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Whistleblower Gets Fired, Sues City

In East Lansing, Michigan, a former city water treatment employee alleges to have been fired for alerting the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality about potentially hazardous conditions at the East Lansing water treatment center.

Troy Williams was fired last year on December 31st. City officials claim he was fired due to restrictions making him unable to perform his job, while Williams contends that it was retaliation for his whistleblowing activities. Williams had been a pump mechanic specialist with the city for nearly 10 years before being fired in 2018. Manda Denieleski, the lawyer representing Williams, remarked that the case sends an important message of solitary to future whistleblowers.

According to the lawsuit, Williams is claiming protected status as a whistleblower. Williams says that he made multiple reports to the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality over the years about hazards at the facility. He also alleges that the city threatened to fire him when he brought his concerns to their attention.

Williams is also involved in a preexisting lawsuit from 2015 that alleges the city of East Lansing covered up a 2007 study that found asbestos in the facility and that the city mishandled a 2013 mercury spill that endangered workers. Echoing the earlier threat, several employees have come forward saying the city told them to keep quiet about the asbestos report. East Lansing has been fined twice for asbestos and mercury-related problems. The first time for violating safety standards pertaining to asbestos and mercury and the second time for failing to correct the problems outlined in the first fine.

Williams is hoping to see a financial win from the city that will recover his lost wages and non-economic damages he has sustained—including health problems he alleges are connected to asbestos exposure. He also hopes to recoup the legal fees relating to his case. His lawyer commented that such fees can become quite high in these types of cases. Williams and his lawyer have hired the services of an economics expert to help better calculate the damages.

Londonderry Woman Sues Stumble Inn for Negligence in Trip and Fall Accident

A Londonderry woman who tripped and fell at the Stumble Inn three years ago has filed a lawsuit in the Rockingham County Superior Court against the bar and grille and its landlord, the B-Saini Group LLC.

According to the court documents, the plaintiff, Brittany Pescia, visited the Stumble Inn on April 8, 2016, at around 9 p.m. Pescia was walking towards the entrance just as two unnamed men were exiting. The suit alleges the men were engaged in a fight at the time of the incident.

Pescia alleges the Stumble Inn’s entrance was too narrow and did not allow Pescia and the two skirmishing men to simultaneously enter and exit. So as Pescia got closer, she was pushed, lost her balance, and fell to the ground.

The court documents allege that this fall resulted in Pescia receiving a cerebral concussion, mild traumatic brain injury, a spinal injury, and suffering long-term post-concussion syndrome. These injuries also forced Pescia to take time away from work and resulted in her losing a significant portion of wages.

The fall and the resulting injuries, the suit alleges, were largely caused by the bar’s negligence to fail and provide a proper entrance and exit area. The lawsuit alleges the bar and landlord failed to provide an adequate warning with signs alerting customers of the ”hazardous condition” via visual cues. The suit continues to allege they were likewise negligent in their failure to construct or provide a ramp and/or handrails in the area that she fell and was hurt and that such a failure to do so violates building and safety codes and standards.

The suit continues to allege that the bar, which had prominent signage declaring “Soup of the day is whiskey” was negligent in allegedly serving alcohol to a “person or persons who were intoxicated and/or showed signs of intoxication normally associated with the consumption of alchoholic beverages.”

Pescia filed this suit thorough Derry attorney Andrew D. Myers. It seeks a jury trial and does not list a specified amount of damages. The bar and its landlord group have not yet filed a response to the suit nor have they made a public statement refuting the aforementioned allegations.

Medical Mistakes Ruin Lives

In April 2017, Rickie and Judy Huitt were at The Iowa Clinic, located in Des Moines, where Rickie was scheduled for an operation. Earlier that year, the retired John Deere factory worker had been diagnosed with prostate cancer that required surgery. Dr. Joy Trueblood, one of the pathologists at the clinic, performed the procedure, removing his prostate gland. However, after another pathologist inspected the purportedly affected gland, it was determined the organ was never cancerous.

What Happened?

It seems as though Dr. Trueblood confused tissue sample slides from another male patient, that had cancer and attributed them to Mr. Huitt. The outcome of the surgery caused local nerve damage to the area, which resulted in incontinence and erectile dysfunction. It is difficult to comprehend the emotions the couple experienced after discovering the truth about this unnecessary treatment.

Unfortunately, this happens more than people could imagine. According to a study released in 2016 by Johns Hopkins, more than 250,000 cases of medical errors are the cause of death in the United States. Although Rickie Huitt survived, the wrong action taken by the physician made a devastating impact on him and his wife’s life.

