Ehline Law Blog

Jan 3, 2019

The Debate is on to Open More Public Roads to ATVs

ATV Riding accidents
ATV Injury
ATV Injury What are Some Common ATV Injuries? ATV deadly accidents keep occurring on roadways, rather than trails, and in recent years have increased in number. All-Terrain Vehicles (Discussed here), are typically designed for fun and recreation, and riders are always seeking virgin grounds to ride upon. But there is a vast amount of evidence that the vehicles themselves are abnormally dangerous when compared to the two-wheeled bikes that are also used off the road. When I was growing up, there was a debate about three-wheeled ATV's. While discontinued by most makers as modern four-wheeled versions. Despite the more stable platform of four tires, the high ride, and potential to roll and be crushed by the vehicle are more significant than other recreational vehicles. The most current figures for ATV crash fatalities are over 700 people and another 100,000 people injured every year. The data shows approximately two-thirds of the fatal accidents occur either on public or private roadways, instead of on trails. Despite Death Tolls, the Race is For More Riding Areas. Even with the deaths and injuries that have increased over recent years on roadways, there is an effort in states, counties, and towns to permit ATVs on more roads. This began in 2012 when local governments in about 18 states opened specific routes to ATV use, and other states have been considering making this same action. Three states during 2013 have passed legislation to allow authorities to make the determination. They will now decide on whether they would open certain public roadways permitting ATVs on them. Higher Center of Gravity? ATVs sold in the United States  have a warning label. Said label must state that these are not vehicles for roadway use. So don't expect to see them on the freeway anytime soon. This warning label is there to tell potential buyers about the high center of gravity. And the low tire pressure makes it susceptible to tip over or the rider to lose control on pavement. And even though these vehicles can reach highway speeds, they are not required to meet federal safety standards. After all, they are not manufactured for use on the roadway like cars and trucks with safety equipment installed such as seatbelts. So, in my opinion, without a roll cage, seatbelts would make these lumbering four wheelers even more dangerous. The Consumer Product Safety Commission regulates dangerous products, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration oversees traffic safety. The problem is that neither of these agencies has any authority over where the owners of ATV riders use them. There have been deadly accidents that appear in newspapers across the country involving all-terrain vehicle riders. One of the ATV riders killed was 14-year old Jeret Graham in West Texas, on the back of an ATV driven by his 12-year-old cousin. They sped down a paved stretch of country road when the pre-teen lost control of the all-terrain vehicle. The vehicle went off of the road and into a ditch where the 12-year-old fell off and injured his leg. Jeret was killed instantly, when thrown from the vehicle and struck his head on a cattle guard, which is a barrier made from steel pipes. In August, Chase Roush, age 11, died  in an ATV crash when  driving on a Racine, Ohio road. Two toddlers and Andrea Allen, age 22, died in August while on an ATV with three toddlers in Center Point, Indiana. She went into a ditch when veering off of pavement, where the all-terrain vehicle caught fire killing her, her son, and another toddler. Another August fatality was Tony Stacy, age 52, killed in a collision, when his ATV collided with a pickup truck near Bakersfield, California. Joseph Vandini, age 25, died in North Plymouth, Massachusetts, when he lost control of an ATV hitting a curb and tree. The crash threw him through the plate glass window of a tattoo parlor resulting in fatal head injuries. What Do Lawmakers and Advocates Say? In 2013 the lawmakers in Missouri and Michigan gave local governments the power to make decisions about ATV roadway use. The Iowa measure decided that county roads across the state could be opened since rider groups backed them, but local committees stalled this plan temporarily. Local initiatives are moving ahead with the measures proposed. The same actions or similar ones have taken place by local jurisdictions in various states. These include Colorado, New  York, Georgia, Virginia, Nevada, Oregon, Illinois, Maine, Vermont, Utah, Minnesota, Ohio, Indiana, New Hampshire, Wisconsin Kansas, and Nebraska.  Washington State passed a law that applies to seven rural counties. It stipulates the all-terrain vehicles travel at a speed of 35 mph or lower. Proposed ATV Legislation? This legislation permits counties and municipalities throughout the state to allow higher speed limits for ATVs on roadways. Legislative director and senior counsel for Consumer Federation of America, Rachel Weintraub decried state actions. Other safety advocates concern for more ATV accidents on paved roads. The federal Consumer Product Safety Commission acting chairman Robert Adler spoke. He said the agency studied ATV safety and considers new regulations to govern the design of this type of vehicle. Adler said this is important since ATVs are built more powerful, more extensive, and making them more dangerous. Ehline Law Firm sees cases like this regularly. Also, we are riders ourselves. In any event, it is doubtful that California will open more unfamiliar public roads to cyclists. Also, the very fact that so many injuries happen on well-known paths is enough to give any California lawmaker pause. Visit our website here for more info. Citations: ATV Injury Statistics: Despite the high death toll, the push is on to open more public roads to ATVs:  

Jan 3, 2019

Why Did Uber's President Resign?

