Gabriel Mejia, Esq.: February 2009 Archives

February 25, 2009

Injured Cruise Passengers Rushed to Miami After Truck Accident

Fourteen injured Celebrity Cruise passengers were taken to Miami, Florida for treatment of various injuries after their tour truck crashed into a ditch wall on the island of Dominica.  The cruise ship accident involved U.S. tourists (none from Florida) who were participating in a shore excursion known as the "Caribbean Cooking Adventure."  The driver allegedly lost control of the vehicle after a brake failure and smashed into a retaining wall according to reports.  Two passengers were reportedly in critical condition after the excursion accident and taken with the other injured passengers to Dade County's Jackson Memorial Hospital.

Unfortunately, a simple Google search reveals that these types of accidents happen perhaps more often than one might think.  For example, in 2006, cruise-line passengers on tour of Juneau, Alaska were injured after their bus went over an embankment; also in 2006, a cruise ship excursion accident killed 12 U.S. citizens and injured two others in Chile after the tour bus swerved to avoid oncoming traffic and fell down a mountainside; and in 2005, a cruise-line tour bus accident killed five people and injured another 43 after driving off the road in Madeira, Portugal.  These examples, although not exclusive, illustrate the ever-present danger aboard these types of trips.

Cruise-line injuries and deaths, whether aboard ship or on an excursion, are complicated legal issues and most often require an attorney to protect the rights of the victims and the victims' family.  The reason for this is that cruise ship injuries often trigger multiple jurisdictional and choice-of-law matters.  There are many laws that may govern the various legal issues in a cruise ship accident case including the local law of your port of departure, the foreign law of the port were the injury occurred if the injury occurred on foreign soil, Federal Maritime law, and other treaties and acts.  These laws may conflict with one another, and it is important to have your case reviewed by an experienced attorney.

In the case of injuries during shore excursions, cruise lines often earn revenue from these trips by contracting with local companies and may be liable for the injuries sustained while on them.  However, many times a passenger's ticket aboard ship often acts as a contract with the cruise line that may limit the time a passenger has to file suit, where the passenger can file a lawsuit, and the liability the cruise line has agreed to accept.  It is important to have your case reviewed by an attorney experienced in handling cruise ship accidents to ensure you are fairly compensated for an injury sustained aboard a cruise ship or on an cruise ship excursion.  

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February 20, 2009

Palm Beach County Family Injured in Rollover Accident on Florida's Turnpike

A Wellington, Florida woman and her family suffered minor injuries after their SUV crashed and rolled over on the Florida Turnpike Thursday evening. The family was taken to Delray Medical Center and West Boca Medical Center for treatment.  According to reports, the auto accident allegedly occurred when an unknown vehicle tried to cut in behind the SUV and clipped the truck's rear bumper.  At the time of the automobile accident, the family members were wearing their seat belts and the driver was talking on her cell phone.

According to Florida's Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, 10,255 injury accidents and 826 fatal accidents resulted in overturned vehicles in 2006.  79 out of the 110 children ages 01 to 17 years old killed in automobile accidents in 2006 were not using safety equipment.  Safety belts and other vehicle safety equipment does save lives.  Of the 214,083 accidents reported as involving drivers and passengers wearing only safety belts, 146,798 of the occupants reported no injuries at all and 42,035 occupants reported only possible injuries.

Not only do seat belts help save lives and prevent injuries in car crashes, they are also required to be worn by law.  Florida statute requires that the operator of a motor vehicle, all passengers under the age of 18, and all front seat passengers wear seat belts or child restraints.  Furthermore, if you are involved in an auto accident due to the negligence of another, the failure to use a seat belt can be argued by the defense to be comparative negligence on your part and used to reduce the amount of compensation awarded.  It is always important to take steps to protect yourself and passengers in your motor vehicle.

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February 17, 2009

Fort Lauderdale Electrical Accident Causes Pembroke Pines Man's Death

Broward County:  Junior Seaton of Pembroke Pines, FL died Monday in Fort Lauderdale after coming into contact with a power line he was helping repair.  Seaton, a Florida Power and Light (FPL) employee, had allegedly completed his work on the power lines at the 600 block of East Broward Blvd. when he returned to the lines and was electrocuted.  Seaton was taken to Broward General Medical Center but died shortly after arrival according to reports. 

