University of Louisiana Hazing Death Leads to Lawsuit

Posted in Wrongful Death at 2:45 pm by kevin

University of Louisiana Lafayette


On November 6th, 2016, Michael Gallagher, a student at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette died when he fell asleep behind the wheel of his vehicle and killed another student, Rustam Nizamutdinova, who was walking along the street at the time. The events occurred during the 2016 Homecoming Weekend and after the student had been hazed by a fraternity, which included sleep-deprivation.

A lawsuit was launched against the Kappa Sigma fraternity, individuals who were directly involved with the hazing, and Board of Supervisors at the University of Louisiana who oversee the activities. Filed by the Rustam Nizamutdinova’s mother, Farida, the suit alleges that the 72 hours of sleep deprivation that immediately preceded Gallagher driving to his home that morning caused him to fall asleep behind the wheel as he was driving along the street that Nizamutdinova was walking.

Another lawsuit was filed by Michael and Amy Gallagher, the parents of the student who fell asleep, against Kappa Sigma, the UL chapter, and the Board of Supervisors along with ten members of the fraternity who have not been named. Their lawsuit contends that their son suffered mental anguish and emotional distress after the accident occurred. It states that Gallagher was in shock in the aftermath of the wreck and didn’t know he had struck Nizamutdinova along with being unable to remember what had occurred.

This is not the first incident involving Kappa Sigma concerning hazing incidents which have resulted in the fraternity being banned, removed, or suspended from other major universities over the past 17 years. Hazing allegations that involved the death of students at the University of Miami, University of West Virginia, and the University of Connecticut along with other incidents involving Northwestern State and Wake Forest have garnered national headlines questioning the severity of the hazing and inability to oversee the events so that the deaths might be prevented.

It is true that the University of Louisiana did not changed its policy towards Kappa Sigma for several months. They still promoted the fraternity despite the ongoing lawsuits. Plus, the self-governing policy of the University has come under criticism as well with claims that it has allowed such hazing policies to continue. It was only several months later did UL revoke the charter of Kappa Sigma, although the reasons why have yet to be revealed.

Public records released since the lawsuits were filed revealed that the fraternity showed that the investigation demonstrated that incidents such as allowing underage pledges to consume alcohol, get burned with cigarettes, being paddled with a wooden paddle, and sleep deprivation. This included pledges who were deprived of sleep being used as designated drivers for fraternity members.

In addition to Kappa Sigma, other fraternities on the UL campus, including Kappa Alpha Order, Sigma Alpha Epsilon, Sigma Nu, and Theta Xi were also placed on interim suspension for conduct that violated the policies of the university. It does seem that the death of Rustam Nizamutdinova and the subsequent lawsuits have had a profound effect on how fraternities at the University of Louisiana conduct pledge initiations.








Toddler Dies Caught up in Medicaid Billing Fraud

Posted in Medical Malpractice, Wrongful Death at 2:52 pm by kevin

Medicaid billing schemes are not new; in fact, many have been convicted of committing this crime over the years. However, a recent personal injury lawsuit has caught the attention of a lot of people since a toddler was involved — and even died in the process.

The wrongful death lawsuit claims that unnecessary dental procedures were performed on fourteen-month-old Daisy Lynn Torres as part of a corporate scheme that aims to make money from Medicaid. The toddler’s family is suing dentist Dr. Michael Melanson and mobile anesthesiologist Dr. David Williams, along with Austin Children’s Dentistry and Texan Anesthesiology Association.

Daisy Lynn died on March 29, 2016, while she was going through a dental procedure at Austin Children’s Dentistry. The procedure was performed by Dr. Melanson while anesthesia was provided by Dr. Williams, who works for Texan Anesthesiology Association and was present while the child received the dental treatment.

Daisy Lynn’s mother, Betty Squier, had brought the toddler to Austin Children’s Dentistry to have two of her cavities filled. Squier noted that she was present when her daughter was put under anesthesia but was asked to leave the room afterwards. According to her, Dr. Melanson came out of the room after several minutes and told her they were going to place six crowns on Daisy Lynn’s teeth — four more than what had been originally planned. A short while after that, Squier was informed that her daughter had gone into cardiac arrest.