RIdesharing Expert
Injury Lawyer at work.
Jones Leaves Under Storm of Controversy Injury Lawyer at work. The President of the embattled ride-sharing company Uber stepped down in a haze of accusations. Jeff Jones lasted only about six months in his position. Also, during this period critics and governments accused Uber of various legal and civil issues. Recode covered the breaking news Sunday. Jones wasn't the president of the ride-sharing company for even a year. He leaves under a cloud of controversy. Furthermore, many concerns rose about allegations of drivers and sexual harassment and sexism. Uber confirmed the move, saying that the President didn't see a future at the company. Jones, for his part, said that the firm's path was contrary to his own "beliefs and approach to leadership." The news reports that Jones did not expect such a turbulent period with Uber. Recode called it a "very troubled ship." Jones was a former leader at Target. While his resume was impressive, the rot within Uber was not. Uber faces multiple controversies regarding sexism, assaults and more. An Uber driver attempted to rape a passenger in one case. In another, a former employee accused the company of rampant sexism. The company saw multiple resignations over the last several months. Furthermore, its model is increasingly unstable. Young riders will soon drift away from the poor service. Just the other day, Italy banned Uber as unfair competition. A Graying Landscape Each one of these issues is another nail in Uber's coffin. Companies such as Uber and Lyft will likely survive. But their model is aging. Many riders are sick of inappropriate treatment, a potential for violence, and a lack of recourse. Many cities moved to ban or restrict the practice. For more info about Uber and its issues, keep the dial here. Ehline Law reports on the problems of the day. We profiled the company in the past, including the many suits against them. Their issues will not go away. Press freedom and more light are some of the solutions. In conclusion, be careful when you call that driver or use that app.

Jan 3, 2019

Takata Pleads Guilty in Cover-UP of Bad Airbags

It appears the Airbag maker pled guilty in this case to cover-up related to deaths. A court fined the company $1 billion in this case. Takata, a Japanese auto supplier, did enter a guilty plea. The plea, in this case, made Monday in Detroit federal court. So this fulfilled the requirements of a deal with the U.S. Justice Department that included a guilty plea and a victim's compensation fund. It's a fund for victims and families of the airbags. It's a fund for victims and relatives of the airbag defect. In this case, it stems from the company covering up a flaw in airbags. The airbags resulted in 16 deaths. [caption id="attachment_23007" align="alignleft" width="327"] Airbags are crucial in a crash[/caption] Settlement and Agreement. The auto supplier agreement did include a 1 billion dollar fund. Though, they had to open a compensation fund. And the fund needed to be $125 million set aside for victims and families. It's known at least 16 people died because of the malfunctioning airbags. Of particular concern, another one hundred people suffered injuries due to the failed airbags. Further, three Takata executives did get indicted by the government. But in this case, the charges against the executives were for creating false test reports. The executives did it to hide the airbag defect. And if the airbags had real trials, numerous deaths and injury remained avoidable. The true test results could have saved victims from untold injuries and death. The airbags, in this case, did get installed in dozens of automobile models. It, in fact, led to a U.S. recall for over 42 million vehicles. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration focused on the oldest cars first. Older models recalled by NHTSA first because of the research. In this case, it, shows the airbags become unstable. In this instance, due to the chemicals used in the airbags. Because of a shortage of replacement parts, the auto recall comes in stages. Older model cars have a high risk, of course. The parts, of course, need replacement to avoid the dangerous risk in this case. Expanded Recall. In the first place, Takata resisted expanding the recall. Though, they did so only due to pressure from the NHTSA. Also, the auto supplier followed suit, along with General Motors and Volkswagen.  They hired lawyer Kenneth Feinberg. And he is the attorney appointed to oversee the $125 million compensation fund. In fact, the lawyer has experience creating similar funds too. He oversaw funds for those impacted by 9/11 and the BP oil spill. The oil spill, of course, did happen in the Gulf of Mexico in this case. Volkswagen, though, of course, did use the lawyer to run a fund. Because of problems in fact with automakers diesel engines. Takata will compensate affected automakers $850 billion. In this case, automakers remain severely impacted because of the airbag scandal. It's believed this amount will cover a mere fraction of the loss. The loss suffered by the automakers or, in this case, will suffer. Because of the false airbag tests and, of course, the recall too. The airbags research showed airbags became unstable. In this case, the airbags proved unstable due to certain risks. The airbags have a higher risk in areas with high humidity. The problem's the ingredient ammonium nitrate that became explosive. It's used to inflate the airbags and also the cause of the instability. Risk of Face and Eye Injuries? Takata airbags can inflate in an inappropriate manner. Airbags that inflate improperly can release shrapnel. The explosion sent shrapnel of course into the passenger compartment too. This flying metal and debris have resulted in over one hundred injured and at least 16 killed.

