Charging the Jury

In jury trials, juries are the fact finders or trier of fact.  It is the jury’s responsibility to sort through disputed accounts presented in evidence before coming to a decision during deliberation at the end of the trial.  The judge decides questions of law, i.e., how the law applies to a given set of facts. In most trials, jurors can take reasonable notes while paying close attention to the evidence and arguments presented.  They cannot be given a transcript of the trial, but must rely on their notes and collective memories.  They are permitted to have all the trial exhibits with them in the jury room during deliberations.

To aid jurors during the deliberation process, the judge, at the end of the trial, “charges the jury.”  Jury instructions are a set of lengthy legal rules that jurors must follow when deciding a civil or criminal case.  The instructions explain how a jury should deliberate and how they should analyze the witnesses and the evidence.  In jury instructions, the law of the case is explained in detail and they are instructed to make their decision strictly according to the law.  Jury instructions are given to the jury by the judge orally, in writing or both.  Jury charges are reviewed beforehand by attorneys on both sides in the case.

The majority of the states in the United States have a basic set of instructions, usually called “pattern jury instructions,” which provide the framework for the charge to the jury. Delaware follows “Delaware’s Civil Pattern Jury Instructions.” Jury charges are often very complex and play a significant role in jury discussions.

You may read the State of Delaware’s Civil Pattern Jury Instructions here

http://courts.delaware.gov/Superior/pattern/pattern.stm

Click here to contact us to schedule a free consultation to see if you have a case.

At Hudson & Castle, we approach each case ethically, honorably, and skillfully, beginning with a free consultation, continuing with the convenience of flexible appointments, and finally, charging you nothing unless we win or settle. We also handle cases on behalf of our clients who are Delaware residents but have been injured in nearby Pennsylvania. Please call Hudson & Castle at 302-428-8800 (Monday-Friday, 8:30am- 5:00pm, ET) or contact us, and we will get back to you shortly to discuss your case.  

GOVERNMENT INVESTIGATING NURSING HOME CULPABILITY FOR COVID-19 (CORONA VIRUS) INFECTIONS

Update: Genesis in Milford, DE has “Dozens of COVID-19 cases” according to Delaware State News (4/15/20). According to the article, 55 residents and 13 employees have tested positive for the disease. https://delawarestatenews.net/coronavirus/report-dozens-of-covid-19-cases-at-genesis-care-center-in-milford/

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (“CMS”) has already begun its investigation of nursing homes for violations related to the handling of COVID-19 (Corona Virus).

We have recognized that nursing homes and assisted living facilities have for years been understaffed: including under-payment of employees or not having enough on the schedule. Their corporate greed has led to injuries to their residents and patients in the past. This has been the perfect storm brewing for some time.

With the onset of COVID-19 (Corona Virus), these issues have come to the forefront of the nation and now the federal government is taking a harder look.

Nursing homes and assisted living facilities are required to have sufficient staff based on a ratio of the acuity of the patients, meaning the level of care required for the patient.  This is known as Eagle’s law.  Essentially, the more care a resident needs according to their individual care plan then the more staff a nursing home is required to have.  If the nursing home has many residents that require a higher level of care then the staffing ratio needs to be lower.  This is because each staff member is able to take care of fewer more complicated residents then they could if the residents were less complicated.

In addition, nursing homes are required to have policies and procedures in place to reduce the risk and spread of infection to their residents.  Having the policies and procedures is not enough.  Nursing homes and their staff must also follow their procedures.

Nursing homes are also required to have supplies on hand to deal with an outbreak of infection if one occurs.

Our history of handling nursing home cases in Delaware has demonstrated time and time again that nursing homes cut corners in order to increase their profit margins.  It is unfortunate that it took COVID-19 (Corona Virus) for a more serious investigation, but it is fortunate that the federal government is now investigating.

Here is an article addressing the issues further: https://www.webmd.com/lung/news/20200410/covid-19-shows-gaps-in-controls-at-nursing-homes?ecd=wnl_spr_041120

If you or a loved one has fallen victim to nursing home abuse or neglect, or became infected with COVID-19 (Corona Virus) while in a nursing home please call us to see if you have a case – (302) 428-8800.

Click here to contact us to schedule a free consultation to see if you have a case.

