Thursday, July 30, 2009

Hospital Settles Whistle Blowing Suit

One industry which was unshaken by the global financial crisis is the health care industry.

Regardless of the economic conditions, people go to the hospitals or medical providers to be treated from various illnesses.

But some hospitals have gone beyond the dictates of ethics and morality by violating the Medicare’s anti-kick back rules.

The Tulare Regional Medical Center and its parent, the Tulare District Healthcare System agreed to settle a whistle blowing suit for $2.4 million. The complaint alleged that both provided doctors with office rent and land sale considerably below fair-market value. The hospital and the health care system were also alleged to forgive debts in lieu of patient referrals to the hospital.

The allegations were raised in the suit by hospital district's former chief financial officer, Maria Lucy Reimche. As a whistle-blower, she will be given $500,000 as part of the settlement.

The settlement was made without any admission of wrongdoing. Patric Hooper, the hospital’s counsel, claimed that the allegations happened under the previous management. As the hospital is now under new management, Hooper said that any arrangements with the doctors would now comply with the federal law.

Whistle blowing is encouraged to expose any wrongdoing or to make public any concealed misconduct on the part of an organization.

Should you be involved in a whistle blowing case and your employer retaliated against you, you may consult an employment attorney to defend your cause.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Hit and Run Ends the Dream of American Idol Aspirant

The popular talent show American Idol is all about chasing a dream and living it. But for Alexis Cohen, 25, a former AI contestant, the dream ended when she lost her life in a tragic hit and run accident.

Alexis, who was dubbed “Glitter Girl” and who got rejected twice by AI’s tough judges was planning a third attempt at singing stardom in June. But Cohen who went out to eat was later found by two pedestrians who called 911. The autopsy revealed that she suffered head, chest and abdominal injuries after being struck by a car.

According to, a 23-year-old man named Daniel Bark has since been charged with death by reckless driving and leaving the scene of an accident following Cohen’s death. Authorities also suspected that the driver was under the influence of alcohol.

In many car accidents involving pedestrians, drivers have been known to flee the scene of the accident. Some would claim that it was instinct and some would say that they are afraid but truly, these drivers also fail to take into consideration that their actions could spell the loss of a person’s life that could have otherwise been saved.

Most State laws provide that drivers have the duty to stop in case of an accident, regardless of whether the crash involved another car, another person’s property and even a pedestrian.

In any accident resulting to injuries or death, drivers have a legal duty to take reasonable steps to help any injured person -- including calling for assistance from emergency medical services -- and to report the accident to local law enforcement.

Leaving the scene of the accident, especially when a person is injured or may require medical intervention is a crime. Any driver who leaves the scene of an accident can be subject to serious criminal charges such as "felony hit and run."

Bark, who killed Cohen in a hit and run accident could face up to 15 years in prison if convicted.

Running after an accident and citing panic and fear is not an excuse. Drivers do not have just the duty to “save” themselves—they have the same duty to everyone else on the road especially pedestrians and cars they may hit.

For Cohen, who once memorably said that she marches to the beat of a different drummer would no longer have the chance to make her dreams come true because of a hit and run accident and a driver who refused to care.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Man Sues for Damages for Condom in Soup

Among all activities, eating seems to be the most enjoyable thing to do. Especially when you are eating out, you expect the food to taste good, to be clean and the restaurant to give you the best service.

For a Claim Jumper’s customer, he was given more than he asked for. Zdenek Philip Hodousek filed a case against the restaurant for unspecified damages. The suit was brought about by Hodousek’s chewing a condom in his French onion soup.

Hodousek alleged that when he began eating his soup, he felt something which he could not chew. When he spit it out and spooned it into a napkin, it was a condom. He called the manager, Marc Hadley. Hadley had to untie the knot as it might be a rubber glove but it just affirmed Hodousek’s allegation.

Hodousek brought the condom for preliminary tests at Lab Corp. in North Carolina and found a female DNA on the condom. The restaurant operators were uncooperative as they refuse to send an observer to be present during the DNA matching of its employees.

On its part, Claim Jumper, through its publicist, Gladstone International denied the allegations.

The mere presence of foreign objects on food is already a presumption of negligence. Worse, the object that has been found on the soup was not just any ordinary thing. The impact could have been less and different were it something that is close to food like plastic, foil etc. Nevertheless, whatever foreign objects present in your food was put their due to negligence.

For victims of unclean and unsafe food and food preparation, a damage suit may prosper against the restaurant. In case of injury, a personal injury lawyer may be brought to the scene to help in the case.

Drowning incidents in Orange County

During summertime, most people, adult and children alike, go to the beaches, water parks or pools to escape the heat. It is also during this time that most water accidents happen.

In Orange County, there had been about 16 drowning incidents reported. Drowning accidents may still increase as summer comes to its full swing.

