Author Archive for David Brown

Alleged Construction Injury at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Leads to Lawsuit

A lawsuit has been filed in Orange Circuit Court in Orange County, Florida by a construction worker and his wife. The worker, who was not employed by Disney at the time of the alleged incident, Robert Howard, claims that he incurred an injury while working on the premises of Disney’s Animal Kingdom in 2016. The lawsuit names as defendants Disney, MLC Theming and Total Demolition Services.

According to the lawsuit filed, Robert Howard says he was digging a ditch that was to be used to lay a foundation for new animal enclosures in Animal Kingdom. At some point, the ditch allegedly collapsed on him. An attorney for the plaintiff, Michael Damaso, stated in court documents, “Robert W. Howard was injured as a result of a dangerous condition on the premises, to wit: an unsafe worksite.” Interestingly, no record of injuries at Disney’s Animal Kingdom have been reported to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) by Disney, Total Demolition Services or MLC, according to a publicly accessible federal database on or around the date that the incident allegedly occurred, May 11, 2016. However, according to Stephanie Bornstein, a University of Florida associate law professor, only work-related injuries that result in hospitalization or fatality are required to be reported to OSHA. She states, “That’s what is surprising to most people. OSHA is really important in what it does, but it has limited resources and limited scope in the law.”

The lawsuit seeks restitution of more than $15,000. It’s unclear what the injuries were, as the lawsuit does not go into details about the alleged injuries. The plaintiff’s attorney, Michael Damaso, stated the lawsuit was filed in an effort to determine what went wrong so it doesn’t happen again. “Nothing is more important to us than the safety of those who visit and work at our resort. We will respond to the allegations, as appropriate, in court,” said a spokesperson for Disney when reached for comment. Neither MLC Theming nor Total Demolition Services were able to be reached for comment. Total Demolition Services has been listed as an inactive business since 2017 on Sunbiz, Florida’s business registration department. OSHA representatives also did not comment when asked about the injury.

Harassed Teacher Fights Back with Lawsuit

Most people would agree that society is continuing to make efforts to take steps forward when it comes to acceptance and equal rights. However, there continue to be new stories on a regular basis that come out that make it very clear that racism still exists and creates very challenging situations for a lot of people. One story of apparent racism recently came out of a school district in New York.

A current black teacher at the Commack School District in New York is suing the district over claims that she was victimized by racism, discrimination, and harassment from students at the school and teachers. The teacher, Andrea Bryan, concluded that the district continued to allow an environment that allowed for harassment and intimidation.

Bryan, who is of Caribbean descent, has continued to claim that she has filed a wide range of grievances with the district and no action was taken. Her lawsuit, which is not for a specified amount at this point, also pointed out that there has been minimal hiring of minorities. In fact, no other black teachers have been hired in the past 17 years, which shows that there are discriminatory practices in place when it comes to hiring and promoting teachers.

Some of the allegations in the lawsuit were very hurtful and showed that Bryan was not widely accepted by her coworkers and peers. This included the treatment that she received in 2007. That year, Bryan was involved in a serious car accident and did not receive any of the compassion that she would have expected. Instead, she continued to be treated with hostility. During the annual holiday party, she was given a bottle of hand sanitizer as a gift from her Secret Santa. Even though the gift expectation was expected to be around $50, the initial thought was that the opinion that she was “dirty” led to the hurtful gift.

While the harassment from teachers was bad, she received equal treatment from students. In many cases, she was the recipient of a variety of racist comments while other students would laugh in her face at the stereotypical jokes. Bryan stated that several complaints were filed to management of the district, but no action was taken.

Lawsuit Claims Selective Prosecution of Store Owners Based on Their Nationality

Law enforcement authorities called it “Operation Candy Crush.” It was a crackdown on Nashville-area stores selling candy that investigators said contained marijuana. Police seized products, closed the shops, and padlocked the doors.

During a press conference, Sheriff Mike Fitzhugh said stores were taking candy products such as gummy worms. “They take them out of the package. They spray them with this illegal substance,” Fitzhugh said according to the lawsuit. “And then they repackage them…They’ve taken gummy worms and infused them with the illegal substance. And then they repackage them in a different package.”

The raids were made after indictments were handed down against store owners that they were selling illegal substances. Charges had to be dropped, however, when authorities were unable to prove definitively that the candy actually contained any illegal substances. The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation’s labs did the testing but could not prove whether the products contained THC or marijuana derivatives. According to WTVF-TV, the products at the stores in the Rutherford County raid were found to be CBD-based products which are legal in the state of Tennessee.