Proper Compensation…

The couple filed a suit against The Iowa Clinic and Dr. Trueblood, seeking 15 million dollars in damages; however, Jack Hilmes, the attorney representing the clinic suggested that the sum of money awarded should be only $750,000. He stated that Rickie was 67 years old and although the operation he had was not required, he could still perform activities, such as mowing the yard and driving a vehicle to pick up his grandkids from school.

When Mrs. Huitt took the stand, she tearfully stated that the love life they had before had diminished and because of involuntary urination, he has to use several urine-absorbent pads every day. In addition, she felt their lives would never be complete again because of this major error by the medical community.

Nick Rowley, a famous malpractice suit lawyer, was the leader of the four-member team of attorneys The Huitts had hired to present their case in court. In his closing argument, Mr. Huitt told the jury that Rickie had lost his manhood and it could not be restored. They deserved the amount for which they were asking.

In the end, the Polk County jury awarded Rickie and Judy Huitt 12.25 million dollars.

Parkland Survivors and Their Families File a Variety of Lawsuits

More than a year after the tragic shooting in Parkland, Florida, the lawsuits and other various legal actions filed by the families and survivors have been winding their way through the courts. The most recent step forward occurred in early April of 2019 when 26 families and survivors placed legal actions on the grounds of negligence against the Broward County Sherriff’s Department, Stoneman Douglas High School, and a variety of other defendants. However, their suits will be delayed as the state of Florida and other governmental agencies attempt to work out the complex web of legal liability from the tragic event.

A compensation fund for the victims was originally discussed, but it appears to have lost momentum in the Florida legislature. The current legislative session comes to an end on May 3rd, and it is extremely unlikely that the fund will be discussed and passed in the time remaining. Lawyers for the victims and school board officials are casting blame over the failure of the compensation bill to pass, while legislators point to the already overloaded schedule and the issues involved in taxpayer compensation for the tragedy.

Meanwhile, the Florida Supreme Court is examining the question of whether the Parkland shooting should be considered, from the legal point of view, as one large shooting or as a series of small ones. This is a critical distinction, as the insurance companies would pay the survivors and their families approximately eleven times more compensation if it is seen as a number of individual shootings. The Florida Supreme Court’s decision will likely be foundational to all subsequent suits and challenges.

The coming lawsuits represent the survivors of ten individuals who were murdered on February 14, 2018, and twelve survivors who sustained physical wounds. Some legal actions cover more than one victim, while others represent groups. The Stoneman Douglas school has retained a lobbying firm to advocate for the taxpayer-funded victims’ fund, and they claim that their actions to secure this compensation demonstrate good faith on their part. The $160 million dollar fund, if passed, would provide more compensation than the insurance companies would alone, but in order to draw from it, the plaintiffs would have to agree to drop their legal cases. With the legislature likely to adjourn before passing a bill enacting this fund, the survivors and families face the possibility of another year in legal limbo.

Woman Falls to Her Death After Wandering from Retirement Home

Retirement homes are tasked with providing care, safety, and peace of mind to their residents. Even a minor oversight can lead to tragedy, a fact that the family of 78-year-old Barbara Jones-Davis knows all too well.

On the night of July 8, 2018, Jones-Davis wandered from Wesley Enhanced Living at Stapeley in Germantown, PA never to return. Living with dementia, Jones-Davis had a history of wandering, and her glaucoma made it difficult for her to safely navigate the grounds. Cameras showed her walking unattended for 23 minutes before she fell 15 feet from the unfenced property onto the concrete sidewalk on West Washington Lane. She suffered a skull fracture, bleeding in the brain, and broken bones, ultimately succumbing to her injuries later that night.

Jones-Davis’ daughters, Heather Davis-Stukes and Pamela Davis-Edwards, sued Stapeley on the grounds of negligence and wrongful death. The retirement home expressed their commitment to safety and condolences for Jones-Davis’ family, but could not provide further details on the matter.

Moving to a retirement home was a tough but necessary choice for Jones-Davis. Her daughters worried constantly about her worsening dementia and glaucoma and believed she needed more supervision. Jones-Davis initially refused to move to Stapeley in 2015, but reluctantly accepted in 2017 at her daughters’ behest. The sisters picked Stapeley for its beauty and myriad of activities. They also believed that their mother was becoming too isolated and needed to socialize more.

The suit mentions multiple occasions on which Jones-Davis was found wandering both inside and outside the building. Stapeley caregivers assured her daughters that their mother’s cognition had improved following treatment for a urinary tract infection, opting them to keep her in personal care rather than transferring her to the more monitored memory care. The sisters alleged that the staff knew she needed more supervision, but neglected to provide additional safeguards such as a wander guard, or bands that trigger locks or alarms when worn through a checkpoint.

