Much has been made of professional football players and head injuries.  The NFL paid millions to retired players who sustained concussions and brain injuries.  Many articles deal with college football players’ head injuries.  However, in The Journal News on May 3, 2016 by Lindsey Tanner, deals with youngsters who suffer head injuries.  Younger football players return to the field less than a day after suffering a concussion.  10% of young players who had a concussion resumed football within a day. A sports injury researcher Zachary Kerr states more sideline medical supervision and better recognition of concussion syndromes are needed.  Mr. Kerr directs an injury surveillance programs at Datalys Center for Sports Injury Research and Prevention, an independent group.  He states younger kids struggle to describe their symptoms and concussion may not show up right away.  The study also found differences in concussion symptoms depending on the players’ age.

The study involved injuries reported by athletic trainers during practices and games from 2012 through 2014.  The data included more than 200 programs at youth high school and college levels.  Youth teams involved players aged 5 – 14 in Pop Warner and USA football programs.  A total of 1429 concussions were reported during the three seasons.   The rate of 2 per 1000 games among youth players and 2 per 1000 among high school players.

An average of about six symptoms occurred with concussions in college and high school players.  Youth players had slightly fewer symptoms and were less likely to lose consciousness although, blackout were rare.  Dizziness, headaches and loss of balance were among the most common symptoms amount youths.  Time away from the sport varied by age.  High school players were sidelined for at least one month, about 20% versus 16% of youth players and 70% of college players.  The point of the article is that concussions among youths are not recognized.  The youths are not sidelined for enough time.

Since January, 2016, The Journal News has published a number of articles dealing with abandoned properties where the legal owner has left property because the property is underwater meaning, the property is valued below the mortgage that is in effect.  The owner leaves the bank that holds the mortgage, starts foreclosure proceedings and the property lays abandoned falling into disrepair and a magnet for children to play in the property or even squatters move into the property.

In an article on Monday, January 18, 2016 in The Journal News by Nick Muscavage and Jon Campbell entitled “Zombie Homes Hurt Values”, bank foreclosed properties have racked up 178 violations and caused surrounding properties to lose an estimated $9.2 million in values.  The report from the State Senate Independent Democratic Conference and Mayor Richard Thomas of Mount Vernon examined 82 bank owned properties finding 64 properties having at least one violation or complaint filed against them by their municipality.

In an article on Wednesday, January 20, 2016 by Akiko Matsuda in The Journal News “Zombie Homes Send Chills Through Lo Hud Communities”.  The article refers to the above article and State Senator Jeff Klein and Mount Vernon Mayor Rich Thomas stated properties across Westchester assessed a nearly $20 million was lost in neighborhood home values.  “It becomes not only an eyesore in the neighborhood, an abandoned house is a magnet to vandalism”, according to Haverstraw Town Supervisor Howard Phillips.

We previously blogged about bicycle lanes on September 28, 2015 and the errors both drivers of cars and cyclists make.  A recent article in The Sunday Journal News on July 24, 2016, was published and written by David McKay Wilson revisits bicycle accident and fatalities.  It was announced that officials in Rockland County were moving forward with construction of a quarter mile bypass along Route 303 to keep cyclists off the narrow four lane road.  This is at a spot that Robert Carl Pinchert died when a truck hit his bicycle.  The author of the article visited sites of cycling deaths throughout the lower Hudson Valley.  He wanted to see whether road conditions had improved by the death sites.  He also wanted to see about bike safety as cycling remains a popular recreation pursuit.

Rockland County is a known area that is a growing mecca for many New York City cyclists.  Commuters are also using bikes to get to work or to get to the train station.  Many Latinos use bikes to get to work in Rockland County or a sole means of transportation.  According to the League of American Bicyclists, the number of bicycle commuters in the US grew 62% from 2000 – 2013.

The author got involved in bike advocacy for a dozen years while on the Westchester Cycle Club.  He also led the Bike Walk Alliance of Westchester & Putnam Counties from 2008 – 2012.  His group installed ghost bike memorials at Route 119 & Aqueduct Road in memory of Merrill Cassell, 66 of Greenburgh.  She was sideswiped by a Westchester County Bee Line bus.  These bike memorials are painted white and serve as a reminder about the dangers of bike riding and signify places that cyclists died.

