Recently in injuries to children Category

February 21, 2013

US Supreme Court to Rule in NC Medicaid Reimbursement Case

US Sup Ct.jpgThe US Supreme Court recently heard oral arguments in a North Carolina case that could decide how 34 states recover for Medicaid benefits when the Medicaid recipient obtains a financial recovery from a negligent third party (Delia v. E.M.A., No. 12-98 (U.S. argued Jan. 8, 2013).

The North Carolina case involved a 13 year old little girl who suffered catastrophic injuries at birth as the result of medical negligence. The case settled for a discounted value ($2.8 million) in part due to the doctor's limited insurance coverage. Her lawyers argued that the girl's damages exceeded $42 million. Medicaid successfully argued that they were entitled to one-third of the little girls' recovery as reimbursement for money they had paid toward her medical care. The little girl's attorneys argued that Medicaid was not entitled to assert a lien against the recovery based on Federal preemption.

The case is significant for anyone who is a Medicaid recipient and who suffers injury as a result of someone else's negligence. In tort cases where there is a Medicaid lien, there is often a battle over how much does the recipient have to pay back to Medicaid. In most cases where North Carolina Medicaid has paid benefits, the injured person ends up having to pay back all of the money that North Carolina Medicaid paid toward the injured person's medical expenses. In cases where the amount recovered by the injured person is less than the full value of the case (e.g. where there is not sufficient insurance coverage), the Medicaid Lien is reduced to one-third of the recovery based on the North Carolina Lien Reduction Statute.

At issue in the US Supreme Court is whether the North Carolina statute is preempted by the Federal Medicaid Act.

Watch for the Supreme Court decision sometime in June, 2013.

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November 14, 2010

Robbinsville Pit Bull Attack - Who's Responsible? Dogs, Owner or Town?

pit-bull-attack1.jpgPeople are rarely attacked by vicious dogs, but when those attacks happen to young children or the elderly they can be deadly. Particular breeds, like pit bulls, Rottweilers, Akitas and German shepherds are publicized as being more aggressive and dangerous than other breeds. While that is probably true, there is no question that pit bulls have been bred to be aggressive and strong.

A two year old Robbinsville boy remains in critical condition after being attacked and mauled by as many as 6 pit bulls that lived at the child's grandmother's home. The Asheville Citizen Times reported that the incident took place around 3:15pm last Saturday at a house on North Main Street across from the Robbinsville Elementary School. Neighbors and teachers at the school reported having seen the dogs running lose in town.

Someone at the school had complained to Town officials recently when he saw the dogs running down the sidewalk after a couple of kids on bikes. In the rural town, no leash law existed to prohibit a dog owner from allowing their dog to run loose. Approximately one week prior to the attack, the Robbinsville Town Council had considered passing a leash law but failed to do so. The mayor pro tem, Bobby Smith, admitted to feeling guilty that they did not already have such a law. A simple leash law might have prevented this tragedy.

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July 8, 2010

Defective Bicycle Sold In North Carolina Recalled By CPSC

bike - defective.jpgAs parents and students begin preparing for the coming school year, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) announced a voluntary recall for a single speed bicycle sold by Campus Cruisers LLC of Boulder, Colorado.

Although the bicycle is popular among high school and college students, the CPSC has received several reports of crashes caused by the bicycle's front fork cracking and breaking. This type of front fork failure is extremely dangerous because such a break generally causes the rider to go head first onto the ground or pavement. Serious head and neck injuries can result from this type of crash. The bicycle was sold to independent bicycle dealers in North Carolina and in other states from March 2010 through May 2010. The cost of the bicycle was approximately $450. The bicycle was manufactured by a company in China.

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April 15, 2010

Boy Scouts Of America Found Liable In Sex Abuse Case

Boy Scout Emblem.jpgAfter 3 weeks of trial and two days of deliberations, a Portland jury returned a $1.4 Million verdict finding the Boys Scouts of America liable for negligently allowing a confessed child abuser to continue having contact with other Boy Scouts, including the man who brought the lawsuit. The assistant Scout master had admitted to abusing 17 out of 30 young boys in his troop.

