Recently in Having a Burn Injury Lawyer Category

June 26, 2012

Customer Suffers Severe Burns in Fast Food Restaurant Accident and Files Lawsuit. Is There Legal Liability?

In late May, a man in Aurora, CO filed a lawsuit against Arby's restaurants after he said he suffered severe burns from steam or very hot water that sprayed from a urinal in the men's room at a local restaurant. The incident allegedly happened two years ago at the Arby's in Monument, CO, but the man filed the lawsuit just recently.

Kenneth Dejoie claims his genitals suffered severe burns while he was using a urinal inside the Arby's men's room. The five-page lawsuit was filed in El Paso County District Court, and states that Dejoie was "using the urinal in the men's restroom when the urinal caused a jet of steam to shoot forth and burn his genitals."

Dejoie claims that he reported the incident to an employee who said, "we have that bathroom problem again" and that "this happens when the sink in the kitchen is running."

Dejoie's lawyers said that he's trying to settle the case with Arby's outside of court and couldn't comment further. The lawsuit is seeking damages for financial losses and for not being able to have intimate relations with his wife.

The store's manager hadn't heard about the lawsuit when asked about it. A spokesperson for Arby's issued a statement saying, "We want to reassure our customers that we are committed to providing quality food in a safe and healthy environment. Since this matter is in litigation we've been advised by our attorney that we are unable to discuss it."

Dejoie's lawyer did not specify exactly how much they're hoping to settle for, or why it took two years for them to file the suit.

If you or someone you know suffers an injury such as third degree burns or smoke inhalation, you should call Kramer & Pollack LLP in Mineola, New York so that the personal injury attorneys in that firm can determine whether another party has legal liability for injuries suffered, and if the injured party has a strong legal case.

June 22, 2012

Fuel-Tank Fires in Jeep Vehicles Being Investigated; Will There Be Liability for Injury or Death?


More than five million Jeep vehicles are being investigated by the federal government for deadly fuel-tank fires caused by rear-impact collisions.

Fuel-tank ruptures and fires during crashes have resulted in 48 fatalities in the Jeep Grand Cherokee model since 1993, according to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. However, to this point neither the federal government nor Chrysler has announced a recall for specific model years.

And this week, the NHTSA expanded its investigation to include Jeep Cherokees from model years 1993 to 2001 and Jeep Liberty models from 2002 to 2007.

Federal investigators initially looked into the Jeep Grand Cherokee following complaints by the Center for Auto Safety. The fuel tank of the 1993-2004 Grand Cherokee is made of plastic and extends below the rear bumper "so there is nothing to protect the tank from direct hit" in a rollover or rear-end collision, the watchdog group said in a letter sent to NHTSA.

"Chrysler Group has concluded that 1993-2004 Jeep Grand Cherokee vehicles are neither defective nor do their fuel systems pose an unreasonable risk to motor vehicle safety in rear impact collisions," responded Chrysler in a written statement.

The company estimates that two million of the affected vehicles are still on the road. "We still feel confident these vehicles are safe. They have really good safety records," said a Chrysler spokesperson. "We feel really confident, and we'll work cooperatively with NHTSA." The investigation could take a year to complete, possibly longer if it becomes complex, the NHTSA said.

In 2005 and later models, Chrysler moved the gas tank of the Jeep Grand Cherokee from behind the rear axle to the middle of the vehicle. A Chrysler spokesperson said that Chrysler made the move to allow for more cargo space, not due to safety concerns. However, since that change, there has been only one fatal fire crash in the redesigned vehicle, according to the Center for Auto Safety.

So it remains to be seen if this evidence of many more deaths and injuries before the design change will result in liability lawsuits from those involved in accidents in the earlier Jeep models.

If you or someone you know suffers an injury such as third degree burns or smoke inhalation, you should call Kramer & Pollack LLP in Mineola, New York so that the personal injury attorneys in that firm can determine whether another party has legal liability for injuries suffered, and if the injured party has a strong legal case.

June 19, 2012

Long Island Fire at Apartment Complex Causes Smoke Inhalation for Many, but No Severe Burns

In mid June, hundreds of frightened residents were evacuated from a multi-story apartment building when smoke filled their apartments from a simple stove fire that grew out of control. The fire spread so quickly that flames leaped up three floors of the large building in the town of Hempstead, N.Y.

