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As the only multi-state law firm in Valparaiso Indiana, Merrillville Indiana, Indianapolis Indiana, Northwest Indiana, Chicagoland, Joliet Illinois, Tinley Park Illinois, Chicago Illinois accepting serious injury and wrongful death cases, exclusively, Kenneth J. Allen Law Group is experienced and knowledgeable in the details and procedures that can make or break a case.

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U.S. Industrial Workers In Growing Danger: American Job Safety Rapidly Declining in 2014

posted by kjalaw on Jul 16th, 2014 at 11:17 am

A new worldwide job safety report has been published by non-profit group Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) and it’s a scary one for the United States. According to their research findings, within the past year alone, the safety of the American Worker has been drastically lowered and most people don’t realize it.

“America is on a trajectory toward Third World industrial safety,” warns PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch. “Just as our bridges, highways and other public infrastructure require reinvestment so do our industrial plants if we are to avoid the damage and dysfunction driven by a crumbling core.”

Major United States Industries: Who Are These Endangered Industrial Workers?

Not every worker is on the job doing industrial work. Manicurists, graphic designers, actors, politicians, and police officers are just a few examples of work that isn’t included in this shocking new research warning.  However, for Indiana and Illinois, this warning of increasing danger and risk to workers on the job doing industrial work applies to a great number of employees.

Shipyard Workers: Increased Risk of Injury on the Job

 

According to the Dow Jones, the following are the major American industries in the United States:

  • Construction & Materials
  • Building Materials & Fixtures
  • Heavy Construction
  • Industrial Goods & Services
  • Aerospace & Defense
  • Aerospace
  • Defense
  • General Industrials
  • Containers & Packaging
  • Diversified Industrials
  • Electronic & Electrical Equipment
  • Electrical Components & Equipment
  • Electronic Equipment
  • Industrial Engineering
  • Commercial Vehicles & Trucks
  • Industrial Machinery
  • Industrial Transportation
  • Delivery Services
  • Marine Transportation
  • Railroads
  • Transportation Services
  • Trucking
  • Support Services
  • Business Support Services
  • Business Training & Employment Agencies
  • Financial Administration
  • Industrial Suppliers
  • Waste & Disposal Services

Industrial Workers Are In Increasing Danger of Serious Injury or Death While Working on the Job

What PEER has done is to collect published reports summarizing research findings for various nations and various aspects of the industrial workplace. The PEER study then compares and summarizes these research findings.

Shockingly, it appears that the United States industrial workplace is falling short of keeping its workers safe, and that things are getting worse. For instance, from the American Journal of Industrial Medicine entitled, “Occupational Fatality Risks in the United States and the United Kingdom,” the following facts:

1. American workers are 3 times more likely to die than British workers doing the same job
2. U.S. workers died 10 times more often from exposure to chemicals than those doing the same job in the United Kingdom
3. American workers died 5 times more often from fire than British workers doing the same work
4. U.S. workers died 4 times more often than workers on the same job in the United Kingdom.

What is going on here?

According to the PEER study, the failure involves not only maintaining industrial conditions but to allow them to fall behind. PEER points to a study by Swiss Re (a big insurance concern) that reveals the insurance industry has experienced 3 times the losses in the refining, petrochemical processing and gas processing industry from American losses than any other sector on the globe.

New safeguards are not being considered and implemented in the American industrial sectors. Plants are getting more dangerous over time because, as Ruch explains, “ … plant operators do not have a sufficient economic incentive to invest because the real costs are borne by sacrificial workers and sickened communities.”

What Should Industrial Workers Do?

No one should be more aware of declining safety in their workplace than the workers who are on the job there, day after day. Taking personal precautions for you and your work buddies is important.

Filing complaints with management over shoddy safety situations is also important — that complaint might save your life or that of your co-worker. Sadly, it isn’t looking like those complaints are resulting in changes in job conditions, unfortunately.

Which means that the PEER Study is warning American industrial workers will be seriously injured or killed because of dangerous work conditions. Keep safe, and if you are injured then be ready to pursue justice with a workers’ compensation claim or personal injury lawsuit.

 

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Chicago Conference Warns of Generators and Carbon Monoxide Deaths in Winter: a Real Danger for Illinois and Indiana

posted by kjalaw on Dec 28th, 2013 at 1:54 pm

The weather forecast for Indiana and Illinois this Christmas holiday week is much nicer than the big winter storm that brought so much snow and ice just a few weeks ago, and it’s expected that we won’t see another big winter storm till late next week. Which means that people in our area may not be needing those popular portable gas generators now, or not as much. However, many throughout Indiana and Illinois are going to be depending on those portable gas generators for heating their bedrooms soon enough.

In fact, these things are so popular that there was a big Safety Event in Chicago recently focusing upon the dangers of these portable gas generators and how to prevent people in Indiana and Illinois from dying because of using these heaters.

Chicago Conference on the Dangers of Portable Generators and CO Poisoning in Illinois and Indiana

The National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) held a conference called “Warm Up to Life Safety” in Chicago, dedicated to fighting against carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning from heaters by increasing knowledge and awareness here in our area. It was held on December 19, and as NEMA pointed out in its own blog post on the event, a clear example of how prevalent this problem is for this part of the country, the same morning as the conference there were 12 people in an Illinois apartment building a mere 15 minutes from the conference site that narrowly missed fatal poisoning from a carbon monoxide leak in their apartment building, as one person had the knowledge to recognize the symptoms of CO poisoning (nausea, dizziness) and called 911 for help.

Among those who spoke at the Chicago conference was the Chairman of the Consumer Product Safety Commission, where he announced a new CPRC report that portable generators have been found in federal studies to be related to over 85% of the non-fire carbon monoxide deaths associated with engine-driven tools. Portable generators run on fuel; the exhaust from these fuel-burning engines contains invisible and toxic carbon monoxide fumes. Often, people turn to these fuel-based heating sources when there are power outages.

Lots of people use these generators in their homes, where their families live – eat, sleep, watch TV. The CPRC study found that 74% of the generator/CO deaths happened in someone’s home. The CPRC warns that these fuel-burning generators should never be used inside a home, even if there is ventilation, because the danger of CO fumes being inhaled by people in the house is too great.

The CPRC is working with the companies that make portable generators to make them safer by changing how the products are constructed. Federal regulations require that there be warnings placed on these generators to let people know the risks involved in using them.

Better to Avoid Tragedy from Carbon Monoxide Poisoning than to File Claim Based Upon Product Liability or Wrongful Death

However, regardless of whether you have a new generator or an older model, labels or not,any fuel-burning engine used to heat a home risks the people inside with fatal carbon monoxide poisoning. Faulty alarms may be the basis of a lawsuit, and CO leaks from the apartment next door may be the subject matter of a wrongful death claim, but the hope is that these tragedies can be avoided.

Make sure you have a Carbon Monoxide Alarm in your home or apartment or condo, and that these alarms are working. And if you or a member of your family is experiencing these symptoms of CO poisoning, then call for help and exit the dwelling — better safe than sorry, and people can fall victim to carbon monoxide fumes within minutes.

From the Centers for Disease Control, here are the most common symptoms of CO poisoning:

  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Weakness
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • chest pain
  • Confusion
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Death
  • People who are sleeping or intoxicated can die from CO poisoning before ever experiencing symptoms.

carbon monoxide, CO poisoning

 

 

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FIREWORKS FUN WILL END IN SERIOUS INJURY OR DEATH FOR MANY THIS FOURTH OF JULY ACCORDING TO CPRC REPORT PREDICTIONS: KNOW THE DANGERS OF FIREWORKS THIS JULY 4TH

posted by kjalaw on Jul 2nd, 2013 at 8:35 am

Yesterday, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPRC) issued its annual report detailing how many people were seriously injured or killed due to fireworks last year (2012) and both legal fireworks as well as illegal fireworks were included in their statistical analysis.

You can read the CPRC Report entitled “Fireworks Related Deaths, Emergency Department Treated Injuries, and Enforcement Activities During 2012” online here.

From the 2012 Fireworks Injuries study we know:

  • Of the fireworks-related injuries sustained, 74 percent were to males, and 26 percent were to females.
  • Children younger than 15 years of age accounted for approximately 30 percent of the estimated 2012 injuries. Forty-six percent of the estimated emergency department-treated, fireworks-related injuries were to individuals younger than 20 years of age.
  • There were an estimated 1,200 emergency department-treated injuries associated with firecrackers. Of these, an estimated 31 percent were associated with small firecrackers, an estimated 19 percent with illegal firecrackers, and an estimated 50 percent with firecrackers for which there was no specific information.
  • There were an estimated 600 emergency department-treated injuries associated with sparklers and 400 with bottle rockets.
  • The parts of the body most often injured were hands and fingers (an estimated 41 percent); head, face, and ears (an estimated 19 percent); legs (an estimated 13 percent); and eyes (an estimated 12 percent).
  • More than half of the emergency department-treated injuries were burns. Burns were the most common injury to all parts of the body, except the eyes, where contusions, lacerations, and foreign bodies in the eyes occurred more frequently.
  • Most patients were treated at the emergency department and then released. An estimated 15 percent of patients were treated and transferred to another hospital or admitted to the hospital.

Keep Your Family and Loved Ones Safe From Fireworks This Fourth of July

In a few days, the country will be celebrating the 4th of July and many people will take advantage of community activities where fireworks will be involved.  It’s very important to know fireworks safety rules when handling fireworks:  if your kids or your family or friends are planning on watching fireworks displays, large or small, make sure that you know who is handling the fireworks themselves and that they know what they are doing.  It’s the duty of anyone handling fireworks (explosives) to keep those around them safe when detonating these things – but audience members need to know that these people are taking that legal duty seriously.

  • Are they respectful of the fireworks?
  • Are they knowledgeable about fireworks?
  • Are they watching out for children?
  • Are they sober?

