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On Nov. 30, 2016, an elderly woman in her 80s was brought to Mariners Hospital after she had a seizure and her heart stopped.

Her physical condition was appalling as she was bleeding, covered in urine and feces, and had severe bed sores indicating abject neglect, according to court documents.

Doctors and nurses transported her to Homestead Hospital where she died the next day of septic pneumonia.

The woman’s death led investigators with the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office and the Florida Department of Children and Families to discover two unlicensed elderly care facilities: one in Plantation Key and the other, a trailer in Key Largo. Six patients, all over 80, lived at the two homes.

All the patients were in wheelchairs, had mental disorders and were prescribed either antipsychotic or anti-anxiety medications. They were all incontinent and required extra skin care and to be frequently turned over so their skin would not blister from exposure to their own waste.

None of the patients received anywhere near the proper care they needed for their conditions, which require 24-hour attention. Some were not being treated at all, according to court documents.

The facilities were operated by a 67-year-old doctor who was arrested at his Miami Beach home last June on two counts of aggravated neglect of an elderly person or disabled adult.

A 49-year-old woman, who was running the facilities on site despite having no medical training, was charged with the same crimes.

Both have pleaded not guilty to the charges and are out of jail awaiting trial. Their next court appearance, a status update, is scheduled for Oct. 30 at the Plantation Key courthouse.

Investigators also said the doctor was billing Medicare and being paid for services he was not providing.

Abuse and neglect in nursing homes and assisted living facilities occur every day across the country. Nursing home and assisted living facility negligence includes failing to protect residents from health and safety hazards. Negligence can result in injuries such as broken bones, bedsores, dehydration, malnutrition, and other medical conditions which cause harm and even wrongful death.

Our Florida Nursing Home Abuse Attorneys at Whittel & Melton can help you and your loved ones fight to recover everything you deserve. We are experienced in nursing home negligence matters, and will thoroughly and carefully assess each individual case. We prepare each case for trial in order to obtain maximum compensation for injuries, medical expenses, and pain and suffering. We want to help victims and their families hold these facilities accountable.

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A mother and daughter have filed a lawsuit in Palm Beach County Circuit Court alleging they were sexually abused by masseuses at the national chain’s Boca Raton storefront.

The May 2017 incident is just one of nearly a dozen separate assaults described in the lawsuit and describes how rampant sexual abuse is at the chain that grew into a national sensation by making massages affordable to regular working people.

The two unidentified women were among 11 who joined in the lawsuit that claims the Arizona-based company put profits ahead of customer safety at its franchises in West Palm Beach, Royal Palm Beach, Boca Raton, Fort Lauderdale, Jacksonville and three locations on Florida’s Gulf coast.

When complaints of inappropriate touching, groping and even rape were brought to the company’s attention, the 163-page lawsuit claims the company concealed it.

Instead of alerting police or a state licensing board, the company’s policies allowed the abuse to continue, reports indicate.

A similar lawsuit against the company was filed this month in California. The suits grew from a November 2017 investigation by BuzzFeed that found 180 women across the country had been molested by Massage Envy therapists.

Each of the cases is unique. In two separate incidents, women said male masseuses fondled their genitals at the chain’s locations on Southern Boulevard in Royal Palm Beach and on Village Boulevard in West Palm Beach. Some of the women were receiving massages to cope with lifelong back pain or other injuries. In many cases, the women didn’t know the names of the massage therapists who assaulted them.

The exception was a woman in Largo who filed a complaint with the Florida Board of Massage Therapy. The board responded by revoking the license of the therapist. It is unclear whether any criminal charges were filed.

Massage Envy policies state that franchisees must conduct their own prompt, fair and thorough investigation of sexual assault. However, the main problem with this policy is that it does not provide much guidance on how to do so and there are very few employees who feel capable of doing their own investigations.

After a sexual assault occurs, filing criminal charges can be first step in bringing this person to justice. A criminal case will not provide financial compensation for what you have had to deal with as a result of the assault, which is where our Florida Sexual Abuse Injury Attorneys at Whittel & Melton can help. We can explore your legal options for obtaining compensation for the physical, financial and emotional damages you have suffered.

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A diner is suing Tijuana Flats Inc., claiming she injured herself at the restaurant after tripping and falling on mats that were overlapping and caused a dangerous condition.


The woman filed a complaint on Aug. 15 in Orange County against Tijuana Flats Inc., alleging that the restaurant breached its duty to exercise reasonable care by allowing mats inside its store to overlap and create a trip hazard.

She claims she sustained injury resulting in pain, disfigurement, mental anguish, loss of capacity for the enjoyment of life, expense of hospitalization, medical and nursing care.

The lawsuit holds Tijuana Flats, Inc. responsible, because the restaurant allegedly failed to correct a dangerous condition and failed to install, maintain, and provide safe flooring surfaces on its premises.

When you slip and fall or trip and fall at a restaurant, it’s not only embarrassing, but you could suffer from injuries that affect your ability to work and that require extensive medical treatment. If a slip and fall or trip and fall accidents was the result of negligence by the restaurant, you could be entitled to financial compensation to cover the costs of your doctor and hospital bills, lost income, and any other costs related to the injury.

Restaurant slip and falls and trip and falls are actually quite common injuries that can cause serious harm. Victims may suffer broken bones, back injuries, fractures and head injuries. If you have suffered injuries in an Orlando restaurant, you should make sure you have someone representing your interests. At Whittel & Melton, we protect the rights of injury victims who have suffered due to someone else’s negligence. We take these cases on a contingency basis, meaning that if you do not recover damages, you do not owe us for any legal fees.

