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April 14, 2014

Lawsuits Continue Over Two Amusement Park Deaths

At amusement parks, screaming is commonplace— even encouraged. Eventually those screams turn to laughter and excitement as patrons of all ages gather up the courage to board the tallest, most extreme rides they can handle. Amusement parks, as the name suggests, are meant to be a place of total enjoyment, free of any stress except that very brief moment of pure panic as you sit at the top of the highest roller coaster, staring down at the ground far below.

When an accident occurs at a theme park, happiness quickly turns to tragedy. Eleven-year-old Abiah Jones’ parents watched her leave for a school trip with her classmates one spring morning, unaware that would be the last time they would see their beloved child alive. She climbed into a car on the Giant Wheel at Morey’s Pier in New Jersey as it made its way around to the top. Abiah somehow fell from the top of the ride and did not survive.

Her parents were understandably devastated. They filed a lawsuit against Morey’s Pier, Inc. However, for unknown reasons, the family filed in the State of Pennsylvania. A three-judge appellate court ruled recently that the while the case is valid, it must be tried in the State of New Jersey, where the accident occurred.

Continue reading "Lawsuits Continue Over Two Amusement Park Deaths" »

April 11, 2014

10 People Killed in Truck-Bush Crash Involving FedEx Vehicle

A fiery truck crash involving a bus and a FedEx vehicle has claimed the lives of 10 people in Northern California. According to the CHP, the victims include the drivers of the two vehicles, five students, and three adult chaperones.

There were 19 students on the bus that was struck by the truck, which drove over a grassy median on the interstate to cause the collision. Over 30 people were hurt, sustaining burns, broken bones, head lacerations, broken noses, or other injuries. A number of them were hospitalized, some in serious condition.

The bus-truck crash caused the two vehicles to burst into flames, forcing one victim to be admitted to a hospital burn unit. That patient later died. The bus was one of three charter vehicles that were travelling 12 hours from the LA area to Humboldt State University, where the students were to go to college. The students are from different Los Angeles Unified School District high schools.

The National Transportation Safety Board will be investigating the crash. Meantime, FedEx has issued a statement saying it will cooperate with the probe. The bus involved belongs to Silverado Stages.

If you or someone you love was injured in a Massachusetts truck crash, please contact our Boston personal injury law firm right away. Truck crashes can cause devastating injuries for those lucky enough to survive a catastrophic one and many trucking companies will be ready at the outset to deal with injury and death claims so as to limit the cost of litigation and bad publicity. You want to work with a Boston truck collision law firm that knows how to investigate and pursue a claim on your behalf.

Depending on what happened, there could be multiple parties to go after—a driver, the trucking company, a charter company, the manufacturer of a defective auto part that might have caused the vehicle malfunction, a government entity for failing to properly maintain or design the road (if either was a factor), and other parties.

You want to make sure you are working with a Boston truck crash law firm that knows how to make your claim and build a solid case on your behalf. Contact Altman & Altman LLP today.

10 killed as truck, bus carrying students collide, AP/CBS 42, April 11, 2014

10 killed in California bus crash: Victim was 'like a man on fire', Los Angeles Times, April 11, 2014

Deadly crash cuts short hopeful college trip, CNN, April 11, 2014

National Transportation Safety Board

More Blog Posts:
IIHS Crash Test Reveals SUV Safety Concerns, Boston Car Accident Lawyer Blog, April 9, 2014

Deceased Worker’s Family Awarded $39 Million after Company Failed to Follow Safety Plans, Massachusetts Workers' Compensation Lawyer Blog, April 11, 2014

Struggles Mount for Mother of Young Child Hit & Killed by Car, Boston Injury Lawyer Blog, April 8, 2014

April 8, 2014

Struggles Mount for Mother of Young Child Hit & Killed by Car

It was a normal Wednesday afternoon on the day before Thanksgiving 2013. Glendalee Alvarado was walking her daughter Brianna home from school when a young life was cut short; another permanently altered. Footage from a nearby security camera captured the horrific scene as an SUV plowed straight into Alvarado and her daughter skipping down the street, pinning them under the vehicle. Seven-year-old Brianna died at the scene while her mother sustained life-threatening injuries. “It's something that will never go away,” Glendalee told WHDH.

