Author Archive for David Brown

Family of Off-Road Racer Sues Race Track for Wrongful Death of Race Driver

A Florida family is suing Score International for the 2016 wrongful death of Mark Luthala in an off-road race driving death that happened in the Score Baja 1000 race, an off-road motorsports race that takes place annually in Mexico on the Baja California Peninsula.

While racing in the event, Luthala was involved in a head-on collision with another vehicle while pulling into his pit stop at mile 598 of the 854-mile race track. He was crushed in the car and suffered extensive blood loss and injury to his legs, remaining trapped for several hours after the collision. Though the majority of the racetrack was uni-directional, mile 598 was deemed impassable by racetrack officials prior to the start of the event, and they relegated the stretch of track as bi-directional, making use of left-side pit stops for drivers.

The accident required Luthala to be airlifted to a nearby hospital, where he received a partial leg amputation to treat his injuries. Luthala died four days later after a heart attack brought on by complications from the amputation.

Luthala’s surviving family has filed a Wrongful Death complaint in Washoe County state court, alleging that the section of the course where Luthala died was not adequately marked as being bi-directional and required dangerous left-side pit stops that ultimately lead to Luthala’s death. Additionally, the complaint continues, Luthala did not receive medical treatment for over six hours after the crash, remaining trapped in his car where he bled out and suffered severe strain to his body. The delayed medical treatment is suspected to have played a role in Luthala’s death.

The named defendants in the case are Score International and Promote Mexico LLC, the parent company of Score International in Mexico. Wife Holly Luthala is being represented by attorneys Peter Mazzeo and Craig Goldenfarb of Reno and West Palm Beach.

Luthala was an airplane mechanic and pilot, said to have enjoyed airplane refurbishment and racing in his free time. He is survived by his wife, Holly Luthala, and their two children.

 

Drunk driving civil law suit against two Jefferson city bars

If you have been a victim of alcohol-related crashes and collisions, you probably understand civil cases that involve car accidents which are governed by the laws of negligence. Civil car accidents cases, unlike criminal cases, can be filed at any time within the act of restrictions by the person that was injured.

In the case of such a civil suit, the family of a New Haven man who was killed in a two-vehicle wreck in August 2016 in Moniteau County filed a civil suit asking for damages where Two Jefferson City bars were named. The suit filed by James Lovelace, the father of the victim in the crash, Graden Lovelace included both The Mission and spectators located on East High Street. According to Missouri Highway Patrol reports, Joshua F. Blankenship of Sedalia who was driving westbound east of the business 50 West junction crossed the center line and hit Lovelace head on.
Both cars caught fire after impact and unfortunately, Lovelace was pronounced dead at the scene while Blankenship was taken to the University Hospital with severe injuries. Blankenship was later charged with first-degree involuntary manslaughter in linking to the crash with the case scheduled for hearing in December in Morgan County.

In addition, Blankenship was also named in a wrongful death lawsuit filed in February in Moniteau County by Lovelace’s family where they asked the court to approve a settlement of $100,000 which the court has yet to make a ruling.

Serving alcohol to Blankenship who was already visibly intoxicated as earlier claimed by the lawsuit was the reason why the suit was filed against the bars. In the lawsuit, it is also claimed that Blankenship became visibly intoxicated and inebriated to an extent where it caused him visual impairment by and significantly uncoordinated physical action or substantial physical dysfunction. The suit further states the actions to serve Blankenship bars showed a complete indifference or conscious disregard for the safety of Lovelace and others, justifying an award of punitive damages which total to serve punishment to the bars and deter them and other establishments from such conducts in future.
An excess of $25,000 in punitive damages was charged for each bar.

To date, The Mission has not been served with the claim whilst Mr. Lovelace asking for answers and choosing to inquire through legal action.

Judge Kimball Dismisses Claims Based on The Statute of Limitations

In a lawsuit where a Colorado woman had claimed that she was raped while working as a missionary 34 years ago, a federal judge threw out all but one claim. The woman had sued LDS Church and a former president of the Missionary Training Center at the church, whom she accused of raping her.

According to US District Judge Dale Kimball, the fraud, sexual assault, and emotional distress charges that McKenna Denson brought against Joseph Bishop had expired under the statute of limitations in Utah. Kimball, on the same grounds, dismissed claims of sexual assault and emotional distress against the charge. He also refused to issue an injunction that would force the church to review its policies on sexual assault and abuse.

The judge further found that the statute of limitations on Denson’s claims that the church had hidden Bishop’s behavior only began in December 2017, when she confronted him. Denson had reported the case to Elder Carlos E. Asay, who had been an authority at the church from 1976 until he died in 1999.

