In 2016, Melanie Sanders and 23 other infants contracted adenovirus infections during an eye exam in the neonatal intensive care unit of Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. The newborn infant was dead less than a month later.

Although premature, Melanie was born healthy and strong. Her family is suing the Children’s Hospital for wrongful death, alleging that Melanie’s fatal infection was due to negligence. In addition to developing a viral illness from unclean medical equipment, the lawsuit claims that the newborn went into respiratory distress and acquired a bacterial infection as a result. According to a report in the American Journal of Infection Control, each of the 23 affected babies suffered respiratory problems. The report went on to say that “observations revealed lack of standard cleaning practices of bedside ophthalmologic equipment and limited glove use.”

Cleanliness should be first and foremost in a hospital, especially when patients are newly-born infants who require intensive care. Improper cleaning and failure to wear gloves resulted in the contamination of medical equipment in the hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit. As a result, one child is dead and nearly two-dozen others became seriously ill. A Boston birth injury lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if your newborn has been injured by another’s negligence.

Was Negligence a Factor?

Hospitals, medical centers, and the people who work there (physicians, nurses, and other health care staff) can be sued for wrongful death if their negligence caused a patient to die. In addition to more obvious examples of negligence, such as not washing medical equipment, medical negligence can involve actions that are more difficult to pinpoint, such as improper hiring processes. Negligent hiring can result in serious injury or death, but the patient or his/her family may not know to consider this possibility. This is one of the many reasons it is so important to consult with an experienced MA wrongful death attorney if you have lost a loved one due to another’s negligence.

Proving hospital or medical negligence is not an easy task. In the case above, if the courts determine that Melanie Sanders’ death was due to improper cleaning practices, the hospital and/or medical professionals involved will likely be found liable for negligence. The fact that 23 other babies were also affected makes it easier to track the infection to a specific occurrence. But the picture isn’t always as clear it was at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Even in the Sanders’ case, evidence will be crucial. The medical journal report on the viral outbreak will likely prove invaluable in any lawsuits against Children’s Hospital.

What is Adenovirus?

It’s hard to believe that such an outbreak could occur, due to uncleanliness, in a U.S. hospital in 2018…but it did. The CDC describes Adenovirus as “common viruses that cause a range of illness. They can cause cold-like symptoms, sore throat, bronchitis, pneumonia, diarrhea, and pink eye (conjunctivitis). You can get an adenovirus infection at any age. People with weakened immune systems or existing respiratory or cardiac disease are more likely than others to get very sick from an adenovirus infection.”

Preventing an adenovirus outbreak is similar to preventing an outbreak of any virus: frequently wash hands and avoiding contacting with an infected person. And, at least in the case of hospitals, proper cleaning and sterilization of medical equipment is also of paramount importance. Continue reading

Multiple natural gas explosions killed a teenager, injured more than two dozen, and set 39 homes ablaze in three Boston-area towns last week. Entire neighborhoods evacuated their homes as officials scrambled to prevent more explosions from occurring. State police urged residents served by Columbia Gas in Andover, North Andover and Lawrence to leave their homes at once.

“It looked like Armageddon, it really did,” said Andover Fire Chief, Michael Mansfield. “There were billows of smoke coming from Lawrence behind me. I could see pillars of smoke in front of me from the town of Andover.”

A Lawrence man was killed when the chimney of an exploding house landed on his car. Leonel Rondon, 18, was pronounced dead at a Boston hospital that evening.

Approximately 8,600 Columbia gas customers are affected by the gas leak.

The utility company issued a statement early Friday morning, announcing that its crews will visit each and every one of the 8,600 customers to turn off gas meters and perform safety inspections.

”Additional support is being provided by crews from several affiliated Columbia Gas companies and other utilities. We expect this will be an extended restoration effort, and we will work tirelessly to restore service to the affected customers.”

Gov. Charlie Baker said it could be weeks or months before the investigation turns up any answers.

