October 15, 2013

Jury Selected for Case Involving an Indiana Police Officer Who Killed a Motorcyclist While On Duty

A jury has been selected in Fort Wayne, Indiana for a trial involving a state police officer accused of crashing into two motorcycles with his car while intoxicated.

crash-car-1-748020-m.jpgIn 2010, while rushing to help catch a suspect, David Bisard of the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department slammed his police cruiser into a pair of motorcycles, killing one rider and injuring two others. He had allegedly been driving on East 56th Street at speeds as high as 73 miles per hour, and his blood alcohol level was later found to be .19, more than twice the legal limit.

Since then, Bisard has been charged with six felony counts, including operating a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol level higher than .15. He was suspended from the police department, although attempts to have his driver's license suspended were unsuccessful.

Continue reading "Jury Selected for Case Involving an Indiana Police Officer Who Killed a Motorcyclist While On Duty" »

October 2, 2013

University of Kentucky Tries to Dismiss Medical Malpractice Suit By Man Who Claims He Was Misdiagnosed With HIV Eight Years Ago

A Kentucky man has filed a lawsuit against the University of Kentucky Medical Center, claiming that the medical staff misdiagnosed him with HIV back in 2004. The University of Kentucky has requested that the Fayetteville Circuit Court dismiss the case.

hospital-1031747-m.jpgIn 2004, Bobby Russell went to the University of Kentucky emergency room with symptoms including a sore throat, fever, and open sores and wounds. After undergoing testing, Russell was diagnosed with HIV and started on an antiretroviral medication that seemed to suppress the illness. The only problem was that in 2012, Russell underwent more testing at Bluegrass Care Clinic, an infectious disease and HIV/AIDS clinic that is affiliated with the University of Kentucky's medical school. There, he learned that he did not have HIV.

Russell argues that none of the University of Kentucky Medical Center's staff ordered the full spectrum test for HIV, and thus did not take reasonable care. Meanwhile, the University of Kentucky's spokesmen argue that proper testing was conducted back in 2004, and that using proper testing techniques, Russell was properly diagnosed with the HIV virus. The University of Kentucky Medical Center took every precaution to ensure that Russell's illness did not progress. The University of Kentucky also asked for the court to dismiss the Medical Center and Bluegrass Care Clinic from the case because the Kentucky Supreme Court had established that the university was entitled to sovereign or government immunity from medical malpractice claims.

Continue reading "University of Kentucky Tries to Dismiss Medical Malpractice Suit By Man Who Claims He Was Misdiagnosed With HIV Eight Years Ago" »

September 30, 2013

Two Recent Indiana Fatalities Highlight the Risks of Riding a Motorcycle

Motorcycles can be a great way to travel, but the risks of injury and death are also much higher than with larger vehicles. According to national statistics, motorcyclists are 35 times more likely to experience a deadly accident than drivers of cars, accounting for approximately 13% of all roadway fatalities. Passengers on a motorcycle are 5.5 times more likely to die than passengers in a car or truck. The leading cause of death is head injury, and riders are 40% more likely to die if they are not wearing a helmet.

speed-of-motorcycle-1016169-m.jpgA couple of motorcycle crashes in Indiana over the past month highlight these grim statistics. A few weeks ago, a Plymouth, Indiana, woman died after a motorcycle crash on northbound Interstate 65, near Crown Point. The 55-year old woman was a passenger while her husband drove the motorcycle. As her husband was changing lanes, the motorcycle struck an area of road that was uneven because of recent repaving, and lost control of the motorcycle. The motorcycle flipped over and both husband and wife flew over the barrier cables, into the median. The wife died at the scene, while the husband was airlifted to a hospital in Crown Point and later to a hospital in Oak Law, Illinois with severe injuries. Authorities claimed that signs were in place notifying drivers of the roadway conditions. There is no word as to whether the husband failed to see the signs, or drove in a manner that was reckless or unreasonable.

Recently, another motorcycle passenger died after a collision with a pickup truck. The 27-year old woman was riding with her boyfriend southbound on State Road 135, with the boyfriend allegedly passing other vehicles in a no-passing zone. At a hill crest, they encountered the pickup truck, which was northbound. The boyfriend swerved to avoid hitting the truck, losing control of the motorcycle in the northbound lane. The pickup truck likewise tried to avoid the motorcycle, but wound up hitting the woman before hitting a nearby tree. Neither the woman nor her boyfriend were wearing motorcycle helmets, and the woman died at the scene. Her boyfriend was taken to a hospital for toxicology screening, while the truck driver was taken to a local hospital for neck and back pain.

