DID AMTRAK'S ENGINEER CAUSE THE DERAILMENT?

In what Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter called a "disastrous mess" and something he has never seen in his life, investigators are already - preliminarily - looking at Amtrak's Engineer as one possible cause of the derailment. Investigators say the Engineer may have driven the train t106 mph around a curve listed with a maximum speed of 50 mph. The families of the deceased and the injured will want to know:

How did Amtrak allow this to happen?

Did Amtrak have prior knowledge about this Engineer?

Is this the most severe curve in the area and if so why did Amtrak not install equipment like Positive Train Control (PTC) on this section of track?

AMTRAK TRAIN DERAILMENT

The terrifying views of the Amtrak Train Derailment in the Port Richmond section of Philadelphia last night captured a fraction of the chaos and fear of this most recent train derailment. Our prayers and thoughts go out for the deceased, and for the injured, the families, and for the First Responders who heroically sought out survivors despite live electrical wires and twisted metal. As the court-appointed Lead Counsel for Plaintiffs in the Paulsboro Train Derailment Class Actions arising from the Conrail train derailment and toxic fumes release in 2012, legal research indicated that the Supreme Court has stated that derailment means negligence. Too often the railroads are allowed to "police themselves", reacting after the fact when the glare of news camera lighting probes the latest disaster. It is important not to wait months for the NTSB to render its findings. If you or a loved one were injured, I will provide a personal legal consultation about your rights; the consultation is free and if we proceed to file a lawsuit there will be no charge for fees or even for costs unless there is a recovery.  I have offices in PA and in southern NJ. Contact me at 856-988-5513, or  e-mail me at james@jjpettitlaw.com. 

ZOFRAN AND BIRTH DEFECTS

Studies have shown an association between the use of Zofran and birth defects. Zofran is a drug approved by the FDA in 1991 as an anti-nausea drug for patients with cancer treatments or post-surgery. Manufacturer GlaxoSmithKline's ("GSK") drug, Zofran, however, was used "off-label" with pregnant women to aid in morning sickness. This use was not approved by the FDA. Studies associating the drug and or its generic version with birth defects have shown results ranging from birth defects being 30% more likely to twice as likely and up to more than four times as likely. Generic drug manufacturers began selling the drug after GSK lost its patent in 2006.

If you or a loved one took Zofran in the first trimester of pregnancy and the child had a birth defect, please contact me. There is no charge for the consultation, and any lawsuit filed would be on a contingent fee basis wherein you would owe no attorney fee unless there was a recovery. Use the CONTACT function on this website or e-mail me at james@jjpettitlaw.com.

ASBESTOS CONTAMINATES TALC IN CONSUMER PRODUCTS

Seemingly harmless talc may be contaminated with asbestos, a known carcinogen. Talc is itself a naturally-occurring mineral and it is mined for use in many products. Asbestos, also a mineral that is mined, may be found in the earth in close proximity to talc. In a recent study, scientists from three laboratories tracked asbestos-contaminated talc from the location where the talc was mined all the way to a baby powder product, and from there into the lungs of a woman who unfortunately died of malignant mesothelioma. The study was published in the International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health in the fall of 2014. I am currently handling talc cases where the exposure to talc contaminated with asbestos causes mesothelioma. 

BENZENE CAUSES ACUTE MYELOGENOUS LEUKEMIA

Workers in oil refineries in the gasoline refining process as well as many other trades have been exposed to benzene, a colorless, odorless liquid. Benzene is a well-recognized carcinogen. Among other diseases, benzene causes Acute Myelogenous Leukemia (AML). Some estimates of the annual total of health injuries (including death) from benzene state the figure at over 300,000 people per year. Benzene is regulated and/or listed as a dangerous substance by OSHA and by the Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry (ATSDR) and it is high on CERCLA's hazardous substance list. The federal Clean Air Act addresses benzene and the requirements for its removal. If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with AML, please don't hesitate to contact me at james@jjpettitlaw.com for a free, no-obligation consultation about your legal rights and remedies. 

CAN A RELATIVELY SHORT EXPOSURE TO ASBESTOS CAUSE MALIGNANT MESOTHELIOMA?

The science on this issue establishes that even short exposure to asbestos dust can cause malignant mesothelioma. There is even a case law in New Jersey that states that the courts accept that fact, even to the point where a judge may decide to dismiss a case with very short exposure if the disease is non-malignant asbestosis but not to dismiss a case with the same short exposure if the disease is malignant mesothelioma.

WHAT IS MALIGNANT MESOTHELIOMA?

One of the diseases caused by asbestos exposure is malignant mesothelioma. It is a cancer of the pleura (the membrane between the lungs and the ribs) or of lining of the heart or the lining of abdominal organs. The only known cause in the United States is exposure to asbestos dust. It can have a long latency period, where the exposure was in the 1950's, 1960s or 1970s but the diagnosis might not be made until, say, 2015. The next sentence sounds like lawyer pressure - sorry! - but a person diagnosed with mesothelioma should contact a lawyer right away so the lawyer may take the necessary legal steps to protect the rights of the victim in the immediate days or weeks after the diagnosis.

WHAT TYPE OF PRODUCTS AT THE WORKSITE CAN BE DEFECTIVE?

Continuing in the vein of my prior blog, I represented the widow of a man who was burned to death, a horrifying ordeal for all concerned. I conducted discovery and was able to establish that the vessel which exploded into flames was defectively designed. The manufacturer, after two years of what can only be described as 'trench warfare', finally agreed to settle the matter to the client's satisfaction.

SHOULD A LAWYER HANDLING WORKERS COMPENSATION CLAIMS ALSO CONSIDER A LAWSUIT FOR DEFECTIVE PRODUCTS?

Lawyers who specialize in handling their clients' claims in Workers Compensation courts have spoken to me about whether or not there is a viable lawsuit involving defective products. That is sometimes referred to as the "Third Party Claim". I investigate the cause of the injury or of the disease and ascertain whether there was actually a defective product involved. One example is where a plant worker fell from a large machine. It was not clear how that could be a defective product case. I sued the manufacturer and the supplier of the machine, obtained corporate documents and design drawings, and took company personnel depositions. I established that the large machine was itself a "product" and the defendants had a duty to warn of fall hazards and to install safety devices. They fought back diligently, claiming the employer and even the decedent did many things wrong and so it was their fault, not the fault of defendants. I settled the case very successfully. 

CAN YOU HAVE AN ASBESTOS-RELATED DISEASE IF YOU NEVER WORKED AROUND ASBESTOS?

The unfortunate answer is; Yes! I represent many wives and children who did the laundry of the man who was occupationally exposed to asbestos. The family members' diseases range from mild pleural thickening to malignant mesothelioma. There is appellate law in New Jersey that clearly supports the claim that there is a legal duty of defendants to family members; that is, defendants can be held liable for the diseases of the family members, not just the person exposed on the job. (January 6, 2015)