Police say a 5-year-old boy drowned in a backyard swimming pool at a Jacksonville home.

Neighbors called the homeowner Wednesday afternoon after a child went missing. The homeowner was working nearby so he checked his backyard surveillance video on his cellphone and saw a child in the pool. He called 911 and rushed home.

According to reports, the man pulled the boy from the pool and rescue workers rushed him to the hospital.

The child lived around the corner from the home with the pool. The homeowner said the yard is fully fenced in but because of rescuers coming and going it was difficult to tell whether the gate had been secured.

Swimming pools are intended to be areas for play, parties and a summer of outdoor fun. Sadly, swimming pools can also be the reason behind a family’s greatest tragedy. It takes just a few seconds for a near-drowning and drowning accident to change a person’s life and a family’s future.

If you have a pool on your property there are several ways you can keep the area safe for children. The most important thing is to install several types of protective equipment.  A pool fence that is the correct height to prevent children from climbing over them, and a pool cover is essential. When installing a pool fence,  it needs to be four sided and it must lock and latch correctly.  A pool cover should be installed so that even if a child gets in, the cover can prevent them from falling into the water. The cover should be able to withstand the pressure of a falling child so that it does not buckle beneath them.

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A 40-year-old woman was bitten on the arm by what wildlife officials think was a nearly 11-foot alligator earlier this month in Seminole County.

The bite occurred at about 2:30 p.m. while the woman was wading in the water in the Little Big Econ River in the Chuluota area of Seminole County, near Oviedo. The woman was able to free herself from the alligator and was taken to Central Florida Regional Hospital in Sanford.

She suffered non-life-threatening injuries.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission trapped and caught a nearly 11-foot alligator they think was the one that bit the woman, because it was still in the area where the attack happened.

It seems that we have read a lot about alligator attacks in Florida in the news recently. Golf courses, hotels, parks, businesses, apartment complexes, and owners of residential properties that border pools, ponds, lakes, streams, or rivers in Florida should know that alligators could inhabit these bodies of water. They are responsible for protecting the property and for appropriately warning visitors of any potential hazards. Failure to do so is considered negligence. Victims of a gator attack, could be entitled to recover monetary damages from the property owner, depending on the circumstances.

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More than 50 ex-wrestlers have filed a Connecticut lawsuit stating that World Wrestling Entertainment Inc. is responsible for their long-term neurological damage and failed to care for their injuries.

Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka, Joseph “Road Warrior Animal” Laurinaitis and Paul “Mr. Wonderful” Orndorff are among the plaintiffs who filed suit Monday in federal court in Connecticut against Stamford-based WWE.

WWE denies the allegations. They said that an attorney for the ex-wrestlers previously has made false claims against the company and filed lawsuits that ended up being dismissed.

The plaintiffs allege they suffered concussions and other head trauma that resulted in long-term brain damage.

Snuka is charged in the 1983 death of his girlfriend near Allentown, Pennsylvania. He has been ruled mentally incompetent to stand trial, and his defense partly blames head trauma suffered in the ring.

Repetitive or single blows to the head can cause concussions, something that is commonly referred to as traumatic brain injuries or TBIs. These hits to the head can cause a degenerative disease called chronic traumatic encephalopathy – CTE. CTE happens when repetitive head trauma results in the production of abnormal proteins in the brain known as “tau.” Tau proteins essentially knot the brain’s blood vessels, which can disrupt normal functioning and will eventually kill nerve cells.

Early stages of CTE involve memory loss, disorientation, rage, confusion and dizziness. As the disease progresses, more symptoms appear, including poor judgement and dementia. In severe cases of CTE, you can see impaired speech, vertigo, tremors and deafness.

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A Disney College Program participant working in Magic Kingdom restaurants was fired and subsequently rehired after she Tweeted a picture of a sign posted in the breakroom regarding gators.

If guests ask whether there are alligators in the water around the Magic Kingdom’s Tom Sawyer Island, the sign told employees, the correct answer is: “Not that we know of, but if we see one, we will call Pest Management to have them removed.’ Please do not say that we have seen them before.”

She tweeted out a picture of the sign, which was typed on paper in several different colors

Disney quickly removed the sign, which the company had not authorized to be posted. Around the same time, the female was fired.

