Archive for the ‘Insurance Claims’ Category

Chicago’s Sacred Heart Hospital Arrests: CEO/Owner, Executive and 4 Doctors Arrested Today in FBI Sting Alleging Things Like Unnecessary Procedures Performed on Patients for Profits Through Insurance Fraud

April 16th, 2013 by admin

Today, agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Office of the Inspector General’s Human Services Department entered Chicago’s Sacred Heart Hospital on West Franklin Boulevard and started making arrests.

Four Chicago Doctors, Hospital Owner, and Hospital Executive Arrested This Morning by FBI

Not of visitors, not of patients – no, in today’s federal operation the men arrested in Chicago were four doctors, one hospital administrator, and the owner of the hospital itself. The youngest man arrested is 57 years old, the oldest is age 75.

According to the press release issued by the U.S. Department of Justice, these six people have been charged with serious violations of federal law, for things like performing unnecessary procedures on patients so they could file for more money in claims to Medicare and Medicaid. Here are those arrested today, as identified in the Justice Department report:

EDWARD J. NOVAK, 58, of Park Ridge, Sacred Heart’s owner and chief executive officer since the late 1990s;
ROY M. PAYAWAL, 64, of Burr Ridge, executive vice president and chief financial officer since the early 2000s; and
DR. PERCY CONRAD MAY, JR., 75, of Chicago,
DR. SUBIR MAITRA, 73, of Chicago, and
DR. SHANIN MOSHIRI, 57, of Chicago.

Sacret Heart Hospital: Long History With Chicago

You may recognize Sacred Heart Hospital as a small facility (119 beds) that has been serving Chicago since the 1920s. According to U.S. News and World Report. Sacred Heart is one of approximately 220 hospitals serving the Chicago area as a “… general medical and surgical hospital … accredited by the American Osteopathic Association.”

Image: CDC Image Library - Surgery

What Did These Doctors (and Hospital Administrators) Allegedly Do?

  • kickbacks being made in order to send patients to the hospital for treatment that ran into hundreds of thousands of dollars;
  • unnecessary medical treatments including one physician’s claim of “…almost daily [unnecessary] penile implant procedures on patients”  until Medicare dropped what it would pay for these claims;
  • having staff perform the work of a physician in order to save money;
  • working with some unnamed ambulance companies so they would bring nursing home patients to the hospital “irrespective of any medical necessity” where the hospital profited by their admission and the ambulance company by billing for transport as emergency room patients.
  • an unnamed doctor (not one of the four arrested today) is suspected of performing unnecessary intubations on people in order to bill insurance for the procedures as well as boosting the amount of those claims by directing heavy sedation be used on these patients: here, the allegation is severe because his greed has resulted in many people being forced to have tracheotomies which may not have been medically necessary, which is the procedure alleged to be Sacred Heart’s “biggest money maker” with each of these procedures bringing in $160,000/tracheotomy if the tracheotomy patient stays at Sacred Heart for 27 or more days as an inpatient.

Chicago Has Been Victimized by Unacceptable, Shocking Actions by Health Care Providers

Physicians and hospitals are places of care, where loved ones are entrusted to professionals to mend their injuries and to heal their wounds, cure their diseases.  The actions outlined in today’s federal complaint shows actions that betray that trust — that slash at the credibility of the name of this facility itself: Sacred Heart.  Shame on those guilty of these bad acts.

However, there are others to consider here, as well.  People have been hurt here by greed — assuming that these allegations are proven true, then patients have received unnecessary treatment and elder nursing home residents have experienced unneeded trauma of being moved from their homes to the hospital in unwarranted scares.  These claims of injury will not be addressed in the Justice Department operation; once again, these victims of crime must look to the civil justice system of personal injury law for redress.