During the case, the victim's attorneys were able to introduce evidence from the Scout's own "Perversion Files" which contained information the Scouts had gathered about its leaders who had sexually abused young boys in the Scouts. The jury, during its deliberations, were able to review approximately 1000 of the Perversion Files. Not only did the jury find the local chapter liable for allowing the abuse to continue, but it also found the national Scout organization, based out of Texas, liable for punitive damages. The jury did not decide the amount of punitive damages owed. Punitive damages are designed to punish a defendant and to deter it and others from committing similar wrongful acts in the future.

This $1.4 Million verdict is only the first phase of the trial, in that the case will resume on April 20, 2010 to begin the punitive damages portion of the trial. In many civil trials where punitive damages are alleged by the victim, the defense attorneys will ask the court to bifurcate the trial into two phases, a compensatory damages phase and a separate punitive damages phase. This tactic keeps the jury from hearing some of the most egregious evidence until after it has decided the amount owed for compensatory damages. Once a jury finds a defendant is liable for punitive damages, settlement negotiations often ensue as most defendants do not want to risk a huge punitive award.

The Boy Scouts have vowed an appeal, but, in my humble legal opinion, their chances of getting the verdict overturned are slim, unless the appellate court finds that the statute of limitations has already run.

At Davis Law Group, we have compassionately represented many individuals who have suffered abuse by those in whom their trust was misplaced. We have successfully argued that statutes of limitations have been tolled (suspended) due to the psychological nature of the injuries inflicted and the defendant's horrifically egregious conduct. If you or a loved one feel that you have a claim for sexual abuse, contact an experienced sexual abuse attorney to discuss your case and legal options.

April 5, 2010

Boy Scout's President Blames Parents

boy scouts.1.jpgIn the highly publicized lawsuit against the Boy Scouts of America, a local Scout executive has testified that he believes the parents of the abused scouts are to blame. The AP wire service reported that Eugene Grant, President of the Portland metro area Scout's Council, testified he thinks that the parents of the boys who were abused were negligent and even criminally responsible for the abuse by allowing their sons to attend sleepovers at a former scout master's home. Grant told the jury that the parents should have known better than to allow their sons to spend the night in a single man's apartment. He also testified that the Scouts did not have a policy prohibiting unauthorized sleepovers in the 1980s. Grant told the jury that he does not think the Cascade Pacific Council is responsible for any of the abuse.

It amazes me that a leader of this organization can cast stones at the victims' parents and at the same time deny that the Boy Scouts are in any way responsible for what happened to these children. If Grant thinks that the parents were negligent for allowing their young boys to spend the night at the defendant's apartment, how can he deny that the Boy Scout Council was negligent when the council was aware of allegations of abuse by this scout master and yet continued to send these same boys into the woods with this pedophile for overnight camping and hiking? Who was in a better position to suspect abuse? Parents who had no knowledge of any abuse allegations or the Scout Council who had received complaints of abuse?

As I mentioned in my earlier post on this case, the court has ruled that the victim's lawyers can use the Boy Scout's secret files, known as "the Perversion Files," to try and prove a pattern by Scout officials of ignoring suspected abuse or allowing pedophiles to return to their leadership roles. Such evidence would be compelling and might well lead to a substantial punitive damages verdict against the Scout organization. Most other lawsuits filed against the Scouts for sexual abuse have settled out of court.

So far, since the jury trial began on March 17, the victim's lawyer has opened up six large boxes filled with over 20,000 pages of files the Boy Scouts of America maintained on over 1,000 national volunteers who sexually abused boys between 1965 and 1984. The victim's lawyers have not shown the jury a file connected to the defendant in this case, but I would not be surprised if that file is the last one introduced into evidence. That would be a strong way to end the case.

At Davis Law Group, we believe that all organizations that take on the responsibility of caring for and supervising children have a duty to protect those children from abusers. This seems like a very common sense concept, yet there are still dozens of youth organizations that have not adopted any policies about how to make sure abuse does not happen within their organization. Failing to adopt such anti-abuse policies can lead to abuse. If you are a parent whose child or children belong to youth organizations, whether in church, school or athletics, you should ask the leaders of those organizations about their policies for preventing sexual abuse. If they have no policies, then you should decline to have your child involved in that organization. To learn more about child sexual abuse prevention, visit Darkness to Light.

