Train Derailments Prompt Federal Call for Sleep Apnea Testing

Pennsylvania has seen its fair share of train derailments in recent years, including the fatal Amtrak crashes in and around Philadelphia in 2015 and 2017. Causes range from human error to safety lapses, mechanical failure, and obstructive sleep apnea.

Sleep apnea was the probable cause of two recent New York-area derailments, prompting Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer to call for “the federal government to regulate the testing of the disorder as it relates to commuter railroads,” as reported by Newsday recently. According to the article, Schumer criticized the Department of Transportation for failing to require sleep apnea testing, noting that the cost of the crashes far outweighs the cost of testing. One person died and more than 200 people were injured in the New York area derailments.

If you have been a victim of a train or vehicle accident and would like to speak to an attorney, we offer a free initial consultation. Contact us online or call 215-751-0100 to arrange an appointment.

Federal Government Penalizes 32 PA Hospitals for Allowing Injuries

The state of Pennsylvania reduced Medicare payments for 32 hospitals to penalize them for high rates of infections and injuries, according to a recent news report. The article cited that hospitals were fined for infections related to catheter and intravenous lines, certain surgeries, MRSA and c-diff infections, and injuries such as bed sores and hip fractures from hospital falls.

While such penalties are intended to encourage hospitals to prioritize reduction of the incidents, the story went on to note that seventeen of the hospitals fined had also been penalized the prior year.

An analysis by Kaiser Health News shared that hospitals that treat lower income patients are more likely to be fined, calling the penalties “controversial” because “hospitals that treat sicker patients and those that do a better job of identifying infections” are punished. Patient advocates argue that while the system is not perfect, it helps hold hospitals accountable.

If you have been a victim of what you believe to be injury from medical malpractice, contact us online or call 215-751-0100 to discuss your legal options.

Opioid Crisis in the Nation – and Pennsylvania

The nation’s opioid crisis seems to be an unprecedented level with no remedy in sight.

In fact, a seemingly ironclad case against one of the country’s largest drug distributors hit a wall due to the government’s reluctance to prosecute, reported a recent 60 Minutes segment.  The company in question, McKesson Corporation, was apparently distributing millions of highly addictive opioid pills to pharmacies, including shady Internet operations, without due diligence, according to the segment. Yet the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) was unable to hold the company fully accountable.

Nine DEA field divisions and 12 U.S. attorneys worked on the case for two years. Special agent David Schiller and his team sought to “fine the company more than a billion dollars, revoke registrations to distribute controlled substances and put a McKesson executive behind bars,” reported correspondent Bill Whitaker. But the DEA attorneys did not want to take on the lawsuit. Instead, McKesson was fined just $150 million.

It would appear that no community is immune from the opioid crisis. We are currently representing the family of a college student, Cody Albert, who died tragically from an overdose. Albert went into respiratory arrest after ingesting a fentanyl patch prescribed for a friend’s mother. The friend, Zachary Ross, was a known addict, yet obtained the prescription from a local pharmacy anyway. “He is among five people who since 2011 have been charged in state or federal court with supplying drugs that led to fatal overdoses in Lackawanna County,” reported the Times-Tribune.

If you have a wrongful death matter you would like to discuss, we are happy to offer a free initial consultation. Just contact us online or call our office at 215-751-0100.

“Suit: If they did their job, kids’d be alive”

The following is the text of an article printed today in the Philadelphia Daily News and Philadelphia Inquirer newspapers.
Click here for a pdf of the Daily News article; for the Inquirer article, click here.

By Julia Terruso
Staff Writer

Anthony Singleton lies awake most nights haunted by questions of what he could have done to prevent the death of his infant son and 3-year-old stepdaughter. He searches for signs he might have
missed in the behavior of his wife, who is charged with killing them.

“I thought she was all right,” Singleton said last week. “This would be the last thing I thought she would do.The very last thing.”

Singleton, 59, is suing the child welfare agency Turning Points for Children, a DHS contractor, that facilitated the reunification of his son, St. Leo, and stepdaughter, Ariel, with their mother, Sophia Hines. Hines is charged with smothering the children with a bedsheet in June 2016. She was ruled mentally incompetent to stand trial and is being held in a psychiatric facility in Florida.

The lawsuit, filed Monday, alleges that Turning Points, which was providing services to the family, failed to consult with Department of Human Services psychologists or review Hines’ medical information before recommending that the court release the children back into her custody. Hines was on medication for an underlying psychiatric condition and suffering from postpartum depression, according to an agency review of the deaths.

“If they did their job, these kids would be alive today,” said attorney Michael Shaffer,who is representing Singleton with his law partner Michael Gaier. “Anthony is not an expert.He’s not a psychiatrist. He does not have the ability to evaluate what’s appropriate for reunification.That’s their job.”

The suit alleges negligence and wrongful death, and seeks damages for Singleton on behalf of his son and for four relatives of Hines’ on behalf of her daughter. Turning Points CEO Michael
Vogel said Monday he could not comment on pending litigation. A review of the deaths found Hines had not signed consent to enable the agency to obtain her medical records.