Store owners feel they were targeted unfairly because of their nationality and have filed suit against the County Sheriff, Police Chief, the District Attorney, and others prosecuting the case. Among other charges, the lawsuit claims store owners were targeted because of their nationality. 12 of 17 store owners targeted in the raids are of Egyptian descent, according to WTVF.

The suit alleges violations of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The plaintiffs point out that large commercial operations, such as Wal-Mart of Amazon, sold the same or similar products, yet were not targeted for prosecution. This selective prosecution against the small shop owners, the suit alleges, took place because they expected the owners to take a plea deal and pay a fine in order to re-open their business.

“Defendants selectively enforced the law, as they misunderstood it, against Plaintiffs, because Plaintiffs were small business owners, with a perceived lack of resources to defeat the unsupportable claims and criminal charges,” according to the lawsuit.

The suit also claims a violation of the defendant’s civil rights because Rutherford County and the Town of Smyrna failed to adequately train its officers on differences between industrial hemp and marijuana.

Grieving Man Sues Father for Violent Crime

Any type of violent crime is a tragedy that needs to be properly handled by the court of law. This can be even more devastating when one family member harms another, which then causes an untimely death. A few years ago, a story in Texas made national news when a man was arrested for killing his wife after a fight.

On December 19, 2016 Johnny Oliphant returned home from an evening at a local bar and was immediately involved in an argument with his wife, Gina Oliphant. The argument quickly got very heated, and Johnny Oliphant ended up shooting and killing his wife. After shooting his wife, Johnny Oliphant ended up drinking more alcohol and took a lot of pills in an apparent attempt to take his own life. However, he ended up surviving and called 911. When authorities arrived on the scene, he was arrested and charged with murder. Oliphant was initially released on $100,000 bond but is still facing federal felony murder charges with a trial forthcoming.

While Johnny Oliphant is facing serious charges as a result of the murder, his legal troubles do not appear to be ending there. More than two years after the initial charges, the couple’s son, Dylan, has decided to file a lawsuit against his father citing wrongful death. The new lawsuit was filed under Dylan’s new last name, Riccio, which he changed shortly after the murder took place, which led to national news.

In the lawsuit that was recently filed, Riccio claimed that his parents had been fighting a lot in the year leading up to the incident. He stated that the couple had contemplated divorce several times, but never fully went through with it. During this time, Riccio also frequently suggested that his mother leave his father out of concern for her emotional wellbeing and overall personal safety.

While his mother never did leave his father, Riccio clearly continued to have a great relationship with his mother during this difficult time. Riccio considered his mother to be his best friend and cited a significant amount of emotional damage ever since the incident took place. Through the loss of his mother, Riccio no longer has the emotional support that he used to receive.

Family Mistakenly Received Ashes for The Wrong Person

When a loved one passes away, it can be a very stressful and challenging situation. At the same time, there are many very important decisions that need to be made. One of the most important decisions that will need to be made is what to do with the remains of the deceased. One common option that many people pursue is the decision to have their loved one cremated. The advantage to this, is that you can then place their ashes in an urn, which can be held on display for centuries to come.

Those that choose to have their loved ones cremated have the general belief that they will receive the remains of their loved one, and not those of someone else. However, one Atlanta family recently learned that they had mistakenly received the remains of a complete stranger instead of their own family member.

In a very strange story, the family of Paulette Patricia Bradley decided to have her remains cremated when she passed away on September 26, 2018. Mrs. Bradly passed away after a long battle with Alzheimer’s at the age of 69. The family then ended up holding a service for Mrs. Bradley on September 29 and later displayed her remains in a home of the family. About two weeks later, they received a call that was very startling.

The hospital that cared for Mrs. Bradley claimed that the Bradley family was holding the ashes of the wrong person. Apparently, there was confusion between the hospital, funeral home, and cremation service that led to the mistake. The owner of the funeral home was the first to notice this mistake and tried to correct the error by replacing the ashes with the correct ones and refunding all of the money they charged for the service.

However, the Bradley family has declined this offer. Instead, they are suing the funeral home, the hospital, and the cremation service. The Bradley family is very frustrated by the situation and is partially suing to figure out exactly which party is at fault and to prevent this from happening again. At this point, none of the service providers are taking responsibility for the situation and the legal proceedings should help to clear this up.

Mother Who Gave Methadone to Baby had a History of Abuse and Neglect

The Oregon Department of Human Services may be found culpable for failing to protect two children from the same family: a teenage girl who died in 2016 and a baby who was injured this past November. The children’s mother, 34-year-old Magan McDermott, is also accused of playing a contributing role in both tragedies.

McDermott’s five-month old baby was injured and may have suffered life-altering injuries after his mother gave him methadone to try to get him to sleep. McDermott lost custody of her son when he was only seven weeks old and was found to have ingested narcotics.

