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U.S. Justice Department Investigates health insurance providers United Healthcare, Health Net Inc., Aetna Inc., Cigna Corp’s Bravo Health and Humana Inc. after allegations of Medicare Fraud … [ more ]
Dear Public Justice Supporters,
I'm in Denver today to observe and participate in a hearing of the Consumer Financial Protection … [ more ]
On April 6, 2015, the United States Supreme Court denied reviewed of a petition filed by CashCall, Inc. asking it to review a decision by the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals denying … [ more ]
Dennis Whedbee's crew was rushing to prepare an oil well for pumping on the Sweet Grass Woman lease site, a speck of dusty plains rich with crude in Mandaree, N.D.
It was getting late … [ more ]
One of the most common questions we get from clients who are thinking about applying for Social Security Disability is: does my age affect my Disability … [ more ]
The Eleventh Circuit affirmed a Florida district court’s denial of Cashcall’s motion to compel arbitration, as the forum selected in the parties’ loan agreement was not … [ more ]
It isn’t often one can say that something exciting and positive is happening in cancer treatment but there is good news with immunotherapy. The science and treatments are changing rapidly. … [ more ]
In June, about 900,000 vehicles from nine automakers containing the faulty airbags were recalled in two states, Florida and Hawaii, and two territories, Puerto Rico and the … [ more ]
Multiple Manufactures Recall Automobiles
The air bag canisters are believed to explode during crashes under certain conditions, sending shrapnel toward motorists. … [ more ]
Workers' Compensation Judge Links Lung Cancer to Diesel Exhaust Exposure
The Wall Street Journal recently … [ more ]
Coal miners develop black lung disease, or coal workers' pneumoconiosis, through prolonged exposure to the coal dust in a mine's atmosphere. It's … [ more ]
NC-DENR issued a swine waste management general permit
A new study suggests that nearly half of workers who care for animals in large industrial hog farming … [ more ]
The Social Security Administration’s Disability benefits system is fraught with unclear requirements and a long and confusing application process. This is unfortunate as so many truly … [ more ]
Seven lawsuits filed against Murphy-Brown LLC in U.S. District Court Thursday allege the Smithfield Foods Inc. subsidiary failed to take steps to reduce nuisance and injury caused by its farms in … [ more ]
Friends, as a consumer lawyer I am frequently shocked by the stories I hear about how far some people will go to cheat others out of money. Some of the worst … [ more ]
Many workers feel worried and overwhelmed when they suffer an injury on the job. They do not want to lose their jobs. They are hurting due to their injury or disease. They are … [ more ]
Each month, thousands of North Carolinians become disabled from working and apply for Social Security Disability (SSD) or Supplemental Security income (SSI) benefits. Unfortunately, many of those … [ more ]
As we continue through our working lives and as we age, there are many kinds of infirmities and medical conditions that can lead to serious disability. Some of the common medical conditions … [ more ]
Medical evidence is typically required when applying and making a claim for Social Security Disability Benefits. This evidence can include medical records, … [ more ]
Stories about childhood sexual abuse have been gaining more and more attention over the past several years. These cases usually involve a violation of trust, from someone in a position … [ more ]
Asbestos is the name given to a group of fibrous minerals that have tremendous resistance to heat. Because of these properties, asbestos has been mined for use in a wide range of manufactured … [ more ]
A young pregnant mother went to a friend’s house to pick up a video tape. Upon arriving at the house she put her van in park, left the engine running and exited the vehicle. While in the … [ more ]
Myth #1: If I have insurance I do not have anything to worry about if I cause an automobile accident
TRUTH: When you cause an automobile accident your insurance company is only obligated … [ more ]
Wallace & Graham reached a favorable settlement for a 76-year-old woman who slipped and fell on an icy walkway at a popular restaurant food chain.
Our client was traveling from … [ more ]
Wallace & Graham represented a young man who was hit head on by another young man driving a rented moving truck.
After being told there was no available insurance from the at-fault … [ more ]
We are investigating magazines that over-subscribe customers, double-bill for the same subscription, or employ other dishonest practices with customers. Some magazines will send you a renewal … [ more ]
Nearly 80% of antibiotics in the U.S. are sold for use in animal feeds. Despite the established connection between antibiotic overuse and creation of drug-resistant bacteria, large animal … [ more ]
U.S. Justice Department Investigates health insurance providers United Healthcare, Health Net Inc., Aetna Inc., Cigna Corp’s Bravo Health and Humana Inc. after allegations of Medicare Fraud are leveled by a whistleblower in a U.S False Claims Act lawsuit which was filed 2011.
United Healthcare (UHC), Health net Inc., Aetna Inc., Cigna Corp’s Bravo health and Humana Inc., are facing a storm of allegations as related to ERISA violations and fiduciary fraud. These allegations stem from a number of cases filed in Federal Courts nationwide calling into question the billing, payment, and reimbursement procedures of the insurance industry.
On March 17th, 2017, the United States Justice Department disclosed that in addition to United Healthcare, the department had also launched investigations into four additional health insurance providers: Health net Inc., Aetna Inc., Cigna Corp’s Bravo Health and Humana Inc. This follows there partial intervention in a U.S False Claims Act lawsuit, filed in 2011 by former United Healthcare executive and whistleblower Benjamin Poehling.
The disclosure follows the release of court documents pertaining to the 2011 lawsuit and unsealed in a Los Angeles Federal District Court in February. The unsealed documents revealed allegations that United Healthcare may have improperly billed Medicare in excess of a billion dollars, and that the practice may have been occurring for more than a decade. The documents also alleges that the insurers defrauded Medicare by claiming patients were treated for conditions they did not have or that Medicare was billed for treatments the patients did not receive.
 Raymond, Nate. "U.S. Investigates Four Insurers over Medicare Payments." Reuters. Thomson Reuters, 17 Mar. 2017. Web. 20 Mar. 2017. http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-health-lawsuit-idUSKBN16O2BQ
 Mary Walsh, "Scheme Tied To Unitedhealth Overbilled Medicare For Years, Suit Says", Nytimes.Com, last modified 2017, accessed March 15, 2017, https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/16/business/dealbook/unitedhealthcare-improperly-took-money-from-medicare-suit-says.html?_r=0®ister=google.
 Ibid, Raymond.
Dear Public Justice Supporters,
I'm in Denver today to observe and participate in a hearing of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. We are just hours away from CFPB unveiling a sketch of its proposals to address the way forced arbitration clauses are used by lenders. The main takeaway is that the CFPB intends to prohibit lenders from using arbitration clauses with their customers, if those clauses prohibit customers from bringing, or being members of, class actions.
This is a HUGE deal! Public Justice has been filing comments with, and advocating before the agency, for years, putting in hundreds of hours of work. We are proud to be part of a broad coalition of consumer advocacy and civil rights groups who have been urging the agency to take these strong, necessary steps. Many Members of Congress, and state attorneys general, also weighed in with the strong view that lenders' abuse of forced arbitration clauses was gutting the enforcement of consumer protection laws.
As I told the New York Times this morning, this is a huge step forward for consumer protection. Indeed, it is an exceptionally exciting development. In its own statement, the CFPB notes that eliminating forced arbitration clauses that ban class actions will return to many consumers their right to a day in court, will help deter illegal conduct by lenders, and will enhance the transparency of the justice process. I couldn't agree more.
I want to particularly thank all of you. Your support of Public Justice's work has ensured that we have the resources to help put this on the national radar. And while today's proposal is a very big victory, it is not the last step. There will still be a comment period, to allow small businesses and others to weigh in, before final regulations are adopted. That's why I'm hoping you'll consider a one-time gift today to help us push these changes across the finish line. We'll be up against hefty opposition, including the full resources of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, an organization with a budget that dwarfs our own.