Continue reading "Two Recent Indiana Fatalities Highlight the Risks of Riding a Motorcycle" »

September 23, 2013

Two Kentucky Men Killed After Pulling Over to Help Those Involved in a Car Accident

Recently, a scenario that one never hopes to see happened: two good samaritans were killed while trying to help other people injured in a car accident.

car-accident-1-774604-m.jpgThe accident took place in the morning on Interstate 64 Westbound near Shelbyville. Two semi-trucks got into an accident with multiple passenger cars, though none suffered injuries. After they pulled over to the side, two drivers who witnessed the accident came by and offered to help. They pulled their cars over to the shoulder to the left of the fast lane, and within moments of getting out, were struck by an approaching semi-truck. The semi-truck was allegedly trying to avoid the accident when it veered to the left, struck the guard rail, and ran along the shoulder.

In a situation like this, it is difficult to sort out who is the most at fault. Kentucky has a law known as the "Good Samaritan Law" (KRS 411.148) that offers protection to those who attempt to administer aid to someone in distress. However, it only extends to those who are already licensed to deal with emergency situations (such as nurses), and who administer the treatment without expecting compensation. Furthermore, the Good Samaritan Law protects the good samaritan from liability only, should the treatment go wrong. It does not give the good samaritan the right to make a claim if he or she gets injured while offering emergency aid. In general, an individual has no duty to rescue other individuals in distress unless that person is an emergency worker or a common carrier with a duty to rescue its patrons.

Continue reading "Two Kentucky Men Killed After Pulling Over to Help Those Involved in a Car Accident" »

September 16, 2013

Indiana Woman Dies After Speeding Car Crashes Through Metal Fence, Lands in Lake George

A woman died recently in Hobart, Indiana, after crashing her car through a metal gate and landing in Lake George.

lake-george-211920-m.jpgWitnesses who travelled behind the woman, 83 years old, noticed that she was speeding and driving erratically as she traveled down Route 130 and Route 51. She would weave in and out of traffic, and racing through red stoplights at up to 60 miles per hour.
At some point after the woman reached downtown Hobart, she "went airborne" at the top of a hill and her car smashed through a metal gate that separated the town from Lake George. Her car eventually landed in the lake, 50 feet from the edge, where the water was 10 feet high. Witnesses dove into the murky lake after her and spent 10 minutes working to pull the woman out, during which time they sustained injuries from broken glass. The Hobart Fire Department treated her at the scene and she was then transported to St. Mary Medical Center, where she later died. Lake County divers also spent more than one hour working to pull the car from the lake.

Despite her erratic driving, the woman managed to avoid causing injuries or fatalities. One witness speculated that her behavior might have been due to a medical condition, or possibly due to a broken accelerator. The age and condition of her vehicle prior to the crash is unknown.

Continue reading "Indiana Woman Dies After Speeding Car Crashes Through Metal Fence, Lands in Lake George" »

September 10, 2013

Two Missouri Men Killed in a Speed Boat Accident on Kentucky's Lake Cumberland

This past weekend, two men from Missouri were killed in a speed boat accident in southern Kentucky. They were driving a high-powered speed boat on Lake Cumberland when, unexpectedly, the boat flipped over, throwing both men into the water. Their bodies were retrieved one hour later. Investigators attributed the accident to driver error.

The driver apparently was new to boat-water-trail-1343298-m.jpgspeed boating and was described by friends as an enthusiast. The two men were participating in an event known as the Lake Cumberland Power Run, which supposedly combined "the raw fury of over 150 of the country's meanest and fastest powerboats with the fun and energy of Mardi Gras." Yet the driver's inexperience may have led him to underestimate the potential speed of the boat he was powering. A Kentucky Fish and Wildlife investigator noted that the boat's top speed may have been as high as 100 miles per hour. When both men were ejected, the driver suffered blunt force trauma to the head, while the other man suffered blunt force trauma to his abdomen and lower extremities.

Despite the deadliness of boat accidents, not nearly as much attention is given to boat safety as car safety. In Kentucky, someone operating a boat unsupervised is required to get an education certificate in boat safety only if that person is between the ages of 12 and 17 and only if the motorized boat has more than 10 horsepower. The state's DMV encourages those who don't fall within the age range to get an education certificate anyway, but does not require it. Therefore, a Kentucky resident of the driver's age, with his level of experience, would not be required to obtain any sort of training prior to operating a high-speed boat. Instead, the only requirement is that the boat must be registered.