Jan 3, 2019

How to Safely Operate Your Motor Cycle

Rider on the road.
Keeping safe on the road
Safe Operation of a Motorcycle - A Responsibility for Each Rider. Riding a motorcycle is one of the most exciting parts of a person's life. The open road, the wind in your hair, and a jacket make for a beautiful Sunday afternoon. There's never enough to do while riding and never enough miles to travel. There's just something about such a ride after a hard day's work or being out with your friends. Keeping safe on the road Tips for Road Safety. However, riding a motorcycle is more than just revving the engine. In many ways, a walk has an individual responsibility not just for themselves but also to other riders and drivers on the road. There are several tips that every rider can use to keep themselves and their families safe. Perform regular maintenance on your bike. There are no excuses for putting off even necessary work like oil changes. Always operate your bike at the appropriate speed. Take other factors into consideration, including weather, construction, and traffic. Drive defensively, not aggressively. This is especially the case for riding a motorcycle. With a much higher chance of injury or death, don't play Russian Roulette with your safety and life. Keep aware of your surroundings at all times. There are many opportunities to keep all other riders in mind. Other drivers and riders appreciate such cognizance, and it will keep you safer in most situations. Remember that other drivers and riders don't automatically know where you are at any given point. This helps keep you safe while also allowing greater visibility for others on the road. You might just learn something riding in such a way, too! Your safety is in your hands and is an opportunity for a great ride. Use your experience and your knowledge when traveling. You'll be glad that you did. So will the other people on the road. Avoiding hiring a motorcycle lawyer is the outcome. And that can be a good thing.

Jan 3, 2019

What is the Largest Hazard to Motorcycle Riders?

Are Motorcycle Riders at Higher Risk than Traditional Cars for Distractions? Distracted car drivers and motorcycle riders are an enormous threat on the road. Between young people speaking to their friends, drivers on their phones, and other major distractions, they are a leading cause of road deaths. So distracted driving crashes and fatalities are rising. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration data, over 3,000 people were killed by distracted drivers in 2014. With cell phones increasingly ubiquitous, this issue will only grow. Two-wheeled vehicles are at a severe disadvantage when faced with a larger, heavier car, as will be discussed. What are the Risks to Motorcyclists From Distracted Vehicles? Because of the nature of motorcycles, the potential for serious injury or death due to distracted drivers is sharply higher. Being aware of surroundings is a major plus for riders. But only one part of the puzzle is solved by the rider paying attention. Many things can distract car drivers. And these drivers are a clear and present danger to bikers on the roads. Because of this, distracted driving is nearly on par with drunk driving as a cause of injury and death. One of the significant differences is that many distracted drivers don't realize they're doing it. Many car operators use cell phones as though it were second nature. Larger vehicles, including SUVs, are a considerable threat to bikers. Their sheer size and weight make serious injury far more likely. Furthermore, young people make up a significant share of distracted drivers. Teens and new drivers are less experienced. They cause accidents at increased rates. Motorcyclists are over 30 times more likely to die due to crashes than car and truck drivers. Distracted driving will not go away anytime soon. So this is where proper riding technique is so important. It could even save a life. Motorcyclists are an integral part of traffic. Their rights and privileges should be respected, as does everyone else's. If you or a family member were injured from distracted driving, don't leave anything to chance. Call or email Ehline Law today to set up a free appointment to discuss your legal options. Our team is at the ready and works on contingency. We don't ask for a penny unless we recover for you. We will travel anywhere in the state to discuss your case with you.

