Florida local sues Whitehall nursing home for negligence

A nursing home neglect lawsuit has been filed against a Florida facility, with the plaintiff claiming his care was so poor that he needed additional surgery and medication.

Ross Bayer, 66, was in a landscaping accident over seven months ago that resulted in breaking both of his feet. He was instructed to go through two months of physical therapy and to cover his feet with fresh bandages daily. Rather than staying at home, Bayer stayed at Whitehall nursing home located in Boca Raton, Florida to get the care he needed.

Two weeks later, Bayer called his wife who was out of state with ill parents to get him out of the home. He complained of “horrendous pain” and claimed that the nurses at Whitehall nursing home only changed his bandages once a week even though he begged them to be replaced daily as instructed by the doctors. Once he decided that he was better off at home, he asked Whitehall to send him his medical charts for a better explanation for his lack of care.

Whitehall never sent the documents to him, Bayer claims. He reached out to an attorney for help. Again, requests were put through for Whitehall to send over Bayer’s medical records. Even though months have gone by since Bayer left Whitehall, the documents have not been received, according to Bayer. Due to the alleged negligence while at the nursing home as well as never receiving his medical records, Bayer has filed a lawsuit.

As a result of his time at Whitehall nursing home, Bayer says he now needs additional surgery and treatment for his injuries.

Wrongful death lawsuit filed by family of Florida nursing home resident who died after Hurricane Irma

The family of Miguel Antonio Franco has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the south Florida nursing home where he and 10 other elderly residents died after Hurricane Irma. The hurricane struck on September 10 leaving the facility without air conditioning for days.

The lawsuit claims that The Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills failed to provide proper air conditioning, causing residents to endure high temperatures after electrical power was lost. The complaint also alleges that the facility failed to call for emergency assistance. The family claims that Miguel Franco’s wife, Cecilia Franco, also did not receive proper care. She was hospitalized in serious condition, but survived, the family said. Miguel Franco was 93 and Cecilia Franco is 90.

Facility officials say they took steps to provide cooling devices and maintained constant contact with local and state authorities.

The family of Miguel Franco said that his death was preventable, and the facility should have called 911. The Hollywood Police Department is conducting a criminal investigation, and other probes are underway by federal and state agencies.

The lawsuit states that the nursing home lost power after the hurricane hit on September 10, and the facility did not have backup generators to keep the building cool. According to the complaint, nursing home staff failed to evacuate patients to the hospital across the street, but instead wheeled several residents into the hallway, undressing some of them. At 1:30 a.m. on September 13, a 911 call was placed after a resident went into cardiac distress, and over the next few hours, two other calls were made to 911. The office of Gov. Rick Scott said the calls came too late. State and city officials say they advised the facility to call 911 if the safety or health of the residents was at risk.

Attorney for Aaron Hernandez’s daughter files lawsuit against NFL over severe brain injury

Aaron Hernandez’s daughter has filed a lawsuit against the NFL and the New England Patriots, after the former football player was diagnosed postmortem with State III chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE.

Hernandez was a standout University of Florida football player before playing for the Patriots. He was arrested in 2013 for the murder of Odin Lloyd, found guilty in 2015, and sentenced to life in prison. He committed suicide in prison in April.

Jose Baez, the attorney for Hernandez’s daughter, said that researchers found Hernandez’s CTE to be “the most severe case they had ever seen in someone of Aaron’s age.” Hernandez had a level of CTE normally found in players with a median age of death of 67 years. Baez released images of Hernandez’s brain showing extensive deposits of the tau protein, a strong indicator of CTE. More than 100 deceased NFL players have been diagnosed with CTE, which can only be diagnosed after death. Hernandez is one of several players who were diagnosed with CTE after committing suicide.

The lawsuit claims the team and the league misrepresented and concealed the risk to NFL players of repeated traumatic head impacts and needlessly delayed the adoption of policies and rules to protect players’ safety with regard to concussions and subconcussive head trauma. The lawsuit seeks $20 million and alleges that the defendants deprived Hernandez’s daughter of the companionship, affection, love and society of her father while he was alive.

In 2013, the NFL reached an estimated $1 billion settlement over brain injuries among thousands of retired players, agreeing to pay compensation to victims, underwrite research and fund medical exams.

Florida pill mill operator sentenced to six years in prison

A Florida “pill mill” operator was sentenced to six years in federal prison, after prosecutors said he made “exceptional” efforts to help investigators, which led to convictions of other people involved in illegal distribution of prescription drugs.

