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$6.6 Million to Be Paid to Family of Woman Killed by LAPD Cruiser – LA Times

By PSB Admin on June 30, 2012

Jovanna LugoThe Los Angeles City Council agreed Friday to a $6.6 million payment to the family of a woman killed by a speeding police patrol car.

The unanimous decision marks the largest amount of taxpayer funds the city has ever paid to resolve a Los Angeles Police Department traffic collision, surpassing a $5 million payout it made in another fatal LAPD crash last year.

Car crashes have emerged as an intractable problem for the LAPD that, in turn, has cost the city considerably as it is forced to either settle the resulting lawsuits or fight them in court. Including the current settlement, the city has paid about $30 million to resolve about 400 LAPD traffic-related lawsuits over the past decade and must contend with dozens more pending cases, city records show.

Despite assurances made in recent months by police officials that the department will improve the way it investigates officer accidents, some council members have grown increasingly frustrated with the LAPD’s apparent inability to get a handle on the issue.

The steady run of lawsuits often puts the council in a no-win situation as it is left little choice but to approve the large settlements in order to avoid the risk of a jury imposing an even greater amount.

"We have no choice," said Councilman Bill Rosendahl, who would not discuss the particulars of the case.

The payment stems from a 2010 collision in which 27-year-old Jovanna Lugo’s car was broadsided by a LAPD vehicle as she pulled out of her driveway and onto a city street where the posted speed limit was 35 mph.

The officers, who were not responding to an emergency call and so were not entitled to speed, were estimated to be driving about twice the limit. Neither the car’s emergency lights nor siren were not on and at least one witness said the police did not have their headlights on either.

The officers said that Lugo had caused the accident by trying to make an illegal U-turn. But in urging the council to accept the settlement, attorneys for the city said in a report obtained by The Times that there was no evidence to support that claim.

And even if she had been making an illegal turn, an expert hired by the city concluded that "given the lighting conditions and the speed of the police car, Ms. Lugo could not have appreciated the threat," the report said.

The city’s lawyers cautioned that turning down the settlement with Lugo’s husband and young son would bring serious risks.

"If the jury finds the defendants liable for wrongful death, the jury will award a figure in the multiple millions of dollars," wrote Deputy City Atty. John Wright in the report.

Wright went on to say that in a trial, the LAPD’s credibility would be attacked in light of the shoddy investigation that was conducted into the crash. None of the interviews with witnesses to the crash were tape recorded, Wright said, and the witness who said the police car’s headlights were off prior to the accident was not interviewed.

It was Lugo’s death that spurred LAPD officials to reconsider the way the department investigates serious accidents in which officers are suspected of negligence or other significant misconduct, police officials have said.

Prior to the crash, such investigations were treated like typical misconduct inquiries, but the department now treats them similarly to officer-involved shootings.

In shooting inquiries, officers are separated from each other at the scene to avoid collusion, and special teams of detectives spend months gathering evidence and witness testimony. An oversight panel ultimately rules on whether the officers were justified in using force.

Councilman Paul Krekorian, who heads the powerful budget committee, described the payment as appropriate given "the tragic circumstances" of the case. Krekorian said he plans to call LAPD officials before his committee to explain what they are doing to lower the department’s risk of lawsuits-–a session that will focus, in part, on accidents involving police vehicles.

"We’re going to have that explicit conversation in my committee," he said after the vote.

From the Los Angeles Times

LAPD Considers Changes to Investigation of Cop Car Accidents

By PSB Admin on January 23, 2012

The LAPD is deliberating whether or not to investigate traffic accidents involving an officer in the same way they would approach an officer-involved shooting. Such a move would involve separating the officers after the incident, and having investigators look into each individual case to determine wrongdoing.

The LA Times reported on the story, which throws some light onto a pretty big issue. Because there are so many accidents involving police (an average of one per day over the last three years), officials implemented a points system to better evaluate officers involved in accidents. Internal affairs investigations, which had been the norm up to 2008, became a drain on IA resources.

The points system, which assigns a certain number of points based on the seriousness of the wrongdoing of the officer, appears to have curtailed the number of accidents. There was a decline between 2009 and 2011 in the number of crashes, but the number of lawsuits related to these accidents remains large. 205 lawsuits were filed in that same three year period, 40% more than the three years before the plan went into effect.

The cost to the department of the lawsuits is staggering. 1,900 lawsuits have been brought against the LAPD since 2002, and a quarter of those are from victims of crashes. $138 million was paid out due to lawsuits brought against the police department, more than the number of lawsuits brought against every other city department combined.

As a Los Angeles car accident attorney, it’s clear to me that there’s still a problem. It’s nice to see the number of accidents decline, but officers who disobey traffic laws and injure bystanders must still be held accountable. That’s why it’s so important to seek a great personal injury lawyer in Los Angeles if you’re ever involved in such an accident. It’s good to know you’ll always have someone in your corner.

