August 24, 2016

Former Wrestlers Sue Company Over Traumatic Brain Injuries

by Levin & Perconti

Several dozen well-known wrestlers that have worked for a well-known wrestling company have joined in a class-action suit against that company, according to the Chicago Tribune. The lawsuit alleges that the plaintiffs incurred “long term neurological injuries” as a direct result of working for the company because the company allegedly “routinely failed to care” for them “in any medically competent or meaningful manner.” The lawsuit also alleges that the company “fraudulently misrepresented and concealed” the nature of injuries sustained in the course of employment. The lawsuit has the potential to become another high profile legal action dealing with professional athletes that have allegedly sustained long-term brain injuries, and further highlights the risks associated with repeated traumatic brain injuries.

Like other lawsuits filed by groups of professional athletes, this new lawsuit alleges that repeated traumatic brain injuries have resulted in the development of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (“CTE”). CTE is a progressive form of a degenerative brain disease that is found in people, mostly athletes, that have a history of recurring brain trauma including concussions and asymptomatic subconcussive blows to the head. This degeneration can cause memory loss, confusion, impaired judgment, issues with impulse control, depression, aggression, and eventually progressive dementia. Symptoms can start in as little as a few months after the athletic involvement, or may not appear until decades later.

Legal Obstacles

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August 16, 2016

Settlement Could Change How Traumatic Brain Injuries Addressed in College Athletics

by Levin & Perconti

A recent settlement between the State of Maryland and the National Collegiate Athletic Association (“NCAA”) may change the way college sports injuries are addressed. An article in The Baltimore Sun discussed the settlement, noting that while the payment to the victim’s family is relatively small, it could have far-reaching implications for other injuries and similar lawsuits across the country. The article explains that the State of Maryland became involved in the lawsuit because the victim’s family’s initial million-dollar claim named three state employees working in athletic capacities at a state university as among the defendants in the lawsuit.


The case centers around preseason drills that took place during a practice in 2011. According to the allegations in the lawsuit, players had been forced to complete a series of physically difficult practice drills, allegedly including running into each other helmet first even though regulations are supposed to prohibit such practices. Additionally, the lawsuit alleged that the state employees discouraged players from reporting injuries sustained during drills and practices, often ridiculing players that would choose to report such injuries anyhow.

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August 8, 2016

Preventative Therapy in Victims of Traumatic Brain Injury Could Lower Health Risks

by Levin & Perconti

A new study from the American College of Surgeons has indicated that administering blood thinning medications within 72 hours of a victim sustaining a traumatic brain injury can reduce the potential likelihood of life-threatening blood clots without increased risk of bleeding complications or death in patients. According to the article linked above detailing some findings of the new study, one in five patients being treated at trauma centers for serious injury are victims of a traumatic brain injury. The study’s author indicated that there had previously been no evidence detailing the time frame in which the administration of blood thinning medication could prove to help patients avoid blood clots.

Data Collection and Results

The data for the new study was collected by studying patients already observed in the American College of Surgeons’ Trauma Quality Improvement Program between 2012 and 2014. The study’s goal was to measure the success of administering blood thinning medications in the early stages of treatment versus the later stages of treatment with a focus on the occurrence of deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism. Over 3,000 adults with traumatic brain injury were ultimately studied after having been broken into two groups: those that received blood thinning medications in the early stages of treatment and those that received blood thinning medications in later stages of treatment.

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July 31, 2016

Head Injury Insurance Claims on the Rise

by Levin & Perconti

Head injuries incurred from sports-related activities are on of the fastest growing health insurance claims, according to a recent report from CNBC. The report notes that recent high-profile sports-related lawsuits over brain injuries sustained as a result of engaging in various athletic activities have highlighted the severity of such injuries, and have encouraged more people to report them and seek appropriate medical treatment. Two of the most notable cases that have received extensive media coverage include a class-action settlement last year between the National Football League and thousands of former players from that league as well as a more recent class-action lawsuit filed by more than 50 former professional wrestlers against a major wrestling entertainment company.

The momentum that both of these cases have achieved may be a catalyst in encouraging other professional and amateur players engaged in sports where they wear protective headgear to follow suit and seek compensation from entities such as athletic leagues, schools, helmet manufacturers, and retailers that sell safety equipment.

Basis of Legal Claims

Standard & Poor’s, an international company that provides credit ratings and market insight based on research, was the author of the information used in the article. It paints similarities between sports-related neurological claims and asbestos-related claims, both in the United States and the United Kingdom. Specifically, both injuries sustained as a result of an activity are latent injuries. This means they could take weeks, months, years, or even decades to manifest after an incident that may trigger them.

