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Hurley McKenna & Mertz, P.C.

Posted on in Wrongful Death

b2ap3_thumbnail_gunman.jpgThe attorneys at HMM have dedicated their lives to obtaining justice for victims of violence.  However, the NRA is actively involved in preventing any meaningful change in the law to protect Americans from gun violence.  The NRA’s advocacy of unlimited gun ownership in America contributes to a culture of violence that places all of us—and especially our children—at tremendous risk.

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wrongful death, Illinois medical malpractice lawyersWhen a patient steps into a hospital or doctor’s office, they are trusting that provider to act responsibly. Unfortunately, recent information indicates that as many as 210,000 to 440,000 people die each year from preventable causes while under the care of a physician. A 49-year-old woman who visited the St. James Hospital of Olympia Fields in 2006 tragically met this very fate while visiting the hospital’s emergency room. With the aid of attorneys Christopher T. Hurley and Mark R. McKenna of Hurley McKenna & Mertz, P.C., the Illinois Appellate Court recently ruled in favor of her family, and approved of a jury’s award of  $4.7 million as compensation.

Case Details: Failure to Act Quickly during an Asthma Attack Leads to Brain Death

According to court documents, the woman was transported to the hospital by a Matteson Fire Department ambulance. Suffering from a severe asthma attack, she was grasping at her throat and unable to speak upon her arrival. Trial evidence showed it took at least seven minutes to be seen by an emergency department physician. By that time, she had begun to lose consciousness, so the attending physician reportedly told a resident physician to intubate.

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The family of a Washington D.C. teen has filed a wrongful death lawsuit in Cook County against Phusion Projects, the maker of the alcoholic beverage, Four Loko. According to the family, 15-year old Bo Rupp allegedly drank two cans of Four Loko the night he died in September 2010, and the family claims that the drink caused him to lose touch with reality. The boy died that night after being hit by a car near his home.

The original Four Loko formulation was a combination of malt liquor, caffeine, taurine, and guarana. When alcohol and caffeine are combined, drinkers have reported a reduction in the effects normally associated with alcohol consumption. As a result, consumers of these types of drinks tend to drink excessive amounts of alcohol to feel the desired effects.

In November of 2010, the Food and Drug Administration issued a warning to makers of drinks such as Four Loko, stating that caffeine was an unsafe food additive when combined with alcohol. In response, Phusion Projects removed the caffeine from its product.

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At Hurley, McKenna, & Mertz, we are well aware of the trauma that accompanies wrongful death of children in foster care, as we have both experience and success with such cases. A recent article in the University of La Verne Law Review authored by Daniel Pollack and Gary L. Popham, Jr. illustrates the severity of the cases involving wrongful death of foster children (Pollack and Popham, LaVerne Law Review, Vol 31:1). Please feel free to e-mail dpollack@yu.edu for a pdf copy of the article.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reports that an estimated 1,460 children died from abuse or neglect during the fiscal year 2005. This shockingly large number is only the tip of the ice burg when it comes to foster care issues. However, it is difficult to generalize a problem such as wrongful death of foster children since state laws regarding who can bring suit and what damages may be sought vary from state to state. Furthermore, while the goal of foster care is to “provide a stable, nurturing, and non-institutionalized environment” for children who have been removed from their biological parents, the system of foster care has proven to be notoriously hard to monitor adequately. Sadly, sixty percent of children who enter foster care do so as a result of abuse or neglect from their biological parents. For some of these children, the abuse and neglect only continues.

Evelyn Pesante was the biological mother of four-year-old Angelica who was killed while in foster care. Ms. Pesante brought a wrongful death suit seeking damages for pain and suffering. Angelica and her half brothers were removed form Ms. Pesante’s care as a result of neglect and placed in foster homes. While in foster care, Angelica was severely injured by her foster parent’s thirteen-year-old, 180-pound son who tackled the four year old causing her to lacerate and rupture a liver. After receiving no medical care and essentially bleeding to death internally, Angelica became disoriented and fell down the stairs in the home, causing her death. This is only one case, but the article goes on do describe many other cases that are just as disheartening.

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Recently, the story surrounding three deaths and eighteen injuries caused by spending time in a “sauna-like sweatbox” has lead to a homicide investigation of the October 8 “Spiritual Warrior” program by self-help expert James Arthur Ray at the Angel Valley Retreat Center near Sedona, Arizona (CNN, 10/18). Ray is widely known for leading programs that “claim to teach individuals how to create wealth from all aspects of their lives -- financially, mentally, physically and spiritually.”

At the program, up to 65 participants, ranging from 30 to 60 years of age, “spent up to two hours inside the sweatbox, a dome-like structure covered with tarps and blankets, the sheriff's office said. Hot rocks and water are used to create steam in the enclosed environment… Fire and rescue officials received an emergency call from the resort and transported the injured by air and land ambulances to nearby medical facilities, the sheriff's office said. Two people were pronounced dead shortly after arrival at a local medical center.”

As a Chicago personal injury attorney, I am concerned about the incidents leading to the three deaths and eighteen injuries. One should consult with their doctor before engaging in any sort of activity or exercise at extraordinarily hot and humid conditions.

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