Florida family files wrongful death lawsuit against restaurant

A wrongful death lawsuit has been filed by a Florida family against a restaurant where they say their family member ate before dying of salmonella poisoning.

Gary Kidwell, 39, died at Boca Regional Hospital on Feb. 12, 2015, after becoming sick in the fall of 2014. The family said that cultures were performed at the hospital indicated that Kidwell was suffering from a salmonella infection.

Soon after Kidwell was admitted to the hospital in 2014, his sister reported to the Palm Beach County Health Department that Kidwell had recently eaten at a Boston Market restaurant near Boynton Beach, prompting an investigation.

During the investigation of the restaurant, health inspectors found nine violations, including two involving hand washing violations. Investigators witnessed one worker fail to wash his hands and saw a sink designated as a hand-washing sink was used as a “dump sink” instead. Restaurant workers failing to wash their hands is one of the main ways salmonella is spread.

A spokesman for Boston Market said that there is no proof linking Kidwell’s illness to the restaurant.

Kidwell underwent multiple surgeries after developing salmonella sepsis. Salmonella poisoning does not usually result in death. The lawsuit seeks damages in an unspecified amount for Kidwell’s three daughters.

Jury convicts Florida man for ‘pill mill’ operation

A jury convicted a Florida man of 11 felony charges for running a pain clinic that prosecutors called a “pill mill.”

Richard McMillan refused a plea deal of 10 years in prison. He took the stand in his own defense, arguing that his network of pain clinics was a legitimate business. After nine hours of deliberation, the jury convicted him on all counts.

McMillan ran a chain of clinics called Total Medical Express with his business partner Pasquale Gervasio before a statewide drug task force raided the clinics in 2011. Officials from the federal Drug Enforcement Administration said that the clinics, which operated in several locations in Florida, are estimated to have generated almost $13.5 million, by issuing prescriptions and distributing oxycodone to people without proper medical reasons.

McMillan is scheduled to be sentenced by Circuit Judge Cheryl Caracuzzo on the convictions of racketeering, conspiracy and nine counts of oxycodone trafficking. He could face between 25 years and 330 years in prison. In his defense, McMillan and his attorneys said that the clinics did not issue prescriptions to everyone who asked, claiming that 1,274 patients were discharged without being treated.

In addition to facing criminal charges, medical providers may be liable for pharmaceutical negligence if they cause injury to patients by improperly prescribing or distributing medication. If you or a loved one was injured due to a medical mistake or misconduct, contact Joyce & Reyes for a free consultation.

More Florida car accidents caused by road debris

An analysis of Florida crash data shows that car accidents caused by road debris are on the rise.

Car accidents have resulted from drivers hitting objects in the road or swerving to avoid them. In some cases, cars have been hit by debris from trucks with unsecured loads.

In 1998, a 13-year-old girl survived a life-threatening car accident involving road debris. The girl was riding in the passenger seat of her mother’s minivan on a Florida highway when a metal construction rod pierced the windshield and pierced her body three centimeters from her heart. Investigators said they believed the rod fell off a truck.

When paramedics arrived at the scene, they decided to drive the van to the hospital with the girl’s body still pierced by the rod. At the hospital, the rod was cut in half so that the teenager could be taken into the emergency room and it could be removed.

After the accident, community leaders worked with legislators to make driving conditions safer. State laws were changed to create road rangers, the *FHP phone line for reporting debris and easier tracing of 911 calls from cell phones.

Road debris, however, continues to be a dangerous problem. An investigation of crash data in two counties in Florida, by NBC 6, found a 60 percent increase in accidents caused by road debris between 2011 and 2015.

When accidents caused by debris, are the result of negligence, injured drivers may be able to obtain compensation from the parties responsible.

Physicians’ group asks Florida Supreme Court to reconsider medical malpractice case

A doctors’ group has requested that the Florida Supreme Court reconsider its rejection of an arbitration agreement in a lawsuit involving medical malpractice.

The request was filed by attorneys for physician Eileen Hernandez and Women’s Care Florida LLC, approximately two weeks after the arbitration agreement was tossed out in a case involving a stillborn baby.

