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CSI, Other TV Crime Shows Drive Attorneys to Bring More Technology to Jury Trials
February 2, 2011
Lowe Eklund Wakefield & Mulvihill Co., LPA Attorney Wins $800,000 Settlement in Construction Injury Case
December 14, 2010
Lowe Eklund Wakefield & Mulvihill Co., LPA Attorneys Receive Jury Award of $587,000 in Personal Injury Case
For the second year in a row, LEWM was featured in Ohio Super Lawyers, a publication which recognizes the best lawyers in Ohio through an exhaustive selection process, including peer review. Senior partner James Lowe was again recognized as one of the top 50 lawyers in Cleveland, top 100 lawyers in Ohio, and Best lawyers in America. As either a current officer or past president of several different prestigious trial lawyer organizations, Lowe has also been featured in Continental Airline's in-flight magazine. Partner Dennis Mulvihill was also named an Ohio Super lawyer, which recognizes the top 5 percent of lawyers in the state.
Best Lawyers, the oldest and most respected peer-review publication in the legal profession, has named James A. Lowe as the "Cleveland Best Lawyers Product Liability Litigator of the Year" for 2010.
After more than a quarter of a century in publication, Best Lawyers is designating "Lawyers of the Year" in high-profile legal specialties in large legal communities. Only a single lawyer in each specialty in each community is being honored as the "Lawyer of the Year."
Best Lawyers compiles its lists of outstanding attorneys by conducting exhaustive peer-review surveys in which thousands of leading lawyers confidentially evaluate their professional peers. The current, 16th edition of The Best Lawyers in America (2010), is based on more than 2.8 million detailed evaluations of lawyers by other lawyers.
The lawyers being honored as "Lawyers of the Year" have received particularly high ratings in our surveys by earning a high level of respect among their peers for their abilities, professionalism, and integrity.
Steven Naifeh, Managing Editor of Best Lawyers, says, "We continue to believe – as we have believed for more than 25 years – that recognition by one’s peers is the most meaningful form of praise in the legal profession. We would like to congratulate James A. Lowe on being selected as the 'Cleveland Best Lawyers Product Liability Litigator of the Year' for 2010."
Florida Jury orders Ford Motor Co. to pay $10.4 million for defective seat - A jury in Palm Beach County, Florida returned a $10.4 million verdict for Donna Grimes, who was paralyzed when the driver's seat in her 2000 Ford Explorer broke. While stopped and waiting to turn left into her tennis club, Donna was hit from behind by another car. Her seat collapsed, and she was thrown headfirst into the backseat, breaking her neck and leaving her a quadriplegic. Partners James Lowe and Dennis Mulvihill proved to the jury that Donna's seat was defective because the teeth on the recliner mechanism gears stripped and sheared off, causing the seat to collapse during the accident. Although Ford appealed the verdict, the case was recently settled while the appeal was pending.
Michigan Jury returns $150,000 verdict for victim of legal malpractice - Adrianne Williams was injured in a car accident in Saginaw, Michigan in 1999. Although she hired a Michigan attorney to represent her, he failed to file a lawsuit on her behalf before the statute of limitations expired. Adrianne then hired partner Greg Scott, who filed a claim against the Michigan attorney and established that the attorney was negligent for not filing a lawsuit in time. Scott was then able to show the jury how Adrianne's back injury from the initial car accident had significantly changed her life. The jury agreed, awarding her $150,000 against the Michigan attorney for his legal malpractice.
Family of killed college student receives $370,000 for loss - What started out as a friendly evening between two fraternity brothers from Baldwin Wallace College ended in tragedy when one boy punched the other, knocking his head into a wall and killing him. After an evening out, Brent Jones returned to the Sigma Phi Epsilon dormitory. What happened after that is not completely clear, but ultimately fraternity brother Adam Gaydos punched Jones in the head, knocking his head against a cinder block wall.
Jones, a well-liked student headed to veterinary school after college, died from the injuries. Gaydos ultimately pled guilty to involuntary manslaughter, and was sentenced to three years in prison. Partner Dennis Mulvihill filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Gaydos, which was settled by Gaydos and his insurance company just before trial for $370,000. The insurance company denied coverage based on an exclusion in the policy that stated that intentional actions were not covered. Nonetheless, the insurance company paid the claim.
