Damages

Lori Carver Speaks Out For The First Time Regarding The Pill Mill Case

Recently Lawrence Specker of al.com wrote an article about Lori Carver and her part in taking down two Physicians’ Pain Specialists of Alabama (PPSA) clinics. Drs. Xiulu Ruan and John Patrick Couch were found guilty of running a pill mill out of the PPSA clinics, for this reason, the clinics were shut down by the federal government in May of 2015. On Thursday, May 25, 2017, Dr. Couch was sentenced to 20 years in prison and ordered to pay $15 million in restitution, consequently. Dr. Ruan’s sentencing will take place on Friday, May 26.

Lori is represented by Peter Mackey of Burns, Cunningham and Mackey, and Gregory Vaughan of Holston Vaughan.

Mobile Bar Association President Pete Mackey

Peter Mackey- Partner of Burns, Cunningham & Mackey

HOW TO PROTECT YOURSELF FROM GOVERNMENT BAN ON LAWSUITS AND DAMAGES

Responsibility and accountability – even for the powerful – are rooted into the core of our legal system. This country’s founders knew that a democracy needs a court system that empowers people to protect themselves by holding the powerful to account. That’s why the U.S. Constitution and the Alabama Constitution guarantees each person the right to a trial by jury. The founders feared unaccountable power in the form of the King of England against his “subjects”.  21st Century America may not have a king, but it does have billion dollar corporations touching every part of every person’s life. These corporations now seek the kind of unaccountable power our founders sought to protect against, and they’re seeking that power by destroying your constitutional right to a trial by jury.

Politicians who are in the pockets of large corporations and insurance companies have devised a plan specifically aimed at destroying our right to hold those in power accountable for their misdeeds. Their plan is to enact laws that will all but destroy your right to use the judicial system to protect yourself. They have introduced bills which, if passed, will enact arbitrary changes to courts all across the country, including:

  • Limiting compensation for injuries caused by medical professionals. Including doctors, hospitals, nursing homes, and medical device manufacturers, to $250,000.00, regardless of how much that injury devastated your life or the extent of malfeasance by the medical professional or company.  The Alabama legislature has more than once passed bills to cap damages in medical negligence cases.  Each time, Alabama’s Supreme Court has said the caps violate the right to trial by jury and declared it unconstitutional.  The reasoning is clear- that right to a jury of your peers inviolate.  In addition there is no medical costs emergency.  According to CMC, Medical negligence costs are only 0.2% of our total health care costs.   The Harvard School of Medicine found that 18% almost 1/5  of patients are harmed during the course of their medical care.  Health care costs will increase with caps according to a Northwestern University and the University of Illinois study.  I have articles I can send you about these studies.
  • Eliminating class-action law suits, which would essentially destroy the ability to bring the kinds of cases that keep us safe. If you and a number of other people are damaged by the action of a corporation, instead of having a streamlined method to address all the claims in one action, each would have to retain lawyers and pursue the remedy. It would not be cost effective for you or the defendant.
  • Eliminate Individual States Law regarding lawsuits and forcing all cases to Federal Court.  This bill will take away our states’ rights for remedies and clog the already clogged federal system.
  • Allowing insurance companies to make “payments” rather than paying full compensation.  They want to spread your compensation over time.  Why?  Not to help you but to contain their costs- and their obligations.

Therefore, we must tell our government to put people first and stop trampling on our rights.  Javerbaum Wurgaft has been protecting citizens of New Jersey and New York by demanding that everyone is treated fairly, regardless of gender, race, or economic status. Please join us in demanding that Congress do the same. We must band together and contact our representatives to demand they say NO to these outrageous attacks on our rights. Go to each link below and tell them NO!

Billy Cunningham

Billy Cunningham

Damage Caps on Medical Negligence Is Not the Answer

The health care reform has now been turned by the Republican party away from real reform in the health care arena to an effort to keep consumers from being treated fairly in the courtroom. They have presented a bill that will limit damages to persons injured or killed as the result of medical malpractice.

The proposal includes nursing home resident who are abused or neglected. Most people do not think of nursing home cases as being medical malpractice.