Although Asay had assured Denson that he would investigate the matter and get back to her, he never did. This means that, despite her efforts, she never proved that the church knew that Bishop was a sexual predator.

Craig Vernon, Denson’s attorney, expressed his disappointment at the case being dismissed on the grounds of the statute of limitations. However, he said he respects the decision and looked forward to the next phase where fraud claims against the church will continue.

On his part, LDS Church spokesman Eric Hawkins pointed out that judge Kimball had terminated three of the four claims made against the church. He said that the claim had remained to give room for further investigations, saying that they had faith in the legal system and were out to find the truth since the church does not tolerate abuse.

Although Bishop has denied the accusations, Denson, 55, alleges that Bishop, of Arizona, raped her in 1984 while she was a missionary. She sued both Bishop and the Church for sexual assault, battery, fraud, infliction of emotional stress and fraudulent concealment.

According to the lawsuit, Denson had reported the incident to various LDS leaders at least 10 times. When she did not learn of any effort to conduct investigations, she posed as a reporter, getting Bishop to reveal his sexual history and addiction. This taped conversation was later made public through a website.

Both the accused parties asked Denson to drop the charges since the statute of limitation on some of them had expired in 1985 and 1988, after the alleged rape.

David Jordan, the church attorney, and Andrew Deiss, Bishop’s attorney both argued that after the alleged rape, Denson had known that Bishop was not “honorable, safe, trustworthy or a godly man”. Deiss said that the rights of the accused have to be protected despite the statute of limitations appearing to be harsh. He said Bishop, 85, was now old and the main witness in the case was dead. He went on to say that documents were not available and memories change or fade over time.

Vernon, however, argued that both Bishop and Denson were alive, and so was Elder Robert E. Wells, an authority of the church to whom he claimed Bishop had confessed his sexual behavior in 1977.

Woman Convicted in Fiancé’s Death Entitled to Portion of his Life Insurance

Angelika Graswald, who earlier this year pleaded guilty to criminally negligent homicide for pulling a drain plug in her husband’s kayak and watching him drown, was back in court Monday, fighting for money from his life insurance policy. CBS New York reported that after months of negotiations, attorneys announced a settlement.

“There is a financial settlement, the amount of which is confidential,” said Anthony Piscionere, Graswald’s attorney.

In her plea, Graswald admitted to failing to perceive that her actions would lead to the death of her then 46-year old husband Vince Viafore.

“The criminal plea did not disqualify our client from taking these funds. They still had to prove that she recklessly or intentionally committed this murder, and I think that was going to be a very high bar for them to meet,” Piscionere said.

Graswald served less than three years, out of a maximum of four, in prison before she was released in December 2017.

Throughout the hearing, her late husband’s family had been trying to block any sort of settlement and considered pursuing a wrongful death suit in civil court.

“There’s nothing worse than losing a child, and that is something you will never get over. You have to live with it every day,” Mary Ann Viafore said back in January.

But the family’s hard-line stance seemed to soften a bit in the days leading up to Monday.

“It’s time to let this family move on,” said Allan Rappleyea, the attorney for the Viafore family.

Rappleyea informed them of the settlement after a closed meeting with the judge that addressed other loose ends in the case.

The family did not respond to requests to talk about the settlement.

“This was done with the assistance of the court. We didn’t have any direct conversation with them,” Rappleyea said.

Though the final sum of the life insurance policy isn’t currently known, Viafore had named Graswald beneficiary of 45 percent of his death benefit or a little more than $491,000.

Once in the court’s possession during the lawsuit, the money will now be distributed according to the confidential settlement.

Multiple Sclerosis Elevated Treatment Expenses Blamed on Firings

It is not unusual for people to blame something over losing their jobs. However, two Alabamians in a bizarre case are blaming the high costs of treating multiple sclerosis (MS) conditions.

The two joined Montgomery attorney Julian McPhillips to issue a press statement on August 14, 2018. McPhillips stated that these two cases are a part of a great concern about the challenges faced by people with MS who are not incapacitated in their jobs but need costly treatments.

The Alabama-Mississippi Chapter’s president of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, Andrew Bell, confirmed that the expenses of drugs used in the treatment of MS have increased considerably to an average of approximately $90,000 annually.

Bell further added that at least a million Americans have MS and almost 6,000 of them reside in Alabama. It was noted that most people with this condition are between ages 20 and 50 and desire to continue working.