Jan 3, 2019

Knowing the Yearly Motorcycle Casualties Can Save a Bikers Life

Hurt due to a motorcycle accident?
Statistically Determining the Causes of Motorcycle Accident Injuries. There are many reasons for motorcycle accidents each year. They vary from rider and driver error to issues with faulty parts of maintenance. In many cases, there is an unfortunate combination of factors that cause the crash. Regardless, there are many ways to prevent injury. One way is the education of riders so they can understand the various causes of wrecks. That way, riders can try and steer clear of roadway disasters. a Hurt due to a motorcycle accident? According to the Governors Highway Safety Association, there are over 4,000 motorcycle fatalities on America's roads each year. Furthermore, one of the most common causes of deaths is due to head injury, according to the CDC. Motorcycle fatalities occur at far higher rates than in other automobile accidents. Also, government statistics show that motorcyclists are 37 times more likely to die due to such a crash. Additionally, this is even more shocking, considering that motorcycles are just 2% of all registered vehicles. Unfortunately, motorcycle accident fatalities are on the rise nationwide. Between 1997 and 2008, there was not a single year in which deaths declined. The increase is not due to more motorcyclists. Instead, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the rate increased separately than the increase in bikes. Did You Know Alcohol if the Largest Factor in Motorcycle Accidents? Also, alcohol is one of the most critical factors that cause such accidents, according to NHTSA. As a matter of fact, in 2003, a full 30% of all motorcycle accident fatalities were due in part to alcohol. Drinking and driving is a terrible factor in too many deaths. Awareness can save your life. When riding bikes, there is a special obligation to keep track of your surroundings. Not just your life depends on it, but also other riders and drivers. Keep the roads safe and be an excellent example for the others on it. If you or a loved one became injured in a motorcycle accident, the experts at the Ehline Law Firm Personal Injury Attorneys, APLC are there for you. Led by a motorcycle enthusiast, we understand the causes and effects of such accidents and will stop at nothing to get you the justice you deserve.