The Dorchester mother recounts the very ordinary events leading up to the tragic accident, explaining, “She was in front of me. We were walking and she was always in front of me, then I don’t remember. They said I tried to hold her jacket back but I don’t remember.” Glendalee Alvarado now has to cope with the loss of her young daughter on top of her own serious injuries.

WHDH reports that “Alvarado was hurt so [badly] in the accident she was in the hospital for about a week before doctors broke the news to her that her daughter did not survive.” Even now, several months later, she is in constant pain from a surgically rebuilt leg and paralysis after four strokes. Still, she says, the most painful thing is hearing her other children asking for their sister Brianna.

Continue reading "Struggles Mount for Mother of Young Child Hit & Killed by Car" »

April 7, 2014

Whistleblowers Get Protections Under Consumer Financial Protection Act with OSHA’s Interim Final Rule

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has put out an interim final rule that tackles complaints of retaliation under the Consumer Financial Protection Act. Under the CFPA, employees are protected against retaliation from entities that provide consumer financial services and products that are mainly for family, household, or personal use, including: certain kinds loans, residential mortgages, modifications to mortgage loans, relief services regarding foreclosure, debt relief, consumer credit, and other goods and services. The interim final rule sets up burdens of proof, procedures, statutes of limitations, and remedies.

At Altman & Altman, LLP, our Massachusetts whistleblower lawyers are here to protect the rights of those who report when a fraud is being committed against a state or the federal government. We are here to help whistleblowers in their attempts to file a successful case while making sure their rights are protected throughout the entire process. Contact our Boston law firm today.

The CFPA protects workers that reports certain types of violations to the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection, an employer, or a government entity. The interim rule sets up time frames and processes for how to deal with these retaliation complaints, as well as procedures involving employee complaints to OSHA, OSHA probes, appeals of OSHA decisions, and other matters.

The regulations stipulate that an employee with a complaint has protections under the whistleblower provisions as long as he/she has an objectively reasonable belief and a subjective, good-faith belief that he/she was let go or retaliated against in any other way that violates CFPA. Examples of actions that could be considered retaliation against a whistleblower and grounds for a complaint:

• Lay off
• Firing
• Reassigning
• Decreased hours
• Lowered pay
• Demotion
• Disciplining
• Refusing overtime
• Bypassing for promotion
• Refusing benefits
• Blacklisting
• Not hiring
• Not rehiring
• Making threats
• Intimidation

Complaints must be turned in within 180 days of the alleged violation. Based on data from the investigation, the agency has 60 days to offer written findings regarding whether the case has grounds. An administrative law judge will then look at the case and render a ruling unless a petition has been submitted to the Administrative Review Board, who would have 30 days to grant review of the matter. Otherwise, the decision by the ALJ is final.

We know how much courage it took to come forward and you should have the protections and representation you need. Contact our Boston whistleblower lawyers today.

Filing Whistleblower Complaints under the Consumer Financial Protection Act (CFPA), OSHA (PDF)

Interim Final Rule, OSHA

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

More Blog Posts:
Families of Asbestos Workers Awarded $12.5M in Mesothelioma Case, Boston Injury Lawyer Blog, March 21, 2014

Hospital to Pay $85M to Partially Settle Whistleblower Case Over Medicare Fraud, Boston Injury Lawyer Blog, March 19, 2014

OSHA Announces National Events for Fall Prevention in Construction, Massachusetts Workers Compensation Lawyer Blog, March 31, 2014

April 4, 2014

Seniors Under Age 65 Suffering From Frontotemporal Dementia May Require Proper Boston Nursing Home Care

According to the Alzheimer’s Association up to 50% of dementia cases involving people under the age of 65 may actually be the condition known as frontotemporal dementia (FTD). More likely to hit at a younger age than those struck with Alzheimer’s, doctors are also now finding that the condition occurs more commonly than previously thought.

FTD begins with behavioral problems because nerve cells in the frontal lobes have died. Then, as the condition hits other parts of the brain, memory loss occurs. Other symptoms may include loss of inhibition affecting self-control, judgment, and the ability to make decisions, as well as apathy and loss of empathy. Eventually, the symptoms become similar to that of Alzheimer’s and many patients afflicted with FTD end up in nursing homes.