In December 2016, Jennifer Akridge of Montgomery got fired at the age of 48 after working at Alfa Insurance for 27 years. She contacted the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and went ahead to file a disability discrimination claim. Also, she filed a lawsuit as provided for by the constitution under the Americans with Disabilities Act. This case is still pending in the Montgomery federal court.

In 1989, Akridge started working for Alfa organization but was later diagnosed with MS in 1993 as documented in her lawsuit. She got named as the company’s employee of the year in 1995.

According to the lawsuit, her condition was known at the company, and she was entitled to an intermittent paid leave. She could do all her jobs and assignments in underwriting by partially working from home.

Since Alfa is self-insured, they were paying for her treatment that included getting MS shots at a monthly cost of $11,000. The company’s director of public relations and communications, Jeff Helms, declined to comment on the ‘pending litigation.’

Helms confirmed in a statement that Alfa does not practice, condone, or tolerate any discrimination based on age, race, gender, mental disability, color, national origin, religion, physical disability or creed.

A former manager of a Weyerhaeuser plant, Robert Doll, 50, of Conecuh County, thinks that he lost his job due to his MS condition. Robert said that he has worked for at least 28 years with nine of those being at Weyerhaeuser for two separate periods, from 2005 to 2010 and from 2013 to 2017.

Doll, who got diagnosed with MS in 2011, was re-hired by Weyerhaeuser to revamp a mill in Castleberry. The mill increased in productivity culminating at having a banner year in 2016. Doll confirmed that he told the company about his MS condition in 2015 after a fall incident during a plant tour in McComb, Mississippi.

Initially, the company accommodated him with his condition, but with the increased costs of treatment, he eventually got fired in November 2017. Doll stated in a press statement that he thinks he lost his job due to his limited mobility, the high cost of treatment; and the reluctance of his superiors to accommodate him with his condition at the workplace.

It is challenging for the disabled who lose their jobs to fight back since legal actions are expensive and they pose uncertain outcomes. Doll confirmed that he wanted to be the voice for all other individuals in the same predicament.

Weyerhaeuser’s director of government affairs, Nancy Thompson, stated that the company avoids making public comments about potential legal matters or personnel decisions.

According to McPhillips, it is challenging to get any relief via the court system in a reasonable time even with the stringent federal laws meant to protect the disabled workers. The reason for this occurrence is partly due to the defendant companies having the capabilities to slow down the court process.

McPhillips believes that it is an uneven field and he plans to seek an audience with state legislators and members of Congress about probable alterations to the law.

 

Why the LLLT Program is Necessary

The LLLT is a paraprofessional legal program which operates within the United States. Currently, the program can only help you solve family law matters and all communications are supposed to go through the client since LLLTs are not allowed to negotiate in a court. Notably, more than 80 percent of U.S. citizens can’t afford an attorney to help solve civil matters, but with this program, this national crisis can ultimately be quelled. Below are reasons why LLLTs are important.

Access to Justice Should not be Limited to High-Income People

About 80 percent of Americans cannot afford an attorney fee since they receive low wages and have huge expense requirements. Due to the low income, most people carry huge debts which they use to commensurate with their meager earnings hence any unplanned expense will prove difficult to handle. Markedly, a typical family attorney will charge between $250 and $400 for every hour which is almost double of what LLLTs will charge. For example, if it is a four-hour representation, an LLLT will charge approximately $1,500, but an attorney can charge up to $4,000 which is significantly high.

They LLLTs are Perfectly Qualified to handle any Case

An attorney can start serving clients immediately after passing the bar exam which means he or she will have only a few hours of practice. On the other hand, LLLTs will be required to have up to 3,000 hours of practice alongside other rigorous requirements. This means that having an LLLT represent you in your case will be an added advantage since they will have formidable knowledge of your situation.

Helps Family Law Attorneys Broaden their Practice

When you look at the LLLT program from a business point of view, it is an opportunity for you as an attorney to broaden your practice since the target population will be high hence more clients. You can work with these independent technicians whenever there is a matter that needs professional courtroom negotiations which adds you hours of practice.

Evidently, LLLT is a welcome necessity in the current era since it helps the low-income people to access legal representation at a considerate price. Undoubtedly, LLLT will be of unquestionable help to you, whether you are an attorney or a low-income citizen. As such it is paramount to visit The Marshall Project for amazing services.

 

2 Pastors Arrested Over Neglecting Decomposing Corpse

Mary Alice Pitt Moore, aged 63, passed away in March 2015. Three years after her demise, arrangements were made for her body to be cremated at First Family Funeral Home. Instead, the decomposing corpse was locked up in an unrefrigerated room, covered in blankets and left to rot.