It’s better to be on the safe side:  if you are going to be using fireworks this 4th of July or you will be watching fireworks being set off by others, then know these fireworks safety tips from the CPRC:

  • Make sure the fireworks you want to buy are legal in your area before buying or using them.
  • Never allow young children to play with or ignite fireworks, including sparklers. Parents may not realize that young children suffer injuries from sparklers. Sparklers burn at temperatures of about 2,000 degrees ? hot enough to melt some metals.
  • Always have an adult closely supervise fireworks activities if older children are allowed to handle devices.
  • Avoid buying fireworks that are packaged in brown paper because this is often a sign that the fireworks were made for professional displays and could pose a danger to consumers.
  • Never place any part of your body directly over a fireworks device when lighting the fuse. Back up to a safe distance immediately after lighting fireworks.
  • Keep a bucket of water or a garden hose handy in case of fire or other mishap.
  • Never try to relight or handle malfunctioning fireworks. Soak them with water and throw them away.
  • Never point or throw fireworks at another person.
  • Light fireworks one at a time, then move back quickly.
  • Never carry fireworks in a pocket or shoot them off in metal or glass containers.
  • After fireworks complete their burning, douse the spent device with plenty of water from a bucket or hose before discarding the device to prevent a trash fire.
  • ATF encourages the public to report the manufacture or sale of illegal fireworks to your local law enforcement agencies or to the ATF hotline at 1-888-ATF-BOMB (1-888-283-2662).

 

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FOOD RECALLS KEEP ON COMING: HOW SAFE IS YOUR FOOD? PEANUT BUTTER WITH SALMONELLA, ARSENIC IN RICE, SPINACH AND CHEESE CONTAMINATED WITH LISTERIA – THIS WEEK’S DANGEROUS FOOD NEWS

posted by kjalaw on Sep 29th, 2012 at 7:31 am

We’ve posted about food dangers before: just because you buy a product in a store doesn’t make it safe. However, when it’s FOOD and someone gets ill from ingesting that product, it’s especially concerning and worrisome. And frustrating for those folk, like personal injury attorneys, who see time and again where companies putting stuff out there for profit sometimes choose money in their own pockets over making sure that consumers are safe. You’d think American groceries could be trustworthy as safe to eat, right? Sometimes, that’s just not true.

Recent Scary Food Recalls Include:

1. Peanut Butter Contaminated with Salmonella

Today, peanut butter has been found to have caused 29 salmonella cases in 18 states.  The number is growing.   Trader Joe’s voluntarily recalled its “Trader Joe’s Creamy Salted Valencia Peanut Butter” after the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), who were investigating the national outbreak, decided that peanut butter was making people sick across the country.  Later, Sunland, Inc. expanded the recall of its peanut butter along with other products like almond butter, cashew butter, and other stuff made with peanuts or seeds (read the recall information here).

What is salmonella? It’s a bacteria, and it can kill people. According to the CDC:

  • symptoms of salmonella poisoning include diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps 12 to 72 hours after infection.
  • The illness usually lasts 4 to 7 days.
  • some persons, diarrhea may be so severe that the patient needs to be hospitalized. In these patients, the Salmonella infection may spread from the intestines to the blood stream, and then to other body sites and can cause death unless the person is treated promptly with antibiotics.
  • The elderly, infants, and those with impaired immune systems are more likely to have a severe illness.

2.  Arsenic in Rice

Last week, it was announced that it has been discovered that rice sold for human consumption here in the United States was contaminated with a poison:  arsenic. That’s right, the same poison you remember being used by villians in classic murder mysteries written by Agatha Christie is showing up in the rice being sold in the neighborhood grocery store.  Also in baby food products, and other products made with rice.  Like Rice Krispies.

While the arsenic levels in some kinds of rice are considered “worrisome,” there’s been no official recall of rice.  Yet.  Consumer Reports, who made the discovery, including some very serious things in its report, such as:

  • People who ate rice had arsenic levels that were 44 percent greater than those who had not, according to our analysis of federal health data. And certain ethnic groups were more highly affected, including Mexicans, other Hispanics, and a broad category that includes Asians.
  • Within any single brand of rice we tested, the average total and inorganic arsenic levels were always higher for brown rice than for white.

3.  Spinach and Cheese Recalled for Listeria Bacteria

This week, there was also a national recall of spinach because it was discovered that the spinach was contaminated with listeria bacteria.  Kroger sold the bacteria-laden spinach in its stores across 15 different states, including Indiana and Illinois, as “Kroger Fresh Selections Tender Spinach,” with the UPC code 0001111091649 and a best-by date of Sept. 16.  Various kinds of cheese have also been recalled this month because of listeria contamination.

The cheese that has been recalled includes imported ricotta salata cheese in various product forms, including Forever Cheese, Inc.’s Marte brand Frescolina ricotta salata cheese and Ricotta Frescolina Marte Tipo Toscanella and/or Ricotta Salata Soft Lot (T9425).

What is listeria?  It is a bacteria that makes people sick and can kill them.  This month,three (3) people have died from eating cheese that had this listeria bacteria in it and another 15 were so sick that they have had to be hospitalized.

From the CDC:

Listeriosis is a life-threatening infection caused by eating food contaminated with the bacteriumListeria monocytogenes. The disease primarily affects pregnant women, persons with weakened immune systems, and older adults. Rarely, persons without these risk factors can be affected.

A person with listeriosis usually has fever and muscle aches, often preceded by diarrhea or other gastrointestinal symptoms. Almost everyone who is diagnosed with listeriosis has invasive infection (meaning that the bacteria spread from their intestines to the bloodstream or other body sites).

Listeriosis is treated with antibiotics. Persons in a higher-risk category, including pregnant women, persons with weakened immune systems, and older adults, who experience symptoms within 2 months after eating contaminated food should seek medical care and tell the physician or health care provider about eating the contaminated food.

What can you do?  Be careful with your food purchases and be aware that there are lots and lots of food recalls.  Your grocer should be removing this stuff from sale immediately, but sometimes that doesn’t happen.  If you get sick, or someone you love becomes ill, from eating a tainted food item the first thing is to get medical care, and after that to protect the evidence – don’t throw away the packaging, etc.  After the danger has passed, then you can think about whether or not to assert a claim.

 

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OBAMACARE AND PERSONAL INJURY ACCIDENT VICTIMS: INSURANCE POLICIES IN AN ACCIDENT THAT CAUSES SERIOUS INJURY OR DEATH

posted by kjalaw on Sep 26th, 2012 at 11:27 am

Personal injury claims as well as those for wrongful death under the applicable state statute usually bring with them a bagful of insurance coverage issues.  Car crashes, for example, will involve coverage issues for policies purchased by both the innocent victim in a wreck as well as the policy that covers the negligent driver (which might be a company policy in cases like big rig semi truck accidents).

There are also claims that may be made under various health insurance policies.  When people suffer from listeria exposure from food they’ve purchased at a grocery store orkids are hurt playing on a playground, then the first coverage issues to be addressed are those policies given to emergency room personnel. Parents rushing their injured child to the hospital aren’t thinking about insurance coverage issues, nor should they be.

ObamaCare Questions for the Personal Injury Victim

Which means that there are questions being raised concerning the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), most commonly known as “ObamaCare.”  In this week’s news coverage there are stories that the Congressional Budget Office has just released a new report on how ObamaCare will impact the American public and that the CBO’s coverage was off the mark by around 6 million people in the number of folk who could be required to pay a tax penalty under ObamaCare if they don’t get some kind of medical insurance policy. In other words, under ObamaCare if someone doesn’t get medical coverage and they meet certain criteria, then they will have to pay a tax penalty, and the number of people who might be in this situation is 6 million more than previously reported by the CBO.

For more information on ObamaCare, check out these sites:

Remember, Injury Victims Look to Various Insurance Policies in Damages Coverage

In accident and injury situations, the innocent person will have damages covered by various policies and people, depending upon the situation that they are facing.  If, for example, they are hurt working on the job, then workers’ compensation may cover their medical expenses, long term care needs, medications, etc.  Each state has its own set of workers’ compensation laws that have been passed by the state to protect people who are injured on the job.

For some employees, special laws exist that apply instead of the general workers’ compensation laws.  For example, railroad workers are covered by a federal law, the Federal Employees Liability Act (FELA). A man or woman who who spends at least 30% of his or her workday onboard either a specific vessel or a fleet of vessels under common ownership or control may have their on the job injuries covered by the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act.

If someone is injured or killed in an accident with a big rig, semi-truck (18-wheeler), then the insurance policy of both the trucking company, the truck driver, and the owner of the cargo being hauled that set up the load for transport, or the construction company that was doing repairs on the roadway at the time, may be covering the damages costs of the accident victim. In trucking accidents, claims may be made against several defendantswho share some fault for the accident.

Insurance issues can get complicated quickly, and there can be fights between insurance carriers about which policy should cover what damage in certain situations, but for the personal injury victim the issue is justice and the wrongdoer is responsible for their negligent, grossly negligent, or intentional bad act.

 

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DISABILITY AND ON THE JOB INJURIES: DISABLED WORKERS TWICE AS LIKELY TO BE INJURED AT WORK ON THE JOB THAN NON-DISABLED COWORKERS

posted by kjalaw on Aug 10th, 2012 at 9:40 am

Disabled workers in this country get injured on the job more often – a lot more often – than those who are working without a disability according to findings released today (you can read the study online in the American Journal of Public Health).   Injuries that are serious enough to require medical attention.

Why?  The American workplace is simply more dangerous for those workers on the job who come to work each day with a disability.  Rates of occupational injury for the disabled American worker is 6.0 out of 100 compared to 2.3 out of 100 for their non-disabled coworkers. 6 compared to 2.3 … that’s a big difference in risk.

Disabled Workers Face Bigger On the Job Work Dangers of Serious Injury

This news comes from research done by folk at the Center for Injury Research and Policyof The Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital and The Ohio State University; Dr. Huiyan Xiang heads up the research project as the principal investigator at the Center for Injury Research and Policy.  He is also co-author of the study  and an Associate Professor of the Division of Epidemiology at The Ohio State University College of Public Health.   According to Dr. Xiang:

“The increase in occupational injuries to workers with disabilities found in our study shows the need for better accommodation and safety programs in the workplace and the need for a safer working environment.  Outreach programs that teach U.S. workers with disabilities occupational safety and health skills could play a significant role in preventing injuries.”

The two biggest reasons for people being hurt on the job while at work were (1) falling and (2) accidents involving transportation — car accidents, truck crashes, and the like.   According to the study, if employers would take more care in making sure that the workplace was safe for workers, then we would see less injuries happen to all workers, whether they are disabled and on the job or not.

 

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HOSPITALS HURT PEOPLE: HOSPITAL NEGLIGENCE CAUSING HARM AND SERIOUS INJURY TO PATIENTS: ARE YOU OR YOUR LOVED ONE SAFE IN THE ILLINOIS OR INDIANA HOSPITAL?

posted by kjalaw on Jun 23rd, 2012 at 7:24 am

Hospitals can be legally responsible for serious injuries and wrongful death, just as doctors or nursing homes or labs or other health care providers can be. When an employee of the hospital hurts a patient by treating or dealing with that patient in a negligent way, then the hospital itself can be held legally responsible under state law. This includes doctors, nurses, technicians, and even paramedics, as well as other hospital staff.

