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Producer Seriously Injured in “PunkinChunkin” Explosion

Explosion

A television producer sustained life-threatening injuries when an air cannon used to project a pumpkin through the air exploded, striking her in the head with a metal plate. Susan Dakessian, 39, was in Delaware on November 6, covering the 2016 World Championship PunkinChunkin for the Science Channel. The event typically includes catapults, trebuchets, slingshots and air cannons designed to hurl pumpkins through the air.

According to witnesses, Dakessianand another person were standing in a restricted area near the firing line when the air cannon blew apart. Dakessian says she saw a metal plate coming toward her and ran. When she looked to see where the debris might land, the plate hit her in the head.

Organizers say it’s the worst accident in the 30-year history of the event. In 2011, a volunteer was seriously injured and filed a lawsuit, causing the event to be canceled for two years while organizers worked out new safety regulations. This year’s competition, the first since 2013, banned alcohol on the firing line and required that all machines be inspected prior to use. Officials say that Dakessian was wearing a hard hat at the time of the explosion, but the force and weight of the plate rendered that pretty useless.

Dakessian was taken to a local hospital, where she had a part of her skull removed to accommodate brain swelling. Doctors say she will likely need months of rehabilitation. Dakessian had no opinion on whether or not PunkinChunkin should be permanently canceled. She was, however, disappointed that the Science Channel chose not to air the special on the event. According to industry watchers, the annual show was one of the most watched of the year.

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Happy Thanksgiving from Sackstein, Sackstein & Lee

Sackstein law Thanksgiving card

Amtrak Settles Fatal Philly Crash for $256 Million

A year after a speeding Amtrak train derailed on a curve in Philadelphia, killing 8 and injuring more than 200 others, the company has established a fund designed to settle all claims against the carrier. The company had already accepted responsibility for the May, 2015 crash. To participate in the settlement, a plaintiff must opt in by November 21. The company expects that all payments will be made by June, 2017.

Federal investigators determined that engineer Brandon Bostian was distracted at the time of the derailment, having heard that another train had been hit by a rock. Evidence indicated that Bostian lost track of where he was and accelerated to approximately 105 miles per hour, more than twice the speed limit of the curve where the train left the tracks. Well-known chef Eli Kulp was paralyzed in the accident and a Naval Academy cadet and a college dean were killed in the crash.

The train had just left the terminal in Philadelphia on its way to New York when the accident occurred. In the days following the crash, Amtrak installed an automatic speed control on the curve. The company has now integrated that technology into nearly the entire 450 mile Northeast Corridor.

Before the Philadelphia crash, the statutory limit on payouts for a single crash was $200 million. However, after hearing testimony about the number of deaths and injuries caused in the Philly crash, Congress increased that amount to $295 million. Attorneys for plaintiffs had argued that the prior cap would not sufficiently cover the losses of all plaintiffs.

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To set up an appointment with an experienced New York personal injury lawyer, contact our office online or call us toll free at 888-519-6400. Your first consultation is free of charge.

How A Drunk Driving Accident Can Be Different

Damaged car during dangerous accident.

According to statistics, more than half of all highway motor vehicle accident fatalities involve drunk drivers and nearly two thirds of all single fatal car accidents are tied to alcohol abuse. But a motor vehicle accident is a motor vehicle accident, right? It doesn’t matter if the driver was drunk—you still need to take the same steps to recover compensation for your losses, don’t you? Not necessarily! Here are some ways in which a crash involving a drunk driver may be different.

You May Be Able to Sue the Driver Directly

If the state is a no-fault insurance state, like New York, you typically have to look first to your own insurance provider and cannot sue the driver directly unless there are extenuating circumstances. In New York, that means that your injuries must pass a threshold defining “serious injury.” The reality, though, is that the vast majority of alcohol-related motor vehicle accidents result in serious injury or even death.

The Criminal Process Can Help in Your Lawsuit for Damages

Because drunk driving is also a criminal violation, law enforcement officers will fully investigate the facts and circumstances of the accident. Blood alcohol tests can help you establish negligence in a personal injury action, even though a conviction or plea for drunk driving does not automatically mean the person will be found liable for damages.

