January 2010 News - The New York Personal Injury Law Blog

The New York Personal Injury Blog

January 2010 Archives

Vets With Combat PTSD May Get More Benefits

Eligible veterans across the country could have the opportunity to become a part of a class-action lawsuit that speaks on behalf of those that are suffering from combat PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder).  

reports that there is a list that consists of 4,300 veterans who may have been denied their benefits when they should have received them. Those veterans are being mailed the information, so they can decide whether or not they would like to join the lawsuit (if they meet the specifications).

Could NY Be Next In Legalizing Medical Marijuana?

Since New Jersey has already done it, perhaps New York will be next for legalizing medical marijuana. reports that Richard Gottfried, a Manhattan Assemblyman, hopes that this is true. Apparently, he has tried to have it passed almost every year; however, he has yet to be successful.  

reports that the bill this year, that Gottfried helped to introduce, may pass. It reads: "The legislature finds that thousands of New Yorkers have serious medical conditions that can be improved by medically-approved use of marijuana. The law should not stand between them and treatment necessary for life and health" (). The bill lists the people who would be eligible to use medical marijuana including people suffering from cancer, H.I.V./ AIDS or arthritis.

NY MTA Cutbacks Effect Riders

In an attempt to save money, the NY MTA (Metropolitan Transportation Authority) is planning on "reducing the eligibility of handicapped and elderly riders." reports that as of now, some riders who are only supposed to be picked up when the weather is extremely cold or hot, are still getting rides. The MTA hopes that by limiting their rides, and enforcing their weather rule, that will help them save money.

Officer Suing After Horse Fall

Another woman has fallen off of a horse, and this time, the victim is an NYPD Mounted Unit cop.

Officer Tara Brzozowski claims that she was "seriously injured" when her horse, Kodiak, stumbled and propelled her off of its back, as reported by the . Allegedly, she was riding Kodiak on a bike path near 12th Avenue and 58th Street when Kodiak tripped on a manhole cover. Her injuries have not been reported in detail.

Family Files Lawsuit Against American Airlines

A New York family is suing American Airlines for the death of their family member.

The New York Post reports that Alicia Marassa, a 74-year-old great-grandmother, was able to make the trip from New York City to Argentina many times without incident; however, on December 6, 2008, Marassa became ill on the flight. Allegedly, it took crew members nearly two hours to realize that Marassa was seriously ill or that something was wrong.

Woman Sues After Horse Injury

Earlier this month, a horse bucked a woman off of its back mid-ride, and now she is suing the stable. Laurie Koffler, 46, was a beginning-level rider who was assigned to Buddy, a gelding at the Dixie Dew Stables in Queens, as reported by the.

reports that the injury occurred in May of 2008. Her New York injury lawyer said that Koffler warned the trail guide that "Buddy was fidgeting as if he didn't want to go for a ride." She claims that after she voiced her concern, the guide "didn't really do anything," and Buddy sprinted until Koffler was off of his back and on the ground.

Men Plan To Sue After Arrested For Coconut Candy

Two men are planning a $2 million lawsuit for, as one of the men puts it: "I spent five days in jail for possession of coconut candy"

reports that Cesar Rodriguez, 33, and Jose Pena, 49. were exiting a bodega when NYPD officers asked if they could search their van. The officers found a bag full of a white candy called crema de coco. After their discovery, the two men were arrested because the officers thought that the candy was crack cocaine.

Woman Suing Mets: Drunk Man Fell On Her

A woman who attended a Mets game in 2007 is suing "the Mets, the beer concession, the union that represents the team's security guards, and one Timothy Cassidy," for the injuries that she sustained during that game.

reports that Ellen Massey, 58, was watching the game at Shea Stadium on April 9 when Cassidy, a 300-pound man, fell on her. Massey said that not only was Cassidy "visibly intoxicated," but he was also "acting in a rowdy, boisterous and dangerous manner for a long period of time," as reported by the . The lawsuit claims that the security guards should have removed Cassidy before he became "unruly, uncoordinated and fell."