Witnesses recalled seeing residents of the Fulton Manor apartment building with their heads out open windows, screaming for help, before firefighters came to their aid in high-rise ladder buckets. The firefighters pulled more than a dozen people out of their windows to safety. Some of the residents were becoming so overcome by smoke that they were yelling that they were going to jump from their windows.

About 30 people were treated at hospitals for smoke inhalation after they were evacuated from the seven-story building. The cause of the fire was a stove malfunction in an apartment on the second floor. The fire spread quickly to the walls of that apartment, and created a lot of smoke containing deadly carbon monoxide and hydrogen cyanide.

The risk of death from smoke inhalation was higher for the residents on the floors above a fire, because smoke always rises. Because of this, people who are evacuating a fire should crawl or somehow get their faces as close to the floor as possible, because that is where the only breathable air is located in a smoky room. One or two breaths of smoke is enough to make a person unconscious, and unable to escape a fire.

The fire started around 6:20 p.m. and was contained around 8 p.m. Two firefighters were treated for heat exhaustion. More than 300 firefighters from 30 volunteer departments were at the scene. Four Nassau County buses shuttled about 100 evacuees to a temporary shelter.

If you or someone you know suffers an injury such as third degree burns or smoke inhalation, you should call Kramer & Pollack LLP in Mineola, New York so that the personal injury attorneys in that firm can determine whether another party has legal liability for injuries suffered, and if the injured party has a strong legal case.

June 15, 2012

Settlement Reached for Work Related Injuries Suffered in Plant Explosion

In early June, a federal jury in St. Louis awarded $180 million to three men who suffered blast injuries and severe burns while working in a Chester, IL grain bin that exploded in 2010.

One of the men, John Jentz of St. Peter, MN clearly remembers the explosion at the ConAgra grain bin: "I heard the bang. I heard the rushing of the air, and the fireball," he said. Jentz's co-worker, Robert Schmidt, was riding down a single-lift hoist when the explosion occurred. "It was probably the third boom when I realized that an explosion was happening, and I just froze--I knelt down and started praying," Schmidt said. "I thought, 'This is it, I am going to die.'"

Chicago attorney Robert Clifford, who represented Jentz and Schmidt, said there had been signs of trouble in the grain bin before the explosion, such as temperature readings of up to 400 degrees. Clifford asserted that grain bin operators ignored safety problems because they were trying to maximize use of the product. "It was either because they didn't want to close down the facility, or they were trying to save the product that they were trying to extract so that they could resell it," he said.

Another attorney said that ConAgra even rejected calls from fire inspectors before the explosion. Mark Taxman, representing Jason Becker, the third victim, said that those in charge failed in their duty. "This case was about folks at the top of the chain of command, who have the power to make decisions about safety, failing to make those decisions - not for two or three or five hours, but actually for five weeks. Then this horrible incident happened that essentially ruined the lives of these three young men."

Clifford said the jury awarded the three victims $100 million in punitive damages to send a safety message to ConAgra, an agribusiness giant. Individually, Jentz received $41 million in compensatory damages and $34 million in punitive damages. He required multiple burn surgeries over many months; he can no longer work outside in the sun, nor inside at a keyboard. He has nerve damage, and has trouble walking.

Schmidt received $3 million in compensatory and $33 million punitive damages for burns to his hands and head. Becker received $33 million in punitive damages.

If you or someone you know suffers an injury such as third degree burns or smoke inhalation, you should call Kramer & Pollack LLP in Mineola, New York so that the personal injury attorneys in that firm can determine whether another party has legal liability for injuries suffered, and if the injured party has a strong legal case.

June 12, 2012

Are Workers Being Killed in Preventable Workplace Accidents?

In the past several years, small fires were actually common at Hoeganaes Corporation's metal powder plant outside Nashville. By early 2011, some workers had become good at beating down flames with gloved hands or a fire extinguisher.

The company's own product fueled the fires: Scrap metal comes into the plant and is melted, atomized and dried into a fine iron powder that is sold to makers of car parts. But often, powder leaked from equipment and settled on ledges and rafters. One worker said he could hear the popping sound of dust sparking when it touched live electricity.