One More Example of The Distinction Between Criminal Justice Goals and Civil Justice Ability to Help the Victim

It is important to remember the need for that arm of justice in times like these, despite the criticisms of the personal injury lawsuit.  It is needed for justice to be done because the criminal justice system exists to do what the FBI did today: make criminal arrests based upon allegations of crimes to stop criminals from taking further action.  Its focus is on punishing wrongdoers; it is the civil system that focuses on helping the victim.  Consider the statements made today:

“These charges and the affidavit’s other allegations outline a kickback conspiracy to bribe doctors to refer patients to Sacred Heart where they would be treated in in an environment in which the quality of care and appropriate medical analysis were less important than maximizing the numbers of patients funneled into the hospital,” said Gary S. Shapiro, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois.

“The payment of kickbacks or bribes in exchange for the referral of Medicare or Medicaid patients, regardless of the form in which they are paid, is a crime,” said Lamont Pugh III, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago Region of HHS-OIG. “The Office of Inspector General will continue to work closely with our law enforcement partners to aggressively investigate alleged illegal patient referral schemes and hold accountable those who seek to exploit vulnerable patients and the Medicare and Medicaid programs.”

“Today’s arrests demonstrate our commitment to enforcing the laws intended to prevent abuses of the Medicare and Medicaid programs and to preserve the ability of those programs to provide appropriate medical services to the elderly and the needy,” said Cory B. Nelson, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago Office of the Federal Bureau of investigation.

National Crime Victims’ Rights Week: Justice Is the Goal of Both Criminal And Civil Actions for Victims of Crime

April 2nd, 2013 by admin

This month, the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office for Victims of Crime will promote awareness of the rights and needs of crime victims across the country with “National Crime Victims’ Rights Week” from April 21 – 27, 2013.

Crime Victims Studies Reveal Certain Groups Targeted More Often Than Others

From federal analysis of crimes committed in the United States over many decades, the following facts have been revealed from statistical studies:

  • Overall, crime is disproportionately committed by males (see “Homicide”).
  • Some crimes (e.g., stalking, intimate partner violence, sexual assault), are predominantly committed by males against females (see “Stalking,” “Intimate Partner Violence”).
  • Although crime tends to disproportionately affect racial and ethnic minorities (both as victims and offenders), most crimes are committed by whites against whites.
  • Certain populations are disproportionately affected by crime, not necessarily because of the sheer numbers of victims but as a result of crime’s greater impact on these groups (see “Elder Victimization,” “Crime against Persons with Disabilities,” “Children, Youth, and Teen Victimization”).
  • Young people (16-24) are the population group most victimized by crime. They also commit the most crimes (see “Children, Youth, and Teen Victimization”).

(To read the entire NCJRS Statistical Overviews Report, go here.)

Criminal Justice System Not Able to Fully Provide Justice to Crime Victims

The essence of the criminal justice system – from arrest to conviction and sentencing – is to find the wrongdoer who violated state or federal crime laws and punish this person for doing so.  Victims of crime do not take part in this process directly:  they do not set at the prosecutor’s table, they don’t argue to the judge or jury, they don’t negotiate plea bargains.

Groups exist to help crime victims get help for damages they have suffered as the result of a crime. In Indiana, for example, agencies offer help in filing compensation claims, getting emergency financial assistance, and support through victims’ groups and psychological counseling.

All of this is good and necessary.  However, the civil system offers many crime victims another avenue to seek justice: through personal injury lawsuits.  For many crime victims, it will be through the civil laws and personal injury lawsuits that justice fully and finally prevails.

Crime Victims Can Find Justice in Injury Lawsuits Filed Against the Perpetrator of the Crime — and Other Parties, Too

These injury lawsuits may be filed against the perpetrator: the same person (or persons) who is facing criminal action for committing a crime.  However, laws also exist on the books that provide remedies in the form of legal duties placed on other potential parties to the injury case.

For example, most states have passed bullying prevention laws to place duties on schools to protect students.  In these instances, a victim of assault by a bully may have a personal injury claim against the school district as well as against the bully who physically hurt him (or her).

