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Though our country has gone through a turbulent time with the recent election, we understand that many have become frustrated and upset with even discussing the topic of government and politics.  However, it has come to our attention that certain elected government officials have put forth a bill which would severely curtail the rights of all citizens and reduce our access to the Court system as well as the right to receive fair and adequate damages for serious injuries.

This week, the House will vote on a number of bills that will make it difficult for accident victims to seek justice in our nation’s courts. If these bills pass, it will make it nearly impossible for Americans, who are injured in accidents, and their families to pursue legal action. The so-called “Protection Access to Care Act of 2017” [H.R. 1215] will rig the system against us by allowing insurance companies and big corporations to prevail.

You can view the details of the bill by clicking on   HR 1215 Bill.   As you will note, the bill, sponsored by big business and the insurance lobby, sets a cap of $250,000 for all claims of pain and suffering for any person bringing a Health Care Lawsuit.  Such a lawsuit will include all claims of medical malpractice, nursing home negligence and any other claim involving any other health care provider.  If we stop for just one moment and think about this.  An elderly woman who is caused to sustain serious and permanent bed sores while in a Nursing home and suffers for 2 years in awful pain, undergoing debridement (scraping of the necrotic skin) procedures will be limited to $250,000.00 in damages.  A child who suffers a loss of oxygen due to delay and error by the doctor and nurses while being delivered and is rendered handicapped and special needs for the rest of their life; will be limited to $250,000 for their pain and suffering.

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In the Medical Malpractice arena, Plaintiffs routinely face an uphill battle.  From inception, the defendants always seek to limit our claims, and create defenses in hope of proving that the conduct of the doctor/hospital/staff was within the accepted Standard of Care.  When all discovery is complete, we find that defendants and their counsel are making Summary Judgment motions.  A motion for Summary Judgment is a motion before a trial that is made before the assigned Judge.  The defendant submits legal papers and expert affidavits stating that based upon all the evidence the Court should dismiss the case as Plaintiff can not prove that the case has meritorious arguments and should go before the jury.

The Plaintiff’s bar face these motions more and more frequently.   We vigorously oppose these motions with our own experts and affidavits.

This past month, the Medical Malpractice Unit at Leav & Steinberg, LLP was successful in defeating two motions for Summary Judgment on significant cases.

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New York City’s ban on e-cigarettes have was upheld by the Appellate Division.  New York City Citizens Lobbying Against Smoker Harassment (CLASH) filed a lawsuit arguing that New York City’s 2013 ban on vaping in public places (Local Rule 152) violated the New York State Constitution by impermissibly lumping smoking traditional cigarettes and smoking electronic cigarettes into the same law. The Appellate Division disagreed with CLASH and upheld the law banning vaping in public places. 

The Court provided, in pertinent part:

“Before enacting this law, the City Council held a series of hearings, at which it heard testimony from, among others, public health advocates, representatives of electronic cigarette manufacturers, and members of the public, including plaintiff Wishtart and the founder of plaintiff NYC CLASH.  The Committee report issued following the hearings explained that electronic cigarettes are devices that contain a liquid containing nicotine, as well as varying compositions of flavorings, propylene glycol, glycerin, and other ingredients, that is heated into a vapor that the user inhales.  Although they have been marketed as a safer alternative to traditional cigarettes since they were introduced in the U.S. in 2006, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control have expressed concern about e- cigarettes’ safety for the user and non-user, samples having tested positive for carcinogens, as well as the concern that they may lead to the use of other nicotine products by young people (see https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/stateandcommunity/pdfs/cdc-osh-information-on-e-cigarettes-november-2015.pdf; https://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm506676.htm#safer [last accessed 12/12/16]).”

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On the morning of Wednesday, January 4, 2017, a Long Island Railroad (LIRR) train derailed at Brooklyn’s Atlantic Terminal during the rush hour commute injuring over a hundred (100) people, officials said.  An estimated 600 people were on the train when the crash occurred.  The train left from Far Rockaway at 7:18am and was supposed to arrive at the Atlantic Terminal at 8:11am.  The crash happened at 8:20am.

According to officials, the LIRR train derailed on Track 6 when it slammed into a bumper block at the transit hub as it pulled into the station.  The LIRR train was running about nine minutes late from its scheduled arrival time at Brooklyn’s Atlantic Terminal.  There will likely be an investigation into the causes surrounding the crash and derailment by the Federal Railroad Administration.  Data recorders aboard the train can show the speed it was traveling and when the engineer hit the brakes (if at all) just before the crash.  While investigators have not answered many questions about the crash, the preliminary information, as being reported by the news, is that the train was going too fast as it entered the station and struck a bumper at the end of the track.