Quadriplegic victim from crushed roof of SUV accepts confidential settlement from manufacturer - On April 1, 2004, 35 year old Van Le Grant was driving in her 1998 SUV when she lost control. The vehicle rolled over three times and came to rest on its wheels. During the event, the roof and its supporting structures on the driver's side collapsed catastrophically, rendering Grant a quadriplegic. Partner James Lowe represented Grant, and developed a strong case against the manufacturer showing that the SUV's roof and supporting structures were defective because they could not support the vehicle during a rollover. The manufacturer settled the case for a confidential amount prior to trial.
Insurers Fleece the Public, Consumer Groups Say
Consumers are paying too much and getting too little from their property insurance at a time the industry is enjoying major profits according to consumer groups. The average American household was overcharged an average of $870 per household over the past four years. Meanwhile the insurance industry took in nearly record profits in 2007of about $65 billion. And that is after taxes.
Consumer Federation of America (CFA) is a watchdog organization that used the insurance industry's own data and financial statements to come to these conclusions. The group was joined by several state and national consumer organizations in issuing its report (complete report available at http://www.consumerfed.org/pdfs/2008_INSURANCE_RELEASE_FINAL.pdf). Over a three year period from 2004 to 2007 the industry recorded profits at more than $253 billion.
Robert Hunter, the director of insurance for CFA is the author of the study. 'Consumers ultimately pay the price for the unjustified profits, padded reserved and excessive capitalization that exist right now in the insurance industry' he says. Hunter is also an actuary, a former state insurance commissioner and worked as a federal insurance administrator. The insurance industry says his numbers are wrong.
Bob Hartwig, president of the Insurance Information Institute, tells the St. Petersburg Times that if all of the costs associated with writing an insurance policy had been considered, the numbers would show that the industry actually paid out more in claims than it took in. But the CFA report shows that the trend is for insurers to pay out less in claims.
Twenty years ago insurers paid out about 72 cents of every $1 of premium. In 2007, the payout is down to 55 cents for every dollar. There have been no major natural disasters that would account for that.
The report concludes, 'Insurance is a Low-Risk Investment' when compared to the stock market. While the common misperception is that the insurance industry amasses wealth through charging premiums, the industry actually invests that money in financial markets. Hartwig says the industry is investing heavily in bonds but at the same time has access to its money in case of a natural disaster.
The largest ever loss by the insurance industry was Hurricane Katrina, which represented an after-tax loss of $26.7 billion. The September 11th attacks amounted to half of that loss or two percent of the industry's surplus.
Even with those catastrophic losses, the industry is over capitalized; the report says and is confirmed by the Insurance Information Institute (III) estimated to be as much as $100 billion. But Hunter says the industry reaped record profits in 2004 and 2005, the years of significant hurricane activity. The 2006 and 2007 profits 'rose to unprecedented heights and 2007 may set a fourth consecutive profit record,' according to Hunter.
In order to protect consumers, the report urges the industry to rely on factors other than credit score of employment to ascertain premiums. The industry to stop denying full payment of legitimate claims, a practice resulting from computer-based claims settlement procedures. Consumers are urged to contact the state insurance department to get information on which companies have sharply raised rates and cut back on coverage. Hunter says overcharging consumers, cutting back on coverage and underpaying claims accounts for the profits as well as an increasing number of state legislatures that allowing taxpayers to pick up some of the tab for risk.
In Florida, insurers are increasingly having homeowners and commercial insurance pick up risk while coverage is being eliminated for tens of thousands of Americans in coastal areas. The report urges a policy of state-based insurance, such as Citizens in Florida, to spread the risk and assure coverage for everyone.
Reprinted courtesy of Injuryboard.com
Kidney Failure and Death Linked to Heart Surgery Drug
Heart surgery patients were more likely to die or suffer serious kidney failure if given the anti-bleeding drug Trasylol, according to two studies just published in the New England Journal of Medicine. Trasylol, known generically as aprotinin, has been used to control bleeding in heart bypass surgeries since it was first approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 1993.
