June 2010

Woman Shot During Police Pursuit Sues City of Asheville for North Carolina Personal Injury

June 30, 2010, by Michael A. DeMayo

Mary Wilcox is suing the city of Asheville and its police department for North Carolina personal injury involving use of excessive use of police force. Wilcox was shot in the leg, liver, and spleen during a police pursuit on May 31, 2007 in the Haw Creek neighborhood.

Wilcox was a passenger in the car that Officer Justin Clinard was chasing. According to police, the driver of the car, Larry Julius Wilson, had tried to run over a cop at a housing development. He then allegedly tried to run down another police officer at an apartment complex. That officer started shooting at the vehicle.

Stop sticks were put out on New Haw Creek Road, which blew out at least one of Wilson’s tires. However, he kept driving and allegedly tried to run over another two cops that fired at his car.

While Wilson has pleaded guilty to one count of felony flee to elude arrest, three counts of assault with a deadly weapon on a government official, and a habitual felon charge, Wilcox was never charged with any crime. In her Asheville, North Carolina injury lawsuit, Wilcox is accusing the police officers of negligence for firing their weapons. She is also alleging excessive use of police force and inadequate supervision. Officers Clinard, Brian Hogan, Cheryl Intveld, Stony Gonce, and Chief Bill Hogan are among the defendants named in her Asheville personal injury complaint. Four months after the shooting, Clinard left the police department.

Wilcox is seeking unspecified damages for her shooting injuries.

Police Pursuits
It is important that police officers follow proper procedures and drive carefully even when in the midst of a police pursuit. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, about 360 deaths a year occur because of police chases. Usually, 1/3rd of the victims are innocent bystanders. However, the reality may be much harsher than what these figures portray because not all bystander injuries related to a police chase are documented.

Persons injured during police pursuits, including suspects, may have grounds for a North Carolina injury lawsuit. It was just in 2008 that the city of Asheville paid two families $1.5 million for police chase-related injuries. A truck driver died and his passenger was injured when cops chased him the wrong way on an interstate exit ramp and his vehicle was struck head-on by a car.

Woman injured in Haw Creek police chase shooting files lawsuit, Citizen-Times, June 17, 2010

Deaths lead police to question high-speed chase police, USA Today, April 22, 2010

Related Web Resource:
City of Asheville, NC

Asheville Police Department

Families of Two Parasailing Victims Killed in Ocean Isle Beach Sue for North Carolina Wrongful Death

June 25, 2010, by Michael A. DeMayo

The families of Lorrie Shoup and Cindy Woodcock are suing Ocean Isle Beach Water Sports, North Carolina Water Sports, and owner Barrett McMullan for wrongful death. The two women died during a parasailing accident on August 28.

Woodcock, 60, and Shoup, 55, fell 500 feet into the water off Ocean Isle Beach when the tow rope linking their parachute to the boat snapped. Heavy winds dragged the parachute across the water, causing the women’s bodies to strike the pier and the boat. Autopsy results report that Shoup and Woodcock died from blunt force trauma.

According to their families’ North Carolina wrongful death lawsuit, McMullen and Thomas Povazan, the captain of the boat that was towing the two women, were negligent. The plaintiffs contend that Povazan and the ship’s mate did not give safety instructions to the women before they went parasailing. They also allegedly disregarded the other boat passengers’ pleas to pull the women back down as the winds accelerated. There were kids on the boat that reportedly witnessed the tragic accident.

Also, on the day that the Ocean Isle Beach parasailing accident happened, the National Weather Service had put out a small craft advisory warning boaters on the North Carolina coast that conditions might be dangerous because Tropical Storm Danny was picking up waves and wind. The parasail’s manufacturer had warned not to use its product in winds higher than 12 mph. Winds in the area hit 32 mph on August 28.

The victims’ families are seeking unspecified damages. Meantime, the Coast Guard is investigating the parasailing deaths.

Last year, Ocean Isle Beach Water Sports and NC Watersports filed complaints seeking to remove themselves from North Carolina wrongful death liability or limit any recovery to a $100,000 cap for the women’s parasailing deaths. The cap is the estimated value of the boat that was pulling them when they were fatally injured.