If you can, please pitch in today to help us fight back and get this done. With your help, we can begin to curb these ridiculously unfair arbitration clauses and ensure the courthouse doors remain open for us all.
Thanks for being part of this win,
P.S.: We anticipate that the CFPB will live stream this morning's hearing from here in Denver on their website. Tune in to learn more about these incredible developments beginning at 11am MT |1pm ET today.
On April 6, 2015, the United States Supreme Court denied reviewed of a petition filed by CashCall, Inc. asking it to review a decision by the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals denying arbitration. The plaintiff, Abraham Inetianbor, received a loan from Western Sky, a South Dakota company, which offered small loans at excessively high interest rates. Under the terms of the loan, Mr. Inetianbor was to repay the loan at an annual interest rate of 135%. Because Western Sky was owned by a member of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, the loan agreement states that by signing it Mr. Inetianbor agreed to have any disputes resolved by arbitration before the Tribal Court. Arbitration is a way to resolve a dispute out of court. But there is no jury and most decisions by the arbitrator cannot be appealed.
In this case, the problem was the Tribe does not conduct arbitration and does not have any arbitration rules.
Mr. Inetianbor decided to sue CashCall, Inc, the company who took over the loan by Western Sky, because he had paid back the full amount of the money he borrowed plus some of the interest. CashCall insisted he pay back all of the interest owed, which was a lot of money because of the high interest rate. After Mr. Inetianbor filed the lawsuit in federal court in Florida, CashCall tried to have the case dismissed so that it could be arbitrated before the Tribal Court. As mentioned above, the problem was the Tribe did not conduct arbitration and there were no rules for the parties to follow.
The judge initially ordered that the case had to be arbitrated. But thanks to the efforts of Mr. Inetianbor, who, on his own, uncovered the fact that the Tribe does not the conduct arbitration, and the hard work by attorneys at Wallace & Graham who filed motions asking the court to reconsider its earlier decision, the federal judge ultimately ruled in plaintiff’s favor and concluded that arbitration was not possible.
CashCall appealed the decision to the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals. Several attorneys at Wallace & Graham wrote the brief on Mr. Inetianbor’s behalf and attorney, John Hughes, argued the plaintiff’s position to the appellate court. The Court ruled in favor of Mr. Inetianbor. It concluded that because loan agreement required the Tribe to arbitrate using its consumer dispute rules and that these were important parts of the loan agreement, arbitration was unavailable. There was no way for the parties to comply with the terms of the loan agreement because the Tribe did not conduct arbitrations and it did not have any rules on arbitration. This was a huge victory for consumers because courts typically will order arbitration if the parties contract contains an arbitration clause.
CashCall then asked the United States Supreme Court to hear the case and decide whether the Eleventh Circuit was wrong in holding that arbitration was unavailable in this case. Mr. Inetianbor, through its attorneys at Wallace & Graham, filed a brief opposing the petition. Wallace & Graham argued that the Eleventh Circuit correctly held that arbitration was unavailable in this case and that Mr. Inetianbor should be allowed to pursue his claim in federal court.
The United States Supreme Court ruled in favor of Mr. Inetianbor by refusing to hear the case. As a result, the case was remanded back to the federal court in Florida for trial. This was another great victory for Mr. Inetianbor and Wallace & Graham, who has fought hard for the rights of consumers to have their cases heard in a court of law.
Dennis Whedbee's crew was rushing to prepare an oil well for pumping on the Sweet Grass Woman lease site, a speck of dusty plains rich with crude in Mandaree, N.D.
It was getting late that September afternoon in 2012. Whedbee, a 50-year-old derrick hand, was helping another worker remove a pipe fitting on top of the well when it suddenly blew.
Oil and sludge pressurized at more than 700 pounds per square inch tore into Whedbee's body, ripping his left arm off just below the elbow. Co-workers jury-rigged a tourniquet from a sweatshirt and a ratchet strap to stanch his bleeding and got his wife on the phone.
"Babe," he said, "tell everyone I love them."
To continue reading the artilce, please click here.
One of the most common questions we get from clients who are thinking about applying for Social Security Disability is: does my age affect my Disability benefits? The short answer is yes. In fact, very much so in some cases. To be clear, this is not to dissuade a younger disabled individual from applying for benefits, but simply to illustrate the effect that one’s age can have on his or her application for Disability benefits.
The Social Security Administration (SSA) uses many factors to determine whether an applicant is disabled, but one of the initial factors the SSA takes into account is the applicant's age. If an applicant does not meet a “listing,” which is a per se disabling medical condition (such as an advanced cancer) regardless of age, the applicant's age then determines the level of analysis used by the SSA to decide if the applicant is disabled.
Those levels are as follows:
18-44 Young individual
45-49 Younger individual
50-54 Closely approaching advanced age
55-59 Advanced age
60-65 Closely approaching retirement age
66+ Retirement age
Stated simply, the older the individual, the easier it is to qualify for Disability benefits. The SSA believes that “young” and “younger” individuals can more easily train for another job, perhaps one that is less physically demanding than a prior one he or she can no longer perform due to certain conditions. If he or she can train for and perform the less-demanding or different type job, the SSA is not likely to find that person disabled under the law.
Likewise, the SSA recognizes that it could be very difficult for an older individual to train for a new job in which their past work skills may not easily transfer. Therefore, if someone of age 60-65 is unable physically to perform prior work, the SSA will likely find that person disabled even if he or she might could physically do a different, less demanding job.
If you are considering applying for Social Security Disability benefits, it is important to first discuss this with an attorney experienced in this field. Should you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact our office for a free consultation.
The Eleventh Circuit affirmed a Florida district court’s denial of Cashcall’s motion to compel arbitration, as the forum selected in the parties’ loan agreement was not available. Appellee Abraham Inetianbor initially borrowed $2,600 from Western Sky Financial LLC. He subsequently repaid $3,252.65 to the servicer of the loan, CashCall, over twelve months. Mr. Inetianbor refused to pay a subsequent bill from Cashcall because he believed his financial obligations had been fulfilled. CashCall disagreed, and reported Mr. Inetianbor’s purported default to credit agencies. Mr. Inetianbor then sued, inter alia, for defamation and usury violations.
The loan agreement mandated any dispute be arbitrated by the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribal Nation (the “Tribe”). Despite attempts to comply with arbitration, the Tribe explained to Mr. Inetianbor and the district court on multiple occasions that the Tribe does not authorize arbitration. CashCall argued that the specified arbitral forum was not integral to the agreement, and therefore its unavailability should not cause the court to deny its motion to compel. The Court looked to “how important the term was to one or both of the parties at the time they entered into the agreement” – to determine whether the arbitration agreement is integral. In this case, the agreement made multiple references to the Tribe. In nine paragraphs regarding arbitration in the contract, the Tribe was specifically mentioned in five of them. The Court concluded that the contract’s use of “shall” and “is required to” was sufficient evidence of the intent to make the Tribal arbitral forum the exclusive forum. Since that arbitral forum was unavailable, Appellant’s motion to compel arbitration was denied. Inetianbor v. Cashcall, Inc., No. 13-cv-60066-JIC (11th Cir. 2014).
Author: Matthew Burrows - Law Clerk
It isn’t often one can say that something exciting and positive is happening in cancer treatment but there is good news with immunotherapy. The science and treatments are changing rapidly. What is so amazing is that the source of this change is hidden within our own bodies. Cancer Immunotherapy is at the forefront of the battle to fight and perhaps cure certain types of cancer.
What is Cancer Immunotherapy and how does it work? It is quite complex but basically Immunotherapy is treatment that uses certain parts of a person’s own immune system to fight diseases including cancer. This can be done a few different ways.