“Turning Points for Children is deeply saddened by the tragic deaths of these children last year,” Vogel said. “Our work in caring for and supporting children and families is challenging and complex, and while we cannot comment on open litigation or specific case details,we continue to stay focused on working closely with DHS to ensure the safety of all children and families
in our community.”

Singleton, a former Marine who works as a traffic flagger, met Hines, who emigrated from Jamaica, in 2015. Hines already had her then-2-year-old daughter, Ariel,whom Singleton called “the
smartest little girl in the world.”

“I’ve never seen a kid so young that remembers that much,” Singleton said. “She was like a tape recorder. You told her you were going to do something, she remembered.”

When Hines got pregnant with St.Leo, something shifted, Singleton said. She moved out of Singleton’s home and into a shelter. Ten days after giving birth, she brought both of her children to
Einstein Medical Center, saying she was depressed and overwhelmed.

The children were placed in foster care for six months, during which Hines and Singleton reunited and got married at a small ceremony at their home in Frankford. Singleton said that he wanted
Hines to know he was fully committed to his new son and stepdaughter, and that he accompanied her to scheduled visits with the kids. Things seemed to be better between them, he said.

“I loved her, and I thought that was the right thing to do,” he said. “I learned the hard way that you can’t get married for anything other than love.”

In April 2016, Turning Points recommended to Family Court that Hines regain custody. It was later revealed in a review of the case that the agency did so without conducting a parenting-capacity
evaluation and thus without knowledge of Hines’ mental health status. The reunification was based in part on a letter from a social work intern who knew Hines for less than a month.

Singleton said that if Hines was exhibiting signs of distress at the time, he missed them. He was working 12-hour days, and the couple were living together off and on.

Shaffer said his case will show the children were returned too soon.

“She tried to do the best she could when she took the kids back to Einstein initially. She told them, ‘I’m in over my head here, help me,’ ” Shaffer said. “Then it’s their job to appropriately reunify.
I wish I could say they did a bad job. They didn’t do anything on the checklist they were supposed to do, and it’s very clear reunification never should have happened —she was clearly not ready.”

In mid-May, Hines told Singleton she was going to visit her brother in Queens, New York City. Instead, she took the children, via bus, to Miramar, Fla., where she stayed with a cousin. When she didn’t answer Singleton’s calls, he became alarmed.

On June 9, police responded to Hines’ cousin’s home and found both children unresponsive, lying side by side on a bed. Hines admitted to killing the children in an interview with police in which she answered few questions and appeared catatonic, according to police reports. The report said Hines had scratches on her face, which indicate Ariel, whom she said she killed second, fought back.

After finding out about his son’s death, Singleton flew to Florida to identify the bodies and bring them home.

He said he couldn’t work for nearly a year because of the shock. Now he regularly visits a psychiatrist at the Department of Veterans Affairs, and relies on his West Philadelphia church community
and the distraction of his job.

He said he hopes the lawsuit promotes more diligence on the part of the agencies charged with protecting children.

“I just wanted justice for the kids. It wasn’t any more than that. I felt really that they were wrong, and I said if somebody’s responsible for that, make them know they were wrong so this
won’t happen to anyone else.”

Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit—Actual Losses

Personal InjuryYou’ve been hurt in an accident and you’ve filed a lawsuit. You’ve succeeded in showing that the defendant’s conduct fell below the expected standard of care, and you’ve also met the dual requirements of actual cause and proximate cause. But you’re still not home. To recover monetary compensation, you still need to show that you sustained actual losses because of the wrongful acts of the defendant.

What is Actual Injury?

You may be saying, “hey, wait a minute, I showed that the defendant engaged in wrongful conduct and I showed that it caused damage to something I own or caused me injury. What more do I need to show?” In determining whether you have a right to damages, the court will want to ask a few questions:

  • Did you actually incur any out-of-pocket expenses, or was everything paid for by insurance companies?—You can’t file a claim for lost wages if you received full reimbursement or payment of wages. You can’t seek damages for medical expenses that were either paid by the insurance company or reimbursed to you. If your insurance company covers all your out-of-pocket expenses, they may have a claim against the defendant for those costs, but you don’t—you can’t recover twice for the same loss.
  • Did you suffer pain or physical discomfort?—These types of injuries are not normally covered by insurance, so here’s a place where you may actually be entitled to damages.
  • Did you have to stop doing things you love?—Did you play tennis or golf before the accident, but can’t now because of the pain? Was there any other activity you had to give up because of the accident?
  • Have you lost the ability to be intimate with a spouse or partner, or to enjoy the companionship of family members?

Contact Us

To schedule a private meeting with an experienced personal injury attorney, call our foreclosure hotline at 855-289-1660 or e-mail us. Evening and weekend meetings can be arranged upon request. We will travel to your home, if necessary, to meet with you.

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