In the early morning of January 31, 2011, a worker was called to check out a malfunctioning bucket elevator that moves dust through the plant. Near his feet, electrical wires lay exposed. When the machine restarted, the jolt knocked dust into the air. A spark -- likely from the exposed wires -- turned the dust cloud into a ball of flame that engulfed the worker. He suffered severe burns over 95 percent of his body, and lived just two more days at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center's burn unit before dying.

The flash fire involved combustible dust -- a little-noticed danger that has killed or injured at least 900 workers across the country during the past 30 years. The dust can be created by iron, plastic, wood, nylon fiber, coal, and even sugar and flour. Often, workers don't know that the dust sitting on flat surfaces could, when kicked up in a cloud, create a large flash fire.

But experts, worker safety advocates and government officials have been sounding alarms for years. Since 1980, more than 450 accidents involving dust explosions or fires have killed nearly 130 workers and injured another 800-plus, according to a Center for Public Integrity analysis of data compiled by the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB). Both agencies, citing spotty reporting requirements, say these numbers are probably significant understatements.

Yet a push to issue a rule protecting workers from the danger has stalled due to bureaucratic hurdles, industry resistance, and politics. OSHA, in a statement, said it must "make difficult decisions as to how to best allocate the agency's limited rulemaking resources." While addressing dangers like combustible dust and dangerous substances breathed by workers are important, OSHA said, it "has placed a great deal of emphasis on broad rulemaking efforts that have the potential to result in fundamental changes [for] safety and health in the workplace."

"It goes along for years [at workplaces] with the dust building up, building up, and everything's fine--nobody's harmed, so nobody thinks anything about it," said Sandra Bennett, an official at the Tennessee Occupational Safety and Health Administration, which investigated the Hoeganaes accidents. "All of a sudden, one day, boom."

In 2009, OSHA announced it was starting the process of issuing a rule to address combustible dust. But three years later, the process is still stuck in its early stages, and OSHA has given up on making significant progress this year, moving the topic to its list of "long-term actions." In a statement, OSHA said, "Prevention of worker injuries and fatalities from combustible dust remains a priority for the agency." But, the statement said, developing the rule is "very complex," and "could affect a wide variety of industries and workplace conditions. As a result it has been moved to long-term action to give the agency time to develop the analyses needed to support a cost-effective rule."

Last year was not the first time Hoeganaes had experienced a worker death from iron dust. The recent accident in particular had striking similarities to one that occurred in 1992 at the company's plant in Riverton, NJ, said the CSB's lead investigator, Johnnie Banks.

Twenty years later, Jeffrey Richardson remembers that accident well. It left him with third-degree burns covering 97 percent of his body. He has one ear and one hand, though it has no fingers. His body is covered with skin grown in a lab; it heals slowly and tears easily.

"They said my foot and my eyelids were the only place where I wasn't burned," he recalled recently. "I still to this day have a nurse come every day to dress wounds that I still have ongoing."

As in the May 2011 accident, a hydrogen explosion shook the building, and burning dust fell from the rafters. Richardson recalls it covering him as he struggled to find an escape route. "I could hear it sizzling and cracking," he said.

Many plants already are required to follow rules addressing combustible dust. Many experts praise the standards, and OSHA often points to them as widely recognized practices when citing violations. But two problems limit the standards' reach: They are optional in many areas, and, where they apply, enforcement is often lax or nonexistent, and many inspectors don't even recognize a dust problem when it does exist. Recognizing dangers that could lead to dust fires and explosions also can be a problem for companies and their insurers. In investigations of four dust explosions that killed 28 workers, insurers had missed serious dust hazards during audits in each case.

In August 2010, Hoeganaes hired a company to clean up the dust, according to a report by the state inspector examining the January 2011 accident. But, the report notes, "it was apparent that the employer was not ensuring that clean-up was maintained through good housekeeping practices between these cleanings." Piles of dust up to four inches thick sat on equipment throughout the plant, the inspector found.

If you or someone you know suffers an injury such as third degree burns or smoke inhalation, you should call Kramer & Pollack LLP in Mineola, New York so that the personal injury attorneys in that firm can determine whether another party has legal liability for injuries suffered, and if the injured party has a strong legal case.