Continue reading "Two Missouri Men Killed in a Speed Boat Accident on Kentucky's Lake Cumberland" »

August 29, 2013

Kentucky High School Football Player Back at Practice After a Serious Car Accident

This fall, Somerset High School in Somerset, Kentucky will welcome back their tight end/defensive end, Jacobi Gilmore, who was involved in a serious car accident the previous year.

football-1-645083-m.jpgIn October 2012, Gilmore and his Briar Jumpers teammate, Will Hinton, got into the accident when their car collided with a tractor trailer while pulling onto East Kentucky 80 after football practice. Hinton, the driver, suffered a broken pelvis, while Gilmore suffered a concussion, brain bleeding, a broken jaw, separated shoulder, and a collapsed lung.

Hinton, then a senior in high school, saw his football career come to an end. He spent two months in a wheelchair and was absent from school for four months while he rehabilitated. While he missed football, he found it tougher to be out of his school routine and away from his friends. Gilmore, meanwhile, spent two weeks in a Lexington Hospital and was absent from school until January. The accident caused him to lose more than 40 pounds, and a lot of strength. However, Gilmore managed to go through rehabilitation and strength training, eventually packing 235 pounds on his six-foot-four frame.

Continue reading "Kentucky High School Football Player Back at Practice After a Serious Car Accident" »

August 22, 2013

University of Kentucky May Be Part of Woeful Trend of Failing to Hold Doctors Accountable

USA Today investigation found a disturbing lack of accountability for doctors nationwide, and Kentucky is likely no exception. The investigation found that state medical boards allow doctors to keep practicing medicine even after findings of serious misconduct. From 2001 to 2011, as many as 6,000 doctors had clinical privileges restricted or were barred from practicing in certain hospitals, but retained unblemished licenses. Of the 800 doctors with the most malpractice actions, fewer than one in five faced license suspension or restriction.

operation-1389104-m.jpgThe University of Kentucky Chandler Medical Center may be among those who should take a closer look. One recent article noted that although the University of Kentucky ranks high on the list of U.S. News and World Report, it has fared badly on other lists related to patient care. Consumer Reports gave Chandler Medical Center just a 47 out of 100 for patient safety, as well as low marks for surgical complications. Likewise, the Leapfrog Group, a hospital safety group, gave Chandler Medical Center a "C" compared to the higher grades it gave other area hospitals, like St. Joseph East.

One reason for Chandler Medical Center's failings is its policy of nondisclosure. For instance, it recently filed a lawsuit against a medical reporter who submitted an open records request. If no one on the outside knows how serious its problems are, no one can hold it sufficiently accountable. The situation is such that one family was advised to get treatment at the University of Michigan, due to its policy of full disclosure and thus its superior care. Chandler Medical Center's lack of disclosure may be traced to decisions by the hospital's board of trustees, rather than federal privacy laws or other claims.

Continue reading "University of Kentucky May Be Part of Woeful Trend of Failing to Hold Doctors Accountable" »

August 15, 2013

Kentucky Law Enforcement Officials to Participate in the "Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over" Campaign

Car accidents are the leading cause of death in the United States. Kentucky law enforcement officials are trying to do something about that, at least where drunk driving is concerned. Kentucky State Police, Louisville Metro Police, and other metropolitan police agencies are combining with the Kentucky Office of Highway Safety for the campaign "Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over." The campaign runs until after Labor Day.

police-car---louisville-kentuc-240373-m.jpgThe "Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over" campaign is part of a nationwide crackdown on drunk driving. In 2012, Kentucky alone experienced 5,750 car accidents related to alcohol, which resulted in 3,000 injuries and 146 deaths. During last year's Labor Day weekend alone, 388 were injured and nine killed, with two of the deaths directly linked to alcohol.

Kentucky law enforcement officials therefore have a multi-pronged plan for combating alcohol abuse this year. One part will be to stage a comprehensive advertising campaign about the dangers of drunk driving. Mothers Against Drunk Driving have set up a booth at the 4th Street Live news conference to discuss problems like underage drinking. Both Yellow Cab and the Transit Authority of River City have agreed to advertise on vehicles that travel around Louisville.

Continue reading "Kentucky Law Enforcement Officials to Participate in the "Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over" Campaign" »

August 8, 2013

Kentucky Nursing Home Patients Are Moving to Ohio Due to a Shortage of Beds

An unfortunate trend is taking place that speaks poorly of Kentucky nursing home care: the state's nursing home population is moving out of state, to Ohio.

im-still-mobile-1114180-m.jpgKentucky nursing homes suffer a shortage of beds, forcing elderly residents to move north of the Ohio River. The result has been that Ohio taxpayers end up shouldering the cost of Kentucky residents covered by Medicaid, which pays for only 60% of their care. That means that Ohio residents might pay up to $6 million each year. Statistics show that as many as 90% of elderly Kentucky Medicaid patients left the state in 2011, a number that is likely to increase.