It is often difficult in both cases to assert a successful initial claim that is comprehensive enough to cover potential damages sustained as a result of related activities, which is why it may have taken so long for former professional football players and retired wrestlers to realize the full effect brain injuries may have had on them. As a result, Standard & Poor’s notes that many insurance companies are actually capping payouts on concussion lawsuits and including exclusion clauses in policies for concussion-related injuries.

While each legal action is unique, recent actions concerning sports-related head injuries have primarily focused on professional athletic groups’ negligence in informing members of the potential severity of such injuries. In other words, many lawsuits attempt to demonstrate that the agency charged with governing a certain sport or group of athletes was aware of the potential risk of such injuries but did not inform players, did not enact measures to prevent such injuries, and/or allowed activities that could cause such injuries to continue.

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July 23, 2016

New Study Links Traumatic Brain Injury with Parkinson’s Disease Later in Life

by Levin & Perconti

According to a recap published on Medscape that discussed the results of a recent study, traumatic brain injuries are not associated with the development of Alzheimer’s Disease later in life but are instead linked to the development of Parkinson’s Disease later in life. The new study suggests that traumatic brain injuries can be linked to the accumulation of Lewy bodies, which are associated with Lewy Body Dementia and Parkinson’s Disease according to the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute on Aging. Lewy bodies are abnormal protein deposits in the brain that can affect certain chemical levels in the brain, which can eventually lead to problems with thinking, movement, behavior, and mood. Ultimately, these affect a person’s ability to function normally on a day-to-day basis and may lead to Parkinson’s Disease or Lewy Body Dementia.

The study, published this month, contradicts an influential study from 1995 that had previously linked some aspects of traumatic brain injury with Alzheimer’s Disease. According to the lead author of the new study, the researchers had set out to prove the link between traumatic brain injuries and Alzheimer’s Disease later in life. According to the article, they instead found that a single blow to the head that resulted in the victim losing consciousness for more than one hour increased the risk of developing Parkinson’s Disease later in life by three-fold. The new study used data collected from three other studies that included participants initially free from dementia. The participants in the three other studies included older Seattle-area Group Health members; older religious clergy from across the United States; and older residents from the Chicago-area enrolled in the study through retirement facilities, subsidized housing, church groups, and social services. Having included thousands of older adults in the three studies used to conduct the study at hand, no particular link was found between the occurrence of traumatic brain injuries with loss of consciousness over one hour and Alzheimer’s Disease. Researchers indicated that they found a “pretty strong” association between loss of consciousness lasting more than an hour and the risk of developing Lewy bodies based on comprehensive neuropathic evaluations conducted at the time of death. The research indicated an average 40-year gap between a traumatic brain injury with loss of consciousness over one hours and the development of microscopic evidence of abnormal proteins associated with Lewy bodies.

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July 15, 2016

Symptoms of Traumatic Brain Injury

by Levin & Perconti

Almost every time that someone gets hit in the head, either by an object or another person, there is some type of injury that occurs. With just a slight bump, perhaps caused by hitting the temple of your head against an open cupboard, there will likely be a cut followed by some swelling and a bruise. In other cases of more severe head trauma, a person may be rendered unconscious by being hit in the head. In these cases, a person will likely face some swelling, bruising, and a concussion. A concussion is a term that means temporary unconsciousness caused by a blow to the head, but it is often used to describe the period of time after the concussion in which medical care and observation is needed.

However, while many people believe these types of injuries to be minor, they may actually be very serious traumatic brain injuries. Concussions that are shorter in length, usually under 20-30 minutes, can also be classified as mild traumatic brain injuries. From that point, there are moderate and severe brain injuries. Generally, a person suffering a concussion is observed for a period of time and then given a clean bill of health. Sometimes CAT scans or MRIs are involved in ensuring that no additional damage has been done, depending on the severity of the injury. However, sometimes serious traumatic brain injuries resulting from what appear to be mild concussions are misdiagnosed. When this happens, a person is at increased risk of prolonged neurological damage that may have a profound effect on that person’s well-being and ability to thrive as a human being. Some symptoms of traumatic brain injury that are often overlooked are discussed below.