“This is still very much an active scene,” said Baker. “There will be plenty of time later tonight, tomorrow morning and into the next day to do some of the work around determining exactly what happened and why.” A MA personal injury attorney can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured due to the negligence of another.

What Caused the Explosions?

According to Andover Police Department Lieutenant Eddie Guy, officials think over-pressurized gas lines caused the fatal blasts.

Since 2010, Columbia Gas has had to pay $100,000 due to seven violations, including improper pressure testing, inadequate gas standards, and failure to follow procedures and federal safety regulations for pipelines.

Aging Pipelines

Apparently, Columbia Gas knew about the problems with its gas lines for quite some time. The company filed a petition with the Department of Public Utilities in April to request help with aging infrastructure. The three towns involved in Thursday’s explosions were all mentioned in the April petition.

“Replacing leak-prone infrastructure is a leading priority,” wrote the utility in April. “However, it will take a number of years to eliminate the aging pipe from the gas distribution system.”

Dan Rivera, Lawrence’s Mayor, had harsh words for Columbia Gas in a news conference last week, saying the utility company was “last to act.” He went on to say that he believed the delayed response was because the company didn’t want to “foot the bill.”

But Steve Bryant, president of NiSource’s Columbia Gas unit, rejected any accusations that the company failed to respond quickly.

“There’s no one else who could have acted on this more rapidly than we did,” said Bryant.

Massachusetts isn’t the only state to experience NiSource explosions. Since 2007, the company has had a minimum of five pipeline explosions, in Louisiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, and West Virginia. Continue reading

Across the country, attorneys general are opening investigations into misconduct (and worse) at the hands of the Roman Catholic clergy. In fact, last week the attorney general for the state of New York issued subpoenas to every Catholic diocese in the state, eight in total. Such sweeping investigations into sexual abuse of children and allegations of church cover ups come in the wake of a shocking grand jury report out of Pennsylvania. The report announced the discovery of the abuse of more than 1,000 children by hundreds of Pennsylvania priests, and the steps the Church took to hide it.

Since the release of the explosive Pennsylvania report, attorneys general in New York, Nebraska, New Mexico, Missouri, and Illinois have announced they will open their own investigations. New Jersey has announced a criminal investigation. And abuse at the hand of Catholic clergy isn’t unique to the U.S. Allegations of clergy sexual abuse have reached global proportions—from Honduras and Chile to Ireland and Australia.

“The Pennsylvania grand jury report shined a light on incredibly disturbing and depraved acts by Catholic clergy, assisted by a culture of secrecy and cover-ups in the dioceses,” said New York’s attorney general, Barbara Underwood. “Victims in New York deserve to be heard as well — and we are going to do everything in our power to bring them the justice they deserve.”

Gurbir S. Grewal, New Jersey’s attorney general, has created a test force to investigate abuse and cover ups.

“I was deeply troubled to read the allegations contained in last month’s Pennsylvania grand jury report,” said Grewal. “We owe it to the people of New Jersey to find out whether the same thing happened here. If it did, we will take action against those responsible.” A Boston clergy sexual abuse attorney can help you determine how to proceed.

Will they Cooperate?

Thus far, church officials have been relatively compliant with subpoenas and requests to provide documentation. In fact, Joseph Zwilling, a spokesman for New York’s Archdiocese, said that every NY diocese will cooperate.

“It is not a surprise to us that the attorney general would look to begin a civil investigation, and she will find the Archdiocese of New York, and the other seven dioceses in the state, ready and eager to work together with her in the investigation,” said Zwilling. A MA injury lawyer can help you recover damages if you’ve been the victim of clergy sexual abuse.

Statute of Limitations

In New York, victims of most forms of child sexual abuse only have until the age of 23 to file charges. When the case involves rape, there is no time limit, as long as the conduct didn’t occur prior to 2001. In MA, the statute of limitations is slightly more in favor of the victim—28 years after the incident occurred, or 28 years after age 16. A bill to change New York’s restrictive timeline—known as the Child Victims Act—has failed to pass for years. Last week, the bill was again presented. If passed, it would allow victims to file criminal charges until age 28 and to file civil suits until age 50.