And hospital malpractice – where patients are hurt while they are already sick or injured seriously enough to require hospital care – happens all the time. You and your loved ones need to be aware of this sad American reality.

Consider the following events that are currently making the national news as examples or warnings to us all:

1. Baby Dies After Delivery.

This month, a mother filed a Illinois wrongful death lawsuit against two Northshore University HealthSystem hospital doctors along with one of their nurses because of her baby daughter Emma’s tragic death. According to the Cook County Circuit Court records, Bianca Hernandez is asserting that medical malpractice during the delivery of her baby daughter at the hospital caused her baby to die.

2. Hepatitis C Outbreak After Syringe Re-used.

In Massachusetts, a hospital is being sued for malpractice and the state attorney general is investigating criminal action after a hepatitis C outbreak happened at Exeter Hospital. Twenty people have been reported to suffer from hepatitis C since the public health investigation began last month, and right now it’s being suggested that the reason all these people now have this serious, life-threatening disease that attacks the liver is because someone at the hospital used a syringe meant for one person on other people (re-used it).

3. Patient Falls Off Table After Surgery.

In Connecticut, an elderly woman is suing her hospital for damages after she sustained serious injuries from a fall off the operating table just after she had had surgery. The 81-year-old patient is suing Yale-New Haven Hospital for fractures to her hip and collarbone and a traumatic brain injury where she bled under her skull – in addition to other injuries – after her surgery to implant a pacemaker.

4. Record-Making Jury Verdict After Series of Errors Results in Permanent Brain Damage.

In New York last month, a jury came back with a verdict of $120,000,000 in a lawsuit filed by a daughter on behalf of her incapacitated mother after her mom suffered permanent brain damage after a series of visits to two hospitals, Kings County Hospital in Brooklyn and Jacobi Medical Center in the Bronx. It is the largest medical malpractice verdict in New York and in addition to the two hospitals, Brookdale University Hospital and Medical Center, and one of Brookdale’s neurologists have also been included in the liability determination by the jury. It seems that over a period of several weeks but less than one month’s time, the victim not only suffered from a mishandling of her meds, but she didn’t get treatments that were needed and providers didn’t respond quickly to crises that she experienced.

 

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ILLINOIS NEW LAW LETS MOTORCYCLES AND BICYCLES RUN RED LIGHTS: SOUNDS GOOD, BUT THERE ARE RISKS

posted by kjalaw on Jan 12th, 2012 at 3:39 pm

Motorcycles are dangerous for those who ride them on Illinois roadways, but there are many people living in Indiana and Illinois and elsewhere that love their motorcycles and believe that riding a motorcycle offers a kind of freedom that cannot be found elsewhere. For motorcycle riders everywhere, there’s a new law in Illinois that may sound very, very good: now, in Illinois, motorcyclists (and those on bicycles, too) can run red lights.

Run That Red Light in Illinois.  It’s Legal Now.

Effective January 2012, in Illinois a new law has been passed that allows those riding on motorcycles and bicycles to run a red light, but there’s a hitch.  They do have to wait a ‘reasonable’ amount of time.  (Police are suggesting that “reasonable” means two minutes.)

Now, the Illinois Legislature had its reasons.  Motorcycles and bikes will be allowed to run red lights after a “reasonable” time because they don’t weigh enough to be recognized by the the traffic-light sensors.  Which means, until now, they could just sit there at a red light until a car or truck or some sort of vehicle that had enough weight to trigger the sensor pulled up.  Or they could run the red light and hope for the best.

The new law states:

After stopping, the driver of a motorcycle or bicycle facing a steady red signal which fails to change to a green signal within a reasonable period of time because of a signal malfunction or because the signal has failed to detect the arrival of the motorcycle or bicycle due to the vehicle’s size or weight, shall have the right to proceed subject to the rules applicable after making a stop at a stop sign as required by section 11-1204 of this code.

This is a good thing, makes sense.  It does mean that riders need to be even more vigilant before pulling out into the roadway against that red light.  Motorcycle accidents are often the cause of serious injury or death to the motorcyclist and by taking advantage of this statute, a defense attorney may try and argue in the future that the motorcycle rider bore the risk of his injuries or wrongful death even though a car or truck crashed into him, so the insurance company doesn’t have to pay a claim.

 

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2011 HEAT WAVE CAN INJURE AND KILL WORKERS, SECRETARY OF LABOR ISSUES WARNING: ILLINOIS AND INDIANA WORKERS BE CAREFUL

posted by kjalaw on Jul 22nd, 2011 at 3:47 pm

Meteorologists are explaining the extremely high temperatures hitting Indiana and Illinois this month as being the result of a “heat dome, which boils down to record-breaking heat of 100 degrees or more throughout much of our region, which is not prepared to deal with how hot this can really get.

Yesterday, parts of Chicago had a heat index of 112.  Today, Indianapolis is expected to reach a heat index of 120 degrees by mid-afternoon.

Heat index is the real number to monitor if you’re working outside:  the heat indexmeasures the humidity in the air as well as the actual temperature, and this is important to humans because the humidity impacts our physical ability to sweat and disperse heat.  The higher the heat index, the more vulnerable we are to heat stroke and other potentially fatal heat-related conditions.

Workers Are Warned to Be Careful of the Heat by Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis

The high temperatures can be deadly, although many disregard that reality and the seriousness of being in the heat for too long, especially while physically exerting the body through exercise or hard work.  Workers can die from doing their job in this weather, and that’s the reality that both employers and employees need to respect.

In fact, Hilda Solis has issued a formal warning about this “heat dome” situation in her role as Secretary of Labor for the United States.  Here is what Secretary Solis wants you and your employer to know:

“Four weeks into the summer, the nation continues to experience record heat. For outdoor workers, this means being at risk for heat-related illnesses, including heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Employers must take the precautions needed to protect outdoor workers:

  • Have a work site plan to prevent heat-related illnesses and make sure that medical services are available to respond to an emergency should one occur.
  • Provide plenty of water at the job site and remind workers to drink small amounts of water frequently – every 15 minutes.
  • Schedule rest breaks throughout the work shift and provide shaded or air conditioned rest areas near the work site.
  • Let new workers get used to the extreme heat, gradually increasing the work load over a week.
  • When possible, schedule heavy tasks for earlier in the day.

“Tell workers what to look for to spot the signs of heat exhaustion or heat stroke in themselves and their co-workers, and make sure they know what to do in an emergency. OSHA has fact sheets and posters that illustrate the signs of heat-related illnesses, and the steps that you can take to prevent them at your work site.

“Remember: water, rest, shade – the three keys to preventing heat-related illnesses in this extreme heat.”

 

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40,000 POUNDS OF WATERMELON CARGO TIP BIG RIG ON I-65 AND STOP I-65 TRAFFIC FOR 6 HOURS

posted by kjalaw on Jul 22nd, 2011 at 9:47 am

This morning over in Gary, Indiana, about half-past nine, a semi truck with a full load in a box trailer was on the northbound ramp of I-65, moving onto westbound I-80/94, when a sedan darted in front of the trucker forcing the truck driver to hit his brakes. No one knows what happened to the car, but most everyone trying to drive I-65 today knows what happened to the big rig; actually a 2001 Freightliner semi truck with fully loaded box-trailer.

The truck rolled over. Tipped on that curve in the ramp, and blocked traffic for six full hours.

Luckily, there were no serious injuries. The truck driver and his passenger were not seriously injured. The 40,000 pounds of watermelons were unharmed – they didn’t even roll out of the truck. You may find one of these melons at your grocery this week.

Truck Driver Held Responsible for Tipping Truck

The trucker didn’t escape injury from the Indiana State Police, however: Michael Kangas Jr. was found responsible for the wreck (forget that sedan driver, who was probably late to work) because the troopers found he was driving too fast on that ramp, and that he hadn’t properly safeguarded his watermelons in the trailer.

The trooper’s position: if the watermelons had been stored better, and if the truck had been going slower, the cargo would not have shifted and the truck would not have tipped over.

FYI: Mr. Kangas was driving the cargo of melons from Georgia to Morris, Indiana, on behalf of Exel Transfer and Storage of Green Bay.

Insecure Loads on Big Rigs Can Cause Serious Injuries and Wrongful Deaths in Semi Truck Crashes

The Indiana State Trooper probably knows how dangerous tipping cargo can be to drivers on the roads.  Any kind of load, from melons to wood or pipe or car parts, will be heavy.  That weight needs to be placed into the trailer carefully, following proper loading procedures.

Failure to follow loading standards means that all that weight — and weight is the key here, no matter what the cargo might be — will be insecure and increasing the risk that the truck driver might not be able to keep control of his rig.

Improperly loaded cargo can get loose and start flying out in bits, into the traffic behind the moving rig.  Or, as the I-65 Melon Cargo Flip demonstrated today, without the right balance distribution of weight, cargo hauls can sway inside the trailer and force the entire big rig to fall over, onto its side.

Luckily, today’s accident was only a serious inconvenience and not the cause of a severe injury or death. For those of us driving the roadways with these huge trucks and their heavy cargo, the lesson is to give them lots of room and space on the roadways – better late to work then early to the ER.

Be careful out there.

 

 

If you or a loved one has been seriously injured or killed due to the wrongful acts of another, then you may have a legal claim for legal damages as well as the right for justice against the wrongdoer and you are welcomed to contact the Northwest Indiana and Chicagoland personal injury lawyers at Kenneth J. Allen & Associates to schedule a free initial legal consultation.

For the convenience of its clientele, Kenneth J. Allen & Associates offers five offices to serve those located in either the states of Illinois or Indiana.


 

 

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NATION’S TOP TRUCK DRIVERS OFFER ADVICE TO US ALL – DRIVING SAFELY OVER THE 4TH OF JULY HOLIDAY WEEKEND

posted by kjalaw on Jul 1st, 2011 at 5:00 pm

Today, the American Trucking Association issued a press release that gives the safety tips that the “America’s Road Team Captains” have devised, offering safety tips on driving the highways this Holiday Weekend, given their years of experience and their ranking as the country’s elite drivers of large commercial vehicles.

As a law firm representing plaintiffs who have suffered serious injury or wrongful death in all manner of roadside tragedies (car accidents, motorcycle accidents, big rig crashes, SUV wrecks, minivan accidents, etc.), all efforts to educate the public on safety measures and to warn American citizens on the dangers that can be particular to a holiday weekend like the Fourth of July holiday we are all about to enjoy is to be applauded.