June 8, 2012

Man Suffers Severe Burns from Homemade Barbecue Pit

In Waldorf, Maryland last week, local doctors came to the aid of a man who accidentally set himself on fire while trying to light a homemade barbecue pit.

The man was treated for first degree burns and second degree burns across nearly 50 percent of his body. Authorities say the man was burned when vapors from the flammable liquid he had poured over the wood inside a 270-gallon barrel ignited, and caused a flash fire.

Luckily, the man was able to drive himself to a local hospital, but he was later transferred to the burn unit at Washington Hospital Center. However, if there had been other people around him when the fire took place, they could have suffered severe burns to their skin or lungs as well. In such a case, it is likely that the man would have faced a liability lawsuit due to negligence in creating a grill from a barrel that is not intended for such use.

If you or someone you know suffers an injury such as third degree burns or smoke inhalation, you should call Kramer & Pollack LLP in Mineola, New York so that the personal injury attorneys in that firm can determine whether another party has legal liability for injuries suffered, and if the injured party has a strong legal case.

June 5, 2012

Smoke Inhalation Occurs at Factory Where Industrial Batteries Overheated and Leaked

In eastern Pennsylvania last week, a machine battery at a production plant overheated and ruptured, and then began leaking acid onto other batteries that were nearby. This caused the other batteries to melt and release poisonous smoke that filled the entire building.

Although all employees evacuated safely, a number of them later in that week experienced breathing problems, coughing, headaches and other illness. Doctors who treated these employees said that in most cases, the lungs and throat are mildly inflamed from the smoke inhalation (the smoke contains hydrogen cyanide and carbon monoxide in it, both of which are potentially deadly in humans). The doctors' suggested remedy: Drink lots of water and take Advil or another ibuprofen product to reduce the inflammation in the body. It was fortunate that no employees touched the leaking batteries, as it is very easy to suffer third degree burns from battery acid.

Although there will probably not be a lawsuit filed against the company for legal liability due to negligence--batteries do sometimes overheat and leak--this story is a good reminder for anyone who work in an industrial facility: make sure the facility has working smoke detectors, and also know where the emergency exits are so you can escape quickly even if visibility is bad due to a smoke condition. Also, be sure to get your face down to the floor in order to avoid smoke inhalation--when there is smoke or fire, the cleanest air to breathe is down at floor level.

If you or someone you know suffers an injury such as third degree burns or smoke inhalation, you should call Kramer & Pollack LLP in Mineola, New York so that the personal injury attorneys in that firm can determine whether another party has legal liability for injuries suffered, and if the injured party has a strong legal case.

May 31, 2012

Pediatric Burns Suffered Inside Hospital; Incident Will Likely Result in Lawsuit Against Hospital

A California family is coming to Shriner's Hospital in Sacramento as often as three times a month for treatment of third degree burns they say their baby incurred inside another hospital.

On March 28, 2012, Lylah's parents, Tiffany Payne and Stanley Quezada, took the baby to Mercy Merced's emergency room suffering from diarrhea and dehydration. According to Payne, a nurse tried to start an intravenous line, but was unable to do so. They then called a phlebotomist from the pediatric unit to come down and do it. But Quezada says they pricked the baby's skin a total of 14 times.

The family attorney, Moseley Collins, says in an attempt to try to find the vein, a nurse held a bright light to Lylah's left palm. However, the nurse did not realize the light was so hot it was causing third degree burns. "It was held up to the baby's hand for about eight minutes," Payne said. "She was screaming at the top of her lungs."

At first, Payne and Quezada thought the nurse used a flashlight. Now they think it is possible the light was one normally used inside a vaginal spectrum device. When used properly inside the spectrum, the light never makes contact with the skin, so it does not cause burns. Mercy Merced Hospital, owned by Dignity Health, did not clarify what the light was, but did say it was "unapproved" for how it might have been used with the baby.

In a May 11 letter to the family attorney, Barbara Van Koll, a Dignity Health area claims manager, wrote this: "The nurses used an unapproved light source to locate a vein." She went on to add that "since that light source does not get hot on the sides, the nurses were not aware of its potential to get hot and were thus unaware of the burn." Van Koll's letter indicated the health care system would reimburse the family for "reasonable expenses."

