If You Smoke an E-Cigarette, You Might Break Your Cheek Bone, Suffer a Concussion, Lose a Finger, Or Require a Skin Graft

Posted in Legal Updates, Product Liability

If you’re from the Philadelphia area and you’re a major soccer fan, it’s possible you’ve heard of Daniel “Danny” Califf.  Mr. Califf is the former captain of the Philadelphia Union team in Major League Soccer.  However, you probably have not heard of Mr. Califf’s injuries, which he suffered as a result of an exploding E-Cigarette.

Unfortunately, Mr. Califf was in the process of using an E-Cigarette when it exploded in his face, which caused first and second degree burns, a concussion, and a fractured cheek bone.  Mr. Califf filed a lawsuit against in the state of California as a result of injuries he suffered as a result of an E-Cigarette.  And he’s not the only one.   In two other lawsuits, one individual injured by an exploding E-Cigarette lost a finger, and another received burns so severe that a skin graft was required.

After the E-Cigarette exploded, 23-year-old Vincent Garza’s tongue was burned so severely that it necessitated 2 surgeries and left him with a permanent lisp.  He also required surgery for his index finger, which was eventually amputated at the knuckle.  There was no warning that something might be remiss with the E-Cigarette, as Mr. Garza simply went to use it, pressed a button, and the device exploded.

This was unlike another, separate E-Cigarette lawsuit, filed by Jennifer Ries.  She won this recent case after an E-Cigarette battery exploded in her car after it began to leak a liquid.  Mr. Garza received no such “warning” that there would be a problem with the device.

Meanwhile, yet another E-Cigarette user, Gregory Phillips, suffered injuries in yet another way.  Mr. Phillips’ E-cigarette exploded, not while he was in the process of using it, but while it lay in his pocket as he was walking down the street.  Phillips suffered burn injuries to his left leg and subsequently required a skin graft.

Mr. Califf, Mr. Garza, and Mr. Phillips all were using a “safe” E-cigarette and subsequently suffered serious and unpredictable injuries.  Despite this, the E-cigarette industry remains unregulated and can be described as nothing short of dangerous.

As it is becoming very clear, E-Cigarettes are not safe, yet money is still poured into this budding billion dollar industry anyway.  I personally have yet to see any E-Cigarette marketing materials that warn of potential harm, including fractured cheek bones, skin grafts, concussions, or the loss of a finger.  As the examples above show us, these injuries can be very significant and should not be ignored.  Here at Stark & Stark, we recognize the dangers associated with E-Cigarettes.

If you are injured as a result of an E-Cigarette, it is recommended that you seek experienced legal counsel immediately.

Are E-Cigarettes Really a Safe Alternative to Smoking?

Posted in Injury Law, Legal Updates, Product Liability

The answer is short: no.

At some point in every smoker’s life, we are told that smoking cigarettes are not safe and they will damage our health over time. We are told that cigarettes will damage our teeth, our lungs, and cause cancer. We are even told that the cigarettes will kill us. I myself am told this quite frequently. And to be fair, the individuals telling us this are not incorrect.

When you hear these statements from a well-being friend or relative, there is often an instinct to stop and consider the possibility of quitting. I, too, have considered quitting on many occasions, but I’m never sure where or how to begin. Quitting cold turkey isn’t an option, because that’s too difficult. However, on those occasions when I stop by the local convenience store to pick up cigarettes, I’ll inevitably walk by the E-Cigarette section.

There’s a certain lure involved with the E-cigarettes. I have tried them, and at the time I justified the purchase by reasoning that it was not an actual cigarette, and therefore must be safer. You shouldn’t believe this “safer” reasoning, however—that’s what the E-Cigarette companies want you to believe, but new evidence suggests otherwise.

In fact, the safety of an E-Cigarette was recently questioned in a civil lawsuit in California. While headed to the airport with her husband, Mrs. Jennifer Ries made the decision to charge her E-Cigrette via the USB port in her vehicle. While it was charging, Mrs. Ries observed a liquid dripping from the battery, and stated that it smelled like nail polish remover. She claimed that, without further warning, the E-cigarette battery exploded, and caused chemicals from the battery to land on her skin. As a result, she suffered from second degree burns to her legs, buttocks, and hands. These burns also resulted in permanent scars to her body.

During the trial, evidence was presented which showed that the E-Cigarettes failed to warn consumers that plugging into a USB port with too much voltage could cause the chemicals in a lithium ion battery to explode. The jury returned a $1.9 million verdict on behalf of the Ries family.