One of the studies just published looked at more than 10,000 patients who had bypass surgeries at Duke University Medical Center from 1996 through 2005. It found that 6.4 percent of patients who were given Trasylol died within 30 days of the surgery, a rate nearly 2 _ times higher than patients who got another drug or who received no treatment for excessive bleeding. At one year after surgery, almost 16 percent of Trasylol patients had died - again, almost 2 _ times higher than the other two patient groups.
The other published study, which was funded by Trasylol's manufacturer, Bayer, looked at more than 78,000 patients nationwide. The study found the risk of death after surgery was 64 percent higher in the Trasylol group than in those taking a comparison drug. These results were presented to company officials at Bayer in September, 2006, but the company failed to discuss them with an FDA advisory committee during a subsequent meeting on the drug.
A third study being conducted in Canada, which compared Trasylol with two other drugs, was halted last year because of deaths among patients taking Trasylol. As a result, the FDA requested the drug be pulled from the market, which Bayer did last fall. However, Bayer said it will wait for the final results of the Canadian study before deciding whether to permanently suspend sales of the drug.
Lowe, Eklund, Wakefield & Mulvihill is currently handling Trasylol claims. If you or a loved one had heart bypass surgery in the last 10 years, please call LEWM for more information and a free consultation.
Health Insurance Exposed
Imagine you are sick and about to undergo lump-removal surgery for a cancerous tumor in your breast. A hospital administrator comes into your room and instead of talking about your surgery, tells you the procedure has been cancelled because your insurance won't pay.
That nightmare is exactly what happened to Patsy Bates, 51, a hairdresser from Gardenia, California who relied on her health insurance company, Health Net Inc., at a time she needed it most. She is now seeking $6 million in compensation from the company. After all, an insurance broker had come into her shop in a mini-mall and promised he would save her money over her existing health policy. She says she answered his questions as best she could, even though she was multi-tasking at the time.
Health Net says in cancelling her policy that Bates had potential pre-existing conditions and it likely would have denied her coverage had it known. An arbitration hearing in the lawsuit is offering an unprecedented look at the inner workings of the insurance industry, information the company would rather keep secret. Health Net had argued that being forced to produce documents at a November 8th hearing would reveal proprietary information that could embarrass the company. But the arbitrator, Judge Sam Cianchetti granted a motion by lawyers for the Los Angeles Times making all documents public and opened the hearing to reporters. Previous lawsuits have been settled out of court with specifics kept secret.
The documents reveal that Health Net Inc. saved about $35.5 million by rescinding 1,600 policies between 2000 and 2006, with Bates cancelled policy (January 2004) among them. They also reveal that one of California's largest health insurers, Health Net Inc. paid the executive in charge of cancellation more than $20,000 in bonuses for meeting or exceeding targets and saving the company money. When the company's senior analyst in charge of rescinding policies exceeded goals, her supervisors called it a 'banner year' because the company avoided about '$6 million in unnecessary health care expenses.'
'I've got cancer, and I could die,' Bates tells the Los Angeles Times. About Health Net she says, they 'walked away from the agreement. They don't care.' Bates eventually had the necessary surgery after her daughter covered three months of insurance premiums on her debit card. The insurance was cancelled after post-surgery chemotherapy was underway, delaying the treatments for several months until a charity program agreed to fund it. Bates owes $200,000 in medical bills and can't afford the follow-up tests to determine if she still has cancer. She still has the catheter in her chest from the chemotherapy. A doctor has agreed to remove it without charge once she gets health clearance.
Doug Heller, Executive Director of the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights, a Santa Monica-based consumer group, says health insurance operates like property insurance. 'Use it and lose it. If you file two claims you lose your insurance,' he tells IB News. His group has been pushing the state to re-write regulations requiring insurers justify dropping policyholders. 'If you are taking such drastic steps you should have to prove to the state this is not a profit making exercise but a legitimate and lawful act,' he says.
The case is familiar to one filed by an individual who had just been approved by Blue Shield of California when he was struck with gastroenteritis and dehydration. When he sent a $9,000 bill to Blue Shield of California he was dropped. The insurer said he had a preexisting condition. Eventually Blue Shield settled a class action claim by 6,000 cancelled policyholders agreeing to stop the practice unless it can show a policyholder lied.
Heller believes the practice of dropping costly policyholders is a standard operating procedure in the insurance world. 'What came out in Health Net matter is how institutionalized and despicable it has become,' he tells IB News.