The station quickly filled with dust and smoke after the crash.  One of the passengers aboard the train described the accident as follows:  “The train suddenly slammed…We were standing and waiting to get off.  One of the doors shattered and we all fell on top of each other.”

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On the morning of December 27, 2016, a multi vehicle accident, including two tractor trailers, killed three men and injured five more. The accident occurred at approximately 5:45 a.m., when the two tractor trailers, a Toyota sedan, and a pick-up truck collided on the eastbound lane of the Cross Bronx Expressway near Webster Ave. The three men traveling in the pick-up truck died at the scene of the accident.

The five injured passengers were taken to St. Barnabas Hospital and Bronx-Lebanon Hospital and are all in stable condition.

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Leav & Steinberg has successfully represented a 25 year old male who was involved in an automobile accident and suffered multiple injuries. A $1,025,000.00 settlement before trial was obtained for the injuries our client sustained in the accident.

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In the past decade, E-Cigarettes or Vaping has become almost commonplace.  From those who feel it is a safe alternative to smoking, a good method to quitting, or the new social “it” thing to do, everyone from teenagers to adults are using it.

The produce essentially heats a liquid that goes into an aerosol which the user inhales.  The products side effects are not limited to ultrafine particles that can be inhaled deep into the lungs with flavorants such as diacetyl a chemical that has been linked to serious lung disease.

Just read this quote from a young adult from an article recently published by NBC News:

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In July 2011 a 54 year old worker from the Bronx fell on a defective and dangerous staircase. He immediately felt pain to his knee and shoulder. He was transported from the scene and left with a knee brace and told to follow up. Over the following few weeks, he felt pain in his lower back; pain that was becoming disabling.

The client retained Leav & Steinberg to represent him for the serious injuries. Immediately after being retained, L&S set up an inspection of the premises so that we could ensure that the staircase was inspected and we would be able to prove it was negligently maintained.

We commenced litigation and after a short time, the defendant and their insurance suggested we sit down at a mediation. The client had undergone a knee and shoulder arthroscopic surgery at this point. At the mediation, they extended an offer of $150,000.00 in full settlement. Partner Daniela Henriques advised the client that at this stage the settlement was less than adequate and moreover the medical course of treatment revealed that his lumbar spine was becoming worse. We suggested he reject the offer and we proceeded forward.

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On November 22, 2016, a 6,500 pound I-beam became loose as it was hoisted into place at a construction site in Briarwood, Queens.  The I-beam fell four stories, killing a crane operator and a flag man.  A link with more information about the accident can be found here.  New York City has many laws and safety regulations which protect workers and other individuals at and near construction sites.

Despite such laws, those in the construction industry, often working within tight time and financial constraints, push the limits of those laws and of safe construction.  This can often result in tragedy.

When choosing a law firm to represent someone killed during construction, the surviving members of the family must consider all aspects of the firm’s background, experience, ability to take the case to trial as well and most importantly the firm’s reputations among the defense and insurance industry.

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Brooklyn resident, Frank Musella, a 37 year old married father of two young boys,  was doing his usual work at the Department of Sanitation in Staten Island on July 29th, 2015 when he began having chest pain.  He went outside and was found immediately unresponsive, having suffered what appeared to be a heart attack.  911 and EMS were called.  From reports received, and due to ongoing issues with the EMS transmission radio system and its WI-FI network, delay occurred in getting to him.  This delay, it is claimed may have created the inability to revive and treat him.  He passed away later that day at Staten Island University Hospital.  An autopsy performed showed that he had severe blockage in his arteries.  He had regular check ups with his doctors and was always told he was okay except for high cholesterol.

Leav & Steinberg, LLP was retained to investigate the circumstances of his death including the delay by EMS as well as the medical care provided by his primary care doctor and a cardiologist who had seen him in months and years prior, but failed to diagnose any emergent cardiac condition.

A suit has been filed naming the City of New York and their EMS service for negligence.

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A construction worker died on Wednesday, October 26th after falling off scaffolding into a 35 foot deep wastewater tank in Brooklyn.

The accident took place at Coney Island Water Pollution Control facility on Knapp St. near Voorhies Ave. in Gravesend. Emergency workers rushed to the scene after receiving a call at 12:34 p.m. about the construction worker’s fall.

Two FDNY divers found the 31 year old construction worker, Michael Buffamante, at the bottom of the tank and pulled him out of the water. Rescue workers thereafter unsuccessfully attempted to resuscitate Buffamante, who was in cardiac arrest. He later died at the hospital.