Hammond police sued over use of Taser during traffic stop

Today’s post was shared by The Workers’ Injury Law & Advocacy Group and comes from www.chicagotribune.com

A federal lawsuit accuses Hammond police of "malice" and "reckless indifference" when they smashed a car window and used a Taser on a passenger during a traffic stop last month.

But Hammond police, in a two-page rebuttal, said they resorted to force only after the passenger repeatedly refused to leave the car and kept reaching toward the back seat, prompting fears he may have had a weapon.

Neither the police statement nor the lawsuit say a gun was found in the car.

The incident happened around 3:30 p.m. on Sept. 24 when Lisa Mahone was pulled over as she drove with a friend, Jamal Jones, and her two children, 7 and 14, according to the lawsuit filed Monday in Indiana.

The officer told Mahone, 47, she was stopped for not wearing her seatbelt and asked for her driver’s license. The officer also asked to see Jones’ identification, according to both police and the lawsuit.

Mahone produced her license, but Jones told the officer he had been ticketed for not paying his insurance and did not have his license, the lawsuit states. 

Choke hold complaints against N.Y.C. police on the rise: report
Choke hold complaints against N.Y.C. police on the rise: report

Jones claims the officer drew his gun "for no reason" after Jones retrieved the ticket from his backpack and "offered the ticket to the officer."

But police say Jones refused to hand over the ticket. "(Jones) refused to lower the window more than a small amount, then told the officer that ‘he was not going to do (the officer’s) job’ and for him…

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A Special Warning About Over-the-Counter Pain Medications

Today’s post comes from guest author Jay Causey, from Causey Law Firm.

The dangers of prescription pain meds get a fair amount of regular attention in the media.  A recent Consumer Reports (CR) article described a 300% rise in prescriptions of opiods – particularly those with hydrocodone –over the past decade, and provided a scary statistic:  17,000 people – 46 per day – die from overdose of these drugs.

What is less well known, and gets relatively scant attention, is that over-the-counter (OTC) painkillers containing acetaminophen (e.g. Tylenol) take 80,000 people yearly to the emergency room from overdose.  Acetaminophen, widely regarded as a “safe” drug is now the most common cause of liver failure.

The CR article points out the primary problem:  the directions for usage of these OTC drugs are ridiculously confusing and misleading.  Many of these only provide the caveat “take only as directed.”  What exactly does that mean?  Wildly different things according the cautions provided by differing drug manufacturers.  Some labels advise taking no more than 1000 milligrams of acetaminophen daily while others set the limits four times that high.  In some bizarre bureaucratic misstep, the FDA has lowered the maximum per-pill dose of the drug in prescription medications but has not done the same thing for OTCs. 

CR warns that overdosing on acetaminophen is easy as it is the most common drug in the U.S., found in more than 600 OTC and prescription medications.  There is little margin for error in exceeding the maximum recommended dose as only as small excess amount of the drug can be toxic to the liver.  A scary little graphic in the article shows how easy it is to do this.  A person might take six 500 milligram Extra Strength Tylenol (states maximum daily dose of 3000 milligrams) starting in the morning and through the day; then be on NyQuil for a cold and take eight 325 milligram pills (states maximum daily dose 2600 milligrams); and then do Walgreens Pain Reliever PM as a sleep aid (two 500 milligram pills at bedtime for a daily dose of 1000 milligrams).  At the end of a 24-hour period, that person would have ingested 6,600 milligrams of acetaminophen!!  Repeated doses of more than 4000 milligrams of the drug have been linked to liver, brain and kidney damage.  Chronically large doses have been correlated with the need for a liver transplant, or death, more than from one large overdose.

In 2011, the FDA limited the amount of acetaminophen in prescription pills to 325 milligrams per pill, but there has been no similar limitation imposed for OTCs, even though that market accounts for 80% of that drug taken yearly in the U.S.  For those regular users of acetaminophen, signs of potential liver damage to watch for are:  dark urine, pale stool, upper right abdominal pain, and a yellowish tint to the whites of the eyes.

 

Photo credit: Be.Futureproof / Foter / Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

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Are You Really an Independent Contractor?

Today’s post comes from guest author Jon Rehm, from Rehm, Bennett & Moore.

“Calling a dog’s tail a leg does not make it a leg.” Abraham Lincoln

FedEx drivers recently won two class-action lawsuits in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. The court ruled that FedEx wrongfully withheld overtime pay, Social Security, unemployment, Medicare and other benefits to drivers because they were misclassified as independent contractors rather than employees. The decisions were driven by the fact that FedEx exercised control over the appearance of drivers as well as what packages to deliver, on what days, and at what times.

Though the FedEx decision only applies to Oregon and California, it is very possible that a similar decision would have been made under Nebraska law. Under the Nebraska Wage Payment and Collection Act as well as under the Employment Security Law, Neb. Rev. Stat. 48-601 et al., there is a five-part test as to whether a worker is an independent contractor or employee.

