September 2010

Family Files North Carolina Wrongful Death Lawsuit Over Inmate Who Was Tasered While in Jail

September 30, 2010, by Michael A. DeMayo

The family of Ronald Eugene Cobbs is suing the Guilford County Sheriff’s Office and Prison Health Services for his North Carolina wrongful death. Cobbs, 38, died on August 19, 2009 after he was shocked with a Taser while in the Guilford County Jail. Cobb’s wife, Tricolia Cobbs, is accusing the defendants of using excessive force. She is seeking triple damages under North Carolina’s Wrongful Death Act.

Cobbs was behind bars waiting for his criminal trial on robbery with a dangerous weapon, kidnapping, and a probation violation when he got into a dispute with a guard. MyFox8 reported that the altercation happened when a detention officer tried to recover alleged contraband from Cobbs’s cell. The sheriff’s office claimed that Cobbs assaulted the officer and resisted arrest, which was why he was restrained with a Taser and physical force. Soon after Cobbs was handcuffed and shackled and taken to the nurse, he fell unconscious. He was pronounced dead at the hospital.

Cobbs family claims that not only were their insufficient medical tools available to treat someone who had been shocked with a 50,000-volt Taser at the jail, but also, staff members there were inadequately trained to provide Cobbs with the necessary medical care.

Autopsy results could not confirm Cobbs’ cause of death. The report says that he may have died from respiratory arrest or cardiac arrhythmia and he may have been suffering from an underlying cardiac disease. The struggle with a deputy could have been a triggering factor for either condition.

Excessive Use of Police Force
Police and other law enforcement officers must never use more force than necessary to apprehend, arrest, restrain, or guard someone. North Carolina excessive use of force or police brutality is a violation of the victim’s civil rights and can cause Charlotte, North Carolina personal injury or wrongful death. Do not be afraid to report any incidents of North Carolina police brutality to the authorities or to a Charlotte, North Carolina personal injury law firm.

N.C. family files lawsuit over jailhouse Taser death, and Record, September 30, 2010

Guilford Inmate Dies After Being Tasered, MyFox, August 19, 2009

Related Web Resources:

Are Tasers Overused?, CBS News, September 23, 2010

Taser International

Guilford County Sheriff’s Office

North Carolina Sex Abuse Lawsuit Filed Against Bishop Eddie Long

September 27, 2010, by Michael A. DeMayo

A North Carolina sexual abuse lawsuit has been filed against Bishop Eddie Long, the senior pastor of the New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Georgia. The complaint was filed in Huntsville where the Long runs New Birth Charlotte, a satellite church. He is an outspoken critic of gay marriages. The plaintiff, 22-year-old Spencer LeGrande, is the fourth person to sue Long.

According to LeGrande (a New Birth Charlotte church member), Long gave him a sleeping aid, fondled him, and coerced him into having sex during a trip to Africa in 2005 when he was 17. LeGrande also claims that Long persuaded him that having a sexual relationship was part of having a healthy spiritual life.

Three other males are also suing Long. Two of the men, now 21 and 20, say that Long seduced them with money, cars, clothes, jewelry, international travel, and access to celebrities when they were 18- and 17- year old members of the Baptist church.

Long has denied all allegations.

Child Sex Abuse by Religious Leaders
The sexual abuse of young people by priests, pastors, and other religious leaders has caused injuries and trauma to its victims. Sexual abuse of any kind committed by anyone is a crime. The victim may be entitled to North Carolina personal injury compensation from the assailant and/or from those that helped cover up the abuse.

While the topic of sexual abuse by religious leaders was a taboo that was concealed by church officials for years, in the last decade, hundreds of victims have begun stepping forward to accuse their assailants and seek damages.

In a clergy sex abuse complaint that has made national headlines, a deaf man is suing Pope Benedict, who used to be called Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, for failing to take action against Father Lawrence C. Murphy, the former headmaster of St. John’s School for the Deaf. Murphy allegedly molested 200 boys, including the victim. Many of the alleged sex abuse incidents with Murphy reportedly took place in the victims’ beds in the school dormitories.

