December 17, 2008
An insurance company with a potential $25 million liability from a 2007 Houston office fire is claiming smoke that killed three people was “pollution” and surviving families shouldn’t be compensated for their losses since the deaths were not caused directly by the actual flames.
Great American Insurance Company is arguing in a Houston federal court that the section of the insurance policy that excludes payments for pollution — like discharges or seepage that require cleanup — would also exclude payouts for damages, including deaths, caused by smoke, or pollution, that results from a fire.
“This is shocking. It’s an extraordinary effort by an insurance company to avoid paying on a contract for insurance,” said Randy Sorrels, who represents several family members in wrongful death lawsuits from the fire in a six-story atrium building on the North Loop.
Great American has asked U.S. District Judge Lee Rosenthal to find that the deaths caused by the smoke, fumes and soot from the March 2007 fire set by a nurse working in the building will not be covered by the policy because there is a specific exclusion for pollution and it mentions smoke, fumes and soot.
Read Article: Houston Chronicle
Employees of the Hilton Los Angeles Airport filed a lawsuit Tuesday alleging that the hotel’s workload did not allow for breaks and that workers were not paid for all of their hours, in violation of labor laws.
The lawsuit seeks class- action status for roughly 1,500 current and former LAX Hilton employees. Hilton spokesman Ruben Gonzalez declined to comment, saying the hotel had not yet received the lawsuit.
Adela Barrientos, a housekeeper at the hotel for 10 years, said she was required to clean, straighten up and restock 16 rooms in an eight-hour shift. She said she gave up rest breaks other than a 30-minute lunch so that she could finish her work. Even without breaks, she said, it’s tough to get it all done.
“It’s practically impossible,” she said. “The job is exhausting. At the end of the day, you’re spent.” Barrientos was one of four hotel employees who spoke at a news conference arranged by Unite Here, a hospitality industry union that has been working for years to organize employees at the hotels in the airport corridor.
Read Article: Los Angeles Times
The son of an 89-year-old dementia patient who died after being found on a hospital’s roof has preserved the right to sue the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.
Attorney Rob Peirce says Roderick Diggs wants to know exactly what led to the death of Rose Lee Diggs on Dec. 3. She died after being found on the roof of UPMC Montefiore (mon-teh-FEE’-or) hospital in a gown and slippers in 23-degree weather.
Police haven’t determined if criminal charges will be filed. They believe Diggs wandered from her room the night before, through a fire door and up some steps to a rooftop door.
The document filed Tuesday in Allegheny County doesn’t detail allegations, but preserves the right to file a complaint in the future.
A hospital spokesman says UPMC is cooperating with investigators.
Read Article: Philadelphia Inquirer
A drug company supplied phony advocacy groups, trumped-up scientific claims and used Texas mental health officials as pitchmen so a top-dollar schizophrenia drug would get on the state’s Medicaid list, a lawsuit filed by Texas officials alleges.
According to documents filed Friday in a district court in Travis County, the state wants to recover millions of dollars spent on the drug Risperdal through Medicaid. The lawsuit alleges New Jersey-based Janssen Pharmaceuticals, part of Johnson & Johnson, defrauded the state repeatedly over the past decade.
The lawsuit also alleges the improper influence-seeking and controversial medical protocols that determine which drugs are given to adults and children in state custody.
Doubts have been raised about the drug in recent studies, but the company denies doing anything improper and is fighting the suit. Kara Russell, a spokeswoman for the company, said Janssen is cooperating with the investigation, but that the allegations are untrue.
“We are committed to high ethical standards and responsible behavior,” she said in The Dallas Morning News’ Tuesday editions. “We take this obligation very seriously,”
Texas learned of the case from Pennsylvania whistle-blower Allen Jones.
Read Article: Houston Chronicle
A lawsuit naming Independence and the city’s Police Department has been filed in the November 2007 death of a teenager killed by a driver who was fleeing police.
Christopher Cooper, 17, a student at Truman High School, died after being struck by a car traveling about 90 mph near Noland Road and Osage Street in Independence. Cooper was on a bicycle. Independence police were pursuing the car.
The lawsuit filed this week in Jackson County Circuit Court is twofold, said Sean Pickett, the Kansas City lawyer who is representing Cooper’s parents, John and Cheryl Cooper.
The lawsuit alleges that Independence and its Police Department are liable for not following the city’s pursuit policy, Pickett said. The lawsuit also alleges that police and other emergency personnel failed to properly assess Cooper’s injuries.
Read Article: Kansas City Star
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