November 2009

Family Considers Filing North Carolina Wrongful Death Lawsuit After Mental Patient Suffers Fatal Overdose

November 25, 2009, by Michael A. DeMayo

The family of Jefferey Scott Swaim is considering filing a North Carolina wrongful death lawsuit against Cherry Hospital. Swaim, 40, was found unconscious on a Greyhound bus two hours after he was discharged from the mental hospital.

According to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Chapel Hill, Swaim died on July 16 from acute Fentanyl poisoning. Autopsy results show that the amount of Fentanyl he had in his blood was two times more than what is considered toxic. Goldsboro hospital had prescribed the pain patch to Swaim. Fentanyl, the medication’s active ingredient, has been linked to hundreds of overdose deaths in the US.

Swain’s death is the 11th “questionable” fatality linked to the mental hospital since 2003. In 2008, Cherry’s Medicare and Medicaid certification was revoked after patient Steven H. Sabock choked on his meds, struck his head, and than sat in a chair for almost a day without being medically treated, fed, or given anything to drink.

Swaim began his stay at the state mental hospital on July 3. He wanted the hospital to treat his suicidal thoughts and alcohol abuse. He suffered from acute pancreatitis and uncontrollable mood swings. When the hospital discharged him, they gave him two Fentanyl patches.

When his mother went to the bus station to pick him up, she found him slumped in a bus seat. He wasn’t breathing. Doctors discovered one of the pain patches in his mouth.

Medical Malpractice
A medical provider can be held liable for North Carolina medical malpractice if a patient is given the wrong drug or the wrong dose of a drug. The drug manufacturer can also be held liable if it is considered a dangerous drug that unnecessarily causes injury or death. Just last year, a Florida jury awarded one family $13.3 million because her mother died from a Fentanyl overdose. The defendant in that dangerous drug case was Johnson & Johnson, which manufacturers the Duragesic fentanyl pain patch. Fentanyl is also available under a number of generic labels.

Overdose killed mental patient, News & Observer, November 24, 2009

Fentanyl Pain Patch Wrongful Death Lawsuit Results in $13.3 Million Verdict, About Lawsuits, October 30, 2008

Related Web Resources:

Cherry Hospital

Dangerous Drug Lawsuit: Man Claims Diabetes Drug Avandia Caused Heart Attack

November 19, 2009, by Michael A. DeMayo

A 58-year-old man has filed a dangerous drug lawsuit against GlaxosmithKline because he says that the medication Avandia caused his heart attack. Kenneth L. Bryan had taken the prescription drug for his diabetes.

In his personal injury lawsuit, Bryan claims that he suffered a heart attack two years after he started taking Avandia. As a result, he says he has had to undergo multiple angioplasties, four bi-pass surgeries, and other procedures.

Bryan contends that Avandia is an unreasonably dangerous and defective prescription drug. He is accusing drug maker Glaxo of knowing about the dangerous side effects associated with Avandia. Bryan says Glaxo breached the implied warranty of fitness and caused his injuries. Bryan is not the only person to have filed an Avandia lawsuit against GlaxoSmithKline.

Other injuries and side effects that have been associated with the prescription drug include:

• Allergic reaction
• Weight gain
• Inflamed sinuses
• Congestive heart failure
• Severe allergic reaction
• Stroke
• Bone fractures
• Death

Some 4 million people took Avandia in the US in 2006. The following year, the Food and Drug Administration said that clinical trial results indicated that Avandia can increase heart attack risk by more than 40% and the number of deaths associated with heart disease by over 60%.

Drug manufacturers are not supposed to make dangerous drugs that can injure or kill users. Unfortunately, there are a number of popular drugs made by renowned pharmaceutical companies that continue to injury, health complications, and death.

In another recent Avandia lawsuit, 98 people claim they sustained serious injuries after using Avandia to treat their type 2 diabetes mellitus. The plaintiffs contend that until the medication’s label was changed on August 14, 2007, GlaxoSmithKline did not properly warn that use of the popular diabetes drug could increase the chance of heart failure. In November 2007, the label was modified again to warn that Avandia could cause myocardial ischemia.

Arkansas man claims diabetes drug caused heart attack, The Record, November 19, 2009

Same pair of lawyers gather another 90 plaintiffs in suit over Avandia, The Record, November 19, 2009


Related Web Resources:


North Carolina Wrongful Death Lawsuit Names City of Morganton and Three Officers as Defendants

November 16, 2009, by Michael A. DeMayo

The sister of a man who died after being Tasered in 2007 is suing the city of Morganton and three Department of Public Safety officers for his North Carolina wrongful death. Pamela Carroll wants the case to go to trial.

Her brother, Donald Grant Clarke, sustained brain injuries when he fell into a concrete porch after the officers Tasered him. According to Carroll’s wrongful death complaint, Capt. Richard Brendle, Sgt. Charles William Perry, and Officer Justin Lerch violated Taser use standards and Morganton’s Taser policy when the stun gun was used on Clark, who they did not actually see commit any crime. Carroll also claims that the men used the stun guns offensively and not defensively.

Per Carroll’s North Carolina wrongful death lawsuit, a neighbor of Clarke’s contacted police on October 13, 2007 and reported that Clarke had made threats to him. When Davis arrived in response to the call, Clarke had already gone home. The person who called authorities did not request that they arrest his neighbor.