Daniel Jeck, the lawyer arguing the case, deemed Jones-Davis’ death “totally preventable.” He also affirmed that his clients’ main goal was to understand the exact circumstances that led to their mother’s death and to improve safety at the retirement home.

Mother of Waukegan Mayor Will Dismiss Lawsuit Against Library and City for Fall on Sidewalk

On Monday, Lake County Board Vice Chairwoman Mary Ross Cunningham announced that she would drop a lawsuit that she filed against the city of Waukegan and the Waukegan Public Library. Cunningham, who is the mother of the mayor of Waukegan, had filed a lawsuit seeking $50,000 damages for a fall that took place outside the library in February of last year.

According to Mayor Sam Cunningham, an attorney representing the Waukegan Public Library is handling the case rather than the city’s regular attorney. He noted that officials would develop a strategy to deal with the potential conflict of interest should the city become involved.

The mayor said that he had known about the fall, but that he did not know that his mother was planning to sue. Mary Ross Cunningham said that she didn’t inform her son about the lawsuit because she believed the library was an entity separate from the city. However, even though the Waukegan Public Library possesses its own governing board, it is still part of Waukegan. The Waukegan possesses authority over how the public library is governed and it approves a property tax on its behalf.

According to Mary Ross Cunningham, the fall occurred when she was leaving a meeting at the library. She tripped on a section of broken sidewalk and fell, losing consciousness. Eventually, her niece took her to Vista Medical Center.

Eventually, Cunningham was discharged from the hospital. However, when she returned home, she couldn’t move. Ultimately, she had to spend an additional week at the Advocate Condell Medical Center in Libertyville. According to Cunningham, the fall caused her to suffer a re-injury of a disk in her back.

Retired Circuit Judge Jane Waller, another official of Lake County, received an award of $110,500 for an injury she suffered after she tripped on a sidewalk covered in snow in Waukegan.

The library’s attorney has not responded to requests for additional information. The attorney of Cunninghan declined to comment on the lawsuit because he doesn’t have the permissions to do so.

Boy’s foot is crushed on Universal Studios’ E.T. ride, lawsuit claims

While on vacation, an 11-year-old boy from Brazil had his leg and foot crushed while riding on the E.T. ride at Universal Studios. This incident occurred in late January, according to a lawsuit the mother filed. In late February, Roberta Perez filed the suit, seeking a minimum of $15,000 in damages for the incident that occurred on January 31.

During the incident, the left foot of Tiago Perez became stuck between the cement offloading area at the end of the ride and the ride vehicle. Tiago’s shoe fell off and his foot was crushed, according to attorney Edmund Normand, who is based in Orlando. The incident caused Tiago to break multiple bones in his leg, his toes, and his foot in a bloody scene.

The lawsuit claims that Universal Studios has knowledge prior to the accident that the design, testing, manufacture, construction, or operation of the E.T. Adventure ride created a dangerous environment resulting in injuries to the guest. However, Universal Studios continued to portray the ride as safe to the public. Universal Studios declined to comment on the lawsuit or the allegations.

E.T. Adventure is one of the original rides of Universal Studios Florida when the park opened in the year of 1990. The ride involves taking riders up in the air on bicycles to recreate scenes from the movie E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. The rider is then taken to the recreated Green Planet.

According to Normand, Tiago didn’t do anything wrong to cause the accident. He was simply being a normal rider and kid. The feet of Tiago were not on the pedals of the bike. Rather, his feet dangled. However, they were inside the vehicle of the ride as required. Normand is attempting to obtain video footage of the incident. The family of Tiago were witnesses of the incident. His mother sat with Tiago in the same row while the rest of his family members were behind him.

Tiago is currently receiving treatment from an orthopedic surgeon in Brazil. He still hasn’t returned to school many weeks after the incident. Tiago must keep his foot elevated and his hasn’t been able to return to playing on his soccer team in Brazil.

Federal Lawsuit Alleges Charleston County Failed to Protect Paramedic From Sexual Harassment

When Kristin Hammond was sexually harassed while trying to perform her job as a paramedic, she reacted immediately with verbal reprimands. When it happened multiple times, she reported the behavior. She says nothing was done to protect her or other employees who were experiencing the same kind of abuse.

The first incident occurred when the Crew Chief slapped her buttocks as she walked past him after clocking in. Another time, he grabbed her breast, and yet another time he placed his hands on her hips and thrust himself at her in a sexual manner. Ms. Hammond tried to press criminal charges against Crew Chief Malcolm DeFleice, but the charges were dropped without her permission.