At Hudson & Castle, we approach each case ethically, honorably, and skillfully, beginning with a free consultation, continuing with the convenience of flexible appointments, and finally, charging you nothing unless we win or settle. We also handle cases on behalf of our clients who are Delaware residents but have been injured in nearby Pennsylvania. Please call Hudson & Castle at 302-428-8800 (Monday-Friday, 8:30am- 5:00pm, ET) or contact us, and we will get back to you shortly to discuss your case.  

Firestone and Ford: The Sometimes Lethal Combination

From 1992-1998 there were 21 cases reported by State Farm Insurance to National Highway Safety Traffic Administration regarding automobile collisions involving tread separation on Firestone ATX tires.  Fourteen of those vehicles reported were Ford Explorers and wore Firestone ATX tires. By 1999, there were 30 more cases reported.  The toll quickly grew to 88 known deaths and 250 injuries.  NHTSA began investigating 41 million Firestone ATX and Wilderness Tires made from 1999-2000.  The second largest tire recall occurred on August 1, 2000 as Firestone recalled 14.4 million tires that were original equipment on Ford Explorers and other Ford light trucks.

Ford Explorer is the descendant of the Ford Bronco, nicknamed the Bucking Bronco. In 1988 the NHTSA contacted Ford as the Bronco II led its competition of non-collision “first event rollovers.” In September 2000, Ford and regulators received complaints about Ford Explorer and possible defect in the sway bar, the bar that controls how much the car tilts from side to side when cornering. Use this hyperlink to get some additional info.

“The Explorer is the worst kind of vehicle on which to put a bad tire. A tread separation or other tire failure can lead to a fatal rollover. A tire made for an SUV like the Explorer should have an extra margin of safety built into it like a nylon ply because the consequences of failure can be so bad,” according to Clarence Dittlow, Executive Director of The Center for Auto Safety in testimony in the Senate in 2000.

“Both Ford and Firestone knew more earlier but failed to act until there were too many complaints, deaths and injuries to conceal Firestone tire failure on Ford Explorers from public attention…and it is not coincidental that these two companies have been assessed the two largest fines in NHTSA’s history — $500,000 in 1978 against Firestone over the 500 steel belted radial and $425,000 in 1999 against Ford for concealing defective ignition switches that shorted and star.”

Click here to contact us to schedule a free consultation to see if you have a case.

At Hudson & Castle, we approach each case ethically, honorably, and skillfully, beginning with a free consultation, continuing with the convenience of flexible appointments, and finally, charging you nothing unless we win or settle. We also handle cases on behalf of our clients who are Delaware residents but have been injured in nearby Pennsylvania. Please call Hudson & Castle at 302-428-8800 (Monday-Friday, 8:30am- 5:00pm, ET) or contact us, and we will get back to you shortly to discuss your case.  

The July Effect: An Urban Myth?

U.S. doctors start their residencies (in hospital training) each July 1 in thousands of “teaching hospitals” nationwide. In 2012 the influx was noted as nearly 37,000 interns and other trainees. The result? An abundance of current teams of experienced residents leave “teaching hospitals” and are replaced by trainees fresh out of medical school. The notion that nationwide morbidity and mortality rates increase in teaching hospitals in July as a result is known as the July Effect.

In 2011 a systematic review of literature was published in The Annals of Internal Medicine, by Dr. John Q. Young, MD, that showed the July Effect does exist. 45% of the higher quality studies noted an association between the influx of residents and mortality.

A study at the University of California-San Diego, examined 62 million computerized U.S. death certificates from 1979-2006. The study reported a spike in the ratio of observed and expected medication error deaths on certificates only in July.

According to U.S. News, in 2014, Anupam Jena, an internist and assistant professor of health care policy at Harvard Medical School said, “If you talk to anyone who works in a hospital…unequivocally they will tell you care is worse in July.  Her conclusions are based on experience and common sense, “The interns know less than the physicians who were there a few months before.”

Click here to contact us to schedule a free consultation to see if you have a case.

At Hudson & Castle, we approach each case ethically, honorably, and skillfully, beginning with a free consultation, continuing with the convenience of flexible appointments, and finally, charging you nothing unless we win or settle. We also handle cases on behalf of our clients who are Delaware residents but have been injured in nearby Pennsylvania. Please call Hudson & Castle at 302-428-8800 (Monday-Friday, 8:30am- 5:00pm, ET) or contact us, and we will get back to you shortly to discuss your case.  

What is Cyberbullying?