Jan 3, 2019

Falling at a Home and Lawsuits - Similarities Between Grocery Stores

man dressed with winter clothes slipping on floor isolated on white background
Full-length portrait of a young man dressed in winter clothes slipping on the floor.
Full-length portrait of a young man dressed in winter clothes slipping on the floor. It is often in the news that someone fell in a store and sued the business to receive millions of dollars as settlement money. We also know how so many people have tried to fake these accidents. But it is not that easy to prove such cases. Furthermore, you might be in the habit of hearing most of the slip and fall cases in stores and other business premises. You have to realize that a homeowner can face such a scenario because of a slip and fall accident. How Could a Homeowner Be Sued for a Slip and Fall? As a homeowner, you have the expectation of taking care of your building. Above everything, you have to make sure that your premises are safe for anyone coming into it. If there is anything that looks unsafe and hazardous, you have to make sure to get rid of it. You could make your inside of the house unsafe for visitors by your actions or by being inactive about some situation. Let's say; there was a rug on your floor that became folded at one corner, sticking out like a bump. If someone tripped on it and incurred injuries, you will get blamed for the accident. But the visiting or victim has to prove that you could have done something about the unsafe situation in your house. You could have gotten rid of it. Sometimes you could become sued for taking an action that leads to an accident. For example: You are soaping the floor to clean it. But you have not put up any signs to warn the visitors of the wet floor. If someone falls on this wet floor, they could easily file a case against you to receive compensation. Winning an Injury Case Means Understanding the Scope of Liability It all depends on the negligence of the homeowner. It is also possible that someone slips and falls in your house but still is not able to sue you for the accident. And even if the home's owner gets sued, he or she could survive the ordeal without having to pay anything in the settlement. Your burden as a victim is to prove the owner or manager of the property was aware of the dangerous condition that caused the accident, or was even in the process of taking care of it without roping it off, for example. And if proved to be negligent, there is a high chance the defendant will end up losing the case. So, in that case, the owners or their insurance companies may end up offering a settlement amount to the victim. What Hurdles Do Homeowners Face? When there are a significant slip and fall case, the homeowner can get into a lot of trouble and face many hurdles. If the defendant loses, their Homeowner's insurance company may have to pay the enormous settlement amount. And depending on the injuries, expenses, and agony, the victim has gone through; it can be a lot. Why is that? First of all, the highest costs of settlement money are medical expenses. When a person's injured and hospitalized, they receive medical care depending on their state of health. And their stay in the hospital, along with treatment, medication, and any long-term care could amount to a considerable total. And it does not matter whether the victim had individual insurance. If a homeowner's proved to be negligent in his/her conduct, the settlement money has to see payment. The victim can also claim reimbursement and compensation for the amount of pain. Pain and trauma a factor? Yes. If the victim has gone through severe mental trauma and physical pain, the compensation amount could rise. Doctor's reports of physical injuries and illness can help the victim a great deal in receiving an enormous settlement amount. In addition to the injuries and pain, there are other types of damages that victims incur in such accidents. Most importantly, they lose their income because they cannot go on their job for as long as they are in bed. The longer the wait, the higher the compensation amount would be. Sometimes, the victim might receive permanent damages. And that could result in a permanent loss of income. Last and the worst is when the victim dies. It is a case of wrongful death, and here the compensation's received by the beneficiaries of the dead. These could be vast sums of money. Getting The Right Homeowner's Insurance If you research online or search in the market, you will find out that homeowner's insurance is available on many different levels. Not all of them are the same, and not all of them cover you entirely. It is best to invest in paying more premiums every month than to pay a massive sum of money out of your pocket for a settlement amount that exceeds your coverage. This amount is very much possible when you don't have adequate insurance in place. When a victim sues, a personal injury lawyer fights the case with vigilance. So that way, defendants could end up with a considerable compensation amount to pay. Make sure you ask all the essential questions from your insurance carriers. Do so before starting your premiums or signing up for the insurance policy. Furthermore, be watchful of the conditions in your house when you are inviting people. Gatherings and special occasions are the most sensitive times when such accidents can take place. Getting In Touch With An Attorney And it does not matter whether you are a homeowner or a victim who suffered a slip and fall accident. The good lawyers are out there can help you find justice. But it is also possible that the homeowner might not have any fault in the whole case. Sometimes people would sue other parties only to gain financial benefits. Sometimes the victim has genuinely been hurt. But it sometimes proves later that the victim could have avoided the situation quickly by being more careful and watchful. Or perhaps the plaintiff delayed seeking medical care and worsened their situation medically? That is not the defendant's fault. And in that case, a court may reduce an award granted by a jury. When you or someone you love has been in a slip and fall accident, get in touch with a personal injury lawyer first thing. First of all, the faster you get in touch with them, the better case they can make for you. Most of all, this increases the chances of you receiving a reasonable settlement amount at the end. Further Reading: Slip and Fall. Accidents: Proving Fault  Findlaw Slip and Fall Injuries.

Jan 3, 2019

What are Your Rights When Your Loved One Gets Killed by an Illegal Alien?

Illegals and flag burning
Burning flag.
Burning flag. Many scared Californians realize the implications of making our home a "Sanctuary State." After all, the death of Kate Steinle sent shockwaves across the country. The 32-year-old died when an illegal alien brandishing an illegally owned pistol, fired it at the ground. But a fragment of the bullet round hit and killed Steinle. The killing by felon Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez in San Francisco in July 2015, found Lopez in the country illegally from Mexico. Unfortunately, there have been many cases of wrongful death and injury to citizens by legal immigrants, with little to no ability to enforce the law or repay the victim. H.R.3011 attempts to handle some of the issues related to the illegal immigrant crime wave. So the text of the bill, otherwise known as the Establishing Mandatory Minimums for Illegal Reentry Act of 2015, can be read here on Congress' official site. Arizona Congressman Matt Salmon introduced the bill in July 2015. The bill remains with the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security. But there's hope it will come to a full House vote this year. Sadly, Nevada Senator Harry Reid has worked hard to block this common-sense legislation that protects citizens. Kate Steinle's death was not the only case that has wounded the country. There have been many cases, especially in California, where illegal immigrants are driving against the law-- and without insurance. Because of these factors, in many instances in which there's an accident, the unlicensed driver will only take off, often not to be found again. There has also been a wave of drunk driving accidents caused by illegal immigrants. Coupled with a high crime rate in California and the troubling rise of Sanctuary Cities like San Francisco, all of these issues require action. Even more alarming is that every time the failed immigration policies of the current U.S. president result in a shooting, the California legislature proposes more anti-Second Amendment laws. (Take the San Bernardino Jihadists as an example - they used illegally obtained guns to kill Americans) The state legislature keeps using its own failed policies as a pretext to make Americans less safe. This dishonest policy has led to a rise in Donald Trump supporters. See The Video Here of Native Mexican Americans Outraged By Thugs Waving Mexican Flags at Peaceful Donald Trump Rally. Recently we have seen a rash of illegal aliens burning American flags and attacking Donald Trump supporters paid by democrat backed organizations like public employee unions advertising on Craigslist. The narrative they are pushing is that California belongs to Mexico, and they have no duty to abide by U.S. law. (See photos here.) However, they get free services here at U.S. and California taxpayer expense. And yes, many do pay some taxes. But much of what they pay in sales taxes, etc., is subsumed by the: Free healthcare A free school for their kids Food stamps and government-paid cell phones, etc. Most illegals do not file federal or state income taxes according to at least one study. What does a person do when a loved one is injured, killed, or assaulted by an illegal immigrant? Typically these illegals are from Mexico and have no assets of which to speak. Have they nothing to lose? To push back, an attorney specialized in both immigration law and personal injury/wrongful death law is a necessity.