America’s Road Team is made up of the top truckers in the country.  These drivers know what it means to drive American highways – and here’s what they have to suggest:

  1. Prepare your vehicle for long distance travel – Check your wipers and fluids. Have your radiator and cooling system serviced. Simple maintenance before you leave your home can prevent many of the problems that strand motorists on the side of the road.
  2. Properly inflate your tires – Properly inflated tires can save up to 4 percent in fuel mileage, while over inflation can lead to tire failure. Keep your vehicle running smoothly and efficiently by routinely checking your tire pressure.
  3. Drive the speed limit – Lower speeds not only save money at the pump, they make you safer on the road. By maintaining a constant moderate speed, drivers can save up to 30 percent on fuel and are better able to react to road conditions and other drivers – so slow down!
  4. Large Trucks Have Blindspots – Be aware that tractor-trailers have large areas around their trucks where cars are not visible. If you can’t see the truck driver in his or her mirrors, then the truck driver can’t see you.
  5. Keep extra water in your vehicle – Just as you keep a winter driving kit in your vehicle, it is important to be prepared when driving during the summer months. Keep plenty of extra water, sunscreen and non-perishable snacks in car in case you are stranded.
  6. Wait until parked to use cell phones – Driver distraction is a major cause of traffic accidents. Even just two seconds of distraction time doubles the chances of an accident.
  7. Do not cut in front of large trucks – Remember that trucks are heavier and take longer to make a complete stop, so avoid cutting quickly in front of them.
  8. Honor the Right of Way – On entrance ramps, remember highway traffic has the right of way; maintain proper speed, use smooth merging techniques, and don’t slow down in front of a truck.
  9. Road side emergency – Understand that big trucks cannot always stop to assist you, but most will use their radios to contact the police or highway patrol if they see you are in trouble.
  10. Save fuel – To save fuel, take direct routes, minimize side trips, and keep a steady speed. Further, a well-tuned engine, properly inflated tires and reduced speed will result in noticeable fuel savings.

Have a Safe and Happy Fourth of July!

 

 

If you or a loved one has been seriously injured or killed due to the wrongful acts of another, then you may have a legal claim for legal damages as well as the right for justice against the wrongdoer and you are welcomed to contact the Northwest Indiana and Chicagoland personal injury lawyers at Kenneth J. Allen & Associates to schedule a free initial legal consultation.

For the convenience of its clientele, Kenneth J. Allen & Associates offers five offices to serve those located in either the states of Illinois or Indiana.


 

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INDIANA ON THE JOB TRUCKING DEATHS: TWO WORK FATALITIES REMINDS US ALL OF SEMI TRUCK DANGERS

posted by kjalaw on Apr 23rd, 2011 at 10:26 am

On this Wednesday morning, those of us following the Indiana trucking industry are saddened by the news that on Monday evening and again on Tuesday evening, local men died in crushing incidents involving big rig semi trucks.

This morning, families and friends are grieving their loss.  Truckers and their families are also mourning the week’s events.

On Monday, Indiana Man Killed by 3000 lb. log falling off trailer truck

Just this past Monday evening, a trailer truck carrying a cargo of logs reached its destination, and everyone was set to unload the cargo.  Then a 3000 pound, 8 foot long log rolled off the load, killing an Indiana man  as he was trapped underneath all that weight. Benjamin Will of Haubstadt, only 26 years old, died at the scene.

On Tuesday, Indiana Man Pinned by Big Rig Getting Ready to Unload

Last night, a big rig carrying its cargo reached its Indianapolis destination and the truck driver prepared to unload his delivery.  Little did he know, but a Lawrence man – in the wrong place at the wrong time – had been pinned by the semi and killed by the crushing weight of the big rig itself. Randy Wimmer, 55, was taken to a nearby hospital where he tragically died later that night.

Trucking Is Dangerous 24/7 – On the Road and Everywhere Else

Lesson learned:  trucking is a dangerous job.  Driving those long hauls is dangerous.  There are bad road conditions.  Sleep deprivation.  Crazy drivers.  Nasty weather.

However, just because a big rig truck has made it to its destination doesn’t mean that anyone can breathe a sigh of relief.  It’s not just the roadway that is high risk.

These big rigs carry heavy cargo.  They’re built to do this.  However, all that weight in and of itself is a danger.  As we’ve been reminded this week, that heavy load can shift and kill.  The fully loaded truck can be an instrument of death as it parks to unload.

Trucking is a necessary component to American trade.  Truckers and the trucking industry must be respected for their contributions to our daily lives.

However, trucking is also one of the most hazardous work environments in our culture today – and we must remain vigilant that maximum safety conditions are honored and maintained.

Our condolences to all who are suffering from these tragedies this week.

 

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FEDS FORCING FORD TO EXPAND FORD F-150 TRUCK RECALLS WHILE CHEVY CRUZES RECALLED: IS YOUR VEHICLE SAFE?

posted by kjalaw on Apr 13th, 2011 at 7:44 am

It sounds like something from a Three Stooges movie, maybe a Saturday Night Live skit:  you’re driving along and the steering wheel falls off in your hand.  Or the air bag deploys as you’re cruising along the freeway.  Except that it’s not a comedy on screen.  It’s really happening, right now, in America today.

Ford F-150 Pickup Trucks: the Airbag Can Blow Up (Inflate) As You Are Driving

Ford F-150s are very popular pickup trucks and have been for years.  Earlier this year, Ford Motor Company issued a voluntary recall of its 2005 and 2006 models of the F-150 trucks, recalling around 144,000 vehicles, because the airbags in these models had problems:  short circuits could result from faulty wiring, resulting in the airbags to pop without warning or need — and of course, a surprise of an inflating airbag could cause wrecks and serious injuries and wrongful deaths.

However, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has checked into the F-150 Airbag issue and isn’t happy with what Ford has done.  Seems the federal regulators suspect that as many as 1,300,000 Ford F-150 pickups have flawed airbags in them.  Lots more than 144,000.

In January 2011 the NHTSA wrote Ford, suggesting that the company go ahead and expand its recall to 1.3 million vehicles. Ford hasn’t done it.  Ford stubbornly argues that this isn’t a “defect” and that the NHTSA is being a Nervous Nelly.  In response, theNHTSA is pointing to its two-year long investigation (begun in 2009), where it’s found 269 of these Ford F-150 surprise airbag deployments, along with one accident and 98 injuries that have included bone fractures, burns and tooth damage.  NHTSA expects these numbers to rise unless Ford does something.

The Chevy Cruze Has a Steering Wheel That Can Fall Off While You’re Driving

Meanwhile, over at General Motors, another popular vehicle has proven itself to be dangerous and in need of recall by the manufacturer.  The Chevy Cruze has a similar scary problem, from the driver’s perspective:  the steering wheel can come off in your hand, while you’re driving. Only one such actual horrific event has happened so far, according to the car maker, and they’ve issued a voluntary recall to fix things.

Americans Cannot Blindly Assume Their Vehicles Are Safe to Drive

Bottom line:  you cannot trust your vehicle to be safe to drive. Even if you’ve been driving it for several years, like these Ford truck drivers.  Check www.recalls.gov.  Check with your dealership. And if you’ve been injured or had a loved one suffer a wrongful death due to a defective product, then call a lawyer.  There are laws on the books not only to seek justice for you, but that work toward getting unsafe products out of the American marketplace.

Because, rest assured, part of the reason that Ford doesn’t want that “defect” label is because of concerns about a future lawsuit where it will be held financially accountable

 

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U.S. SUPREME COURT MAY ALLOW MORE LAWSUITS AGAINST CAR MAKERS: THE MAZDA SEATBEAT CASE

posted by kjalaw on Dec 5th, 2010 at 10:14 am

Earlier this month, on November 3, 2010, the United States Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the wrongful death case of Williamson v. Mazda Motor of America, Inc.(hear the oral argument online here). This case is very important to us all because it may well mean that citizens can sue car manufacturers for personal injury and wrongful death even if the cars involved in the accidents technically met federal safety law requirements.

The Williamson lawsuit originates in a 2002 car crash where Thanh Williamson, 32, died while wearing a lap seat belt in a Mazda 1993 MPV minivan. Mazda’s defense is that Williamson was seating in the center position of the rear passenger seat and at the time, the car maker was only required to provide a lap band for this spot per National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) regulation.

And, that’s true. The 2000 federal regulations did not require that spot to have a shoulder strap seat belt. However, if one had been provided, Williamson probably would be alive today. And, if the crash had occurred in a minivan manufactured in 2007 or later, that seat would have had more than a lap belt: NHTSA changed its regulations to require this safety feature five years after Ms. Williamson died.

Will the High Court find that federal law preempts state law and rule for Mazda? Will the Supreme Court Justices rule instead that American citizens shouldn’t have to face federal law shields by car manufacturers in wrongful death personal injury lawsuits?

Time will tell. Expect a decision sometime in Spring 2011.

 

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Avandia Diabetes Drug Recall: Europe Outlawed It, FDA Restricts It: Are You In Danger?

posted by kjalaw on Oct 8th, 2010 at 8:49 am

The Food and Drug Administration has issued restrictions on the use of the drug rosiglitazone – most commonly known as Avandia (TM), although also found in drugs marketed as Avandamet and Avandaryl.

All three drugs are manufactured by GlaxoSmithKline and all three are used by people suffering from Type II diabetes.

Europe Outlaws the Drug; the FDA Merely Restricts

Here in the United States, the FDA will allow patients already using Avandia the option of continuing with the drug. The FDA will also allow diabetes patients in the United States to begin using Avandia — if their physicians can confirm that the patient has already tried other options, and Avandia is their last resort at controlling their diabetes.

Meanwhile, in Europe, Avandia has been determined to be too dangerous. No patient is being allowed access to the drug.

People Have Died From Using Avandia

It’s not up for debate that some people have died from using Avandia. The drug has caused fatal heart attacks and strokes.

Three years ago, Dr. Steven Nissen published results of his research in the New England Journal of Medicine, where he had found that the drug raised the risk of heart attack by more than 40%. While the manufacturer has debated Nissen’s results, additional studies continue to cause concern.

Why Isn’t the FDA Doing What Europe Has Done With Avandia?

Enough concern that in Europe, the drug has been taken off the market. Here in the United States, we have to wonder why that’s not true here as well.

What does the FDA have to say? Is the FDA Influenced by the Drug Companies?

Read the reasons behind FDA Director Dr. Janet Woodcock’s decision here.