During National Crime Victims Rights Week, let’s remember to educate crime victims that their rights extend not only to seeing the person who did them wrong face punishment in the criminal system, these victims may have rights under personal injury law that offer justice, as well.

Federal HIPAA Protection of Medical Records Gets New Regulations in 2013: The Final Omnibus Rule Designed for Electronic Medical Records

January 22nd, 2013 by admin

Medical records contain extremely personal information – anything from weight and age, to chronic medical conditions that some might find embarrassing if widely known (for example, minor skin rashes) to serious health issues that might impact someone’s ability to find and keep a job, or to be accepted in various social situations where stigmas regarding certain medical conditions or illnesses still exist.  There are many, many good reasons for an individual’s medical records to be protected as private information.

Correspondingly, from a personal injury advocate’s point of view, the sanctity and security of medical records need the utmost protection because it is only through the veracity of these health care records that justice can be determined in many situations: not only in the determination of long term health care needs in assessing damages claims and settlement amounts in injury cases (especially those involving TBIs, spinal cord injuries, and other debilitating conditions) but also in the investigation of proximate cause of injuries in situations involving doctor error, medical malpractice, drug injuries, and other medical harms.

HIPAA Protects Patient Privacy

One protection provided to medical records and their confidentiality has been the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA).   Under HIPAA, federal law protects the confidentiality of a patient’s personal health information as it has been recorded by various health care providers (hospitals, doctors, clinics, labs, etc.) and the law also gives patients specific rights to access that health information.  As written, HIPPA allows disclosure of your personal health information when it is needed to assist in your current medical care needs as well as other important uses (like investigating whether or not improper treatment was provided).

Now, the federal government has acted to create another rule to protect privacy in patient files:  the Department of Health and Human Services has announced a new rule to work under the umbrella of HIPPA:  the “final omnibus rule.”

“Much has changed in health care since HIPAA was enacted over fifteen years ago,” said HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. “The new rule will help protect patient privacy and safeguard patients’ health information in an ever expanding digital age.”

According to the HHS Release announcing the new rule, these changes will patch holes discovered in the past, especially revelations of patient health information that have come through “business associates” of health care providers and health insurance claims processing companies.

Additionally, patients are now going to be able to request and receive electronic versions of their medical records (i.e., get them by email from their doctor, etc.).

“This final omnibus rule marks the most sweeping changes to the HIPAA Privacy and Security Rules since they were first implemented,” said HHS Office for Civil Rights Director Leon Rodriguez. “These changes not only greatly enhance a patient’s privacy rights and protections, but also strengthen the ability of my office to vigorously enforce the HIPAA privacy and security protections, regardless of whether the information is being held by a health plan, a health care provider, or one of their business associates.”

You can read the new rule online.

Prescription Drugs That Can Cause Suicide: More People Die from Suicide in the U.S. Than Car Accidents – The Dangers of Prescription Drugs

October 11th, 2012 by admin

A new research study published in the American Journal of Health finds that more people are dying by their own hand than people are dying in car crashes.  You can read the report here.

That’s a scary and serious statistic.  So many people are asking what is going on — and here’s the thing:  a lot of it is due to prescription drugs.

That’s right: drugs that only get into the hands of the public via a prescription signed by a doctor or someone else legally authorized to do so under state law.  The very purpose of a prescription is to protect people against these powerful drugs.  Prescriptions by definition limit dosage and amount available — and presumably include the health care professional’s monitoring of the drug’s impact and success.  Right?  Well, maybe not.

Consider this: it’s understood that prescription drugs are playing a big part in these suicides (it’s called “intentional poisoning”) and there are national seminars being held to study the situation – like a recent one in New England where doctors and others gathered together to discuss this growing national crisis.   Which is good.

However, what we know is that people are killing themselves by taking overdoses of drugs that are only available because a doctor signed a prescription pad to allow the drug to be purchased at a pharmacy or drug store.  Not that much discussion is being had right now on the doctor’s duty here.