EMTs Tell Their Side Of The Story

The two EMTs who were suspended without pay following the death of Eutisha Revee Rennix, 25, are finally telling their side of the story.

The New York Times reports that Melisa Jackson claims that she was on a break with Jason Green when Rennix's colleagues asked them to call an ambulance for her. Ms. Jackson goes on to say that she called her dispatcher at 9:13 a.m. and asked the woman behind the counter questions concerning what was wrong with Ms. Rennix. She states that after she told the dispatcher that Ms. Rennix was pregnant and suffering from abdominal pain, she asked if there was anything else. As the woman was walking away, she added that Ms. Rennix had asthma.

Mother Sues City Over Daughter's Death In Foster Care

Algerlin Willis is planning to file a lawsuit against the city for the death of her daughter, Katherine. While her 15-year-old daughter was in foster care, Willis claims that the woman who was supposed to take care of her daughter, placed her in harms way.

While in Genevieve Bethea's care, the foster mother, Katherine was in a car accident that sadly took her life and the life of Melissa Elhmer-Mirra, 5. The reports that Sheila, Bethea's daughter, drove the car full of 5 foster children into oncoming traffic. She admitted to NYPD officers that she was "smoking crack, using heroin and drinking before loading the van with kids." Sheila Bethea, 45, is facing the criminal charges of manslaughter, assault and child endangerment.

NY Students Sue NYPD For Alleged Abuse

The New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) filed a lawsuit on behalf of five students who claim that they were abused by the NYPD's school safety officers.

The quotes the suit as saying that the officers, "push, shove, grab, punch and strike students." In addition to the NYPD, Mayor Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly are also listed as defendants in the suit.

 

Officers Letting Cops With DUIs Off The Hook

Local activists are demanding harsher penalties for the officers who are arrested for a DUI and their colleagues who give them a "get out of jail free" card. 

In a recent report by the the public learned that out of 10 officers who were anonymously interviewed, they all admitted to turning a blind eye when an off-duty officer was a potential DUI suspect. 

One of the interviewed officers said, "If you can give them a ride home and put their car someplace safe, that's what you do... It's kind of an unwritten rule. You don't jam up another cop unless you have to." 

In what situations do some cops believe that they have to call it in? 

Weight Watchers Files Complaint Against Jenny Craig

Weight Watchers has filed a complaint against Jenny Craig for an allegedly, "false and misleading advertising campaign." The company lodged the complaint at the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.

states that Weight Watchers believes Jenny Craig's current add campaign unfairly compares the two companies. They believe that the commercials in question create the illusion that studies were conducted to compare the effectiveness of each company's weight-loss system. The complaint states that Jenny Craig "chose to make a purported scientific claim by twisting the findings of an irrelevant 10-year-old Weight Watchers study against a new Jenny Craig study, instead of running a head-to-head clinical trial." If this is true, it is a deceptive practice that goes against the standards of biomedical research and misleads the public who would assume that a proper study was done.

Civil Suit Filed Over Chantix Medication

The New York State Supreme Court has received three personal injury claims against Pfizer Inc. for their drug Chantix.

The attorney that is handling the cases claims that the "defendant intentionally, recklessly, and /or negligently concealed, suppressed, omitted, and/or misrepresented the risks, dangers, defects and disadvantages of Chantix."

Their lawyer claims that none of the patients or the doctors were properly told the risks of the drug, which include suicidal thoughts and depression. He also claims that the warnings that were added later are still not enough.

Recall For Bloated Baby Food Packages

The New York company Nurture, Inc. has had to recall some of their baby food over concerns that some of them may be spoiled.

The recall began after a customer spotted some pouches that were swollen. The products that are being recalled from the company include "Happybaby Stage 1 and 2 pouch meals and Happytot Stage 4 meals with expiration dates between November 210 and January 2011" ( The Oregonian).

Man Claims No Memory For $21,000 Charge

Oh what a night.