First, doctors determine how to stimulate your own immune system to work harder or smarter to attack cancer cells. Secondly, doctors are developing drugs that give your immune system components and weapons to use, such as man-made immune system proteins.
Multiple tests and studies are ongoing and reports of positive results continue to trickle in.
For a long time, since the late 1800’s, doctors and scientist suspected that a person’s own immune system could affect certain cancers. Even before the immune system was well understood, William Coley, MD, a New York surgeon, first noted that getting an infection after surgery seemed to help some cancer patients. The ability to think outside the box and to always think proactively helped Dr. Coley as he began treating cancer patients by infecting them with certain kinds of bacteria. This came to be known as Coley Toxins.
Although he had some success, his technique was overshadowed when other more drastic forms of cancer treatment, such as radiation therapy, came into use. We have all heard about how awful chemotherapy and radiation are and the side effects they cause including hair loss, fatigue, and loss of appetite to name a few. Hopefully, the new therapy will work better, quicker and be less damaging to the parts of the body that are not infected with cancer.
Thankfully, science and medicine continue to explore immunotherapy. A recent Wall Street Journal article entitled Cancer Super-survivors: How Immunotherapy is transforming Oncology, described a growing group of “super-survivors” who are transforming the world of oncology. In both total numbers of survivor’s and time of survival, the super-survivors are charting new territory. They are reviving hopes that the long-maligned idea of enlisting the power of one’s own immune system against cancer may help to turn the tide against some of the most lethal and resistant forms of the disease.
Since Coley’s Toxins were used in the late 1800’s doctors and scientists have learned a great deal about the immune system and how it might be used to treat cancer. Advances are rapid and there are numerous startup companies working in the field. It is complex, highly technical and very expensive. Treatments can total well over $120,000 per treatment and some average $12,500 per month or $150,000 a year. Hopefully the cost will go down as the drugs are developed.
In the last few decades immunotherapy has become an important part of treating some types of cancer. Newer types of immune treatments are now being studied for many other types, and they’ll impact how we treat cancer in the future. Immunotherapy includes treatments that work in different ways. Some boost the body’s immune system in a very general way. Others help train the immune system to attack certain cancer cells specifically. Your immune system is a collection of organs, special cells, and substances that help protect you from infections and some other diseases. Immune cells and the substances they make travel through your body to protect it from germs that cause infections. They also help protect you from cancer in some ways.
It may help to think of your body as a castle. Germs like viruses, bacteria, and parasites are like hostile, foreign armies that are not normally found in your body. They try to invade your body to use its resources, and they can hurt you in the process. Your immune system is your body’s defense force. It helps keep invading germs out, or kills them if they do get into your body. The immune system keeps track of all of the substances normally found in the body. Any new substance in the body that the immune system doesn’t recognize raises an alarm, causing the immune system to attack it. Substances that cause an immune response are called antigens. The immune response can destroy anything containing the antigen, such as germs or cancer cells.
Two Cancer Immunotherapy drugs being developed by major drug companies have proved remarkably effective against blood cancer Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. This adds to the growing evidence of the potential for enlisting the immune system in the fight against a wide range of tumors. The drugs are among an emerging class of agent’s know as immune checkpoint inhibitors which have shown the most promise against skin cancer and Lung cancer.
Wallace &Graham is watching this closely as we represent victims of asbestos exposure who suffer from lung cancer. We are hopeful this promising research can be used to help our clients survive this occupational disease and are looking to see if it can apply to treatment of mesothelioma.
Tumor cells are very clever and they develop mechanisms that allow them to persist and not be seen effectively by T cells. If you can inhibit that mechanism you are unleashing the “T” cells and you are able to mount an immune response against the tumor.
For more information on this please read the American Cancer Society’s research papers on the latest developments in Cancer Immunotherapy.
Wall Street Journal articles including “Cancer Drugs Show Promise” and “Cancer’s Super-Survivors: How immunotherapy is transforming Oncology.”
Wallace & Graham successfully obtained compensation for a worker who developed lung cancer after years of exposure to low-level gamma radiation. Our client worked in a medical supply sterilization facility.
Every day, 24 hours a day, with 95% "up time," the facility used an extremely high-powered radiation source -- a block of cobalt-60 -- to irradiate medical supplies, thereby killing off any germs. Most workers in the office were shielded from the high-powered gamma radiation by 6-foot-thick concrete and steel walls which blocked most of the gamma rays. However, due to the construction of the entryway, there was a small arc with not quite enough shielding to block all of the gamma radiation. The result was a beam of gamma radiation passing through the office along a straight line drawn from the radiation source through the area of inadequate shielding.
The beam went undetected for many years. Radiation monitoring stations were set up around the outside of the radiation room, but none were in the path of the beam. Employees were required to wear radiation badges, but not in their offices; their offices were considered safe.
The beam was finally detected in 2006 when, during a routine replacement of the radiation source, one technician happened to test the outer wall of the containment room at a point no one had checked before: in the path of the beam.
Our client worked in his office, directly in the path of this beam, for many years. So did a secretary and a receptionist. All three have cancer. Attorney Mike Pross, assisted by attorney Aaron Goss, successfully argued that our client's years of exposure to elevated gamma radiation levels from the beam placed him at increased risk of developing lung cancer.
We believe this is the first time lung cancer has been successfully linked to radiation exposure in a workers' compensation case in North Carolina.
In June, about 900,000 vehicles from nine automakers containing the faulty airbags were recalled in two states, Florida and Hawaii, and two territories, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. Honda expanded that recall to an additional 2.4 million vehicles registered or first sold in Alabama, California, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina and Texas.
Keep in mind, if you purchased a used vehicle it may have originally been registered or first sold in one of the states included on this list
Please, click here to see if your car may be recalled. Please contact us with any questions.
Multiple Manufactures Recall Automobiles
The air bag canisters are believed to explode during crashes under certain conditions, sending shrapnel toward motorists. Safety advocates say the defect has been implicated in four deaths worldwide and dozens of injuries. Read more.
Workers' Compensation Judge Links Lung Cancer to Diesel Exhaust Exposure
The Wall Street Journal recently reported a landmark decision in August 2014 by a workers’ compensation judge in New York who found that a bus mechanic’s exposure to diesel exhaust contributed to the development of his lung cancer and resulting death. According to the Journal, the judge’s finding “has rattled lawyers who defend big employers.” See “Diesel-Exposure Claims Find a Legal Path,” Wall Street Journal (September 6, 2014).
Although attempts to hold diesel engine manufacturers accountable in courts have been less than successful, studies have shown that short term-exposure to diesel exhaust can cause dizziness and respiratory irritation, headaches, light-headedness, to name a few, and long-term exposure to diesel engine exhaust increases the risk of developing lung cancer.
In fact, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) recently concluded that diesel engine exhaust is carcinogenic to humans. The IARC experts found there was sufficient evidence that diesel exhaust is a cause of lung cancer and also possibly associated with an increased risk of bladder cancer (based on limited scientific evidence). Approximately 1.4 million workers in the United States are occupationally exposed to engine exhaust. Such exposure can occur in many occupational settings, including mining, railroad, construction and transportation industries. See our blog earlier this year on diesel exposure in the railroad industry.
If you are experiencing any medical complications caused by repeated and long term exposure to diesel engine exhaust, and would like to speak to an attorney, please contact us today. The dedicated lawyers and paralegals at Wallace & Graham P.A. in Salisbury, NC are experienced in handling occupational illnesses and have focused on lung diseases cause by occupational exposures.
Coal miners develop black lung disease, or coal workers' pneumoconiosis, through prolonged exposure to the coal dust in a mine's atmosphere. It's a miserable occupational lung disease that forces miners to live out their last days coughing and gasping for air. Families should not have to go through this preventable tragedy. Witnessing a family member slowly suffocated to death is unconscionable. NIOSH says the disease played a role in an estimated 10,000 deaths over a recent 10-year period.
