MAY 2009

In this IssueMay 2009

  • Assisted Living Lawsuits Mounting

After suffering a traumatic brain injury in a car crash in 1996, Earl Scherrer lapsed into a coma. He wasn’t expected to live, but his wife, Lydia, refused to disconnect his life support. After 16 months, he began to emerge from his coma. Using first-grade reading and math texts, Lydia helped him to slowly learn to speak again. In April, 2006, she placed him in Liberty Manor Residency, an assisted living facility that promised 24-hour care.

A month later, she received a call that her husband had been vomiting. She rushed over to Liberty Manor, brought Earl, 36, home and gave him a bath. Within minutes, be began to vomit again and died in her arms. You and I have no problems, when we consider what others go through. An autopsy revealed a number of foreign objects – plastic bags, catsup packets, candy wrappers and paper towels – in his stomach and small intestine. The medical examiner determined that the objects Earl had swallowed were significant contributing factors in his death. Lydia sued Liberty Manor, alleging negligence, abuse and wrongful death. After an eight-day trial, a jury on March 19 found the facility liable for Earl Scherrer’s death, and awarded $7 million in compensatory and $4 million in punitive damages. Criminal offenders and mentally ill residents are also fueling an increase in patient-to-patient assaults at nursing homes, experts say. This growing violence is sparking a rise in civil lawsuits by families of patients who have been assaulted by other residents, according to several elder law specialists. If you have a family member who is the victim of any of this type of behavior, please call me for a free discussion of your case. Please know anything you discuss with me is confidential.

  • Miranda Warning Not Required For Office Interview

The police were not required to issue a Miranda warning when they interviewed a child pornography suspect for over two hours at his workplace, a Court had ruled in reversing a suppression order. The police identified the defendant as a child pornography suspect when they linked his work e-mail address to the e-mail address of an individual who had downloaded illegal images from a web site. After obtaining a search warrant, officers met the defendant at the office where he worked and interviewed him for more than two hours in a conference room. The Court found no Miranda warning was necessary.

  • Tip Pool Doesn’t Violate State Wage And Hour Law

State wage and hour laws do not prohibit restaurant employees who do not provide direct table service from participating in mandatory tip pools, a Court has ruled. Servers for a restaurant chain filed a class action case alleging that the defendant’s mandatory tip pool arrangement violated state wage and hour laws because it required them to share tips with those employees who did not provide “direct table service” such as bartenders, dishwashers and hostesses. Noting that federal labor law provided no guidance on this issue, the Court decided that nothing in the state’s labor code prohibited the defendant’s tip pooling policy, so the next time you are at Eat-n-Park.

  • Can you be charged with DUI if you are not actually driving the car?

A jury has awarded $38 million to a former nurse who was left bedridden and in excruciating pain after a surgeon injected the wrong dye into her spinal cord. Amanda Slavin, 38, has suffered from a debilitating neurological disease called arachnoiditis since the failed surgery in 2003. Slavin had originally undergone surgery at Mount Sinai Medical Center in Miami Beach to repair a herniated disc. Three weeks after the first operation, she was readmitted for additional surgery to repair a spinal fluid leak. The surgeon mistakenly injected Ms. Slavin with the wrong dye and a tragedy occurred. Surgeons work under incredible stress, but when they make a mistake, it is often disastrous.