Mercy Merced representative Bob McLaughlin also wrote the following: "We take this incident very seriously and have conducted a thorough review of the events. We are working with the family to ensure Lylah's needs are met."

Lylah is still suffering pain, as Payne massages and stretches the skin on the baby's hand wound several times each day. Because of the burn, Lylah has to wear a burn glove for up to two years, and she'll have permanent scarring. "This little girl will have a damaged left hand for the rest of her life," said family attorney Collins. "Everyday she'll get up and look at that hand. This is a case where she should be compensated for what she's going through."

In late May, the hospital received notification a potential lawsuit. How long Mercy Merced has to settle the case before a lawsuit is initiated will be up to the family's attorney.

If you or someone you know suffers an injury such as third degree burns or smoke inhalation, you should call Kramer & Pollack LLP in Mineola, New York so that the personal injury attorneys in that firm can determine whether another party has legal liability for injuries suffered, and if the injured party has a strong legal case.

May 29, 2012

House Fire Due to Faulty Electrical Wiring Kills a Child Through Smoke Inhalation, Severe Burns

In mid-May in Joliet, IL, an investigation found that there was no criminal activity involved in a fire that caused the burn death of a 3-year-old boy just days before. The cause of the fire was an accidental electrical malfunction, local fire officials said. There will probably be no liability lawsuit for negligence stemming from this incident.

The child was found in a second-floor bedroom of a home on Sterling Avenue in Joliet, IL. The boy died of soot and smoke inhalation from the house fire, according to the Will County coroner's office. The boy was pronounced dead shortly after the fire.

The boy's uncle and another child were on the first floor when the fire started. The uncle had been watching the children because the victim's mother had left to take a relative to a doctor's appointment. "The uncle tried to make entry to the room but he was forced back by the fire,'' said one fire official. Neighbors who heard the man crying came to his aid but were also not able to help. They too ran into the house, "but the flames coming out of this bedroom were so intense that no one could get to this child.''

The fire seemed to start because of faulty wiring near a microwave and a small refrigerator that were set up in that bedroom, according to the deputy chief, who said that "it was a bad electrical situation" caused by overloaded electrical outlets. The fire official added.that the child died of smoke inhalation but was also suffered severe burns because he fell unconscious, probably just seconds after inhaling the poisonous smoke and soot. There are chemicals such as hydrogen cyanide and carbon monoxide within smoke that make people fall unconscious after just a few breaths. So if you find yourself in a smoke situation, you must drop down and put your face very close to the floor in order to breathe clean air, because smoke and poisonous gases rise.

If you or someone you know suffers an injury such as third degree burns or smoke inhalation, you should call Kramer & Pollack LLP in Mineola, New York so that the personal injury attorneys in that firm can determine whether another party has legal liability for injuries suffered, and if the injured party has a strong legal case.

May 24, 2012

Factory Explosion Kills One Person, Injures Ten; Does the Company Have Legal Liability Due to Negligence?

In Arlington Heights, Illinois on May 22, one person was killed and ten injured in an explosion at an industrial complex in this suburban Chicago town.

Emergency officials there responded to reports of an explosion inside a manufacturer called Arens Controls, which produces power management systems for commercial vehicles (batteries, etc.). A woman who lives two blocks from the facility told reporters that she heard a large explosion at around 8:30 a.m. An Arlington Heights Fire Department official said the explosion involved a machine inside the facility. One person was pronounced dead shortly after the blast, while at least ten people were taken to Northwest Community Hospital, some of them requiring treatment for severe burns.

Signs outside the affected building indicated that Motorola, Honeywell and a Home Depot training college are also housed there. There was no word at the time as to whether any employees of these firms were injured in the explosion. It is also unclear at this time if there is any legal liability due to negligence on the part of the Arens Controls or any of its employees for the explosion.

If you or someone you know suffers an injury such as third degree burns or smoke inhalation, you should call Kramer & Pollack LLP in Mineola, New York so that the personal injury attorneys in that firm can determine whether another party has legal liability for injuries suffered, and if the injured party has a strong legal case.