Wikipedia defines Cyberbullying as “ the use of information technology to repeatedly harm or harass other people in a deliberate manner. According to U.S. Legal Definitions, “Cyber-bullying could be limited to posting rumors or gossips about a person in the internet bringing about hatred in other’s minds; or it may go to the extent of personally identifying victims and publishing materials severely defaming and humiliating them.”

The National Youth Violence Prevention Resource Center estimates that nearly 30 percent of American youth are either a bully or a target of bullying. However, bullying is no longer a problem that is isolated to the playgrounds, hallways and lunch rooms of schools. Instead, advances in technology have now extended harassment to cell phones, social media websites and other online avenues that are contributing to an alarming number of Cyberbullying cases leading to suicide.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), suicide is the third leading cause of death among young people with approximately 4,400 deaths every year. The CDC estimates that there are at least 100 suicide attempts for every suicide among young people. More than 14 percent of high school students have considered suicide and nearly 7 percent have attempted, that is why you will sadly read about cyberbullying cases in the media now more than ever.

Click here to contact us to schedule a free consultation to see if you have a case.

At Hudson & Castle, we approach each case ethically, honorably, and skillfully, beginning with a free consultation, continuing with the convenience of flexible appointments, and finally, charging you nothing unless we win or settle. We also handle cases on behalf of our clients who are Delaware residents but have been injured in nearby Pennsylvania. Please call Hudson & Castle at 302-428-8800 (Monday-Friday, 8:30am- 5:00pm, ET) or contact us, and we will get back to you shortly to discuss your case.  

The Pinto- “Lee’s Car”

A faulty design in the Ford Pinto’s gasoline tank was the cause of over 500 deaths and hundreds of injuries for Pinto owners.  The defect made the gasoline tank vulnerable to explosion after rear-end collision.

A California jury awarded an unprecedented $128 million dollars for a claim against Ford.  A Los Angeles woman died and her 13 year-old passenger was burned over 90 percent of her body when their stalled Pinto was rear ended by a car traveling at 35 mph on the Los Angeles freeway.  The Pinto burst into flames.

On June 9, 1978, Ford recalled 1.5 million Ford Pintos and 30,000 Mercury Bobcat sedans and hatchback models.  Ford customers filed 117 lawsuits, according to Peter Wyden in The Unknown Iacocca.  The 1979 landmark case, Indiana v. Ford Motor Co., made the automaker the first U.S. corporation indicted and prosecuted on criminal homicide charges.

Iacocca, who became President of Ford in 1970, had little experience working on a car that was a new design.  The production period for the Ford Pinto was just 25 months and the normal production time span was 43 months.  The Ford Pinto became known as “Lee’s car” and he wanted a subcompact that “weighed no more than 2,000 pounds and sold for $2,000 dollars.”

Ford sold 328,275 Pintos in 1971, its first year.  Lee got what he wanted, but the public paid the price.  The $2,000 dollar limit left no room to protect the gasoline tank, even though Ford owned the patent on a much safer gasoline tank.  With no room between the gasoline tank and differential housing and a flaw in the tube leading to the gasoline tank of the pre-1976 Pintos, a rear end collision would ignite gasoline that had leaked from the tank and the car would burst into flames.

Ford was aware of the defect, but decided to manufacture anyway.  In addition, a disclosure in a civil trial stated that Ford found it cheaper to pay off the families of the victims of Pinto fires than the $137 million it would cost to fix the Pinto immediately.

Click here to contact us to schedule a free consultation to see if you have a case.

At Hudson & Castle, we approach each case ethically, honorably, and skillfully, beginning with a free consultation, continuing with the convenience of flexible appointments, and finally, charging you nothing unless we win or settle. We also handle cases on behalf of our clients who are Delaware residents but have been injured in nearby Pennsylvania. Please call Hudson & Castle at 302-428-8800 (Monday-Friday, 8:30am- 5:00pm, ET) or contact us, and we will get back to you shortly to discuss your case.  

E Cigarette Hazards

Electronic Cigarettes or vapor cigarettes are devices made from metal tubes which contain a cartridge filled with nicotine laced liquid. The liquid is vaporized by a battery powered heating element.  E Cigarettes mimic cigarettes and come in a variety of flavors.  Manufacturers of e cigarettes falsely claim they are a less dangerous alternative to smoking cigarettes and an alternative smoking cessation device.

