You and Your Rights
Farah & Farah newsletter: Fall 2009
In This Issue
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From Investigating To Mentoring
For the past five years Bill Scull, a licensed investigator for Farah & Farah, has been there for college student Roderick Terry. From buying new wrestling shoes to meeting with guidance counselors, Scull, a Jacksonville native who received a criminology degree from Florida State, has forged a relationship with Terry they both feel will only grow stronger.
Five years ago Scull was approached by Eddie Farah to participate in a student mentoring program. “I always thought about joining the [Big Brothers Big Sisters] program even though I had a son of my own,” said Scull. The program started out with 10-12 volunteers but as the years past, other mentors had a hard time keeping ties with their mentee. “Some children just disappeared,” said Scull but he kept in contact with Terry.
Terry believes he would not be where he is today if it weren’t for Scull. “I am a forgiving person because of Mr. Bill,” said Terry. “He has taught me to stay focused and positive no matter what life throws at me.”
Scull mentioned one of the biggest challenges and accomplishments was improving Terry’s grades. “When I met him, he was failing,” said Scull, “I just stayed on top of him and encouraged him.” During Terry’s last two semesters of high school he enrolled in advanced course and earned A’s and B’s.
“Just by going to work everyday, Mr. Bill showed me that I can go to school everyday and get good grades,” said Terry.
Having graduated from Lee High School this past June, Terry is already enrolled in courses at Edward Waters College and works part-time at Wendy’s. “I’ve got him through high school, now it’s college,” said Scull.
Terry explained he and Scull have been through a lot together, from attending Jags games to dealing with personal challenges, but he knows their relationship will continue to evolve. Terry even joked about Scull some day being the best man at his wedding.
“He was the first one to stay in my life and I know he’ll always be there without a doubt,” said Terry.
Scull thinks of Terry as his own son. “I plan to be in his life forever,” he said, “I know he feels the same way.”
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Cutting Physician’s Ties To Industry Gifts
Judges don’t dine with attorneys who bring cases to their courts, so why is it commonplace for both physicians and their professional organizations to accept gifts from the drug industry?
“Relationships between physicians, researchers and drug companies are ubiquitous in every aspect of medical education, medical research and patient care,” said Eric Campbell, associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School. It’s hard to find other fields “in which relationships with [industry] are so pervasive.”
Such a relationship can and does lead to biased reporting of research data and this directly affects patient care. For example, the maker of a blood substitute shut down a clinical trial when data “showed significant increases in the rates of mortality and heart attacks in the group receiving the experimental intervention” and sat on the data for five years.
According to the New England Journal of Medicine, 94 percent of physicians have “a relationship” with the pharmaceutical, medical device or other related industries. Research also showed 43 percent of scientists in the top 50 research intensive universities reported having received gifts from industry in the previous three years.
Recently, the symbiotic relationship between doctors and the drug industry has fallen under intense scrutiny not only in media but also in the halls of congress. In January of this year, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Sen. Herb Kohl (D-Wis.) introduced legislation called the Physician Payments Sunshine Act. If passed, it would require drug and medical device manufacturers to report payments to any physician of more than $100, regardless if for research purposes or a gift, and to publish the information online.
Senior assistant general counsel for Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), Marjorie Powell, agrees with the concept of transparency. “[PhRMA] thinks that a national reporting system makes much more sense than different state reporting systems.” PhRMA supports the Physician Payments Sunshine Act. However, some people disagree with the legislation and suggest it would be a breach of privacy. Avi B. Markowitz, a medical oncologist at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, feels if he were to disclose his ties to industry, he would also surrender personal rights and freedoms.
Nonetheless, most physicians and their professional organizations feel full disclosure is the best solution. “We are always balancing between privacy and public good,” said Alan Coukell, director of the Pew Prescription Project. “I think there is an emerging consensus… that transparency is for the greater public good.”
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Farah Donates To A Local Rehabilitation Center
Jack is a 30-year-old male with schizophrenia. He has been in and out of mental health facilities most of his adult life. Unfortunately, Jack lacks insurance and no longer can receive care from these facilities. That’s when a local hospital referred Jack to Community Rehabilitation Center (CRC) located on Jacksonville’s Northside.