At Altman & Altman, LLP, our Boston nursing home abuse and neglect lawyers represent the families of patients who received poor care or were abused and sustained injuries or other health issues or even died as a result. Please contact our Massachusetts nursing home negligence law firm today.

A Few FTD Facts (From the Association for Frontotemporal Degeneration):

• Onset often happens when a person is in his/her sixties or fifties, about 13 years before the average Alzheimer’s diagnosis.
• At least 50,000 Americans suffer from FTD
• FTD is frequently misdiagnosed

FTD, like with all other forms of dementia, requires specialized care. You want to make sure that your loved one is at a facility that understands his/her condition and knows the type of medical needs and kinds of attention he/she needs. Unfortunately, dementia patients and those suffering from Alzheimer’s are easy prey for perpetrators of abuse or neglect. Many of them aren’t aware of what’s happening and may be unable to articulate their fears or concerns or report what happened.

Signs of Possible Boston Nursing Home Neglect:

• Regular sedation
• Depression
• Moodswings
• Unexplained injuries
• Emotionally withdrawn
• Fearfulness or paranoia
• Bedsores
• Sudden illnesses

Just this year, Massachusetts regulators finalized the minimum standards for the nursing care that is provided at dementia special care units. Now, workers at these facilities must be properly trained and there has to be a therapeutic activities director at the unit. That said, Boston nursing home abuse can still happen.

The Association for Frontotemporal Degeneration

Nursing Homes,

More Blog Posts:
Harsh Winters Up the Risks of Massachusetts Slip and Fall Accidents, Fractures, and Not Just For The Elderly, Boston Injury Lawyer Blog, February 18, 2014

Jury Issues $3M Topamax Injury Verdict Against Johnson & Johnson Unit, Drug Injury Lawyers Blog, April 2, 2014

Massachusetts Nursing Homes Get Dementia Care Standards, Boston Injury Lawyer Blog, February 14, 2014

April 4, 2014

Experts Warn Many Backyard Decks can Collapse

As the weather finally begins to warm up after an especially brutal winter, families are eager to get outside and enjoy the milder spring on their decks. However, home inspection experts warn that of the two million decks that are built and replaced every year, only about 40% are actually safe. Deck collapses, especially those which are high off the ground, can lead to serious injuries and death.

As with so many tragic injury cases, most deck collapses are completely preventable. Eric Kent, co-owner of Archadeck of Charlotte, a company that specializes in building decks and porches, explains that most deck accidents result from improper attachment to the house or building. Weaker decks are commonly attached using a regular bolt, which can slide easily through wood, causing the deck to collapse. Instead, Kent suggests a “thru bolt” which is a “large, galvanized bolt that literally runs through the exterior wall of a house and into the deck supports.”

In addition to the contractors installing the deck, homeowners have a huge responsibility to inspect their decks frequently. A thorough inspection starts with checking for cracks and splits around the nuts and bolts, and also includes the wood and the railings. Eric Kent warns that springiness and mold are the first signs of rot, severely weakening the strength of the structure and increasing the risk of collapse exponentially. After the long winter, deck boards can feel damp and soft, even breaking apart to the touch. Imagine loading 15 family members and friends onto a structure that could disintegrate in seconds.

Continue reading "Experts Warn Many Backyard Decks can Collapse" »

April 4, 2014

Google Acquisition Nest Labs Halts Sales of Its Smoke Detector

Nest Labs, the home electronics company Google recently acquired for $3.2 billion has stopped selling its smoke and carbon monoxide detectors amid grave concerns regarding its reliability in the event of an emergency. According to the New York Times, the smoke detector, known as “Nest Protect” can be inadvertently disabled when a person waves his or hands in front of the alarm. Perhaps inspired by the classic waving of a dish towel around the detector after cooking something especially smoky, the feature, called “Nest Wave,” was clearly not well-thought-out by the designers. Officials are worried that someone could potentially deactivate the alarm, rendering it useless in the event of a fire or carbon monoxide event.

It is easily to imagine how a child could unknowingly deactivate the alarm if it got close enough, putting the entire family at risk. A smoke detector and carbon monoxide alarm is one of the only electronics in the home that goes largely unnoticed until there is an actual emergency. They are the silent lifelines that only announce their presence when a threat is detected. If the alarm was disabled, it is possible no one in the home would even notice until it was much too late.

