Cerebral Palsy, Dementia Victims Beware Of Shady Stockbrokers


Posted on 30th January 2012 by gjohnson in Uncategorized

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Here is a cautionary tale for anyone who has ever received a malpractice judgment. The case, chronicled in Forbes by lawyer Bill Singer, involved a cerebral palsy victim being defrauded by a stockbroker. 


Ralph Thomas of Baltimore was a broker and financial planner for Harbor Financial, and from February 2004 until July 2010, he worked for Wells Fargo Advisors.

Thomas met a woman, only identified as KL, who was trustee for a $3 million settlement for her daughter, who developed cerebral palsy from injuries she sustained at birth. Thomas, allegedly got KL to transfer the trust to Harbor Financial, according to Forbes.

Then Thomas allegedly did his dirty work. He was accused of stealing $757,000 from the trust account, using the money to pay off his credit cards and other personal bills.

Then , from June 2006 to May 2009, Thomas took out three mortgages in KL’s name on her home. He put that money in her Harbor Bank account, and then allegedly withdrew that money, about $27,000. He was also accused of takingt $100,000 from the  trust account to buy a home.

But that wasn’t all.     

In 2009, the retired LM made Thomas her financial advisor. LM had an 85-year-old sister with dementia, and she and her sister shared money from an annuity, according to Forbes. Thomas allegedly took $75,000 from LM’s accounty, one again using the money to trim his credir card bills.

A federal indictment outlining Thomas’s alleged crimes was handed up last August. He was facing up to 20 years in jail, a $250,000 fine for mail fraud, and forfeiture of $838,000 in funds and luxury items that he had.

But in September, Thomas entered a plea bargain, where he only pleaded guilty to mail fraud. He has to make $838,000 in restitution and forfeit some of his property. And he can’t can’t associate with any firm that’s a member of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), which agreed to his settlement offer to dispose of the allegations pending against him. 

Columnist Bill Singer said that letting Thomas, who he described as a “low life,” just make a settlement — with no admission of wrongdoing — is just wrong.

“Armed with with a fuller understanding of Thomas’s crimes, I re-read FINRA’s self-regulatory case and realized how pathetic Wall Street regulation truly is,” Singer wrote. “Notwithstanding the epic nature of Thomas’s atrocities, FINRA stil felt it okay to accept a settlement that did not require him to admit its charges. Seriously?”

That’s what I would ask myself, about a guy who allegedly robbed a cerebral palsy victim and a woman with dementia.  Seriously?     



Illinois Hospital, Midwife Settle Cerebral Palsy Suit For $9.5 Million


Posted on 16th April 2010 by gjohnson in Uncategorized

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An Algonquin, Ill., family that charged that a hospital was to blame for its son being born with cerebral palsy has settled its malpractice suit for $9.5 million. http://www.chicagobreakingnews.com/2010/04/95m-settlement-in-case-of-boy-born-with-cerebal-palsy.html

A mediator said Thursday that an Elgin hospital, a nurse midwife and the nurse’s employer all agreed to pay the settlement. 

Plaintiff Helen O’Came arrived at Sherman Hospital on Oct. 26, 1996, in labor with her son, Patrick, according to a statement from her attorneys Barry Chafetz, Margaret Power and Shawn Kasserman of Corboy & Demetrio.

When O’Came started experiencing complications, she asked the nurse to summon a doctor. But the nurse failed to get a physician, the mother’s attorneys allege.

Retired Cook County Circuit Court Judge and mediator Daniel Localla agreed to the settlement Thursday.

Jury Awards Florida Mom $10 Million in Cerebral Palsy Lawsuit


Posted on 13th April 2010 by gjohnson in Uncategorized

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 A Florida mother was awarded $10 million in a case where she alleged an ambulance service’s negligence lead to her son getting cerebral palsy. That’s because the ambulance took her to the wrong hospital when she was in labor. http://www.aboutlawsuits.com/cerebral-palsy-lawsuit-birth-in-ambulance-9606/

 The medical malpractice lawsuit had been brought by Margarita Chess of Volusia County, naming as defendants EVAC Ambulance, Bert Fish Medical Center, Halifax Medical Center, Arnold Palmer Hospital in Orlando and two physicians.

 All of the parties except the ambulance service had settled with Chase for $1.4 million before the case when to trial, the Orlando Sentinel reported.