We do have studies on correlations between particular drugs and suicide.  That’s right: some drugs have suicide as a side effect, or what they term “suicidal ideations” or “suicidal thoughts” or “suicidal tendencies.”

Chantix, for example, has been known to have suicidal ideations as a side effect for years.  It’s still on the market.

The FDA warned doctors in 2008 that the following anti-epileptic drugs, available through a prescription, had suicidal side effects:

  • Carbamazepine (marketed as Carbatrol, Equetro, Tegretol, Tegretol XR)
  • Divalproex sodium (marketed as Depakote, Depakote ER)
  • Felbamate (marketed as Felbatol)
  • Gabapentin (marketed as Neurontin)
  • Lamotrigine (marketed as Lamictal)
  • Levetiracetam (marketed as Keppra)
  • Oxcarbazepine (marketed as Trileptal)
  • Pregabalin (marketed as Lyrica)
  • Tiagabine (marketed as Gabitril)
  • Topiramate (marketed as Topamax)
  • Zonisamide (marketed as Zonegran)

The Citizens Commission on Human Rights International has an excellent article with numerous case references where prescription drug usage is connected to suicide.  People taking drugs that the doctor told them decided to kill themselves. People like teenagers and U.S. soldiers and other innocent victims of Big Pharma products.

That’s right.  We’re not talking about addicts grabbing pills in back alleys — we’re talking patients taking pills the doctor prescribed for them.  Shouldn’t those doctors have some responsiblity here?  And what about the pharmacy, do they have a duty to warn you when you buy this stuff?  And what about the drug maker, what is their responsibility here?

If your loved one has committed suicide by intentional poisoning or after taking prescription drugs connected or thought to be connected to suicidal side effects, then you have a right to ask these questions and to have them answered.  This national statistic is shocking and infuriating. According to this article, you will need to ask these questions – maybe in a lawsuit – because the government is not asking them for you.

ObamaCare and Personal Injury Accident Victims: Insurance Policies in an Accident That Causes Serious Injury or Death

September 20th, 2012 by admin

Personal injury claims as well as those for wrongful death under the applicable state statute usually bring with them a bagful of insurance coverage issues.  Car crashes, for example, will involve coverage issues for policies purchased by both the innocent victim in a wreck as well as the policy that covers the negligent driver (which might be a company policy in cases like big rig semi truck accidents).

There are also claims that may be made under various health insurance policies.  When people suffer from listeria exposure from food they’ve purchased at a grocery store or kids are hurt playing on a playground, then the first coverage issues to be addressed are those policies given to emergency room personnel. Parents rushing their injured child to the hospital aren’t thinking about insurance coverage issues, nor should they be.

ObamaCare Questions for the Personal Injury Victim

Which means that there are questions being raised concerning the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), most commonly known as “ObamaCare.”  In this week’s news coverage there are stories that the Congressional Budget Office has just released a new report on how ObamaCare will impact the American public and that the CBO’s coverage was off the mark by around 6 million people in the number of folk who could be required to pay a tax penalty under ObamaCare if they don’t get some kind of medical insurance policy. In other words, under ObamaCare if someone doesn’t get medical coverage and they meet certain criteria, then they will have to pay a tax penalty, and the number of people who might be in this situation is 6 million more than previously reported by the CBO.

For more information on ObamaCare, check out these sites:

Remember, Injury Victims Look to Various Insurance Policies in Damages Coverage

In accident and injury situations, the innocent person will have damages covered by various policies and people, depending upon the situation that they are facing.  If, for example, they are hurt working on the job, then workers’ compensation may cover their medical expenses, long term care needs, medications, etc.  Each state has its own set of workers’ compensation laws that have been passed by the state to protect people who are injured on the job.