North Carolina Man Suing Bishop Eddie Long, Digtriad, September 25, 2010

Questions Have Long Surrounded Accused Minister, NPR, September 27, 2010

Bishop Eddie Long Hit With Lawsuit, Two Men Claim He Coerced Them Into Sex, September 22, 2010

Pope Named in Lawsuit by Clergy Sex Abuse Victim, Politics Daily, September 23, 2010

Related Web Resources:
New Birth Charlotte

New Birth Missionary Baptist Church

$21 Million Stevens-Johnson Syndrome Verdict Awarded to Woman Who Took Anti-Inflammatory Drug Sulindac

September 22, 2010, by Michael A. DeMayo

A federal jury has awarded Karen Bartlett a $21 million products liability award against Mutual Pharmaceutical Company. The 51-year-old woman developed Stevens-Johnson syndrome (SJS) after taking Sulindac, an anti-inflammatory medication that is the generic version of Clinoril.

Bartlett took Sulindac in 2005 for her shoulder pain. Two weeks later, she developed a reaction on her face. She would go on to be diagnosed with SJS and Toxic Epidermal Necrolysis (TEN). Because 65% of her skin was damaged, Bartlett spent 112 days in a hospital burn unit. She is now blind and has sustained permanent injuries to her stomach, throat, and lungs. In her dangerous drug lawsuit, Bartlett accused the pharmaceutical company of failing to adequately warn about the potential side effects that Sulindac can have on her skin.

Stevens Johnson Syndrome
SJS is a rare, sometimes deadly autoimmune disease that can occur because of drug reactions and allergies. The disease can cause serious skin burns, rashes, loss of skin, and the skin condition Toxic Epidermal Necrolysis. SJS can also cause damage to mucus membranes—affecting areas such as the mouth, eyes, nose, or vagina—and internal organs. A person suffering from SJS can develop deadly infections, such as bacteremia or sepsis.

Recovery from SJS is a long and painful process. Patients usually end up in the ICU or a Burn Unit for a time.

SJS is usually a result of an adverse drug reaction. Bacterial infections and over-the-counter drugs are also possible causes of SJS.

The Food and Drug Administration now requires that non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) come with a “black box” warning listing serious side effects, such as Stevens-Johnson syndrome.

SJS Lawsuit Garners Victim $21 Million, Salient News, September 20, 2010

Related Web Resources:
Sulindac Side Effects,

Stevens-Johnson Syndrome, MayoClinic

Toxic Epidermal Necrolysis

DePuy ASR Hip Replacement Products Recalled

September 16, 2010, by Michael A. DeMayo

DePuy Orthopaedics, Inc., a Johnson and Johnson unit, is recalling its ASR Hip Resurfacing Systems and ASR XL Acetabular Hip Replacement products. ASR Hip Resurfacing Systems is a partial hip replacement product, and ASR XL Acetabular Hip Replacement is a total hip replacement system. Some 93,000 patients around the world have been implanted with one of these medical devices.

The recall comes in the wake of information from the National Joint Registry (NJR) of England and Wales noting that within five years of the original hip replacement procedure involving one of these products, 1 in 8 patients had to undergo a second procedure known as revision surgery. Considering that many hip replacement patients tend to be older and may be suffering from other health issues, undergoing even one surgery can be tough and can result in complications. To have to undergo a second surgery can take an even greater toll on a patient’s health, as well as cause additional pain and suffering.

Although DePuy Orthopaedics has said that it will cover medical expenses, testing, and monitoring related to the recall, it is not known at this time what the company won’t be covering and whether patients will receive medical payments in a timely manner.

Your orthopedic surgeon can help you determine how well your ASR hip implant is working and whether you need to undergo a second surgery.

Signs of a possible problem with your ASR hip implant:

• Difficulty walking
• Pain when walking
• High level of microscopic metal particles around your hip (a blood test can help determine this)
• Dislocation of the implant
• Swelling

It is important that you contact the Law Offices of Michael A. DeMayo to find out if you have grounds for a North Carolina defective medical devices case.