CRC’s goals are to create and maintain programs which aim to reduce alcohol and drug use, to provide diverse mental health services, and also offer job training and career counseling. Without the services provided by CRC, Jack could end up in jail, on the streets or worse, dead.
When Eddie Farah heard about the work of CRC he immediately wanted to help. According to Reginald Gaffney, the executive director of the center, Farah has donated more than $15,000 over the last three years. “What we’ve been able to do is create jobs and increase the self-esteem of our clients,” Gaffney said.
According to CRC, there are approximately 3,000 homeless people on the streets of Jacksonville on any given day. Over 65 percent of them have a chronic mental illness and many also suffer from substance abuse or HIV/AIDS. Unfortunately, many of these individuals end up in the criminal justice system for petty crimes such as trespassing. Programs like CRC could care for these individuals and cost society only one-third the amount of the criminal justice system. “Even though our people are considered outcasts and society doesn’t give them a helping hand, we do the opposite,” said Stanley Twiggs, director of operations at CRC. “We take a broken person and try to make them whole.”
Farah and his law firm felt compelled to offer their support. “How many help the homeless? Who speaks up for these people?” said Farah. “Not enough was being done in that area of society.” Since his involvement Farah has supported the agency and all its special events such as a celebrity golf tournament and annual board dinner.
Dr. Leon Seymore, president of the board of directors, said Farah’s contributions have made a profound difference for the agency. “[Farah] supports us emotionally and physically to take broken persons and try to make them whole.”
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Eddie Farah Awarded Prestigious Award
Eddie Farah was awarded the EAGLE Legend Award by the Florida Justice Association (FJA) on June 19, 2009. This distinction is given to those individuals whom demonstrate the highest level of commitment to the preservation of the civil justice system and FJA.
In 1984 EAGLE was created as the fundraising arm of FJA and its political action committee, the Florida Lawyers Action Group (FLAG). Since its inception, EAGLE members and FLAG have worked together to pursue the association’s goal of protecting the civil justice system.
By accepting this award, Farah joined many FJA past presidents and leaders who demonstrated an unwavering commitment to justice. “I am honored to be recognized by my colleagues and the FJA,” Farah said.
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Brake Safey: 101
The day starts with your drive to work and fills up fast with soccer practice, dance rehearsal, a stop to pick up dinner, and then you’re finally home. Did you stop at all and think about your brakes? Sure they worked great the last time you drove, but how do you know if they are in good shape?
Your braking system is one of the most crucial safety mechanisms in your vehicle and one of the easiest to maintain. Unfortunately, brake failure accounts for a significant number of accidents in Florida. By paying attention to your braking system you will be able to recognize the warning signs and hopefully prevent a potentially life threatening accident.
Below are some warning signs for brake problems. If you encounter any of these problems, you should visit your repair shop as soon as possible.
Reduced responsiveness or fading:
If your brakes are not as responsive as they should be or if the pedal “sinks” toward the floor, this could be an indication of a leak in the braking system. It could be an air leak in the brake hose or a brake fluid leak. One telltale sign of a brake fluid leak is the presence of a small puddle of fluid when the car is parked. Brake fluid looks similar to fresh motor oil, but with a less “slimy” texture.
Grinding or growling:
This loud metallic sound means that you have worn down the pads completely, most likely beyond replacement. The grinding or growling noise is caused by the disc and the caliper rubbing together. This can “score,” or scratch your rotors, creating an uneven surface. If this happens, do not be surprised if your mechanic tells you that the rotors need to be replaced.
If your vehicle “pulls” to one side while braking, it may be a sign that the brake linings are wearing unevenly or that there is foreign matter in the brake fluid. Your vehicle may need a brake adjustment or to have the fluid drained and replaced.
A vibration or pulsating brake pedal is often a symptom of warped rotors or it can also indicate that your vehicle is out of alignment. The vibration can feel similar to the feedback in the brake pedal during a panic stop in a vehicle equipped with anti-lock brakes.