Forensic dental examiner Dr. Robert Williams worked on the case and reported that “no indication of dental disease or pathology was seen” in Daisy Lynn’s dental X-rays on the day she died. He points out that the child may possibly have had “congenital enamel defects” in her partially erupted teeth, but stated that they did not necessarily require treatments especially considering her age. Dr. Williams noted that there was no evidence that Daisy Lynn was in “any type of pain” due to any dental diseases.

This report was included in the autopsy report filed by the Travis County Medical Examiner’s Office, which was released in July 2016 and ruled that anesthesia was the cause of death of the child. A few months later, in September 2016, Austin Children’s Dentistry filed a libel, defamation, and business disparagement lawsuit against Dr. Robert Williams. The company sponsored national dental experts to independently review the case, and the reviews concluded that the treatments that Daisy Lynn Torres received before her death were “dentally necessary”.

Despite this, the toddler’s parents believe that their daughter wrongfully died and that her death was caused by a scheme that aims to bill Medicaid for unnecessary dental procedures. Betty Squier states that her child’s life “was cut short due to someone’s greed and negligence”, while Daisy Lynn’s father Elizandro Torres wants the case to be heard so it won’t happen to other people. He reminds parents that “they can ask questions” and “get second opinions, third opinions”.

The family’s attorney Sean Breen points out that Daisy Lynn’s case will hopefully highlight the fact that dentists and dental clinics all over the country are committing Medicaid fraud by doing unnecessary procedures and collecting money from them. Breen states that other parents have come out and revealed that their children also received unnecessary dental treatments from Austin Children’s Dentistry.



Grandmother Files Lawsuit After Suicide of 6-Year-old

Posted in Negligence, Wrongful Death at 11:05 am by kevin

There are personal injury cases that are based from the negligence doctrine. By nature, negligence will require everybody in a society to be responsible and avoid risking others. Although it doesn’t say that negligence results when somebody gets hurt, it is recognized in the doctrine that there are unavoidable accidents. To make the defendant liable, the plaintiff must provide evidence that the former would have done otherwise under the circumstances.


Cases of Negligence

Some examples related to negligence include medical complications due to carelessness of the physician, car mishaps due to drunk driving, and canine attacks when vicious animals are left out of the care of the owner. In such cases, the risks have been ignored by the responsible party which resulted to the injury of the plaintiff.

For this reason, the defendant is required to pay the plaintiff for the injury as a result of the actions done by the former. However, not all cases are the same since some damages can be calculated easily which can be linked to medical bills or property damage. For certain cases though that involve emotional distress or the loss of capacity to earn, it will require the testimony of an expert.


The Suicide Case of the 6-Year-Old

The case of the six-year-old female allegedly involved the failure of the child protection system at Hennepin County. Based from the statements of the grandmother Mary Broadus, it is only fair to claim damages resulting from the death of the victim Kendrea Johnson.

The suit stated that the county together with the foster providers as well as the mental treatment provider have knowledge about the suicidal tendencies of the child. Sadly, they weren’t able to take that issue seriously. As a result, they failed to work together to safeguard the young girl.

Failure of LifeSpan to Disclose Essential Information

LifeSpan is the agency taking care of Kendrea’s treatment for mental health and her schooling. They were fully aware of the behavior of the child. They allegedly have knowledge of how this girl was inclined to commit suicide based on their observations.

However, the lawyer of the defendants claimed that his clients weren’t guilty because of the lack of evidence that they were actually guilty. Thus, none of them did nothing wrong despite what happened to the victim. Additionally, he stated that the girl came from circumstances that were extremely difficult. In fact, the workers made sure that the child received the type of care she deserved.

The Foster Home

The child was placed in a foster home of a certain Tannise Nawaqavou at Brooklyn Park in 2014. Nawaqavou told the police that she was threatened by the girl with a screwdriver and even told her foster parent that she would jump out of the window to kill herself. Some pictures were also drawn by Kendrea depicting a child hanging from a rope, which supported the child’s suicidal tendencies.

Revocation of Licenses and Payment of Fine

The conclusion of the investigation of Kendrea’s death led to the revocation of licenses of Nawaqavou and her foster home. It was then found that although Nawaqavou wasn’t responsible for the child’s death, she was charged for locking the child in her room. An appeal was later filed but the DHS agreed with their request to keep operations after it will pay a fine of $600.