The Orlando Sentinel inquired about the girl’s termination on Thursday evening. On Friday morning, Magic Kingdom Vice President Dan Cockerell paid a personal visit to Sullivan to offer her the job back. She will return to work until later this month, when her internship was originally scheduled to end, according to reports.

When visitors ask about alligators, Disney said it has advised workers to acknowledge that parts of the theme-park resort can attract wildlife. They are also supposed to tell guests to notify security if they see any alligators.

Disney said it does not know who posted the sign and that no one else is being disciplined over the incident. Cast members were trying to do the right thing, the company said.

“We do not want our Guests to be afraid while walking around Frontierland,” the sign read.

The female staff member said she knew sharing a picture of the sign on social media might get her in trouble, but she was bothered by the idea of misleading visitors.

She said a manager confronted her Thursday with the tweet, told her that her College Program stint would end early and took her identification. She was then escorted from the park.

Awareness of alligators has been heightened after one snatched a 2-year-old from the shore of Seven Seas Lagoon last month, dragging him into the water and killing him. Since then, many guests have come forward with stories of Disney gator sightings.

Emails obtained by the Orlando Sentinel this week showed Disney firefighters had been admonished for feeding alligators on the property.

The Rivers of America around Tom Sawyer Island is one place where people have spotted alligators in the past.

While just about everyone has their own Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, blog or any other type of social network account, you are ultimately responsible for what you post and who sees it. No matter what social networking site you are posting on, you have to be careful about what you write and choose to share with the public at large. You could be terminated for entries that your employer may read and does not like or agree with. However, there are certain limits to what an employer can do regarding posts that employees make during their own private time away from the workplace.

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A cruise should be a fun and safe time. And while most cruises remain fun and injury free, there are ways to be hurt while on a cruise.

The following are the most common cruise ship accidents:

  • Slip and falls or trip and falls: Cruise ship staff are required to maintain a safe ship. This means if there are any wet or slick surfaces, adequate warning signs should be displayed. Stairs and landings should be properly maintained so that there is nothing broken, sharp or uneven so falls do not occur.
  • Drowning: Most cruise ships have several pools on board, as well as water slides and other cool additions. These must be monitored at all times by the cruise line’s staff so that drowning accidents are prevented. With that said, staff must properly secure the pool areas at night when no lifeguards are available.
  • Fires: Fires on cruise ships can lead to various issues for passengers, including the very serious threat of burn injuries, having to evacuate the ship, and a loss of power which can lead to a loss of sewer and food storage capabilities.
  • Collisions With Other Ships/Objects: When a cruise ship crashes into another ship, object, or even a piece of land, everyone onboard could be harmed.
  • Food Poisoning And Other Illnesses: Cruise ships house thousands of people, and because people are within a confined space, stomach viruses can be spread quite easily among guests. On a similar note, if food is not prepared or stored properly, everyone onboard can become seriously ill in a short amount of time.
  • Defective Equipment: If the cruise ship has any faulty equipment, your risk for suffering an injury is dramatically increased. This includes dangerous defects in the on-ship bowling alley, rock climbing walls, water rides, golf courses, and other fun additions.
  • Excursion Injuries: Just be aware that just because cruise ships contract other companies to provide activities off the boat, like snorkeling, scuba diving, kayaking, zip-lining, and spelunking, this does not mean that these companies follow the necessary safety protocols you expect.

Filing an injury claim against the cruise line can be complex. It is important to understand that attorneys and insurance companies that represent cruise ship lines will do whatever they can to limit paying a claim and having their brand tarnished. There are specific time frames and other laws that govern cruise ship injuries that must be followed when filing an injury claim.

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An Amelia Island man is suing two companies after his son, a former college professor, died while being transported across the country in a private prison van.

According to the lawsuit, he had been sick and lost 46 pounds in 10 days, but prison guards ignored his ailments.

An autopsy found that the 47-year-old PhD died of a perforated ulcer.

In April 2014, the man’s father received a call from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, saying his son had died in custody as a private inmate transportation company drove him from Colorado to South Carolina.

The conversation went as follows,

GBI agent: “I have some bad news for you.”

Father: “Is this about William? Is he alive?”

Agent: “No sir. I’m sorry.”

Father: “They didn’t have the proper medications. They didn’t take care of him. He was locked up, moving around from place to place. I knew that was going to happen. Nobody would believe me.”