“Little is known about clergy abuse of children in New York, because of the state’s antiquated and predator-friendly statute of limitations, and because the church has kept the evidence secret all these years,” said Terence McKiernan, president of BishopAccountability.org.

“Finally we will learn the truth in New York.” Continue reading

Fund giant Legg Mason has been ordered to pay more than $32 million to resolve a charge with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) that it was in violation of policies in the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. According to the SEC, Legg Mason paid bribes to Libyan government officials from 2004 to 2010. Permal Group Inc., a former asset management subsidiary of Legg Mason, partnered with French bank Société Générale to pay $26.5 million in bribes to officials under Muammar Gaddafi. Why? So the country would buy bonds from the Paris-based bank, which was managed by Legg Mason at the time.

In 2004, Libya was emerging from international economic sanctions. As a result, Libyan banks and other financial institutions needed to invest their significant assets, and “financial institutions from around the globe aggressively sought access to these assets,” reports the SEC. Contact a MA whistleblower lawyer if you have information about fraudulent or illegal activities against the U.S. government.

“I Cooked Him”

Around the same time, Permal partnered with Société Générale, engaging in an illegal scheme to secure investments by bribing government officials. They used a middleman in these transactions, and coded language to communicate without raising any red flags. For instance, the term “cooking” was used by the middleman in reference to his ability to convince officials to invest through the use of bribes.

“I cooked him,” one banker told another on a recorded call. “Only we have to go there, start the fire, have a barbecue.”

According to the SEC, the person they “cooked” was a Libyan government official, to whose relative the middleman had transferred around $75,000 earlier that day.

Through its scheme, Legg Mason profited more than $31 million in Libyan investments.

The Risk of Corruption

“Companies must take adequate steps to identify and mitigate the risks of bribery and corruption present in their global business. Those risks are particularly acute when, as here, agents and middlemen are used as part of a company’s efforts to obtain business with government clients,” said Charles Cain, chief of the Enforcement Division’s FCPA Unit.

After the SEC found Legg Mason to be in violation of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, the company agreed to settle the case by paying back $27.6 million in illegally-obtained funds and another $6.9 million in interest.

In a letter to shareholders, Legg Mason wrote that “the misconduct by former employees of the legacy Permal business that the government found was totally unacceptable. It violated our high standards, our long-held core values and our ‘no-chalk’ culture.” A Boston whistleblower attorney can help you determine how to proceed if you have information about illegal or fraudulent securities activities.

Legg Mason is Not a Lone Wolf

The Legg Mason case is only the latest in a surge of Wall Street firms found to be tied to bribes involving the known terrorist regime. In June, SocGen settled for $585 million after being caught paying $90 million in bribes to Libyan officials in a similar scheme. Goldman Sachs was also implicated, with Libya accusing the company of bribing officials with everything from money to prostitutes.

Although many may see the Legg Mason case as vindication and just desserts, the $32 million settlement is not even half of the company’s estimated second-quarter liability. Continue reading


Is wearing a helmet while cycling as effective at preventing serious injuries and death as we’ve been lead to believe? A new study says yes; in fact, helmets are even more important than previously thought. This might not seem like groundbreaking news, but some cyclists have argued that helmets offer little protection in serious collisions with motor vehicles.

According to a recently-published study in Accident Analysis & Prevention, it has been determined that “the most commonly injured body region [in bicycle accidents] is the upper extremities, followed by the lower extremities, face and head and neck.” As such, “wearing a helmet while riding a bike is the best way to decrease the risk of serious injuries,” said Dr. Lara McKenzie, one of the study’s senior authors. A Boston bicycle accident lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured due to another’s negligence.

Approximately 11 percent of injuries suffered in cycling accidents include a traumatic brain injury (TBI), and many of those involve younger patients under the age of 15. For this reason, helmets are especially important for children. To prevent serious head injury or death in a cycling accident, parents should ensure that children (even those in their teens) always wear a helmet.