The tragic comeback could been prevented and the numbers, had the responsible parties acted, should have declined. Instead PMF is at levels not seen since the 1970’s. It is preventable but once a miner has PMF the occupational disease is not curable. At best, according to the American Lung Association, “doctors treat the symptoms and complications of the disease to lessen breathing difficulties”.
“Each of these cases is a tragedy and represents a failure among all those responsible for preventing this severe disease," wrote David J. Blackley and Cara N. Halldin, officials with NIOSH, a branch of the Centers for Disease Control.
NC-DENR issued a swine waste management general permit
A new study suggests that nearly half of workers who care for animals in large industrial hog farming operations may be carrying home livestock-associated bacteria in their noses and the bacteria remains with them up to four days after exposure. Researchers said, that the longer the bacteria remain in workers’ noses, the greater the potential the bacteria will be spread to hog workers’ families and communities.
Researchers reported that workers carrying staphylococcus aureus bacteria were antibiotic-resistant, likely due to antibiotics being used to promote hog growth as well as to treat sick animals. Staph cause more serious skin infections or can infect surgical wounds, the bloodstream, the lungs or the urinary tract. Strains of staph such as MRSA, which are resistant to some antibiotics, can be the most damaging because they can be so hard to treat.
The Social Security Administration’s Disability benefits system is fraught with unclear requirements and a long and confusing application process. This is unfortunate as so many truly disabled workers have spent a working lifetime paying into the system, earning these needed benefits. To make matters worse, there are endless amounts of inaccurate and/or misleading information floating around the web. The purpose of this article is to clear up some of the most common myths about applying for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits. Click here to read more.
Seven lawsuits filed against Murphy-Brown LLC in U.S. District Court Thursday allege the Smithfield Foods Inc. subsidiary failed to take steps to reduce nuisance and injury caused by its farms in Sampson and five surrounding counties.
The suits, brought by Wallace & Graham P.A. of Salisbury, N.C. on behalf of 146 plaintiffs, maintain that Murphy-Brown did not take adequate steps to eliminate the “obnoxious recurrent odors and other causes of nuisance” caused as a result of millions of gallons of manure that come from the hogs.
“The plaintiffs have suffered injury and harm as a direct result of the tens of thousands of swine placed near their homes by Murphy-Brown,” the suit alleges.
The hogs have caused “periodic swarms of flies, other insects and other pests” and trucks transporting the hogs are disruptive and pollutant, impairing plaintiffs’ use and enjoyment of their properties, according to the filed court documents.
“Plaintiffs have suffered episodes of noxious and sickening odor, onslaughts of flies and pests, nausea, burning and watery eyes, stress, anger, worry, loss of property value, loss of use and enjoyment of their property, inability to comfortably engage in outdoor activities, cookouts, gardening, lawn chores, drifting of odorous mist and spray onto their land, inability to keep windows and doors open, difficulty breathing and numerous other harms,” the filed complaint notes.
The odor and nuisance has caused embarrassment and humiliation for the plaintiffs.
Read more of Chris Berendt article
Peter Devereaux, former Marine and Golden Gloves boxer, was a tireless advocate for breast cancer awareness. The 52-year-old succumbed to the disease Thursday. [Read more]
Friends, as a consumer lawyer I am frequently shocked by the stories I hear about how far some people will go to cheat others out of money. Some of the worst stories I hear are about those who prey on the elderly. If you have elderly relatives, particularly if they are technologically inexperienced or victims of dementia, be aware that there are criminals out there attempting to prey on them.
Many of the old scams that have been around forever – sweetheart scams, snake oil salesmen, and overcharging – are finding new ways to use the Internet to succeed. This article addresses a couple of scams that we have seen succeeding to a disturbing degree lately: the “809” scam and the Sweepstakes scam.
How it works: The numbers above refer to Caribbean area codes. The scammer uses a variety of techniques to try to get the victim to call a number in one of those area codes. Some call and hang up after one ring, trying to get a curious victim to call back. Some leave a voicemail requesting a call back to one of those numbers. Some try threats or offer prizes, all to try to get the victim to call the number. Then, once the victim calls, the goal is to keep the victim on the line as long as possible.
The number the victim is asked to call works like a 1-900 number here in the U.S. If the victim calls the number, the victim's phone bill will be charged several dollars per minute of the call, some of which ends up in the hands of the scammer. It works because Caribbean phone companies don't have a separate area code, like 1-900, for pay-per-minute calls... any phone number can be set up to work like a 1-900 number does in the U.S.
How to deal with it: Call the victim's phone company and ask them to help you get the charges refunded. They know about these scams and can usually get some of the money back.
Also, complain to the FTC. Here’s their website. The FTC tries to catch these criminals, and the information you provide might help them succeed.
How it works: The victim receives a mailer inviting him or her to send in some small amount of money – usually $5 to $15 – for a chance to win a larger prize of thousands of dollars. Often these mailers come from overseas. Often they use official-looking seals and official-sounding titles to try to seem more credible. Sometimes the victim performs a trivial mathematical task or game that makes the mailer seem more exclusive.
Even in the best cases, where there really is a prize that will be given out, these sweepstakes amount to an extremely unfavorable form of gambling. In a typical Vegas game, the “house” take might be somewhere around 5% to 10%. In these games, it’s not uncommon for the “house” to take 80%. If you’re one of our clients in North Carolina, note that gambling is illegal here, making these games especially dishonest.
But in the worst cases, the victim will later receive a subsequent mailer stating that he or she has “won!” But in order to claim the prize, the victim must send in some additional amount of money – usually thousands of dollars – to cover “taxes,” “fees,” or “expenses.” The scammers will often call the victim, too, sometimes claiming to be held up at customs and needing the victim to immediately wire funds to pay customs duties. It is not at all uncommon for the scammers to impersonate FBI agents, Homeland Security Agents, SBI agents, or other government officials. The bottom line: if someone asks you to send money so that you can claim a prize, DON’T DO IT.
How to deal with it: Unfortunately, these people are very good at remaining anonymous, and it is unlikely that victims will be able to recover their money. Above all, alert your elderly family members to the existence of this scam. Don’t condescend; just let them know that you would appreciate it if they would tell you if they’re thinking of entering any contests like this. Be careful not to make them feel embarrassed about participating in such a scam. The worst cases I see are those where an elderly person is embarrassed to tell their family members about their participation in one of these scams and loses thousands before anyone finds out.
The USPS has mounted an initiative to try to inform people about these scams, and you will probably see brochures on the topic next time you visit the post office. They have an informative website here.
If you’ve been defrauded, you can file a complaint here.
Unfortunately, despite the many calls we get about these scams, we are rarely able to file a lawsuit on behalf of the victim, in part because the scammers tend to be foreign nationals with limited assets. If your loved one falls victim to one of these scams, we wish you the best and sincerely hope that government law enforcement can help to recover the lost funds.
“The state’s high court issued its 65-page majority opinion Friday. Justice Michael Bolin authored the ruling, joined by justices Lyn Stuart, James Allen Main, Alisa Kelli Wise and Tommy Bryan. Justice Greg Shaw issued a separate concurring opinion, and Chief Justice Roy Moore and justices Tom Parker and Glenn Murdock dissented.
“In the context of inadequate warnings by the brand-name manufacturer placed on a prescription drug manufactured by a generic manufacturer, it is not fundamentally unfair to hold the brand-name manufacturer liable for warnings on a product it did not produce because the manufacturing process is irrelevant to misrepresentation theories based, not on manufacturing defects in the product itself, but on information and warning deficiencies, when those alleged misrepresentations were drafted
by the brand-name manufacturer and merely repeated, as allowed by the (Food and Drug Administration), by the generic manufacturer,” Bolin wrote.
