Doyle Raizner Sues Truesdell Corporation and Salt River Project For Breaches In Safety That Lead To Plaintiff’s Injuries At The Horse Mesa Dam in Arizona

Jeffrey Raizner

Doyle Raizner LLP has filed suit against Truesdell Corporation (“Truesdell”) and Salt River Project Agricultural Improvement And Power District (“SRP”) for negligent acts and omissions  during reconstruction to portions of the Horse Mesa dam.

 

Our client was an employee of Safway, a subcontractor assigned to construct system scaffolding between a exterior staircase and elevator at the third floor of the  dam. In an effort to complete the task our client attached his personal fall arrest system (PFAS) to the handrail of the maintenance platform of the elevator to satisfy the 100% tie-off requirement because he was not provided rappel gear or safety equipment such as lifelines. In addition, a  protective safety net did not sufficiently cover the area below where he was suspended.

 

While attached to the elevator more than four stories in the air, an unauthorized user called the elevator to the ground floor. Unfortunately, SRP and Truesdell did not have an “authorized-personnel only” sign at the elevator call station and also did not maintain lock out/ tag out procedures. Our client began yelling for an immediate shut-off of the elevator, but the call station did not contain emergency shut-off devices.

 

The force of the elevator slammed our client into the safety cage of the elevator, then over the top of the cage. As the force continued to pull him down the face of the dam, he repeatedly slammed into the elevator and staircase before the handrail snapped and our client was left suspended in mid-air until co-workers reached him and provided medical care.

 

Our client suffered six broken ribs,  three spinal fractures, tore his right meniscus and MCL, endured 25% tears in him forearm, lateral tears in his shoulder and  also punctured his skull.  Even after anticipated surgeries have been performed, physicians believe our client will not be able to return to scaffolding.

 

Because SRP is the owner and operator of the dam,

The Division of Texas Workers’ Compensation Has Not Been Charting The Race Of Applicants As Required

Jeffrey Raizner

The Texas Tribune recently released an article inquiring into what could be systematic discrimination from insurance companies against minorities attempting to obtain workers’ compensation benefits.

The article focuses on a case handled by an Austin Lawyer who became convinced his client was treated unjustly due to the color of his skin. This caused the lawyer to wonder about the many African American and Hispanic workers seeking legal assistance and their rate of receiving assistance. The reply he received from the Texas Division of Workers’ Compensation was disheartening and provided no real answer.

Though a 1993 law requires the Texas Worker’s Comp agency to maintain information of the race and gender of every valid claim, it has failed to comply. The department responded to the inquiry stating; “Please note that race and ethnicity are rarely reported and, as discussed, [are] inaccurate and incomplete. Therefore, these numbers cannot be extrapolated for analysis.” The agency further says it does maintain records of the workers that report their race, though it’s a small percentage.

The article provides that this news prompted State Rep. René Oliveira, the Brownsville Democrat overseeing the agency as chairman of the House Business & Industry Committee, to press for immediate collection of this data. Rep. Oliveira also notes, “This is the second time in recent months that the department has not complied with its legal duties.”

The Division of Workers’ Compensation can’t claim charting this information is too daunting a task as records indicate the majority of claims were successfully tracked and included race data when the requirement was set in place in the early 1990’s. Today, some claims don’t have fields so a worker may provide it.

But why is charting race important? The article states that the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics found Hispanics have a greater chance of dying compared to other workers. Foreign workers  not fluent in English or familiar with American safety regulations are also

Doyle Raizner Sues Krogers and Sedgwick Claims Management For Worker’s Comp Bad Faith Following Unlawful Claims Processing Actions

Jeffrey Raizner

Doyle Raizner LLP has filed suit against Krogers and Sedgwick Claims Management Services, Inc., (“Sedgwick”) and its assigned claims adjuster for defendants wrongful acts in handling plaintiff’s claim for an on-the-job injury.

