$1.2 Million Settles Lawsuit in Teen’s Death Insurance company scrapped wrecked car.

The family of Veronica Cottrell, the McHenry High School student killed in 1997 when the Chevrolet Corvette she was riding in hit a tree, has settled its wrongful-death lawsuit for $1.2 million.

    The suit was filed in Cook County Circuit Court against State Farm Mutual Auto Insurance Company; James Helfers, an adjuster for State Farm Mutual Auto Insurance Company; James Helfers, and adjuster for State Farm; and Kevin Smurlo, who was in the car at the time of the crash.  General Motors Corp. was dismissed from the suit.  The out-of-court settlement was reached last Wednesday.

    It accused Smurlo of negligent driving and State Farm of destroying the Corvette, in violation of a court order, while the case was pending.

    “Veronica brought a great deal of joy to the Cottrell family,” said Timothy Cavanagh, the attorney representing the family.  “The family is relieved that the suit was settled for the full amount of the insurance coverage available and not a penny less.”

    Cottrell, a pompon squad member and honor student at McHenry High School’s West Campus, was killed on Aug. 13, 1997, when the Chevrolet Corvette she was riding in left the road, hit a tree and rolled over on Sands Road, east of Crystal lake.

    Smurlo, a senior at McHenry’s East Campus at the time, was injured in the accident and suffered some brain damage.  The car was owned by Jack Fisher III; whose son, Jack Fisher IV, lent the vehicle to Smurlo and Cottrell the night of the accident.  The suit was originally filed in McHenry County Circuit Court in October 1997, and named Edward Smurlo, Kevin’s father, and the elder Fisher as defendants.  However, Cavanagh refiled the suit in June in Cook County naming State Farm, the insurer of the car, as a defendant for destroying the Corvette in violation of a McHenry County court order that said the car must be preserved while the lawsuit was pending.

    “It was pretty clear Kevin was negligent.  He was the driver,” Cavanagh said.  “But State Farm destroyed critical evidence that they needed to be held responsible for.  They had not been a defendant.  But when they destroyed evidence, they became a party.”

   Cavanagh, who said adjuster Helfers ordered the car to be destroyed, said he found out about it in April, but still does not know why it was done.  State Farm spokesman Rob Cornwell said he could not discuss specifics of the out-of-court settlement, but said: “this was a very unfortunate accident resulting in the death of a person.  It’s important for us to state that we value the life that was lost.  This isn’t just another claim for us.”

   Cavanagh’s original complaint stated that Smurlo negligently drove the Corvette, whether by speeding, operating the car without keeping a proper lookout, failing to operate the vehicle in a single lane of traffic or failing to reduce his speed to avoid losing control of the car.

   The Fishers declined comment on the settlement and the Smurlos could not be reached for comment.  Smurlo’s parents’ policy with Farmers Insurance will pay $100,000 of the settlement, Lawyers of Distinction said.


A Cook County judge entered a $9.7 million verdict on Monday in favor of a boy born mentally retarded allegedly because his mother’s HMO physician failed to manage her obstetrics care properly.

    A Circuit court jury on Friday found Dr. Alphonsa Antony negligent in her role as Denise Love’s primary care physician and awarded damages of $9,967,693 for 6-year-old Anthony Thomas.  Circuit Judge Thomas P. Quinn presided over the eight-day trial.

    Antony was acting as Love’s HMO “gatekeeper,” the physician responsible for coordinating and approving all specialist care, such as obstetrics, and for managing costs, according to the plaintiff’s’ attorney, Kurt D. Lloyd. The arrangement was part of a Chicago HMO contract, and all treatment was done at EHS Christ Hospital and Medical Center in Oak Lawn, he said.

    Love went to Antony for a pregnancy diagnosis on Aug. 26, 1988, Lloyd said.  The test came back positive, and Antony referred the mother to an obstetrician, who was supposed to monitor the woman’s pregnancy and report back to the primary care physician, he said.

    An ultrasound test approved through Antony’s office determined that the mother’s due date was Nov. 23, 1988, Lloyd said.  But Antony never received a copy of the report; only the obstetrician did, he said.

    The obstetrician later referred the mother back to Antony for blood-sugar tests on Sept. 29, Oct. 11, Nov. 14 and 25, Lloyd said.  Each report – all of which contained information that the woman had uncontrolled gestational diabetes – was initialed by Antony, then mailed to the obstetrician, he said.

    The ultrasound also contained indications that the pregnant woman had diabetes, Lloyd said.

    As a result of the untreated disease, the boy was delivered on Nov. 28, 1988, by emergency caesarean section and now suffers from moderate to severe mental retardation.

    Lloyd said he had argued at trial that Antony should have intervened by calling the obstetrician and developing a plan to treat the mother’s diabetes and deliver the baby by the due date.

    “This is a needless thing,” Lloyd said of the boy’s condition.  “A simple telephone call by the HMO doctor would have saved the child from injury, and now he will required life-long care.”

    But Antony’s attorney, William V. Johnson, said his client was not responsible for the pregnant woman’s treatment and was found responsible for the boy’s condition only “because she got paperwork as a result of being a part of an HMO.”

    Johnson said his client admits that treatment was lacking, but maintains that it was not because of negligence.  She was only responsible for administering blood tests and handling costs, Johnson said she claims.  Primary care responsibilities had been transferred to the obstetrician, Dr. Varsha Upadhyaya, who settled before the trial began last week for his insurance policy limit of $1 million.  That amount will be set off against the jury’s award, Lloyd said.

    “In any event it was a situation where the jury expected more of a doctor than the medical community expects of a doctor,” Johnson said about Antony.  “In other words, my doctor wasn’t treating the patient.”