Beds are limited in Kentucky nursing homes due to a state mandate that nursing homes undergo a "certificate of need" process, designed to keep Medicaid costs low and ensure that supply is on par with demand. However, the actual result of this practice has been that many Kentucky nursing homes have far fewer beds than people who need them. Three counties in northern Kentucky have only 1,500 beds certified for Medicaid patients, compared to four counties around Cincinnati, which have 12,000 beds for Medicaid patients. Ohio does not require a certification process.

Continue reading "Kentucky Nursing Home Patients Are Moving to Ohio Due to a Shortage of Beds" »

May 10, 2013

Children on Summer Vacation can Mean More Injuries on Amusement Rides

The June 2007 amusement park accident at Kentucky Kingdom in Louisville that severed a young girl's feet brought national attention to the safety of amusement park rides. Ever since the accident, her parents have been lobbying the federal government for stricter control over amusement park rides. However, even if laws are passed requiring more oversight of the nation's theme parks, it may not cover some of the other rides that kids encounter.

There are basically three types of amusement rides. "Fixed rides" are those found in amusement parks. They are built on a particular site and never move. "Mobile rides" are taken to carnivals and festivals for a week or two, then are partially disassembled and moved to another location. The last category is "mall rides," which is fairly self-explanatory. These smaller rides are sprinkled throughout malls and grocery stores as entertainment for kids who have been dragged along on a shopping trip. The last two categories of rides are generally tamer than those found at permanent amusement parks, but they can still lead to injury.

One of the leading causes of injuries on mobile rides is the very fact that they are mobile. The constant taking down and putting back up allows for plenty of opportunities for something to be incorrectly installed. It also creates additional wear and tear on certain components of a ride. Mall rides, which are generally geared toward very young children are dangerous simply because they seem so safe. Unsuspecting parents may put their child on a ride without even noticing there is no safety belt to keep the child in place or realizing that their child will hit a very hard floor if they do fall off.

Continue reading "Children on Summer Vacation can Mean More Injuries on Amusement Rides" »

April 20, 2013

$90 Million Nursing Home Neglect Judgment Being Challenged

In 2010, a man filed a nursing home neglect lawsuit against a West Virginia nursing home following the death of his mother in 2009. The woman stayed at the facility for 19 days, during which time she allegedly fell several times, was not given enough food or water, and lost 15 pounds. She died 18 days later in Hospice. Based on the information presented during trial, the jury awarded the woman's estate $91.5 million.

Attorneys for the nursing home asked to have the amount reduced based on a state law that caps non-economic medical malpractice awards at $500,000, but the victim's attorney argued that nursing homes were not covered by the award cap law. The judge ultimately decided the medical malpractice cap did apply to a small portion of the award and reduced it to $90.5 million. After the verdict and award reduction, defense attorneys still requested a new trial, arguing that the company's finances were grossly misrepresented during the trial, making it look like its income was much greater than it really is. But the circuit judge denied their request for a new trial, and the case is now headed to the West Virginia Supreme Court.

The defense is hoping to convince the high court that the nursing home is covered by the Medical Professional Liability Act (MPLA), which was enacted in West Virginia in 1986 and amended in 2002 in response to a lack of malpractice coverage available to medical professionals in the state. This law limits the amount a victim can be awarded for non-economic damages in a medical malpractice case. Ever since MPLA was enacted there has much debate on whether or not nursing homes are covered since they are not necessarily medical professionals. The State of West Virginia is in the process of passing a new amendment that specifically includes nursing homes under the MPLA, which proponents of the bill say is what was intended when the original bill was passed over 20 years ago.

Continue reading "$90 Million Nursing Home Neglect Judgment Being Challenged" »

March 14, 2013

Court to Decide if Generic Drug Makers can be Held Liable for Dangerous Drug Injuries

Almost 80% of all prescriptions in the U.S. are filled with generic medications. These medications can be offered at a lower price than brand-name drugs because the companies that manufacture the generic versions have not invested millions of dollars in the creation and testing of them. Once a patent expires on a drug, other companies can begin to manufacture and sell a generic version of it without getting FDA approval, provided the formula and labeling are not altered in any way.

Such was the case with sulindac, a generic anti-inflammatory drug similar to ibuprofen. Mutual Pharmaceutical Company in Pennsylvania, a subsidiary of another company based in India, was manufacturing sulindac in 2004 when a New Hampshire woman went to her doctor with shoulder pain. He prescribed a clinoril, a mild anti-inflammatory, and she was given sulindac as a generic equivalent. A few weeks after she started taking the drug, her skin began to come off. She ended up losing two-thirds of her skin, requiring a lengthy stay in a hospital burn unit. She also suffered esophagus and lung damage and ended up legally blind. She is now only 53 years old.

