A notorious Minnesota intersection and a blood-alcohol content more than twice the legal limit of one drunk driver are important reminders that accidents can happen to anyone at any time. According to the Star Tribune, Paula L. Larson, 42, of Bethel, was charged in Anoka County District Court with two counts of criminal-vehicular homicide in the deaths of motorcyclists John A. Jordan, 48, and Patricia L. Kalla, 46. The accident that killed the two happened before 7:30 p.m. at Viking Boulevard and Rendova Street NE. in East Bethel. The preliminary breath test measured Larson’s blood-alcohol content at 0.195 percent, according to the charges. The legal threshold in Minnesota is 0.08.
According to reports, Larson at first told authorities she hadn’t been drinking. But she eventually changed her story soon after said she had been at EJ’s Bar and Bottle Shoppe, approximately 2 miles northeast of the collision site and admitted to having had two drinks before driving, the complaint said.
Deputies saw that Jordan and Kalla had suffered “severe head trauma,” according to the complaint. Neither rider was wearing a helmet, said Sheriff’s Cmdr. Paul Sommer. The complaint said that both vehicles were westbound on Viking, and Larson apparently made an “unknown maneuver” that led to the motorcycle colliding with her sport-utility vehicle.
At least four people have died in accidents along Viking Boulevard in East Bethel in the past five months. In April, a car struck and killed a 42-year-old bicyclist who crossed in front of traffic on Viking just west of Breezy Point Drive. In May, a 29-year-old woman died after driving her car into the back of a semi-trailer truck that was parked on the shoulder on Viking at Rochester Street.
If you or a loved one has been injured by a drunk driver, contact the attorneys at Lord & Faris for a free consultation and let us fight for your rights.
A recent story in the Minneapolis Star Tribune shows the unfortunate truth that individuals seeking to get out of a difficult financial situation can oftentimes find themselves the victims of fraud.
According to the story, Edward Jonak operates a business called Affordable Law Center, advertises under “attorneys” in the Yellow Pages but he is not a lawyer, nor does he employ any lawyers. Instead, for a fee, he will provide forms, referrals to lawyers and typists or find a bail bondsman. The actions skirt close enough to the practice of law that four states have initiated legal action alleging Jonak provided legal advice or illegally prepared bankruptcy documents. In addition to the claims, the Better Business Bureau of Minnesota and North Dakota put out a clear public warning about the business describing a “clear pattern of deception on the part of this company.”
As a result of court actions, Jonak has been banned from preparing bankruptcy documents in Colorado; selling legal plans, giving legal advice and preparing bankruptcy documents in the Western District of Wisconsin; providing “any bankruptcy-related services” in the Western district of Missouri or accepting any fees from its residents.
Jonak maintains his innocence and counters that he’s providing a needed and valuable service. His clients can’t afford traditional legal services and Jonak believes the complaints are fueled by attorneys who feel threatened by his business model.
Whether or not Jonak is providing a valuable service or defrauding unwitting customers will be resolved in the litigation, but the warning in the story is clear. Not every business that advertises legal expertise has that expertise and to avoid being fleeced a consumer needs to ask for clear boundaries in the relationship and work to be performed. Bankruptcy proceedings are complicated, technical proceedings that require the skill and training lawyers posses.
Generally speaking, we’d rather see the Food and Drug Administration take a “better safe than sorry” approach when dealing with pharmaceuticals, which is why the announcement that it was putting new limits on an oral MS drug after a patient death should be seen as a step in the right direction.
The multiple sclerosis drug fingolimod (Gilenya), is the subject of the scrutiny, and the FDA said patients with certain cardiac risk factors should not take the oral agent. The death was reported last year and the agency had promised to investigate it.
In its announcement, the FDA said it still didn’t know whether fingolimod caused the patient’s death, but nevertheless it was adding new contraindications to the drug’s label, as well as a beefed-up recommendation for monitoring patients after dosing. In addition, the FDA said, patients at risk for bradycardia or who may suffer serious consequences if it develops should be monitored for longer than the previously recommended 6 hours after fingolimod dosing.”Extended monitoring should include continuous ECG monitoring that continues overnight,” the agency said.
The FDA listed several risk factors for bradycardia, including a previous history of it after taking fingolimod and conditions or other drugs that may predispose to slowed heart rate and/or prolonged QT interval. Another new recommendation, applying to all patients starting on fingolimod, is that heart rate and blood pressure should be checked hourly after the first dose. Bradycardia was a recognized side effect of fingolimod when it was approved in 2010, but concerns grew more serious after the patient death was reported last year.