Symptoms of Mild Traumatic Brain Injury

When a person is taken to the hospital after a bump on the head, especially after loss of consciousness, it is not uncommon for medical providers to perform CAT scans and MRIs to determine the extent of any damage that may have been done to the brain
. Often times, such tests may show that no visible damage has occurred. However, some signs and symptoms that minor traumatic brain injury has in fact occurred include but are not limited to:

· Fatigue;
· Headaches;
· Memory loss;
· Sleep disturbances;
· Feelings of depression;
· Loss of sense of smell;
· Nausea;
· Confusion; and
· Seizures.

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July 7, 2016

Illinois Supreme Court Decision Upholds Builders’ Rights in Warranty Cases

by Levin & Perconti

In 2011, a homeowner filed a lawsuit against a homebuilder because a retaining wall failed causing the collapse of a large patio at the home. According to the Cook County Record, the homeowner was the second owner of this particular property having purchased it from the original owner. The original owner had purchased the property from a now defunct homebuilding company, and the state’s highest court’s decision turned on an action taken by the original homeowner during the original purchase. According to the article’s information regarding the allegations in the lawsuit, the plaintiff in this case attempted to secure compensation for the thousands of dollars of damage caused by the patio’s collapse based on an implied warranty of habitability. The original trial court that heard the case ruled in favor of the homebuilder based on the fact that the original owner of the home had purchased the property opting for an express warranty and waiving their rights to an implied warranty. When the new homeowner appealed the decision, the appellate court ruled in favor of the homeowner and reversed the decision of the lower court. Eventually, the case was appealed to the Illinois Supreme Court, who ultimately ruled in favor of the homebuilder once again.

Understanding Express and Implied Warranty

Most products that consumers purchase, including houses and other large consumer goods, are protected by a warranty. However, that warranty is not always specifically stated or set forth. The two main types of warranties for consumer goods are express warranties and implied warranties. An express warranty is a product warranty that is clearly stated, often in writing when the value of the product is as substantial as that of a house. Express warranties can also be verbal in some instances, though the existence of a verbal express warranty can be difficult to prove. The express warranty is basically a guarantee by the seller of a product that the product will meet certain expectations, and that the seller will be responsible for costs associated with such products if they do not meet those express guarantees.

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June 30, 2016

Two Chicago-area Medical Centers Face Wrongful Death Lawsuits

by Levin & Perconti

Medical procedures can be intimidating for most people. They put a person in a stressful position in which a person must often choose between life and death. Doing so involves a great deal of trust in the medical professionals performing medical procedures, especially procedures that could lead to serious injury or death. Unfortunately, while medical professionals are highly trained individuals, routine procedures can be negligently performed. In other words, regardless of how much experience a medical professional has in a certain area or procedure, it is still possible for that medical professional to make a mistake that could seriously injure or kill a patient. It is also possible that care before or after a medical procedure can lead to injury or death. When such injury or death occurs in a medical facility or at the hands of a medical professional as the result of negligence, a wrongful death lawsuit may be appropriate in seeking justice for the unnecessary loss of a loved one.

Wrongful Death Lawsuits

According to the Cook County Record, two Chicago-area medical facilities are facing such lawsuits. The first lawsuit alleges that the victim in question underwent surgery on June 17, 2014. The surgery in question allegedly caused several complications, one of which was an anastomotic leak, which the lawsuit alleges contributed to or caused the victim’s death. According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, an anastomotic leak is a serious complication related to colorectal or intestinal surgery. If not properly diagnosed, these leaks can cause severe and possibly fatal complications. The article in the Cook County Record states that the plaintiff in the lawsuit against the medical center that performed the undisclosed procedure on the victim has alleged that the medical center and staff failed to properly evaluate the victim’s condition after surgery, and consequently failed to provide proper medical attention when symptoms of postoperative complications began to arise.

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June 23, 2016

Chicago Offers Settlement in Wrongful Death of Teen

by Levin & Perconti

Coming on the heels of two high profile settlements from the City of Chicago, the mayor’s administration has reached another potential settlement in the 2013 death of a 17-year-old. According to an article from the Chicago Tribune, this settlement proposal was reached less than two weeks before the scheduled trial on the incident, and still needs to be approved by the Chicago City Council.

The Situation

The incident that resulted in the fatal shooting began on January 7, 2013 around 1:30 p.m. when the victim and two friends beat and robbed a man inside the man’s car after negotiating whether or not they would purchase cell phone service from the man. After this, the victim left by himself in the man’s car. After observing the man’s car roll through a stop sign at Essex Avenue and 75th Street, police ran the vehicle’s license plates. The plates originally came back clean, presumably because the incident had not yet been reported. However, shortly thereafter, a call came over the police radio indicating that a carjacking had taken place and the vehicle that officers had seen roll through the stop sign had been involved. The police officers that had observed the vehicle rolling through the stop sign caught up with the vehicle and as soon as police officers stepped out of their vehicle, which was unmarked according to records, the 17-year-old left the stolen vehicle and police officers began pursuing him.