Jan 3, 2019

Los Angeles Rated Most Unsafe Location for Pedestrians

Female walking with shopping bags.
Pedestrians are often unaware of traffic collision harm
Pedestrians are often unaware of traffic collision harm The 80's New Wave band Missing Person's said it best. "Nobody Walks in L.A." The LADOT outlines some walker safety issues in the city. The NY Times reported how the city is completely different on foot. The LA Times has a helpful map outlining many of the worst places to walk in the city. The City of Angels is made for car traffic. The auto will likely remain the king of the streets here. Living in Los Angeles has benefits, of course, unless it includes walking. The city is better for big rigs than pedestrians. The city remains filled with drivers. In this case, walking in L.A. can lead to deadly collisions with pedestrians. This is because the typical L.A. driver remains unaccustomed pedestrians. So this places people on foot danger of traffic accidents. Collisions have devastating results for the pedestrian in this case. Los Angeles has a large number of intersections with pedestrians hurt. Areas in this instance with repeated incidents of pedestrians hit by cars. The dangers for walkers, in this case, came out in a new study. The study did, as a matter of fact, show the top twenty locations. The number one place went to LA County. Though, the county did have the most pedestrian deaths nationwide. The study used the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration 2014 data. And this showed a large number of pedestrian deaths too. The county did have the highest number of pedestrians hit too. But, it's over one hundred deaths higher over the next location. In fact, the LA County walker's deaths reached double over the second location. That's double the number of deaths in Maricopa County, Arizona. And this, in fact, did hit number two of counties in the top twenty. Though, Maricopa County includes the city of Phoenix. During the same period, Arizona County had 91 pedestrian deaths. Though 91 is a lot, LA County still tops the danger list. Where are the High Numbers of Pedestrian Incidents? Three other counties in California also hit the list. San Diego County hit number four on the list. Though San Bernardino County made number seven on the list. But, Riverside County, in this case, came in at number 14. Of course, fewer pedestrian deaths happened in these counties than in L.A. Florida's other state with many counties on the danger list. Of course, it doesn't have the amount of danger for pedestrians of the Golden State. Believe it or not, California, pedestrian, and car collisions hit a high rate in Redondo Beach. But, of course, it's another city in Los Angeles County. In this case, it included another LA County intersection. Here, it's the intersection of Pacific Coast Highway and Vincent Street. Twenty Most Dangerous Traffic Locations for Pedestrians