 Chess’s son was premature, born when she was just six months into her pregnancy. As she went into labor in 2003, she was first at Bert Fish Medical Center in New Smyrna Beach. She was then supposed to be transferred and transported by EVAC to Halifax Medical Center. But somehow, the ambulance was instead sent to Arnold Palmer Hospital, more than 50 miles away.

 Chess’s son, Addison Chase, was born on the way to Arnold Palmer.

 The malpractice suit alleged that the infant had trouble breathing after he was born. The paramedics performed CPR, but Addison’s brain was deprived of oxygen. As a result he sustained brain damage, and now has the long-term disabilities of cerebral palsy.      

Health Care Reforms Stymies Caps on Medical Malpractice Damages


Posted on 30th March 2010 by gjohnson in Uncategorized

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President Obama’s health care reform is a triumph for those, like us, who oppose the unfair setting of limits on malpractice awards. We don’t believe that state lawmakers should have the right to tell someone who has lost use of their limbs, or suffered permanent brain damage, that their case is only worth $350,000, or $500,000. Under the law, that should be a jury’s decision, not a legislator’s.

Now, there is more legal backing for our viewpoint, out of Washington. Advocates of setting of caps on malpractice awards against doctors had been lobbying in D.C. for some support for their position as part of the health care changes.

But the overhaul that the president signed into law last week doesn’t address the issue of malpractice-award limits, according to The Wall Street Journal. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703416204575145683793783008.html?mod=googlenews_wsj

Proponents of the caps claim that huge malpractice verdicts have sent the cost of malpractice insurance through the roof in this country.

These advocates also argue that fear of being sued for malpractice is contributing to health-care costs skyrocketing, as physicians take defensive measures such as ordering unnecessary tests and procedures to cover their backs in case they are sued later on http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/27/health/27patient.html?ref=business

Obama’s health care reform marks the third defeat that proponents of medical malpractice limits have suffered in recent weeks. Both the Illinois Supreme Court and the Georgia Supreme Court just tossed out limits in those states, $500,000 and $350,000, respectively.

The Journal pointed out that some malpractice changes did make it into the new health-care legislation. For example, the new law sets aside $50 million for states that try to slash malpractice costs by creating alternatives for trying cases or improving patient safety.

But there is also a provision that lets attorneys for plaintiffs to bypass any alternatives, and instead file suit in state court.

In the Georgia malpractice cap that was overturned, the case involved was that of a woman awarded $1.15 million for pain and suffering she suffered from a botched facelift.

In Illinois, the case led to that state’s malpractice limit being tossed out stemmed from a girl being born with brain damage.

The Journal quoted Theodore Olson, the attorney for the doctor in that case. He said it was hard to understand the notion that the state Legislature couldn’t set limits on damages. Why so?

If a jury of her peers believes a woman deserves $1.15 million because her face was like an open wound after her facelift, who are Georgia lawmakers to say she should only get $350,000?

Hospitals Look At Ways to Curb Errors, Help Staff That Make Mistakes


Posted on 18th March 2010 by gjohnson in Uncategorized

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Hospitals Look At Ways to Curb Errors, Help Staff That Make Mistakes

The Wall Street Journal Tuesday offered an intriguing take on how hospitals are trying to deal with errors by staff – including consoling physicians and doctors who make mistakes. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704588404575123500096433436.html

The story, headlined “New Focus on Averting Errors: Hospital Culture,” leads off by noting that errors by medical staffs lead to the deaths of an estimated 44,000 to 98,000 people a year.

The piece by one of the Journal’s star reporters, Laura Landro, says that hospitals are not only addressing the problem of staff errors but are also “coming up with procedures for handling – and even consoling – staffers who make inadvertent mistakes.”

A government advisory board, the National Quality Forum, has crafted a Care of the Caregiver guide, which has hospitals treating “traumatized staffers” who made errors with patients as if they are patients, too. Those guides even suggest that such staffers take part in the investigation of the error as long as they are not believed to acted recklessly or intentionally.

Noting that sometimes hard to assign blame for an error, the story cites a case that happened at St. Mary’s Hospital in Madison, Wis., four years ago. A nurse, Julie Thao, mistakenly gave a 16-year-old teen, Jasmine Gant, about to give birth an IV with an filled with an epidural pain killer.

The baby was delivered through a Caesarian section, but the mother Gant died. Thao lost her job, and was prosecuted for criminal negligence.

St. Mary’s paid a $1.9 million settlement to dispose of the malpractice suit brought by Gant’s family.

