Florida Man Suffered TBI, Was Paralyzed In Crash: When Will He Get His $10.75 Million Award?


Posted on 20th February 2012 by gjohnson in Uncategorized

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Florida’s law regarding caps on jury awards is disgracefully flawed.

Just consider the case of a Sunrise, Fla., man who sustained severe brain injury, and was paralyzed, in a crash 14 years ago.  His family has been trying to get his judgment of $10.75 million approved for four years now, according to The Ledger of Florida.  


You see, under the law in the Sunshine State lawmakers have to sign off on judgments against the government that are more than $200,000. And Eric Brody’s case involved a public official: a Broward County sheriff’s deputy, according to The Ledger.

Brody, 32, was paralyzed and must now use a wheelchair — and suffered traumatic brain injury — when he was struck by the officer’s car in 1998.  

Last week a subcommittee of the Florida House passed 16 “claims bills,” meaning they reviewed the cases of plaintiffs who were killed or hurt in incidents involving police officers, bus drivers and other public employees, The Ledger reported. And Brody’s case was one of those approved.

In the case of Brody’s family, they have been coming to Florida legislators for the last four years, without having their claims bill aproved. But now the family has at least two lawmakers on their side: Rep. Marty Kiar and Senate President Mike Haridopolos.

Kiar was apparently part of the subcommittee that voted in favor of Brody getting his $10.76 million award, and Haridopolos told The Ledger that getting the Brody family its money was one of his priorities this year.

But there’s still several catches before Brody can get his $10 million award.

“A discrepancy between the House and Senate over caps on fees for lawyers and lobbyists will have to be ironed out,” The Ledger wrote of one of them.

Why should a plaintiff such as Brody have to go through hoops to get the award a jury believes he deserves?

It’s absurd that Brody and his family have to wait for their money.



Two Brain Injury Verdicts Make Top 10 List For 2011


Posted on 21st January 2012 by gjohnson in Uncategorized

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Lawyers USA’s list of the Top 10 Jury Verdicts in 2011 includes two cases involving traumatic brain injury, with one of them regarding Botox.  

The unusual Botox case resulted in a $212 million award against Allergan, which makes Botox, by a federal jury in Virginia last April. The sad part is that Virginia has a state cap on punitive damages, which could knock down the jury’s $200 million in punitive damages to just $350,000, according to Lawyers USA.


The Botox case involved Douglas Ray Jr., 67, who had developed hand tremors ever since his return from Vietnam. Ray’s doctor told him to get Botox treatments for his hand. After his third visit and injection, Ray first got a rash, then appeared to be confused and eventually sustained brain damage, according to Lawyers USA. Now he can’t walk, talk or feed or dress himself.

Ray’s lawsuit charged that Allergan failed to warn him about the risks of Botox. In Ray’s case, apparently the active ingredient in Botox —  botulinum toxin type A, made from botulism — moved from his arm muscle to his bloodstream and traveled to his brain.      

Botox doesn’t have Food and Drug Administration approval to be used to treat hand tremors, according to Lawyers USA. In fact, last year Allergan forked over $600 million in fines for marketing Botox for off-label uses.

The second case on Lawyers USA’s Top 10 List involving brain damage was a $144 million verdict for the birth of a baby who developed cerebral palsy. The lawsuit involved the botched birth of Kimberly VanSlembrouck’s daughter at William Beaumont Hospital in Michigan. It  charged that her baby should have undergone a Caesarian, not a vaginal, birth.


According to Lawyers USA, VanSlembrouck had gained a lot of weight during her pregnancy, and her doctor should not have risked her doing a vaginal birth. Markell, the newborn girl, suffered serious injuries coming through the birth canal, including three brain hemorrhages, Lawyers USA reported. She was purple with bruises.

The hospital did testing on Markell after she was born, and found that she had abnormal brain development, which it later blamed on a genetic condition called pontocerebellar hypoplasia.   

After being in intensive care for three weeks, doctors determined that Markell had cerebral palsy secondary to birth trauma, according to Lawyers USA.   

The girl is a 15-year-old now, and can’t walk or talk. She needs 24/7 care and assistance doing everything from eating to dressing.

After a three-week trial, the Michigan jury granted the $144 million award. It looks like it didn’t buy the hospital’s gambit that Markell’s medical problems were genetic.

The ‘Choking Game’ The Latest Fad For Parents To Lose Sleep Over


Posted on 26th January 2010 by gjohnson in Uncategorized

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I spend my entire career trying to get justice for those who have suffered brain damage because of the wrongful conduct of others. How frustrating for me as a lawyer, how scary for me as a parent to read about the latest phenomenon among our young people. The so-called “choking game” has become such a concern that newspapers across the country have been writing about it, including The New York Times and The Star-Ledger of Newark. N.J., last week.

Although the choking game may be a mystery to you, it may not be one to your kids, as The Times points out in its story, http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/23/health/research/22choke.html?scp=1&sq;=brain%20damage&st;=cse.

The practice, which can lead to brain damage, is also know as “pass out” or “space monkey,” according to the Ledger’s story, http://www.nj.com/parenting/lee_lusardiconnor/index.ssf/2010/01/the_choking_game_should_you_question_your_kids.html.

In the choking game pressure is applied to the neck, by oneself using a belt or scarf, or someone else doing it. The brain’s lack of oxygen leads to a euphoria or “high” for the person being strangled. Some go so far as to seek to become unconscious, because when they come to they get another high.

But it can be a deadly game at the very worse, and cause brain damage at the worse. The “game” has been blamed dozens of adolescent deaths across the country, according to The Times.

A new statewide survey, from Oregon, sparked the recent press coverage of the phenomenon. The rather astounding results published by The Times were that one in three eighth graders in Oregon have heard of the choking game, and 1 in 20 have taken part in it. Youths in rural areas were more likely to have tried it.

The not-so-fun choking game has caused an estimated 82 deaths from 1995 to 2007, according to s survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, The Times reported. Most of those deaths were of males 11 to 16 years.