Pasquale Gervasio who helped run pain clinics in Florida, which were raided in 2011, pleaded guilty to a money-laundering conspiracy. Between March 2010 and June 2011, the clinics distributed over two million doses of oxycodone, a highly addictive painkiller.

Gervasio was facing up to 10 years in prison, but prosecutors recommended his sentence be reduced after he provided help to the prosecution. Their recommendation was followed by U.S. District Judge Daniel T.K. Hurley. Earlier this year, Gervasio provided testimony against his former business partner Richard McMillan, at his trial on state charges. McMillan was convicted and is serving a 35-year sentence in state prison for racketeering and drug trafficking.

Gervasio and McMillan ran a chain of pain clinics known as Total Medical Express. Gervasio provided information to prosecutors and law enforcement that led to arrests and convictions. He also agreed to pay restitution of about $1.6 million. According to court records, he has already turned over funds in excess of $600,000.

The illegal distribution of prescription drugs can cause severe harm to individuals who may be suffering from addiction. Operators of pill mills, in addition to being criminally prosecuted, may face civil lawsuits for money damages filed by people harmed by their actions. Anyone who has been injured because of improper prescription or distribution of medication should contact an attorney to learn more about their rights.

Florida couple file medical malpractice lawsuit over allegedly botched surgery

A Florida couple filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against a medical facility and doctor, claiming that a surgery resulted in nerve damage.

Knud Hostrup and Maria Luzia Hostrup filed the lawsuit against doctor Matthew E. Wells and an orthopedic surgery and sports medicine center May 2, alleging medical malpractice.

The complaint alleges that Mr. Hostrup needed surgery for a right humerus fracture after suffering a fall in his home. The plaintiffs claim that the doctor’s actions caused Mr. Hostrup’s radial nerve to be trapped under a plate used to reduce the fracture, and that permanent and severe nerve damage to his right arm resulted. Metal plates are often used for internal fixation of fractures. Injury to the radial nerve can be a severe injury that may result in weakness and difficulty in moving the hand, wrist or fingers.

According to the complaint, the defendants failed to treat Mr. Hostrup’s underlying condition properly, failed to properly perform a surgical repair of his injuries, and failed to properly supervise, oversee and train the medical center’s staff. The plaintiffs claim the defendants are responsible for the injury.

The plaintiffs are seeking compensatory damages, costs, interest and other appropriate relief available under the law. A jury trial is demanded.

Florida family wins $33.8 million medical malpractice award in brain injury case

A Florida family was awarded $33.8 million in a medical malpractice lawsuit after a judge ruled that a baby’s irreversible brain damage was caused by the decisions of a federally employed doctor.

The baby’s mother was a patient at Jessie Trice Community Health Center in Miami Gardens, Florida when the baby was born on December 2, 2013. Because the clinic is federally funded, the federal government is responsible for paying the award.

The mother testified that she pleaded for a cesarean section, but the doctor attending her labor and delivery refused, and left to attend another delivery. The lawsuit also claimed that the doctor was speaking on the phone with his financial adviser. The baby was not breathing when he was born, and he suffered brain damage due to lack of oxygen, according to court documents. Medical experts from both the plaintiffs and the defense agreed that the brain damage could have been prevented by a cesarean section.

U.S. District Judge Robert N. Scola wrote in his order that the boy, now age 3, has a life expectancy of an additional 9 to 12 years. Judge Scola awarded the mother $3.3 million and the father $1.1 million for their pain and suffering. He awarded $7.6 million for the child’s pain and suffering and $21.7 million for his economic damages. The award was not limited by Florida’s statutory cap, and will be paid in installments by the federal government.

Florida drivers second worst in country for distracted driving

Researchers ranked Florida’s distracted drivers the second worst in the nation.

EverQuote, an online insurance marketplace, collected data from 2.7 million car trips over 230 million miles, through its EverDrive app, which promotes safe driving habits. The app helps users monitor their own speeding and cell phone use while driving. Distracted driving is a major cause of car accidents.

The company said that users of the app use their phones on 38 percent of trips, and exceed the speed limit on 36 percent of them. These numbers may underreport the actual rates of distracted driving and speeding, because people who use the app may be more safety conscious, and they know their speed and cell phone use are being tracked.

The study found that Northeastern drivers speed the most, Midwesterners are the safest drivers overall, and Southern drivers use their cell phones the most while driving. Florida drivers used cell phones on a higher percentage of car trips than in any other state except Louisiana. Drivers in Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee and South Carolina also used their phones while driving more often than drivers in the rest of the country.