On Thursday, August 21, 2014 Wallace and Graham filed 7 lawsuits in federal court in N.C. The lawsuits that were filed are as follows:
1) 4:14-cv-00152-BR, Webb et al v. Murphy-Brown, LLC, filed 08/21/14
2) 4:14-cv-00153-F, McKiver et al v. Murphy-Brown, LLC, filed 08/21/14
3) 4:14-cv-00155-BO, McMillon et al v. Murphy-Brown, LLC, filed 08/21/14
4) 4:14-cv-00156-D, McGowan et al v. Murphy-Brown, LLC, filed 08/21/14
5) 4:14-cv-00157-D, Anderson et al v. Murphy-Brown, LLC, filed 08/21/14
6) 4:14-cv-00158-BO, Farrior et al v. Murphy-Brown, LLC, filed 08/21/14
7) 4:14-cv-00159-D, Gillis et al v. Murphy-Brown, LLC, filed 08/21/14
New research of consumer products has revealed that the cancer causing agent, Triclosan, an antibacterial chemical, is used in Colgate Total toothpaste and is also included in numerous other common products we use every day. We may want to think twice about using these products. Triclosan has been linked to a range of adverse health effects including skin irritation, endocrine disruption, bacterial and compounded antibiotic resistance. It has also been found, as we send it down the drain, to lead to the contamination of water sources and disrupt fragile aquatic ecosystems.
Sounds like the type of chemical we should try to avoid. Triclosan’s success on the consumer market has been aided by the false public perception that antibacterial products are best to protect and safeguard against potential harmful bacteria. Many articles including “Consumer Antibacterial Soaps: Effective or just Risky?”(2007) have shown and concluded that antibacterial ingredients in soaps show no health benefit over plain soap yet the ingredient is still commonly used and marketed as a helpful and desired ingredient. Importantly in 2010, the Food and Drug administration (FDA) stated that, “existing data raises valid concerns about the health effects of repetitive daily human exposure to Triclosan” and announced plans to address the use of Triclosan in cosmetics or other products. To date it has taken no action and FDA is now also facing criticism for not doing its due diligence in studying the chemical before it was approved.
It is promising that, as a direct result of pressure from consumer groups regarding the elimination of Triclosan in consumer products along with the mounting scientific evidence documenting its established adverse health effects, major manufacturers have quietly reformulated their products without Triclosan.
Be sure you know what you are using and research it prior to use. Companies seem to always want to sell it first and research it later.
“Millions of workers are exposed to solvents on a daily basis. Health hazards associated with solvent exposure include toxicity to the nervous system, reproductive damage, liver and kidney damage, respiratory impairment, cancer, and dermatitis.”
Often times workers or individuals that develop health issues related to solvent exposure, either simply do not know of the harms associated with solvents, or are not told their problems are related to this exposure.
The Occupational Safety and Health Agency (OSHA) has available on its website a list of hazardous chemicals. In addition, The Hazardous Communication Standard, 29 CFR 1910.1200, requires employers with hazardous materials onsite to provide the employees with access to Material Safety Data Sheets, commonly known as “MSDS.”
Each product containing hazardous material should have an MSDS. The Hazardous Communication Standard has specific requirements for the information which is to be contained in the MSDS. 29 CFR 1910.1200 (g)(2) Some of these requirements include:
SECTION II - HEALTH/SAFETY ALERT
CHRONIC OVEREXPOSURE (as defined by OSHA recommended standards) MAY CAUSE CANCER WARNING HARMFUL TO THE SKIN, OR IF INHALED OR SWALLOWED
If you are using a chemical or product at work and are concerned about the potential health effects of the chemical, you have the right to request your employer show you the MSDS for that product or chemical. If you choose to review the MSDS, becoming aware of the signs of potential exposure may be very beneficial to protecting your health.
Unfortunately, numerous workers in the United States will suffer both injury and illness as a result of exposures in the workplace. Knowing what chemicals are located in the workplace and which chemicals the individual was exposed to, could help in the care and treatment, and as well as determining the cause of the injury or illness.
If you are concerned you or a loved one have suffered an injury or illness as a result of exposures in the workplace, we welcome you to contact our office for a free consultation, 704.633.5244 / 800.849.5291
Many workers feel worried and overwhelmed when they suffer an injury on the job. They do not want to lose their jobs. They are hurting due to their injury or disease. They are confused about exactly what benefits they are entitled to under the North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Act. The following is a list is of very important initial steps to take when you have been injured. Read more
Diesel engine exhaust has now been definitively linked to causing cancer in humans. A panel of experts working for the World Health Organization (WHO) concluded in June 2012 that diesel exhausts is a potential cause of lung cancer. Diesel exhaust has also been linked to pancreatic and bladder cancer. After a week-long meeting of international experts, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), a part of the World Health Organization (WHO), classified diesel engine exhaust as carcinogenic to humans (Group 1), based on sufficient evidence that exposure is associated with an increased risk for lung cancer. WHO based its findings on research in high-risk workers including railway workers and others industrial workers exposed to diesel exhaust.
Similarly, American scientists have also found an increased risk of developing lung cancer in workers exposed to diesel fuel exhaust. A recent study found evidence that diesel exhaust exposure supports it as a cause of lung cancer in industrial workers and represent a potential public health burden. See The Diesel Exhaust in Miners study by Debra T. Silverman, et al., JNCI, Journal of the National Cancer Institute, Vol. 104, Issue 11, June 6, 2012.
This is very disturbing for the industrial worker as most industries operate a significant amount of diesel powered equipment without providing adequate safety measures for those exposed. Diesel exhaust exposure places the worker at risk for cancer. This risk has been studied and known for years yet many industries have simply ignored the risk and not instituted safety measure or discontinued use of diesel equipment in favor of equipment with safe levels of emission.
For decades, industry has relied upon diesel engines as a “cheaper” alternative to gasoline powered vehicles and ports, railroad yards and powerhouse industries have widely used heavily polluting diesel engines in its trucks, cranes, ships, trains and other equipment. In the process, industry needlessly over-exposed countless workers, drivers, mechanics, conductors, engineers and others to cancer causing pollution in doses sufficient to cause cancer and in doses that are much greater than the public exposure.
All workers with a history of such diesel exhaust exposures who have contracted cancer should look closely at their potential rights.If you have been exposed to diesel exhaust at your current or previous industrial job and have developed lung, pancreatic or bladder cancer you may be entitled to compensation. Even if you were or are a smoker, your lung, pancreatic and/or bladder cancer may still be related to your exposure to diesel fuel exhaust.
Please call us for a confidential no obligation and no cost initial consultation to determine you or your family member’s rights.
Each month, thousands of North Carolinians become disabled from working and apply for Social Security Disability (SSD) or Supplemental Security income (SSI) benefits. Unfortunately, many of those applying for benefits do so without the assistance of an attorney to help them avoid mistakes. Read More
North Carolina laws set very important deadlines for filing your personal injury lawsuit. These deadlines are known in Court as the “statute of limitations” laws. They are called that because they limit how much time you have to sue. After the legally allowed period for you to sue has expired, you as the injured person may lose the right to file a lawsuit to recover monetary damages or other relief, unless a legal exception applies.
A statute of limitations is said to start running at the time a claim “accrues.” Typically, that is the time at which the injury occurs. There are a number of different statutes which apply a limitations period and they can vary from State to State. Thus, it’s important to consult with a qualified North Carolina personal injury attorney to determine which statute applies and preserve you right to recover damages.
Often, the facts of how someone is injured involve more than one State. For example, you might have your home in North Carolina, but you go on a roadtrip into Virginia. If you get in a car wreck while you’re in Virginia, which statute of limitations should apply – the one for North Carolina or the one for Virginia? These kinds of issues can get complicated pretty quickly which is all the more reason to contact a lawyer so that you as the injured victim can know your rights.