Not Part of the Job

After Ms. Hammond started her pursuit of justice, she says other female employees came forward detailing the same kind of complaints. According to the lawsuit, Mr. DeFleice exhibited an ongoing pattern of sexual harassment over a period of five and a half years, during which time he suffered no consequences for his actions.

Not only that, Charleston County Emergency Medical Services (CCEMS) offered no sexual harassment training for supervisors or employees until after Ms. Hammond had filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). There were no policies prohibiting sexual harassment, no policies on how to deal with sexual harassment, and no education on sexual harassment within the organization.

According to the Journal of Emergency Medical Services, sexual harassment against emergency personnel isn’t just a problem women face. When a work environment is rife with interpersonal strife and unpleasant behavior, it causes problems for everyone within the organization. This is a particularly serious problem in an environment like emergency services where individuals depend on each other in sensitive and stressful situations.

Never Again

Ms. Hammond hopes that by filing a lawsuit she can keep these kinds of situations from happening again. What happened in the CCEMS could happen anywhere if the people involved aren’t aware of their rights and responsibilities toward others. The kind of behavior directed toward women in the organization didn’t just affect them, but their families and communities.

When It’s Child Abuse It’s Never Too Late

The statute of limitations has been met, simply meaning no criminal charges can be filed from that point forward, but for at least a few men justice exceeds punishment. So far, five men have come forward to claim child abuse charges and they hope that the expiration of criminal litigation doesn’t mean an expiration on getting justice.

Stories like the one from the Greenwich Time broke in early March, reporting the allegations made by these men, now in their late 40’s to early 50’s in a suit filed against the Boys & Girls Club of Greenwich. According to the filings, the abuse occurred from 1975 to 1984, during which time multiple acts of abuse allegedly took place.

According to court documents, one of the primary perpetrators of the abuse was Andrew Atkinson, who was a member of the club that later became a counselor. Based on the allegations, Atkinson abused the boys as a member and that abuse became more severe once he acquired a leadership role. While the charges are disturbing, to say the least, Atkinson has made a statement and claims to be innocent of any and all charges in the civil suit.

The Boys & Girls Club of Greenwich has also stepped forward to assure children, parents and the public that they actively take and continue to take every necessary precaution to protect their children. Based on statements made by the club, they employ cameras, background checks and other measures to ensure the safety of the children. That is great news today but what about these men? What about all the cases of yesterday?

A well-known fact about child abuse stated in another story said, “… most incidents involving the sexual abuse of a minor go unreported.” These brave men, all these years later, are not letting their unheard reports as children continue to go unheard. If found guilty, these alleged crimes won’t receive a criminal penalty due to the aforementioned statute of limitations. What will happen, however, is that they will be acknowledged and the voices of those children will finally be heard.

We can’t undo a crime, but we can listen, we can make it better and hopefully, we can heal.

Android Inventor Accused of Sexual Misconduct Gets $90 million in Severance and $150 Million Stock Grant

According to a lawsuit, Alphabet Chief Executive Officer Larry Page gave Andy Rubin, creator of Android, a $150 million stock grant without getting any board approval. The company is accused of covering up his alleged misconduct when he left the company in October 2014. At the time of his leaving, Page said that he wished Andy the best in a public statement.

Page did get approval for the compensation package from the board committee over a week after granting the payout to Rubin. In addition to the stock grant, he also received a $90 million severance package.

Allegations in the lawsuit pull Page into the controversy that surrounds how Google handled the sexual harassment complaints against Rubin. Usually, the Alphabet co-founder stays behind the scenes and Google CEO Sundar Pichari deals with the criticism of the company culture. Inventors claim that the board failed in its duties by allowing the harassment to happen and approved the big payouts while keeping the details private. The complaint targets top committee members and executives, including the Alphabet Chief Legal Officer.

An employee had accused Rubin of sexual misconduct. The woman was having an extramarital affair when he forced her into performing oral sex while in a hotel room in 2013. Google investigated the claim and concluded that the claim was credible.

Instead of just firing him and paying him nothing on the way out, he was awarded a huge settlement and that’s what the plaintiffs are complaining about. Rubin’s settlement was paid in installments of about $2 million a month for four years. The last payment ended in November 2018. The lead lawyer has said that their own investigation showed there was harassment, but there were still large payouts.

The complaint was made public in March 2019 at a California state court in San Jose. The suit was originally filed in January, but some claims were blocked from the public.

After news of this, the company was pressured to make changes last year. Tens of thousands of Google workers walked out of work in November to protest how the company handled the sexual misconduct claims. Google has promised to be more forceful in handling these cases.