Nest Chief Executive Tony Fadell posted an open letter to customers on the company’s website explaining that Nest is making every effort to solve the problem. Fadell stated that the company has stopped selling the product until the feature in question has been remedied. He also mentioned that Nest would immediately begin deactivating the “Nest Wave” feature on devices already installed in homes. Fortunately, this is a process that can be done remotely to prevent any incidents with current customers.

Continue reading "Google Acquisition Nest Labs Halts Sales of Its Smoke Detector" »

April 3, 2014

Social Media Posts Can Put Your Personal Injury Claim at Risk

In the age of the internet, a keyboard is never more than a few inches away. Access to social media is literally at your fingertips, beckoning to vent your frustration to hundreds, thousands, maybe millions of followers. Most internet-savvy people would reach right for their phones after a car accident or injury to blow off some steam or to keep concerned loved ones informed of their condition. However, new data suggests social media fiends should think twice before posting about a personal injury case.

Insurance companies will try to use any posts, pictures, or interactions to dispute claims and prevent victims from receiving compensation for their injuries. The insurance companies can easily access your personal Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and any other social media site to gather information that can be used against claimants to prove that they are misrepresenting injuries.

The practice might come as a surprise to most of the general public. It is a common assumption that medical records and doctor testimony is enough to back up claims made by personal injury victims, but in truth, insurance companies “actively work to disprove claims made by a victim's doctor. Social media can be an integral tool in this pursuit,” according to Attorney Brian J. Mongelluzzo.

Continue reading "Social Media Posts Can Put Your Personal Injury Claim at Risk" »

April 2, 2014

Medical Malpractice Payouts Increase for First Time in a Decade

According to the National Trial Lawyers, payouts for medical malpractice cases actually increased in 2013 for the first time in ten years. The National Practitioner Data Bank found that companies paid out $168 million more than 2012, an increase of 4.7%. Keeping consistent with the trend of years passed, the vast majority of the payouts (96%) were from settlements, not judgments.

The state of California saw the largest increase in malpractice payouts last year, with a $51 million jump. In total, 38 states, or 78% of the country experienced a surge in payouts. New Jersey and Pennsylvania also saw an increase, with payouts surpassing the total in 2012 by $43 million and $41 million, respectively. Interestingly, New York had the highest decrease, where they fell $73 million, but still remains the state with the high malpractice settlements overall. Other states that paid out less in settlements include Massachusetts and Illinois.

The top three states for Medical Malpractice are of course, the great state of New York, sitting in the top spot, followed by Pennsylvania and Massachusetts. Payouts per capita for the number one spot totaled a whopping $38.83. The population in New York State in 2013 was 19.5 million people. To put that into perspective, North Dakota had the lowest payouts per capita in the United States, with only $2.96. North Dakota had a total population of just 723,393.

Continue reading "Medical Malpractice Payouts Increase for First Time in a Decade" »

April 1, 2014

Settlement Reached in MA Child’s Escalator Death

A normal day at the Auburn Mall in March of 2011 turned into a scene that will play over and over in the minds of Mark DiBona’s parents for many years. Four-year-old Mark was riding the escalator in Sears when he slipped through a space between the railing and the escalator and fell 18 feet on to the top of a displace case on a lower floor. The young boy sustained serious head injuries and passed away the next day.

The DiBona family was devastated by the loss and filed suit against Sears, Simon Property Group Inc., Schindler Elevator Corp. and Botany Bay Construction, according to CBS Boston. According to their lawyer, the family finds all four companies were negligent and were responsible for the death and suffering of their beloved little boy. The family claimed the escalator was in “dangerous and defective" condition and was in “violation of state building codes, escalator safety standards and the industry standards established by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (CBS Boston).”

Continue reading "Settlement Reached in MA Child’s Escalator Death" »

March 31, 2014

GM Issues New Recalls for Chevrolet Cruzes and Multiple Models of SUVs and Trucks

After expanding its ignition switch recall yet again by more than 900,000 vehicles, GM has now issued two other recalls for completely different issues. The problems: defective axel shafts and potential fire hazards in oil lines of several models of trucks and SUVs.