After that incident the baby’s father, Francisco Yvanez Diaz Jr., was given custody of the child. He took the baby to McDermott’s sister’s house, and was with both women at the time of the incident. Diaz is on probation after being convicted of assault against McDermott in 2017. The fact that he was granted custody of the baby despite his criminal record has raised questions from the attorney representing the baby’s interests.

After McDermott gave the baby the drug he lost consciousness, had trouble breathing, and had an irregular heartbeat. Paramedics were called to the scene and gave the baby naloxone (Narcan) to revive him. He then spent two nights recovering in the hospital, and may face long-term health complications due to oxygen deprivation to his brain. He’s currently in foster care.

McDermott was arrested and is currently in the Benton County Jail after filing a not guilty plea. In addition to the criminal charges she faces a $900,000 lawsuit filed on behalf of her son.

In 2016 another of McDermott’s children, 15-year-old Gloria Joya, died while in foster care due to gastrointestinal issues that may have been at least partially caused by stress from her upbringing. The Oregon Department of Human Services removed her from McDermott’s care in 2015 after years of reported abuse and neglect.

The estate representing Gloria filed a 9.5 million dollar lawsuit against the state of Oregon alleging negligence in failing to recognize the severity of the girl’s condition. The Oregon Department of Human Serviced has also been criticized for the decision to place the baby in his father’s care given the father’s criminal history. The incident is still under investigation.

Eliza Dushku Awarded $9.5 Million From CBS In Sexual Harassment Case

After allegations of sexual harassment on the set of the TV show “Bull,” actress Eliza Dushku has been awarded $9.5 million in a settlement case from CBS. Dushku has worked in the entertainment industry for over 20 years and is most widely known for her role on “Buffy The Vampire Slayer.” During her three-episode stint on “Bull,” Dushku was harassed repeatedly by the star of the show, Michael Weatherly.

This harassment comes in the wake of allegations against other big names at CBS, including Leslie Moonves, Charlie Rose, and Jeff Fager. All three of these men are no longer working at CBS due to the allegations against them.

The harassment directed toward Dushku came in the form of inappropriate comments, some of which were caught on film. The comments were regarding her appearance, with Weatherly also making insinuations about a threesome and rape. Due to his popularity, some of Weatherly’s comments also prompted other cast and crew members to make similar comments to Dushku.

After Dushku came forward and stood up for herself, confronting Weatherly about his behavior, she was written out of the script. The $9.5 million she was eventually paid in the settlement is the equivalent of the money she would have made if she were not written off the show. Originally, the plan was for her to be on the show for four seasons.

After being confronted, Weatherly stated “When Eliza told me that she wasn’t comfortable with my language and attempt at humor, I… immediately apologized… I am sorry and regret the pain this caused Eliza.”

The fact that Dushku was written off the show after confronting Weatherly is indicative of the culture at CBS. It was only days after Dushku confronted Weatherly that she was written out of the script. After Dushku came forward, she was also reportedly not taken seriously by a CBS lawyer.

Dushku stated that she felt embarrassed and humiliated by the events that happened while she was working on “Bull.” She had originally planned to file a lawsuit but eventually agreed on the cash settlement. As part of the agreement, Dushku is not allowed to speak about her experience, leaving her frustrated. In light of this and other incidents, the culture of CBS continues to be under scrutiny.

 

Unsigned Letter Raises Questions About Heart Transplant Program

David Kveton passed away after a failed heart transplant at Baylor St. Luke’s Center last year, leaving behind a widow and adult children. Shortly afterword, his widow, Judy Kveton received a letter that led her to question the quality of care her husband received. The letter claimed that the director of the heart transplant program, Jeffrey Morgan, had many “mishaps” during surgical procedures. It also stated that hospital administrators had been warned that he was not competent.

Judy Kveton filed a lawsuit alleging that her husband died due to mistakes made by doctors and nurses at St. Luke’s. In addition to citing the letter, the lawsuit claims that St. Luke’s manipulated the numbers to exaggerate the number of favorable outcomes in order to get people into the program. According to the lawsuit, “luring them into a deadly situation.”

St. Luke’s heart transplant program was one of the best in the country, but that seems to have changed in recent years. Some surgeons have left, it is believed because of concerns with Dr. Morgan and the quality of care patients receive. Some doctors stopped referring their patients to St. Luke’s. In fact, recent survival rates have it as one of the lowest in the country, and the hospital nearly lost its Medicaid funding due to the abysmal statistics. The national survival rate is 91% annually, with numbers for St. Luke’s for the last two years being 85%, far below the national average.