And, read what Public Citizen’s Director, Dr. Sidney Wolfe has issued in response here.
According to Dr. Wolfe, the failure to ban Avandia is a blatant example of the agency caving into pressure from the drug industry — at the risk of human life.

 

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Weinberger Press Conference by Attorney Ken Allen

posted by kjalaw on Dec 18th, 2009 at 11:00 am

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Record $5.2 Million Verdict in Truck Crash

posted by kjalaw on Dec 11th, 2009 at 9:38 am

VALPARAISO | A woman who suffered a brain injury when her vehicle was crushed beneath a semi trailer three years ago on Interstate 94 was awarded $5.22 million by a jury following a two-week trial.

Wednesday's $5.22 million verdict is the highest ever reported in Indiana for mild traumatic brain injury unaccompanied by bone fractures, Kenneth J. Allen said. He represented the woman in the case.

"The case was quite complicated to prove because mild brain damage cannot be seen on MRI or CT scans," Allen said.

"Fortunately for Kim, several of her doctors were willing to come to court and testify."

The woman, Kimberly Harty, 30, of Crown Point, was off work for more than a year and incurred more than $123,000 in medical bills as a result of the crash. She returned to work, but her brain injury is permanent, Allen said. Harty, who is married, has memory problems, trouble sleeping and difficulty multitasking as a result of the crash, Allen said.

The crash occurred while Harty was driving on Interstate 94 in Portage on Feb. 17, 2006. Her car was struck by a semi owned by Hummer Transportation, of Ontario, Canada, and driven by Inderjeet Sekhon, 37. The truck was en route to Chicago when it veered into Harty's lane, crushing her car under the trailer.

Allen said the jury "understood the scientific evidence and concluded that Kim's injury, although invisible, is very real and its impact quite severe."

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$5 million verdict for wrongful death of 9 year old

posted by kjalaw on Dec 11th, 2009 at 8:58 am

Mother wins lawsuit against LaPorte schools in son's death

By JOSEPH DITS, Tribune Staff Writer

In September 2006, 9-year-old Juan Loera choked on a turkey corn dog as he sat with classmates at LaPorte's Haillman Elementary School.

A custodian rushed over to help him. So did nine other staff members. They tried the Heimlich maneuver. Then a police officer arrived and tried the maneuver. Paramedics came and removed the obstruction, but Juan eventually died in a hospital.

On Friday, a jury in LaPorte Circuit Court awarded a $5 million lawsuit against the LaPorte Community School Corp. The attorneys who filed that suit in behalf of Juan's mother, Maria Rosales, claimed the staff was inadequately trained to deal with the emergency.

“We feel our staff did everything possible,” LaPorte Superintendent Judith A. DeMuth said Monday.

Calling the death a “most tragic event,” she said, “Our hearts and thoughts are with that family.”

Kenneth J. Allen, head of the law firm that filed the suit, said he doesn't fault the staff who tried to help the boy. Rather, he argues that the school had a plan for dealing with emergencies like this but didn't implement it. Specifically, he said, the staff lacked training in CPR and the Heimlich maneuver.

The school district won't have to pay more than $500,000 because of the state's limit on what may be collected from a government entity, Allen said. The school district has 30 days in which to file an appeal, and DeMuth said it's too soon to talk about that.

But the money isn't the point, Allen said: “If we can prompt one school to implement these plans in the 92 counties of Indiana, then we will have done what we set out to do.”

Some local school districts report that they don't have a plan for cafeteria emergencies, but they do make training available to their staffs.

Juan's choking death in 2006 “increased our awareness,” said John Hutchings, director of student services for Elkhart Community Schools. It caused district officials to look and ensure that at least some of its food service employees were trained in the Heimlich maneuver in each cafeteria, he said.

“We think we're pretty well covered,” he said.

CPR training is required of Elkhart's night custodians, who are in the buildings when adults from the community play in basketball and volleyball leagues, he said. But training in CPR and use of a defibrillator is available to any other employees who want it, Hutchings said.

After the death, LaPorte school officials said they'd ensure there was someone in each school building who was trained in the Heimlich maneuver.

“We are going to continue to make student safety a top priority,” DeMuth said. “We've continued our training in life-saving techniques.”

In January, a kindergarten teacher and a program assistant helped a teacher's aide who was choking at Horizon Elementary School. The pair used their emergency training to dislodge whatever blocked the woman's breathing, said Teresa Carroll, spokeswoman for the Penn-Harris-Madison School Corp.

About a year ago, the lead cook at Battell Elementary School did the Heimlich maneuver on a kindergartner who was choking on a chicken nugget, The Tribune reported. In the article, a School City of Mishawaka official said all food service workers attend a meeting where they see a demonstration of choking responses.

Since 2007, Indiana law has required that newly licensed teachers be certified in CPR and Heimlich maneuver, though it doesn't require that for license renewals. The training for both methods is typically done together. CPR certification lasts for two years.

Neither PHM nor the South Bend Community School Corp. require CPR or Heimlich maneuver training of their cafeteria staffs. With such large school districts, officials there had a hard time assessing how many staff at each school are trained.

But PHM trains about 60 staff members a year in the procedures, Carroll said. All child care workers are trained in CPR, Carroll said of the schools with child care. Each PHM school has a safety team, and several of their members are CPR trained, she said.

South Bend offers training twice a month to any staff who want it, said communications director Sue Coney; employees pay $10 for the four-hour class.

In the John Glenn school district, all five kitchen workers at Walkerton Elementary School are trained in CPR, along with the custodian and two secretaries, said Tim Davis, principal of the school with 480 students.

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Donation funds purchase of child identification kits

posted by kjalaw on Dec 11th, 2009 at 8:32 am

VALPARAISO | Northwest Indiana injury attorney Kenneth Allen and wife Nina watched Thursday as children at Hilltop Child Daycare received Kinderprint Child Identification kits. The Allens funded the purchase of those kits for every kindergartner and first-grade student in Lake, LaPorte and Porter County schools with a $20,000 donation to the United Way serving those three counties.

Sharon Kish, president, United Way of Porter County, was thrilled with the Allens' gift.

"This is big," said Kish. "All three counties will benefit through this donation. It's very generous."

Through the donation, each school in those three counties will receive a Kinderprint kit, which contains tools and instructions for taking fingerprints, DNA samples, photos and dental records of children.

Bill Hanna, head of LaPorte County United Way, feels this was an important gift.

"This is an expensive item and we in LaPorte would not be able to provide this to the children without the help of the Allens," Hanna said. "I give the Allens a lot of credit for not only thinking about Porter County, but Lake and LaPorte, too."

Lou Martinez, president of Lake Area United Way was also on hand to thank the Allens for their generosity.

"It's nice to see leadership coming from the law profession," said Martinez. "Nice to see them step forward. This program is needed for families and children."

The Allens feel prevention is key to keeping kids safe and they feel this program is important.

"We have a lot to be grateful for and we want to do what we can for the children," said Kenneth Allen. "The key is prevention and when these kids bring the kits home I hope it sparks conversation between the parents and their children. Parents need to talk about this with their children."

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Kenneth J. Allen wins Editor’s Choice in “Best of Region” contest

posted by kjalaw on May 18th, 2009 at 11:48 am

Editor's Choice for Best Guy to Have on Your Side if You've Been Injured

NWI.com

http://nwitimes.com/bestof/page.php?q=101

Kenneth J. Allen & Associates isn't just the best personal injury law practice in Northwest Indiana—it's one of the best in the nation. The firm routinely tops lists of judgments won for its clients—$135 million and counting since 2000—and has won million-dollar verdicts every year since '03. Accolades such as being named among the 500 leading lawyers in America by national legal publications hang on the walls of founder Ken Allen's office.

“During my trial, there were a lot of out-of-town lawyers who I found out later came to watch him work,” recalls Brian Gulley, a former Kenneth J. Allen & Associates client who engaged the firm after suffering a severe head injury on the job. (Allen's specialty is trial presentation.) “I didn't realize just how good he was until then.”

Gulley describes Allen as “a blue-collar guy in a white-collar job,” an apt description as Allen grew up working in the steels mills and on the railroads of the region.

“I liked the work, I liked the people I worked with, and there was a great seduction to stay there,” Allen recalls, but his father, also a steelworker, made him promise to keep up with his education and escape the factory grind.

Allen kept his promise, but never forgot his roots, which helps to explain his continuing passion for helping people who have been hurt by corporate negligence. For Allen, it's about not only justice for the client, but also protecting future workers.

He recalls one case involving a young man who had been crushed in a piece of machinery at work. “We hired engineers who showed how, for a few hundred more dollars, the machine could have been designed so that it would have been impossible for the accident to have happened,” he says. After successfully arguing the case, the company turned around and asked for all those materials. “Now,” Allen says, “no one will ever get hurt that way again.

“A lot of lawyers lose sight of that,” he adds. “The whole point of this area of law is injury prevention. If those who do wrong are held accountable, they won't do it again.” The big judgments for which personal injury lawsuits are often criticized are key to this, Allen holds, pointing back to the previous example. “If it becomes more expensive to do wrong, people will do it right from the beginning,” he says.

If that should ever come to pass, Allen acknowledges he'd need to find a new line of work. “But that's the kind of problem you'd like to have,” he says.

Kenneth J. Allen & Associates only takes about one out of every ten cases that come through the door. “Our first priority is the client, and then, how can we align that with the best interests of others,” Allen explains. Those cases which are accepted get attention across the firm. “We have 7 a.m. meetings where we put one case on the table, and you have seven or eight smart people looking at one problem, so you will get a smart answer,” he says. “I've never seen an insurance company put eight lawyers on one matter. We do that every week.”

All the firm's lawyers are specialists in personal injury law, and often specialists in a particular branch of that law. “There's not one lawyer here who could write a will,” Allen says. “But my partner knows more about trucking than anyone—his dad was a trucker, he drove a truck—we have another partner who is interested specifically in medical negligence and so on. It gives us a much higher level of knowledge than our opponents.”

But perhaps the real secret to Allen's success is simply that he loves what he does. “You hear people say all the time, 'oh, I hate my job,'” he says. “There's not a part of this job I don't love. It's not work at all.”

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Fugitive Doctor Found Guilty of Malpractice

posted by kjalaw on Mar 5th, 2009 at 8:53 am

By Network Indiana
3/4/2009

A Merrillville surgeon who ran a sinus clinic and is now a fugitive has been found guilty of medical malpractice in the death of a patient.