The deceased taught physics at a couple universities, most recently at Coastal Carolina University, but ran into trouble in 2014 when he was arrested, accused of making threats to a South Carolina newspaper, which published an article about him. Police in Boulder Colorado arrested him and hired Prisoner Transportation Services of America to drive him back to the East Coast.

After his arrest, the man’s medications were cut off.  He was witnessed passing out on the bathroom floor and vomiting blood.

The father is suing Prisoner Transport Services of America and Advanced Correctional Healthcare, the business that screened the man as he was housed at a correctional facility during the trip.

The man was shackled with other prisoners during the trip. Reports indicate that he was too weak to even step up into the van.

During the transport, he leaned over, stopped breathing and urinated on himself. That is when other detainees screamed for help.

When employees finally did stop the van at a North Georgia jail, the man had been dead so long, his body was stiff. Other inmates were chained by his side.

His death was described as slow, painful and torturous.

Last week, the New York Times published an article on Prisoner Transport Services of America after learning that four inmates have died in while in its custody since 2012, and there are dozens of claims of mistreatment and brutality while being transported.  

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A man lost most of his right hand in a fireworks accident in Leesburg earlier this month, according to Lake County deputies.

The incident occurred at a home on the 2500 block of Virginia Drive.

Witnesses told deputies that while in the home’s garage, the man tried to re-light a mortar-style firework that he thought was a “dud.” He picked it up and attempted to throw it into the driveway when it exploded, a Sheriff’s Office report said.

Police believe it either exploded in his hand or near his hand. He had to be transported to a specialty facility.  

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, in 2014 there were at least 11 nonoccupational fireworks-related deaths, and an estimated 10,500 injuries treated in U.S. hospital emergency rooms. Nearly 74 percent of those injured by fireworks were men or boys.

Under Florida state law, only sparklers, approved by the Florida Division of State Fire Marshal, are legal for consumer usage. It is illegal to use exploding and/or flying fireworks in Florida, which include: shells and mortars, multiple tube devices, Roman candles, rockets and firecrackers.

It is important to note that you should never attempt to re-light, alter or fix any “dud” firework. If a firework fails to function when ignited, it is best to let it stand for at least five minutes, then immerse it in water. The item failed to function for some reason, so if you try to light it again, you could create a dangerous situation. It is best to dispose of the item properly, so that you and everyone nearby stays free from harm.

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Former Fox News Channel anchor Gretchen Carlson sued network chief executive Roger Ailes on Wednesday, claiming she was fired after she refused his sexual advances.

Gretchen Carlson has filed a sexual harassment lawsuit in New Jersey’s Bergen County.

Carlson, the former host of a daytime show at Fox, alleges that Ailes retaliated against her because of complaints she had made about discrimination and harassment. The 11-year Fox employee was anchoring a 2 p.m. show when she said she was fired on June 23 at the end of her contract.

She said her firing came nine months after Ailes told her during a meeting that “you and I should have had a sexual relationship a long time ago.”

50-year-old Carlson was Miss America in 1989.

She alleges in the lawsuit that Ailes, who is 76, ogled her, repeatedly commented about her legs, urged her to wear clothes that enhanced her figure and told her she was sexy but “too much hard work.”

Carlson said she was fired as a host of the morning show “Fox & Friends” in 2013, and her pay reduced with the transfer to a daytime slot, because she had complained about sexual harassment.

She said that one of her “Fox & Friends” co-hosts, Steve Doocy, “had created a hostile work environment by regularly treating her in a sexist and condescending way.” She said that when Ailes heard of her complaints, he called her a “man hater” who needed to learn to “get along with the boys.”

Carlson said that Ailes punished her by cutting back on political interviews that she conducted and ending a regular appearance she made on Bill O’Reilly’s prime-time program, generally Fox’s highest-rated show.

“I have strived to empower women and girls throughout my entire career,” Carlson said in a statement. “Although this was a difficult step to take, I had to stand up for myself and speak out for all women and the next generation of women in the workplace.”

The lawsuit asks for an unspecified amount of payment for damages.

Every person has the right to a workplace that is free of sexual harassment and discrimination. Even though there are laws in place that protect American workers from such behavior, legal cases involving sexual harassment are too common. Our Florida Workplace Discrimination Lawyers at Whittel & Melton are committed to achieving justice for employees who have suffered harassment or discrimination at their job.