For some employees, special laws exist that apply instead of the general workers’ compensation laws.  For example, railroad workers are covered by a federal law, the Federal Employees Liability Act (FELA). A man or woman who who spends at least 30% of his or her workday onboard either a specific vessel or a fleet of vessels under common ownership or control may have their on the job injuries covered by the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act.

If someone is injured or killed in an accident with a big rig, semi-truck (18-wheeler), then the insurance policy of both the trucking company, the truck driver, and the owner of the cargo being hauled that set up the load for transport, or the construction company that was doing repairs on the roadway at the time, may be covering the damages costs of the accident victim. In trucking accidents, claims may be made against several defendants who share some fault for the accident.

Insurance issues can get complicated quickly, and there can be fights between insurance carriers about which policy should cover what damage in certain situations, but for the personal injury victim the issue is justice and the wrongdoer is responsible for their negligent, grossly negligent, or intentional bad act.

Exposure to Things That Can Kill You: Legionnaire’s Disease or a Deadly Virus – Who Is Responsible and How Can You Be Safe?

August 28th, 2012 by admin

Exposure to things that can kill you or your loved ones: it happens every day in America.  However, right now the news reports are popping up about major exposures to large numbers of people — at hotels like the Chicago Mariott or staying in popular vacation spots like Yosemite National Park — that are threatening thousands of lives.

Legionnaire’s Disease Exposure in Chicago Marriott: 8500 People Known to Be at Risk

Right now, loved ones are grieving the lost of two people who died after being exposed to Legionnaire’s Disease while staying at the Chicago Mariott. Six other people are still alive but suffering from the Chicago outbreak of Legionnaire’s during their hotel stay.    Anyone staying at the popular hotel between July 16, 2012, and August 16, 2012, is at risk of becoming ill from exposure to Legionnaire’s Disease — and that means over 8,500 guests at the JW Marriott  are at risk.

According to the Mayo Clinic, Legionnaire’s Disease is pneumonia, but a very serious kind of pneumonia: a “super” pneumonia, if you will, that is caused by exposure to legionella bacteria.   People breathe in the bacteria, and the bacteria causes an infection in the body that results in lung inflammation.   Sometimes, people don’t get sick enough from the bacteria to get full-out Legionnaire’s Disease; instead, they get a milder version called “Pontiac Fever.”  Pontiac Fever doesn’t kill people; Legionnaire’s Disease does.  Legionnaire’s Disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), will kill up to 30% of those exposed.

Deadly Virus Exposure in Yosemite National Park Threatens Over 1700 People

At the same time, family and friends are grieving over the deaths of two people who were exposed to a toxic virus and then died from hantavirus pulmonary syndrome — all from exposure during their vacation time in Yosemite National Park.  HPS is caused by exposure to rodent feces, urine, and saliva. In other words, rats or mice.

It’s not known exactly how these people caught HPS during their stay in Yosemite’s cabins, but it is known that humans can get hantavirus from rodents from all kinds of exposure:

  • breathing in the hantavirus;
  • getting bit by the rodent (rare);
  • touching something that has been contaminated with hantavirus-infected urine, droppings, or saliva, and then spreading that hantavirus by then touching their mouth or nose;
  • eating something that a rodent infected with the hantavirus has contaminated with its saliva, its urine, or its droppings.

Over 1700 people may have been exposed to the same deadly circumstance, according to official reports. All of these people at risk will have stayed in the “Signature Tent Cabins” in Yosemite’s Curry Village sometime during this summer (since June).

Right now, the CDC is reporting that two other people have become sick from this hantavirus and it appears that the experts are predicting that more people who spent time in these cabins will also become ill (or have become ill but haven’t been reported yet) from this exposure. It has a reported fatality rate of 38%.

Who Is Responsible?

In these situations, where people who were guests in either park cabins or fancy hotel rooms ended up dying or seriously ill just because they stayed in those facilities, both state and federal laws come into play to try and find justice for these victims and their families. Sadly, wrongful death statutes under state law can apply to the tragic situations where people died from their exposure.

