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daan-stevens-282446-1-copy-300x191The family of an elderly Korean War veteran, Robert Hopkins, who passed away after falling from his hospital bed, has filed a lawsuit against Valley Convalescent Hospital located in Bakersfield, California. The family is citing neglect as the cause of their loved one’s wrongful early death. Specifically, the family is asserting that the nursing assistant employed by the facility failed to properly set a side rail on Hopkin’s bed, which led to a fall from his bed. This particular fall, which turns out to be one of nine Hopkins suffered after being admitted to Valley Convalescent, led to a broken vertebrae. He died approximately a week later. California’s Department of Public Health (CDPH) determined the fall from his bed caused Hopkin’s death and fined the medical facility.

Additional Signs of Neglect

Evidence that Hopkins suffered nine separate falls from either his hospital bed or wheelchair, and that his wife was not aware of all of these falls prior to his death, points to a lack of proper care. Medical facilities that care for elderly patients are well aware of their patients’ mobility issues and the increases risk of fall. These medical professionals should also be aware of the high risk of injury and death related to falls and take care to prevent as many falls as possible.

k11cdc7loau-clem-onojeghuo-300x216Valentine’s Day is by no means the busiest times of year for police officers looking for drunk drivers. However, it is one of those nights every year when you may be tempted to have too much wine or an extra cocktail before the drive home. When you are out enjoying a romantic evening with your significant other, it is easy to splurge on the bottle instead of a glass or take in a nightcap before ending the evening. Unfortunately, this puts you at risk for driving with a blood alcohol content over the legal limit of .08% and causing an accident. Even if you keep the drinking to a minimum this Valentine’s Day, you may want to consider other drunk drivers on the roads and avoid driving.

Tips to Avoid an Alcohol-Related Accident on Valentine’s Day

When you plan a romantic evening for you and your partner, the last thing you want is a DUI or alcohol-related accident to spoil the mood. To avoid an accident, consider these romantic ideas:

800px-Texas_County,_Oklahoma_courthouse_from_E_1A woman who was allegedly struck by a player on the University of Oklahoma’s football team recently resisted a motion by the defendant’s legal team to change the venue of the proceeding from federal court in California to Oklahoma. In arguing against the transfer, the plaintiff claimed that she could not be assured of a fair trial in Oklahoma since Oklahomans are (at least according to the plaintiff) fiercely loyal to the Sooner football program. The defendant and his attorneys countered with several reasons why the case should be moved to Oklahoma City federal court, including:

  • There is no evidence to support the plaintiff’s claims of juror bias;
  • Oklahoma law would apply and a court sitting in Oklahoma would be more familiar with this body of law;

f92f0e449e17d1d2e566d638a427eef9Some may believe that lawsuits are won or lost based on complex legal arguments or shrewd strategy. However, as recently illustrated in a California employment dispute, sometimes the outcome of a lawsuit depends on the basics, like making sure the lawsuit is filed against the proper defendant. In a recent California case, an aggrieved employee brought suit against his employer, whom he named in the lawsuit. The employer was able to obtain a dismissal in their favor because the employee had improperly identified his actual employer (the case is presently being appealed).

Who is the Defendant?

In any California personal injury lawsuit, the “defendant” is the individual or entity alleged to have caused the victim’s injuries through negligent or reckless conduct. One of the first things you will do with your personal injury lawsuit is to name the defendant and serve a copy of your complaint or petition on the defendant you name. But just because you name a certain person or entity as a defendant does not mean that he or she is obligated to litigate the matter on the merits. In the recent case, for example, the employee’s lawsuit was dismissed before the merits of the case were litigated because the type of lawsuit filed by the employee could only be brought against the employee’s legal employer. Because the defendant named by the employee was determined not to be the employee’s legal employer, the defendant was not obligated to litigate the matter on the merits.

Our team is proud to partner with whistleblowers to fight back against health care fraud and other forms of government contracts fraud.  When a case involves fraud on the federal government, the False Claims Act is the primary tool that private citizens can use to pursue these claims.  While we often talk about specific issues of fraud on this blog, it is also important to periodically take a step back and examine this important piece of legislation more generally.  In this post, our False Claims Act lawyer does just that.

An Overview and the History of the False Claims Act

lawbooksThe False Claims Act (“FCA” or “the Act”) is a series of statutes, with two of the most important pieces found at 31 U.S.C. 3729,  which defines a false claim, and 31 U.S.C. 3730,  which creates a cause of action.  Passed during the Civil War Era amid concerns about contractors defrauding the Union Army, the FCA was largely forgotten until the mid-1980s and has gone through several major revisions in the past few decades.  Now, it stands as the primary tool for fighting a range of frauds from a manufacturer providing inferior goods pursuant to a military contract to a medical provider billing Medicare for services that were not medically necessary to any other form of government contract fraud.

Memories of one’s college years should be marked by exciting learning opportunities, deep friendships, and the occasional all-night study session.  Tragically, far too many young people are finding their memories of their college years darkened by on-campus sexual assault and/or rape.  This growing threat must be stopped.  Our San Francisco sexual assault attorney believes that civil lawsuits against universities can provide recourse of victims and can also spark changes that will keep students safe at school.

