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August 26, 2014

Judge Rejects GM’s Bid to Stop Faulty Ignition Switch Lawsuit That Spurred Recalls

A state judge is allowing the wrongful death lawsuit that first brought to light General Motors' faulty ignition switch problem to be reopened. The automaker had sought to have the auto products liability case, which had already been settled, stopped.

The parents of Brooke Melton had resolved the case with the automaker in 2013, months before GM started to recall vehicles over the defect. The plaintiffs are now claiming that the automaker lied to them about not knowing about the safety issue.

The auto defect involved a faulty switch that can automatically shut off the engine of the affected vehicle and prevent the air bags from activating. This year, GM admitted that as far back as a decade ago a few of its employees knew about the problem. Melton died in 2010 when her 2005 Chevrolet Cobalt hydroplaned, hitting another vehicle and then going off road and into a ditch.

Meantime, products liability lawyers are continuing to file more faulty ignition switch lawsuits for plaintiffs seeking damages for personal injury or the wrongful deaths of loved ones. Already, there have been at least 100 wrongful death and 184 personal injury claims made to the victim settlement fund set up by GM. Hundreds of other complaints have also been submitted, with more likely.

In addition to the original ignition switch defect cited that led to the massive recalls, there have also been complaints filed about at least one other ignition switch problem involving GM cars that lawyers say is similar to the first one. GM, however, maintains that the purported problem is not the same.

In other GM auto defect news, the U.S. attorney’s office in Manhattan and the Federal Bureau of Investigation are trying to find out whether there were people in the automaker’s legal department or others that hid evidence of the original auto defect from regulators. The review is part of a bigger criminal probe into what may have been misleading statements made by General Motors to regulators about the safety issue. Automakers have five days from discovering an auto defect to notify the U.S. government.

In Massachusetts, our Boston GM faulty ignition switch lawyers would like to offer you a free case consultation. Contact Altman & Altman, LLP today.

U.S. Probe Examines GM Lawyers, The Wall Street Journal, August 21, 2014

Texas lawyer hits GM with another lawsuit, Detroit Free Press, July 30, 2014

GM loses bid to stop key recall lawsuit, CNN.com, August 11, 2014


More Blog Posts:
More Than 600 Crash Victims Sue GM, Boston Injury Lawyer Blog, July 30, 2014

Motorcyclist Awarded $1.15M Settlement in Right of Way Violation Case, Boston Car Accident Lawyer Blog, August 19, 2014

More Zoloft Drug Injury Lawsuits, Drug Injury Lawyers Blog, August 12, 2014

August 23, 2014

Hyundai Fined $17 Million For Failing to Report Brake Defect

According to an article published by the National Trial Lawyers, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has announced that Hyundai will pay $17.35 million in civil penalties and comply with NHTSA oversight requirements for failing to report a safety-related defect in one of its car models.

The defect in question affects the 2009-2012 Hyundai Genesis car model and its brake system. The NHTSA has reported that the critical brake system components may corrode, leading to reduced effectiveness of brakes and an increase in the risk of a car crash.

“Safety is our top priority, and all automakers should understand that there is no excuse for failing to report a safety-related defect, as required by law," U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in the NHTSA news release. "This Administration will act aggressively and hold automakers accountable when they put the American public at risk."

NHTSA determined that Hyundai had been aware in 2012 that brake fluids used in the model year 2009-2012 Hyundai Genesis did not sufficiently inhibit corrosion in key components of the vehicle’s brake system. Hyundai, instead of issuing a recall, instructed car dealers to change the brake fluid in affected vehicles without explaining the consequences of failing to change the brake fluid. Hyundai did not inform Genesis-model owners of the potential safety consequences of not having their brake fluid replaced. It was only after an investigation by the NHTSA that Hyundai finally issued a recall of the affected vehicles.