Pop Warner Football Settles Brain Injury Lawsuit

Posted in Negligence, Wrongful Death at 8:51 am by kevin

Pop Warner, the oldest and biggest youth football program in the United States, made news earlier in March when it settled a brain injury lawsuit that was filed by the family of a young man who committed suicide in 2012.

The victim, 25-year-old Joseph Chernach, died on June 7, 2012, when he hung himself in his mother’s shed. His family believed that one of the biggest contributors to his suicide was chronic traumatic encephalopathy or CTE, a type of progressive degenerative disease of the brain. This illness reportedly caused him to have poor mental capacity, prevented him from controlling his mood, and eventually pushed him to end his life.

The lawsuit was filed by Chernach’s mother Debra Pyka in February 2015 against the Pop Warner Little Scholars, Inc., The Pop Warner Foundation, and Lexington Insurance Company (Pop Warner’s insurer).


What is CTE?

CTE usually develops in people who undergo repetitive brain trauma, such as concussions. It’s common among athletes who play contact sports such as football (both American and association football), ice hockey, wrestling, motocross, and bull riding. It’s important to note, though, that it doesn’t only affect professional athletes; a recent study found out that even teenagers who play football for just a few years in high school can develop long-term brain damage — even if they don’t go on to play in college and professionally.

This seems to be what happened to Joseph Chernach. He played football with Pop Warner for three years (from 1997 to 2000) and went on to become an excellent student and athlete. But everything changed when he reached his sophomore year in college, when he began to exhibit changes in his mood, behavior, and cognitive functions. All three went on to decline every year until his death, causing him to be depressed and making him paranoid and suspicious of family and friends.

According to the lawsuit, Chernach reached the point when he could no longer “control the impulse to kill himself”. The lawsuit also pointed out that his suicide was the “natural and probable consequence of the injuries he suffered” when he played football with Pop Warner.


What does this case mean for other people?

The lawsuit filed by Chernach’s mother sought $5 million in damages, although the actual terms of settlement has not been revealed.

The settlement is one of the many cases that demonstrate the heightened awareness about CTE and the pressure that many football organizations face from people who are concerned about concussion-related damage. The National Football League is one such organization. In 2015, a class-action lawsuit was approved between the NFL and former players, ensuring that the ex-NFL players who retired on or before July 7, 2014, would receive up to $5 million each. This amount is provided to help the players with any serious medical conditions that are related to concussion-related head injuries.

The NFL, for the first time, has acknowledged that there is a link between football and CTE. Pop Warner, meanwhile, has taken steps to make football safer for the young people who play the game.

With the settlement of the Chernach lawsuit, ex-football players and their families may want to look into filing a personal injury lawsuit against the relevant organization. This way, they can seek compensation for the damages that they have suffered because of the illness and injuries that resulted from football-related brain trauma.






Can Porsche be Held Accountable for Paul Walker’s Death?

Posted in Wrongful Death at 3:17 pm by kevin

Guest Post by Frank Fernandez

It was just two years ago that news outlets began picking up reports of Paul Walker’s death. In an ironic twist of fate, the Fast and Furious star was killed when the Porsche he was riding in went up in flames. Police investigated, and with the help of agents from Porsche, it was determined that the driver was at fault for the collision. The California Highway Patrol ascertained the Carrera GT was traveling between 80 and 93mph in a 45mph zone, when Roger Rodas lost control of it, and they believe speed was the cause of the accident. However, Walker’s teenage daughter is now suing the automaker in a wrongful death lawsuit.

Speed May Have Been the Cause, but there were Numerous Contributing Factors

According to the recent lawsuit, the friends were traveling at a maximum rate of 71mph. Interestingly, CNN reported that the coroner’s office said that Rodas and walker were exceeding 100mph, though an investigator for Rodas’ widow concluded the maximum speed was 55mph. The fact that the car can reach speeds of 200mph, and can accelerate to 60mph in 3.5 seconds, likely compounds the difficulty in determining an accurate speed. On top of this, several other things have been noted about the collision.

