Articles Posted in Brain Injury

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jungle island drowning.jpgEarlier today at Miami’s Jungle Island, a 7-year-old child, who was on a field trip with his summer camp, nearly drowned on Jungle Island’s beach front. According to early reports, the children were playing in the water when suddenly a lifeguard saw a child dropping under water. He quickly came to the rescue of the child and administered CPR on the beach.

Miami Department Fire Rescue Captain Ignatius Carroll did not identify the child by name, but did share that the parents had been informed of what happened. The child was emergently transported to the Pediatric Unit at Jackson Memorial Hospital in cardiac arrest.

The latest report available stated that the young child was in stable condition at this time.

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This past weekend, a 3-year-old boy, Henrique Dias Amorim, was discovered “floating” by a family member after a family gathering organized at a waterfront home that family had borrowed for the occasion. Somehow, it is believed the child found his way out to the backyard and the pool during the gathering. The responding authorities have already declared that no charges would be brought against anyone in this case, and they qualified this to be a horrific accident. Early investigation has shown that the pool in question did not have a pool fence or barrier to prevent the child from going inside the pool. It is unclear as of yet whether the home should have been equipped with such protection.

Recently, Leesfield Scolaro filed a lawsuit in another tragic drowning case, to another little boy who was found in the pool by his grandfather, despite the pool being equipped with a pool fence. In their lawsuits, Ira Leesfield and Tom Scolaro have alleged that the pool fence manufacturer was liable and responsible for the incident due to numerous significant defects in the pool fence manufacturer’s product. Thankfully, the child survived, but not before he sustained catastrophic brain damage, for which he will require medical care the rest of his life.

Poolfencing.jpgThe state of Florida has staggering statistics when it comes to fatalities of young children and pool drownings. According to Florida Health, Florida loses more children under age five to drowning than any other state. Annually in Florida, enough children to fill three to four preschool classrooms drown and do not live to see their fifth birthday.

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Each year, an average of 61,000 carbon monoxide poisoning incidents occur in the United States, resulting in more than 30% of victims to be treated for carbon monoxide exposure. More importantly, an estimated 480 people die every year because of the silent killer that is carbon monoxide. (Statistics by the National Fire Protection Association can be found here)

kings_point440_128161a.jpgThis past weekend in New York, forty-two students residing on the Long Island, New York campus of the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy were hospitalized and treated for carbon monoxide poisoning after the gas leak was found after 9 p.m. Sunday night. When the gas leak was discovered, students and residents of the Academy’s Barry Hall were asked to evacuate the building – a total of 150 students were evacuated as a precaution without incident.

The law firm of Leesfield Scolaro and our carbon monoxide attorneys are all too familiar with carbon monoxide poisoning incidents and their catastrophic effects on poisoned victims. Recently, Ira Leesfield and Thomas Scolaro represented over a dozen families who had been exposed to carbon monoxide during their stay at a Key West Resort. That incident resulted in the wrongful death of a young man and injuries to several other guests. The investigation led by the Florida Division of State Fire Marshal noted in its report that two of the boilers of the resort had not been inspected where in Florida, boilers of that size and type were required to be inspected every two years. The failure to have these boilers inspected prevented the resort from discovering clear evidence of soot accumulating on the outer part of the shroud that covers the burners, as well as soot found along the bottom wall, floor and behind the boilers.

Investigators also determined that there was a large 90-degree elbow aimed towards the east into the prevailing winds on the roof. This alteration caused a back draft down the exhausting vent preventing the proper exhaust of carbon monoxide. Therefore, as the back pressure increased in the exhaust pipe it reduced the availability of oxygen to the burners causing an incomplete combustion at the burner level. It turned what would normally be a blue flame into a yellow-orange flame causing the creation of carbon monoxide and soot/smoke. This in turn caused an excessive amount of carbon monoxide build up in the boiler room.

To further compound the problem, the carbon monoxide could not escape the boiler room due to the boarding up of the louvers on the boiler room doors, which were designed to permit proper air circulation. This prevented the complete combustion from occurring and prevented the escape of carbon monoxide. As the concentration of carbon monoxide grew in the boiler room it further prevented ambient air from entering the boiler room. During this time, the furnace continued to consume the remaining oxygen in the boiler room until it self-extinguished causing the boilers to automatically shut down.