The NHTSA said in their news release, that there have not been any reported fatalities relating to this safety defect. However six consumers reported collisions, and there were two reports of injuries. As of January 14, 2014, Hyundai had received 87 consumer complaints with regard to Genesis vehicles, most of which suggest increased difficulty in braking.

According to NHTSA Acting Administrator David Friedman, "Federal law requires automakers to report safety-related defects to NHTSA within five days, and neither NHTSA nor the American public will accept anything less. Hyundai failed to act to protect their customers and others that were harmed in an accident, and must change the way they deal with all safety related defects."

Hyundai has agreed to make improvements to its processes for identifying, reporting, and communicating safety-related defects in a timely manner. This includes the creation of a U.S. Technical Committee to review and make decisions regarding potential Hyundai-specific safety recalls. Hyundai will ultimately be responsible for responding to safety concerns in a timely manner based on the Technical Committee's recommendations.

Continue reading "Hyundai Fined $17 Million For Failing to Report Brake Defect" »

August 22, 2014

D.O.T. Unveils New Online Search Tool for Recalls Using Vehicle Identification Number

Each year, millions of vehicles are recalled in the United States because of safety defects or noncompliance with federal safety standards. To assist car buyers, owners and renters in figuring out whether their vehicles are safe and there are no outstanding safety defects, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) created a new, free, online search tool which consumers can now use to find out if a vehicle is directly impacted by a recall.

The new tool is available on www.safercar.gov/vinlookup and provides consumers with a quick and easy way to identify uncompleted recalls by entering their Vehicle Identification Number (VIN). All major vehicle and motorcycle brands may be searched.

Effective this week, under the new NHTSA mandate, all major light vehicle and motorcycle manufacturers are required to provide VIN search capability for uncompleted recalls on their own websites. This data must be updated at least weekly, according to NHTSA’s press release. NHTSA’s new VIN look-up tool directly relies on information from all major automakers, and regularly updated information from the automakers is critical to the efficiency of the search tool.

According to the NHTSA’s website: Consumers are able to find their vehicle identification number by looking at the dashboard on the driver’s side of the vehicle, or on the driver’s side door where the door latches when it is closed. Determining whether there is a recall that consumers need to fix is simple—after entering the VIN number into the field, results will appear if the consumer has an open recall on their vehicle, and if there are none, owners will see “No Open Recalls."

NHTSA Deputy Administrator David Friedman, said “Just as every single automaker should never hesitate to recall a defective vehicle, consumers should never hesitate to get their recalled vehicle fixed."

The goal of the NHTSA’s new online search tool is to help customers make informed decisions about the cars they are buying and to further aid the watchdog’s mission to increase public safety.

Continue reading "D.O.T. Unveils New Online Search Tool for Recalls Using Vehicle Identification Number " »

August 21, 2014

Two Young Girls Rushed to Hospital After Yarmouth Swimming Accident at Cape Cod Hotel

Two sisters, ages 9 and 12, were flown to Children’s Hospital in Boston after they were pulled from the bottom of an indoor swimming pool at the Bayside Resort in Cape Cod. Witnesses say that the girls were rescued from the Yarmouth, MA near drowning accident after family members and guests noticed they were in trouble.

An uncle was supposed to be supervising them when the swimming accident happened. There was no lifeguard on duty at the time.

The two girls, who are from New York, were in Yarmouth on vacation. As of Wednesday night, police were reporting that the sisters were in serious to life threatening condition.

Cape Cod Swimming Accidents
Unintentional drowning is one of the leading causes of accidental deaths in the US, with kids among the highest at risk. Private swimming pool owners and properties with pools frequented by guests and members of the public are responsible for minimizing the risks of drowning by taking the proper safety precautions.

Preventive measures may include ensuring there is a lifeguard on duty, providing rescue equipment in the pool area, and installing gates to keep people out when no one is there to supervise. Putting in a regulation-approved pool drain can prevent entanglement accidents and drowning. If a swimming pool is indoors, then proper lighting can make it easy to detect if anyone is struggling underwater.