  1. The car’s tires were nine years-old. This means that it would have had great difficulty gripping the road.
  2. An after-market exhaust system had been installed on the vehicle, which would have increased its horsepower.
  3. Porsche warned some of its dealers that the car was incredibly sensitive and powerful nearly a decade before the crash. They told managers not to let anyone drive it without training, and said that even a Foster beer can turned on its side would damage the under panels of the vehicle.
  4. According to Rodas’ widow, the speedy cars should have sturdy cages, like racecars do, to protect people in crashes. Porsche has been held responsible for how their vehicles performed in prior fatal crashes.
  5. According to the lawsuit from Walker’s daughter, the car did not have an electronic stability control system, which is common in sensitive vehicles like the Carrera GT, and might have prevented the collision.
  6. The same lawsuit alleges that the vehicle’s seatbelt design is defective, and that it prevented Walker from exiting the car after the crash.

The Outcome of the Wrongful Death Lawsuit will be Determined Based on Negligence

Cases like this are incredibly complex, and in order for this one to have merit, the attorneys for Walker’s family must prove Porsche was negligent. In one of the prior cases, a widow received $4.8 million, but Porsche was only deemed to be 8% at fault for the victim’s death. Regardless of speed, if the plaintiff can prove that Porsche played a role in Walker’s death, reparations may be made available. The defective seatbelt design, poor vehicle structure, and lack of common safety features will be paramount in the case, though it will have to be proven that the automaker should have known better, or that they intentionally acted irresponsibly.

Multiple Parties are Often Faulted for an Incident

Sadly, cases like this are all too common. May other similar ones are still underway over Takata airbags. Millions of vehicles were recalled because the airbags would sometimes shoot shrapnel throughout the car upon deployment. Some of these vehicles had faulty TRW crash sensors, which caused the airbags to deploy when there was no collision. In these cases, both companies have been found to share blame for injuries. In other words, the layers only need to prove that Porsche was partially to blame for the extent of the damage. It’s entirely plausible that Walker’s family will be awarded a payment for losses, which some experts say could be more than $10 million.

If you’ve lost a loved one in a collision, of if you have been injured in one, yourself, it’s important to review the reports and have a critical eye examine not just who caused the car accident, but what events lead to injury or death. Before news broke about Takata and TRW, individual drivers were being held accountable for the injuries. Huge cases like this usually begin with one person realizing that the car didn’t perform as it should have, and taking action. Much of the time, these lawsuits aren’t about the money at all. They’re about seeking justice for the death of a loved one, or to force regulators to take action so more deaths and injuries don’t occur.


Author Bio:

Frank Fernandez, Contact an attorney regarding your criminal matter. Boston MA.



Financial Impact of Loss of Life in a Personal Injury Claim

Posted in Wrongful Death at 3:26 pm by kevin

There are different kinds of damages that can be claimed involving the death of an adult in a personal injury claim. Most of the time, the most significant head of loss is financial dependency. This is where the partners and/or family members were partly or fully reliant on the income generated by the deceased.

Now, the key to correctly valuing a fatal accident claim that includes a dependency claim is the assessment of work and income potential and life expectancy of the deceased. Anyone who makes a claim (the claimant) has to prove that they depended on the income of the deceased, and that should the accident not have occurred, it’s most likely that the deceased would have lived and continued with working and producing income.

Then again, it’s not all the time that the deceased is one who would have worked until normal retirement age, lived until average old age or have the same pre-accident level of income. There are a number of cases where the ability of the deceased to provide for their dependents have been challenged, or in certain cases, be difficult to determine. Examples of cases like these are those involving people with health problems, a mixed work history or in the beginning stages of a professional career or running a business.

There are also cases where the dependents claim for dependency would be called into question. Let’s illustrate this with an example. Suppose a surviving spouse if afflicted with HIV and is seeking asylum in the UK where she is benefiting from the provision of retroviral drugs. However, the solicitors of the defendant can argue that her application for asylum has a chance to fail.

As a result, the spouse would go back to her home country which doesn’t offer quality HIV care, and as such, her life expectancy would be shortened as is her claim for dependency. Suppose an expert in HIV/AIDS in the claimant’s side was able to provide ample evidence that yes, with the right drugs, the spouse has a fighting chance to live. This will result in a failure of the defense and a win for the surviving spouse.

