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Former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, 91, has been accused of sexually assaulting a teen boy in Massachusetts in June of 1974, making him the highest ranking church official to face charges of this nature. 

He was charged Wednesday with three counts of indecent assault and battery on a child over the age of 14 in Dedham District Court by the Wellesley Police Department. This is his first criminal charge since he has been accused of abusing seminary students in New Jersey years ago. 

The charges stem from an incident at a wedding in June 1974 in Wellesley, Massachusetts.

According to records, the accuser was 16 at the time of the incident and was also abused at other locations in Massachusetts and in other states, including New Jersey.

McCarrick ranked among powerful officials in the Catholic Church for decades until he was removed from ministry in 2018 after the church found abuse allegations against him to hold merit. He was defrocked a year later following accusations that he abused children and adult seminary students.

While the man has been sued several times by men in New York and New Jersey who claim he abused them as children, the statute of limitations has kept authorities from proceeding with any criminal charges. 

priest-3621038_1920-300x169But now, under Massachusetts law, the statute of limitations would have been suspended when McCarrick, who worked in the New York Archdiocese at the time, left the state after the wedding.

McCarrick was the bishop of Metuchen in the 1980s and the Archbishop of Newark from 1987 to 2000. He was then promoted to be head of the Washington, D.C., Archdiocese even though Pope John Paul II was investigating allegations against McCarrick for abusing adult seminary students at a New Jersey shore home for many years.

A Vatican report issued last year alleged that several New Jersey bishops lied in letters to the pope about what they knew about sexual abuse allegations against McCarrick, which helped him have his promotion approved.

McCarrick is accused of abusing children in other pending lawsuits that were filed in New Jersey under a law that suspended the civil statute of limitations on sex abuse complaints for two years, starting Dec. 1, 2019.

McCarrick is currently residing at the St. John Vianney Renewal Center in Dittmer, Missouri, a home for clerics who have committed sexual abuse and other troubled priests, according to reports. Missouri records apparently show that eight registered sex offenders, including two from New York, live at that address.

If you or your son, daughter, stepchild, niece, nephew, or grandchild were sexually abused by a member of the Catholic church, then you may be able to pursue a lawsuit against the perpetrator of the abuse as well as the Church itself. The diocese has an obligation to keep children and others safe from their employers and should conduct a background check on its employees to make sure that priests and other employees are cleared to be around children. Likewise, any allegations made against priests or other employees should be investigated thoroughly to prevent further sex abuse complaints. If the diocese failed to conduct a background check or knew that a priest had a history of child sex abuse complaints against them or had any other indications that raised any red flags, then they can be held liable for their negligence.  Continue reading

The CEO of UF Health Jacksonville, 56, was pronounced dead Saturday following an accident on a personal watercraft. Reports indicate that the man was flung from the jet ski he was riding in Palm Beach Inlet. 

According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, the man was found in the water wearing a life jacket and was immediately taken to a hospital, where he passed away from his injuries. 

This is all that is known at the time regarding the man’s death. 

man-5320033_1920-300x200Boating, especially in Florida, is a widely popular activity. While there are inherent risks involved when operating a motorized vessel, no one expects to suffer harm when having fun out on the water. Sadly, the U.S. Coast Guard statistics show that in 2019 there were 4,168 boating accidents that resulted in 613 deaths, 2,559 injuries and $55 million worth of property damage. 

Sales of personal watercraft, also known as Jet Skis, WaveRunners, or Sea-Doos, have really surged within the last decade. The leading manufacturers of PWCs are Yamaha, Kawasaki, and Bombardier. Despite the growing sales of these vessels, any design changes or engineering modifications have been minimal despite the upward tick of accidents involving their products. 

Jet skis are very popular throughout the state of Florida, but also much more dangerous than traditional boats. In 2019, jet skis accounted for 20% of the total number of recreational boating accidents that year, ranking second to motorboat incidents.  

Why Are Jet Skis so Dangerous? 