Some States Allow for Punitive Damages

If you can show that the drunk driver’s actions demonstrated a disregard for the safety of others, you may be able to obtain punitive damages in addition to compensation for actual losses. Drunk driving is typically thought to be reckless and egregious and often brings an award for punitive damages.

You May Be Able to Sue Other Parties

In New York, as in other states, there are dram shop and social host liability laws that make persons who serve alcohol responsible for injuries caused by those served. If a bar, restaurant or tavern employee served someone who was visibly intoxicated, or served them enough that a reasonable person would expect them to become intoxicated, the employee and the establishment can have some responsibility for the accident.

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To set up an appointment with an experienced New York personal injury lawyer, contact our office online or call us toll free at 888-519-6400. Your first consultation is free of charge.

Happy Halloween

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Contact Sackstein Sackstein & Lee, LLP

To set up an appointment with an experienced New York personal injury lawyer, contact our office online or call us toll free at 888-519-6400. Your first consultation is free of charge.

General Motors Settles Last Lawsuits Over Defective Switches

GM Hedquarters in Detroit

Two personal injury lawsuits filed against auto giant General Motors in federal court in New York have been settled, according to attorneys for the plaintiffs. GM says these are the last claims linked to a defective ignition switch that would cut off power to vehicles, often at high speeds on highways.

According to company officials, the safety defect has been tied to at least 124 deaths. GM initiated a recall of more than six million cars in 2014, and previously settled prospective claims, as well as legal action filed by the U.S. Department of Justice, for more than $2 billion, including a $900 million fine imposed as part of a criminal complaint against the company.

An independent investigation revealed that General Motors knew about the problem for more than 10 years, but failed to take any action whatsoever, even though the company’s own safety engineers had compiled evidence that the problem was real.

Testimony at a number of trials indicated that the faulty ignition switch was used in both the Chevy Cobalt and the Pontiac G5. Evidence showed that General Motors had internal meetings to discuss concerns about the switch as early as 2005. GM never actually disclosed knowledge of the defect to the public. Instead, the problem and the company’s knowledge of it came to light during discovery proceedings in a wrongful death lawsuit filed against GM. Attorneys in that case obtained testimony from GM engineers and found written evidence in documents produced by the company.

Contact Sackstein Sackstein & Lee, LLP

At Sackstein Sackstein & Lee, LLP, we have more than 60 years of experience protecting the rights of personal injury victims, including people hurt in bicycle accidents. For a free initial consultation, contact our office online or call us toll free at 888-519-6400.

Popeye’s Faces Potential Lawsuit after Rat Found in Meal

A New Jersey woman who found part of a rat in an order of fried chicken that she bought at a restaurant in Harlem has hired an attorney, and will likely bring a lawsuit against owners of the franchise. Rosemary Thomas , of Clifton Park, apparently went to the fast-food restaurant with her daughter, sister and niece in September and discovered the head of a rat in an order of fried chicken. She says that she subsequently had to take her daughter to obtain medical care because she’d spent most of the day throwing up.

Thomas kept the rat head as evidence and even posted pictures of it on Facebook. A Popeye’s spokesperson said they are attempting to work with Thomas to determine if, in fact, the item was actually part of a rat. They contend, though, that it’s most likely chicken organ meat.

If the story has a bit of a familiar ring to it, that’s because just a few months ago, a woman in Louisiana made a similar claim. In July, Sherry Luke, of Houma, Louisiana, claimed to have found a rat inside a chicken breast she ordered at Popeye’s. She also posted a picture on Facebook and had a similar response from Popeye’s.

With tainted food, a personal injury suit will likely be based on negligence. To show negligence, you need to demonstrate that the business or person who served the tainted food did not exercise the level of care that a reasonable person would under similar circumstances. In these cases, you would likely show that the owners of the restaurant did not take reasonable measures to keep the restaurant free of rats or other vermin, or failed to reasonable inspect the food to ensure that it had not been compromised.

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Sackstein Attorney Eric B. Lee Serves as Grand Marshall of Korean Parade

Attorney Eric B. Lee, a partner at Sackstein Sackstein & Lee, LLP, recently served as Grand Marshall of the 36th annual Korean Parade and Festival in New York City, held on October 1, 2016. The event, held every fall, celebrates the vibrant Korean culture throughout the city and the world, and features hundreds of local, regional and national Korean organizations. The parade includes a marching band and a traditional Korean percussion ensemble. In addition, the festival offers Tae Kwon Do demonstrations, Korean food, Korean folk music and the opportunity to meet famous Koreans here and abroad.