Near drownings can be catastrophic too, even if one is lucky enough to survive. Adults and children have been known to develop serious brain injuries and permanent physical and mental disabilities after almost drowning.

Drowning accidents can also happen in wading pools, hot tubs, inflatable pools, and other bodies of water. It takes just minutes and a few inches of water for a drowning incident to happen.

You want to work with a Cape Cod drowning accident law firm that knows how to pursue your financial recovery. In addition to the pain and suffering of your loved one, and the immediate medical bills that result, there may be additional costs and expenses, including future medical care, that you will need covered. An experienced Massachusetts swimming injury lawyer can help you figure how much compensation you should pursue.

More Blog Posts:
Girls pulled unconscious from Cape Cod hotel pool, Boston.com, August 21, 2014

Sisters pulled from bottom of Cape Cod hotel pool, WCVB, August 20, 2014

Unintentional Drowning: Get the Facts, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Drowning, World Health Organization


More Blog Posts:
Lawrence, MA Man Hospitalized Following Near Drowning in Pool, Boston Injury Lawyer Blog, July 29, 2014

More Zoloft Drug Injury Lawsuits, Drug Injury Lawyers Blog, August 12, 2014

Hyde Park Contractor Subjects Employees to Electrocution Hazards: Faces $70,000 in Fines, Massachusetts Workers' Compensation Lawyer Blog, July 28, 2014

August 18, 2014

Massachusetts Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Northampton Fire Started by Arson Reaches Settlement

Elaine Yeskie has settled her Massachusetts wrongful death lawsuit against Anthony Baye, the man who pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the fatal fire that claimed the lives of her husband Paul Yeskie Sr. and son Paul Yeskie Jr. The two men died in 2012 in a blaze set by Baye at their home on a night when he started over a dozen fires.

Yeskie sought damages from Baye for the loss of her husband and son, as well as for the severe emotional trauma she experienced from witnessing their deaths. Her son Paul Jr. had autism.

The widow claims that the two men experienced conscious pain and suffering as they were fatally burned while trying to escape there home. Yeskie and another woman managed to flee the blaze.

Last year, Baye pleaded guilty to setting 27 fires over three years. He also pleaded guilty to manslaughter charges in the deaths of the Yeskie men, as well as to over 40 other criminal charges.

According to Yeskie’s Ma. wrongful death attorney, the civil lawsuit was resolved months ago. The motion to dismiss because an agreement had been reached, however, was just filed in Hampshire Superior Court.

If someone you love died or you were seriously injured in a fire that you believe may have been caused by someone else’s negligent or reckless actions, you should speak with a Boston personal injury lawyer right away. Fires can occur because of deliberate acts or due to accidents that could/should have been prevented. Blazes may also turn deadly if a property owner failed to implement the proper safety measures, including installing working smoke detector devices, as well as other precautions.

Remember that your civil claim is separate from any criminal case that prosecutors might choose to pursue. Working with a Boston fire accident law firm can increase your chances of financial recovery.


Elaine Yeskie sues Anthony Baye in Northampton fires
, GazetteNet.com, October 12, 2012

Anthony Baye pleads guilty to setting 27 fires in Northampton, faces 19-20 years in prison on manslaughter charges, MassLive, May 13, 2013

Northampton fatal fire lawsuit settled, BostonHerald, August 18, 2014


More Blog Posts:

Former Student Sues Emerson College in Massachusetts Sexual Assault Case, Boston Injury Lawyer Blog, August 15, 2014

More Zoloft Drug Injury Lawsuits, Drug Injury Lawyers Blog, August 12, 2014

Hyde Park Contractor Subjects Employees to Electrocution Hazards: Faces $70,000 in Fines, Massachusetts Workers' Compensation Lawyers Blog, July 28, 2014

August 15, 2014

Former Student Sues Emerson College in Massachusetts Sexual Assault Case

Jillian Doherty is seeking personal injury compensation from Emerson College. She claims that that the college mishandled her Massachusetts sexual assault case. Doherty wants compensation for the emotional trauma she suffered and her hospital bills and tuition. She dropped out of the school earlier this year.