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The U.S. announced Thursday the first fatality in a wreck involving a car in self-driving mode. The government said it is investigating the design and performance of the system aboard the Tesla Model S sedan.

The Canton, Ohio man died in the accident May 7 in Williston, Florida, when his car’s cameras failed to distinguish the white side of a turning tractor-trailer from a brightly lit sky and didn’t automatically activate its brakes, according to government records.

The 62-year-old driver of the truck, said the Tesla driver was “playing Harry Potter on the TV screen” at the time of the crash and driving so quickly that “he went so fast through my trailer I didn’t see him.”

“It was still playing when he died and snapped a telephone pole a quarter mile down the road,” the man told The Associated Press. He acknowledged he couldn’t see the movie, only heard it.

Tesla Motors Inc. said it is not possible to watch videos on the Model S touch screen. There was no reference to the movie in initial police reports.

Tesla stressed the uncertainty about its new system, noting that drivers must manually enable it: “Autopilot is getting better all the time, but it is not perfect and still requires the driver to remain alert.”

The company said this was the first known death in over 130 million miles of Autopilot operation. It said the NHTSA investigation is a preliminary inquiry to determine whether the system worked as expected.

Tesla says that before Autopilot can be used, drivers have to acknowledge that the system is an “assist feature” that requires a driver to keep both hands on the wheel at all times. Drivers are told they need to “maintain control and responsibility for your vehicle” while using the system, and they have to be prepared to take over at any time, the statement said.

Autopilot makes frequent checks, making sure the driver’s hands are on the wheel, and it gives visual and audible alerts if hands aren’t detected, and it gradually slows the car until a driver responds, the statement said.

The Autopilot mode allows the Model S sedan and Model X SUV to steer itself within a lane, change lanes and speed up or slow down based on surrounding traffic or the driver’s set speed. It can automatically apply brakes and slow the vehicle. It can also scan for parking spaces and parallel park on command.

As new technology comes on the market for the public to use, the legal field must adapt to these changes. Many car manufacturers, not just Tesla, are working on automated systems that can warn drivers about collisions, recognize the rules of the road, and even take over the steering and braking systems.The goal is this: to keep drivers and passengers safe by automating the processes that they are not quick enough to catch. However, this theory can be flawed as there are hundreds of millions of cars on the road every day, so automakers will always struggle to keep up with software malfunctions, user errors, and any other issues.

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Our Florida Injury Lawyers at Whittel & Melton would like to wish everyone a very happy Fourth of July! The Fourth of July holiday is usually centered around fun, and many of us celebrate the long weekend with friends and family, but like many other holidays, risks of accidents and injuries tend to increase during this time.

To help you keep yourself and your loved ones safe this weekend, we would like for everyone to review the below safety tips:

Firework Safety

Many people around the state of Florida want to light of a few fireworks of their own, regardless of the fact that Florida law prohibits any fireworks that fly through the air or explode — such as Roman candles, bottle rockets and mortars — for recreational use. If you plan to light off your own, remember these important tips:

  • Always follow instructions and never provide fireworks to small children.
  • Use fireworks in a safe area and never throw or point fireworks toward people, vehicles, structures, or flammable materials.
  • Do not light multiple fireworks at once and never attempt to relight a “dud” firework that did not go off the first time.

Drunk Driving

Sadly, drunk driving accidents, injuries, and deaths are consistently high during Fourth of July weekend. If you plan on celebrating ‘Merica’s Birthday with a few cocktails, make sure to drink responsibly or plan a safe ride home. Designate a sober driver, or call a cab or transportation service like Uber or Lyft. Remember, law enforcement officers will be on the lookout for drunk and/or drugged motorists.

Grilling Safety

Barbecues are always a Fourth of July staple. Did you know that numerous people suffer injuries when barbecuing on charcoal and gas grills? Make sure to never grill indoors,  refrain from adding lighter fluid when charcoal has already been ignited, and always follow instructions.

Water Safety

It’s hot in Florida! Most Floridians and visitors to our state will be by the beach, lake, or enjoying the water at backyard pool parties this weekend. When having fun near or in the water, safety should be your top priority. Adults should always supervise children and you should drink responsibly, as well as have an emergency action plan in case something goes awry.

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