To make matters more complicated, there are also special laws called “statutes of repose” that may also apply. A statute of repose can set another time limit on when to bring a claim.
In North Carolina, our legislature has determined that the following time limits generally apply to bringing certain claims in court. Keep in mind that it may be possible to bring multiple claims arising from a single incident. Also, there may be an exception to the standard limitations period that applies to a specific situation. Accordingly this list is for general guidance only and it is important to consult with an attorney. Below are a few examples of statutory periods in North Carolina:
There are many other legal rules that can affect the time period you have to bring a claim. For example, a victim of the asbestos-related disease of mesothelioma may not learn that they have the disease until years after they worked around asbestos. The victim also may not even have known that there was dangerous asbestos where they worked. Therefore, in North Carolina, like in many other States, the Courts have allowed victims to sue after they learned of their disease.
Sometimes, the law will provide for extra time if you were a minor child when the harm happened. Sometimes, the law provides for extra time if the victim did not know at first that they were injured. There are many other wrinkles in the law.
The bottom line is that if you believe that you have been injured or your legal rights have been violated and that you have a claim, you should act promptly to protect your rights.
It is important to speak with an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as your personal injury occurs. If you have any questions about North Carolina’s statute of limitation laws, contact us today for a free consultation at 800.849.5291
On Tuesday June 17, 2014, there was a large ammonia spill at the Smithfield plant in Tar Heel, Bladen County. The leak forced more than 2,000 workers to leave the slaughterhouse and some have reported injuries.
Ammonia is a dangerous and poisonous substance that can come in gas or liquid form. It is a danger at processing plants and can also come off the lagoons and hog farms in affected neighborhoods.
Symptoms of ammonia poisoning can include coughing, chest pain and difficulty breathing, red and burning eyes, throat and mouth pain, stomach pain and vomiting among other symptoms.
The Smithfield Packing plant in Tar Heel has been described as the largest pork processing plant in the world. According to news reports, in the recent incident a tank burst spilling thousands of gallons. Injured workers were taken to Cape Fear Valley Medical Center in Fayetteville.
According to reports, the plant had a prior ammonia leak in 2012. Several workers were hospitalized and government regulators fined the company.
Wallace & Graham is representing nearby neighbors of industrialized swine confinement facilities in North Carolina for claims of nuisance and injury.
Wallace & Graham recently obtained a settlement of $2.4 million in a traumatic brain injury case personally handled by Mona Lisa Wallace, with assistance from the Wallace & Graham personal injury practice team.
This case arose out of a motorcycle accident resulting in severe injuries including facial fractures and a traumatic brain injury. Our client was riding in a motorcycle when he was struck by a woman in a van. He was in the hospital for over a month after the accident.
This case was complicated because our client was on a “special errand” for his employer at the time of the accident. That means there were both a workers' compensation claim and a negligence claim against the at-fault driver in the van.
Both claims were vigorously contested. The driver of the van insisted that our client was at fault for using his blinker in a turn lane but then failing to execute the turn. The employer believed it wasn’t a workers' compensation claim because our client was not on a special errand for his employer.
As the parties argued over who should pay for the damages caused in this accident, our client’s medical insurance began to pay his medical bills.
After about a year of negotiating, the insurance company for the driver of the van settled that part of the case. When the settlement money came in, the medical insurance company wanted to be repaid for the medical expenses they paid out as a result of the accident. Also, the workers' compensation insurance company did not want our client to get any of his money from the driver of the van until the workers' compensation claim was settled.
The Court decided to hold our client’s money in trust until the parties could work out an agreement. Wallace & Graham appealed the Court’s decision and won, meaning our client was allowed to have access to the money he deserved from the settlement.
While often the firm and its clients may agree to a confidentiality provision as part of a settlement, in this case there was not a confidentiality provision. The civil settlement amount in this case was for $2.4 million.
Wallace & Graham then went to Court because the civil settlement was not enough to compensate our client for all of his injuries. We asked the Court to allow our client to receive his workers' compensation benefits without giving the workers' compensation insurance company a credit for the civil money our client received.
The Court agreed that our client was so injured that he deserved both his civil settlement and his workers' compensation benefits.
Shortly after the Court made its ruling, the Wallace & Graham worker's compensation lawyers settled the claim for a confidential amount.
The final piece of this case was negotiating how much our client should have to repay his medical insurance carrier. After several months of negotiations we finally came to an agreement with the insurance carrier to repay a confidential percentage of the funds paid out by the insurance company.
We are pleased with this result for our client. This case demonstrates how our talented attorneys work together as a highly effective team to maximize their strengths and obtain the best possible outcome for the client.
As we continue through our working lives and as we age, there are many kinds of infirmities and medical conditions that can lead to serious disability. Some of the common medical conditions and illnesses that may result in a Social Security Disability benefits claim include:
For more information on Social Security Disability claims, call Wallace & Graham at (800) 849 - 5291 or email us.
Medical evidence is typically required when applying and making a claim for Social Security Disability Benefits. This evidence can include medical records, diagnostic and laboratory reports, and other written communications and findings by medical professionals.
Adequate medical evidence that demonstrates the applicant's inability to work is needed in order to succeed with a Social Security Disability Benefits Claim. In addition, it is important to provide evidence on the issue of “residual functional capacity.” This means in common sense terms, the ability, or lack of ability, of the individual who is making the claim to work or to engage in various activities in light of his or her medical conditions and disability.
The inhalation of asbestos fiber has been associated with chronic lung diseases including asbestosis, as well as various types of cancer including mesothelioma. Asbestos fibers are small and readily inhaled, and are also tasteless and odorless.
In the workplace and in many other environments, individuals may suffer exposure to asbestos. Asbestos can be found in a wide variety of products and locations, including:
Stories about childhood sexual abuse have been gaining more and more attention over the past several years. These cases usually involve a violation of trust, from someone in a position power. The perpetrator often has access to young people and uses this to establish a relationship with the victim. The abuser may be a clergy member, teacher, friend, coach or even a family member. Regardless of who the assailant is, the damage to the child is the same.
If you or a loved one are dealing with the consequences of a sexual abuse, you may be able to file a civil lawsuit for damages in addition to the criminal charges. Speaking to a qualified, experienced personal injury attorney at Wallace & Graham P.A. can help you understand your options so that you and your family can begin to move forward.
The law firm of Wallace & Graham has decades of combined experience in helping North Carolina employees who have been injured by occupational exposure to asbestos with their workers’ compensation claims as well as claims in State and Federal Courts. We have successfully represented thousands of employees to obtain their just legal benefits.
Many of the early cases handled by this firm were for people who worked in asbestos manufacturing facilities or who had heavy exposure to asbestos while working for the railroads or shipyards where there have been an increasing number of Navy veteran mesothelioma cases occurring due to asbestos exposure.
This was soon followed by insulators. Up until the mid 1970’s and sometimes even later, insulators had day-in and day-out exposure to asbestos while installing asbestos insulation on pipes, tanks, valves, vessels, boilers, turbines, and the like.
Up through the late 1980’s and into the 1990’s, few insulators had any restrictions applied to them concerning the removal of old asbestos insulation. As a result, insulators would frequently go into a plant for repair work and remove miles of asbestos insulation.
The removal process generally involved beating the old insulation off with a hammer and then throwing it on the floor to be swept up at the end of the day. The removal process may have created even more exposure to asbestos than the initial insulation.
Even today, despite all the OSHA rules and regulations, insulators are still placed in positions where they are required to have hands on contact with of asbestos containing insulation causing them to breathe in even more asbestos fibers.