Doherty says she was raped in April 2012 after having consensual sex with a male student after she refused to have anal sex with him. She contends that he forcibly penetrated her. The two of them were intoxicated at the time.

Doherty claims that she waited to report the incident nearly a year later because Emerson did a poor job of informing students about sexual assault and the resources that were available. When the accused provided new evidence and a character letter from someone who wasn’t even involved in the matter at the hearing, Doherty says she was not given a chance to respond. The male undergraduate was cleared in the case. However, following an appeal, the school found him responsible and he was expelled.

In her Springfield, MA injury case, Doherty says that Emerson violated its own policies. She claims that the assault and the way the Emerson handled the case caused her grades to drop. Doherty developed post-traumatic stress and chronic depression. Her request for academic accommodation was refused. Doherty sought hospital treatment and later withdrew from school.

Emerson is one of several Massachusetts colleges and universities that the US Department of Education is looking at for the way they handle sex assault cases. The college is also facing a Title IX probe. Doherty and several students also submitted a complaint to the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights.

If you have been the victim of a Boston sexual assault crime on campus, do not hesitate to contact Altman & Altman, LLP today. You may have reason to pursue a civil case against your assailant and other parties.

Unfortunately, Massachusetts campus crimes happen on a regular basis. It is the responsibility of schools to create an atmosphere that discourages incidents of sexual and physical violence, as well as protect its students.

Ex-student says Emerson mishandled rape investigation, BostonGlobe, August 14, 2014

Title IX


More Blog Posts:

Back-to-School: Drugs and Alcohol, Boston Injury Lawyer Blog, August 13, 2014

Hyde Park Contractor Subjects Employees to Electrocution Hazards: Faces $70,000 in Fines, Massachusetts Workers' Compensation Lawyer Blog, July 28, 2014

More Zoloft Drug Injury Lawsuits, Drug Injury Lawyers Blog, August 12, 2014

August 13, 2014

Back-to-School: Drugs and Alcohol

With the school year only a few weeks away, we can't help but think about the myriad of cases on schools and school-aged children that we have defended these 50 years at our family-serving legal office. Being parents, we would like to offer some safety advice, with the hope that this new academic year turns out to be an enjoyable and enriching experience.

Recently Gov. Patrick declared a public health emergency in Massachusetts for the rapidly growing opioid addiction rates. From 2000 to 2012, the number of unintentional opioid overdoses rose by 90%. In the state, a person who consumes opioids is three times more likely to die than a drunk driver. Undoubtedly, this has raised concern among parents about the availability of opioids and other drugs at schools and popular places where children come together.

The law aims to limit access to drugs by minors. According to the Controlled Substances Act, it is illegal to sell, consume or possess drugs, drug paraphernalia including tobacco rolling papers or alcohol within 300 feet of schools, whether public or private, up to secondary school. In 2011 Gov. Patrick tried to reduce this space to 100 feet, though thankfully, without success.

Based on the reported cases in Massachusetts, in 2012 marijuana and alcohol were the most popular drugs among teenagers younger than 18, and also the substances for which they most often sought treatment. Most teenagers start using these substances before reaching high school: the mean age of first alcohol use was 13.2 years, while for marijuana, it was 12.8 years.

How does the law limit access and possession of these substances by minors?

Continue reading "Back-to-School: Drugs and Alcohol" »

August 13, 2014

Two costly fires in Springfield on Saturday due to household appliances: a reminder on fire safety

On a single Saturday, two house fires broke out in Springfield, both due to electrical and heating appliances left unattended. On the morning of August 9th at 653 State St, a fire started in a bedroom of an apartment complex, when an electric iron was heated and left unattended on a bed, blazing the bed sheets and mattress before spreading into the rest of the room. Fire Commissioner Joseph Conant said that when they arrived, “the room was gutted by flames.” The family whose apartment caught on fire and a neighboring family were evacuated from the complex.