March 25, 2010

Boy Scout "Perversion Files" May Reveal Abuse In North Carolina

Boy Scouts.jpgThe Boy Scouts of America, one of the most respected organizations in the world, has kept secret files for decades on Scout leaders who have been accused of and caught sexually abusing young boys. The leadership of the Scouts have allegedly referred to the files as the "perversion files," and they have fought long and hard to keep the files from being made public. These sex files have only been seen by the public in one other case in the 1980s.

Dozens of lawsuits against the Boy Scouts have been filed over the years alleging sexual abuse by Scout leaders, but judges for the most part have denied access to the sex files or the Scouts have settled the lawsuits before trial. Attorneys for the plaintiff in the Oregon case contend that the sex files show a pattern by Scout officials of ignoring suspected abuse or allowing pedophiles to return to their leadership roles. The attorneys represent a 37 year old Oregon man who was abused by a Scout leader in the 1980s. The defendant in the Oregon case has admitted abusing 17 out of the 30 boys in his troop.

One document from the files, by a Scout leader in an undisclosed town, states that a Scoutmaster who admittedly slept in the nude and showed pornography to Cub Scouts showed bad judgment, but shouldn't be dismissed. Another document noted that a Scoutmaster who admitted sexual abuse was allowed to return to his duties after seeing a psychiatrist. Such evidence could certainly cause reasonable jurors to conclude that the Boy Scouts of America intentionally continued to expose young boys to sexually abusive leaders. Such intentional conduct could result in a substantial punitive damages verdict in the Oregon case.

There are over 4.5 million young boys between 7 and 20 years of age involved in the Scouts, and the Scouts have more than 300 leadership councils throughout the US. With thousands of Scouts in North Carolina, it is likely that some of those have also been abused by Scout leaders.

A spokesman for the Boys Scouts of America, Deron Smith, said "unfortunately, child abuse is a societal problem and there is no fail-safe method for screening out abusers." While this may be a technically true statement, there are proven methods for preventing child sexual abuse. As I have previously written, the most important rule any youth organization must have is a firm policy that prevents one adult to be alone with one child at any time. You can read about ways for preventing child sex abuse at Darkness To Light.

At Davis Law Group, we have successfully represented those who have been sexually abused by trusted adults. If you have any questions about your legal rights, feel free to call and discuss your situation with an attorney who is experienced representing those who have been sexually abused.

March 18, 2010

Popular High Chair Poses Danger to North Carolina Children

gracochair.jpgThe Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has announced a recall of over 1.2 million Graco "Harmony" high chairs. Fourteen injuries have been reported from children falling out of the chairs because the screws holding the front legs of the high chair can loosen and fall out. The plastic brackets that hold the legs together can also crack, causing the chair to suddenly tip over. The injuries reported include cuts, bruises and scratches to infants heads, arms and legs from the falls. One parent reported a broken arm. If you own a Graco Harmony High Chair, you are asked to call 1-800-345-4109 to get a repair kit.

This is the latest of many recalls issued by Graco over the last several years. Prior recalls have involved child car safety seats, bassinets, strollers, booster seats and cribs. The company uses cheap and unreliable materials in its products in order to keep manufacturing costs down and profits high. Such conduct has led to multi-million dollar fines against Graco by the CPSC and also several multi-million dollar jury verdicts, including one verdict for $11.3 Million. These fines and verdicts have yet to get Graco's attention, in that they continue making and marketing cheaply made and unsafe child products.

If your child or the child of a loved one was seriously injured because of defective crib, car seat or other child product, you may want to contact a defective product attorney about a possible product liability lawsuit.

March 4, 2010

North Carolina Legislature Should Ban BPA In Children's Products

BPA products for kids.jpegWisconsin's governor signed a bill into law yesterday that bans the dangerous chemical bisphenol-A (BPA) in all cups sold in Wisconsin for children three years and younger. The ban will cover baby bottles, sippy cups and other similar products used by young children. Many studies have found that BPA is an endocrine-disrupter in animals, including early sexual maturation, altered development of the mammary gland and decreased sperm production in offspring.