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 212 workers died nationwide from electrocution in 2007.  Of those deaths, 21 were from Florida.  However, not all deaths from electrocution happen in the workplace.  The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) reports that there were 400 deaths from electrocution in the United States in 2000.  Of those electrical deaths, the CPSC estimates that 150 deaths were caused by consumer products.  Although the percentage of electrocution deaths attibutable to consumer products declined between the years 1990 and 2000, it is important to be vigilant in adhering to proper usage and warning labels on all electrical devices.

Although the Seaton work-related accident will presumably be handled legally as a worker's compensation claim, compensation for other electrical injuries or deaths caused by the negligence of another can be persued through personal injury claims or wrongful death actions.  Some examples of these types of claims include defective products that cause electrocution despite proper use, negligently maintained electrical equipment, downed power lines, and unguarded electrical installations.  The legal issues surrounding an electrical accident that results in injury or death can be complex, and the injured party or his/her family should contact an attorney for answer to any questions that may arise.

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February 14, 2009

Alleged Nursing Home Negligence Results in Resident Freezing to Death

A nursing home resident's family's lawyer has filed a lawsuit alleging neglect and abuse on the part of an Illinois nursing home after an 89 year old woman known to have dementia was found frozen to death outside her nursing home according to reports.  Sarah Wentworth was found in the nursing home courtyard wearing only her hospital gown and an ankle alarm that was supposed to alert the nursing home staff if she attempted to leave the building.  According to Wentworth's family, she had lived in the home for two years and was too frail to get out of bed on her own. 

Residents of Florida nursing homes have a "bill of rights" expressly provided in the legislation.  Florida Statute ยง 400.022 provides, among other rights, that nursing home residents have the right to civil and religious liberties, informed consent and independent decision-making, liberal visitation, the right to present grievances, the right to receive adequate and appropriate health care and services, and the right to be treated courteously, fairly and with the fullest measure of dignity.  These rights and responsibilities are required by law to be published by the nursing home.

Florida law provides that any resident whose rights under the statute are violated shall have a cause of action.  Nursing home residents or there representative must show that the nursing home owed a duty to the resident, that the nursing home breached that duty, that the breach of the duty by the nursing home caused the resident's loss or injury, and that the breach caused some damage to the resident if claiming nursing home negligence.  At times, punitive damages can also be awarded if the jury finds by clear and convincing evidence the defendant was personally guilty of intentional misconduct or gross negligence as defined by the statute.  Although too complex to be covered by this article, interesting legal questions and arguments arise when a nursing home is owned and operated through a complex corporate structure. 

The legislature has obviously found it necessary to specifically legislate these facilities to ensure the safe, adequate, and appropriate care, treatment, and health of nursing home residents.  Despite such legislation, some nursing homes continue to fall below the acceptable standard and neglect and injure their residents. 

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February 13, 2009

Pedestrians Killed in Fort Lauderdale Hit and Run Car Accident

Two more Broward County deaths are attributable to an early morning Ft. Lauderdale hit and run.  According to reports, a white Porsche and an unidentified light colored vehicle were drag-racing down Seabreeze Boulevard when the two pedestrians were struck.  The two white males were found dead in the southbound lanes.  The white Porsche suspected in the deaths was found abandoned on the northbound on-ramp from Interstate 595 onto I-95, while the other vehicle has not yet been found.  No suspects have been apprehended thus far.

Tragically, pedestrian deaths and injuries are not an uncommon occurrence in Florida.  In 2006, 546 pedestrians were killed and 7,754 were injured in traffic accidents according to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.  In Miami-Dade County alone, there were 90 pedestrian deaths attributable to traffic crashes followed by 50 deaths in Broward County and 39 deaths in Palm Beach County.

The loss of a loved one is always a traumatic and devastating event.  When a loved one is lost due to the reckless or negligent driving of another, people often turn to the legal system for justice and compensation.  Many times, a wrongful death lawsuit can be filed by a relative on behalf of their loved one in order to obtain compensation for funeral expenses, lost wages, loss of companionship, pain and suffering, and other compensable injuries.  Although nothing can fully compensate for the death of someone close to us, knowing the negligent driver does not get off with impunity and is held to account for their actions often contributes to the healing process.