  1. Individual is free from control or direction under contract of hire
  2. Individual is free from control or direction as a matter of fact
  3. Service is outside the usual course of business for which service is performed
  4. Such service is performed outside of all the places of business of the enterprise which such service is performed
  5. Individual is customarily engaged in an independently established trade, business or profession.

Nebraska law creates a presumption of an employer-employee relationship. Tracy v. Tracy, 581 N.W. 2d 96, 7 Neb. App. 143 (Neb. Court of Appeals, 1998) In short, if you can answer most of those questions “no,” you are very likely an employee rather than an independent contractor. The mere fact that you may have signed a documents stating you are independent contractor does not necessarily mean you are an independent contractor.

In addition to protections under federal law, asking questions about your employment status is also a protected activity under Nebraska law. Being misclassified as an independent contractor could cost you thousands of dollars in wages and benefits. However, you have the ability to fight back if you are being misclassified.

Roughly 30 percent of former NFL player may develop Alzheimer’s, other brain conditions

Today’s post was shared by Gelman on Workplace Injuries and comes from www.techtimes.com.

NFL

The NFL is a big deal, making billions every year. But is it doing enough to take care of league players, former and current?
(Photo : Keith Allison)

According to a report released by the National Football League Friday, three out of every 10 former NFL players are likely to develop brain conditions, like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease, and at earlier ages compared to the general population.

Released as supporting evidence in a class-action suit against the league, the report calculated that the NFL’s proposed settlement of $675 million will be sufficient to award damages to affected former players. Out of the 19,400 former league players, the NFL and opposition lawyers estimate that around 28 percent of them, about 6,000 individuals, will develop Alzheimer’s disease or some other form of dementia as a consequence of their time playing for the NFL.

The American football league is being sued for allegedly hiding information that associated brain injuries to concussions. Presiding over the lawsuit is Senior U.S. District Judge Anita B. Brody, who has first expressed concern that $675 million will not be enough to cover all of the damages. The report was released in response to her concerns.

Aside from $675 million for compensation, the NFL also proposed spending $10 million for research purposes, $75 million to undertake baseline assessments, and $5 million to raise awareness in the public.

With the fund estimated to annually earn 4.5 percent, both sides have deemed the…

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Worker’s Compensation Benefits Increase; Employers Costs Historically Low

Today’s post comes from guest author Thomas Domer, from The Domer Law Firm.

A new study released by the National Academy of Social Insurance (NASI) indicates worker’s compensation benefits rose by 1.3% to $61.9 billion in 2012 while employer costs rose by 6.9% to $83.2 billion. Even though total benefits and costs increased in 2012, worker’s compensation benefits and costs per $100 of covered payroll have been lower from 2007 to 2012 than at any time over the last 30 years. In 2012 benefits were 98 cents per $100 of covered payroll while employer costs were $1.32 per $100 of covered payroll. 

Over the last 30 years medical benefits have accounted for an increasing share of total benefits from 33% in 1984 to nearly 50% in 2012. Medical benefits accounted for almost 50% of the $61 billion in total benefits paid. In Wisconsin medical benefits exceed cash benefits, indicating that medical cost containment is a significant issue.

The Academy’s report Worker’s Compensation: Benefits Coverage and Costs 2012 is the 17th in an annual survey. The report provides the nation’s only comprehensive data on worker’s compensation benefits coverage and employer costs.

Lawsuit: Doctor didn’t inform patient of cancer

Today’s post was shared by The Workers’ Injury Law & Advocacy Group and comes from www.chicagotribune.com

Amber Hines
Amber Hines

A west suburban woman is contending in court that a doctor neglected to share test results showing her father had cancer, which later killed him.

Her lawsuit states that Dr. Alan Sadah, a urologist who practices at West Suburban Medical Center in Oak Park, told Edward Hines he was cancer-free after removing a tumor on his bladder in early 2011. A week later, a pathology report showed the Oak Park man had bladder cancer, but Sadah didn’t inform his patient, according to the suit.

Edward Hines
Edward Hines

Hines didn’t learn he had cancer until he visited another doctor a year later, said his daughter, Amber Hines, of Lyons, who is pursuing a medical malpractice suit her father filed a few months before his death in April 2013 at age 58. Attorneys from each side are to meet Friday to discuss details of the case.

Amber Hines says her father’s chances of survival would have been better if he had known the diagnosis earlier. "We went an entire year without treatment, which was extremely devastating," she said in an interview.


Friends help 'Interrupters' star battling cancer
Friends help ‘Interrupters’ star battling cancer

In court documents, Sadah contests Hines’ account of what happened after he removed the tumor on Jan. 24, 2011. The doctor says a cancerous lesion was found that day and that he told Hines he had cancer. Hines failed to follow up as Sadah instructed, he said.

Sadah also said Hines did not ask for the pathology report later. "Edward Hines failed to seek or obtain the results of the pathology report…

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Fixing Our Inadequate Brain Science

Today’s post comes from guest author Jay Causey, from Causey Law Firm.