Medical errors are the third leading cause of deaths in the United States after heart disease and cancer.  According to an article by Steve Sternberg entitled “medical errors are third leading cause of death in the U.S.” published on May 3, 2016 at www.aol.com article.  2016 medical errors caused at least 250,000 deaths every year.  Dr. Martin Makary, a professor of surgery and health policy at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine stated “its medical care gone awry”.  The magnitude of the death toll, 10% of the U.S. deaths annually is striking in an era dominated by efforts to reform the health care system.  Patients’ safety efforts has failed to gain traction because there is no systematic effort to study medical errors.  Dr. Makary states “medical errors leading to a patient’s death is an unrecognized epidemic”.

Two decades after “to err is human”, a report published by The Institute of Medicine, a quasi-public think tank made up of leading scientists, estimated that 44,000 to 98,000 people die in U.S. hospitals each year.  A new estimate is drawn from more recent studies that shows the number may be much higher.  A report published in The Journal Health Affairs in 2001 that just over 1% of hospital patients die each year because of medical errors.  35 million people are hospitalized each year would translate into 400,201 deaths per year, more than four times the original.  The IOM estimate of 44,000 to 98,000 people die in US hospitals.

The John Hopkins team used evidence from their studies that analyzed medical death data from 2000 to 2008 using this data they were able to calculate a mean death rate for medical errors in US hospital which calculated that 251,454 deaths resulted from medical errors.  Dr. Makary and Dr. Daniel of John Hopkins called for reform that would improve the reporting of medical errors.  These two doctors in a letter of May 1, 2016 have asked The Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention to rank medical errors on the list of leading causes of death in the U.S.  They also asked The CDC to alter death certificates so doctors and medical examinations and coroners can routinely report medical errors that contribute to a patient’s death.  The letter to the CDC also stated “it is time for the country to invest in medical quality and patient safety”.  The CDC acknowledged that errors are under reported and that there are ways to capture the data using death certificates to report medical errors.  Dr. Makary concludes that medical error research is “underfunded and under reported” and this prompted him to embark on an analysis that would elevate fatal mistakes to their proper place near the top of the list of all causes of death.

In 2015, there were 51 million automobiles recalled by their manufacturers.  In an article in USA Today in January, 2016 by Nathan Bomey, he points out that a recall of 51 million plus vehicles in 900 separate recalls in 2015.  These statistics was published by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, NHTSA.  These recalls edged the previous record of recalls in 2014.  The NHTSA announced a yearlong digital advertising campaign dubbed “safe care save lives” to encourage consumers to get their recalled cars fixed quickly.  The new record, according to the article, followed a series of industry scandals including the General Motors ignition switch defect, The Volkswagen emissions cheating and Takata’s exploding air bags.  The NHTSA has made major efforts in the last year to improve the process for identifying vehicle defects according to Rosekind from NHTSA.  He also expressed concerns for potential and significant increase in roadway deaths in 2015.  The number of deadly accidents rose in 2015 after hitting an all-time low of 32,675 death in 2014.

One of the most recalled vehicles was as a result of Volkswagen emissions scandal according to an article published in USA Today by Nathan Bomey on September 23, 2015.  This initial article  about the emissions scandal claimed it affected 11 million vehicles worldwide and early estimates indicated the recall would cost $7 billion.  The emissions scandal qualifies as one of the most expensive automobile scandal.  This scandal undermined Volkswagen’s diesel engineering although, Volkswagen’s transgression did not kill anyone, it has created distrust   among consumers.  Investors crushed Volkswagen’s stock driving shares down 20% and lead to the CEO of Volkswagen, Michael Horn’s resignation.  Volkswagen brand sales fell 10% from September, 2015 through February, 2016.

