The city of Berkeley, its police chief, and several of its police officers, will be required to face a class action lawsuit brought by protesters that were injured at a recent city council meeting. Though some of the charges brought were dropped, U.S. District Court Judge Jeffrey White kept alive claims that the Berkeley police chief failed to enforce the police department's own rules for policing demonstrations. These rules were recently adopted after violent tactics were used against demonstrators for Black Lives Matter back in 2014. Apparently, police used those same outlawed tactics against those protesting the city's SWAT team training and weapons expo, while in the presence of Police Chief Andrew Greenwood.
Three Protesters Allegedly Injured From Police Use of Batons
In July of 2017, protesters and plaintiffs Dylan Cooke, Brooke Anderson, and Lewis Williams came to the stage with other protesters at the conclusion of the City Council meeting at Longfellow Middle School to unroll a banner that said, "Stop Urban Shield, End the Militarization of Our Communities." According to the complaint, before the sign was even unrolled, police stormed the stage and used excessive force. One officer twisted Cooke's wrist and shoulder in an "excruciating pain hold", and another subsequently wrenched Cooke's arm harder, according to the lawsuit. Anderson, who was wearing a press pass, claims she was repeatedly hit with batons on her arm, on which she wore a visible brace, and had her camera pushed into her face with batons. Williams, who is 74 years old, suffered a cut on his head; allegedly he stooped to pick up his glasses from the floor when an officer hit him on the top of his head.
Alleged Force Used Violated Berkeley Police Department's Own Policy
After excessive force was used in a local Black Lives Matter rally in 2014, the Berkeley Police Department adopted a crowd-control and use-of-force policy that includes prohibitions on how batons are used and how crowds are disbursed. Judge White will allow claims to move forward that allege that police violated this policy. Though White did drop some related claims, he will allow plaintiffs to amend their complaint, so as to potentially reinstate the dropped claims, thereby making the city increasingly liable for the actions of the police officers. According to plaintiffs' attorney, Rachel Lederman, if the dropped claims are amended and reinstated, "the big picture can be addressed and additional injuries can be averted and people can exercise their First Amendment rights in Berkeley without fear of being clubbed on the head for no reason."
If you or someone you love has been violently injured during a peaceful protest, contact a civil rights attorney. Our country was founded on notions of free speech, and in order to keep our country great, all voices should be heard. A civil rights attorney may take your case free or at low cost. Call one today. You have nothing to lose.
- Find a Civil Rights Attorney Near You (FindLaw Lawyer's Directory)
- UC Berkeley Occupy Protestors Lose Excessive Force Case Against Campus Cops (FindLaw Decided)
- 5 More Tips for Protesting (Legally) (FindLaw Blotter)
Sometimes we need to change doctors. Sometimes a medical condition needs to go to an expert. And sometimes, a medical emergency prevents us from giving our complete medical history to the doctors and nurses treating us. In any case, the quality of health care that we receive is only as good as the accuracy of our medical records.
And while it may be impossible to calculate exactly how many errors are hidden in our medical histories, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology estimates that nearly 1 in 10 people who access their medical records online end up requesting that they be corrected. So how do you find out if your medical records are accurate? And how do you correct them if they're not?
"I tell people, 'Collect all your medical records, no matter what' so you can ask all kinds of questions and be on the alert for errors," Susan Sheridan, director of patient engagement with the Society to Improve Diagnosis in Medicine told CNN. That is great advice, but how do you actually get your records?
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) establishes data privacy and security guidelines for patients' medical information. This law also guarantees your right to review your medical record and request corrections. Under HIPAA, hospitals, medical clinics, physician practices, pharmacies, and health insurers are required to make your medical records available within 30 days, at a reasonable cost, and in the format that you request, if possible.
If you are having trouble acquiring your medical records, or those of a family member, you can review the recent guidelines issued by the Office for Civil Rights of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Your doctor or hospital should also be able to provide you with a form to correct any errors in your medical records. "Individuals should be provided with a timely means to dispute the accuracy or integrity of their individually identifiable health information," according to the Office of Civil Rights, "and to have erroneous information corrected or to have a dispute documented if their requests are denied."
Even seemingly innocuous errors, like outdated contact information for family or designated representatives, inaccurate dates of treatment, or minor errors in dosages and medications can have catastrophic health effects if not corrected. Make sure you check your medical records and fix any errors. And you may want to talk to a local attorney for help if you're having trouble.
- Browse Health Care Lawyers Near You (FindLaw's Lawyer Directory)
- Medical Records Don't Always Match What Patients Say (Reuters)
- Have Your Medical Records Been Hacked? Probably (FindLaw's Injured)
- Who Has Access to Your Medical Records After You Die? (FindLaw's Injured)
Aisha Siddiqui won a jury verdict of $3 million in her personal injury lawsuit against a mall owner and escalator manufacturer after her right big toe was "crushed and shredded" during a Christmas shopping trip in Arkansas last year.
Siddiqui was riding down an escalator at the Park Plaza mall, when her boot got caught and pulled into the moving escalator. Her right big toe was caught in the escalator's teeth, turning it into "hamburger meat," according to her attorney, Denise Hoggard. Medical responders hoped to reattach the toe, and therefore couldn't use pain killing medication during the agonizing and protracted rescue. In the end, the toe couldn't be saved.
Career as a Surgeon Put at Risk
According to Hoggard, this wasn't just a case about a big toe. It was about pain and suffering, as well as quality of life. Losing the toe has impacted the way she walks and stands, leading to daily pain in her hip and knee.
Siddiqui is in medical school, and hopes to become a surgeon, which often requires long hours of standing. Now this career is in jeopardy. Hoggard estimated Siddiqui's earnings loss ranged from $1.5 million, if jurors considered how much she would earn as a college graduate, to $5 million, if she succeeds as a surgeon. Defendants in the case, the mall owner and escalator manufacturer, had already admitted guilt as well as prior knowledge of other clothing items recently getting caught in this same escalator. They were looking to pay Siddiqui $500,000.
$15 Million Awarded in Prior Escalator Settlement
Though $3 million may seem like a high award, back in 2003, Dillard's department store agreed to pay a Florida girl $15 million, after she lost three fingers at the age of five when her hand got caught in an escalator as she tried to free her shoe that had gotten similarly stuck. In that case, the Dillard's manager also knew that the escalator was dangerous, but had lied to state regulators to make it appear that the escalator was being maintained.
If you or someone you love has been injured from an escalator incident, contact a local personal injury attorney. Only through legal discovery will you be able to learn if the escalator operator or manufacturer knew or should have known that the machine was dangerous. A lawyer will be able to help you get the most reimbursement possible for your medical bills, pain, suffering, and lost wages.
- Find a Personal Injury Attorney Near You (FindLaw's Lawyer Directory)
- Parents Sue Crocs Over Child's Escalator Injury (FindLaw Injured)
- Houston Texans Fan Dies After Falling Off 3-Story Escalator (FindLaw Tarnished Twenty)