  • Reckless operation: These personal watercrafts are light, but have powerful jet motors that can reach speeds of 65 mph or higher. Because they are easy to maneuver, many operators get overconfident and tend to behave recklessly when taking them out by jumping large waves or weaving in and out of boat traffic. 
  • How they are designed: Because jet skis are small in stature, they can flip over quite easily. When cruising at high speeds, the risk for flipping is even greater. The way that jet skis are designed prevents anything from stopping riders from falling or being ejected from the vessel at any moment. It is also worth mentioning that the steering column of jet skis can strike riders heads or chests when involved in an accident at even moderate speeds. 
  • Riders that lack training: Personal watercraft vessels are generally easy to operate. In the state of Florida, operators must be at least 14 years old and must have successfully completed a National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA) approved boating education course or have passed a course equivalency or temporary certificate examination. When operating a jet ski or any vessel with a motor of ten horsepower or more, Florida riders must have their boating education ID card and a photo ID card on them. 
  • Weather: Jet skis fail to offer riders the same protections that other larger vessels do. That said, when stormy weather approaches, these PWCs can be extremely dangerous to navigate and you can be ejected quite easily. 

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A 10-year-old girl was struck by a car and killed while riding her bike Wednesday night across U.S. 192 near Kissimmee, according to the Florida Highway Patrol. 

Reports show that the crash happened around 9:15 p.m. when several children crossed the highway, failing to use an intersection or a crosswalk.

A 71-year-old man driving by hit the child’s bike and she was taken to a hospital for her injuries, but later died. 

Johnson & Johnson confirmed yesterday that they are recalling five sunscreen products after samples of these products were found to contain small amounts of benzene, which is a chemical that has been linked to cancer with repeated use. 

What Do You Need To Know?

sunscreen-1461332_1920-300x198The products in question are packaged in aerosol cans: 

  • Aveeno Protect + Refresh aerosol sunscreen 
  • Neutrogena Beach Defense aerosol sunscreen
  • Neutrogena CoolDry Sport aerosol sunscreen
  • Neutrogena Invisible Daily Defense aerosol sunscreen 
  • Neutrogena UltraSheer aerosol sunscreen

Any consumers with these products are encouraged to stop using them and to call J&J’s Consumer Care Center for a refund at 1-800-458-1673. There is also further information available on the websites for Neutrogena and Aveeno. 

The recall includes all can sizes of these products and all levels of SPF. These products have been distributed nationwide through various retailers. 

J&J released a statement that the benzene was found by the company doing testing in an independent laboratory. They are looking into how and why the chemical was in these five products. 

J&J is also actively working on getting the five products removed from any retail shelves. 

Benzene is a chemical that is found in the environment and is highly flammable. With repeated exposure at high enough levels, benzene can cause cancer. It is also known to cause damage to the immune system by preventing cells from functioning normally. 

The chemical’s effects can vary from person to person, but symptoms can range from irregular heartbeat, dizziness, convulsions, and death when exposed to very high levels. 

J&J has notified the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of the recall. The FDA is in charge of regulating pharmaceuticals like over-the-counter drugs and prescription medications as well as food, cosmetics, vaccines, veterinary products, plasma and blood products. 

When dangerous products are taken off of the market for consumers to purchase, then this means the product has been marked as unsafe for use. Just because a product made available for purchase does not mean it is safe, which is something most consumers are unaware of. This is where our Florida Class Action Injury Lawyers at Whittel & Melton can step in and help if you have been harmed by defective drugs and/or devices. We specialize in recalled product liability claims. We also offer free consultations and case reviews so that we can evaluate your potential claim and help you move forward with your legal options. We have the knowledge and resources to represent our clients efficiently and aggressively and are not afraid to stand up to  manufacturers and distributors of defective products or devices.  Continue reading

An 11-year-old boy was killed Sunday and three others suffered injuries on a water ride while visiting Adventureland Park in Altoona, Iowa. 

According to reports, one child remains in critical condition and two others suffered minor injuries at the water park. 

Here is a breakdown of what police believe happened: six riders boarded the Raging River raft ride when it overturned around 7:30 p.m. Saturday. Four of the riders were taken to the hospital. On Sunday, the park announced that they were “saddened” to find out that one of the riders (the 11-year-old boy) had died.

July Fourth weekend is upon us and there may be no better way to spend the summer holiday than surrounded by your family and friends taking in fireworks, grilling, swimming, or even boating in one of Florida’s abundant waterways. As most COVID-19 restrictions have been lifted, this year’s Fourth of July festivities will be in full swing. As you and your family/friends prepare for a fun-filled weekend, our Florida Injury Lawyers at Whittel & Melton urge you to also think about your safety and plan accordingly. Here are some tips for staying safe this holiday weekend: 

#1: Fireworks Should Be Left to Professionals

Sparklers and other common fireworks can be quite dangerous when used incorrectly. Sparklers are usually thought to be harmless, but did you know that these handheld fireworks can reach smoldering temps of 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit? Such high temps can easily lead to severe burn injuries, especially for children handling these without supervision. We want you and your loved ones to remain safe this Fourth of July, so please take in a professional fireworks show instead of attempting to light your own fireworks. 