Unfortunately, what happened to Mrs. Ries can happen to any of us. The E-cigarette industry has only been around since 2007, and still remains largely unregulated. These E-Cigarette manufacturers want us to buy into their logic: it’s not a cigarette, so it must be safe. The Ries’ case is the perfect example to prove that this is false logic.

If you are injured as a result of an E-Cigarette, it is recommended that you seek immediate medical attention and experienced legal counsel.

Be Aware of Potential Hazards at Outdoor Parties & Events

Posted in Injury Law

Even though autumn is upon us, the ongoing pleasant weather often allows us to continue to have parties, picnics and carnivals outdoors for at least another few weeks until the temperature drops. While these events are typically fun and enjoyable, it is important to note that accidents can happen at such events, and sometimes the consequences are quite serious.

In one such recent accident, a man was attending his wife’s company picnic in New Jersey. The company holding the picnic had rented a Eurobungy bungee-trampoline device for the event. The device consists of a trampoline base and a harness with bungee cords on each side, which are attached to poles extending from the trampoline’s base. A user is strapped into the harness, hoisted into the air, and encouraged to jump on the trampoline while holding onto the bungee cords. From there, the operator of the device can control how high the user is lifted into the air.

While the rider was descending from a jump, the operator began lifting him again before his feet had a chance to touch down on the trampoline. As a result, the rider’s left arm took the full force of his descent. The man immediately felt severe pain in the arm and was diagnosed with a hyperextension injury and a rupture of the distal biceps tendon, which required surgery to repair. He then had physical therapy and incurred about $8,500 in medical expenses. He continues to suffer from pain, weakness and a reduced range of motion in the arm. He also has two large scars on the arm from the surgery.

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Tort Law and the Judicial System

Posted in Injury Law, Workers' Compensation

Many people know who Ralph Nader is as a political activist, but few would know that he recently opened a Tort Museum in Connecticut. “Tort law” is a legal phrase that gets tossed around a lot, but not many people understand what it truly entails. Tort law is the part of our judicial system that governs claims for wrongdoing, whether the wrongdoing is something done by a corporation or an individual. If you are injured by the acts or omissions of big business, or by the negligent driver of a car that ran into you, you have the right to participate in tort law by filing a law suit in the appropriate court.

This summer, Mr. Nader opened a museum in Winsted, Connecticut to address the history of tort law and the important cases where consumers have been helped by someone filing a law suit against “big business.” Recently, he participated in an interview where he stated that the judicial system in the United States is the only part of our government where one individual acting on their own can change the way business is done.

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Bicycle Accidents with Vehicles and Pedetrians

Posted in Bicycle Injuries, Motor Vehicle Accidents

I learned recently that bicycling has increased by 60% over the past 15 years. Once considered an activity associated mainly with exercise or with leisurely rides on summer vacations, biking has become a commonplace mode of primary transportation for many people in cities and suburbs across the country. With this increase in usage, there has also been a marked increase in the number of serious collisions that have occurred involving bikes and motor vehicles as well as collisions that have occurred with bikes and pedestrians.

In this blog, I will focus on a recent case where a cyclist collided with a truck that was parked on a roadway.

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Stark & Stark Shareholders Vicki W. Beyer and Marci H. Jordan Co-Authored NJ.com Article

Posted in Stark News, Veterans Disability Benefits

Shareholders Vicki W. Beyer and Marci H. Jordan, both members of the Workers’ Compensation Group, co-authored the article Veterans Disability Benefits: Navigating the VA’s Complex System, which was published on NJ.com on October 9, 2015.

The article explains the appeals process for denied VA benefits. Veterans who have served our country and are now suffering from disabilities can apply to the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to receive benefits and compensation for the injuries they incurred during their service. Unfortunately, the process can be complicated and overwhelming, and sometimes veterans are denied benefits or awarded benefits at an incorrect rating as a result. If this happens, there is an appeals process, which can be equally convoluted. A veteran can increase his or her chance of succeeding on an appeal by selecting an attorney to represent them.

That being said, the most important aspect of this is that the attorney chosen should be accredited by the VA. “The accreditation process includes screening attorneys for their character and fitness, and requires them to be trained in representing disabled veterans before the Department of Veterans Affairs.”

Furthermore, “[i]t is also important to note that, as a veteran, the individual will not have to pay his or her attorney until the end of their case, and only if he or she is awarded disability benefits.”