A study on that case that will be published in the April issue of the Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety. That study found that although Thao skirted some safety procedures, there were weak links in the safety guidelines that contributed to her error. That study was also critical of the way St. Mary’s fired Thao.

Eventually, Thao plead guilty to reduced charges of two misdemeanors, and her nursing license was suspended. But Thao, who once considered suicide, got work as a researcher with an official of the National Quality Forum.

Clinical Trial To Study Stem Cells’ Impact on Cerebral Palsy


Posted on 17th February 2010 by gjohnson in Uncategorized

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Can stem cells help damaged brain cells recover? That’s the question that researchers will address in a new clinical trial.

The Medical College of Georgia is looking to find out if stem cells from umbilical cords can help kids with cerebral palsy, according to UPI.

A lack of oxygen to the brain, as well as brain damage, cause cerebral palsy.

The college is touting its study as the first such trial to be approved by the Food and Drug Administration. The research will involve 40 children, 2 to 12. Their parents have core blood stored at the Core Blood Registry in Tucson, Ariz.

There have been studies on animals that indicate that stem cells did help damaged brain cells recover and even replace dead brains cells.

Stem cells, found in umbilical cord blood, change into different kinds of cells around the body.

It remains to be seen if they will provide a real aid to those with cerebral palsy. For more on cerebral palsy go to http://cerebral-palsy-medicalmalpractice.com

Minnesota Sees Record $23.2 Million Malpractice Award In Botched Birth Case


Posted on 12th February 2010 by gjohnson in Uncategorized

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In what appears to be a record verdict in Minnesota for a medical malpractice case, a jury has awarded $23.2 million to a family whose baby suffered numerous complications during her birth, resulting in brain damage and cerebral palsy. http://www.grandforksherald.com/event/article/id/150693/

The verdict came Tuesday in the case stemming from the June 6, 2007 birth of Kylie Rodgers, daughter of Elise Rodgers and Matthew Larson, at Rice Memorial Hospital in Willmar, Minn.

During her delivery Kylie didn’t get enough oxygen, and as a result she now has spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy, neurological problems and seizures. For more on cerebral palsy, click here.

The doctor who delivered the baby, Dr. Gabrielle Olson, had been dropped as a defendant in the case. She was with Affiliated Community Medical Centers (ACMC), and was considered to be acting as an agent of the medical center.

The jury in Kandiyohi Count District Court found that ACMC was 80 percent negligent in the case, and that Rice Memorial was 20 percent negligent.

The malpractice award broke down to $1.7 million for Kylie’s past medical care; $10 million for future care and emotional distress; and $1.5 million for loss of earning capacity.

The ACMC and hospital may appeal the verdict.

The Minnesota Hospital Association said this was the highest award in its memory, with the largest one it was familiar with coming in at $11 million.

Woman’s Family Sues When She Sustains Brain Injury And Dies After Having Teeth Pulled


Posted on 11th February 2010 by gjohnson in Uncategorized

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One of the greatest challenges in a career representing injured people is that it is almost always those with the greatest vulnerabilities, that have the worst results. This story about a woman who had a routine dental procedure which left her with a brain injury, which ultimately killed her, is a perfect example. Clearly this woman’s cerebral palsy made her more vulnerable to something bad happening. The medical and dental professionals involved in this case will likely argue that it was her cerebral palsy which was the problem. But for her cerebral palsy, she wouldn’t have needed the procedure at all. No defense lawyer should ever be allowed to persuade that a vulnerable person is less entitled to justice.

The survivors of a Bronx woman who suffered brain damage, and ultimately died, after having her teeth extracted have filed a wrongful death suit in the case, according to United Press International. http://www.justicenewsflash.com/2010/02/11/ny-woman-suffered-brain-damage-died-teeth-pulled_201002113316.html

The lawsuit was filed by the family of Felita Dowdy, 33, against dentist Dr. Bruce Lish and St. Luke’s Hospital in Manhattan. The case is in the Bronx Supreme Court.

Dowdy had cerebral palsy, and her teeth had rotted. She went to St. Luke’s last July 21 to have her teeth pulled.

But shortly after the extraction, the suit claims, Dowdy went into respiratory arrest and sustained brain damage as a result. She died Oct. 14. The lawsuit also alleges that the pain killers fentanyl contributed to Dowdy’s demise.

According to the story, St. Luke’s offered condolences to the Dowdy family but declined further comment. Lish’s father, dentist Dr. Jerome Lish, in the article said that his son has many disabled patients and wasn’t responsible for Dowdy’s death.