Families sue parasail operator over fatal accident, WRAL, June 24, 2010

Two Parasailing Companies File Complaint to Limit Wrongful Death Liability in Parasailing Accident that Claimed Lives of Two Women, North Carolina Injury Lawyer Blog, October 10, 2009

Family Remembers Parasailing Victim, Digtriad, August 30, 2009

Related Web Resources:
US Coast Guard

Parasailing Tips

5-Month-Old Baby Dies After 911 Calls in Cleveland County, North Carolina

June 20, 2010, by Michael A. DeMayo

Would 5-month-old Allyson Ray Smith be alive today if only someone had responded to all of the six 911 calls made by her family on Friday morning when she stopped breathing? That’s what her family is saying. Now, Cleveland County, North Carolina officials are trying to determine what happened.

The little girl is said to have stopped breathing in her sleep on June 4. At around 4 am, her father began administering CPR and her grandparents, who lived next door, called 911. Smith’s mother, Bonnie Edmondson says that she called the emergency number for help six times but no one would pick up.

While a cell phone tower in Cleveland County did pick up four of the calls, the county’s emergency communication director David Dodd says the 911 dispatcher’s phones never rang, which is why no one answered. He says that this the first time in the more than 30 decades that he has worked for the communication’s office that such a problem has ever happened.

Two of the family’s 911 calls were sent to dispatchers in Rutherford County, located 18 miles away. They notified Cleveland County and 24 hours after the family’s first 911 call, paramedics finally arrived at the family’s home but by then Allyson was dead.

Her cause of death has yet to be determined, although the corner has said that Allyson may have died from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. Autopsy results are still pending. However, Allyson’s family says that if paramedics had arrived sooner, she might still be alive today.

AT & T provide’s Cleveland County’s 911 phone network.

North Carolina Wrongful Death
There may be more than one party who should be held liable for a loved one’s Cleveland County wrongful death. Who you can sue will depend on the specifics of your case. A good way to ensure that you pursue all avenues of recovery is to explore your legal options by talking to a North Carolina wrongful death law firm. Negligent parties do not have to directly have caused a death to be considered financially liable for your loved one’s accidental passing.

Family says baby died after 911 calls went unanswered, WCNC, June 8, 2010

911 calls went unanswered in Cleveland Co. baby’s death, Charlotte Observer, June 9, 2010

Related Web Resources:
American SIDS Institute

Wrongful Death Claims, Nolo

Hickory, North Carolina Personal Injury: Collapse of Church Ceiling Sends 12 to the Hospital

June 15, 2010, by Michael A. DeMayo

12 people were injured on Sunday when a section of the Friendship Missionary Baptist Church collapsed during service. Fortunately, non of the injuries were fatal and all of the North Carolina injury victims were treated and released. At least 150 people were at service when the ceiling collapsed.

However, now Catawba County building inspectors are testing the ceiling material to check for asbestos. The Friendship Missionary Baptist Church was built in 1958, which, according to the Hickory Daily Record, a the primary year that asbestos was in use.

Asbestos Exposure
Exposure to asbestos can be dangerous to a person’s health. Asbestos fibers that are inhaled can get trapped in the lungs, which can cause inflammation, scarring, lung cancer, mesothelioma, other forms of cancer, asbestosis, pleural disorders, lung disorders, and even death. People who are constantly around asbestos, either through work or their environment, are the ones at higher risk of developing an asbestos-related illness. However, family members of people that are heavily exposed to asbestos have also been know to contract asbestos-related illnesses through secondary exposure.

Even if no asbestos is found in the ceiling, the church may still decide to remove the ceiling to ensure that a similar collapse accident doesn’t happen in the future. Ceiling and wall collapses can lead to serious head injuries, neck injuries, back injuries, and even death for persons that are hit by failing debris.

Property owners are supposed to make sure there are no hazardous conditions on a premise that can cause serious North Carolina personal injuries or death. Negligent property owners can be held liable for Hickory premises liability or wrongful death.