In the fatal case, the patient was also taking the beta-blocker metoprolol and the calcium channel antagonist amlodipine. These drugs are associated with increased risk for bradycardia and heart blocks, the FDA noted.
If you or a loved one has been prescribed fingolimod, contact the drug injury attorneys at Lord & Faris for a free consultation and let us protect your rights.
Despite what has appeared to be a series of setbacks for Toyota in its battle of the earlier and massive recalls of many models due to sudden unintended acceleration, the manufacturer has moved to dismiss hundreds of lawsuits that seek damages related to that manufacturing defect. The motions were filed in response to the first consolidated complaints filed as part of the multidistrict litigation against the company. The cases have been consolidated and are being heard in California.
So far there are more than 300 such suits that seek some kind of economic damages for both consumers and businesses related to the recall. There are also suits from individuals who suffered injuries (or at times lost a loved one) in accidents attributed to the acceleration issues.
Toyota lists a whole lot of reasons for seeking to dismiss the lawsuits, including their claims that the suits fail to identify a common defect at issue, are full of unsupportable legal conclusions and faulty scientific conclusions.
To the average person Toyota’s motions to dismiss may seem surprising, and even downright shocking given what has been reported about the extent of the problem and, to be candid, the manner in which the manufacturer mishandled early reports of problems. But as our Minneapolis car accident attorneys know, this kind of legal maneuvering is really standard practice by defendants in litigation–particularly high stakes litigation like the claims Toyota faces.
That said, it is not a bad tactic for Toyota to try and get some of the claims it is facing dismissed, but we don’t expect this to be the last we hear of these cases.
In one of the first disclosed settlements, Toyota Motor Corp has agreed to pay $10 million to the family of four people killed in a runaway Lexus crash that led the automaker to recall millions of vehicles. The August 2009 crash killed an off-duty California Highway Patrol Officer, his wife, their daughter and another passenger after their car reached speeds of more than 120 mph, struck a sport utility vehicle, launched off an embankment, rolled several times and then burst into flames. Investigators determined that the floor-mats were the wrong size and had caused the accelerator to stick.
According to reports the case was considered among the strongest of hundreds that have been filed against the manufacturer. Toyota and the plaintiffs had tried to keep the settlement amount private, but Superior Court Judge Anthony Mohr ruled that the public’s right to know outweighed any concerns either side had about disclosing the settlement amount.
Our Minneapolis automobile accident attorneys are glad to see these cases start to come to resolution. The Toyota recall process has uncovered a lot of pain and tragedy, even here in Minnesota. The manufacturer’s slow response to chronic design flaws made an already troublesome situation far worse, and the fact that regulators were slow to step in only prolonged a process that should have been conducted with much greater speed and efficiency than it was. But what is important now is that the families have the opportunity to find some peace and others who have been injured by the manufacturer find some justice.
New York appears to be the latest in states showing they are serious about curbing drunk driving. And after a particularly lethal weekend here in Minnesota on our roads, it is easy to see why.
Last year alone about 25,000 people in New York were convicted of drunk driving. Beginning August 15, anyone convicted of drunk driving in New York will be required to install a device in their cars that determines whether they are sober enough to drive. The car will not start if the driver registers a blood alcohol level of .025 percent. In New York drivers face criminal charges if blood alcohol readings exceed .08 percent.
The devices are to be installed at the owners’ expense. Those with the device must, on a monthly basis, report to a facility where the data recorded by the machine is analyzed to determine if, and how often, a driver exceeded blood alcohol limits.
Those who have been convicted of drunk driving charges will have to pay up to $100 to have the device installed and will be charged a monthly fee of between $70 and $100 depending on the model of the device needed for their particular vehicle. The court system has been preparing for this new program as well since judges will now have to carefully review defendant’s financial records to determine if they are eligible to have the fees waived.
Drunk driving is not an easy thing to cure. Substance abuse can affect anyone and oftentimes it takes a tragedy before real and substantial efforts are able to make a difference. It’s good to see New York join the ranks of states doing their part to make the consequences of a drunk driving conviction long-term and meaningful. The Minneapolis automobile accident attorneys at Lord & Faris also hope it saves lives in the process.
The Minneapolis auto accident attorneys at Lord & Faris have represented a lot of clients who have been injured or lost loved ones in car accidents, enough so that we can say there is a tragic pattern to many summertime accidents. That pattern reappeared recently in Southern Minnesota when a mix of youth, alcohol, and a failure to wear seat belts resulted in the deaths of four young men.