In a 2009 analysis of certain electronic cigarettes, the FDA found that e cigarette cartridges contain carcinogens including nitrosamines and toxic chemicals such as diethylene glycol.  The FDA has major concerns about the safety of e cigarettes for the smoker and non-smoke

“If you are around somebody who is using an e cigarette you are breathing in aerosol of exhaled nicotine, ultra-fine particles, volatile organic compounds and other toxins,” reports Dr. Stanton Glantz, Director of the Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education, University of Southern California, San Francisco.  The vapor inhaled and exhaled is not pure water vapor and can lead to major health risks.

Americans for Non-Smokers Rights are concerned that e cigarettes are being falsely marketed as something that smokers can use in the workplace and public places where smoking of tobacco is prohibited.  Others fear deceptive marketing practices and believe false claims of e cigarettes as a “safe alternative to smoking tobacco” are tempting teens to addiction.  The variety of flavors they come in are an added temptation to teens.

Currently, e cigarettes are unregulated and manufacturers are not required to disclose the ingredients in e cigarette liquid, nor the substances present in the aerosol.  The FDA aims to regulate them as tobacco products after a U.S. Court of Appeals decided that the FDA cannot regulate them as a drug delivery device, which is how nicotine replacement products are regulated.   In September 2010 the FDA sent warning letters to 5 retailers advising that their practices are in violation of the FDA and Cosmetic Act.

As of April 2015, 354 municipalities and 3 states include e cigarettes as products that are prohibited from use in smoke free environments.  Cities and states can enact laws that regulate when and where they can be used as well as laws that regulate sales to minors or where product can be sold.  City and state law makers must address these issues.

Click here to contact us to schedule a free consultation to see if you have a case.

At Hudson & Castle, we approach each case ethically, honorably, and skillfully, beginning with a free consultation, continuing with the convenience of flexible appointments, and finally, charging you nothing unless we win or settle. We also handle cases on behalf of our clients who are Delaware residents but have been injured in nearby Pennsylvania. Please call Hudson & Castle at 302-428-8800 (Monday-Friday, 8:30am- 5:00pm, ET) or contact us, and we will get back to you shortly to discuss your case.  

Wandering Off Hudson & Castle

Cyber Bullying Stories: The Ryan Halligan Case (1989 – 2003)

The Cyberbullying Story:  The website operated by Ryan’s parents, John and Kelly Halligan, states that early concerns about Ryan’s speech, language and motor skills development led to him receiving special education services from preschool through the fourth grade. Ryan’s academic and physical struggles made him the regular target of a particular bully at school between the fifth and seventh grade. In February 2003, a fight between Ryan and the bully not only ended the harassment at school, but led to a supposed friendship.

However, after Ryan shared an embarrassing personal story, the newly found friend returned to being a bully and used the information to start a rumor that Ryan was gay. The taunting continued into the summer of 2003, although Ryan thought that he had struck a friendship with a pretty, popular girl through AOL Instant Messenger (AIM). Instead, he later learned that the girl and her friends thought it would be funny to make Ryan think the girl liked him and use it to have him share more personally embarrassing material—which was copied and pasted into AIM exchanges with her friends. On October 7, 2003, Ryan hanged himself in the family bathroom. After his son’s death, John discovered a folder filled with IM exchanges throughout that summer that made him realize “that technology was being utilized as weapons far more effective and reaching [than] the simple ones we had as kids.”

Aftermath: There were no criminal charges filed following Ryan’s death because no criminal law applied to the circumstances. Seven months after Ryan’s death, Vermont’s Bully Prevention Law (ACT 117) was signed into law by Governor Jim Douglas. John Halligan also authored Vermont’s Suicide Prevention Law (ACT 114), which passed unchanged in April 2006.

Click here to contact us to schedule a free consultation to see if you have a case.

At Hudson & Castle, we approach each case ethically, honorably, and skillfully, beginning with a free consultation, continuing with the convenience of flexible appointments, and finally, charging you nothing unless we win or settle. We also handle cases on behalf of our clients who are Delaware residents but have been injured in nearby Pennsylvania. Please call Hudson & Castle at 302-428-8800 (Monday-Friday, 8:30am- 5:00pm, ET) or contact us, and we will get back to you shortly to discuss your case.  