50-year-old Phyllis Barnes died of throat cancer in 2004, but Dr. Mark Weinberger had diagnosed her as needing sinus surgery.

Shortly before she died, Weinberger abandoned his medical practice, deserted his wife and fled to Greece.

Malpractice claims in Indiana are judged first by a panel of three randomly selected physicians to hopefully avoid a jury trial.

In this case, attorney Kenneth Allen says the panel unanimously found Weinberger guilty of negligence in Barnes' death.

But Weinberger's insurance company refuses to pay the judgment since he's a fugitive and won't cooperate.

Allen maintains the Indiana Department of Insurance should pay the judgment instead so the Barnes family can avoid a jury trial.

Allen says there are hundreds of cases pending against Dr. Weinberger, but so far this is the first and only case to be decided.

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Laws dampen malpractice victory

posted by kjalaw on Mar 4th, 2009 at 11:45 am

By Bob Kasarda
| Wednesday, March 04, 2009

VALPARAISO | Attorney Ken Allen and his client should be celebrating this week's news they won a malpractice judgment against a former Merrillville physician who gained national attention after disappearing five years ago.

But Allen said the victory is bittersweet in that Indiana law has allowed bankers to get to Dr. Mark Weinberger's assets before his client, who will now have to wage another costly and lengthy legal battle in hope of receiving a judgment capped at $1.25 million in the death of Valparaiso resident Phyllis Barnes, 50. She died after her cancer was misdiagnosed by Weinberger as a sinus condition, he said.

The delays and caps that were made part of the state's malpractice laws during tort reform in the late 1980s do a better job of protecting bad doctors and the insurance industry than the public, he said.

Allen said he won the first malpractice judgment against Weinberger from a panel of three physicians, which is the required first step when such cases are filed in Indiana.

There are other civil malpractice lawsuits pending against Weinberger, including other clients represented by Allen.

The panel review in the Barnes case was dragged out for five years as a result of the current system and Allen's failed attempt to lay claim to Weinberger's assets along with the creditors.

The Indiana Department of Insurance has the discretion to respond to the panel's finding by paying out up to $1.25 million to Barnes' family, Allen said. But with little confidence that will happen, Allen said he plans to file a malpractice lawsuit in Lake County. Any judgement against the doctor would be paid out of the state's patient compensation fund.

Allen said he is using the case to shed light on what he sees as injustices in the state's tort reform laws. He downplayed the perception the changes were needed to protect against "runaway verdicts" by saying there are plenty of opportunities to appeal rulings in the courts.

Weinberger, who was featured late last year on the "America's Most Wanted" television show, remains at large, Allen said.

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Mr. Allen’s $48M Verdict in Nation’s Top 10

posted by kjalaw on Jan 19th, 2009 at 3:43 pm

Lawyers USA

By Sylvia Hsieh

A steelworker who was paralyzed from the waist down after falling from a ladder was awarded $48 million by an Indiana jury.

The plaintiff, 41-year-old Anthony Arciniega, worked for a steel mill where a contractor, Minteq International Inc., was hired to apply refractory, a bonding spray, to various metals.

Instead of suing the steel mill, which employed Arciniega and could not be sued under the exclusivity provision of the state workers' comp statute, plaintiff's attorney Kenneth J. Allen of Valparaiso, Ind. brought the case against the contractor.

The main allegation was that the contractor had misapplied the substance by overspraying and coating the ladder as well. When the plaintiff ascended the ladder, which was stationed about 17 feet above the ground over a platform, the refractory broke off, causing the fall.

The jury assigned 50 percent fault to the contractor, but also found that the steel mill, a non-party, was 50 percent at fault.

A key issue at trial was the steel mill's failure to install a handrail on the platform in violation of OSHA rules.

Another critical piece of evidence was videotape of improper spraying created by a defense expert. The videotape was valuable both for its contents and the sanctions that resulted from a discovery fight over its production.

 

OSHA rules

The defendant tried to put the blame on the steel mill by arguing that the mill failed to install a handrail on the platform underneath the ladder, in violation of OSHA regulations.

The defense argued that the handrail would have prevented the fall.

But Allen, whose case was focused on the contractor's fault, hired a biomechanical engineer who testified that had the handrail been installed, the accident would have been even worse because the plaintiff would have hit the rail during the fall.

"He concluded that if there had been a handrail on the platform, the injury would have been significantly worse, resulting in either paralysis from the neck down or death," Allen said.

He said the jury of five women and three men responded very positively to the plaintiff, who returned to work in a wheelchair within six months of the injury in a newly-created job.

"The jury saw that as a real testament to what kind of guy he is. He has three little kids and a wife and he responded accordingly," said Allen.

 

Videotape evidence

Another key piece of evidence was videotape taken by defense experts who taped the contractor applying refractory.

The tape showed that the defendant had oversprayed on other occasions.

"Their own evidence did them in. It showed they were chronically misapplying the refractory by spraying onto other things. The jury saw that, and it was pretty damning," said Allen.

But perhaps a bigger impact was the battle over the failure to produce the evidence.

During discovery, Allen argued that the videotape was taken without his knowledge and was not disclosed to him.

"It was done for the defendant, by the defendant by defense experts. It was not intended for us to see, but after a court battle we obtained production," said Allen.

The judge awarded sanctions and allowed Allen to name new experts on the eve of trial, according to John W. Patton, Jr., of Patton & Ryan in Chicago, who was hired to replace the sanctioned defense attorney.

By the time Patton stepped in as new defense counsel six weeks before trial, he already felt he had an uphill battle.

"The plaintiff had five liability experts and the defense had one. We were not in a position to rebut their opinions," said Patton.

He also complained that the state law requiring a jury to be told that an employer will not pay damages because of the workers' comp bar "puts a defendant at an extraordinary disadvantage."

But Allen said the reason the jury reached its verdict was the shifting arguments of the defendant.

"First they said the refractory wasn't their product. When we proved it was their product, they said 'We don't overspray.' Then when we proved they oversprayed on a regular basis, they argued the steel mill should have cleaned it up. That was how they defended the case," said Allen.

The case is currently on appeal on a number of issues, including whether sanctions were warranted.

Allen is also appealing whether the plaintiff is entitled to collect the full $48 million from the contractor because of how the non-party employer was named on the verdict form.

AT-A-GLANCE

Verdict: $48 million in compensatory damages

State: Indiana

Type of case: Negligence

Status: On appeal

Case name: Arciniega v. Minteq

International Inc.

Date: Dec. 11, 2008

Plaintiff's attorney: Kenneth J. Allen of Kenneth J. Allen & Associates in Valparaiso, Ind.

.

Flood victims take time for turkey, thanks

posted by kjalaw on Dec 16th, 2008 at 10:08 am

BY BRIAN WILLIAMS
Tuesday, November 25, 2008

VALPARAISO | From 200 to 300 victims of September's flooding across the region received a measure of help in the form of a turkey dinner with all the trimmings Monday at Strongbow Inn.

Lisa and Randy Dammarell, of Hobart, said they appreciated being able to go out for a nice meal with their children Colton and Nicole.

After 7 feet of water shut down their business, Lake George Bait and Tackle, they were hit with a Catch-22 in seeking assistance, Lisa Dammarell said.

They were turned down for a loan by the Small Business Administration because with their source of income gone, they were deemed a poor risk for being able to pay back the loan.

So as they work to reopen the business, the formal dinner was a very generous offer, she said.

The dinners, which will continue with two more seatings today, were the gift of Valparaiso attorney Kenneth Allen.

The event was an acknowledgement, Allen said, "that all of us suffer when some of us suffer." It was an attempt to show the flood victims that people care. "It's nice to do something for others when we can."

Allen attributed the idea for the dinners to his wife, Nina, and thanked the United Way for logistical help in publicizing the event and distributing tickets.

Theodis and Wallynda Clayborne lost furniture and appliances when 18 inches of water flooded their Gary basement. More painful was the loss of irreplaceable items such as baby photos, holiday decorations their three kids made and daughter Jailynn's christening dress.

"That can't be replaced," Wallynda Clayborne said. "You can't put a money amount on that."

The Strongbow dinner, Theodis Clayborne said, was "a blessing."

Maggie Valene, who also lost furnishings in the basement of her Gary house, also appreciated the dinner.

"It's wonderful. It make you feel nice," she said.

Valene saw homes worse off than hers in the disaster, so she chose to look on the positive side.

"We survived," she said. "It could be worse."

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Kenneth Allen Sponsors Youth Summit for Chicago South Side Youth

posted by kjalaw on Sep 25th, 2008 at 9:36 am

Staff Report

 

CHICAGO - Injury Attorneys Kenneth J. Allen & Associates sponsored the Youth Summit 2008 in Chicago's Washington Park on Saturday, August 23rd. The firm underwrote about one-third of the event's total costs, which was held in conjunction with 35 Chicagoland churches, the United Churches for Christ and the International New Vision Outreach Ministries (INVOM). The Youth Summit is a yearly event geared toward helping disadvantaged youth on Chicago's South Side refocus their lives.

 

Chicagoland job placement, outreach and city officials came together at the event to offer young South Siders positive alternatives to the streets such as after-school programs, employment opportunities, counseling services and guidance. Entertainment included a concert by local recording artist, Platinum Souls, the Nubian ensemble dance team and a tumbling group, Tumbling for Success.

 

Kevin L. Tuggles of INVOM said, “The breakdown in family structure in the inner-city has left many youths void of true family structure, morals, and values, leaving them to retreat to the streets and gangs for a sense of 'family belonging.' We must get together as a community to instill the values, morals, and hope in our youth, while they are still in their most impressionable and formative years of life. We hope that these positive values will continue to be the driving factors in life as they mature.

 

Tuggles thanked Mr. Allen “for his sponsorship, contribution and support...your generosity will help us in our endeavors to help others.”

 

 

 

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Burned ArcelorMittal worker seeks $55M

posted by kjalaw on Sep 2nd, 2008 at 3:27 am

BY KEN KOSKY
http://www.nwi.com/articles/2008/08/30/news/porter_county/doc50d36aac0be03b7d862574b4007e8050.txt
219.548.4354
| Saturday, August 30, 2008 |

One of the workers who was badly burned by flames in a molten steel accident a year ago at ArcelorMittal's Burns Harbor plant filed a lawsuit Friday seeking more than $55 million.

The worker, Jeremy Schoon, 31, of Valparaiso, filed the lawsuit before Chief Lake Superior Court Judge John Pera.