Lake Mead Helicopter Tour Accident Kills 5

By Los Angeles Personal Injury Lawyer on December 8, 2011

News sources reported that a luxury helicopter tour of the Las Vegas Sunset Strip and Hoover Dam crashed into a mountainside Wednesday evening, taking the lives of the pilot and four passengers near Lake Mead. The tour was operated by Sundance helicopters in Las Vegas.

According to National Park Service spokesman Andrew Munoz, the accident occurred in the River Mountains surrounding Lake Mead just before 5pm on Wednesday. The crash, which was remotely witnessed by numerous people, happened about 4 miles west of Lake Mead and roughly 30 miles from the Las Vegas Strip. The scene is not accessible by road an initially slowed a rescue and recovery effort until early Thursday. A park ranger rode a 4-wheel drive vehicle to scene in the meantime to protect the bodies and scene until the investigation could begin.

Ian Gregor, spokesman for the Federal Aviation Administration, stated that the helicopter was an AS-350, and could hold up to six passengers during an air tour. The FAA is unclear as to what may have caused the accident, as the weather was mostly clear Wednesday in that area.

The identities of the victims have yet to be disclosed as officials are continuing their investigation.

As a Los Angeles personal injury lawyer, I’m deeply saddened to learn of this tragic accident. In my time as a personal injury lawyer, I’ve seen the devastating effects that accidents similar to this have had on the family and friends left behind, and I offer my most sincere condolences as they mourn their loss.

Cookie Tins Recalled due Possible Contamination

By Los Angeles Personal Injury Lawyer on October 31, 2011

News sources have reported that a recall was issued of an unfortunate number of 85,000 butter cookie canisters from a major National drug store chain. Sources claim that the alleged reason behind the recall is that they might be contaminated with the bacillus cereus virus.

The intake of products contaminated with this microorganisms cause vomiting, diarrhea and nausea. Many cases have shown that there might be more serious health problems related to this virus but sources have failed in naming all of which have been verified by health reports.

The Food and Drug Administration officers claim that after an alleged uncharacteristic odor, the investigations were initiated to determine the causes behind the problem. The recall was issued as soon as officials determined the type of microorganisms found in the product cans.

As a Los Angeles personal injury lawyer I urge all readers to be aware that similar situations occur to many products sold throughout the Nation. If your health or the health of a loved one has ever been injured or damaged by a product that might have been contaminated in any way, do not hesitate to contact a product liability lawyer.

John Morgan: You Can’t Teach Hungry

By PSB Admin on September 30, 2011

You Cant Teach HungryThe Los Angeles personal injury attorneys at Panish Shea & Boyle would like to congratulate John Morgan of Morgan and Morgan, PA on his book “You Can’t Teach Hungry: Creating the Multimillion Dollar Law Firm”. This book has been described as “the ultimate guide to building the multimillion dollar law firm”. In “You Can’t Teach Hungry”, John shares his prince and knowledge of running a hugely successful law firm, laying a road map to run your own multimillion dollar practice.

In the book Morgan states: “You don’t bring a knife to a gunfight, you bring Brian Panish.”

If you were lucky enough to be at the 2011 CAALA (Consumer Attorneys of Los Angeles) event in Las Vegas, John Morgan was signing and giving away free copies of his book at the Panish Shea & Boyle exhibitors booth. The event was a huge success and everyone at Panish Shea & Boyle would like to thank all those who attended. If you missed your chance you can pick up the book online at Amazon by clicking here.

Here are some photos taken at the CAALA event:

FDA to Review Fosamax

By Los Angeles Personal Injury Lawyer on September 7, 2011

On Friday, September 9, two panels of the United States Food and Drug Administration will meet to discuss the drug Fosamax and its long term use, and whether the drug should have time restrictions placed on its usage, requiring users to stop using it for certain lengths of time during treatment, according to news reports.

A study that suggested bisphosphonate drugs like Fosamax increases the users risk of suffering femur fractures was released in July, which prompted this safety review.

The FDA first issued a warning that using these drugs would increase your risk of atypical femur fractures in October of 2010, but thousands of lawsuits have been filed against Merck, the manufacturer of Fosamax, by users who state the company failed to warn consumers of the dangers of consuming the product.

As a Los Angeles personal injury attorney, if you or a loved one has been injured because of Fosamax I suggest you seek medical attention right away. It can also be just as important to contact a product liability lawyer as soon as possible because you may be entitled to monetary compensation as a result of getting injured because of a defective or recalled product. You should also remember that the longer you take to contact someone about your case the more chance you have to lose evidence.

Study Finds Lower Quality of Offshore Drug Plants

By Los Angeles Personal Injury Lawyer on September 7, 2011

A recent study found that offshore drug manufacturing plants are more likely to suffer quality problems than their U.S. mainland counterparts, report news sources.