Let’s use another example to highlight different aspects of claiming. The husband of a claimant suffered a stroke the year prior to being killed in a road traffic accident. The husband was in his 50s and hadn’t been working the entire year, but held conversations with his employer before he died regarding the possibility of returning to work.

Now, if the husband had gone back to work and retired early because of his underlying poor health, this could shorten the dependency claim. But what if a court-preferred cardiologist is able to provide evidence that the deceased could have worked longer had the defendant given him credit for completely giving up smoking, taking his medication an performing exercises recommended by his doctor? A situation like this could result in something positive for the surviving spouse.

The takeaway here is that reliable and expert evidence that supports the length of the dependency claimed is so important in claims involving dependency. A deep look into the work and health history of the deceased, as well as their future plans is vital. In other words, a complete understanding of the deceased as well as their family is crucial in presenting the right claim.



Wrongful Death Lawsuit Regarding Child Electrocuted in Pool

Posted in Wrongful Death at 2:16 pm by kevin

In Coral Gables, Florida the family of a 7-year-old boy is suing for his wrongful death after he was electrocuted by a faulty pool light. The child died one week after his 7th birthday when he swam into the deep end of the pool where the faulty light was located.

According to Local10.com, “The family of a 7-year-old boy who died when he was electrocuted by the light in his backyard pool has filed a wrongful death lawsuit.

“The complaint, filed in court Monday, claims Pentair Water Pool and Spa, Inc., was negligent and ‘failed to use reasonable care when designing, manufacturing, testing, inspecting and marketing’ the pool light and its parts. The lawsuit also names All Florida Pool & Spa Center.”



Setback in Austin Texas Wrongful Death Case

Posted in Wrongful Death at 5:55 pm by kevin

There has been a setback in the wrongful death case of the family of Byron Carter Junior against the local police department. The judge did not let some of the evidence to go to the jury.

According to My Fox Austin, “A federal judge didn’t allow memos by the offices of the Police Monitor and the Citizens Review Panel to be entered as evidence for the jury to consider … The memos recommended Austin police officer, Nathan Wagner’s termination because he violated department policy by using excessive force.

“They also said Wagner racially profiled two black men, Carter and Lee Webb. Both Officers Wagner and Jeffrey Rodriguez also testified to what happened May 30th, 2011.”



Canadian Conservatives Sue Asbestos Widow

Posted in Wrongful Death at 12:31 pm by kevin

Canadian conservatives are threatening to sue a widow who lost her husband to lung cancer because of his contact with asbestos. The widow has now turned into an anti-asbestos activisit.

According to the National Post, “In 2007, Ms. Keyserlingk’s husband, Robert, was diagnosed with mesothelioma, a cancer that attacks the internal walls of the lungs. As a non-smoker and marathon runner, Mr. Keyserlingk doctors soon traced the illness to a string of summers he had spent as a naval cadet. Living on a ship in close-quarters with asbestos-insulated pipes, Mr. Keyserlingk had inhaled enough of the fibers to lay the seeds of an asbestos-linked disease 40 years later. He died of the disease in December, 2009.”

The widow, Michaela Keyserlingk, states that Canada is the only country in the G8 that continues to mine and export asbestos even when it has been proven on numerous occasions to cause cancer. One only has to check out the numerous mesothelioma lawsuits and verdicts to see that this is true. If you follow the link I’ve posted you can see a picture of an open pit mine in the city of Asbestos, Quebec. Enough said.


Gun Manufacturer Settles Wrongful Death Lawsuit

Posted in Wrongful Death at 9:50 am by kevin

Massachusetts gun-maker Kahr Arms settled a wrongful death lawsuit for $600,000. According to the lawsuit, Danny Guzman who was 26-years-old at the time was killed outside of a Worcester nightclub in 1999 after a gun was smuggled out from the company by an employee who was a known criminal.

According to Star News Online, “In a 2002 wrongful death suit against Kahr Arms, of Worcester, Guzman’s family alleged that the gun was stolen and later sold by a Kahr employee with a criminal record.

“The Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence announced the settlement in Washington, D.C., calling it the largest damages payment ever made by a gun manufacturer accused of negligence leading to the criminal use of a gun.”

The family of Danny Guzman said that Kahr Arms should have done more to protect the public such as run background checks on their employees and install metal detectors at the doors of the facility.

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