Personal injury law forms the cornerstone of these actions.  Specifically, premises liability laws come into play.  Those who invited people to come and stay are responsible for the safety and welfare of their guests. Hotels, motels, executive suites, bed and breakfasts — these are all businesses who take on the risk of being sued by their guests for injuries and accidents sustained on their premises in exchange for being in the business of providing guest quarters to their clientele.

One twist with the rodent exposure, though, is the fact that the invitation to stay in the cabins came from a governmental entity since Yosemite National Park is a federal park. Of course, other parties may be involved here: for example, early news reports are that a third-party company contracting with the government as a concessionaire was already on site, disinfecting the cabins.

Governments are sometimes protected by immunity statutes, and sometimes have special laws in place to cover these situations and how claims are made (and what is covered).  Private companies, including third party companies that contract with the government, may not have immunity protections and can be sued under the appropriate state law for damages sustained by both the victim and his loved ones from the exposure.

Public Citizen Report on Doctor Discipline by State Medical Boards: It’s Not Good and Risk of Medical Malpractice Remains High

May 22nd, 2012 by admin

Public Citizen is a consumer watchdog group that works long and hard to protect Americans with programs to advocate for affordable, clean, and sustainable energy; to insure auto and highway safety; and to fight for patient safety – which includes making doctors accountable for their mistakes and bad acts.

This week, Public Citizen released its yearly report on how well or how bad the various states are doing in monitoring the doctors licensed in their states, and in taking disciplinary actions against doctors when the need arises.  You can read the Public Citizen Physician Accountability Report for 2012 online here.

Are You and Your Loved Ones at Risk of Medical Malpractice? Yes.

From the Public Citizen research and investigation into 2011 physician actions and state medical board data, we know the following:

3.06 doctors out of every 1,000 were subjected to serious disciplinary actions by state medical boards: Public Citizen suggests that the low numbers mean that doctors are not getting disciplined as they should be by the state authorities.

The best states to practice as a bad doctor?  Public Citizen’s Worst 10 list is:

  • South Carolina
  • District of Columbia
  • Minnesota
  • Massachusetts
  • Connecticut
  • Wisconsin
  • Rhode Island
  • Nevada
  • New Jersey
  • Florida.

Medical malpractice is real.  Doctors make mistakes that cause serious harm and sometimes the wrongful death of their patient.  Let’s hope that the hard work of watchdog groups like Public Citizen prod those responsible in protecting us – like state medical boards – into doing more to keeping us all safe.

FDA May Approve Drugs Without Doctors’ Prescription While More Doctors Bypass Insurance Companies: Good News As Long As Public Citizens Are Protected From Negligence Harm

May 1st, 2012 by admin

This week, the Food and Drug Administration announced that it is considering allowing several drugs that need a doctor’s prescription right now to be made available to Americans without a physician’s okay. This move is still being debated by the FDA, but it has a lot of support since it would make some very popular drugs for things like diabetes much cheaper for people to buy.

1.  Legally Get Prescription Drugs Without a Doctor? That May Be True Very Soon.

If the FDA goes ahead with this proposal, doctors would be taken out of the loop for many Americans as they would get drugs based on answering a questionaire about their symptoms.  Sounds efficient, but doctors warn that this is risky.  Not having a medical professional checking out an individual’s symptoms may mean something is missed, and the person is harmed.

2.  Doctors Practicing Without Dealing With Health Insurance?  That’s Happening Now.

Meanwhile, doctors are reacting to costs on their own.  There is a growing national trend for physicians to opt for “direct pay model” practices, otherwise known as “concierge” medicine.  (Here’s a list of these practices.)

In these new doctors’ offices, the doctor offers you a membership in a monthly service plans at a reasonable rate, and may well also offer pay-as-you-go options.  The doctor does NOT accept insurance.  Most doctors are finding that after they transition to this new model, they are making more money than they did before, and they aren’t having to deal with insurance companies at all.  Neither are their patients, as many Americans who currently are without health insurance are finding these “direct pay” doctors an answer to a prayer.