The sad truth is that some accident victims do not make it through to see their legal suit finished. This often happens when their injuries were so severe that they could not make it through the legal process to make a recovery. So, what happens if an injury victim passes away from their injuries in an accident before their case is finished? Can a family member take over their case? 

Florida law does have rules for what to do in these cases, and having a personal injury and wrongful death lawyer on your side can prove beneficial in these scenarios. If you have questions about the claims process and how to proceed, we strongly urge you to call our Florida Wrongful Death Attorneys at 866-608-5529 or contact us online for a free case review. It will cost you no money to meet with us and discuss your potential case, and if we agree to take on your case, then you will pay zero fees while we work on your case. 

contract-945619_1920-300x199File a Wrongful Death Claim

If an injury victim has passed away during the course of their lawsuit, then the case will become a wrongful death suit. In Florida, personal injury claims cannot continue if the victim dies from their accident injuries. 

A wrongful death claim will allow surviving family members to pursue financial compensation for the deceased victim. This may include children, parents, spouses, etc. The personal representative for the accident victim’s estate will need to file a wrongful death action on behalf of the surviving family members so that they can collect financial damages. 

What Damages Can Be Recovered? 

  • Medical bills and medical expenses that pertain to the death 
  • Funeral or burial costs
  • Loss of income 
  • Loss of benefits, which includes the deceased’s retirement 
  • Loss of companionship
  • Mental anguish and emotional pain from the loss of a loved one 

Any costs incurred as a result of the responsible party’s negligence can be a potential source for compensation. Our Florida Wrongful Death Lawyers at Whittel & Melton can help you prove negligence when it comes to taking legal action for wrongful death. If your claim has merit then we will build the strongest possible claim for you and fight to recover all legal damages that you may be entitled to under law. 

How to Pursue a Survival Action

Sometimes injury victims can pass for completely unrelated reasons to their previous injury, like another type of accident. Florida law allows for a cause of action to survive the victim’s death, which will continue the injury claim that is unrelated to the death of the deceased. This just means that the initial injury claim will move forward as a survival action which is meant to compensate surviving family members for the damages incurred by the victim prior to their death.

Just like a wrongful death suit, the personal representative of the deceased’s estate can file for a survival action to recover all financial damages the victim would have been eligible for had they lived. These damages may include:

  • Medical bills and expenses
  • Pain and suffering 
  • Lost wages

Who Can Sue the At-Fault Party?

In a wrongful death or survival action suit, only the personal representative of the deceased’s estate can exercise legal action. They must prove that a negligent party is responsible for the death and that the at-fault party failed to uphold their duty of care to the victim. 

If the victim did not name a personal representative, often called an executor or administrator before their death, then the court will appoint one.

 

Why You Need Legal Representation

Claims involving the passing of a loved one can be complicated. The insurance companies involved only want to protect their bottom line, which means paying out as little as possible, which is not in the best interest of your family. With proper legal representation on your side, you stand a much better chance of securing full and fair compensation for all of your losses. Your wrongful death lawyer will be there to support you through this trying time. 

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On Thursday, a partial collapse of a Champlain Towers South, a condo building in Surfside, Florida, occurred that is currently under investigation. The 12-story building resulted in multiple deaths and at least 150 more people missing. 

First responders and firefighters are conducting a search and rescue mission for all survivors and federal agencies are assisting on the state and local level. 

jsar-2680391_1920-300x225Partial Collapse of Champlain Towers South

Medicare patients in nursing homes saw a spike in deaths last year – up 32% from the previous year, according to a government watchdog report released on Tuesday. 

There were two reported surges just eight months apart that are said to be a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The inspector general of the Department of Health and Human Services report shows that a large number of Medicare recipients in nursing homes had coronavirus in 2020 (nearly 4 in 10.) The number of deaths spiked by a whopping 169,291 from the previous year, before coronavirus appeared, according to the report.