Attorney Kenneth J. Allen, whose firm is representing Schoon, said Schoon has incurred more than $1 million in medical bills and is physically and emotionally scarred for life as a result of being burned on 60 percent of his body. Allen seeks at least $5 million in personal and monetary damages and at least $50 million in punitive damages.

"As the mills make record profits, death and injury to steel workers continues to increase. Something needs to be done to stop it," Allen said. "The goal of our suit is to send a message to the steel mills and the contractors they hire: Change your business model. Put worker safety first, above increased profits, not the other way around. This is an especially important message on Labor Day."

The lawsuit targets ArcelorMittal; EQ Engineers, which did design work at the facility; and Graycor Industrial Constructors, Inc., which constructed EQ's design work.

Schoon was one of seven workers burned Aug. 28, 2007, when flames and molten steel shot out of a basic oxygen furnace. Although the victims were wearing protective clothing, the heat was so intense they were burned.

Allen said companies like ArcelorMittal should be using some of their record profits to increase safety, but he said safety is actually decreasing.

Schoon's wife, Veronica Schoon, said her husband's life is forever changed, as daily stretching, medication and therapeutic baths consume his time.

She said the hardest thing for her husband is "not being able to do with the children what he's always done."

The Schoons have three children, ages 2, 7 and 10. Veronica Schoon said her husband, who was hospitalized for about a month, is back to work, but in an office because he must be in a temperature controlled environment for the rest of his life.

"It's been hard," Veronica Schoon said, crying.

Allen said Schoon is the first of the seven injured men to file suit, but he expects others to follow.

A spokesperson for ArcelorMittal did not return calls seeking comment.

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Injured Man Gets $2.2 Million Settlement

posted by kjalaw on Aug 1st, 2008 at 8:26 am

BY KEN KOSKY
219.548.4354
| Friday, August 01, 2008 |

VALPARAISO | A Valparaiso construction worker -- paralyzed when an "untrained" and "incompetent" heavy equipment operator struck him in the head with an excavator shovel and knocked him into a hole -- will get a handicapped-accessible van, a scooter and perhaps a home.

Bruce Johnson, who is in his mid-60s and currently being cared for by his sister in Florida, is getting a $2.2 million settlement from the responsible parties.

Attorney Kenneth J. Allen negotiated the settlement for Johnson after another Porter County attorney and some Chicago attorneys were unable to help him and declined the case.

"I'm very thankful to (Allen's law firm) for winning my case, especially after the Chicago lawyers all said it couldn't be won," Johnson said.

"This settlement is going to make my life easier and give me some freedom."

Allen said, "It's nice to be able to help somebody."

"It (the settlement) was all he could possibly get, and coming into it he was looking at getting nothing essentially."

Allen said injury victims generally can't sue their own employer, but rather just get workmen's compensation. Johnson and the heavy equipment operator both worked for companies owned by the same individual.

"There are exceptions to that rule (that employers can't be sued)," Allen said.

The defendants in the case were Local Service LLC; Roger Tomlinson, who controlled the job site; M.T. Broviak LLC; Roland Machinery Co.; Mark Fisher, equipment operator; and Komatsu America Corp.

Although the terms of the settlement were sealed, the facts were spelled out in court documents Allen filed Thursday to protect his client from a previous attorney. One of the attorneys is trying to collect more than $10,000 in attorney's fees even though he ended up not helping Johnson.

Johnson was struck April 14, 2004, by a 16-ton excavator operated by a man with no special training, who didn't know standard hand signals for operating heavy equipment, who was an accountant by education and who had a history of embezzlement and forgery, according to court documents. Documents also say the excavator had a broken, missing or defective side mirror.

As a result of the accident, which occurred at a residential construction site at 4407 Goodrich Road in Valparaiso, Johnson became paralyzed. He has limited use of his upper extremities.

Allen said the settlement will pay the hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical bills and pay for Johnson's continuing care. Before becoming a construction worker, Johnson worked at Bethlehem Steel for 36 years until it went bankrupt.

"At least this (settlement) gives him some mobility, some ability to engage in life again," Allen said.

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Fatal crash trial to begin today

posted by kjalaw on Jun 23rd, 2008 at 11:05 am

BY BOB KASARDA
Monday, June 23, 2008

VALPARAISO | A jury is expected to be chosen this afternoon to hear the case against an Ohio truck driver accused of running a red light on Ind. 49 and killing a 91-year-old driver.

Sampson Boadi, 42, of Columbus, is charged with felony counts of reckless homicide and criminal recklessness and misdemeanor counts of criminal recklessness and reckless driving in connection with the crash at 12:30 p.m. Oct. 8, 2006, at the highway's intersection with County Road 400 North, or Vale Park Road.

Boadi is accused of running a red light while traveling north on Ind. 49 and striking a westbound car driven by Earl Eaton, of Liberty Township.

Eaton died as a result of chest injuries, according to emergency officials.

The case will be heard in the courtroom of Porter County Superior Court Judge Bill Alexa.

Deputy Prosecutor Andrew Bennett will pursue the case, and Eaton will be defended by attorney Gary Germann.

Surviving family members of the accident victim filed a wrongful death civil suit against Boadi and trucking firms Q.S. of Illinois, Quality Services and Hub Group.

The suit accuses the trucking companies of negligence for hiring and retaining Eaton, who had prior violations of Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations, according to attorney Kenneth J. Allen.

The offenses include logbook violations, Allen has said.

The lawsuit seeks an unspecified amount of money.

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Kenneth J. Allen selected as Distinguished Barrister

posted by kjalaw on May 8th, 2008 at 11:12 am

LEADERSHIP IN LAW
| Wednesday, April 30, 2008 |

 

Kenneth J. Allen Attorney and Principal, Kenneth J. Allen & Associates, Valparaiso

Indiana University School of Law – Bloomington

 

Kenneth J. Allen is recognized as a foremost plaintiff lawyer in personal injury and wrongful-death cases, leading Indiana in million dollar verdicts for the last several years. He often speaks at continuing legal education seminars about personal injury and accident litigation. But Allen is also known in the community for his success outside of the practice of law. 

He has made financial contributions to various programs and organizations, such as Unite 2 Fight Paralysis and the Northwest Indiana Spinal Cord Injury Walk; Pro Bono Volunteer Recognition Night of the First Judicial District Pro Bono Committee; and Hilltop Neighborhood House, which helps families and children in Porter County. Allen sponsors "Teachers of Excellence:' which recognizes outstanding local teachers. 

For the past 10 years, Allen and his wife have donated tens of thousands of dollars to buy Christmas gifts for northwest Indiana children. Last year, according to a news report, the Allens gave $50 to every child living in area shelters during the holidays, which was distributed by the United Way partner agency shelters in the form of gift certificates.

It's Allen's generous work with the United Way that has positively impacted the community the most.  Through his donation to the agency, every kindergarten-age child in Lake, LaPorte, and Porter counties' public and private schools received a child identification kit, which included identification bracelets and instructions for taking fingerprints. 

The United Way of Porter County has recognized Allen and his wife as leading contributors to its annual campaign. He's also been a recipient of the Child Safety Advocate Award given by the Indiana University School of Medicine and the Indiana Safe Kids Coalition.

 

 

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Verdicts and Cases

posted by kjalaw on Apr 7th, 2008 at 12:13 pm

Results are important, but Indiana lawyers are prohibited from advertising statistical data or other information based on past performance.

Feel free to contact us by telephone or in person at our office and we will be happy to discuss our prior cases with you. In the interim, feel free to browse our website for related stories to our cases.

http://www.kenallenlaw.com/news.htm

 

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Attorney playing Santa to kids in shelters

posted by kjalaw on Feb 26th, 2008 at 9:10 am

BY KEN KOSKY
kkosky@nwitimes.com
219.548.4354
| Wednesday, December 06, 2006

VALPARAISO | Northwest Indiana attorney Kenneth J. Allen and his wife, Nina, have played Santa for several years by buying hundreds of Christmas gifts for needy children.

But this year, they are trying something different -- giving away $50 gift cards for children who will spend this Christmas in a homeless shelter or domestic violence shelter in Lake and Porter counties.

Allen said the change will accomplish the goal of making sure children in need have presents, but also will give parents a good feeling by letting them pick out gifts they know their children will like.

"This way parents in shelter can play Santa Claus for their own children," Allen said.

"Hopefully, this will strengthen the bonds between parents and children and bring happiness to these families in need this Christmas."

Allen said there are more than 150 children housed in shelters now, and he said an additional 100 could land in shelters by the end of the year. The Allens gave $12,500 -- enough for 250 children -- to the United Way for distribution to children in its partner shelters.

Allen said he and his wife will make an additional contribution if additional children are in need. If the $12,500 contribution proves to be too large, the shelters can keep the money for birthday presents, Allen said.

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$24 Million Settlement in Semi-Truck Crash

posted by kjalaw on Feb 15th, 2008 at 9:43 am

BY KEN KOSKY
kkosky@nwitimes.com
219.548.4354
| Friday, October 12, 2007 |

VALPARAISO | A young woman who was rendered a paraplegic when the car she was riding in was struck by a semitrailer five years ago will receive a $24 million settlement from the semi's owner and its insurance carrier.

Lisa Keppen, of Porter County, will receive payments for the remainder of her life, according to the settlement her attorney, Kenneth J. Allen, negotiated for her.

Allen said the money will ensure Keppen's health care will be taken care of for life.

"She would give that money back in a heartbeat if she could erase the tragedy," Allen said.

Keppen, 20, suffered a spinal injury on June 19, 2002 when a USF Holland semitrailer eastbound on U.S. 12 turned in front of the car Keppen was riding in. The crash occurred at U.S. 12 and Kansas Avenue in the Pine Township section of Porter County.

The crash caused Keppen to lose her ability to walk and control her bowel and bladder functions, according to court documents. The documents state she suffers chronic pain and depression, and will require assistance from others for the rest of her life -- an estimated 61 more years. Her medical care will cost an estimated $5.7 million.

"Apart from her economic damages, Lisa has suffered enormous human loss as a result of her injury including: the permanent loss of a normal life, constant and intractable physical pain, emotional suffering and, of course, disfigurement," Allen states in court documents.

Allen alleged USF failed to properly train, test and supervise its drivers. USF didn't admit negligence, but offered a settlement, according to court documents.

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Record Verdict in Foot Injury Case

posted by kjalaw on Feb 15th, 2008 at 9:38 am

BY KEN KOSKY
kkosky@nwitimes.com
219.548.4354
| Saturday, October 06, 2007

PORTAGE | A Portage jury on Thursday awarded $1.25 million to an area resident whose foot was run over and badly crushed during an accident four years ago.