A recent FDA announcement indicated "some concern" about how BPA may affect babies and children. The federal agency has now put $30 million aside for additional research studies over the next 2 years. Last year, a Harvard study found that participants who drank for one week from the popular polycarbonate (hard plastic) bottles, commonly used as water and baby bottles, had a 66% increase of BPA in their urine. The study concluded that BPA is leached from the container into the blood stream in sufficient quantities to show up in the urine.

The dangerous chemical has already been banned in Minnesota, Connecticut, the city of Chicago, and three counties in New York. Legislation to ban BPA in childrens' products is currently pending in Washington, Maryland, Massachusetts, Missouri, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Pennsylvania, Vermont and Washington, D.C. Canada was the first country to pass a nationwide ban of BPA. The North Carolina Legislature should take steps to protect all North Carolina children from BPA because children do not get to chose the type of container from which they drink.

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December 31, 2009

Safe Products for North Carolina Children in 2010

Danny Keysar.jpgOn this New Year's Eve, Danny Keysar would have turned 13 years old. Danny was killed in 1998 in a dangerous and defective portable crib. Danny's death prompted his parents to found KID - an advocacy group dedicated to alerting parents about unsafe children's products.

There has been tremendous change in the last few years in the area of children's product safety. With some new laws, some honoring Danny by name, and a new active administration at CPSC, our children are already safer today, but more must be done. Some children are still sleeping in cribs that have been recalled, some kids are still riding in child safety seats that have been taken off the market because they are unsafe, and some children are still playing with toys that have been recalled because of poisonous lead paint levels.

Join with us to honor not only Danny, but the children in your life with a safer tomorrow.

Make a donation to KID in a child's name.

Check the children's products in your home for recalls and urge others -- grandparents, caregivers, neighbors and family -- to do the same. There were 7 Million cribs recalled in the last 2 years. Sign up for email alerts from CPSC and KID.

Have a safe and happy 2010!

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December 20, 2009

TVs & Furniture in Asheville Create Tip-Over Hazard for Children


Each year, more than 10 children, most under 5, are killed when a piece of heavy furniture tips over onto them. Several thousand more young children are seriously injured each year in the same way. Most of these injuries and deaths happen when a child climbs onto, runs into or pulls up onto a TV stand, bookcase, dresser or other unstable furniture. Sadly, most of these incidents are totally preventable.

For less than $10, parents can purchase an anchor system that secures the furniture to the floor or wall. This holiday season, if you have small children, take a few minutes and inspect all of the furniture in your house for being a tip-over hazard. If you identify a potential tip-over hazard, please take the time to correct it so that someone in your family doesn't become a statistic.

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October 30, 2009

Halloween Flashlights Recalled - Danger to Children

Halloween Flashlight with Stencil.jpgHalloween Flashlight 3 Pack.jpg

ASHEVILLE, N.C. - The US Consumer Product Safety Commission issued a recall of over 600,000 Halloween Flashlights that have been sold by big box giant Target. There have been several reported incidents where the flashlights overheated to the point that they melted, and in one instance caused severe burns to a child's hand.

The recall involves two types of flashlights: a 3 pack of mini flashlights and a regular size flashlight that comes with six Halloween stencils. The mini flashlights have a key ring attached to the bottom of each flashlight and come in a package of 3. The standard sized flashlights come with a black handle with an orange top, and these come with six stencils in various Halloween colors of a pumpkin, ghost, spider, cat, witch, and skull & cross-bones.

These dangerous flashlights were sold exclusively at Target stores nationwide from August, 2009 through September, 2009 for $1 for the mini flashlights and $2.50 for the flashlights with stencils. Target imported the flashlights from China.

If you purchased one of these defective products, then you should immediately stop using the product and return it for a full refund to your nearest Target store. You may contact Target at 800-440-0680.

Davis Law Group handles personal injury cases involving defective and dangerous products as well as tractor trailer accidents, car accidents and various other personal injury cases. Davis Law Group is based out of Asheville, North Carolina and handles serious personal injury cases throughout western North Carolina. You may visit the firm's website at: www.davislawgroupnc.com.