In Mission Viejo, a 33-year-old man drowned. Two bystanders were able to pull him out of the water but the man died at the hospital two hours later.

In another incident, authorities responded to an emergency call in a home near Eastshore Street and Woodspring in Irvine. A 3-year-old boy nearly drowned while his mother, who was looking after him, was briefly distracted.

Also in another similar incident, paramedics again responded to a call in Mission Viejo. A 2-year-old girl was found underwater in a pool. The girl was pulled out of the water just in time. The girl’s mother was watching her but was briefly distracted when the incident happened.

In both of the near drowning accidents, children were monitored by adults who were distracted. To avoid similar incidents, it is advisable to designate at least one person to look after the children at all times and without any distractions.

Drowning takes seconds to transpire. Just when you thought that your children are safe, they are not.

However, when a drowning or near drowning incident is caused by the negligent act of another, the victim or their loved ones can sue the party at fault for damages. A personal injury lawyer could help them start a claim against the negligent party.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Burbank Police Charged With 6th Racial Discrimination Lawsuit

It’s tragic to think that to this day, a lot of people still judge others based on color and not on character. Racial discrimination, even after all the laws that have been enacted to protect people of diversity, persists to this day. Even a decorated and awarded Asian-American police detective is not spared.

Evidently, not even excellent performance can change the way some people’s minds work or eliminate hate and bigotry. Despite Dunn’s achievements and recognitions such as being awarded the Medal of Valor as a Los Angeles Police Department officer, 1999 Top Cop Award from President Bill Clinton, 2007 Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force Award and the Professional Esteem Award from the Burbank City Council, he was subjected to racial taunts and discouraged from joining the narcotics unit because he was not white.

Police Detective Christopher Lee Dunn filed a civil case against the Burbank Police Department (BPD), alleging racial discrimination and retaliation before being unlawfully fired. Dunn’s lawsuit is seeking civil penalties and compensatory damages.
Dunn alleges that he experienced discouragement, racist jokes and comments, undesirable assignments and harassment despite his promotion as well as having more narcotics seizures than any other Burbank officer.

A case in 2007 against him was filed but later on recanted. Nevertheless, Dunn was first transferred to another unit and then placed on paid administrative leave. He was later on fired on charges that he interfered with the investigation and for insubordination.

Dunn is the sixth officer to come forward about the BPD’s treatment, just last May, five Burbank police officers also sued the department for allowing a work environment where discrimination and sexual harassment is rampant.

The six officers who complained that slurs about race, ethnicity and sexual preferences were constantly directed at them, their colleagues, suspects and the public at large. One female officer was also reportedly threatened with anal sex as punishment.

What’s more repulsive and disturbing about the entire lawsuit filed is the fact that police officers are supposed to serve and protect – but how can they truly serve and protect if they see color and not people?

One of the laws these police officers have been sworn to uphold is Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This law protects individuals against employment discrimination on the bases of race and color, as well as national origin, sex, and religion.

Title VII prohibits not only intentional discrimination, but also practices that have the effect of discriminating against individuals because of their race, color, national origin, religion, or sex.

Despite being law enforcers, police officers are not the law. And they should do their best to uphold and respect the law especially when it comes to treating everybody, regardless of race, creed or color, the respect and dignity that they deserve.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Teens Killed in Car Crash with Train

In Canton Township, Michigan, five people, all believed to be teenagers died when an Amtrak passenger train carrying about 170 people struck the teens’ car. Authorities say that the sedan had skirted a gate at a road crossing near Detroit.

According to the authorities, the crossing has a gate and flashing lights that apparently were working when the car approached. Witness accounts have claimed that the car didn’t stop at the gate but instead went around the safety arm.

The Amtrak train, which typically travels about 67 miles per hour, broadsided the car and pushed it about one mile down the tracks. The sedan was found crumpled underneath the front of the train and ended up right-side, with its roof and front crushed.

The police estimate that the victims around 17 and 18, the only female passenger was around 14 years old. The five fatalities were from outside the western Wayne County community.

The Chicago Amtrak spokesman said that there was no train malfunction and that the train crew was doing exactly what it should be doing. Marc Magliari, the spokesman said that, "They can't make vehicles, or pedestrians for that matter, heed signals."

The train accident is a tragic and rather painful end for five young people. Again, these deaths could have easily been prevented, had the driver of the ill-fated vehicle respected the lowered gate and flashing lights and if they had chosen to wait until the train has passed.

Unfortunately, youth is often an excuse for reckless and impetuous behavior. It’s no surprise that with that kind of daredevil attitude, motor vehicle accidents are leading cause of death for teens.

These kids and the young driver may have assumed that they could have outrun the train. They must have thought that they were invincible against trains running at least 67 miles per hour. It was a foolish decision which has caused them their lives.