If only Gerard Wall, 39, could remember it. He claims that everything goes fuzzy after he "agreed to charge his American Express card for a topless bump-and-grind in a private room" at Larry Flynt's Hustler Club.

The New York Daily News reports that when he woke up the next day, his wallet was $80 lighter and his bank account had a staggering amount of charges totaling $21,620.60 on two different credit cards. The lap dance that he remembers getting was only supposed to cost $300.

Strangely enough, the NY Daily News reports that Wall left the club at 10 p.m. after only "two drinks and a mere 90 minutes into his bosom bender." Maybe I'm a novice, but I think that it would be pretty difficult to spend over $20,000 in an hour and a half.

Recall For Some Parkers Farm Products: Listeriosis

A recent recall is affecting Parkers Farm as well as some of their dips and spreads.

CBS 8 News reports that a bacteria was found in some of the products that were made by the Coon Rapids-based Parkers Farm. Some of the products from the company that are being recalled are, "certain peanut butter, cheese, salsa, cream cheese bagel spreads, dips and spreads." 

Thankfully, no illnesses have been reported.

What worried the Minnesota Department of Agriculture was that the bacteria that was found could cause listeriosis.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) explains that listeriosis is a disease that can be particularly harmful to women who are pregnant, newborns, the elderly, and people with weakened immune systems ("How great is the risk for listeriosis?").

Website Gives Voice To Chilled Tenants

In the same footsteps as other power-to-the-people websites like Taxihack.com and HollaBackNY.com, HeatWatchNYC.org allows people to vent about no heat in their vents.

Penny Fearon, the New Yorker that started the site began her crusade to put a chill down the back of any landlord that left their tenants without hot water or heat (New York Daily News).

I like letting my readers know about new websites that could be valuable if you are going through a difficult situation. While none of these websites are a substitute for the authorities or 311, they are an added resource that you can chose to use after you have contacted the proper, and main source for assistance. I also believe that these websites allow people to regain some of their lost confidence by speaking out.

Sexual Harassment Suit Settled

In West New York, NJ, a sexual harassment suit filed by three women has been settled for $142,000. The plaintiffs all worked for the town's Emergency Medical Service (EMS) and they claimed that their supervisor, Edward Monti "sexually harassed each of the individual plaintiffs from time to time against their wishes, will and consent" with "gestures, conduct, words and behavior, which was offensive" (The Jersey Journal).

Instead of going through with the trial, and all of the expenses, the town commissioners decided to settle the case. With this settlement comes the fact that no one will be found at fault.

Woman Cleared Of Hooker Claims

Be careful where you walk at night. Not only because there could be criminals, but because you could be arrested as one.

Monica Gonzalez was walking to the Lutheran Medical Center because her asthma medication wasn't working. At 2:30 a.m. she was stopped by officer Sean Spencer and his partner, and Spencer claimed that he saw her and another woman trying to get "customers" from cars. Spencer also swore that "Gonzalez was carrying a condom and had been arrested before as a hooker" (NY Daily News).

About 6 months later, Gonzalez finally has her name cleared and $35,000 from the city for her troubles. Instead of going through with her personal injury trial, Gonzalez decided to settle and move on (NY Daily News).

Homeowners Allowed To Sue Over Chemical Leaks

Would you be my neighbor? Probably not, if a nearby laboratory had chemical leaks in the past.

Supreme Court Justice Joseph Farneti has given up to 1,000 homeowners the ability to sue the NY lab for property damages.

The AP writes that even though the people believe that the chemical leaks have "reduced their property values and endangered their health," they can only sue for the property.

Whether radioactive tritium, one of the chemicals that was leaked, is a danger to people is still questionable.

Idaho State University has an information page about tritium. It says that "the radioactive decay product of tritium ... cannot penetrate the outer dead layer of human skin." That is encouraging, but if it is inhaled or ingested in a large amount, it could "pose a significant health risk" ("Tritium Information Section").  

Family Sues For Son's Unknown Burial

While one family's search is finally over, they are now on a new mission.