May 22, 2012

Burn Survivor Has Skin Graft Surgery, and Has a Difficult Recovery Ahead


The lone survivor of a small-airplane crash in southeast Kansas recently underwent skin graft surgery to treat third degree burns across 28 percent of her body. Hannah Luce of Garden Valley, Texas, a recent graduate of Oral Roberts University, was flying with four others to a Christian youth rally in Iowa when their twin-engine Cessna crashed northwest of Chanute, Kansas.

All the other people, including the pilot, died in the crash. Hannah Luce is the daughter of Ron Luce, an Oral Roberts trustee and founder of Teen Mania Ministries, which was sponsoring the rally in Council Bluffs, Iowa. She was treated at the University of Kansas Hospital in Kansas City, Kansas. A spokesperson there said that Hannah was in serious condition but was expected to make a full recovery.

"She went into her first surgery for skin grafts on burns she suffered on her left leg, her arms and her hands," said a spokesperson for the family. "The doctors are saying it's a miracle Hannah didn't suffer more internal trauma." Hannah was off a respirator and breathing on her own several days after the crash, and was awake and answering questions before surgery.

However, "she's dealing with the loss of four friends. They were all tremendous individuals," the spokesperson said. "They all had a heart for reaching the younger generation."

The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating what caused the crash. The pilot had a commercial pilot's license, was certified for that aircraft, and had been flying for years. One other victim, a former Marine who had served two tours of duty in Iraq before attending Oral Roberts, might have helped Luce escape the crash site and get help before succumbing to his own burn injuries.

Once the surgery is complete, Hannah will have to undergo a lot of painful rehabilitation in order for her burn injuries to heal enough to allow her to lead a normal life again.

If you or someone you know suffers an injury such as third degree burns or smoke inhalation, you should call Kramer & Pollack LLP in Mineola, New York so that the personal injury attorneys in that firm can determine whether another party has legal liability for injuries suffered, and if the injured party has a strong legal case.

May 17, 2012

Man Suffers Severe Burns from Propane Tank Explosion at Special Event. Who Has Legal Liability?


In Washington DC in mid-May, a man suffered severe burns when a small propane tank exploded during a buffet dinner event at the National Building Museum, a museum dedicated to architecture, design, and construction. The museum frequently hosts exhibitions and special events that offer food and beverage service.

The dangerous incident happened when a catering company's propane tank exploded, causing a flash fire inside the building during the event. One man was rushed to a local hospital with potentially life-threatening third degree burns.

Two issues come into play regarding this incident:

First, the catering company will likely be the target of a lawsuit claiming that it has legal liability for injuries suffered by the severely burned man.

Second, anyone who attends an event in a public place should make sure to locate the nearest emergency exits immediately upon arriving at the event. The reason: In case of a fire or smoke condition, you can evacuate the area quickly. Otherwise, once fire or smoke builds within a room, there is very little time left to find the emergency exits and evacuate before suffering burns or smoke inhalation, which can be deadly.

If you or someone you know suffers an injury such as third degree burns or smoke inhalation, you should call Kramer & Pollack LLP in Mineola, New York so that the personal injury attorneys in that firm can determine whether another party has legal liability for injuries suffered, and if the injured party has a strong legal case.

May 15, 2012

Lawsuit Filed for Deadly House Fire; Father Claims City Has Legal Liability for Failing to Check for Smoke Alarms


Last week in New Haven CT, the father of three young girls killed in a Christmas morning house fire filed a lawsuit, accusing the city of Stamford of allowing the house to become a fire trap by failing to properly oversee construction.

Richard Emery, attorney for Matthew Badger, confirmed that a notice of intent to sue the city was filed in early May. He said the city failed to ensure fire or smoke alarms were hooked up when children were living in a residence under construction. "They allowed a fire trap to exist, under their supervision, with children in it," Emery said. But a city official said recently that building inspectors last examined the work in July 2011 and did not find any problems.