How to Prevent Serious Cycling Injuries

By following these safety tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics, you can dramatically reduce the risk of serious injury to you, or to your child.

  • Ensure that your bike is the proper size. A bike that is too big or too small can be difficult to control.
  • Ride with the flow of traffic at all times. Approximately 25 percent of cycling collisions occur when the cyclist is riding against traffic.
  • Always use hand signals to alert motor vehicles to your intended move.
  • Children should never ride alone after dark.
  • Never cycle without a helmet. Ensure that your helmet is in good shape and that it fits properly.

A MA cycling accident attorney can help you recover damages if you’ve been injured due to another’s negligence.

Cycling Accident Statistics

There is no denying that cycling is a healthy, economical, and environmentally-conscious form of transportation. That doesn’t mean it’s not without risks. The statistics below illustrate the dangers of cycling. Awareness is key to reducing these risks.

  • In 2015, 818 cyclists were killed in collisions, and 45,000 were injured.
  • Among those injured, 5,000 were children.
  • Among those fatally injured, 37 were children.
  • The vast majority of injuries and fatalities occurred in men (87 percent for injuries, 83 percent for fatalities).
  • Fatal accidents occurred almost evenly during daylight and nighttime hours.
  • Approximately 70 percent of the fatal crashes were in urban areas, 61 percent were in locations other than intersections, and three percent occurred in bike lanes.
  • Cyclist deaths accounted for 2.3 percent of all traffic fatalities in 2015.
  • Among the fatal accidents, more than one-quarter involved alcohol (either cyclist, motor vehicle driver, or both).

Continue reading

A grand jury issued a report last week revealing that more than 300 priests sexually abused at least 1,000 children over a 70-year period, in Pennsylvania alone. Nearly as disturbing is the discovery that the abuse was covered up by bishops and many others in Pennsylvania’s Roman Catholic Church, and that victims and law enforcement were “persuaded” to remain mum. According to the report, there are likely thousands of additional victims who are reticent to come forward, or who have died leaving no record of abuse.

The report includes detailed descriptions of abuse, including the rape of a young girl by a hospital chaplain after a tonsillectomy, a priest who impregnated a young girl and arranged for her abortion, a priest who tied up and whipped his victim with leather straps, and five sisters who were all abused, including the youngest who was 18 months old.

Pennsylvania Isn’t Alone

Boston is no stranger to sex abuse scandals in the Catholic Church. In 2002, decades of sexual abuse and cover ups were brought to light, resulting in the resignation of Boston’s Archbishop, settlements in the billions of dollars, and the addition of multiple prevention programs. But Boston and PA are far from the only places to be rocked by scandal in recent years; the former archbishop of Washington, Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick, recently resigned after being accused of sexual abuse against minors, and some of these cover-ups have gone as far as the Vatican. A MA injury lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been the victim of sexual abuse.

According to the report, some of the church officials who protected abusive priests were not only allowed to remain in office, they got promotions.

“Despite some institutional reform, individual leaders of the church have largely escaped public accountability,” wrote the grand jury in the report. “Priests were raping little boys and girls, and the men of God who were responsible for them not only did nothing; they hid it all. For decades.” A Boston injury lawyer can help you recover damages if you’ve been the victim of clergy sexual abuse.

Several bishops are rejecting accusations that the church has been covering up sexual abuse.

“There was no cover-up going on,” said Bishop David A. Zubik of Pittsburgh. “I think that it’s important to be able to state that. We have over the course of the last 30 years, for sure, been transparent about everything that has in fact been transpiring.”