Richard Massey's family had been looking for him ever since he disappeared before Christmas in 2002. Even though they gave the police identifying information and even held a news conference, Massey was buried as an unknown man.

The AP reports that Massey's body was removed from the Hudson river in March of 2003. When Massey was finally identified, his body was exhumed and reburied in Doncaster, but that was after five years of suffering, pain, and unanswered questions.

The lawsuit "accuses the city, the police and medical examiners of negligence and depriving Margaret Massey of the right to bury her son."

Woman Sues Over Pole-Dancing Injury

Many men believe that there is nothing sexier than a woman who can pole dance with confidence and grace. Now how about when a woman is pole-dancing and she falls and hits the floor? Unintentionally. 

When Sue Ann Wee decided to try it out at a Crunch fitness center in Manhattan, she might have thought that what she lacked in experience would be covered by the instructor's help. 

Now instead of all of the right moves, Wee has a New York personal injury attorney, shoulder pain, and a lawsuit. 

EMS Worker Contemplates Suit Over Injury

A former EMS worker is "contemplating suing the city or the boot manufacturer" for a fall that left both of his legs in braces (New York Daily News).

Keith Rock, who was an EMS worker for 22 years, claims that he had trouble with the Pro-Warrington boots while using the stairs and driving.  

The EMT union officials also "blamed the boots for dozens of injuries," which led them to filing a grievance against the FDNY for making the boots a requirement.

As FindLaw explains it, when there is an issue that is making the members of the union unhappy, like a person being fired or a rule that requires the people to wear dangerous boots, the union has to decide whether or not to file a grievance. If it does file a grievance, the union has to be sure that it is not violating its "duty to represent the workers fairly." That means that they filed the grievance without being "arbitrary, discriminatory, or in bad faith" (Unions in the Workplace).   

It's A Bird, It's A Plane, It's A Brick

Oh the weather outside is frightful, especially when it's causing bricks to fall of off certain buildings.

The New York Daily News reports that high winds of more than 50 miles per hour on January 3, were the culprit.

While no one was injured from the falling debris, four homes were evacuated and two others had to have a "protective shed installed before families could return" because of the hazard (New York Daily News).

Is it normal for wind to be able to tear bricks off of a building, especially when the wind is so weak?

I did some research and while it doesn't happen often it is very possible.

Bicycle Rider Suing NYPD For Crash

One bicyclist is fighting back by suing the NYPD. He claims that an officer hit him with his car while he was biking.

The New York Daily News reports that "Michael Molina was cycling... when officer Patrick McKenna hit him with a patrol car."  Luckily, Molina only received scratches and bruises from the collision.

He has hired a New York personal injury lawyer to represent him in his suit. Molina claims that the NYPD officer was driving recklessly and speeding when he "failed to break properly" and collided with Molina's bike.

This is not the first time that an NYPD officer has been accused of reckless driving.  

If the officer was heading to the scene of an accident, could he be erased from blame?

Prisoners "Wish You Were Here": New Postcard Policy

Prisoners in New York might have to face a new policy in the future when it comes to how they can communicate with the outside world.


In Oregon, soon inmates will only be able to write postcards, not letters. This measure is being taken to save money and the time that it takes to read all of the letters. At the start, only the inmates will have to write on postcards, but by spring, the Oregonian reports that this policy will also apply to the people who send the inmates letters


Needless to say, many civil rights advocates are unhappy with the policy which they believe will do more harm than good. 


Could this policy spread to Rikers Island, and if so, isn't it against the prisoner's rights?

NY Teens In Detention Centers Are Fighting Back

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In New York, there is a suit against employees of New York juvenile prisons for unnecessary cruelty towards the youth in their care

 

Along with the employees that are believed to be directly responsible for the abuse, the New York Times names the Office of Children and Family Services for negligence in not providing the teens with the mental health care that they need; the employees are being blamed for the physical pain and the latter is being blamed for the emotional pain.

Since they are in a detention facility, do these teens have any right to have this case filed?