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Recently, an iron worker from Valparaiso was killed and two others were injured in an accident at the ArcelorMittal Steel West Indiana Harbor. The 39-year old victim was a contract iron worker associated with Iron Workers Local 395 in Merryville. Details about the accident remain unclear, but the victim allegedly died of blunt force trauma near the steel mill’s oxygen furnace caused by a falling metal plate. The other two workers — also contract iron workers — were transported to a hospital in East Chicago with injuries that were not considered life threatening.

worker-1-week-169773-m.jpgArcelorMittal personnel, along with United Steel Workers, the East Chicago police, and the Indiana Occupational Safety and Health Administration are all currently investigating the situation. They will see whether any corrective measures need to be taken. The victim is survived by a wife and three children.

In situations where a worker is injured during the course of employment, the worker usually receives workers compensation payments until he or she can return to work. That is because most states (including Indiana) require that employers carry workers compensation insurance; if an employer complies, then injured workers are required to accept workers compensation payments and waive their right to file a lawsuit. In some respects, this arrangement benefits the workers, who can collect payments, in most cases, regardless of fault and without having to pay the expenses of litigation.
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The owner of a bar in Armstrong County and his bartender waived their right to preliminary hearings and will likely file pleas in a case where they have been charged with serving alcohol to minors. Larry Pompelia, owner of The Final Score Saloon, and Karly Ann Good, the bartender, allegedly served three men who were younger than the legal age, prior to their pickup truck plunging into a pond, resulting in their deaths.

beer-glass-1252046-m.jpgThe three friends, who were 19 and 20 years of age, were headed to a party when the 19-year old driver became disoriented while driving his truck up a steep hill, which then overturned in a muddy overflow pond, just after midnight. Pompelia and Good were later charged with two misdemeanors for selling alcohol to minors. Pompelia waived a hearing on separate charges involving tampering with evidence, where Pompelia allegedly erased video footage that showed the three men drinking at The Final Score Saloon.

Both Pompelia and Good may have plea bargain deals in the works that would allow at least one of them to be admitted into Indiana’s Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition program for non-violent first-time criminal offenders. Those enrolled in the program do not need to enter a guilty plea, and whoever successfully completes the probationary period can petition to have his or her record expunged.
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A federal court in Kentucky recently allowed a class action lawsuit to move forward against Unilever United States, Inc. (Unilever), LEK, Inc. (LEK), and Conopco, Inc. (Conopco) in Naiser v. Unilever United States, Inc. The case involves a hair product sold as Suave Professionals Keratin Infusion 30 Day Smoothing Kit.

hair-care-2-189882-m.jpgKentucky residents argue that they purchased the hair product from different retail stores across the state, based on representations that it was not a chemical relaxer, that its effects would not last beyond 30 days, that it did not have any formaldehyde, and that it was overall a safe product. In fact, the representations were false, in that the hair product actually contained a toxic mixture that caused major hair loss, scalp burns, and other harmful effects. The residents further argue that there was absolutely no warning that they could be at risk for such problems. Naiser, the named plaintiff, spent $10 on the initial product and then $2,000 on conditioners and haircuts after she began experiencing breakage and hair loss. Although the product was recalled in May 2012, the plaintiffs in the class action suit argue that Unilever continues to claim that the product was safe, and that it was recalled due to consumer misuse. The plaintiffs claim that Unilever, LEK, and Conopco manufactured, distributed, and promoted an unreasonably dangerous product.

Unilever and Conopco then filed motions to dismiss under 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure: failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Chief Judge Joseph McKinley of the U.S. District Court of the Western District of Kentucky reviewed the claims in the case of Unilever only. He first looked at the argument that the Kentucky plaintiffs had failed to pinpoint the exact affirmations of fact or promise made that the product was safe. He found that the product’s packaging, which promoted it as a “smoothing” product rather than a chemical relaxer, did amount to an affirmation of fact. He also found that an affirmation of fact or promise was made regarding how long the product would last: the packaging is described as a “30 Day Smoothing Kit,” and that the smoothing lasts “up to” 30 days. Finally, Judge McKinley found that the plaintiffs pled enough facts to indicate that the defendant misled them into thinking the product was safe.
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Recently, three people died in Vigo County, Indiana after a train crashed into their truck as they tried to cross the tracks. The three Illinois natives were 30, 24, and 20 years old respectively.

railway-tracks-1428076-m.jpgThe accident occurred around two o’clock in the morning, when a northbound train struck the vehicle at the intersection of Gallagher Road and Rio Grande. Vigo County Sheriff’s deputies later found that two of the individuals had been ejected and pinned under the truck. Now the question is what caused the accident.

Authorities have noted that the flashing lights and gates were working at the time of the accident. Some evidence has been found that the truck was traveling at a high speed, and containers of alcohol were found in the vehicle. While it is too early to determine whether alcohol was an important factor, authorities have already determined another one, which is that none of the individuals was wearing a seatbelt. Further investigation, including from the train’s black box, will reveal whether the train engineer bears any responsibility for the collision.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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