How did investigators get to these numbers? They used what is considered an accepted method of estimating spikes in deaths in a group of people after a catastrophic event. This same method was used to estimate death tolls in Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria in 2017 as well as the first set of COVID-19 deaths in NYC. There is no report on cause of death just after the first coronavirus surge last spring. It does not attribute a cause of death but is seen as a barometer of impact.

When compared to 2019, death rates were higher every month in 2020. The biggest jumps in deaths were in April 2020 where 81,484 Medicare patients in nursing homes died and in December 2019 where deaths reached 74,299 amongst Medicare patients in nursing homes. 

The report released Tuesday is the most comprehensive one from the government currently. It found that those residents in nursing homes or assisted living facilities that are classified as low-income and covered through Medicare and Medicaid were much more likely to have COVID-19 with infection rates among the population at 56% (26% died). 

Certain states also suffered worse impacts. By December 2020, more than half of the Medicare patients in nursing homes in Illinois, Connecticut, Louisiana and New Jersey had or were suspected to have COVID-19.

Coronavirus Injury Lawyers at Whittel & Melton Can Help 

hospice-4135835_1920-300x200Our Florida Injury & Wrongful Death Lawyers at Whittel & Melton represent victims of nursing home negligence, and can help you seek compensation for a nursing home or healthcare facility that failed to properly handle the coronavirus pandemic or any other medical emergency. We can assist surviving family members who lost a loved one while in the care of a hospital, nursing home, or assisted living facility.


If your loved one became ill or died because of COVID-19 in a nursing home, then you may be entitled to financial compensation if the facility in question failed to have proper infection control policies in place or lacked the necessary protective equipment needed to keep residents safe. Our Florida Nursing Home Injury and Death Lawyers at Whittel & Melton can help you take legal action against nursing homes that did not follow the law in caring for your loved one. We have years of experience holding these facilities accountable for their role in the abuse, neglect, or other lapses in care by filing civil lawsuits. You have every right to take action against any facilities that failed to live up to their obligations of keeping residents safe from infection and disease.  Continue reading

A 29-year-old man that allegedly caused a fatal traffic crash in Avon Park in 2007 fled the country before he could be prosecuted, according to reports. 

The Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) says the man was driving drunk when he caused the collision. His alleged blood-alcohol content was nearly four times the legal limit of .08. 

The man was arrested just outside of Mexico City on Monday after eluding police for nearly a decade. The United States Marshals Service brought him back to the United States, where he now faces very serious charges of DUI manslaughter, property damage, and driving with a suspended license where death is involved. 

The man posted bail of $10,000 two days after being arrested in 2007 and then fled the country. 

Troopers believe the man killed a man and woman on June 30, 2007, when the man’s Cadillac struck the vehicle the pair were travelling north in. 

The man apparently tried to flee the scene after the crash, but was unable to do so because of his injuries. He has two previous DUI charges on his record – one in 2001 and one in 2004. 

The FHP did not go into detail on how the man was captured. The man is now 43-years-old.

drinking-3740477_1920-224x300Thousands of people are killed every year across the United States in DUI crashes and countless others are injured. DUI victims face a variety of challenges after an accident changes their lives, which is why you need a Florida Injury Lawyer for Victims of DUI at Whittel & Melton to help you fight for your rights when you need it the most. Our team of seasoned personal injury and wrongful death lawyers have handled numerous DUI cases and recovered financial compensation for victims and their families. We are proud to help real people just like you after an accident with a drunk driver has changed their lives.  The negligent driver responsible for the accident can face criminal charges, but victims may also be able to file a civil lawsuit against the at-fault driver and their insurance company for damages, including: 

  • Property damage
  • Medical bills
  • Lost wages
  • Pain and suffering
  • Wrongful death
  • Possible punitive damages

PLEASE BE ADVISED: When an insurance company calls you following a DUI accident, this is to help them limit their damages owed to you (the victim). We strongly recommend waiting to speak to the other side until you have retained a lawyer that can walk you through handling insurance adjusters. We don’t want to see your damages get reduced just because you said something that was misconstrued. If you get a call from an insurance adjuster, you can politely inform them that you are not ready to speak with them at this time and that you will have your attorney contact them in the future.  

Drunk driving personal injury and wrongful death cases can be the most devastating types of cases a person will ever endure. We know the difficulties involved in these cases and are equipped to fight to the finish for the full and fair damages that you are owed. While nothing we do can undo the damage already done, we can help to make your future better and hold the negligent driver responsible so that they make better decisions moving forward.  Continue reading

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