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February 12, 2009

Hollywood, FL Company Recalls Peanut Butter Products for Potential Salmonella

Hialeah Products, Inc. of Hollywood, Florida has recalled an assortment of potentially contaminated peanut butter and peanut products that are linked to the Salmonella scare associated with Peanut Corporation of America's Blakely, GA plant.  No injuries or illnesses attributable to the South Florida company have been reported to date.  The recalled products are sold under the names Hialeah Products, Florida Snacks, Crown Wine & Spirits, and many more.  Amongst the products being recalled include the Boca Bar Mix and the South Beach Mix.  The complete list of recalled products and the entire story can be found on the local South Florida NBC website.

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), the signs and symptoms associated with Salmonella infection include diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps approximately 12 to 72 hours after initial infection.  The infection and the associated symptoms usually resolve within 4 to 7 days.  However, infants, the elderly, and people with impaired immune systems are more susceptible to severe infection.  Without treatment, severe Salmonella infection can cause death.

As of February 8, 2009, the CDC reported one Florida case of Salmonella poisoning attributable to the peanut butter outbreak strain.  South Florida residents should be cautious when consuming peanut and peanut butter products, if they choose to do so at all.  If you have been infected with Salmonella after eating peanut butter products, you may have recourse within the legal system.  Lawsuits are beginning to be filed against the manufacturers and distributors of the contaminated peanut products seeking payment of medical bills and lost wages associated with the Salmonella illnesses across the country.

***DISCLAIMER: The content provided is not intended to be construed as legal advice.  If you have any questions or concerns, based on your factual circumstances, please contact Law Offices & , P.A. at .    

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February 10, 2009

Contaminated Weight Loss Pills Could Cause Florida Injuries

Florida consumers of so-called "natural" weight loss supplements could be in for a shock to learn that their weight loss pills contain unauthorized pharmaceutical drugs.  According to the Food and Drug Administration and a recent New York Times story, many popular weight loss supplements contain the drugs Sibutramine, Rimonabant, Phenolphthalein, and Bumetanide.  Although most national retailers have pulled the defective drugs from their shelves, many online retailers continue to sell products listed as having potential defects by the the FDA.  Because of the potentially wide reach of weight loss product sales, consumers throughout Florida including Broward, Miami-Dade, and Palm Beach County should be cautious of the supplements they choose as the defective drugs can cause injury and adverse side-effects. 

The potential dangers to South Florida residents who take these defective supplements include an increase/decrease in blood pressure, seizure, depression, palpatations, and a list of other side effects.  You should consult your doctor before taking any dietary supplement for weight loss and avoid products that promise extraordinary results without legitimate substantiation.

Injuries or deaths caused by defective drugs raise numerous legal questions.  Most relevant in recent history has been the issue of federal pre-emption.  That is, whether FDA authority and regulation trumps State causes of action against unsafe drugs or medical devices.  In the case of dietary supplements, which these contaminated pills were marketed as, the manufacturer is responsible for making sure the product is safe.  Under the Dietary Supplement Health & Education Act of 1994, there is no registration or approval required before producing or selling dietary supplements.  However, because these products allegedly contain pharmaceutical drugs, they do not fit within the definition of a dietary supplements and arguably should have been submitted to the FDA for approval.

There are already high-profile lawsuits being filed in connection with these defective pills.  Most notable is a lawsuit filed by NFL player Grady Jackson against Nikki Haskell and the company that distributed the popular weight loss pill, StarCaps.  Jackson tested positive for the NFL-banned drug, bumetanide, after allegedly taking the weight loss supplement.

***DISCLAIMER: The content provided is not intended to be construed as legal advice.  If you have any questions or concerns, based on your factual circumstances, please contact Law Offices & , P.A. at . 


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February 9, 2009

Homestead Man Accused of Killing 3 Children in Drunk Driving Accident Denied Bail

Miami-Dade County: The horrific January 25th auto accident in South Miami Dade undoubtedly changed the Serrano family forever after an alleged drunk driver crashed into the rear of the family's minivan causing fatal injuries to all three Serrano children.  Now, the man accused of driving his vehicle with a blood alcohol level that was three times the legal limit and charged with three counts of DUI manslaughter, Gabriel Delrisco, has been denied bail by a Miami-Dade judge.  Delrisco had a previous drunk driving conviction in 2001 and some 26 traffic citations in eight years, but had a valid driver's license at the time of the fatal auto accident.