In an article in USA Today Money on April 23, 2016 by Nathan Bomey, claimed the estimated cost of VW’s emission scandal had escalated to more than $18 billion more than double the amount Volkswagen estimated in September, 2015.  Volkswagen had recorded a one-time charge of $18.2 billion in 2015 to cover the cost of the diesel scandal including “pending technical modifications and customer related issues”.  Volkswagen swung from a 10.8 billion euro profit in 2014 (about $12.4 billion) to a 1.8 billion loss in 2015.

The Walt Disney Co. – Disney World in Orlando will face a legal fight following the alligator attack that grabbed and dragged a two year old from Nebraska, Lane Graves at the Lagoon at the Grand Florida Resort that resulted in the 2 year old’s death.

In an article in USA Today – Money on June 20, 2016 by Roger Yu entitled “Disney may be in for more trouble” claims Disney “could face claims of gross negligence after tot was killed by alligator”.  According to an interview with a trial lawyer, Dan Cytryn, a law firm in Miami, states Disney’s exposure is phenomenal.  By Florida law and in most states, hotel and motel operators have a “duty to protect guests from unreasonable risk of physical harm”.  The Graves family could look to Disney to sue the media, theme parks and resorts giant.  The suit would question the companies’ policies about wildlife handling at the resort.  The lawsuit would be even stronger against Disney in that they had knowledge that alligators are rampant in the waters of Florida and Disney had prior knowledge about the alligators.  Further, by Florida law and in most states, a 2 year old is “non-sui-juris” meaning a child at that age cannot be responsible for their acts.  By Florida comparative negligence statute, the infant has zero comparative negligence (cannot be held responsible for being near the shore).  No swimming signs were posted at the lagoon’s beach but no signs warning of alligators were present.  The child was not swimming and his parents should have been made aware that alligators were in the lagoon and warn of the alligator’s potential danger.

The article points out “if they have knowledge (of alligator’s presence) they have to pass it on to customers. If they fail to do so, it’s considered negligence or failure to conduct yourself in a reasonable matter”.  However, Disney’s case could be under a higher legal standard “gross negligence” according to attorney Branson of Dallas.  “It appears to me that it’s heedless and actual disregard of the safety and welfare of this child and families to merely have a sign up that says ‘no swim’”.  If Disney is found guilty of gross negligence then the jury will not only award damages for the infant’s life and pain and suffering (dying by alligator bites and drowning) but can add to this award by accessing punitive damages against the resort.  An amount to punish Disney in addition to compensatory damages for the child’s pain and suffering and death.

A new practice by nursing homes of burying a mandatory arbitration clause in the admission records has now been held legal by the case brought in the U.S. Supreme Court of Marmet Health Care Center v. Brown, et al in February, 2012.  Long term care facilities across the country are amending their admission agreement to provide that all disputes be resolved by binding arbitration.  The nursing homes stand to benefit by resolving disputes at arbitration.  The clauses force the patients to waive their right to a jury trial.  This benefit for nursing homes takes away the sympathy factor of juries.  The nursing homes claim from an economic standpoint that arbitration is cost-effective and an efficient means of resolving disputes while lawsuits take years to resolve.

In an article in the Westchester Business Journal published in Westfair Communications by Lori Semlies on March 24, 2016, points out journals and newspapers have expressed outrage over forcing people who enter a nursing home to waive their right to a jury trial.  Those nursing homes take advantage of the elderly who have diminished mental capacity by hiding or concealing an arbitration clause in an already long and complex admission documents.  Even family members of these elderly are too distraught to read or even understand the document they are signing.  Opponents of this practice claim that these admission forms become contracts that are binding.  However, the patient who signs must have the mental capacity to enter into the contract.

The Federal Arbitration Act (FAA) was intended to promote swifter and more economical resolutions of lawsuits.  The Marmet case in the Supreme Court of the United States declared that FAA pre empty any state laws or public policy that states arbitration cannot be used to resolve personal injury lawsuits.  The party moving to enforce arbitration must establish certain Federal procedures and demonstrate that the contract is procedurally and subsequentially conscionable.  The contract cannot be one sided or adhesive.  There must be equal bargaining power on both sides and the parties entering the contract must have the capacity to do so.