Church ceiling to be tested for asbestos, HickoryRecord, June 15, 2010

Asbestos possibly present at church where ceiling collapsed, Charlotte Observer, June 15, 2010

Related Web Resources:
Friendship Missionary Baptist Church in Hickory

Premises Liability Overview, Justia

Chapel Hill, North Carolina Nursing Home Under Investigation Following Patient’s Death

June 7, 2010, by Michael A. DeMayo

North Carolina officials are investigating Britthaven of Chapel Hill for possible wrongdoing related to the administration of strong-pain control drugs to Alzheimer’s patients. Nine residents tested positive for these medications, including opiates, which they weren’t supposed to be taking. Six of the Alzheimer’s patients were taken to NC Hospitals. One of the patients, 84-year-old Rachel Holliday has died.

Police say they are trying to determine whether over-medication occurred.
The State Bureau of Investigation and the Medicaid Investigations Unit of the Attorney General’s Office are overseeing the investigation.

According to experts, North Carolina nursing home neglect and abuse is a serious issue of concern at assisted living facilities that house dementia and Alzheimer’s presents. One reason for this is that some nursing homes may practice chemical restraint, which involves using medication to control residents’ behavior. Sometimes, a patient may be treated with antipsychotic drugs merely because he or she is exhibiting problem behavior, such as wandering, aggression, or shouting at people, even though he/she doesn’t have a medical condition that merits the medications’ use.

Prescription drug abuse involving unnecessary, anti-psychotic meds can cause strokes and even kill elderly residents. Overmedicating a patient or making him/her take prescription meds for no other reason than control can be grounds for a Chapel Hill nursing home negligence lawsuit.

Britthaven runs 33 nursing homes in the state. While four of the assisted living facilities received top ranking from Medicare’s 5-star nursing home rating system, 12 of them, including Britthaven, earned no more than two stars. Over the years, a number of nursing home nursing home negligence lawsuits have been filed against the Chapel Hill assisted living facility. The long-term care facility was sued for North Carolina wrongful death after a patient who had been restrained died.

State launches criminal probe of Chapel Hill nursing home, WRAL, February 19, 2010

Doctors Say Medication Is Overused in Dementia, NY Times, June 24, 2008

Related Web Resources:
Dementia Patients On Antipsychotic Meds At Risk, Medicine.net

North Carolina Division of Aging and Adult Services

Britthaven of Chapel Hill

Dangerous Drug Lawsuit: Jury Orders Pfizer to Pay $38.4 Million To Breast Cancer Survivor Who Used Hormone Replacement Drugs

June 1, 2010, by Michael A. DeMayo

Last month, a jury ruled against Pfizer in the dangerous drug lawsuit filed by a breast cancer survivor who used the hormone replacement drugs Prempro, Premarin, and Provera. The verdict in favor of plaintiff Donna Kendall: $28 million in punitive damages and $6.3 million in compensatory damages.

The 66-year-old woman was diagnosed with breast cancer after taking Provera and Prempro for 11 years. According to the civil jury, the three drugs contributed to causing Kendall’s breast cancer. Jury members also found that Pfizer failed to adequately warn consumers about the dangers linked to using the hormone replacement medications.

This dangerous drug verdict comes just one month after another jury ordered Wyeth Pharmaceuticals, now owned by Pfizer, to pay $75 million to a woman because she developed breast cancer after taking Prempro. Connie Barton took the hormone drug from 1997 until 2002 when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Barton underwent a mastectomy to remove her left breast to combat the disease. She says she started taking Prempro because her doctor told her it could prevent dementia and heart disease.

Prempro and Premarin are used to treat menopause. The drugs are used by millions of Americans women who have menopause. They were told that using the HRTs could prevent major illnesses. Provera is used to treat secondary amenorrhea, abnormal uterine bleeding, and endometrial hyperplasia.

However, recent findings have linked Premarin and Prempro to breast cancer, ovarian cancer, stroke, and cardiovascular disease. Plaintiffs have filed some 13,000 products liability lawsuits against Pfizer claiming the hormone replacement drugs caused cancer and other issues.

Cancer is a serious illness. If a pharmaceutical drug caused your cancer, you may be able to obtain dangerous drug compensation from the negligent pharmaceutical company that manufactured the drug and/or failed to tell you about the associated risks.

Pfizer Ordered to Pay $34.3 Million in HRT Lawsuit, MedPage Today, November 24, 2009

Menopause, as Brought to You by Big Pharma, NY Times, December 12, 2009

Related Web Resources:

Hormone Replacement Therapy, Medline Plus


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