In Florida, there were 890 alcohol-impaired auto accident fatalities in 2007 according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.  Alcohol-impaired motor vehicle accidents represented 27.7 percent of all Florida vehicle deaths in 2007.  In 2006, there were 16,319 alcohol-related automobile accident injuries in Florida.  There were 1,684 alcohol-related accidents in Broward County, 1,792 in Miami-Dade County, and 1,265 in Palm Beach County in 2006 according to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.

According to the Miami-Herald, the personal injury attorney for the Serrano family is looking for others whom were potentially negligent in supplying Delrisco with alcohol.  Under certain circumstances, Florida law allows for establishments to be held liable for negligently serving alcohol to their patrons.

***DISCLAIMER: The content provided is not intended to be construed as legal advice.  If you have any questions or concerns, based on your factual circumstances, please contact Law Offices & , P.A. at . 


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February 5, 2009

Florida Child Dies from Gunshot in Palm Beach County

Palm Beach County: An 11-year-old Lake Worth boy died Monday after he was mortally injured after a stolen Glock .40 firearm apparently accidentally discharged in the hands of his 9-year-old acquaintance.  The deceased boy, identified as Jason Lee Gilmore, Jr., was at the home of his mother's boyfriend's parents with a group of young men all but one under the age of 18.  According to reports, the boys were playing with the laser site on the handgun when it discharged.  The gun was reported stolen from a car in West Palm Beach in January after the owner left the weapon in his car overnight.  The Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office will hand the case over to the State Attorney's Office which is anticipated to convene a grand jury to make the final determination whether any charges should be filed.

According to and information derived from the Florida Department of Health Office of Vital Statistics, 929 homicides by firearm discharge occurred in Florida in 2007.  Of those deaths, 72 occurred in Palm Beach County, 74 in Broward County, and 203 in Dade County.  In that same year, 97 deaths were children 18 years old or younger.

The death of child is always a tragic occurrence.  Ultimately, who was at fault and what should have been done differently are questions that arise from the incident.  Often after the criminal investigation is complete, civil actions in negligence are also pursued.  Depending on the circumstances, negligence can at times be found on the part of the shooter, the owner of the residence or property at which the shooting occurred, the person responsible for supervising the shooter and/or victim, and the owner of the gun.

***DISCLAIMER: The content provided is not intended to be construed as legal advice.  If you have any questions or concerns, based on your factual circumstances, please contact Law Offices & , P.A. at .

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February 3, 2009

Another Florida Resident Critically Injured in Rollover Accident Following Tire Blowout

Dannielle Montesano was rushed to North Broward Medical Center in Deerfield Beach yesterday after her 1999 Ford Explorer flipped on the Florida Turnpike and threw her from the automobile.  According to the Broward Edition of the Miami Herald, Montesano's vehicle experienced a rear tire explosion while she was not wearing her seat belt.  Montesano's two children and her sister were also in the vehicle during the automobile accident, but were not thrown from the SUV and suffered non-life-threatening injuries.  They were taken to Broward General Medical Center in Fort Lauderdale.

In 2007, Florida traffic accidents were responsible for 3,221 fatalities and 212,149 injuries according to the Traffic Crash Statistics Report 2007 compiled by the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.  Of these, 1,972 deaths occurred in seat belt equipped vehicles.  Sixty one percent (61%) of the people killed in seat belt equipped vehicles (or 1,201 people) were not wearing their seat belts.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that tire related problems such as flat tires or blowouts account for an estimated 414 fatalities and 10,275 non-fatal injuries annually.  Furthermore, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) utilizing statistics from the U.S. Department of Transportation indicates that 10,182 occupants of "passenger vehicles" died in rollover crashes in 2007.  According to IIHS, death results more often in single-vehicle sport utility vehicle (or SUV) rollover accidents than in cars or pickups.  In 2007, forty seven percent (47%) of deaths involving SUV occupants were from single-vehicle rollover accidents.

One simple step to decrease the likelihood of experiencing tire failure is to keep your tires properly inflated, according to the NHTSA.  Tire pressure should be checked regularly and maintained within the guidelines of your vehicle's cold tire pressure placard (often located on the driver's side door frame) and your vehicle's owner's manual.

***DISCLAIMER: The content provided is not intended to be construed as legal advice.  If you have any questions or concerns, based on your factual circumstances, please contact Law Offices & , P.A. at . 


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