The validity of arbitration agreements in lawsuits over health care has been a controversial topic of late, with the issue being considered by Florida appeals courts. The cases typically involve a health care provider asking patients or family members to sign an agreement stating that disputes will be resolved through binding arbitration rather than a jury trial. Advocates argue that such agreements take away the rights of injured people to obtain fair compensation from providers that make serious medical mistakes.

On December 22, the Florida Supreme Court rejected an arbitration agreement between Lualhati Crespo and Women’s Care Florida. Crespo delivered a stillborn son in 2011. She and her husband filed a lawsuit in 2013 and later requested binding arbitration under a state-law process. Women’s Care Florida said the case should be governed by the arbitration agreement Crespo signed, which would lead to binding arbitration through a different process.

The justices rejected the arbitration agreement, declaring it void as against public policy, in a 5-2 decision, because terms in the agreement clearly favored the health care provider, including terms related to the selection of the arbitration panel. Women’s Care Florida, in its motion for rehearing, said the state high court had encroached on the right to contract.

Florida ranked as most dangerous state for car accidents involving pedestrians

Florida is the most dangerous state in the country for pedestrians.

According to the advocacy group Smart Growth America, Florida had 5,142 pedestrian fatalities from 2005 to 2014 and a pedestrian death rate of 2.66 per 100,000 people. The group assigned Florida a high Pedestrian Danger Index of 177 by comparing data on pedestrian deaths with the number of commuters who get to work on foot.

Seven of the country’s most dangerous metropolitan areas for pedestrians are located in Florida, the group said. These included Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, Lakeland-Winter Haven, Deltona-Daytona Beach-Ormond Beach, Jacksonville, Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford, Palm Bay-Melborne-Titusville, and Cape-Coral-Fort Myers.

The director of the National Complete Streets Coalition, Emiko Atherton, said that despite the poor ranking, many Florida communities had actually improved from previous studies.

The study ranked 104 of the largest metropolitan areas in the country according to the danger posed to people on foot. Researchers found that seniors and people of color were overrepresented among the pedestrian deaths. While people of color make up 34.9 percent of the national population, they accounted for 46.1 of pedestrian fatalities.

Safety experts said that there are several causes of fatal collisions involving pedestrians, including unsafe street design, poorly maintained infrastructure, speeding and driver negligence.

Florida wrongful death lawsuit settled for $1.7 million

The parents of a young mentally ill man who was shot and killed by a sheriff’s deputy in Florida have settled their wrongful death lawsuit for $1.7 million.

Michael Camberdella was shot and killed by a Palm Beach County sheriff’s deputy in Boynton Beach, Florida in 2012. According to the family’s attorney, Michael, age 18, suffered from bipolar disorder and had not been taking his medicine. His mother, Linda Camberdella, called 911 after she said Michael became aggressive toward her. She told the 911 operator her son needed professional help to make sure he did not hurt himself or others.

According to an investigative report, Deputy William Goldstein approached while holding his service revolver and ordered Michael to drop the rubber mallet and garden shears he was holding and lie on the ground, which he did. Investigators said that Michael then began pulling “unknown objects” – later identified as rocks – from his pockets and throwing them at the deputy. Goldstein started firing from about 23 feet away, and fired 11 shots, investigators said. The lawsuit stated that one of the shots struck Michael in the heart, killing him.

In August, an appeals court refused to grant Goldstein immunity from the wrongful death lawsuit, affirming the earlier conclusion of a district court that a reasonable jury could find that a clearly established constitutional right was violated when Goldstein shot and killed Michael.

The lawsuit claimed that Goldstein failed to use proper police techniques such as calling for backup or a crisis team.

Multi-million dollar jury award in Florida brain injury lawsuit

A jury awarded $18 million to a Florida man who suffered a traumatic brain injury in a bar fight.

Joshua Mathews suffered brain injuries after a 2012 altercation at Pete’s Bar in Neptune Beach, Florida. Mathews fell and hit his head on the cement after being punched in the face. He filed a lawsuit against the corporation that owns the bar, alleging that there was inadequate security and bouncers encouraged the fight.