After several months of litigation, these carbon monoxide victims entered into a confidential settlement with the resort for their injuries.

More recently, Thomas Scolaro represented students who were exposed to carbon monoxide poisoning while sleeping in a university house. The investigation led by the local Fire Department confirmed that, upon entry, readings taken in the main section of the house showed over 200 ppm of Carbon Monoxide. With such elevated and dangerous readings, the investigation halted to let the ventilation process continue. When it was safe to resume, the investigators found that the exhaust pipe for the gas furnace that was heating the house was not exhausting the carbon monoxide, which led to a gas build up throughout the house.

Because our law firm continues to represent victims of carbon monoxide poisoning, Leesfield Scolaro became the voice of Florida victims of CO exposure. Due to the relentless efforts of former Florida Justice Association (FJA) President Ira Leesfield, Senate Bill 1822 was adopted, and became effective July 1, 2008.
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A rear-end collision that ruined the life of a Jamaican handyman put him and Miami personal injury attorney Thomas Scolaro through a four-year quest for justice in state and federal courts.

Scolaro’s advocacy for Dwight Grant reached a turning point in Broward Circuit Court in May when jurors awarded his client $15.1 million. While jurors deliberated, however, Scolaro agreed to a conditional consent judgment with Farmers Insurance providing a maximum $5 million award and a waiver of Farmers’ right to appeal if Scolaro can prove bad faith in a subsequent trial.

He is confident that will happen.

Dwight Grant, then 22, was a back-seat passenger when the car he was riding in was stopped at a drawbridge and hit from behind by a drunken driver in Pompano Beach in 2007. He suffered permanent brain injuries that left him with short-term memory loss and chronic seizures. The other driver, Matthew Lyons, was fleeing police.

The original insurer, AIG’s 21st Century, which was purchased by Farmers in 2009, offered the policy maximum of $100,000. But it came with conditions Scolaro found unacceptable.

Nevertheless, the insurer sought enforcement, insisting it made a valid offer. Circuit Judge Patti Englander Henning sided with AIG, and Scolaro appealed.

The 4th District Court of Appeal reversed in June 2009, noting the company’s general release was not routine. The insurer demanded Grant release other potential defendants even though they were not AIG customers.

AIG also required Grant to accept a nondisclosure clause and agree that all hospital bills had been fully paid. His medical bills exceeded $250,000, and he would need lifetime care. Scolaro made a counter offer of $755,000.

“The insurance company’s response did not constitute an acceptance of the offer made by the plaintiff. The trial court erred in enforcing the settlement,” Judge Martha Warner wrote for the appellate court.

Because Lyons was a convicted drunken driver and liability was established, the trial on remand focused on damages.

Grant was the twin brother of Dwayne Grant, and the two worked together as remodelers on home improvement projects. Dwayne stopped working to care for his brother. During trial, they were living in Uniondale, New York, but since then Dwight Grant has moved to Jamaica where his mother cares for him, and Dwayne has gone back to work.
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Under Florida law, Driving Under the Influence (DUI) is one offense, proved by impairment of normal faculties or unlawful blood alcohol or breath alcohol level of .08 or above. The penalties upon conviction are the same, regardless of the manner in which the offense is proven. Florida Statute 316.193.

Living and working in Fort Lauderdale as a handyman, 22-year-old Dwight Grant’s life was changed forever when he became a DUI victim. Mr. Grant was sitting in the back seat of his friend’s car, stopped on the road, waiting for a raised drawbridge. A couple of blocks behind him, Matthew Lyons was driving his car uncontrollably and at a very high rate of speed. When Mr. Lyons made a left turn and faced the stopped traffic, it was too late for him to avoid the horrific rear-end car accident that ensued. The investigation revealed that Mr. Lyons was driving under the influence of alcohol at the time of the crash, with a blood alcohol level of .21, almost triple the legal limit.

As a result of this rear-end car accident, Dwight Grant sustained skull fractures, frontal lobe brain damage and facial fractures. He had corrective surgery to repair the fractures and was discharged after two weeks in intensive care. Following his release from the hospital, Mr. Grant developed a seizure disorder that is not controlled by medication. He is unable to resume work due to his uncontrolled seizures.