Some of the regional differences may be due to variation in laws regarding cell phone use while driving. Few Southern states have an outright ban on the use of handheld devices while driving. In Florida, texting while driving is prohibited, but it is a secondary offense, which means that an officer must observe drivers break some other law, such as exceeding the speed limit, before they can stop them for texting while driving.

Overall, EverQuote found that 92 percent of U.S. drivers use cell phones while behind the wheel at least some of the time.

Wrongful death lawsuits filed over crash that killed Jose Fernandez and two friends

Wrongful death lawsuits have been filed in Florida by the families of two people who died along with Miami Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez when the boat he was piloting crashed into a jetty.

The accident occurred on September 25, 2016, when the boat hit a rock jetty near Miami Beach at a speed in excess of 65 miles per hour, according to an investigation by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. Investigators concluded that Fernandez who was piloting the 32-foot vessel was under the influence of alcohol and cocaine when the crash occurred.

Investigators said that if the 24-year-old all-star had survived, he could have faced charges of vessel homicide, boating while intoxicated, manslaughter and reckless or careless operation. The report concluded without equivocation that Fernandez’s “impairment and manner of operation” caused the crash which resulted in his own death and the deaths of his friends Emilio Macias and Eduardo Rivero.

Attorneys for the families of Macias and Rivero issued a joint statement that although “fault has been determined officially,” the families wish for a swift and amicable settlement, as the accident was a tragedy for all concerned. The lawsuits allege that Fernandez was responsible for the men’s deaths and his passengers were owed a reasonable degree of care.

Florida Supreme Court rejects Daubert standard and same specialty standard for expert testimony in medical malpractice cases

In a February 16 opinion, the Florida Supreme Court stated that it declined to adopt, to the extent that they are procedural, two changes to the Evidence Code: the Daubert amendment and the Same Specialty amendment. Legal observers called the decision a victory for consumers, as both amendments would have imposed stricter controls on expert witness testimony. In rejecting the two changes, the Court cited “grave constitutional concerns” and the recommendation of the Evidence Rules Committee.

Florida’s Daubert amendment was passed by the state legislature and signed into law by Governor Rick Scott in 2013. The law replaced the Frye standard, under which expert testimony is permitted as long as it is generally accepted in its specific field, with the Daubert standard, used by federal courts, under which the trial judge must rule on the reliability of the expert testimony before it can be offered to the jury. Florida’s Constitution provides that the judicial branch has sole authority over procedural rules of court, while the legislature makes substantive law, so the state high court rejected the Daubert standard to the extent that it is procedural.

The Supreme Court also rejected the Same Specialty amendment, which would require an expert witness on the issue of standard of care in a medical malpractice trial to be from the exact same specialty, as opposed to just a similar specialty, as the medical care provider against whom the testimony is offered. In declining to adopt this standard, the court cited the chilling effect that the stricter rule would have on the ability of an injured patient to obtain an expert witness in a medical malpractice lawsuit, thus interfering with the constitutional right of access to the judicial system and a jury trial.

Florida Supreme Court rules medical malpractice lawsuit can proceed

The Florida Supreme Court ruled that a Florida man can pursue his medical malpractice lawsuit against his deceased wife’s primary care physician for her suicide in 2008.

The justices ruled unanimously that the case should go to trial, upholding a ruling by the Second District Court of Appeal in 2014, which reversed the decision of the First District Court of Appeals granting summary judgment to the physician.

Justice Patty Quince said in writing the opinion of the court that the duty to prevent inpatient suicide did not apply to the case, but there was still a statutory duty to treat the patient in accordance with the standard of care.

According to the lawsuit, Jacqueline Granicz had been prescribed an antidepressant but had stopped taking it. The day before she died, Granicz called her physician’s office to report that she had stopped taking the medication due to side effects, and that she had not “felt right,” the lawsuit claims. According to court documents, the doctor prescribed a different antidepressant and said Granicz could pick up a sample of the prescription at the office. Granicz did pick the items up, but committed suicide the following day.

The Florida Supreme Court ruled that because Granicz was an outpatient, there was no duty to prevent her suicide, but the nonexistence of that specific duty does not mean the doctor owed the patient no duty. The Court said that the statutory duty to treat the patient in accordance with a standard of care applied, and the foreseeability of Granicz’s suicide was a matter of fact to be decided by the jury.