They Put the Church First

But the grand jury doesn’t see it that way, saying that the Catholic Church knew what it was doing by following the “playbook for concealing the truth.” For example, any documentation about incidents used language such as “inappropriate contact” for actions that more accurately described rape. And when priests were removed for misconduct, church officials were advised to say the priest was on “sick leave” or “suffering from exhaustion.” According to Attorney General Josh Shapiro, the church put itself first. “They protected their institution at all costs. As the grand jury found, the church showed a complete disdain for victims.” Continue reading

Massachusetts has an abundance of coastline and waterways for every type of boating excursion. Boating can be great fun during the warmer months. From water skiing and wake boarding to fishing and summer commuting, boating is a favorite activity for thousands who live in, or visit, MA every year. But boating can become seriously dangerous—even deadly—due to inexperience, speeding, and alcohol use.

Boating Safety Tips

Follow the tips below to dramatically reduce your risk of serious injury or death in a boating accident.

  • Never combine alcohol and boating. According to the U.S. Coast Guard, alcohol consumption increases the risk of a boating fatality by 34 percent. And alcohol is a factor in nearly half of all boating accidents. Further, it is a federal offense to operate a boat under the influence. If convicted, you could face jail time and fines of up to $5,000.
  • Avoid speeding and reckless driving. You can be cited for speeding and reckless driving, but these dangerous behaviors also dramatically increase your risk of serious injury. A Boston boating accident lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured due to another’s negligence.
  • Leave the volume of your emergency radio at an easily audible level. A fatal duck boat accident in Philadelphia was a tragic reminder of the importance of emergency radios; the boat’s operator missed crash warnings because he had turned down the radio’s volume. As a result, two tourists were killed and the Philadelphia duck boat company settled with the victim’s families for $15 million.
  • There should be an experienced boat operator onboard at all times. In 77 percent of fatal boat accidents, the operator had inadequate boating safety instruction. In fact, the top five contributing factors in boating accidents are inexperience, inattention, speeding, improper lookout, and mechanical failures.
  • Ensure that your boat is well maintained and in proper working order. If you own the boat and someone is injured or killed because it is in poor condition, you could be found liable.
  • Follow life jacket laws. In MA, that means anyone under the age of 12 must wear a life jacket at all times, and that there are ample life jackets for each person onboard. The boat’s owner or operator is responsible for ensuring that life jacket laws are followed. In 2016, drowning was the main cause of death in 80 percent of fatal boating accidents, and of those victims, 83 percent were not wearing their life jacket.
  • Avoid overloading your boat. Too much weight on a boat can lead to capsizing or swamping (taking on water). Check your boat’s weight capacity and ensure that you never exceed it.
  • Be prepared for an emergency. Make sure that you have proper safety equipment onboard, that it’s in proper working order, and that you know how to use it. A MA personal injury lawyer can help you recover damages if you’ve been injured due to another’s negligence.
  • Check the weather before heading out. Getting caught in bad weather on open water can be deadly.

Continue reading

Are duck boats death traps? Following a tragic accident that claimed 17 lives in Missouri last week, many experts are saying duck boats should be banned nationwide. Duck boats are amphibious vehicles (originally used during WWII) that can travel on land and water, and they have a deadly history.

Anyone living in the Boston area is likely familiar with duck boat accidents; a woman was killed and a man was injured when a Boston Duck Tours vehicle ran over their scooter in 2016, and another woman was seriously injured months later when she was struck by a duck boat from the same company. A MA personal injury attorney can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured by another’s negligence.

The recent accident in Missouri resulted in the death of 17 people, at least one of whom was a child. The Ride the Ducks vehicle capsized on Branson’s Table Rock Lake when a sudden storm brought 65 mph winds. Only 14 of the 31 passengers survived. One of those passengers, Tia Coleman, lost nine family members in the tragedy—three children, her husband, two nephews, her mother-in-law and father-in-law, her sister-in-law, and an uncle. Only she and a nephew survived. Coleman claims that the boat’s captain told them not to worry, and that there was no need to use life jackets. When it became apparent that they needed the life vests to survive, it was too late.

“When that boat is found, all those life jackets are going to be there,” said Coleman.