The annual celebration was created in 1980 by the Korean American Association of Greater New York, but is now sponsored by the Korea Times. The parade typically travels down the Avenue of the Americas, between 27th Street and 38th Street in Manhattan.

Attorney Eric Lee joined the Nassau County law offices of Sackstein Sackstein & Lee, LLP in 1996 and was named a partner in 1999. A 1992 graduate of Bentley College, in Waltham, Massachusetts, Attorney Lee graduated from the New England School of Law, in Boston, in 1995. He’s an active member of the Korean American Lawyers Association of Greater New York.

Contact Sackstein Sackstein & Lee, LLP

At Sackstein Sackstein & Lee, LLP, we have more than 60 years of experience protecting the rights of personal injury victims, including people hurt in bicycle accidents. For a free initial consultation, contact our office online or call us toll free at 888-519-6400.

Dominique Sharpton’s Personal Injury Claim in Jeopardy

Sidewalk during the winter

A personal injury action filed by Dominique Sharpton, daughter of the activist the Rev. Al Sharpton, may be in jeopardy because of a prior personal injury claim filed by Ms. Sharpton.

According to court records, Dominique Sharpton accepted a settlement in 2012 in a lawsuit filed for injuries she alleged occurred when she was struck as a pedestrian while crossing West 145th Street in 2008. Sharpton received the settlement from Roslyn Leasing, Inc. Attorneys for Roslyn say that Sharpton was at least partially at fault, but opted to settle the lawsuit.

Now Sharpton has brought a personal injury claim against the city of New York, asking for $5 million after she allegedly slipped and fell after tripping on cracked pavement on Broome Street in 2014. City attorneys, though, have brought up the prior claim, looking to determine if the injuries Sharpton contends were caused by the 2014 accident were actually due to pre-existing conditions sustained in the 2008 mishap.

In a recent deposition in the lawsuit, Sharpton testified that she only missed a couple of days of work as a result of the 2008 injury. However, court records show that she sought compensation for $13,000 in medical bills, as well as $8,000 for four weeks of lost wages for the 2008 accident. Attorneys for New York City also say that she has made contradictory statements about the severity of the injuries allegedly suffered in the 2014 slip and fall. Though Sharpton has claimed that she has experienced “permanent pain,” as well as torn ligaments and tendons in her right leg, she also divulged in her deposition that, since the accident, she has climbed a mountain in Bali and gone dancing on a number of occasions.

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New York City Settles Police Brutality Claim for $4.1 Million

Police brutality

The City of New York will pay $4.1 million after the shooting death of an unarmed Brooklyn man by a police officer. The family of Akai Gurley will start receiving payments when Gurley’s 4-year-old daughter, Akaila, reaches the age of 18. The settlement also requires that a college fund be set up for Akaila.

According to witnesses, Gurley, then 28, was killed on November 20, 2014, by a bullet from the gun of New York City police officer Peter Liang. Liang and a partner testified that they were patrolling stairwells in the city’s Louis H. Pink Houses, when they entered an unlit stairwell at the seventh floor. Liang and his partner were both rookie officers and were conducting routine vertical sweeps, going to every floor of a housing project to see if a crime is in progress. Authorities say that Liang had been instructed by his commander not to conduct vertical patrols.

Evidence showed that Gurley entered the stairwell after leaving his girlfriend’s apartment, and was about 14 steps below Liang. Witnesses say that no words were exchanged, but that Liang drew his weapon and a flashlight. As he opened a door, his gun accidentally discharged, ricocheting off a wall and hitting Gurley in the chest. Witnesses say Gurley initially ran after the shot was fired, but stopped on the fifth floor, when he discovered he was bleeding. He died at the scene.

Court documents indicate that Liang will pay $25,000 of the settlement, the New York City Housing Authority will pay $400,000 and the city of New York will pay the rest of the settlement.

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To set up an appointment with an experienced New York personal injury lawyer, contact our office online or call us toll free at 888-519-6400. Your first consultation is free of charge.