DUI Victim Attorney, Thomas Scolaro, of Leesfield Scolaro filed a civil lawsuit against Matthew Lyons for his negligent driving. The defendant alleged that although he was intoxicated, Mr. Grant’s seizures could have been better controlled in the future had he been more compliant with taking his anti-seizure medications and had he been more compliant returning for follow-up medical appointments. What the defendant failed to realize was that Mr. Grant did not always take his medication because his frontal lobe brain damage caused him to be very forgetful. Experts at trial testified that the degree of brain damage and the location of the damage in the frontal lobe controlled his decision making processes and affected his short-term memory.

After a five-day trial, the jury panel of 3 men, and 3 women jury panel found that the defendant was negligent. The jury found that Mr. Grant was unable to return to work in any capacity and awarded Mr. Grant $2.7 million for past and future lost wages, $6.7 million for past and future medical care, and $6 million for past and future pain and suffering.

The case, entitled Dwight Grant v. Matthew Lyons, Lower Tribunal Case No, 07-015561 (03) was tried before Judge Mily Rodriguez-Powell in Broward County, Florida.
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A property owner, such as a Hotel or Resort, has the duty to keep and maintain its premises in a reasonably safe condition to provide for its guests’ safety and prevent any potential incidents. When dangerous conditions are known by the property owner or its employees, the owner must warn its guests of the hazardous condition so as to prevent any risk of injury. The property owner must also remedy, and repair the dangerous condition as soon as possible. When a property owner creates or fails to remedy a dangerous condition, and a guest is injured as a result of the owner’s failure to warn, it can be held responsible for the injuries sustained.

Aljuwon Pipkin, a 14-year-old boy, was a guest at a Hotel Resort in Orlando, Osceola County, with his family. One late afternoon, while playing with his brother in the jacuzzi/spa located on the Hotel’s property, one of the suction grates broke and Aljuwon’s body was pulled under water by the force of the suction drain. Aljuwon’s brother, who was also playing in the jacuzzi, tried to pull his brother, but Aljuwon’s body wouldn’t move. He began yelling for help. Aljuwon’s mother heard her son screaming, as did Aljuwon’s stepfather. They were only seconds from the spa and they both leaped into the water and tried to pull Aljuwon free, to no avail. The mother began screaming as she felt her son jerking in her arms, then her son’s body going limp.

For long minutes, guests and hotel employees attempted to pull Aljuwon free, but the force of the suction was too strong. Others were looking for the jacuzzi’s emergency shut-off switch, but none existed. A guest who witnessed the entire incident asked hotel employees to shut off the suction drain, but they did not know where the switch was. It turned out that the one person in charge of maintaining the spa was already gone for the day and nobody on the premises knew how to operate and turn off the jacuzzi.

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At that point, the 14-year-old had been under water for more than ten minutes. That is when a fellow guest began ripping cables connected to the spa, which ultimately caused the suction to stop and allowed Aljuwon’s body to be freed. Paramedics worked on Aljuwon’s body immediately, administering emergency care and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) to the unresponsive minor child. After several minutes of incessant efforts, Aljuwon was miraculously brought back to life.

Personal Injury Lawyers at Leesfield Scolaro sued the Hotel for its negligence in failing to maintain and/or replace the defective grate of the jacuzzi spa which broke when Aljuwon was using the spa. Ira Leesfield alleged that the Resort was responsible for not having installed an emergency shut-off switch which would have allowed Aljuwon to be freed within seconds, not ten minutes too late. Personal Injury Lawyer Carol Finklehoffe alleged that the hotel was also responsible for negligent training of the hotel’s employees who simply did not know how to shut off the jacuzzi’s drainage system.

As a result of the Hotel’s negligence, Aljuwon sustained brain damage requiring life-long medical care. On August 25th, 2011, the Orlando Personal Injury Attorneys at Leesfield Scolaro, Ira Leesfield and Carol Finklehoffe, on behalf of Aljuwon Pipkin and his mother, who witnessed the near drowning incident, settled this brain damage claim for a confidential amount with the Hotel Resort Defendant. It is the largest result in a pool entrapment case in Osceola County.
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