According to statements from the police officers, the 17-year-old had pointed an object that looked like a gun at one of the officers. However, that object later turned out to be a black cell phone box. As the 17-year-old fled from police officers on foot, one of the officers assumed a shooting stance on the sidewalk near where other people were also walking. After striking the 17-year-old in his side, a shot that pierced the victim’s heart and lodged in his spine, the 17-year-old rounded a corner and collapsed on the sidewalk. As officers caught up with the 17-year-old, he reportedly told officers, “I give up. I’m shot.” One of the officers cuffed the young man and placed a foot on his back while waiting for paramedics to arrive.

Initially, the officer who fired the fatal shot had remained on active duty until recently. The article indicates that the officer who fired the fatal shot has been suspended and is performing non-operational duties within the Chicago Police Department. The family’s attorney was unable to provide specific details as to the settlement itself because it has yet to be approved by the city, and a spokesperson for the city’s law department did not comment on the case.

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June 16, 2016

Epilepsy as a Result of Brain Injury

by Levin & Perconti

Epilepsy is a neurological disorder caused by abnormal electrical activity in the brain. The epileptic patient will exhibit recurring bouts of sensory disturbances, possible loss of consciousness and convulsions or spasms also known as seizures. For the most part, the cause of epilepsy in two out of three patients is unknown. Medical science has been able to diagnose the disorder but unless there is some medical condition that can be pointed to as having caused the disorder, healthcare providers continue to remain in the dark. With that said, however, those known causes can be diagnosed when an individual presents to his healthcare provider with epileptic symptoms, who previously had a healthy functioning brain, but has now developed recurrent seizures after suffering from some form of illness such as a brain tumor, stroke, or some type of head injury resulting in brain trauma.

Post-Traumatic Epilepsy vs. Post-Traumatic Seizures

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June 9, 2016

$9 Million Verdict in Fatal Medical Malpractice Suit

by Levin & Perconti

In 2010, a mother of five children was experiencing a sixth pregnancy, but this pregnancy came with an elevated risk level because the mother was 40. Feeling ill and complaining of shortness of breath, she went to a Chicago hospital where her doctor diagnosed her with pneumonia. Expecting the hospital visit to improve her condition, the mother didn’t realize the missteps of her caregivers during and after her admission. Unfortunately, those missteps resulted in the mother’s death as well as the death of her unborn child, according to a federal jury.

The Chicago Tribune article detailing the outcome of the lawsuit and the events leading up to it indicate that the victim’s doctor failed to admit the victim to intensive care after the pneumonia diagnosis. The victim had instead been placed in a regular room, and reported to a nurse that her condition was deteriorating. According to the article’s representation of the suit, the nurse in question attempted to contact the victim’s doctor twice. When both attempts were unsuccessful, the nurse allowed the victim to remain in the regular hospital room instead of having the victim transferred to the emergency room. Shortly thereafter, the victim was found unresponsive in her hospital room. Doctors attempted to revive the victim, but were unsuccessful. Doctors then performed an emergency cesarean section to try and save the baby, but the attempts were unsuccessful and the baby was pronounced dead after roughly 20 minutes were spent trying to revive him.

The Lawsuit and Verdict

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June 9, 2016

Unsportsmanlike Behavior Can Lead to Trauma Brain Injury

by Levin & Perconti

The name of any game is to win in a sportsmanlike manner. This applies to any sports whether it is baseball, football, hockey and lacrosse. Children’s involvement in any type of sports activity should always be prefaced with this admonition.

Take the game of lacrosse. It is a fast paced, highly competitive sport that is growing in popularity, in high schools and colleges across the nation. But like any sports activity, it is fraught with danger and risks of injury to its players. Injuries to the legs are common, as well as head injuries.

The rules of the game for lacrosse players are substantially different for boys and girls. Boy’s lacrosse is classified as a “contact” sport, meaning that because a higher level of player contact is allowed, the boys are required to wear protective gear including padding, facemasks, mouthguards and helmets. Girl’s lacrosse on the other hand is considered a “non-contact” sport, and although the players are not required to wear protective gear, there is still a risk of injury to the players.

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