A problem with your brakes is not only dangerous for you, but also places your passengers and every vehicle around you in danger. By watching for these four basic signs, you will be able to keep your brakes in top condition. However, it is important to also schedule regular vehicle maintenance as needed.
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Farah & Farah Secures $977,000 For Injured Mother Of Two After Collision With Tractor-Trailer
A 37-year-old mother of two from North Florida was the passenger in a vehicle heading east on U.S. 1 in Nassau County when a tractor-trailer approached traveling west from the paper mills. The trucker was driving too fast for the rainy conditions and, unable to come to a stop, slid across the highway and jackknifed while plowing into the median.
The driver of the car our client was passenger to steered his Chrysler into the median as well, fortunately avoiding a head-on collision with a cab. However, the front passenger side of his car collided with the rear of the jackknifed truck cab.
Luckily, the driver of the car got out with just a damaged hand, but our client had to be cut out of the vehicle by Nassau County rescue personnel who rushed her to Shands Trauma Center in Jacksonville. Her right leg was shattered and her right arm was horribly mangled and had to be rebuilt orthopedically through multiple surgeries. Today she lives with a plate in her left leg to stabilize it.
To make matters worse, this past summer she was diagnosed with complex regional pain syndrome, a neurological deficiency induced by trauma that has caused a loss of mobility in her right arm. Our client, now 39, has been in therapy at various times since the traumatic accident and faces limitations on being able to work for the rest of her life.
Farah & Farah represented the woman in her case against the timber company and in 2009 secured a $977,000 settlement on her behalf.
“With the injuries she sustained, our client will have a tough time returning to the working world full-time. We are thankful she is alive, and this money will help sustain her and her family, who have watched her struggle with pain and disability for two years now,” said Brian Flaherty, who represented the woman.
The driver was cited in this case for excessive speed.
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Truck Accident Award:
$1.35 Million To Help Teen Without A Father
Farah & Farah represented the surviving child of a Jacksonville truck driver, killed while on the job.
When the 49-year-old man brought his truck into a loading dock in Atlanta in April, 2008, he stopped and opened the rear doors of his truck to prepare for a load.
That’s when another driver in a big-rig pulled up behind him.
When the second driver, working for a major hauler, reached down to retrieve something off the cab floor, he unintentionally let the truck lurch forward, crushing the driver of the first truck between the vehicles, He died a short time later.
The negligence claim was settled in September 2009. Attorney Randall Rutledge says it will provide his client, the man’s child, now a teenager, with the funds he needs to continue his education, and his life without his father.
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Did You Know?
Switzerland based Roche Holding AG, leading maker of cancer drugs, pulled its Accutane acne medicine from the U.S. market after $33 million was awarded to users who blamed the drug for causing bowel disease. Accutane has been linked to chronic bowel diseases such as ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease, as well as birth defects and depression.
In a major victory for consumers, both General Motors and Chrysler have agreed to assume liability for all vehicles in accidents or collisions that occurred after their bankruptcies. Under the original bankruptcy plan, both car makers would have repaired the defective vehicles under warranty claims. However, if the same defect causes injury or death, the consumer would get nothing.
Families of the 23 Bellaire nursing home residents who died in a fiery bus while evacuating from Hurricane Rita nearly four years ago, have reached an $80 million settlement with the Defendants. The probable cause of the accident, as determined by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, was insufficient lubrication of a rear axle which over heated and caused a fire in the wheel well that filled the bus with flames and heavy smoke.
A California appeals court reversed a ruling that had ordered Starbucks Corp. to pay more than $100 million in restitution for allowing shift supervisors to share baristas’ tips. In 2004 Jou Chau, a former barista, complained shift supervisors were illegally getting a cut of employee tips and San Diego County Superior Court ruled in favor of the baristas. The State Court of Appeals in San Diego reversed the trial court’s ruling stating Starbucks supervisors “essentially perform the same job as baristas.”
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If you have been injured in Jacksonville, please contact a Florida personal injury lawyer at Farah & Farah today to discuss your case.