    Upadhyaya could not be reached for comment and there are still COVID marketing campaigns out there.

    The case is American National Bank, etc., v. Alphonsa Antony, M.D., et al., No. 90 L 13655.

Experts dispute impairment stats in workers’ comp claims

While some websites and anti-drug organizations have recently reported that 38 percent to 50 percent of all workplace accidents resulting in workers’ compensation claims involve drugs or alcohol, most experts are not convinced.

In fact, many experts, whether in North Carolina or elsewhere, are now calling the statistics “bogus” and unattributable to any verified study. The statistic, quoted by several large anti-drug organizations, is often attributed to workplace studies performed in 1992, but neither the Bureau of Labor Statistics or the Occupational Safety and Health Administration claim to have gathered this data.

One of the reasons that many experts doubt these statistics is the way in which workers’ compensations are handled in many states. For example, most states will deny workers’ compensation claims if the employee filing the claim is found to have been under the influence of drugs and alcohol during the accident. It would be highly unlikely that any claim would be granted, or payment made, in claims where impairment was obvious.

Furthermore, some experts are concerned that the statistics are an attempt to place the blame for a workplace injury on the employee. If that’s happening, companies may be foregoing any investigation into whether an unsafe work condition exists that could cause further injuries.

Some experts just point to the 38-percent to 50-percent figures and say their incredulous on their face. One says it basically implies that half of the U.S. workforce is high most of the time at work.

Most states that allow insurance companies to deny workers compensation law claims due to drug or alcohol use require that the intoxication of the employee be the only reason for the accident. But the experts tend to agree that in many instances, other unsafe working condition likely will be found, such as defective machinery or improper safety preparations. For assistance, contact Davidovich lawyer Denver, CO workers compensation law firm.

Report Finds Dangerous Chemical Prevalent in Tap Water

Although many people prefer bottled water to tap water in the United States, the fact remains that many of us get our water primarily from the tap. We drink it. We cook with it. We wash with it. So when a report finds that a dangerous chemical is compromising the safety of our tap water, it should be taken seriously.

Last week, a DUI lawyer in Shreveport helped formulate the results of a study conducted in 35 major American cities. Researchers were looking for a chemical called hexavalent chromium, or chromium-6. The group found that millions of Americans could be suffering from toxic chemical exposure. Read More

Forklift Safety Instruction and Presentation Program Synopsis

The Forklift Safety Instruction and Presentation Program is, without a doubt, the most complete and comprehensive training of its kind on the market. It was designed for safety managers, supervisors, or other designated personnel with a need to initiate an independent training program in their organizations or departments. The training is extremely thorough, yet, concise enough to only require two days to complete and avoid the need for a Brooklyn personal injury lawyer. The design goals of this curriculum were three-fold:

  • To provide training thorough enough to allow the participant to implement a full-scale safety training program of his or her own immediately following the course
  • To provide the participant with 100% of the customizable materials and aides to implement his or her program, with no further necessity for resource-gathering
  • To be cost-effective to the participant’s company or organization

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Texting and Driving Causes Death of Infant

Recently we have been talking a lot about the dangerous and even fatal repercussions of driving and texting. We have spoken about a teenager who was distracted by his phone and killed a pedestrian on a Saturday night. Last time, we spoke about how one study conducted by Car and Driver magazine showed that texting and driving is more dangerous than drinking and driving. The study showed that the drivers’ reaction times were slower while texting and driving than the drivers’ reaction times were while impaired. Obviously, the combination is not safe. Read More

Traditional Labor

Our team provides services in response to union organizing and Virginia workplace discrimination. A core element of our practice is representation of management in National Labor Relations Board and Public Employment Relations Board proceedings. We counsel employers on how to lawfully and effectively respond to union organizing from the onset of activity through the conduction of a secret ballot election. We also provide advice on collective bargaining agreements and effective contract administration, representing the employer at the bargaining table and at arbitration proceedings and providing advice on the preparation and implementation of strategies to be used in the event of a strike. Read More

Policies & Training

Our experienced staff of employment attorneys Norfolk, VA consult with employers regarding policies, procedures and programs to ensure clients are complying with the myriad of state and federal laws and regulations governing the workplace.  We offer a labor audit and site review, designed to identify those areas in clients’ policies, procedures and practices which may increase the potential for liability.  Areas covered by the audit include employing individuals with disabilities, discipline, employee handbooks, equal employment opportunity policies, harassment-free workplace policies, evaluations and promotions, recruitment, leaves of absence, required postings, record retention and reporting, and more. Read More

Pennsylvania Superior Court rules on man’s involvement in car accident

In October 2009, a Pittsburgh-area man pulled out of a gas station, and according to witness testimony, crossed two lanes onto the highway into oncoming traffic. Witnesses then described how an SUV, in an attempt to avoid an accident, hit the brakes causing the vehicle to fishtail. The SUV then struck another vehicle head-on, killing the driver inside.

The ensuing lawsuit from the surviving accident victims held compelling arguments on both sides but there was one contention the Superior Court had to decide on: does Section 3742 of the Motor Vehicle Code require a defendant to physically impact a vehicle, object or other person for the defendant to be deemed “involved” in an accident? Read More

Unusual Driving Laws through the US

The chance to be stopped to get a breach that is driving is something which the typical driver attempts to prevent especially after being in a truck accident. Operating the speed limit as well as in a method that is sensible are two fundamental methods to prevent this issue. However some driving regulations are not therefore specific that merely attempting to determine their importance in 2016 could be a mind bending exercise.

It’s not from the world of chance although there’s small opportunity that the driver could be halted for violations. This cannot be especially false in areas for blending cash out of unsuspecting motorists having a status. Read More