Women File Suit Against Berkeley Alleging Inadequate Response to Sexual Assault Claims

helpThis week, as detailed in the Santa Rosa Press Democrat, three current and former students filed a civil suit against the University of California, Berkeley alleging the administration failed to respond appropriately to their sexual assault claims.  The women allege the school did not conduct appropriate investigations, failed to keep them informed throughout the process, and did not sufficiently punish the perpetrators.  The trio say they want to force UC Berkeley to create stronger policies and procedures for handling sexual assault claims and want harsher punishments for assailants.  They also seek monetary damages.

In response to last month’s commuter train accident in Philadelphia, government agencies have recommended additional guidelines and steps to increase railroad safety. On June 9, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) issued a safety advisory recommending concrete steps that passenger railroads take to ensure that trains are traveling a safe speed.

Philadelphia Amtrak Accident

On May 12, 2015 an Amtrak commuter train from Washington, DC to New York City derailed in Philadelphia. According to NBC, at least 7 passengers were killed and over 200 more were injured as a result of the crash. As we’ve already discussed in a previous blog post, the train’s speed was quickly targeted as a contributing factor to the derailment. According to the Wall Street Journal, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigation revealed that the train’s speed reached 106 mph just before a curve in the track. The speed limit at that location was 50 mph. trainspeed

The landlord/tenant relationship can be tricky and difficult to navigate. Many tenants inherently feel like they are at the mercy of their landlord if they want to be able to remain in their home. They do not feel like they are in a position to challenge their landlord’s behaviors or dispute landlord fees. One area in which tenants may be charged fees – and feel powerless to fight those fees – is the security deposit. Often, a tenant moves out only to receive an itemized receipt detailing the various deductions from the security deposit, and believes that he or she has no way to challenge those deductions. tightened-100-dollar2-roll-1377964-m

Class Action Requires Landlords to Repay Fees from Security Deposits

According to NBC, thirty-one apartment complexes from Southern California have reached a settlement with tenants from as far back as 2008, who argued that the complexes inappropriately deducted fees from security deposits. Specifically, the renters asserted that fees for normal wear and tear – new paint, replacing carpet or flooring – violated California’s law which specifies what can and cannot be deducted from a security deposit. About 10,000 tenants and former tenants have been notified of the settlement, and may be entitled to a payout from the settlement.

Mass transit offers an affordable and environmentally-friendly alternative to America’s love affair with cars. In order to make mass transit a viable option, we must also make mass transit safety a priority. The Brod Law Firm supports general policy efforts to make mass transit safer. Additionally, our Northern California mass transit attorney represents individuals and families in the wake of train accidents and other transit tragedies. We believe this work not only compensates the injured and/or grieving but also encourages all involved to prioritize safety in the future.

Two Train Fatalities on Same Day in Bay Area

Monday saw two separate train fatalities in the Bay Area. Per a San Francisco Chronicle report, an Amtrak train travelling from Sacramento to San Jose struck and killed a person who was allegedly trespassing on the tracks in Albany at 2:10 P.M. Later that afternoon, also per the San Francisco Chronicle, a Caltrain struck and killed a pedestrian. The second incident occurred in southeastern San Jose between the Blossom Hill and Morgan Hill stops along Monterey Highway. It was the fourth pedestrian accident involving Caltrain in a little more than one week’s time. Notably, about 90% of Caltrain fatalities are later ruled suicides. Authorities have yet to determine a cause in either of Monday’s incidents.

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Any time a parent has to be reminded of the loss of a child is an extraordinarily difficult and painful experience. But sometimes parents who have lost a child due to a tragic incident decide to revisit the issue out a sense of public service, in order that the children of other parents do not lose their lives in the same way. That is why San Francisco train accident attorney Gregory J. Brod salutes Dena Betti for stepping forward to speak publicly about the death of her daughter, Jenna, who died March 2 when she was struck by a freight train in Martinez.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, Betti joined representatives from Caltrans and Amtrak for a public event at the Emeryville train depot in order to raise awareness about rail safety. Betti has been involved with educating the public about train safety since Jenna, 14, was struck and killed about one block away from her home by an eastbound train. Jenna and a friend were carving their initials in the wooden rail ties and jumped away from the tracks when they heard the freight train coming. However, Jenna returned to the tracks to try to recover her cellphone and was hit by the rear of the train and pulled under its wheels.

The tragic accident occurred in a stretch of rail between Martinez and San Jose that Caltrans officials have said is especially dangerous because both freight and passenger trains pass through the densely populated area 24 hours a day. The amount of rail traffic in this corridor is expected to increase as the economy steadily improves and especially as a greater share of the nation’s freight is transported by rail.

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Design improvements may have made trains quieter, which is a blessing for the neighborhoods through which they lumber, but a less audibly noticeable train can sweep upon pedestrians or motorists in their cars more unsuspectingly. And even if a train engineer sees a pedestrian or a motor vehicle on the tracks, it takes one mile for a train moving at 55 mph to stop, making the pedestrian or motorist’s chances of escaping unscathed very slim.

Statistics show that deaths of pedestrians on railroad tracks have been on the rise in the United States. According to the Federal Railroad Administration, fatalities suffered by so-called “trespassers’ in the United States went from 187 in 2011, to 195 in 2013, to 262 to date in 2014. Those figures do not include trespassers, typically those in motor vehicles, who died while at a railroad/highway crossing. For that category, an additional 59 died in 2011, 54 in 2012, 70 in 2013 and 72 in 2014 with months left on the calendar.
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