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Family of Las Vegas Shooting Massacre Victim Files Suit Against MGM Resorts and Others

Posted October 26, 2017 - phillipgilbertlaw.com

By David Ferrara Las Vegas Review-Journal
October 17, 2017 – 3:45 pm ( Updated October 17, 2017 – 6:17 pm)

The horrific final moments of a 28-year-old woman’s life at the Route 91 Harvest festival are detailed in a lawsuit filed Tuesday in Los Angeles.

Andrea Castilla “heard gunshots and yelled for her friends and family with her to ‘duck!’” before a bullet struck her in the head, according to the first wrongful death complaint filed in connection with the massacre. “What’s regrettable is that this incident was completely avoidable,” said attorney Richard Bridgford who filed the lawsuit on behalf of the woman’s father, Gus Castilla.

The lawsuit names MGM Resorts International, Live Nation Entertainment, security company Contemporary Services Corp., bump stock maker Slide Fire Solutions LP, and the estate of gunman Stephen Paddock as defendants.

The Oct. 1 massacre left 58 concertgoers dead and injured hundreds of others.

Pointing to Paddock’s 11-minute “reign of terror,” the lawsuit refers to a “packed and enclosed venue,” on which authorities have said he fired using a bump stock device that turned a semi-automatic weapon into a fully automatic weapon. “During this time, the lights at the outdoor venue came on, giving defendant Paddock, who had a bird’s-eye view of the music festival, more visibility,” the lawsuit states. “Gunfire continued to rain down during this time.”
Andrea Castilla’s family and friends carried her toward the edge of the festival grounds, lifting her over a fence and into a good Samaritan’s truck bed, the lawsuit states. “The witnesses with whom we’ve spoken claim that the exits were insufficiently and poorly marked and that there was absolute chaos and really no assistance from any kind of public announcement system,” Bridgford said.

Her sister placed pressure on her wound while she was rushed to Sunrise Hospital and Medical Center, “breathing and humming during the ride.” At the hospital, she was separated from friends and family, who learned the next day that she had died.

The lawsuit alleges negligence against the hotel company, as well as battery, assault and intentional infliction of emotional distress against Paddock’s estate, and gross negligence and product liability against Slide Fire.

Among the allegations in the complaint: MGM failed to surveil people entering and leaving the hotel, failed to notice Paddock taking weapons to his suite, failed to check inside the room for three days after a “do not disturb” sign was hung on the door, and failed to respond to the shooting of Mandalay Bay security officer Jesus Campos. “I cannot fathom that, in an era where casinos have been identified as soft targets for shooting and terrorist occurrences,” Bridgford added, “that the hotel could permit the shooter to access a live concert through breakable glass.”

Through a public relations firm, MGM has released the following statement: “The tragic incident that took place on October 1st was a meticulously planned, evil senseless act. As our company and city work through the healing process, our primary focus and concern is taking actions to support the victims and their families, our guests and employees and cooperating with law enforcement. “We are grateful for all who came to the victims’ aid that evening, including our employees, first responders, the police and citizens who acted in countless ways to assist,” the statement continued. “Out of respect for the victims we are not going to try this case in the public domain and we will give our response through the appropriate legal channels.”

Remington Seeks to Dismiss Wrongful Death Lawsuit

Posted October 18, 2017 - phillipgilbertlaw.com

GRAND RAPIDS, MI – Remington Arms blamed a father for the accidental shooting of his daughter who was killed when a rifle discharged in their pickup truck.

Shellsea Lefebre-Schiel, 12, died Sept. 21, 2014, after she was shot in the head while on a hunting trip with her father, Jose Lefebre, on Drummond Island.

Her mother, Michelle Lefebre, filed a $5 million federal lawsuit against the gun maker, which had posted a voluntary recall on its website that said: “Remington has determined that some Model 700 and Model Seven rifles with XMP triggers could, under certain circumstances, unintentionally discharge.”

Shellsea was in the back seat of the four-door pickup. The rifle was tucked between a front-seat passenger’s left leg and interior panel on the console, pointed to the back. The lawsuit contends that a cellphone charger cord apparently moved the safety lever to the fire position.

The rifle discharged while the father was driving the pickup truck. His daughter was struck in the jaw and killed.

Remington Arms, in a motion to dismiss the case, said that blame for the “tragic shooting death” rested with the father. The Protection of Lawful Commerce Act generally protects gun makers and sellers when criminal misuse of an allegedly defective firearm is the cause of such a shooting, Grand Rapids attorney Edward Perdue wrote.

“She was shot and killed as the result of criminal acts committed by her father, Jose Lefebre, who illegally transported a loaded Remington rifle in his motor vehicle with the safety disengaged – in violation of the criminal law – and otherwise handled the rifle in a criminally reckless manner to cause her death,” Perdue wrote.

While the act provides “broad immunity,” there are exceptions, including personal injury or wrongful death that results from a design or manufacturing defect, he said.

“However, the product liability action exception is subject to an exception of its own: when the discharge of the firearm is the result of a ‘volitional act’ that constitutes a ‘criminal offense,’ the criminal act ‘shall be considered the sole proximate cause’ of resulting personal injuries or death,” Perdue wrote.

Lefebre, 47, was charged with involuntary manslaughter, a 15-year felony, and possession of a loaded firearm in a vehicle, a two-year misdemeanor. In a plea agreement, he pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges of attempted possession of a loaded firearm in a motor vehicle and attempted reckless use of a firearm causing injury or death, records showed.