3.  Risks to Consider – What Happens When Someone Is Hurt by a Mistake?

The reason that personal injury law exists is to protect those that have been hurt through no fault of their own: victims of mistakes made by others who need justice.  With these changes in the medical industry, what happens to Americans when they get drugs through a questionnaire or they go to a concierge doctor and because of a medical mistake, they are seriously injured or killed?

Product liability laws will still protect for some drug errors; however, people will need to be very careful in answering questionnaires and they will need to trust that those questionnaires are going to protect them.  No doctor being involved means that an experienced health care professional will not be involved in that drug being dispensed to the patient.  Who will be legally responsible for errors made by the questionnaire?  Will the finger be pointed at the patient for the harm he or she has suffered?

As for concierge medicine, doctors will still carry medical malpractice coverage.  They are simply offering another way of doing business that skirts the health insurance carrier.  Patients with coverage can still file their own claims – the doctor’s office just isn’t going to be involved.

Times are changing, and sometimes change is good.  Be careful out there.

Video of Chicago Teen Beaten By Gang Goes Viral: Assaults Upon Children Must Be Stopped

January 17th, 2012 by admin

Today, a YouTube video has gone viral that shows the vicious and cruel beating of a teenager by six individuals who are now being held by Chicago police for charges related to the beating.  Two more men are being sought in addition to the six behind bars this afternoon.  Because of its graphic nature, we are not placing the video here but those interested can see the video at any of the news sites linked in this post.

The boy was hurt by the assault which took place behind a local elementary school.

According to news reports, this beating was done in response to an earlier attack, where 20 people assaulted two teens.  On Sunday afternoon, the 17 year old boy is shown on the video (that lasts over 3 minutes) being overtaken and having his wallet and shoes taken from him.  He is hit, kicked, and drug along the ground in the video.   He is choked.  Some take big chunks of ice and use them as weapons.

At last, the boy is still, lying there.  Helpless.  Hurt.  All while the video camera captures everything for the eventual YouTube upload. Eventually, the victim rises and runs away.

Interestingly, the very fact that the evildoers put the video online may prove to be their undoing.  As the video went viral, media reports are that over 500 comments were left and calls made to the local law enforcement, some going so far as to name names of those shown beating the boy on the screen.  Virtual finger pointing.  The web version of an eyewitness testifying?

Today, this event is making the national news.  The good thing is that the victim has been treated and released from a local hospital.  And it’s being reported that the gang members will be charged as this being a “strong arm robbery.”

This Is A Growing National Problem – Videotaped Assaults Are Trendy.

Similar videos exist for other attacks upon kids in this country.  Consider the videotaped beating on a Mississippi school bus.  Or the similar group of teens assault upon a 13 year old in Philadelphia. There are more; you just have to surf the web for them.

Assaults Upon Children in this Country Must Stop

Arrests will be made, no doubt, in this Chicago case.  However, in this case as well as countless other beatings of children in this country, there is more than can be done to find justice for the victim and to put an end to this kind of violence: personal injury lawsuits.

In assaults on children, private civil lawsuits can work to force better protections for kids who are in danger of being hurt and assaulted like the teen shown in this viral video.   How the causes of action are framed would depend upon the situation; however, one clear example would be municipal liability causes of action.  Here, violent assaults on public school or city  property can be the basis of a liability suit if there were shown to be inadequate security or neglectful property maintenance that was a cause of the harm.  City governments, school districts, owners of premises, etc. may be held legally accountable for not doing more to protect kids from this sort of thing.

These child beating law suits are being filed by parents all over the country, and it perhaps through these civil suits that school bullying will be become the subject of widespread assault by those with the power to stop these horrible injuries on children.