Last week, GM explained that it had stopped delivering Chevy Cruze 1.4-liter turbo sedan models to dealers because of a potentially defective right axel shaft that, according to GM, “can fracture and separate without warning,” while being driven. According to the company’s warranty data, several dozen vehicles have reported this problem, however GM has not been notified of any related crashes or injures.

In a released statement, General Motors stated that if the half-shaft breaks while a car is being driven, the vehicle’s breaks and steering will continue to function, but the car would lose power to the wheels without warning and coast to a stop. This recall encompasses more than 170,000 Cruze 1.4-turbo engine sedans in models years 2013 and 2014. An additional 3,000 Cruzes with 1.4 engine and manual transmissions from 2013 and 2014 model years (which were recalled last September for the same problem) will also be included in the recall and be repaired again.

In addition to the Cruze recall, GM also recalled more than 490,000 new pickup trucks and SUVs for a loose oil line that could be a fire hazard. All 2014 Chevrolet Silverado 1500s and GMC Sierra 1500 pickup trucks are being recalled, as well as brand new 2015 Chevrolet Suburbans, Chevy Tahoes, GMC Yukons and Yukon XL SUVs with 6-speed transmissions. The issue lies in the transmission oil cooler lines which may not be securely seated in their fittings.

Continue reading "GM Issues New Recalls for Chevrolet Cruzes and Multiple Models of SUVs and Trucks" »

March 30, 2014

CPSC Reports That Liquid Laundry Packets Continue to Be a Child Injury and Poisoning Risk

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, it has received about 1,230 reports of kids accidentally sustaining injury because of liquid laundry packets—a dramatic increase from the approximately 500 incidents involving kids and adult victims that it reported at the end of 2012. Meantime, the Poison Help Line says that the number of related reports is even higher at almost 17,500.

At Altman & Altman, LLP, please contact our Boston products liability lawyers if your son or daughter was injured because of a liquid laundry packet or any other type of product. Our Massachusetts child injury law firm handles claims and lawsuits against companies and other parties that may have been responsible in causing the harmful accident.

While efficient for doing laundry, single-load liquid laundry packets have proven to be highly toxic. One 7-month-old baby reportedly died from swallowing one of them. One of the reasons they are such an injury risk to kids is that they are small enough to insert in the mouth, soft and squishy to the touch, and tend to come in bright colors that attract the attention of young kids who might think the product is a toy or candy.

Unfortunately, because some of the chemicals in the packet, they can be toxic and very dangers. The CPSC says that kids have ended up in hospitals after ingesting a laundry packet. Side effects have included vomiting throat swelling, drowsiness, and breathing problems so severe that intubation was necessary. A raptured package can cause serious reactions, especially if the liquid gets into the eye. Temporary vision loss and other serious irritations may result.

On a positive note, a number of companies that make these products have agreed to certain changes:

• Starting the process of developing voluntary safety standards
• Changing the packaging that the packets come in so kids cannot see the tiny products and mistake them for teething products, toys, or candy
• Including warnings with the products that they should be kept away from kids
• Exploring a less toxic formula to use in the packets

Even with these changes, you could still have grounds for a Boston product defects case if you or your child sustains serious injury from a detergent product.

On a positive note, a number of companies that make these products have agreed to certain changes involving liquid laundry packets, including:

• Starting the process of developing voluntary safety standards
• Changing the packaging that the packets come in so kids cannot see the tiny products and mistake them for teething products, toys, or candy
• Including warnings that the products should be kept away from kids
• Exploring a less toxic formula to use in the packets

Regardless, even with these changes, you could still have grounds for a Boston product defects caes if you or your child sustains serious injury from a deterget product.

Liquid Laundry Packets: An Update, CPSC, March 27, 2014

Read the 2012 Warning

Laundry Detergent Packets, Poison Help Line

More Blog Posts:
GM Issues New Recalls for Chevrolet Cruzes and Multiple Models of SUVs and Trucks, Boston Injury Lawyer Blog, March 31, 2014

OSHA Announces National Events for Fall Prevention in Construction, Massachusetts Workers' Compensation Lawyer Blog, March 31, 2014

Accutane Lawsuit Retrial Results in $1.5M Drug Defect Verdict, Drug Injury Lawyers Blog, March 20, 2014