Car and train crashes are one of the most easily preventable deaths. If people just curbed their impatience, they looked before crossing the track, if they observed the train’s warning lights and gate, they would have saved their lives.

State to Pay Woman Injured by Former State Senator

The already budget-deficit State of California is set to foot another bill, this time as compensation for car accident injuries caused by former State Senator Carole Migden.

Doubtless, the first question on everyone’s minds is why does the State have to pay for Migden’s mistake? Unfortunately, tax payers would have to bear with the additional costs due to Migden’s state employee status which would also hold the state government liable for any damages she may cause.

The state has agreed to pay $335,000 to a woman and a child who were in the car which was rear-ended by former senator back in May 2007. The State has also previously paid for property damage which Migden caused when she sideswiped a bus.

It was reported that during the time of the accident, the San Francisco Democrat was driving erratically at speeds over 80mph while talking on cellphone and reading a book in an SUV issued by the State.

Wow, all that speeding and driver distractions? Reading a book while driving? How lucky she wasn’t killed!

A 33-year old woman and her 3-year old passenger however, got the bad end of the deal after they got injured when Migden rear-ended their car which was stopped at a red light.

The senator paid several hundred dollars in fines after she pleaded no contest to reckless driving charges in superior court. She however, says that she does not remember the accident and blamed the treatment of her medical problems for her behavior.

She was previously diagnosed with leukemia back in 1997 and underwent chemotherapy.
Migden is now on California’s waste management board and makes $132,178 annually.

How unfortunate for the hard-working, tax-paying citizens of California that they now have to pay for the consequences of Migden’s irresponsible behavior.

Driving under the influence, whether it is induced by alcohol, prescription drugs or dangerous substances is enough to impair the driver’s motor skills and judgment. This makes them a hazard on the road and Migden, who blamed her medical treatment should have known better than to get behind the wheel if her medical problems mess up her driving skills.

What makes this all the more detestable is the fact that she was reportedly on her cellular phone, talking while driving. And if that’s not bad enough, she was also reading a book.

This is an obviously gross disregard for traffic laws and public safety and while she pleaded no contest to the charges, the damage has been done. And the city of California will have to pay for the damages and pick up the mess she left.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

TV Actress Caught DUI on Fourth of July Weekend

If you’ve ever seen an episode or a rerun of the ‘80s sitcom of the late John Ritter, Three’s Company then surely you would know or at least be familiar with Joyce DeWitt, who portrayed the character of Janet Wood in the TV show.

Well apparently, during the Independence Day weekend festivities, Ms. DeWitt got a little too intoxicated to be good company.

The 60 year old actress was arrested in El Segundo on Saturday afternoon on suspicion of driving under the influence (DUI).

According to the CHP, last year 1,684 people were arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence. 41 died on the road during the Fourth of July celebration last year.

This year, state authorities have prepared well for drunken celebrants and made sure to have DUI checkpoints.

According to a TMZ report, law enforcement sources said that DeWitt got caught DUI when she drove past a barricade. When an officer approached her, he detected the scent of alcohol on her.

The actress was reportedly given field sobriety tests and then arrested for suspicion of DUI. DeWitt posted bail for $5,000.

Most people tend to see holidays and occasions as an excuse to drink unlimitedly. After all, who wants to be a spoilsport or a wet blanket?

Unfortunately, there really is no excuse for drinking and driving. Alcohol consumption is a deadly choice not just for the driver but also for his passengers and for other motorists and pedestrians who may just happen to be at the wrong place and at the wrong time.

Fortunately for DeWitt, the authorities were able to keep her in custody even before she can make a fatal mistake that would change so many lives.

Authorities recognize that the only way to drink during the occasion is to have a designated driver who is sober. Going behind the wheel even if you feel you’re fine or just took a couple of drinks is still a risk.

DeWitt knew the risk but still proceeded to drive while under the influence. So now she’s paid ($5,000 bail) and will most likely pay for it with bad publicity and a possible negative impact on her career.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Defective Air Conditioner Starts Fire

Fire accidents are caused by faulty wiring, gas leak, accidental burning and many others. In a fire that occurred in Mission Valley, the incident was caused by a malfunctioning air conditioner.

The fire engulfed a three-story building that began at an empty office room. The fire broke out to the other floors of the building. About 60 to 70 people left the building safely except for one woman.

The woman suffered smoke inhalation as she was leaving the building. She was reportedly fine and out of danger.

Firefighters who responded saw the fire originating from the air conditioner and flames quickly spread throughout the floor then to the building.

What could have been a simple and non life threatening problem escalated into a vast destruction and ruin. Proper maintenance of the air conditioner may have prevented the fire.

The building proprietor or owner is responsible for ensuring that everything under its care is properly functioning.

If the fire was caused by negligence, the person at fault could be sued for property damages. A fire accident attorney could make the filing process easy and clear for the victims.