Articles Posted in Wrongful death

PHILADELPHIA – A heavy equipment operator accused of being high on marijuana when a downtown building collapsed onto a thrift store, killing six people, is in custody after surrendering to face charges in the deaths, police said.

Sean Benschop, who has a lengthy police record, surrendered Saturday and faces six counts of involuntary manslaughter and 13 counts of reckless endangeriment. He is awaiting arraignment. Authorities believe the 42-year-old Benschop had been using an excavator Wednesday when the four-story building under demolition gave way and toppled onto an attached Salvation Army thrift store, killing two employees and four customers and injuring 13 others.

Deputy Mayor Everett Gillison said a toxicology report showed evidence that Benschop was high on marijuana. That finding, combined with witness statements and evidence from the scene, led to the decision Friday to seek an arrest warrant, he said.

As reported by the AP, Federal health officials found that the parents of premature babies enrolled in a study of oxygen treatment several years ago weren’t properly informed of the risks: blindness or death.

Oxygen has been a standard of treatment for very premature babies. But too much has long been known to cause a kind of blindness called retinopathy of prematurity, and too little can increase risk of death. The study in question enrolled 1,300 babies at 23 hospitals between 2005 and 2009, to determine the optimal dose in that range.

Standard practice at that time was to use a specific range of oxygen, and researchers in the study, funded by the National Institutes of Health, randomly assigned babies to receive either the low end or the high end in that range.

Michael Eaton had 17 beers plus other drinks before leaving a Gaithersburg, MD tavern on August 21, 2008, according to court records. Forty-five minutes later, he slammed his Range Rover into the back of a Jeep Cherokee at almost 98 mph.

Ten-year-old Jazimen Warr, sleeping in the back of the Cherokee, was killed and the rest of her family sustained injuries in the crash. Now, that crash could change Maryland law and allow victims of drunk-drivers and their families to sue bars and restaurants if their inebriated patrons cause deaths and injuries.

As reported in The Baltimore Sun, Jazimen’s grandparents have asked Maryland’s highest court Tuesday to revive their $3.25 million lawsuit against the Dogfish Head Alehouse, where Eaton, of Fairfax, Va., ran up his tab, some of which may have included drinks for other patrons. “If you’re going to load up somebody with liquor, at least be responsible so they don’t get behind the wheel,” said Rev. William Warr, Jazimen’s grandfather who, with his wife, Angela, were raising Jazimen and her older sister Cortavia Harris. Cortavia suffered a broken hip in the wreck. Dogfish Head Alehouse is fighting back, urging the Court of Appeals to reject the Warrs’ claim. An attorney representing the corporation that owns the tavern declined to comment on the case.

A New York man whose morbidly obese, wheelchair-bound wife died last year after she was denied a seat on three different flights home from Hungary sued the airlines on Monday for $6 million.

Vilma Soltesz, who was reported to have weighed 425 pounds, suffered from diabetes and had an amputated leg, news media said. She died at her vacation home in Hungary in October, 2012 after several airline crews repeatedly failed to accommodate her size despite initially telling her they could do so, according to a lawsuit filed in federal court in Manhattan. The suit accused the three airlines of wrongful death and gross negligence.

The couple flew from Manhattan in September on a Delta Air Lines plane, having purchased two seats for Vilma, and arrived safely in Budapest for a vacation, according to the lawsuit.

Nobody walks in L.A. – and maybe for good reason.

According to a study by the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute, cited by the Los Angeles Times, pedestrians and bicyclists in Los Angeles are killed at a significantly higher rate than in other states.

In Los Angeles, pedestrians accounted for about a third of all traffic fatalities, or nearly triple the national average of 11.4%. About 3% of the fatalities were bicyclists, compared with 1.7% nationally.

When you rent a car from a major rental agency, you assume that it has been inspected and is safe to drive. Unfortunately, this may not be the case. Senators Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein, both D-Calif., are leading the fight in Congress to require rental agencies to repair vehicles that are under manufacturer’s recall before renting or selling them. Hertz has agreed to this policy, but other large companies, such as Enterprise, Avis and Dollar Thrifty, are resisting.

“Our families deserve a permanent commitment to safety,” said Boxer, who heads the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. “Until they sign the pledge, tell your families not to go to those companies.”

As reported in USA Today, the proposed legislation stems from a 2004 accident in which Cally Houk’s two daughters were killed when the Chrysler PT Cruised they rented from Enterprise crashed into a tractor-trailer. About a month earlier, Enterprise had received a recall notice warning that a fault with the power steering hose could cause a fire, and that it would be repaired by Chrysler free of charge. Despite the notice, Enterprise did not get the vehicle repaired and rented it out to three other customers before the Houk sisters. “My daughters died instantly in a fireball,” said Houk. “We’re going to keep fighting.”

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