 

Our client, a devoted and diligent employee of a store owned by Krogers, was in the process of lifting a 50 pound container of frozen bread when sharp lower back pain caused her to drop the box. Since the incident our client has been experiencing spinal pain that radiates through her thighs and calves.

 

Upon receiving plaintiff’s workers’ compensation claim, Sedgwick placed as adjuster in charge that ultimately caused a Notice of Claim Status form to be filed with the Industrial Commission of Arizona (ICA), Claims Division. This action resulted in the delay and denial of all medical and income benefits.

 

After Sedgwick’s Independent Medical Examiner (IME) concluded our client only suffered a minor strain, our client sought a second opinion through her private insurance which revealed a herniated disk and the need of surgery. Sedgwick responded by requiring our client see another IME but failed to provide the examiner complete medical records, including the EMG Study that showed a left side L-5 radiculopathy.  The IME premised his conclusions on the inadequate information and concluded the claim was not compensable.

 

Sedgwick violated its duty to address our client’s needs in “good faith and fair dealing” by doing all it could to delay and deny payment for treatment. Good faith requires worker’s compensation insurers accept undisputed evidence regarding a claim and not ignore or refuse to weigh information favorable to the insured. The claims adjuster is also liable for aiding and abetting as she substantially assisted Sedgwicks’ claim rejections, without any reasonable basis.

 

Even after the Industrial Commission of Arizona (ICA) ordered the payment of overdue benefits, Sedgwick refused to pay, forcing our client to go through the process twice. The insurer then limited

Judge Denies Hartford Ins. Co.’s Attempts to Escape Responsibility after Delaying Worker’s Compensation Benefits to Injured Worker

Jeffrey Raizner

A federal judge recently denied Hartford Ins. Co. of the Midwest’s (“Hartford”s) multiple summary judgment motions designed to dismiss plaintiff’s suit for its wrongful denial of compensation benefits.  Other defendants include Gallagher Bassett (“Gallagher”) – Hartford’s third-party claims handler, and Gallagher’s claim representative assigned to plaintiff’s case file.

Our client, a customer service representative for Stanley Steemer, tripped and fell on a set of stairs leading to her workstation within the company’s call center on January, 9, 2012. Our client injured her knees, hip, and twisted her back in the incident. After being assisted to her feet from a co-worker, she reported the injury to her supervisor who initiated a work injury report.

The following day, an examination from a nurse practitioner prescribed a week of work restrictions due to an inability for our client to sit at a desk, walk up stairs, or stand for long periods due to worsening pain. February 6, the nurse practitioner concluded our client should remain off work. This nurse then referred plaintiff to a pain clinic for further assistance, but this visit was denied by the claims adjuster who said she “didn’t believe this would benefit the employee.”

In violation of defendants’ duty to handle claims “in good faith and fair dealing,” the adjuster denied disability benefits claiming there was a “lack of documentation,” though she never asked the nurse for her findings or sought evidence to support our client’s position. Benefits were rejected though  the insurance company’s own medical examiner agreed to the suggested work restrictions. The duty of “good faith” requires a worker’s compensation insurer accept undisputed evidence and only provide denials if there is a reasonable basis or adequate investigation performed.

Within Hartford’s motions for summary judgment it sought to remove the claims processor who was charged with aiding the insurer’s unlawful actions.The Court denied this motion finding that an agent is not excused from liability when he or she

Doyle Raizner Obtains Verdict For Commercial Plaintiff Harmed By American Family Mutual’s Improper Claims Processing Actions Following Arizona Hailstorm

Jeffrey Raizner

The massive October 5, 2010, Arizona hailstorm spawned significant damage to consumers and business owners across Maricopa County, as well as jury verdicts against those insurance companies that refused to live up to their promises to timely and properly pay for the full amount of damages sustained by their insureds.  American Family Mutual Insurance Company (“American Family”), one of the largest property insurers in Arizona and across the western United States, was recently unanimously found guilty by a federal jury in Phoenix of breaching its contract for full replacement coverage of our client’s commercial office building in the Scottsdale Airpark business park owned after undervaluing the damage by over $210,000.  The jury’s verdict confirmed that American Family’s adjusters at Pacesetter, as well as its home office adjusters and managers, undervalued the damage caused by the wind, hail, and rain to our client’s property by insisting that no more than $30,000 worth of damage to the building’s roof, windows, and exterior was sustained in the storm, despite overwhelming evidence of much more significant losses.