On Saturday also but in the afternoon another fire was reported at the apartment complex on 119 Ashley St. The residents left a curling iron on, which then burned through the counter and set fire to the bathroom. Damages are estimated at $10,000 and $15,000. No injuries were reported, though the two occupants were displaced to a different apartment complex.

The two similar incidents remind us all to be wary of potential fire hazards at our homes. Unfortunately, house fires are very common in the United States. Between 2007 and 2011, the National Fire Protection Agency reported 366,600 house fires. The resulting financial and personal consequences cannot be ignored. During this time frame, on average, seven people died in U.S. home fires every day; indeed, most fire-related deaths happen at home.

Continue reading "Two costly fires in Springfield on Saturday due to household appliances: a reminder on fire safety" »

August 13, 2014

Obamacare requires clear immigration eligibility before Sept. 5

One of the initial challenges of the new health care law was the great percentage of people whose eligibility was clouded by one factor or another. 2 million cases out of the 8 million enrollees were potentially unqualified for taxpayer-subsidized health insurance. Even after resolving most of these cases, some people’s eligibility may be hampered by their immigration status.

People living in the country illegally are not eligible for Obamacare coverage. That is the population the Health and Human Services Department is working hard to exclude in the recent massive mail wave sent to about 310, 000 people with unresolved cases, out of the total 8 million individuals enrolled in the program. The letter exhorts enrollees to upload their proper immigration materials to the HealthCare.gov website or mail them by the hard deadline of Sept.5, that is less than four weeks from now. If disobedient or found ineligible, people will see an end to their coverage by Sept. 30.

Many people worry with reason that they may be disqualified for coverage for irrational issues, such as record-keeping problems or even losing the letter in the mail. But, according to the HHS, this won’t be the only way of reaching people with unresolved cases. People with potential eligibility problems should expect phone calls and emails as well, and through local organizations, even direct home visits. Because of the Hispanic immigrant majority, the HHS is sending letters in Spanish as well as in English.

This sounds a bit overwhelming, but may be a prudent way for the government to tackle the issue that congressional Republicans raised when Obamacare was first getting started: how to really exclude ineligible people. The approved health care reform explicitly limits the use of taxpayer money to subsidize those people residing in the U.S. illegally or non-permanently.

Continue reading "Obamacare requires clear immigration eligibility before Sept. 5" »

August 12, 2014

Why returning to work after an injury may be a hassle, according to GENEX study

Last year more than three million American employees experience a work-related injury. For employers this represented around $1 billion per week, in addition to the employees’ social costs. Aside from the financial loses, employees may also be face other disadvantages because of their injuries: if employees are off work for more than six months, they have less than a 50% chance of returning to the workforce. It is an imperative then to establish effective measures to aid employees return to work.

Instituting official return-to-work programs has proven a successful strategy in many private organizations. Firms with RTW programs are 1.4 times faster than those without one in returning the employee to work. That translates into about 3-4 weeks of a time difference. However, in spite of the advantages, not all firms –especially small ones –possess an established RTW program.

Even with an official RTW program in place, employers often face barriers to provide effective, immediate care. According to GEXEX Services, LLC, one of the nation’s largest providers of managed care services, these are the top five barriers return-to-work programs face:

Continue reading "Why returning to work after an injury may be a hassle, according to GENEX study" »

August 9, 2014

Parents File Wrongful Death Lawsuit Against Massachusetts-Based Care.com and Babysitter

The parents of baby Rylan Koopmeiners are suing Waltham, Massachusetts-based Care.com and babysitter Sarah Gumm for wrongful death. The 3-month-old baby died while under Gumm’s care at her Illinois home in 2012. The couple found her through the website.

Gumm, who is behind bars, is charged with first-degree murder in the tragic incident. She allegedly caused the fatal injury that killed Rylan. .