What started out as a celebration of the birth of a newborn daughter turned deadly. Investigators reportedly found an open bottle of alcohol in the crumpled vehicle. One young woman was injured, but the other passengers all were dead at the scene. The driver, Terrance John Tierney, 24, had a history of alcohol-related offenses. According to reports he was first convicted at 16 for an alcohol-related offense and then struggled with a sting of arrests and prison time. It was the birth of his daughter, just about a month ago, that was helping him turn his life around.
The accident details are also all too familiar. The accident occurred in the early morning hours. The car, traveling westbound on a gravel road, collided with a semitractor trailer. No one was wearing their seatbelt. The car continued moving past impact, ending up in a nearby field. The driver of the much larger semitractor trailer walked away from the accident relatively unharmed.
Our hearts go out to the families who lost loved ones in this tragedy. Please remember that youth, alcohol, and automobiles do not mix. Celebrate wisely and celebrate safely.
There is no doubt about it. Spring is in the air in Minnesota. We’ve had a few days stretch into warmer temps, our snow is melting, and the weather reports focus more on flood warnings than blizzards or black ice. And even though Minnesotans are a hearty bunch and are not afraid to spend some time outside even during the dregs of winter, springtime brings most of us out of our cozy corners for some much needed sun and fresh air.
While this is a happy occasion, it can also be a sobering reminder of the dangers of taking to the streets at the first sign of spring. Already we have reports of several pedestrians killed while walking alongside Minnesota highways.
The latest tragedy comes out of Washington County. According to reports a pedestrian was crossing Minnesota Highway 36 between Lake Elmo and Grant when he was struck and killed by a car just before 9 p.m. The victim from Lake Elmo, was walking north across the highway when he stepped into oncoming traffic. He was hit by a young New Richmond woman. According to reports alcohol is not suspected in the accident.
Our Minneapolis auto accident attorneys at Lord & Faris are among the best in the state and know firsthand how quickly an accident like this can happen. Our thoughts remain with the victim’s family as well as the young driver who is surely impacted by this as well. By all means enjoy the budding spring. Just remember to do so safely.
Despite warnings from other bar patrons, an intoxicated man left a Cloquet, Minn. bar and ended up driving the wrong way on a highway south of town, killing himself in a head-on collision and injuring another driver. The other driver suffered extensive injuries but is expected to survive.
According to reports as the man left the bar it was obvious to other bar patrons that he was drunk. Those other patrons tried to prevent him from driving but the man put up a bit of a resistance. From the parking lot he cut across a lawn and hit a tree before heading west on Highway 210. Patrons then called the authorities who were told to be on the look out for a drunken driver. The patrons gave authorities a description of the car and the man’s license plate numbers.
While on the highway the man apparently missed a turn and decided to turn around. It was then that he ended up going the wrong-way down Highway 210, leading to the head-on crash with the other car.
There is nothing about this story that isn’t tragic. Bar patrons did what they could to stop this man from making such a terrible choice and authorities did all they could do. But once again the lesson to take away is that under no circumstances does drinking and driving mix. This is another senseless tragedy on the roads of Minnesota.
The personal injury attorneys of Lord & Faris see too many situations like these and urge all Minnesotans not to drink and drive.
The twin cities got another tragic reminder of just how dangerous distracted driving can be. Jessica L. Howe, 28, was speeding and reaching for her cell phone when she rear-ended a stopped car, causing a chain reaction crash that killed a 14-month-old boy. The boy had been properly strapped into his car seat, and his father, who was driving the car at the time, was not hurt.
Howe has been charged with criminal vehicular homicide and has a history of negligent driving. A state accident reconstruction report showed that the driver was driving 55 miles per hour in a 40 mile per hour zone. According to the report there were no skid marks, which suggests the driver never tried to stop. According to a witness, Howe never slowed slowed down and just plowed into the car carrying the young boy.
These kinds of stories break our hearts because, quite simply, this was a totally avoidable accident. The driver was negligent on many fronts and on many occasions. The criminal charges may bring an element of justice to this story, but they certainly won’t bring back that little boy.
Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family at this time as they try to find a way to move forward in their lives. The Minneapolis lawyers at Lord & Faris urge all drivers to stay off their cell phones while driving, to obey the traffic laws, and most importantly to remember that life is short and precious and to treat it accordingly.
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