The high incidence of traumatic brain injury (TBI) and PTSD (posttraumatic stress disorder) affecting our returning Afghanistan and Iraq veterans, and also our civilian contractor employees, has helped to highlight the inadequacy of the current level of “brain science.”

More than one in five Americans – – over 60 million people – – suffer brain disorder from injury or illness. 600 conditions exist, ranging from autism and Alzheimer’s to the aforementioned TBI and PTSD. Not a single one of these conditions has been cured.  Brain ailments affect more people than heart disease and cancer combined, yet those conditions receive 3 to 5 times more funding for research.

Unlike science for other conditions and diseases, brain science has not had the advantage of an umbrella organization to its coordinate efforts. Brain science research and funding has been fragmented, researchers have often been territorial and overly concerned with intellectual property issues, and the corporate funding that has come mostly from the pharmaceutical industry has been shrinking. An organization named One Mind has recently been created to attack the shortcomings of brain science by advocating for the principle of “open science,” which fosters collaborative scientific work with accessible central data collection for researchers. This process in turn allows for accelerated integration of data and validation of results for publication. All of this should allow basic research to more rapidly reach the clinical setting and benefit patients of brain ailment.

One Mind has two programs currently in progress: Gemini, in which 11 research centers will enroll 3000 patients in a longitudinal brain injury study; and Apollo, which is developing a data exchange portal that will support the collaborative effort described above and will create a digital marketplace accessible by students, teachers and researchers.

One Mind is currently headed by CEO Gen. Pete Chiarelli, U.S. Army (retired) who as vice chief of the Army was instrumental in Department of Defense efforts on PTSD, TBI, and suicide prevention. In 2013 Chiarelli received the “Patriot Award” for his work with soldiers and their families dealing with the so-called “invisible wounds” of war.

The author recently attended a presentation in Seattle by Gen. Chiarelli, who provided much additional anecdotal information about the shortcomings of brain science and the efforts by One Mind. He noted, for example, that the diagnostic criteria currently in use for assessing PTSD are decades old and woefully inadequate for mental health practitioners to accurately diagnose and assess the condition.

Go to www.onemind.org for a full review of the organization, its mission and its programs.

Photo credit: “Central nervous system drawing circa 1900″

 Double–M / Foter / Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

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Considering Priorities on Patriot Day

Today’s post comes from guest author Emily Wray Stander, from Rehm, Bennett & Moore.

“Where were you when the world stopped turning on that September day?” Alan Jackson, “Where Were You”

Have you heard that tune? While I don’t remember all the words, the internets can help with that, and the words definitely provoke some strong feelings and memories.

Today is Patriot Day. For so many people on Sept. 11, 2001, the change was swift and often tragic. Many people, all over the United States, are still living the ramifications of that day, whether directly or indirectly.

Life changes all the time, in an instant, for a friend, a family, or a community, even New York City. So what (and who) are your priorities?

While at a family gathering recently in small-town Nebraska, I found myself reflecting on priorities and how important it is to appreciate loved ones, both family and friends. It seems like Patriot Day also give a chance for entertaining such thoughts.

We were at a town that seems idyllic, but I’m sure people have their challenges and issues, as happens everywhere. This is also a town that was hit very hard by winds and baseball-sized hail earlier in the summer. No tornadoes, but there was plenty of damage. Many windows are still boarded up, and seeing people on roofs is a regular occurrence as homes are still being repaired.

During our visit, the scaffolding attached (or next to) to the house across the street collapsed. The two people on the roof (one of whom was the homeowner) were there amid the rubble, on the ground. They were at the highest point of the old house, so they both fell a good 20 feet. The volunteer fire department brought both of the town’s ambulances. The first responders, including a town policeman, were efficient and took great care in loading the gentlemen onto backboards and transporting them to the hospital.

Time can do funny things in a situation like that. Although 911 was called quickly and the policeman was there very fast, it seemed like it took forever for ambulances to arrive, although it really wasn’t very long, and it was very interesting to see the volunteer firefighters/EMTs meet the ambulances at the site for efficiency. All these vehicles descended at the house, and each first responder jumped out of his or her vehicle (you know you’re in a small town when …). They seemed to do a well-rehearsed dance, and you could see the hard work, concern and speed needed. We learned later that the two most likely would survive, but the extent of the damage they face is unknown, as each man on the roof broke his back.

Although I don’t know the people hurt, just as I didn’t personally know anyone in the Sept. 11 tragedy, it is still easy to empathize and think about the “what ifs.”

But it’s most important to face the new reality and call, write and hug loved ones. Because events and tragedy, whether personal or even nationwide, often elicit strong emotions in those who experience them. However, it’s the action afterwards that counts.

Please take that “where were you then” moment, think about it in the best way you know how, and then use it to provide a positive memorable moment for someone close to you. Because who are your priorities?

Happy Patriot Day.