In Alabama, the Medical Liability Act includes nursing homes in its definition of medical providers whose negligence is covered under the Act. That act has for about 20 years directed how we on behalf of nursing home residents present our cases. Most states do not have the same restrictions. For example, we cannot even tell the jury about the other acts of similar abuse or neglect that the nursing home has done to other residents even if they have been cited by the State for that same kind of abuse.

Most of my practice over the past 23 years of my 35 year career has been representing nursing home residents. I began thinking of how I would tell clients and/or their families that nursing home neglect and abuse was included in the medical negligence bill proposed. How do I explain that injuries to the elderly, vulnerable members of our society are limited? Here are people who cannot protect themselves, who rely on nursing homes for their safety and well being, and to provide a quality of life that Congress knows what the limit of those injuries are? I thought of all the cases that I have handled involving injuries in nursing homes. The following are actual examples of victims of nursing home neglect and abuse that under the standard proposed by the Republicans would be limited in any award against the nursing home that caused the injuries or death the award.

Mr. A. who went in a nursing home for a 21 days rehabilitation after hip surgery and developed a pressure sore so big on his leg that the leg had to be amputated- personal injury case.

Mr. A. who had a grapefruit sized vaginal malignant tumor that the nursing home never knew about- death case.

Mrs. B who was overdosed with psychotropic medications to keep her quiet and while trying to escape the torture fell in a bush and lost an eye. After this incident she was moved to a nursing home that properly cared for and weaned her off the psychotropic medications. She was discharged and the last I heard was playing the slot machines in Biloxi. Personal injury case.

Mr. C., a smoker, who was strapped in a wheelchair and unwatched burned to death when a lighter caught his clothing on fire.

Mr. D., an Alzheimer patient in a ‘special unit’ who despite no other physical diseases developed multiple state 4 pressure sores, contractures and severe weight loss – death case.

Mr. E. who was beaten to death by another nursing home resident who had previously beaten other resident. No precaution was taken to protect any of these residents.

Mr. F. who was demented and known to have a desire to leave the facility and fell from an open window. Death case.

These are the type of injuries and damages the Republican proposal will cap or limit. The various studies of the true effect that medical negligence lawsuits have on the cost of medical care do not support limiting damages to our elderly, vulnerable nursing home residents. They should be fairly compensated.

When Warranties Fail

While everyone has received a warranty on something that they have purchased, few stop to read “the fine print.” Reading one may cause you to wish that you had not. Typically, the warranty will provide that the manufacturer and/or distributor will “repair or replace,” at their option, the product or part of the product that is defective. Remember – a warranty is not a guarantee of perfection. It is a promise that if the product is defective, it will be repaired or replaced.

Typically, warranties carry language such as “this warranty is exclusive and in lieu of all other warranties.” That same warranty will tell you that the warrantor is not liable for any types of damages caused by the product defect other than the costs of repairing that defect.

There are two important points for consumers to understand. First, that limitation of damages does not apply to situations where the defective product causes a personal injury. Second, even where there is no personal injury, those limitations on remedies do not apply if the warranty “fails of its essential purpose.” Thus, if you take your car to the automobile dealership to get something repaired and they cannot repair it or cannot repair it in a reasonable time, the warranty may have failed of its essential purpose.

This applies to both consumer and non-consumer products. A federal statute – the Magnuson–Moss Warranty Act – provides the framework for consumers to file claims in State or Federal court for breaches of warranties involving consumer products. These products would include motor vehicles, recreational vehicles, and even manufactured homes. One nice feature of the Magnuson–Moss Warranty Act is that it provides for the recovery of attorney’s fees if you win. Many states have their own consumer laws which do the same thing.

As stated above, this also applies to non-consumer products. Our firm recently obtained a $450,000 verdict in a trial in Federal Court for a small business which purchased heavy equipment to use in the storm cleanup effort after Hurricane Katrina. Of the three machines that the company purchased, two were defective. One of those machines took approximately three months to fix and the other took almost eight months to fix. The jury found that the manufacturer, Ingersoll Rand, had breached the warranties and that the warranties failed of their essential purpose. The verdict represented the value of the equipment and the company’s lost profits.