The injured man's attorney, Kenneth J. Allen, said the verdict appears to be an Indiana record for this type of injury and the highest ever awarded in a courtroom at the North Porter County Government Center in Portage.

"The jury worked hard to do the right thing, deciding that this injury will have life-long consequences to Aaron (Jones, the injured man), whose life expectancy is 57.8 more years," Allen said.

"The jury took into account the fact that he can't come back to court 10 years from now when his condition becomes more disabling, so the verdict included money for future problems. The jury's verdict was fair and just."

Jones, 23, who lived in Valparaiso but who now lives in Hammond, was struck Dec. 13, 2003, on Interstate 65 in DeMotte. Jones was a student returning from Indiana University Bloomington in a pickup truck driven by Ray Ramirez III, 25, of Valparaiso. Ramirez spun out on the black ice he encountered on a northbound bridge. He truck hit a guardrail and became disabled, blocking the northbound passing lane.

While Jones attempted to move the truck off the road, Mark Franciose, 19, lost control of his car and hit the guardrail and disabled pickup truck, running over Jones' foot and crushing bones.

"My passion is geology and this injury makes it difficult for me to do my job and complete my doctorate," said Jones, who is working for the Indiana Geological Survey and who is pursuing a doctoral degree in geology.

"The jury's verdict will help me focus on my career goals without worrying over medical bills I can't afford."

The jury served under Porter Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Thode.

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Poisoned Peter Pan Peanut Butter Ravages 11 year-old Girl's Kidneys; Lawsuit Filed By Family

posted by kjalaw on Feb 15th, 2008 at 9:32 am

BY BRIAN WILLIAMS
bwilliams@nwitimes.com
219.548.4348
| Friday, June 15, 2007

VALPARAISO | Tainted Peter Pan peanut butter led to the salmonella poisoning and kidney failure of 11-year-old Krystina Brugh of Lowell, her family alleges in a lawsuit filed Thursday against ConAgra Foods in U.S. District Court in Hammond.

The suit claims the nation's food supply is at risk due to inadequate oversight and calls for overhaul of the U.S. Food & Drug Administration.

The girl will undergo a kidney transplant Monday, receiving a new organ from her father, the family said at a morning news conference at the Valparaiso office of attorney Kenneth Allen.

The suit seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages.

The family wants changes in the nation's "broken system" of food inspection that allow food manufacturers to be self-policing, Allen said.

The FDA cannot force plant shutdowns or force recalls and has no subpoena power, Allen said as he called for the agency's food safety functions to be dismantled and replaced by single agency responsible for food safety.

The February salmonella outbreak and recall of Peter Pan and Great Value peanut butter manufactured at a ConAgra plant in Georgia, Allen said, resulted from inadequate inspection, questionable testing and unsanitary procedures.

Krystina, a cheerleader, gymnast and Girl Scout, was first diagnosed with stomach flu, Allen said. When salmonella poisoning was discovered, it "ravaged her kidneys" and led to months of kidney dialysis and the upcoming transplant.

The lawsuit was brought to protect other consumers and families, Allen said.

"We're not in this for a settlement," Allen said. "We're in this for some change."

Krystina's parents, John and Christina Brugh, said Krystina fell ill in late January after eating peanut butter, her favorite food, two weeks before the FDA announced a recall of the ConAgra product for suspected salmonella contamination.

Stephanie Childs, a spokesperson for ConAgra Foods, said she couldn't comment on the lawsuit, as the company had not seen it yet.

On Feb. 14, ConAgra initiated a voluntary recall of Peter Pan peanut butter based on information from the FDA drawn from a report of the Centers for Disease Control, Childs said.

"It is of deep concern to us that any consumer may have been harmed" by a ConAgra product, Childs said. The company is addressing each complaint of illness from tainted food as appropriate, she said.

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Wrongful death lawsuit filed over fatal truck crash

posted by kjalaw on Feb 14th, 2008 at 1:13 pm

BY BOB KASARDA
bkasarda@nwitimes.com
219.548.4345
| Wednesday, December 06, 2006

VALPARAISO | An Ohio truck driver, already facing criminal charges for a fatal crash along Ind. 49, has been named in a wrongful death lawsuit.

Surviving family members of accident victim Earl Eaton filed the civil lawsuit Monday against driver Sampson Boadi, and trucking firms Q.S. of Illinois, Quality Services and Hub Group.

The suit accuses the trucking companies of negligence for hiring and retaining Eaton, who had prior violations of Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations, according to attorney Kenneth J. Allen.

The offenses include logbook violations, he said.

"That kind of person should not be on the road, at least as a professional driver," Allen said.

The lawsuit seeks an unspecified amount of money.

Boadi, 41, of Columbus, made an initial court appearance last month and pleaded not guilty to felony counts of reckless homicide and criminal recklessness, and misdemeanor charges of criminal recklessness and reckless driving.

He is accused of running a red light Oct. 8 at County Road 400 North (Vale Park Road) while driving north on Ind. 49 and striking a car driven west by Eaton, 91, of Liberty Township.

Eaton died as a result of chest injuries, according to emergency officials.

If found guilty, Boadi faces between two and eight years behind bars on the reckless homicide charge and up to three years on the criminal recklessness count.

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$20 Million Verdict Won Against Allstate

posted by kjalaw on Feb 14th, 2008 at 12:28 pm

BY KEN KOSKY
kkosky@nwitimes.com
219.548.4354
| Friday, October 06, 2006

A jury on Thursday decided that Ted K. Fields was in bad hands with Allstate and awarded the Valparaiso man $20 million.

Fields' attorney, Kenneth J. Allen, said the jury's decision supports his contention that Allstate acted in bad faith against its customers, and he hopes the verdict sends a message to Allstate and other insurers to treat their customers fairly.

Allen said Allstate has had a policy for the past decade that gives its policyholders two choices -- accept a poor settlement or face a long, drawn out legal fight. He said insurers traditionally pay out 70 cents on the dollar for claims, but Allstate began paying 52 cents on the dollar in order to return millions to shareholders.

Allstate disagrees with Allen's assessment and the decision of the jury in Lake Superior Court Judge Diane Kavadias-Schneider's court.

"We disagree with the jury's verdict and we're disappointed in the resulting damages award," said Karen Spica, senior corporate relations manager.

"Allstate believes the decision in the case by the Appellate Court in Allstate's favor was correct and we will pursue a further appeal to the court. Allstate's claim processes are sound. Our goal is to investigate, evaluate and promptly resolve each claim fairly and on its merits."

The case against Allstate almost didn't go to trial because of an Appellate Court ruling, but the Indiana Supreme Court vacated that decision.

Allen said Fields, 50, who is now retired on disability from his job as a steelworker, suffered spinal injuries in a 1995 crash. After the insolvency of the insurer for Jimmie Woodley, 57, of Gary, the driver who caused the crash, Allstate became responsible under the uninsured motorist coverage it sold Fields.

Fields suffered $7,000 in medical bills and $18,000 in lost wages, but Allen said Allstate forced Fields into a nearly 10-year battle. Allen said many people yield to Allstate's tactics, but Fields would not.

Allen said a doctor and psychiatrist testified during the two-week trial that the stress caused by Allstate's actions contributed to Fields' rise in blood pressure, which led to heart problems and a stroke.

"All I ever wanted was to get my car fixed and my bills paid, but Allstate turned my claim into World War III," Fields said in a statement.

Allen said he believes the $20 million verdict is the largest bad faith verdict ever rendered against an auto insurer in Indiana.

"When Ted was hurt by an uninsured motorist, he believed he was in good hands...," Allen said.

"He soon realized Allstate's good hands were in reality boxing gloves."

Allen said insurance customers have a right to having their claims paid in full and anything less "is flat wrong."

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Ambulance Breakdown Provokes Lawsuit

posted by kjalaw on Feb 14th, 2008 at 12:23 pm

August 17, 2006

Tona Kunz, Daily Herald Staff Writer

An Aurora family is suing the city and its fire department claiming slow ambulance service led to the death of the family's patriarch.

 

Sheri Myers filed the lawsuit this month on behalf of herself and her three brothers over the death of their father, Vernon Panega.

 

"It really is everyone's worst nightmare," said Kenneth J. Allen, the Chicago attorney hired by the family. "Ambulances should run. We think a message needs to be sent that this is not the way to run a fire department or emergency service."

 

According to the lawsuit, Panega experienced breathing difficulty March 9

and an ambulance was called to take him to the hospital. The ambulance arrived, but was unable to leave with Panega because of an undisclosed problem, likely mechanical or fuel related, Allen said. Panega waited about 45 minutes before he was taken in an ambulance, and during that time he suffered a heart attack and brain injury due to reduced oxygen, Allen said.

 

The 82-year-old who had been in good health prior to the ambulance call never recovered and died July 1, Allen added.

 

The lawsuit seeks an undetermined amount of money for negligence and wrongful death, claiming the fire department failed to maintain its vehicles and lacked a plan for when vehicles do not operate. The suit says the ambulance was parked in such a way that it blocked other vehicles, prohibiting someone from moving Panega to another vehicle to get him to the hospital.

 

Aurora fire officials and the city attorney could not be reached for comment.

 

Sheri Myers, who serves as executor of her father's estate, declined comment.

 

© 2006 Daily Herald Record Number:

870784

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Daily Herald

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$30 Million Dollar Lawsuit After Fatal Crash

posted by kjalaw on Feb 14th, 2008 at 12:14 pm

BY KEN KOSKY
kkosky@nwitimes.com
219.462.5151
| Sunday, August 13, 2006

The family of a Valparaiso motorcyclist killed when a truck smashed into him filed a $30 million wrongful death lawsuit Friday in LaPorte Superior Court.

The crash that killed Larry Davis, 43, occurred June 15 at U.S. 421 and County Road 300 North in LaPorte County. Davis, who is survived by his wife, Darcie, two daughters and four step-children, was operations manager at National Intermodal Services in Chicago.

Police reports state 20-year-old Adam Deutscher, of Michigan City, was driving a Suburban and may have fallen asleep before driving into Davis, who was stopped waiting to turn. A witness told police Deutscher continued driving "with a person on the front of the truck with arms in the air."

Deutscher's vehicle, with Davis still on it, ended up swerving into the opposite lane and striking another vehicle.

"This is one of the most horrific deaths I've come across," said the family's attorney, Kenneth J. Allen.

The lawsuit names Deutscher and his family's company, The Masonry Stop Inc., as defendants. Allen said Deutscher was working for the company at the time of the accident.

 

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