The study, conducted by researchers at Ohio State University, compared manufacturing plants on the U.S. mainland with plants in Puerto Rico. All plants were owned by U.S. pharmaceutical firms, and researchers took measures that the plants were as similar as possible—same owner, manufacturing the same or similar drugs, similar work conditions.

Despite all of the similarities, the offshore plants had a slightly higher risk of quality problems. Researchers concluded that the gap stemmed from “knowledge transfer challenges due to cultural differences.” Study authors noted that the savings gained from moving manufacturing operations offshore carries an increased risk of quality problems that could lead to a recall.

Researchers are conducting further investigation to get a clearer picture of the study findings. The study appears in the November 11 issue of the Journal of Operations Management.

As a Los Angeles personal injury lawyer, patient safety is something I am very aware of; I urge drug makers to take all possible product safety measures. Because of my experience as a product defect lawyer, I know that people rely on their medications to maintain their health and, in some cases, sustain their lives. I encourage anyone who is experiencing adverse affects from a drug to contact their physician right away.

Tiffin Motor Homes Recalled Due to Braking Issue

By Los Angeles Personal Injury Lawyer on September 7, 2011

In a news release Wednesday, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced that Tiffin Motorhomes, Inc. is recalling certain models of motor home due to a breaking defect.

Subject to recall are approximately 1,960 motor homes including model year 2007 through 2011 Phaeton, model year 2008 through 2010 Bus, and model year 2010 Allegro motor homes. All of the affected vehicles are outfitted with Kongsberg Automotive adjustable brake pedals. The arm of the adjustable brake pedal may loosen, rotate around its shaft and swing in front of the accelerator pedal. This could cause the break pedal to become loose, increasing the risk of a crash.

Recall repairs and owner notification are being performed by Daimler Trucks. Affected owners were initially notified of the recall on December 22, 2009, and a follow notice was mailed to affected owners on July 20, 2011.

As a Los Angeles car accident lawyer, motorist safety is something that I am very aware of; I encourage owners of the recalled motorhomes to arrange for the needed repairs as soon as possible. Because of my experience as a product liability lawyer, I know that the effects of a faulty product can range from inconvenience and frustration to injury and sometimes death. I hope that no one has been harmed as a result of the brake pedal issue.

Ludwig Dairy Recalls Products Due to Pasteurization Problems

By Los Angeles Personal Injury Lawyer on September 2, 2011

An Illinois dairy that distributes items in-state as well as to outlets in Indiana, New Jersey and New York is recalling all products due to problems with the firm’s pasteurizing equipment, report news sources.

Ludwig Dairy is recalling items sold under its own name as well as a yogurt drink sold under the brand name Nuestro Queso due to a pump that failed to perform as expected. The pump is supposed to halt the production of raw milk in the event that there is a problem in the system. The pump did not function as expected; as a result, raw milk may have mixed with pasteurized milk. There have been no reported illnesses in connection with the issue.

Anyone who has purchased Ludwig-brand products is urged to dispose of the products.

Pasteurization is a process that involves heating milk in order to kill illness-causing bacteria that may be present in the milk. Infection by bacteria in raw milk and products made with raw milk like cheese and yogurt can cause diarrhea, vomiting and stomach cramping. More serious symptoms, that are less common include paralysis, kidney failure and chronic disorders.

Being a Los Angeles personal injury attorney, consumer health is something that I am very conscious of; I hope no one has been sickened by consuming the recalled dairy products. Because of my experience as a product defect lawyer, I am aware that food borne illness can be serious, and in some cases fatal. I encourage anyone who is experiencing symptoms of infection from bacteria that may be found in raw milk to seek immediate medical attention.

Children’s Clothing Retailer to Pay Fine Over Drawstrings

By Los Angeles Personal Injury Lawyer on September 2, 2011

In a news release Thursday, the U.S. Product Safety Commission announced that Sunsations Inc. as agreed to pay a $60,000 civil penalty to resolve agency allegations that the Virginia Beach, Va., company knowingly failed to report safety issues with children’s apparel sold by the firm.

The CPSC claims that Sunsations sold children’s hooded sweatshirts with drawstrings at the neck from March 2008 through November 2010 but failed to comply with federal law by notifying the safety agency of the presence of the drawstrings. Drawstrings on children’s upper outerwear pose a strangulation hazard that can lead to serious injury or death.

In December 2009 and in March 2011, Sunsations recalled more than 15,000 children’s sweatshirts sold in Sunsations stores in Virginia, Maryland and North Carolina. While Sunsations has agreed to the settlement, which has been provisionally approved by the CPCS, the clothing retailer denies regulator allegations that the firm knowingly violated the law.

As a Los Angeles personal injury attorney, consumer safety is something that I am very aware of; I hope that no children were injured by wearing one of the sweatshirts. Because of my experience as a product defect lawyer, I know that the effects of a dangerous product can range from inconvenience and frustration to injury and sometimes death. I encourage consumers to think “safety first” when evaluating products for purchase.

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