Fred Parker Jr., Moore’s legal spouse for 38 years, first heard of the funeral home via a relative. He paid the funeral home’s Greenwood branch to have the body of his late wife cremated, but they would, later on, not pick his calls. They were reluctant to turn over the supposed ashes. Mr. Parker would surprisingly realize that his late wife’s body was rotting all the while in a room within the funeral home. In March, Mr. Parker, along with his son Taras, sued First Family.

The co-owners of the Spartanburg funeral home, Pastors Roderick Cummings and Lawrence Meadows (both 40yrs old) were charged by The State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) with human remains desecration. The two were later released on bond. SLED arrest affidavits reveal that the pastors carried out this heinous act due to unsettled funeral bills by Moore’s family.

The family’s attorney, Christian Spradley, denies this by stating there was no evidence provided to back the claims. “Even though there may be an element of truth to their story, it does not, in any way, justify their inhumane actions.”

‘Grave Misdeeds,’ a special report that highlights how the state manages crematories and funeral homes in South Carolina, brought this story to light. This triggered swift action by SLED on the co-owners of the First Family funeral home. It has further stated that investigations on the said funeral home are open and ongoing. After the discovery of Moore’s rotting remains, the State Board of Funeral Service suspended the funeral home’s license.

Before this case, there have been several complaints filed against the First Family funeral home. Two previous customers stated that despite Mr. Meadows’ license to work as a funeral director being revoked in 2015, he took care of their funeral arrangements. He had since been very active at home, even going ahead to make an appearance on NBC’s ‘Today’ and brag about his funeral office.

Eventually, an alternative funeral home offered to carry out the cremation for free. The ashes were handed to her family.

 

Events Leading to the Death of John McNair

John McNair, who was Maryland’s offensive lineman was reported to have died as a result of heatstroke at the age of 19. The parents have been conducting extensive investigations about the events that led to his untimely death. According to the family lawyer Billy Murphy, the current findings could lead to a lawsuit in the near future.

Comments about the Death

The Maryland team members and coaches have not been available for interviews despite numerous approaches by reporters. However, former coaches and players claimed that Maryland has a toxic football culture which is based on humiliation and fear, with players being subjected to regular verbal abuse. Also, the management encourages unhealthy eating which results in poor health conditions. Despite these accusations, the university’s spokesman refused to give any comments.

Cause of Death

There are numerous claims that the former offensive lineman was forced to eat candy bars anytime he was watching his teammates train. The coach, Rick Court, was doing this intentionally with the aim of embarrassing John into losing weight. Regardless of whether a player was injured or overweight, the coach always required them to finish their workout even after they were exhausted. Investigations show that this must have been the primary cause of John’s death.

After McNair was subjected to outdoor training which involved ten 100 yards sprints, he had trouble recovering from this conditioning test and suffered a seizure. Markedly, seizures are known symptoms of exertional heatstroke and the medical staff should have known it from the start and gave the player the necessary medical intervention. According to medics, exertional heatstroke is 100 percent preventable hence the player was not supposed to die.

What Went Wrong

Once McNair had tested positive for exertional heatstroke, Maryland medical staff should have immersed him in cold water to cool his body up to 104 degrees. This should have been done within 30 minutes after the symptoms started to show. Evidently, Maryland did not treat him with cold water since when McNair reached the hospital, he had a temperature of 106 degrees.

The bottom line is that McNair’s medical situation was handled unprofessionally and his death should be blamed on the incompetence of Maryland’s staff members. The victim’s family has every right to file a lawsuit against this football team.

 

New Yorker Jeffrey Makuch, 66, Sues the Spirit of Norfolk

Two years ago, Jeffrey Makuch, 66, skid and fell while enjoying a round of cornhole at the Spirit of Norfolk. Jeffrey, who hails from NY, then filed a lawsuit claiming that the owners of the contemporary boat were to blame for the mishap. In his lawsuit, the prosecution claimed that Makuch suffered several unspecified injuries, some of them being severe.

$373,456 in Damages

Jeffrey’s lawyers were seeking compensation of around $373K to offset the damages and to pay the legal fees arising in the lawsuits. In their argument, the prosecution claimed that the boat’s management failed to inform their passengers, especially the senior citizens that it wasn’t safe for them to play on the decks.

No Comments

Both, Jeffrey’s attorney and a representative of the owner of the contemporary boat refused to give any comments on the issue. The Spirit of the Norfolk is a majestic boat that cruises up and down the Elizabeth River while entertaining guests. This boat underwent a massive renovation job in 2016 that cost $1.2 million.