After the fight, Mathews was in a coma for two months. He is in rehabilitation and has trouble speaking. According to his attorney, Mathews has vision loss and paralysis on his right side, and also suffers from aphasia, weakness and fatigue. Mathews has to be monitored around the clock, with his family using video cameras to check on his condition even while they are at work, his attorney said. The award will allow Mathews to participate in an aphasia program to help with his speaking and allow him greater freedom of movement.

At trial in Duval County circuit court, earlier police incident reports were introduced as evidence. Mathews’ attorney said that other bars had off-duty police officers standing out front and Pete’s Bar did not. He said that a bar’s duty to its patrons extends outside its premises, and the bar was negligent in failing to provide adequate security.

Florida man sentenced in pill mill case

A Florida man was sentenced to 44 months in prison and three years of supervised release for unlawfully operating a pill mill in Georgia that made over $1.8 million.

Marc Frazier was also ordered to give up assets of more than $500,000 from the pill mill. The “pain management clinic” known as Apex Health & Wellness was owned by Frazier from November 2011 to April 2013. Prosecutors said that customers received prescriptions for controlled substances when there was no valid medical purpose, often paying up to $300 in cash to the clinic for the prescriptions.

Frazier hired medical doctor Paul Ruble to work at the clinic. Ruble is awaiting sentencing on similar charges after pleading guilty.

According to authorities, during the 17 months that the clinic operated, an average of 30 patients per day received prescriptions for alprazolam and oxycodone. Prosecutors said that more than 400 deposits were made to the pain clinic’s bank account, totaling over $1.8 million.

In addition to facing criminal charges, medical providers who prescribe drugs improperly and cause patients harm may face civil liability in the form of a lawsuit for pharmaceutical negligence. Anyone who has been injured by a pill mill or an error made by a doctor or pharmacist should consult with an attorney.

Florida appeals court sides with Tampa General Hospital in medical malpractice case

An appeals court upheld a ruling shielding Tampa General Hospital from potential medical malpractice liability in a case over a patient who died during surgery.

The 2nd District Court of Appeal upheld a ruling by a circuit judge granting summary judgment to Tampa General Hospital. The appeals court agreed with the judge on the central issue of whether two doctors involved in the surgery were connected to the hospital. Tampa General argued that the doctors were employed by the University of South Florida, and the hospital had delegated its duty of care and any potential liability to the university. The university’s College of Medicine uses Tampa General as its primary teaching hospital.

The lawsuit was filed by the estate of Annie Godwin against the university, Tampa General, and the two physicians, after Godwin died during surgery to remove a cancerous tumor in 2009. Godwin died due to heavy bleeding after she suffered a tear in a vein.

According to the three-judge appeals panel, there were no disputed facts undermining the conclusion of the trial court that the doctors were not employees or agents of Tampa General Hospital. The appeals court said that the physicians were employees of USF, and Godwin had signed a document acknowledging that fact.

Two Florida doctors to begin serving pill mill sentences

Two Florida doctors must begin serving their prison sentences in October, three years after their convictions on money laundering charges related to a chain of Florida pill mills, a federal judge ruled.

Cynthia Cadet must turn herself in to begin serving a 6 1/2 year sentence on Oct. 3, while Joseph Castronuovo was given until Oct. 18 to begin serving his 18-month sentence, because he needs medical treatment. Both had been free on bond since their convictions in July 2013, but U.S. District Judge Kenneth Mara ruled that they must report to prison.

Castronuovo and Cadet were among 32 individuals, including several doctors, who were charged in a large pill mill indictment, targeting a chain of pain management clinics that improperly distributed prescription pain pills such as oxycodone. Castronuovo and Cadet were the only physicians to fight the charges. A Florida jury found the doctors not guilty of most of the counts against them, but guilty of a money laundering conspiracy related to the payments they received for their work at the clinics.

Castronuovo was paid over $160,000 and Cadet was paid over $1.2 million. The two were hired after responding to ads on Craigslist. The doctors signed documents each week before receiving their pay that stated that they did not witness anything illegal take place.

In addition to criminal charges, doctors, pharmacists and others who improperly distribute medications can face civil charges for the harm that they cause. Anyone injured by pharmaceutical negligence should contact an attorney to learn about their rights. You may be entitled to compensation.