 

 

 

The Civil Justice System: Supporting Women’s Health

The civil justice system plays a key role in women’s health that many people are unaware of.  Access to the civil justice system makes women’s health safer and helps keep corporate misconduct in check when regulators of medical devices have been unwilling to rank the health of women above financial profit.  Corporations have rushed products to market without properly conducting safety studies and concealing known safety issues in exchange for profit.

In addition, women historically have underrepresented in Phase I clinical drug trials.  According to an investigative study published in Women’s Health Issues in 2009, “Although the last US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) study (published in 2001) showed that women’s participation may have been statistically large enough to determine whether the drug was effective in women, the rate of women’s participation throughout the whole process of testing a drug was variable, with women clearly underrepresented in most trials.  By 2002, studies indicated that only 24% to 25% of subjects in many phase 1 and 2 clinical trials were women.”  As a result, women have suffered disproportionately from the effects of dangerous and defective drugs and medical devices.  Recently in the news lawsuits are being filed against manufacturers of NuvaRing and Essure, both contraceptive methods used by woman and marketed by doctors.

Following are some historical examples of known abuses against women:

  • Hormone Replacement Therapy – With the knowledge that breast cancer is the second most deadliest form of cancer affecting women, pharmaceutical companies, since 1942, have marketed estrogen supplements as HRT even with known links to breast cancer, heart attacks and blood clots.
  • The Dalkon Shield – The manufacturer, A.H. Robbins knew the contraceptive caused fatal infections but it wasn’t until 1980 that, after lawsuits, the company finally agreed to issue a letter to doctors recommending the removal of the device.
  • Surgical Mesh – These devices cause organ perforation, infection and many more side effects. Many versions went to market without FDA approval and at least 70,000 women have vaginal mesh implants each year.  Johnson & Johnson stopped selling it’s product in 2012 after facing 4,000 lawsuits from injured women.
  • Deputy Artificial Hips – Introduced in 2015 by Johnson & Johnson, the ASR XL Acetabular hip replacement system immediately began attracting attention. Doctors reported the device shed large portions of metallic debris and caused infection, fractures, dislocations, necrosis and nerve damage.  The device stayed on the market for 5 years until sales were halted in 2010.  Johnson & Johnson payed over $4 billion to settle thousands of cases.

Click here to contact us to schedule a free consultation to see if you have a case.

At Hudson & Castle, we approach each case ethically, honorably, and skillfully, beginning with a free consultation, continuing with the convenience of flexible appointments, and finally, charging you nothing unless we win or settle. We also handle cases on behalf of our clients who are Delaware residents but have been injured in nearby Pennsylvania. Please call Hudson & Castle at 302-428-8800 (Monday-Friday, 8:30am- 5:00pm, ET) or contact us, and we will get back to you shortly to discuss your case.  

Keyless Ignition Starts Trouble

A lawsuit seeking an injunction requiring automakers to install automatic shut-off features on all existing and future vehicles sold with keyless ignitions was filed in Los Angeles on August 26, 2015 against ten of the world’s biggest automakers.

Toyota, Nissan, Honda, GM, Volkswagen, Mercedes-Benz, and Ford are some of the automakers facing a class action lawsuit on behalf of millions of Americans who drive cars with keyless ignitions.

The automakers sold keyless “fobs” without instituting safeguards, warnings or other safety features including audible engine-on alerts or “auto off,” which would automatically turn off the engine of a car left unattended.  There have been at least 13 deaths and numerous injuries from carbon monoxide poisoning after drivers failed to manually shut off their engines.

Such a device can be implemented without significant cost, but automakers refused to make the repair, recall the cars or provide an auto off software update.  GM and Ford even took steps to patent a shut off feature.

27 complaints have been logged with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration since 2009 concerning keyless ignitions. 

The lawsuit seeks to hold the automobile industry liable for defects that make driving unsafe, similar to the Takata airbags cases and ignition switch lawsuit against GM motors.

Click here to contact us to schedule a free consultation to see if you have a case.

At Hudson & Castle, we approach each case ethically, honorably, and skillfully, beginning with a free consultation, continuing with the convenience of flexible appointments, and finally, charging you nothing unless we win or settle. We also handle cases on behalf of our clients who are Delaware residents but have been injured in nearby Pennsylvania. Please call Hudson & Castle at 302-428-8800 (Monday-Friday, 8:30am- 5:00pm, ET) or contact us, and we will get back to you shortly to discuss your case.