The boat is such a Norfolk treasure that the entire elite community came out to celebrate the re-launch of the new Spirit of Norfolk. The governor and the mayor of Norfolk led the house full of guests in tossing for the great development touching their town.

What Happened?

In the lawsuit, the events leading to Jeffrey’s accident were brought to light. It all started when Jeffrey boarded the boat that was by then docked at the Town Point Park. Once inside the Spirit of the Norfolk, the 66-year-old male proceeded to the upper decks. Jeffrey observes that the boat’s upper deck was very hectic to walk by due to the crowded furniture occupying this space.

Slip and fall

It was during his walk to the top decks that an on-going game of cornhole caught Jeffrey’s attention. The plaintiff took a beanbag, and as he was tossing it, he slipped and fell on what we’re supposed to be antiskid decks. According to expert investigators, the plaintiff didn’t know that by effectively shifting his weight while tossing the beanbag, he would slip and hurt himself badly.

What’s more, slipping and falling was completely out of the question as the boat management claimed that the decks had a very high friction coefficient. Jeffrey Makuch was represented by the respected Norfolk-based attorney, Edwin Booth.

 

A Mother Sues Healthcare Providers over Son’s Death

HOPE Clinic pharmacies were sued by a mother who believes doctors at the clinic over-prescribed opioid medications to her son leading to his death. In a lawsuit, Inez Lewis said her son, Timothy Jason Lewis, who died on May 4, 2017, after overdosing, was introduced to drugs through negligent doctors’ prescriptions.

Inez claims that doctors at HOPE Clinic filled prescriptions despite suspicious prescription activity that violated the West Virginia Medical Professional Liability Act. The defendants in the lawsuit include; Cross Lanes Family Pharmacy Inc., four employees of HOPE Clinic, and Poca Valu-Rite Inc.

One of HOPE Clinic owners, James Blume, was among 12 people indicted in February for purportedly operating a pill mill at the clinic. Inez Lewis filed the lawsuit in Kanawha Circuit Court on June 29 on behalf of her son’s estate. This filing came four months after physicians, owners, employees, and managers at HOPE Clinic were accused of federal charges citing distribution of illegal substances.

The HOPE clinic team were accused of distributing Schedule II controlled substances, including oxycodone, outside their legal and intended medical purposes from November 2010 to June 2015. Their trials were rescheduled to November 5 from the original April dates presided at the Beckley courthouse by U.S. District Judge, Irene Berger.

The United States Drug Enforcement Administration rates all drugs on a five-tier system. Schedule I drugs have no medicinal use and are highly addictive while Schedule V drugs have low addiction capabilities, and commonly used in the treatment of common ailments. Inez Lewis said that the physicians started prescribing her son methadone and oxycodone in 2014.

Both drugs are strong painkillers but are highly addictive and quite lethal as stated in Inez’s lawsuit. None of these drugs were medically necessary for Timothy Lewis, and they contributed to his opioid addiction whose overdose ultimately caused his death. No defendant in the lawsuit reported the “suspicious prescription activity” to any federal regulatory agencies.

Timothy Houston of Brown Houston PLLC in Charleston represented Inez Lewis. The case was assigned to Judge Duke Bloom. The clinic had locations in Wytheville, Virginia and Beckley, Charleston, and Beaver in West Virginia. In February 2015, HOPE Clinic in Charleston closed down after West Virginia Office of Health Facility Licensure officers decided the clinic was risking patient lives.

Clinic’s branch in Beaver was also shut down with similar reports of narcotic auditors. The 12 defendants are faced with multiple charges including maintaining drug-involved premises, conspiracy to commit money laundering, distribution of controlled substances, and conspiracy to distribute oxycodone.
All defendants pleaded not guilty to these charges. Dr. John Pellegrini, a doctor at the Beckley HOPE Clinic is also charged with conspiracy to commit money laundering. He pleaded guilty in April and faces a jail term of up to 20 years in federal prison.

According to Federal prosecutors, HOPE Clinics operated in a cash-based business set up. They never accepted insurance for compensation for medications and services offered. According to the indictment, the clinic received at least $21 million from patients in cash payments from 2012 to 2015. It is alleged that clinic owners contracted physician’s services who knew nothing about pain management.

The physicians also conducted incomplete, cursory, or no thorough medical examinations of patients on many occasions. Inez Lewis, through the lawsuit, seeks unstipulated compensation for damages. She wants compensation for emotional distress, expenses arising from her son’s care and treatment, mental anguish, funeral expenses, and the loss of her son’s advice, guidance, comfort, and companionship.

Inez also seeks court costs and attorney’s fees together with all punitive damages against the defendants.