As with many other victims of dangerous drugs, the woman filed a lawsuit against the drug manufacturer in the hopes of receiving some compensation for her injuries and suffering. A jury awarded her $21 million, an amount which was also upheld by the Court of Appeals. Now the Supreme Court will hear the case. Groups on both sides of the dangerous and defective drugs argument will be awaiting the higher court's decision.

This would seem to some to be an open-and-shut case. A woman was seriously and permanently injured by a drug manufactured by a pharmaceutical company, and she should be compensated for these injuries. However, the fact that the drug was generic plays a large part in the case. In past cases, generic drug manufacturers have been protected by the higher courts. Why would the higher courts side with the manufacturers? Because generic drug manufacturers are required to reproduce the drug and its corresponding warning labels exactly like the brand-name version. Therefore, according to the courts, they cannot be held accountable for any injuries that occur because they are not responsible for the makeup of the drug or its corresponding labels and warnings.

Continue reading "Court to Decide if Generic Drug Makers can be Held Liable for Dangerous Drug Injuries" »

March 6, 2013

Two Recent Kentucky Car Accidents on I-65 Leave Six Dead, Injure Several Others

Some erratic snowfalls have caused several car accidents in and around Kentucky in the last few weeks. But while there may have been a few flurries in the air, two recent multi-car crashes on I-65 near Elizabethtown do not appear to have been caused by weather.

According to Kentucky State Police, on Saturday, March 2, 2013, a commercial truck driver was driving too close behind a passenger vehicle and the truck crashed into the back of vehicle, causing it to catch fire. Six of eight family members in the SUV tragically died in the fire. The two survivors were foster children of two of the adults killed, and they were taken to the hospital with serious injuries. The accident occurred on the northbound side of I-65.

About 15 minutes after the northbound truck accident, another accident occurred in the same place in the southbound lanes. Another semi crashed into the back of one car, and hit another car that in turn hit a third car, resulting in a four-vehicle accident. The driver of the first car hit was the drummer of country singer Kellie Pickler. He was transported to a local hospital for treatment of extensive injuries. Two of the other drivers were also injured.

If the weather was not to blame, what caused these three very similar accidents? Officials do not know for sure, but they have a couple theories. Kentucky State Police think distracted driving could have played a part in the first accident. The truck driver that hit the SUV may have been on his phone or paying attention to something else in his cab, and he didn't see the SUV in time to stop. It would be sadly ironic if the trucker was on his phone at the time of the crash, because this stretch of I-65 is where a truck hit a van and killed 11 people in 2010. That accident led to the National Transportation Safety Board's request to make talking on a cell phone or texting against the law for long-distance commercial drivers. Investigators are also checking the driver's log to see how long he had been driving and if he had taken the amount of break time required by law. A blood sample was taken as well.

Continue reading "Two Recent Kentucky Car Accidents on I-65 Leave Six Dead, Injure Several Others" »

February 28, 2013

Kentucky Nursing Home Fined by Federal Government for Resident Neglect and Fraud

Entities have been defrauding the U.S. federal government since the Civil War in 1861. During the war, it was discovered that businessmen were selling defective weapons, sick horses and spoiled food to the government for the soldiers in both the North and the South. To combat these issues, the False Claims Act was enacted in 1863. After several revisions, this act still remains in effect today and is used in cases ranging from businesses fraudulently trying to collect money from the government to manufacturers selling bad products because they were not tested according to government standards.

Health care issues are a frequent cause of cases filed under the False Claims Act, and a case against a Kentucky nursing home that recently settled is a good example of this. Villaspring Health Care and Rehabilitation is a nursing home located in Erlanger, Kentucky. Like most nursing homes, it receives payment for many of the services it supposedly provides from the government through Medicare and Medicaid. However, in 2011, the federal government filed a claim stating that the nursing home was fraudulently collecting money from it.

According to the complaint, the nursing home in question should not have been submitting their bills to Medicare and Medicaid because the care they were providing their nursing home residents was substandard. How substandard? Five people allegedly died at the facility between 2004 and 2008 and more were injured because of the nursing home's negligence and insufficient care. The case, which was recently settled, is the first of its kind filed against a Kentucky nursing home under the False Claims Act. Advocates for improving care at nursing homes hope that this case and other future ones like it will improve the care at nursing homes and lessen the amount of abuse and neglect that occurs in Kentucky.

Continue reading "Kentucky Nursing Home Fined by Federal Government for Resident Neglect and Fraud" »