“In this case, there is no question that Lebrere chose to load the rifle, transport the loaded rifle in the passenger compartment of his truck, and ‘position’ it in his truck so that it pointed toward the rear passenger compartment, where two children sat,” Perdue wrote.

“The unfortunate choices Lefebre made that day were volitional and criminal, and they resulted in Shellsea’s tragic death,” he said.

Lefebre’s attorney, Leonard Siudara, said the father remains distraught.

The lawsuit said that a “defective assembly” of the rifle’s X-Mark Pro, or XMP, fire control system caused the unintended discharge. Lefebre had no way of knowing about the recall unless he checked Remington’s website, his attorney said.

“Remington’s egregious inattention to proper assembly and later inexcusable, willful and wanton delay notifying the public of the defect allowed 2,500,000 defective and dangerous XMP equipped rifles to be sold and used over 8 years of production and Shellsea to suffer a wrongful death,” he said in the lawsuit.

FDA Increases Access to Reports of Adverse Drug Reactions

Posted October 10, 2017 - phillipgilbertlaw.com

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration today launched a new user-friendly search tool that improves access to data on adverse events associated with drug and biologic products through the FDA’s Adverse Event Reporting System (FAERS). The tool is designed to make it easier for consumers, providers, and researchers to access this information.

“Tools like the FDA Adverse Event Reporting System are critical to the FDA’s ability to help ensure the greatest level of transparency and help patients and providers make safe use of drug and biologic products after they are approved by the FDA,” said FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D. “The FDA is committed to fully informing patients and providers of adverse events reported with medical products and this enhanced portal now provides patients, doctors and others with easier access to the data they are interested in.”

The new dashboard enables users to search for and organize data by criteria such as drug/biological product, age of the patient, type of adverse event, year the adverse event occurred, or within a specific timeframe. In addition to making it easier for consumers to search for adverse events reported with drug or biologic products, the FDA hopes the increased transparency will spur the submission of more detailed and complete reports from consumers, health care professionals and others, by making it easier for people to see other reports that the FDA receives, and search the database for similar observations.

The FDA uses FAERS for surveillance, such as looking for new safety concerns that might be related to a marketed product, evaluating a manufacturer’s compliance with reporting regulations and responding to outside requests for information. The reports in FAERS are evaluated by clinical reviewers in the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research and Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research to monitor the safety of products after they are marketed. If a potential safety concern is identified in FAERS, further evaluation is performed.

“Our focus on safety extends beyond approval,” said Janet Woodcock, M.D., director of the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. “In fact, our staff spends a lot of time looking at FAERS reports received regarding approved drug and biologic products and these reports can be very valuable components of our safety assessments. By giving people a better understanding of these data, and the associated limitations, we hope the new interface will encourage people to submit more complete reports.”

While the FAERS dashboard now offers stakeholders many more ways of searching for and organizing data on adverse events reported to the FDA for many drug and biologic products, there remain limitations to the data. For example, while FAERS contains reports on adverse events associated with a particular drug or biologic, this does not mean that the drug or biologic caused the adverse event. Importantly, the FAERS data by themselves are not an indicator of the safety profile of the drug or biologic. Patients should still talk to their health care professional if they have any concerns regarding their medications.

In addition to the FAERS database for drugs and biologics, the agency has adverse event reporting programs and databases for foods, dietary supplements, and cosmetics (CFSAN Adverse Event Reporting System, or “CAERS”), medical devices (Manufacturer and User Facility Device Experience, or “MAUDE”) and vaccines (Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System, or “VAERS” that the FDA co-manages with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).

The FDA encourages health care professionals and consumers to report adverse events or quality problems experienced with the use of drug and biologic products to the FDA’s MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting program. To do so:

The FDA, an agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, protects the public health by assuring the safety, effectiveness, and security of human and veterinary drugs, vaccines and other biological products for human use, and medical devices. The Agency also is responsible for the safety and security of our nation’s food supply, cosmetics, dietary supplements, products that give off electronic radiation, and for regulating tobacco products.

U.S. Supreme Court Declines to Hear Florida Medical Records Case

Posted October 5, 2017 - phillipgilbertlaw.com

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday declined to take up an appeal by a Jacksonville-based hospital system about the disclosure of records in medical-malpractice cases.

Southern Baptist Hospital of Florida Inc., which operates as the Baptist Health System in the Jacksonville area, asked the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the case after the Florida Supreme Court ruled that disputed records should be disclosed.

The records fight stemmed from a lawsuit filed against the Baptist system by the family of patient Marie Charles. The lawsuit alleged that negligence in her care caused a severe neurological injury, according to court documents.

The records issue focused on whether hospitals are required to disclose certain records to plaintiffs during medical-malpractice lawsuits, or whether those records are shielded by a federal patient-safety law.

The Florida Supreme Court ruled in the Charles case that the Baptist system was required to turn over the records, pointing to a 2004 state constitutional amendment intended to provide access to what are known in the health-care industry as “adverse medical incident” reports.

The Baptist system, however, argued that at least some of the records were shielded from release by the federal 2005 Patient Safety Act, which allows hospitals to voluntarily submit information about medical errors to what are known as “patient safety organizations” — and offers certain confidentiality protections.

The federal law was aimed, at least in part, at encouraging health providers to submit information that could be analyzed and used to prevent future medical errors.

As is common, the U.S. Supreme Court did not detail its reasons for declining to take up the case.

 

Source: News Service of Florida