Matthew Badger's daughters, 9-year-old Lily and 7-year-old twins Sarah and Grace, and their grandparents were killed by third degree burns and smoke inhalation during the fire at the girls' mother's house. Extensive home renovations were taking place during the daytime hours for several weeks up until the fire, which was started by a house guest who left a pile of hot fireplace ashes in a sack on the front porch. The ashes burned through the bag, and the house burned very quickly because of its wood structure as well as the construction materials being stored there.

If you or someone you know suffers an injury such as third degree burns or smoke inhalation, you should call Kramer & Pollack LLP in Mineola, New York so that the personal injury attorneys in that firm can determine whether another party has legal liability for injuries suffered, and if the injured party has a strong legal case.

May 11, 2012

Movie Studio Burns Next to Homes. Is There Legal Liability if Residents Suffered Severe Burns or Smoke Inhalation?

In early May, a large building at the Atlanta studio complex of filmmaker Tyler Perry caught fire, sending flames into the night sky. The blaze began shortly before 9 p.m. on a weekday inside the studio and burned fully through the building's exterior surface.

"The building was all in flames," said one resident who lives in a high-rise apartment next door to the studio complex. Flames shot as high as nearby trees, which are about as high as a six-story building. "The building started popping," said the resident. "Whatever the fire was hitting was blowing up. There were plenty of sparks coming over here where we are."

Luckily, there were no reports of any injuries such as severe burns or smoke inhalation among studio employees or local residents. If there were, the studio might have legal liability for injuries suffered by employees or local residents.

More than 100 firefighters responded to the blaze, and they were able to limit the damage because the building is separated into sections. The cause of the four-alarm blaze and the amount of damage to the complex was not immediately known.

Tyler Perry, whose films include "Diary of a Mad Black Woman" and "Why Did I Get Married?", arrived at the complex as the fire raged and spoke with the local fire chief. His studio complex includes a 200,000-square-foot studio, five sound stages and a 400-seat theater in southwest Atlanta. It also includes a chapel, dining hall, gymnasium and a five-acre pond on the grounds. The complex also includes an art department, where sets for shows are designed.

If you or someone you know suffers an injury such as third degree burns or smoke inhalation, you should call Kramer & Pollack LLP in Mineola, New York so that the personal injury attorneys in that firm can determine whether another party has legal liability for injuries suffered, and if the injured party has a strong legal case.

May 8, 2012

Broken Door Traps Family Inside Rental Apartment During Kitchen Fire. Does the Building Have Legal Liability?

On May 4, 2012, New York City police rescued five people, including a baby boy and another child, who were trapped in a smoky kitchen fire in Rockaway Beach, NY because they could not open a jammed apartment door.

A police sergeant on another call spotted a 21-year-old man leaning out of a smoke-filled sixth-floor window in a public housing project about 7 p.m. The man was yelling, "Help! There's children inside!"

The police officers and members of the city's Emergency Services Unit team went to the sixth-floor apartment, but found that the door lock was broken inside the door, so the door would not open. Trapped inside were a baby, a boy, their mom, and two visitors, as a kitchen fire raged. The blaze had begun as a grease fire in the kitchen, at the front of the apartment.

One policeman used a hydraulic drill to force the door open at the frame. Police eventually got the door to open, but by that time the apartment was thick with smoke as flames crawled up the walls of the kitchen, just to the left of the front door. Some of the officers began dousing the flames with pots of water, while others dropped to their hands and knees and went in search of the people trapped further inside.

"As we crawled, we did everything by feel--there was no visibility," said one officer. "We inhaled a lot of smoke. But we had to search the rooms. There was quite a bit of panic by the residents because it was very heavy smoke. We had to get out real quickly."

A baby boy, 19 months old, and an 8-year-old boy were treated for smoke inhalation at Jamaica Hospital. Two women, ages 19 and 22, were also treated at the same hospital. The 21-year-old man was also treated for a hand injury and smoke inhalation. Also, 11 cops were taken to Long Island Jewish Hospital for smoke inhalation but later released.

The police investigation into the fire will determine if the building was at fault for negligence because the door lock was broken and caused the door to be inoperable.

If you or someone you know suffers an injury such as third degree burns or smoke inhalation, you should call Kramer & Pollack LLP in Mineola, New York so that the personal injury attorneys in that firm can determine whether another party has legal liability for injuries suffered, and if the injured party has a strong legal case.