreaks. Continue reading