Reggan and Nathan Koopmeiners are accusing Care.com, a caregiver screening website based in Massachusetts, of failing to disclose that Gumm had a prior record, which included two drunk driving citations. The couple said the site was supposed to do a background check on her.

According to their wrongful death lawsuit, Gumm was intoxicated when she allegedly slammed the baby’s head on a wood table. An autopsy report indicates that Rylan, who sustained a skull fracture and experienced cranial hemorrhaging, died from blunt force trauma.

The couple wants monetary damages for medical costs, funeral expenses, loss of companionship, and pain and suffering. They say that they would not have retained Gumm if not for Care.com. They are accusing the company of negligence.

Gumm had placed an ad for her services on Care.com. She had been caring for Rylan for about six weeks when the head injury happened.

Massachusetts Wrongful Death
If someone you love was seriously injured or died while under the supervision of another person and you believe that negligence was involved, you may have reason to pursue a Boston personal injury or wrongful death claim. You also may have grounds to file a Massachusetts civil case against other parties whose negligence may have played a part in the tragic incident. In the matter of Rylan Koopmeiners, her parents are saying that Care.com should have notified them of Gumm’s previous record of driving while intoxicated.

Losing a child is always devastating—especially when the death could have been avoided were it not for someone else’s negligent or reckless behavior. Filing a Massachusetts wrongful death case is one way to hold the responsible parties liable.

Grieving parents sue Massachusetts-based Care.com for allegedly failing to disclose 'screened' babysitter's court record prior to infant death, MassLive, August 3, 2014

Baby sitter held in 3-month-old's death admitted injuring child, authorities say, Chicago Tribune, August 7, 2012


More Blog Posts:
Massachusetts General Hospital Doctors Settle Boston Medical Malpractice Lawsuit for $4.5M in Plymouth Woman’s Death, Boston Injury Lawyer Blog, April 16, 2014

Hyde Park Contractor Subjects Employees to Electrocution Hazards: Faces $70,000 in Fines, Massachusetts Workers' Compensation Lawyer Blog, July 28, 2014

New Studies Reveal Serious Side Effects of Cholesterol Drug
, Drug Injury Lawyers Blog, July 24, 2014

August 8, 2014

False Claims Act and Whistleblowers Act: Empowering People to Report Fraud

In 1994 the seven CEOs of the major American tobacco companies testified before Congress that nicotine was not addictive. Two years later, VP for research and development at the Brown & Williamson tobacco company Jeffrey Wigand came forward, and reported that his employer knowingly doctored the nicotine content, adding toxic substances such as ammonia, in its cigarettes to enhance its addictive qualities. National new broke out and tobacco companies were forced to reveal the truth.

Likewise, in our communities examples of courageous people who report fraudulent wrongdoings by businesses and government agencies abound. Recently a New Hampshire resident reported how medical product companies sent her diabetes medication without previous authorization from her doctor. Her report led to the discovery of how the medical companies had been sending medications without doctor authorization to many other people, and submitting unauthorized claims to Medicare. Ultimately, the companies paid $35 million to resolve the allegations.

Our society relies on courageous people to detect and stop businesses and government institutions from violating people’s rights, engaging in corruption, committing fraud, or outright lying. Recognizing the value of these informers in helping maintain a strong democracy, the law encourages citizens to report potential wrongdoings by offering extensive legal protection and a generous compensation. Just last month President Obama signed into law a legislation that expands protection for whistleblowers against retaliation.

Massachusetts offers plenty of legal defenses for citizens who report false claims and other transgressions made by government agencies and private businesses, or at their places of employment. The False Claim Act and the Whistleblowers Act, set forth in the Massachusetts General Laws, defines the types of activities that should be reported and the rewards for those who take action. We would like to provide a brief summary of its contents.

Continue reading "False Claims Act and Whistleblowers Act: Empowering People to Report Fraud" »