Our client depended on American Family to keep its promises to provide full replacement coverage in return for the premiums paid.  The storm caused roof damage that led to serious leaking inside the building that began on the date of the storm and continued with every significant rain thereafter, resulting in ongoing interior damage.  The storm also caused leaking through windows, marred the building’s exterior and damaged the carports.  The building’s air conditioning (HVAC) units also required  replacement after the storm, and American Family refused to pay for more than minor repairs.  The evidence at trial confirmed that American Family’s initial adjuster spent less than 90 minutes at the property before issuing his evaluation, and refused every effort to secure a more thorough and comprehensive evaluation of the impact on the  property.

The jury found that American Family breached its contract with our client and that as

Supreme Court May Take Up The Jones Act Again

Jeffrey Raizner

The Jones Act is an extremely important law for anyone who works on the sea. It allows people who work as seamen and are injured on the job to have a trial by jury to sue for damages. It’s very similar to the same rights that railroad workers have. However, not everyone that works on the sea is classified as a seaman by the law.

According to a Supreme Court decision in 1995, a worker has to be out on the sea more than 30% of the time to be classified as a seaman. This means that many people who work on the docks and face many of the same dangers do not get the benefits of the Jones Act.

This issue may be taken up again by the Supreme Court soon. In 2008, a worker sued his employer after getting silicosis from sandblasting vessels. The fine sand got into his lungs and caused him to lose his job. His employer claimed that he didn’t qualify for Jones Act protections since he spent most of his time on the docks. In 2012, the worker died and his widow is now trying to take the case to the Supreme Court.

The worker did spend time out on the sea. When he wasn’t doing dock duties, he was taking pilots out to commercial vessels so local pilots could drive the boats out of Chesapeake Bay. The question is whether his boat maintenance work counts as being out on the sea.

Courts around the country are split about whether dock work counts as being out on the sea for the purposes of the Jones Act. The justices are scheduled to discuss whether to take the case or not. Resolving this issue in favor of the workers could open many companies to lawsuits.

Users of the Mirenda IUD Still Experiencing Significant Health Issues Caused by it.

Jeffrey Raizner

The Mirenda IUD was introduced to the market in 2000, and since then women have complained about severe complications with the intrauterine device. Just last month, another couple has sued Bayer Healthcare Pharma Inc. for damages due to the device. In this particular case, the device had wandered out of the plaintiff’s womb and into her abdominal cavity. Surgery was required to remove the device.

The lawsuit alleges that Bayer didn’t adequately warn about the possible complications from Mirenda. They are seeking damages for defective design, defective manufacturing, failing to warn, strict products liability, negligence, violation of express and implied warranties, negligent misrepresentation, fraud, and fraudulent concealment.

The Mirenda IUD has been marketed as safe for over a decade now. The device is a T-shaped piece of plastic that releases a form of progestogen into the womb to prevent pregnancy. The device is supposed to last for around five years.

However, many lawsuits have been filed against Bayer surrounding complications from the device. The major complications linked to the device are spontaneous movement, perforation of the uterus, and infections. These problems can be life-threatening and require surgery.

If you believe you have been injured due to complications from the Mirenda IUD, get legal help. The lawyers at Doyle Raizner LLC are ready to hear your case. Contact our offices if you have been injured by the Mirenda IUD or another medical device.

 

Boehringer Ingelheim Settles Class Action Lawsuit on Pradaxa

Jeffrey Raizner

Anticoagulants are used every day in hospitals to prevent blood clots from forming in patients. Many people also take them daily after leaving the hospital to prevent complications. Unfortunately, there have been some new anticoagulant drugs that have proven to cause more harm than good. Pradaxa is one of these drugs.