You can read the full article by clicking here.

How Long Do I Have to File a Claim for a Work Related Injury?

Posted in Workers' Compensation

On August 28, 2015, in the case of Rajpaul v. McDonalds Corp (A-4681-13T4), the Appellate Division reversed the Workers’ Compensation Judge’s order, which had dismissed Mr. Rajpaul’s claim for failure to file a workers’ compensation claim within the two year statute of limitations period. The facts of this case reveal that Mr. Rajpaul worked in maintenance for McDonalds Corporation from 1995 through 2005. Beginning in 1995, he began to experience pain in his shoulders, wrists and elbows. He was seen for shoulder pain at least four times over the years, and in 2001 he was diagnosed with bilateral bicipital tendonitis of the shoulders, which was resolved with treatment. During this time, he never filed a workers’ compensation claim for the tendonitis.

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Slips and Falls and Vacations

Posted in Slip and Fall

Throughout the year many of us will be traveling with family and friends on vacations from work and the everyday grind. Most of us will stay in hotels or rental homes while vacationing. While you should not get bogged down worrying about the possibility of getting into an accident or mishap while on vacation, it’s still worth noting that accidents do happen, and safety should always be a top priority.

In one recent case, a hotel guest slipped and fell on water surrounding an ice vending machine. The injured guest was later diagnosed as having a bulging disk at L5-S1 with facet joint hypertrophy and lumbar strain. This caused persistent low-back pain with radiculopathy. The pain caused the woman to develop an altered gait, which allegedly caused her to slip and fall down the stairs at her boyfriend’s home about two months later, further worsening her injuries. She underwent a series of 17 pain management injections and physical therapy treatment. She continues to suffer pain in her back, which is worse when she walks or stands for long periods of time.

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Stark & Stark Shareholders Published on NJ.com

Posted in Stark News

Stark & Stark Shareholders Bruce H. Stern and Michael G. Donahue, III, both members of the Accident & Personal Injury Group, co-authored the article, The Dangers of Working in the Construction Industry, which was published by NJ.com on September 10, 2015.

The article warns of the many pitfalls that construction workers can face, particularly if contractors fail to maintain safe worksites. In 1979, the New Jersey Supreme Court determined that a worker’s negligence could not be used to reduce the responsibility of the designer and manufacturer of the defective product, even if the worker fails to recognize and/or continues to work with the defective product. This was established in Suter v. San Angelo Foundry & Mach. Co., 81 N.J. 150, (1979).

They also discuss the more recent case, Fernandez v. DAR (2015), in which the New Jersey Supreme Court “was recently asked to declare that the rule it enunciated in Suter applies to preclude the injured employee’s ‘negligence’ in a workplace construction injury case.”

Mr. Stern and Mr. Donahue both served as amicus curiae for the case, on behalf of the New Jersey Association for Justice (NJAJ). The NJAJ argued that construction workers have no meaningful choice to deny perceived dangers in the workforce, and that “comparative negligence must not be available to those [contractors] who violate safety standards and expose workers to harm.”

You can read the full article by clicking here.

Does the Workers’ Compensation Court have Exclusive Jurisdiction to Decide Issues of Employment?

Posted in Workers' Compensation, Wrongful Death

On June 11, 2015, the Supreme Court of New Jersey reversed the Appellate Division’s decision in the Estate of Myroslava Kotsovska v. Saul Liebman case and held that the trial court was correct in awarding wrongful death benefits to the estate. In this case, Ms. Kotsovska was hired by Saul Liebman’s daughter to provide in home care for her father, who was 89 years old. She agreed to cook meals, do laundry and do light housekeeping in exchange for being paid $100 per day, cash. There was nothing in writing to formalize the agreement between the parties.

On December 8, 2008, Liebman and Kotsovska were running errands and stopped for lunch at a local diner. Liebman was driving. He dropped Kotsovska off on the sidewalk in front of the diner while he pulled into a parking space in front of where she was standing. Liebman accidentally pushed the accelerator, causing the car to pin Kotsovska against a wall. Unfortunately, she died from her injuries.

Ms. Kotsovska’s estate filed a wrongful death suit against Mr. Liebman, but did not file a workers’ compensation claim. Liebman argued that the case should be transferred to the Division of Workers’ Compensation for a determination of Kotsovska’s status as an employee versus an independent contractor. Mr. Liebman’s homeowner’s carrier stipulated that the accident arose from Kotsovska’s employment.

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