Medical records revealed a very different story from the one that Mrs. Kveton received from Dr. Morgan regarding her husband’s condition. The initial surgery took longer than it should have, leaving the donor organ on ice for over four hours, and decreasing the chances of the transplant being successful. The heart was struggling after the surgery but began to perform better.

There was another complication, however. A nurse turned Mr. Kveton over in bed when his chest was still open, which detached pacing wires from his heart. Backup wires should have been attached to prevent this complication, but the surgical team failed to do so. This began a downward spiral in which the heart began to perform worse, also causing Mr. Kveton to suffer a stroke. He endured more surgeries and another stroke before his family made the heartbreaking decision to remove him from life support.

Mrs. Kveton’s lawyer states that she isn’t motivated by money, but seeks “answers, accountability, and change”. St. Luke’s has made changes to its staff and replaced Dr. Morgan as director, although he remains on the staff.

 

State Being Held Responsible For Poor Road Design in Deadly Limo Crash

Almost everyone has heard of the horrific Oct. 6th limo crash in Schoharie, NY that resulted in the deaths of twenty people. A celebrating family lost several members and friends. Two innocent bystanders died as well. The driver, who might have been able to provide accurate information about what happened, also perished in the accident. The state has taken action regarding the company that owned the limo. The families are now taking action against the state as well.

Salvatore Ferlazzo, the attorney for one family who lost a member, filed a notice with the state of New York. It seeks damages against the state regarding road design and conditions at the time of the accident. According to the filing, officials have not taken proper action to correct difficult road design conditions along the Route 30 corridor. A long steep grade ends abruptly at a stop sign and a ‘T’ intersection where Rt. 30 meets Rt. 30A. The area is known for its unusual amount of accidents. Even though the road in question was redesigned some eight years ago, including added signage, Ferlazzo insists that the situation has not been significantly improved. His filing states that a runaway truck ramp may have made a difference in those lives that were lost. Ferlazzo is also filing legal action against the DOT and Motor Vehicles for failing to stop the company that put that particular limousine and driver on the road in the first place.

Ferlazzo had already brought a lawsuit against the limo company Prestige Limousine. According to state documents, numerous vehicle violations made the limo unsafe. The owners of the limo and the company chose to put the vehicle into use despite its failure to pass inspection. The 2001 Excursion failed a DOT inspection on Sept. 4, a month before the horrible events that left families in shock from their loss. Company owners Shahed Hussain and his son Nauman have been fined and sued due to the incident. Nauman has been charged by the state with criminally negligent homicide.

Ferlazzo, with the legal firm Girvin & Ferlazzo, is working on behalf of the grieving family of Amanda Rivenburg, who died in the crash.

 

Airbnb Sued over Religious Discrimination for Delisting West Bank Homes

Airbnb, the popular site that allows homeowners to list their homes and travelers to stay in homes, rooms, or apartments while traveling instead of conventional hotels, is being sued for discrimination on religious grounds. Eighteen Americans are suing the company over its removing listings from the West Bank region occupied by Israel. The Americans that are suing are mostly dual Israeli citizens who live in the area.

The lawsuit says that Airbnb’s delisting of the properties affects renters who are Israeli, Jewish or both. Both the lawsuit and Airbnb did not provide a breakdown by religion or nationality of the affected listings and users. It’s unknown if any non-Jewish Israelis or Palestinians rent out their property there. The lawsuit asks the court to declare that the actions by Airbnb violate the Fair Housing Act. It also acts to provide compensation for lost revenue and cover legal fees, in addition to blocking any future discrimination against Israelis and Jews.

A spokesperson for the company said that he believes the lawsuit will fail in court because the company has over 20,000 hosts in Israel. The spokesperson also noted that many multinational US-based hotels don’t offer any accommodations in these areas.

This lawsuit was filed on November 28 in Delaware in federal court, but there was also another lawsuit filed in an Israeli court on November 23 that initially named a single home renter in the area. The Israeli government encouraged those who are renting out homes to sue Airbnb following the announcement that occurred on November 19 about Airbnb reevaluating its policies and pulling the listings. During the announcement, Airbnb said that it was reevaluating policies about allowing hosts to list properties in areas where the listings could contribute to human suffering and send a political message by being offered. Hosts are those who use the service to list out rentals. Many critics have called this announcement hypocritical since the West Bank was the first, and so far the only region where it has withdrawn listings under these new guidelines. Previously, the company did remove listings in Crimea because of international sanctions.

About 200 listings are going to be removed and 11 plaintiffs in the lawsuit said they have rented out their properties with Airbnb before and want to continue to do so. The other plaintiffs say they want to rent in the West Bank in the future. The United Nations views settlements in the West Bank as illegal, and the US has criticized Israel for allowing and encouraging these settlements in the past.