Related Web Resources:
ASR™ Hip System Recall Guide, DePuy

DePuy Orthopaedics

National Joint Registry (NJR)

Mother Dies in North Carolina Fall Accident From Dorm Bunk Bed While Visiting Daughter at UNC-Chapel Hill

September 13, 2010, by Michael A. DeMayo

The mother of a 19-year-old UNC-Chapel Hill student died last month from a fatal head injury she sustained during a fall from her daughter’s dorm room bunk bed. The bed did not have safety rails. Donna Sykes was 49.

Donna was reportedly helping her daughter Jesse, who has cerebral palsy, adjust to dorm life. Jesse did not have a roommate.

According to campus officials, students have the option of elevating the beds anywhere from three inches off the ground to close to 6 ½ feet when they move into a dorm room. The beds don’t come with rails, but students can request them. Now, however, school officials are considering making the bed rails a requirement. Since Donna’s Chapel Hill fall accident, the university has received dozens of requests for the optional attachments.

According to the, one college junior, Matt Wilding, says that his bed became wobbly and unstable when he tried to elevate it to the highest height possible at the beginning of the semester. He ended up lowering the bed almost a foot so that it was raised enough that he could fit his desk and fridge underneath. Wilding says he wasn’t even aware that bedrails were an option.

According to housing director Larry Hicks, Donna Sykes’ death was the first one resulting from a bunk bed fall at the university and that in the last decade, only a handful of students have been hurt in North Carolina fall accidents from the dorm beds. Safety consultant Mark Briggs says, also in, that most fall accidents from dorm bunk beds happen because students were playing around, drunk, or having sex.

North Carolina Fall Accidents

If you or someone you love was injured in a North Carolina fall accident on someone else’s property, you may have grounds for a Chapel Hill, North Carolina personal injury case if negligence on the premise owner’s party contributed to allowing the accident to happen. If a defective or poorly designed product was involved, you also may have grounds for a North Carolina products liability case against a manufacturer.

Fall accidents—especially ones from elevated heights, can cause broken bones, spinal cord injuries, traumatic brain injuries, and even wrongful death.

UNC fields bedrail requests after deadly fall from bunk, NewsObserver, September 11, 2010

Woman’s fatal fall from dorm bunk prompts calls for bed rails, WBTV/WTVM, September 10, 2010

Related Web Resources:
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Head Injury, emedicinehealth

North Carolina Police Brutality: Inmate Wins $10,000 Personal Injury Settlement Over Alleged Pepper Spray Abuse

September 8, 2010, by Michael A. DeMayo

Prison inmate Bill Rayburn will receive a $10,000 North Carolina personal injury settlement from the state over alleged incidents of pepper spray abuse. State officials say that they are not admitting liability by settling. Rather, they are reaching a compromise over the dispute. However, earlier, the North Carolina Department of Correction had determined that employees involved in the alleged incidents were in violation of the use-of-force policy. As a result, several employees were disciplined and a top administrator was replaced.

Per the use-of-force policy, guards can use pepper spray for self-defense or to hinder inmates that are behaving in a threatening, violent, or aggressive manner. Inmates should then immediately be allowed to wash off the chemicals from the spray.

Rayburn claims that he was sprayed on four occasions last year at Lanesboro Correctional Institution and that the policy was not followed. For example on January 13, 2009, correction officers allegedly doused him and his bed with the spray, which contains hot peppers and can be extremely painful, after he called for help following a panic attack.

In Rayburn’s North Carolina excessive use of force complaint, he says that a female guard sprayed his genitals and that more than one can of pepper spray was used on him. The guards then allegedly left him on the shower floor and he was unable to wash the painful chemicals off until the next shift of prison guards arrived.

Rayburn is now at a new prison.

North Carolina Police Brutality
Excessive use of force by law enforcement officers is never warranted—even if you have been convicted for a crime. Unfortunately, many people don’t report incidents of Charlotte, North Carolina police brutality because they are too scared and don’t realize that their civil rights have been violated. Verbal abuse, sexual assaults, threats, emotional blackmail, and physical violence are just a few examples of the different types of police violence that can occur.

State settles with inmate over claim of pepper spray abuse, Charlotte Observer, September 8, 2010

NC prisoner who sued over pepper spray gets $10K, WCNC/AP, September 8, 2010

Related Web Resources:
Lanesboro Correctional Institution

North Carolina Department of Correction


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