Jan 2, 2019

Nurse Enters No Contest in Elder Abuse Case

Male Doctor Giving the Thumbs Down
A nurse identified as Rebecca LeAn Smith, 39 has pleaded no contest on Thursday in providing substandard care to a 77-year-old Placerville nursing home woman. The allegations are simply shocking. This case is reverberating across the state. The Plea Was Felony Elder Abuse Many know that elder abuse is a crime. But it is also a civil wrong that a victim or their family can sue upon. Smith pleaded no contest to felony elder abuse and agreed to help prosecutors in a criminal case against her former supervisor. We elder abuse attorneys, know that any findings are res judicata, or decided as the law of the case in a future civil action, so this is a real blow to the insured parties. The facts show that they either knew of or should have been aware of the abuse. Smith returned from her Louisiana home to El Dorado County to enter the negotiated plea with California’s attorney general, for her role in 2008 leading to the death of Johnnie Esco of Cameron Park. According to documents Esco’s husband and family visited her daily. Over 13 days, her health rapidly deteriorated at the El Dorado Care Center in Placerville. Esco died at Marshall Medical Center on March 7, 2008. Her family settled a civil lawsuit with the former owner of the nursing home, Horizon West Healthcare, Inc. of Rocklin. So in this case, if there were a general release, that would mean that all parties in a civil action would be dismissed out of any future claims by the survivors. The California Attorney General Threw the Book At Palmer and Smith The California attorney general took legal steps four years after Esco’s death to charge Smith and the former director of nursing Donna Darlene Palmer, 58 with felony elder abuse. The charges included the special allegation of “inflicting great bodily injury.” In cases of victims over the age of 70, this adds five years to a prison sentence. The preliminary hearing for the nurses’ scheduled for Thursday in El Dorado Superior Court, where Smith’s attorney agreed to a deal. The judge granted a postponement in the case. Smith said in a statement after the hearing that she had responsibility. She admitted that she has to own up to her responsibility. She said some things were missed and things that could have been done better. Smith is the mother of five, and that “heart aches.” She will return to Louisiana until she is sentenced in January. Attorney For Palmer Says No Discovery Evinced any Crimes Attorney Patrick K. Hanly of Sacramento, Palmer’s lawyer, said he was surprised by Smith’s plea and there was no evidence from discovery that she committed a crime. Hanly said his client is preparing to go to trial. The plea agreement is a positive step, Deputy Attorney General Steven Muni said, who is prosecuting the case. Don Esco who died October 8th, worked closely with Muni for months after the death of Jonnie Esco, his wife of almost 61 years. He died at the age of 82 after undergoing surgery to relieve chronic back pain. Don Esco is a retired Air Force veteran. He pressed for justice in criminal court for the death of his wife.  Due to his declining health, he was permitted to testify before the tribunal in August. He said in a statement that he was “living on borrowed time” and was concerned he would not see the conclusion of the criminal case. Defendant Smith Is a Working Mother According to Muni, the plea agreement by Smith is by Don Esco’s wishes. He regarded Smith as a working mother, attempting to make ends meet for her children. Muni said Esco felt “considerable compassion” for Smith. Esco’s assessment of Horizon West management and Donna Palmer was entirely different. Don blamed them for his wife’s death. In 2010 he settled for approximately $3 million in a civil suit.  He accused the company of understaffing the facility to maximize profits. In 2011 Horizon West Healthcare Inc. sold 27 of its nursing homes. That sale included El Dorado Care Center, which went to a San Marcos-based chain. They then changed the name of the Placerville facility. The Decedent had Dementia Johnnie Esco had dementia, and the state’s criminal case contends that both nurses failed to provide proper care or to sufficiently supervise staff members, who were caring for Esco, who was sent to the facility in 2008 to recuperate, after being hospitalized for pneumonia. Johnnie Esco died approximately 17 hours after transportation to the hospital, after developing a severe fecal impaction at the nursing home. The hospital staff documented injuries that Don Esco found two days before his wife being admitted to the hospital. And this included bruising along Jonnie’s chin, jawline, chest, and wrist. There was also a wound on her right pinkie finger. 270 Days in Jail Smith is pleading no contest, is the same as a guilty plea and has agreed to 270 days in jail. This is a suspended sentence, in trade for her full cooperation. The special allegation was dismissed against Smith, who at the time was a licensed vocational nurse. According to court documents, Smith agreed to testify against Palmer, if called. The plea agreement includes Smith performing 200-300 hours of community service. She must comply with any decision of the California vocational nursing licensing board. Smith said that she has not worked in nursing since mid-2010, due to burnout and has focused on raising her children. Months ago, Smith agreed not to perform official nursing duties, pending the outcome of the criminal case. Palmer received approval to continue working, but not to provide any hands-on care for patients. She collaborates as a consulting nurse for a group of nursing homes. The Nurse Blames High Patient Caseload? It looks as though the nurses in some of these homes become cynical and hardened. During Johnnie Esco’s stay nursing home, Palmer was a registered nurse and director of nursing at the El Dorado Care Center. Thursday a crying Smith said that she accepts responsibility. However, she said she hada ‘high patient caseload."  She told us that she and the other nurses felt overwhelmed. Ehline Law Firm mourns the loss of the survivors. We also warn the public against these sorts of homes on his portal website.