The next large wave of employees that Wallace & Graham observed was workers in the construction trade. On thousands of large construction projects, all of the construction trades generally work together. Plumbers, electricians, pipe fitters, millwrights, carpenters, painters, masons, and the like worked side-by-side with the insulators.
During these construction projects, few if any precautions were taken to prevent insulators or members of any other trade from being exposed to asbestos. Workers frequently talked to us about working on numerous construction projects where it looked like they were in “a snow storm” due to all of the asbestos work that was being done.
More recently, Wallace & Graham has represented large numbers of factory workers who are now contracting asbestosis.
Not only are maintenance workers and janitorial staff contracting asbestosis but large numbers of machine operators now have asbestosis. Many of these operators never even worked directly with or had hands on contact with asbestos.
However, given the thousands of miles of asbestos-laden pipe and the continual nature of maintenance and construction in most large facilities, many of these workers had a tremendous exposure to asbestos. In order to prevail in an asbestos workers’ compensation case in North Carolina, there are two main issues that must be proven.
The law could have been written to place liability on the company where the individual had most of their exposure, had their longest exposure, had their first exposure, or the award could be prorated among all of the companies that exposed the worker to asbestos.
However, the North Caroling legislature decided the elements of proof would be too complicated in those areas and decided to make only the company where the individual was last injuriously exposed to asbestos liable for the claim.
At first glance this appears to create inequitable situations. A worker may have had extremely heavy long term exposure to asbestos while working for Company A. If the employee then changes jobs and has only a very short and extremely light exposure to asbestos at Company B, nevertheless Company B is totally responsible for the injured workers’ asbestosis claim.
In actual practice, no real inequity is created because the number of claims averages out for the companies involved. In the example above, Company B seems to have been treated unfairly. However, there will be an equal number of employees who have long term heavy exposure at Company B but left Company B to go to work for another employer who ends up being responsible for the workers’ compensation claim. Thus on an average, no company is unfairly burdened by this procedure.
Workers do not have to prove that they have an actual disability as a result of their asbestosis. The compensation is designed not only to encourage workers to remove themselves from further harmful exposure to asbestos but also compensate individuals for the incurable nature of this disease.
For more information on asbestos and mesothelioma, please contact the Wallace & Graham law firm at (800) 849 - 5291 or email us.
Asbestos is the name given to a group of fibrous minerals that have tremendous resistance to heat. Because of these properties, asbestos has been mined for use in a wide range of manufactured products, mostly in building materials, friction products, and heat-resistant fabrics. Asbestos was widely used as insulation in commercial and industrial facilities.
Many workers have knowingly or unknowingly come into contact with asbestos fibers through their jobs (occupational exposure). Some of the work environments or occupations in which workers are now or were exposed in the past include:
This list of sites and occupations is not exhaustive. One occupation not included above that has shown an increase in mesothelioma cases, are individuals who served in the US Navy. Bill Graham has litigated numerous Navy veteran asbestos exposure cases to help individuals attain the medical and legal help they need.
Regardless what industry you worked in, it is important if you have worked in the above work environments and occupations or have otherwise been exposed to asbestos, you should consult with a physician with expertise in the evaluation and management of asbestos-related lung disease.
Asbestos is hazardous, and can cause cancer. Workers who repeatedly breathe in asbestos fibers may develop a slow buildup of scar-like tissue in the lungs and in the membrane that surrounds the lungs.
This scar-like tissue does not expand and contract like normal lung tissue and so breathing becomes difficult. Blood flow to the lung may also be decreased, and this causes the heart to enlarge. This disease is called asbestosis.
People with asbestosis have shortness of breath, often accompanied by a cough. This is a serious disease and can eventually lead to disability or death in people exposed to high amounts of asbestos over a long period.
Asbestos workers have increased chances of getting several types of cancer including: cancer of the lung tissue itself and mesothelioma, a cancer of the thin membrane that surrounds the lung, cancer of the esophagus, stomach, intestines and other internal organs.
These diseases do not develop immediately following exposure to asbestos, but appear only after a number of years. These cancers can be fatal, while mesothelioma is almost always fatal, often within a few months of diagnosis.
Our attorneys have handled hundreds of asbestos claims before the North Carolina Industrial Commission. These include claims for mild cases of asbestosis and death claims due to asbestos-related cancer.
If you have any questions about these issues, or any other concerns, please feel free to contact our law firm at (800) 849 - 5291 or email us.
A young pregnant mother went to a friend’s house to pick up a video tape. Upon arriving at the house she put her van in park, left the engine running and exited the vehicle. While in the carport area picking up the video, she saw the van rolling backwards. Her four year old daughter was still in the vehicle.
The mother franticly ran down the driveway and attempted to get into the driver’s side door. She became trapped underneath the left front wheel. Unfortunately, she and her unborn twins were killed.
After a thorough investigation, it became apparent that the van did not have any type of independent locking device to prevent the transmission from moving from park to reverse. There was no brake pedal release, push button release, or any other fail safe mechanisms to prevent this type of accident.
Wallace & Graham brought a claim on behalf of the mother’s estate, the unborn children, the husband and the four-year-old surviving child. Due to the effort of our wrongful death lawyers, the case settled for a significant confidential sum at mediation.
Myth #1: If I have insurance I do not have anything to worry about if I cause an automobile accident
TRUTH: When you cause an automobile accident your insurance company is only obligated to pay a certain amount on your behalf. That amount is called the policy limit. In North Carolina the minimum policy limit is $30,000 and therefore, that is the amount of coverage most people have. Unfortunately, many automobile accidents result in damages far exceeding $30,000. If you are the cause of an accident resulting in damages that exceed your policy limit, you may be personally responsible for paying for those damages. That means the injured party can put a lien on your house and even garnish your wages in some cases.
If you are the cause of an accident resulting in damages that exceed your policy limit, you may be personally responsible for paying for those damages.
We encourage you to contact your insurance company today and ensure that you have enough coverage to protect yourself in the event you cause an accident.
Myth #2: If I get into an automobile accident, the other guy’s insurance will pay for all of my medical bills and lost wages.
TRUTH: Just like your insurance is limited by a policy limit (see Myth #1) so is the other guy’s. Therefore, if the at- fault driver only has a $30,000 policy limit and you have $50,000 in medical bills, there is a shortage in coverage. Do not assume that the negligent driver has enough insurance to ensure you are well taken care of if you are the victim of a serious accident.
If the at-fault driver has a house or other assets you can pursue, the shortage in coverage may not be devastating. However, if the other driver doesn’t have any assets you may be left taking care of all the bills his insurance company didn’t pay. Often it comes as a big surprise to victims and their families to find out that the insurance coverage is lacking to fully pay their claim.
The good news is there is a type of insurance that can help in these situations. UM/UIM coverage can be purchased cheaply by anyone with an automobile insurance policy. UM stands for uninsured motorist and UIM stands for underinsured motorist.
UM/UIM coverage provides you with funds when the at-fault driver does not have coverage or does not have enough coverage to pay for all of your damages. This coverage is relatively inexpensive and extremely important in the event you are injured in an accident.
It is important to note your UM/UIM coverage provider gets credit for the insurance carried by the at-fault driver. For example, if you have $50,000 in UM/UIM coverage and a driver with NO insurance hits you – you can collect the full $50,000 if it is needed to cover your damages.
However, if you are hit by someone with $30,000 in insurance - you can only collect $20,000 from your UM/UIM carrier.
Further, please keep in mind that UM/UIM coverage is only available once you have received all of the funds available from the at-fault driver’s insurance.
In order to ensure that you are protected in the event you are injured by a negligent driver, take matters into your own hands. Do not depend on the negligent driver to carry enough insurance to ensure you are well taken care of. We encourage you to contact your insurance agent about UM/UIM coverage today and to periodically review your insurance coverage to make sure it is adequate for your needs.