Home Fires Can Be Deadly: Illinois Electrical Expert’s Death In Tragic Home Fire and Explosion Is Reminder For Us All

October 4th, 2011 by admin

According to the U.S. Fire Administration (a division of FEMA), over 3,500 Americans die every year in fires (18,300 more are injured), and most of these fires sadly, and perhaps shockingly, occur in their own home.

Tragic Death of Electrical Expert David Mugerditchian Should Serve As Needed Reminder to Families Everywhere About the Need to Check for Home Fire Safety

David Mugerditchian, 60, of Des Plaines, was the victim of a horrific fire and explosion at his home on Monday and after suffering burns over 96% of his body, he passed away last evening. In an ironic turn of events, Mr. Mugerditchian was an expert on this sort of thing: he had made his living for many years as an electrical inspector, employed by the City of Des Plaines and earlier by Underwriter’s Laboratories.

The cause of the explosion and fire are not yet known; neighbors heard the explosion early that morning, a little after eight o’clock. Mr. Mugerditchian was found in the backyard, unable to explain exactly what happened. All that Hoffman Estates Fire Department investigators know for now is that this was an accident.

By all accounts, David Mugerditchian was a fine man, a hero who once saved a man from a burning building, who is respected by his colleagues and beloved by friends and family. Our sincerest condolences go out to all who are grieving this untimely passing.

His story should serve as a reminder to families in our area of the importance of fire safety in our homes.  From the USFA come the following suggestions.

Please take the time to consider the following for your family:

Every Home Should Have at Least One Working Smoke Alarm

Buy a smoke alarm at any hardware or discount store. It’s inexpensive protection for you and your family. Install a smoke alarm on every level of your home. A working smoke alarm can double your chances of survival. Test it monthly, keep it free of dust and replace the battery at least once a year. Smoke alarms themselves should be replaced after ten years of service, or as recommended by the manufacturer.

Prevent Electrical Fires

Never overload circuits or extension cords. Do not place cords and wires under rugs, over nails or in high traffic areas. Immediately shut off and unplug appliances that sputter, spark or emit an unusual smell. Have them professionally repaired or replaced.

Use Appliances Wisely

When using appliances follow the manufacturer’s safety precautions. Overheating, unusual smells, shorts and sparks are all warning signs that appliances need to be shut off, then replaced or repaired. Unplug appliances when not in use. Use safety caps to cover all unused outlets, especially if there are small children in the home.

Alternate Heaters

Portable heaters need their space. Keep anything combustible at least three feet away.
Keep fire in the fireplace. Use fire screens and have your chimney cleaned annually. The creosote buildup can ignite a chimney fire that could easily spread.
Kerosene heaters should be used only where approved by authorities. Never use gasoline or camp-stove fuel. Refuel outside and only after the heater has cooled.

Affordable Home Fire Safety Sprinklers

When home fire sprinklers are used with working smoke alarms, your chances of surviving a fire are greatly increased. Sprinklers are affordable – they can increase property value and lower insurance rates.

Plan Your Escape

Practice an escape plan from every room in the house. Caution everyone to stay low to the floor when escaping from fire and never to open doors that are hot. Select a location where everyone can meet after escaping the house. Get out then call for help.

Caring for Children

Children under five are naturally curious about fire. Many play with matches and lighters. Fifty-two percent of all child fire deaths occur to those under age 5. Take the mystery out of fire play by teaching your children that fire is a tool, not a toy.

Caring for Older People

Every year over 1,000 senior citizens die in fires. Many of these fire deaths could have been prevented. Seniors are especially vulnerable because many live alone and can’t respond quickly.

For more information, you can download and review a series of Fire Safety Publications from the Consumer Product Safety Commission, available online for free.

Defective products, faulty wiring, and other man-made causes of fire are notorious as causing home fires as well as being the subject of personal injury claims.  It’s much better to be safe than sorry, to prevent a home fire rather than being the victim of one and perhaps the plaintiff in a lawsuit seeking justice because of tragedy caused by a preventable fire.

Be safe out there.