In May, the maker of the drug, Boehringer Ingelheim, settled around 4,000 claims in US court for around $650 million dollars, but did not agree to any liability. The side effect at the heart of the matter was uncontrolled bleeding. Pradaxa was meant to be a replacement for an older drug called warfarin, but unlike warfarin there is no antidote for Pradaxa in the case of uncontrolled bleeding. According to a study done in January 2012 and published by the Archives of Internal Medicine, the increase in risk was 27 to 33 percent higher than warfarin, enoxaparin, or placebo.

Additionally, there were other adverse side effects reported in much higher numbers than expected. These side effects included heart attack, cerebral hemorrhaging, and gastrointestinal issues. Despite these risks, the FDA has not taken this drug off the market. However, they are conducting continuing safety reviews and evaluating the evidence.

We have experience in pharmaceutical litigation here at Doyle Raizner LLC. Several of our lawyers have previously worked on behalf of pharmaceutical companies. We know their legal teams are very strong, but we also know how to fight them. If you have experienced pain and suffering due to the side effects of a prescription drug, consider contacting our legal team for advice.

Whiting, Indiana Experiences Another Refinery Explosion

Jeffrey Raizner

Last month there was an explosion at a BP refinery in Whiting, Indiana. Fortunately, in this case there was only minor problems. The fire was put out in a couple hours and only one person had to be taken to the hospital. It was done as a precaution and he was later released. They were very fortunate there was no further damage since the explosion was reportedly powerful enough to shake pictures off of walls.

This wasn’t the first explosion to happen in Whiting. In 1955, a fluid hydroformer unit experienced a series of explosions that killed two people at a Standard Oil refinery. Oil refineries are dangerous places to work. Toxic chemicals, explosions, steam, heavy equipment, and other factors are pose a threat to the health and safety of workers.

The difficulty in oil and gas refinery accident cases is determining just who was at fault and why. Refineries are incredibly complex and difficult to maintain. If structures aren’t maintained properly, an explosion could result. There’s also the possibility of neglect by the owner to train workers properly and follow industry codes. Plus, the worker or a third party could have made an error that put their life and the lives of others at risk.

It takes a skilled attorney with experience in analyzing refinery explosions to defend workers who have been injured. Doyle Raizner LLC has that experience. Don’t let the negligence of your employer go without adequate compensation. Call our offices today for a consultation.

Railroad Workers Protest Plan by BNSF to Run Trains with One Employee Onboard

Jeffrey Raizner

Railroad workers perform their jobs under dangerous conditions every day. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the fatal injury rate on trains and in switchyards is double the national average. It’s so dangerous that a law was passed in 1908 called the Federal Employers Liability Act or FELA that specifically compensates railroaders injured on the job.

FELA is a replacement for standard worker’s compensation. In a FELA case, if a jury decides that a railroad company was legally negligent at least in part in causing the injury, they can award monetary payouts for pain and suffering. One major source for FELA cases is solvent exposure on freight trains.

Railroad unions are keen on keeping workers healthy and safe so FELA cases aren’t needed. That could be one reason why SMART-TD, the largest railroad union in the US, is protesting a plan by BNSF Railway to operate some freight trains with a single employee. BNSF claims that new collision-avoidance technology means that the conductor position can be eliminated on some trains, leaving only an engineer.

The plan is so unpopular that even railway workers not involved in the union and family members are expressing concern. There is fear about lost jobs, but there is also worry about the lack of help in case of an emergency. Freight trains operate in isolated conditions. If there was an injury or other medical problem with the single employee, no one would be there to help.

Railroading is a dangerous profession, and remains so even today. Having freight trains run under the guidance of a single employee seems foolhardy, and an opening for future FELA lawsuits. If you or a loved one have been injured in a railroad accident, contact Doyle Raizner LLC to see if you may qualify for a FELA lawsuit filed on your behalf.  Railroad companies shouldn’t put their workers at risk.

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