Myth #3: If I provide my child with a vehicle and make sure he has an insurance policy, I am not responsible for damages if he causes an automobile accident.
TRUTH: Under North Carolina law, parents can be held responsible for the negligent driving actions of their children. If a child lives at home and parents provide the child with a vehicle for general use, then the parents can be held responsible for damages caused in an accident.
Further, thinking of myth #1, if there is not enough insurance coverage to pay for all of the damages, the injured party can seek recovery from the parents’ assets. Keep in mind that a child may still be considered “living at home” even if he is in college if his home address is still considered his permanent address.
In order to protect yourself from an injured party pursuing what you’ve worked for, ensure that you have significant insurance policies on all household drivers, especially young or less experienced drivers.
Myth #4: If an insurance adjuster asks me for a verbal or written statement I should cooperate because they will pay me faster.
TRUTH: You should NOT give any statement to an insurance adjuster before speaking with an attorney. While it seems like the adjuster is trying to be helpful and resolve the claim quickly, the truth is, the adjuster wants to pay you the least amount possible for your injuries. We suggest that you speak with an attorney before you give any sort of statement to an adjuster
Once your statement is recorded, the adjuster can use that statement to twist your words out of context. Further, you might not realize what the adjuster is looking for and you may fail to mention something important.
We deal with adjusters every single day. We know what is on their mind and what it takes to get a claim settled for a fair amount. Of course the adjuster wants to resolve your claim quickly; they do not want you to have time to call a lawyer who knows how to fight for a fair settlement. Please, speak with an attorney before you give any sort of statement to an adjuster.
If you have any questions about these issues, or any other concerns, please feel free to contact our office at (800) 849 - 5291.
If you or your loved one has been injured in an auto accident of has suffered some other type of injury inflicted by somebody else, discuss your situation with the experienced attorneys of Wallace & Graham, P.A. As some of the foremost North Carolina injury lawyers, we have helped numerous families obtain the compensation they need and deserve.
Wallace & Graham’s lawyers are experienced in all areas of personal injury law, including car accidents, defective medical devices and chemical exposure. In addition, they are regarded as highly accomplished worker’s compensation lawyers in situations involving workplace injury.
The accomplished injury lawyers of Wallace & Graham offer a wealth of client information, including description of auto insurance myths.
Wallace & Graham reached a favorable settlement for a 76-year-old woman who slipped and fell on an icy walkway at a popular restaurant food chain.
Our client was traveling from Pennsylvania to Florida when she stopped to get something to eat. Although the premises were an icy mess, the restaurant opened for business and did not clear off the icy walkways.
Our client fell and seriously injured her ankle and back. She had to undergo surgery and had pins in her ankle.
The restaurant denied liability in this matter, blaming our client for trying to walk on an icy sidewalk. However, Wallace & Graham’s injury attorneys worked hard and we were able to reach a favorable settlement at a pre-suit mediation.
This case demonstrates the dedication and thoroughness of our attorneys – the reason why they are renowned as the personal injury lawyers families seek out in difficult situations.
Wallace & Graham represented a young man who was hit head on by another young man driving a rented moving truck.
After being told there was no available insurance from the at-fault driver, Wallace & Graham's personal injury attorneys continued to dig and search for every available insurance policy rather than just believing the adjusters.
Eventually, it turned out that while the at-fault driver had let his insurance lapse, he was still a named insured on his mother’s policy and therefore, his mother’s insurance company paid damages to our client.
In the end our client received compensation from the rental company and the at-fault driver for his badly injured and scarred arm.
At the offices of Wallace & Graham, all injury victims and their families are treated with the highest respect and attentiveness. Our lawyers work together as a team to maximize their strengths as experienced legal professionals. Contact them today to discuss your case and obtain reliable legal advice.
The dedicated personal injury lawyers of Wallace & Graham work diligently to maximize injury victims’ medical insurance coverage.
We are investigating magazines that over-subscribe customers, double-bill for the same subscription, or employ other dishonest practices with customers. Some magazines will send you a renewal notice before it is time to renew, which can fool you into renewing or buying a new subscription while the old one is still running. The customer may end up with multiple subscriptions to the same magazine.
If you believe you have been a victim of dishonest magazine billing practices, call for a free consultation: 1-800-849-5291.
We believe that several popular magazines may be employing this dishonest practice, and we would like to hear from you if you have experienced this.
Please let us know if you have subscribed to a magazine and something like this happened to you. Contact us if you believe that you have been overbilled for your subscription or the magazine tried to open multiple subscriptions under your name.
The North Carolina Court of Appeals issued an important opinion addressing workers' compensation asbestos issues in Childress v. Fluor Daniel, Inc. and Kemper Insurance Co., No. COA03-107. Wallace & Graham attorneys Mona Lisa Wallace and Edward L. Pauley were involved in obtaining this important decision.
The case involved an appeal by the Defendants, Fluor Daniel, Inc., and Kemper Insurance Company, from an Opinion and Award of the North Carolina Industrial Commission that awarded the plaintiff/victim, Jessie Bill Childress, forty thousand dollars for permanent injury to his lungs and an additional twenty thousand dollars for permanent injury to his colon.
Mr. Childress was employed by Daniel International Corporation (Fluor Daniel's predecessor) at the DuPont Facility in Brevard, North Carolina during 1975-78. He was exposed to asbestos while working at the Dupont facility.
He presented expert medical testimony which showed that he had colon cancer and asbestosis in both lungs. This testimony linked these medical conditions to his workplace exposure to asbestos.
On 8 May 1997, he filed a Form 18B alleging asbestosis and seeking workers' compensation benefits. He later amended his Form 18B to include a claim for colon cancer. The Defendants denied liability.
On April 16, 2002, the Full Commission awarded Mr. Childress the sum of twenty thousand dollars for permanent injury to his colon, twenty thousand dollars for permanent injury to his left lung, and twenty thousand dollars for permanent injury to his right lung. The Commission further directed that defendants pay all medical expenses incurred as a result of asbestosis and colon cancer.
The Defendants appealed the award to the North Carolina Court of Appeals. However, the Court of Appeals rejected the arguments. The Defendants argued that the Industrial Commission erred in awarding plaintiff forty thousand dollars for his lung damage. The Court disagreed, finding the Commission’s award of forty thousand dollars for permanent damage to both of plaintiff's lungs was appropriate.
Wallace & Graham, P.A., is honored to have successfully litigated the case described above. Wallace & Graham’s commitment is to helping North Carolina individuals, including personal injury victims with their legal needs. For more information, contact Wallace & Graham at (800) 849 - 5291.
Nearly 80% of antibiotics in the U.S. are sold for use in animal feeds. Despite the established connection between antibiotic overuse and creation of drug-resistant bacteria, large animal factories continue to give hogs and other animals excessive doses of antibiotics.
Persons living near CAFO hog farm operations are at increased risk of developing MRSA (Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus, a drug-resistant bacteria), according to a recent Johns Hopkins University study. Overuse of antibiotics in the hogs kills off the normal Staph. aureus bacteria in the guts, which gives the drug-resistant strains room to grow. These drug-resistant "super-bacteria" then pass in the animals' feces and surrounding environment, infecting those who live nearby or work with the animals.
Wallace & Graham's hog farm MRSA attorneys have been investigating complaints by many people who live near factory hog growing operations in eastern North Carolina and have MRSA infections. In severe cases, these infections can lead to limb loss or death. If you or someone you love has a hog farm MRSA infection which may be linked to a hog farm, call our hog farm MRSA attorneys for a free consultation.
Call now for a free consultation: 1-800-849-5291
MRSA infections in the skin are most common, but MRSA can also affect lungs and other organs. It can be a very aggressive infection, and is especially dangerous because it can't be controlled with drugs.
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