Sinking Coffins

Not only was this not the first fatal duck boat accident in the country (not even close), it wasn’t the first for this particular company. Ride the Ducks has been sued multiple times for fatal duck boat accidents. Experts are calling these vehicles “sinking coffins.” After an accident that killed 13 people in Arkansas nearly 20 years ago, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) recommended that the canopies on all duck boats be removed for safer escape. In those 20 years, almost nothing about duck boat structure or operations has changed. Not only are the canopies still there, but the design on most duck boats is nearly identical to their original WWII design.

In addition to their on-water dangers, duck boats are considered to be dangerous when driving on land because their unusual design creates a deadly blind spot. In last year’s fatal accident in Boston, the duck boat driver couldn’t see the scooter stopped at a red light directly in front of him because of the duck boat’s shape. A Boston personal injury lawyer can help you recover damages if you’ve been injured due to another’s negligence.

In Seattle in 2015, a fatal collision involving a duck boat and a bus resulted in the death of five college students. Another 69 passengers were injured. Branson-based Ride the Ducks, who also manufactured the Seattle duck boats, was fined $500,000. And in 2015, a woman was struck and killed while crossing a Philadelphia street. That duck boat was also connected to Ride the Ducks. Continue reading

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), one out of every five fatal work accidents occurs in the construction industry. Considering that more than one-third of these fatalities are due to falls, it’s in the best interest of construction workers in the Commonwealth of MA and nationwide to familiarize themselves with the dangers of construction falls, and how to avoid them.

To protect workers, OSHA has established fall protection safety standards. Unfortunately, fall protection is the number one OSHA standard to be violated by employers. If you work in the construction industry and have concerns about the safety standards at your workplace, speak up. If your supervisor doesn’t readily address and resolve the issue, contact OSHA. It is OSHA’s duty to investigate claims of workplace safety violations.

OSHA’s Fall Prevention Campaign

Of the 991 construction deaths in 2016, 370 were falls from high elevations. In partnership with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health and the National Occupational Research Agenda (NORA), OSHA has developed a Fall Prevention Campaign to educate employers and workers about how to prevent falls from roofs, scaffolds, ladders, and other high elevations. The campaign has three main components: Plan, provide, and train.

Plan

Working from heights requires proper planning beforehand, to ensure that workers are safe at all times. Planning can include outlining tasks that will be involved, listing necessary safety equipment, identifying potential hazards—such as skylights or leading edges—and deciding which workers have proper training to work from heights. A Boston work injury lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured on the job.

Provide

When it comes to working at high elevations, the right equipment is essential. Any worker who is at least six feet above lower levels must be provided with fall protection equipment. This can include everything from a personal fall arrest system (PFAS) to proper scaffolds and ladders. In addition to providing the equipment, employers must ensure proper fit and that the equipment is well-maintained and in working order.

Train

Any individual who will be working from a high elevation must first receive adequate training. In addition to proper use of safety equipment, workers should be able to identify potential hazards and know how to deal with them. A MA workers’ compensation attorney can help you obtain the compensation you deserve if you’ve been injured in a work-related accident.

According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, fall-related construction deaths between 1992 and 2005 occurred from the following places:

  • 33% – roofs
  • 18% – scaffolding or staging
  • 16% – ladders
  • 8% – girders or structural steel
  • 25% – other

Fortunately, the vast majority of fall-related construction deaths can be easily prevented. You can dramatically reduce your risk of serious injury or death by reporting any fall hazards to your employer, and by contacting OSHA if those hazards are not resolved. Continue reading

Summer camp is a wonderful opportunity for kids to enjoy nature, make new friends, and get healthy exercise all summer long. Whether it’s a day camp or sleep away camp, safety is always a number one concern. Scrapes and bruises are common, but what about more serious injuries? How can you ensure that your child stays safe and healthy at summer camp?

Summer Camp Safety Checklist

  • Is the camp accredited? To obtain accreditation, a camp is required to pass hundreds of health and safety tests. If the camp is not accredited, it doesn’t necessarily mean you shouldn’t send your child there, but ask why they are not.

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