Video footage, however, shows Perry and Lerch using their Taser on Clarke, who asked them why they were at his residence. Clarke did not go into his home even though police directed him to do so. The lawsuit contends that the officers Tasered him on the back as he was going back to home’s elevated porch.

Davis filed a police report noting that Clarke made threats to the cops, who decided to arrest him for making threats, and obstructing, delaying, and resisting arrest. Davis says the officers used their Tasers on Clarke because he resisted arrest. No criminal charges were filed against the officers over the incident

Taser Injury Lawsuits
While many police officers throughout the US are authorized to use Tasers in certain situations, there have been concerns over the number of injuries that have occurred because cops opted to Taser someone. In certain incidents, Tasers have been known to cause electrical injuries, dart entry wounds, eye injuries, cardiac arrest, miscarriage, and death.

Tasers have also been linked to excessive use of force by certain police officers. Any kind of police brutality, whether verbal, physical, psychological, or emotional, is illegal.

Lawsuit: officers responsible for death, Morganton, November 15, 2009

After the Zap: Taser Injuries and How to Treat Them, National Commission on Correctional Healthcare

Related Web Resources:
Police study Taser policy, Winston-Salem Journal, November 1, 2009

Taser Inc.

Products Liability: Two Families Sue for Wrongful Deaths of Loved Ones Fatally Burned While Wearing Flammable Bathrobes

November 6, 2009, by Michael A. DeMayo

Last month, two wrongful death lawsuits were filed by plaintiffs whose loved ones died tragically when the chenille bathrobes they were wearing caught fire. Bathrobe manufacturer Blair Corp. is the defendant named in both complaints.

Atwilda Brown, was making tea when the catastrophic accident happened. She called 911 for help but died from her injuries. The cause of death on her death certificate is “from clothing catching on fire,” says her daughter Sharon Davis. Brown’s family is suing the clothing manufacturer for $30 million.

In another tragic burn accident, 81-year-old Evelyn Roguff and her 83-year-old husband Murray died when the sleeve of the robe she was wearing caught fire on the electric burner of her stove. Murray was burned while trying to save her. The couple would have been married 50 years by now. Their family is suing Blair Corp. for $1.9 million.

At least nine deaths have been linked to the flammable bathrobes. Most of the victims were older people. Five of the people that died were women. In the last seven months, 300,000 of the Blair Corp. robes have been recalled over safety concerns.

Clothing must meet specific safety standards. Defects can lead to tragic accidents, including choking accidents, strangulation accidents, and burn accidents.

All clothing sold in the US must meet the requirements of the Flammable Fabrics Act. Highly flammable clothing can prove tragic for the person wearing the dangerous fabric. Highly flammable clothing that causes North Carolina injury or death is a products liability.

Bathrobe company sued in deaths of elderly Oceanside couple, October 28, 2009

Family Sues over Connecticut Woman’s Bathrobe Fire Death, Insurance Journal, October 30, 2009

Related Web Resources:
Blair Expands Recall To All Women’s Chenille Apparel Due to Burn Hazard; Additional Reported Deaths Prompt Re-Announcement of Robe Recall, CPSC, October 22, 2009

Flammable Fabrics Act

Raleigh Motorcyclist Dies Following North Carolina Injury Accident

November 3, 2009, by Michael A. DeMayo

The Raleigh man who was injured in a hit-and-run North Carolina traffic accident has died. Michael Stegler was 49. The Raleigh motorcycle accident happened on October 2 when Stegler’s motorcycle was struck by a van that did not stop at the crash site.

Police later identified Jack W. Stith II as the hit and run driver. He is charged with failing to stop at a crash site.

2008 Motorcycle Data, NHTSA:

• 5,290 US motorcyclist deaths
• 77% of the motorcycles were hit from the front.
• 7% were struck from the back.
• 25% of motorcycles involved in deadly accidents collided with nonmoving objects.
• 19% collided with passenger cars.
• 4% were involved in large truck crashes.
• 14% were in crashes with light trucks.
• 96,000 motorcyclist injuries.
• 2,554 motorcycles involved in these fatalities collided with another kind of motor vehicle.
• 159 North Carolina motorcycle rider deaths.
• 115 South Carolina motorcycle rider fatalities.

Nationally last year, there were 2% more motorcyclist deaths than the 5,174 motorcyclist fatalities that occurred in 2007. And according to the US Department of Transportation’s Fatality Analysis Reporting, there has been a 150% increase in motorcycle fatalities over the past decade (In 1997, 2,116 people were killed in US motorcycle crashes). This is unfortunate for motorcyclists and their passengers, who are prone to catastrophic injuries during motorcycle accidents.

For the first time since 1981 when it issued the Hurt Report, the Federal Highway Administration is going to conduct a study about what causes motorcycle crashes and how to stop them from happening.

Motorcycle rider struck in Hilltop hit-run dies, The Columbus Dispatch, October 15, 2009

Motorcycles, 2008 Traffic Safety Facts, NHTSA (PDF)

Federal Government To Study Motorcycle Crash Causation, Chicago Now, October 9, 2009

Related Web Resources:
The Hurt Report



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