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A mother is suing duck boat operators, alleging negligence caused serious injuries to her child.

The woman filed a complaint July 30 in Orange County Circuit Court against Ripley Entertainment Inc., alleging the duck boat operator failed to provide for the safety of the its passengers.

According to the complaint, on July 19, 17 people were killed and several others were injured when the duck boat sank in a Missouri lake. The suit says the child sustained severe injuries that resulted in physical pain and suffering, disability, discomfort, mental anguish, distress and other medical problems.

The lawsuit alleges that the boat was taken out on the water despite knowing about impending rough weather and that Ripley Entertainment was further aware through prior inspections that the duck boat was not fit for voyages in such weather.

The mother alleges Ripley Entertainment, based in Orlando, failed to properly supervise their crew, failed to provide adequate safety equipment and failed to properly monitor the weather.

At least two other lawsuits have been filed on behalf of persons who died as a result of the mishap.

Failure of the boat operator to act using reasonable care is considered negligence when it comes to boating accidents. Negligence is often the result of piloting the boat recklessly or not taking necessary precautions.

Because the circumstances behind every boating accident are different, you need to seek legal help as soon as possible after the accident so that you can achieve the justice you deserve. Our Florida Boating Accident Attorneys at Whittel & Melton can walk you through the process of filing a personal injury or wrongful death claim.

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A Pinellas County customer is suing a Gulfport bar/grill, alleging negligent supervision led to him being attacked.

The man filed a complaint Aug. 8 in Pinellas County Circuit Court against the bar/grill alleging the establishment failed its duty to implement reasonable security and provide a reasonably safe premise to protect customers and guests.

According to the complaint, on Sept. 4, 2016, the man was physically attacked, beaten and stabbed by assailants who were patrons on the premises.

As a result, the man suffered bodily injuries, the expense of medical and nursing care and treatment and the expense of hospitalization.

The man alleges that the establishment did not supervise and/or monitor the unreasonably dangerous situation on the premises and failed to provide employees with adequate means to avoid, prevent or deter criminal activity on the property.

If you have been attacked in a bar, or were injured in a bar fight, you might be wondering if you have a legal case to see damages. Making a claim against a bar or nightclub for your injuries from a bar fight is a personal injury lawsuit that revolves around negligence. To prevail in a lawsuit against a bar for your suffering, you must prove negligence on the part of the establishment, and show that because of that negligence you were injured.

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A 72-year-old priest who was affiliated with Ascension Catholic Church in Boca Raton is accused of molesting a 9-year-old boy and sexually abusing unidentified others in a report issued Tuesday by a Pennsylvania grand jury that conducted a sweeping investigation into clergy misconduct.

The man was among the scores of “predator priests” the grand jury mentioned by name in a 1,356-page report of its roughly two-year investigation, the most comprehensive in U.S. history. The man, according to the document, served at the church on North Federal Highway from 2007 to 2009 and still lives in Boca.

The man said the Vatican cleared him of any wrongdoing in 2014.

The grand jury report noted that police officials in Pennsylvania said their investigation determined the allegations of abuse by the priest were credible. By the time the allegations were presented to prosecutors, the statute of limitations had run out, the jury said.

Diocesan officials ignored several other abuse allegations against Benestad, the grand jury report states.

In its report, the grand jury urged lawmakers to change the law so sexual predators won’t escape prosecution if victims are reluctant to come forward for years. Further, they asked that changes be made so the church can’t hide behind confidentiality agreements. They also want to see laws requiring people to report sex abuse to be beefed up.

Sexual abuse can lead to serious, lifelong emotional and psychological injuries. Our Florida Sexual Abuse Injury Attorneys at Whittel & Melton know the scarring that can come along with abuse, which is why we retain highly skilled and experienced mental health professionals to help evaluate victims’ damages. If you or a loved one was molested by a priest, bishop, deacon, nun or any other employee of a Catholic Church, regardless of when it occurred, please contact us to help you determine what options are best for you.

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A new report has found that glyphosate, a weed-killing chemical that some health authorities link to cancer, is in a number of popular breakfast foods and cereals marketed to children.

The study by the non-profit Environmental Working Group (EWG) discovered trace amounts of the most widely used herbicide in the country in oats, granolas and snack bars. Thirty-one out of 45 tested products had levels higher than what some scientists consider safe for children.

Recently, some scientists, doctors and activists around the world have worked to keep glyphosate out of crops due to concerns that it is a dangerous carcinogen.

EWG used its own, more stringent standards to conclude that products with excessive levels of the herbicide included Quaker Old Fashioned Oats, Cheerios, Quaker Dinosaur Egg Instant Oats, Great Value Instant Oats, and Back to Nature Classic Granola. Glyphosate was even found in a few organic products, though most had non-detectable levels.

The World Health Organization says glyphosate is a “probable carcinogen,” and California lists it as a chemical “known to the state to cause cancer.”

Glyphosate is the active ingredient in the Monsanto weed-killer Roundup. Last week, a jury in California ordered Monsanto to pay one man $289 million in damages after a man claimed the company’s weed killers caused his cancer.

In a statement Quaker said: “We proudly stand by the safety and quality of our Quaker products. Any levels of glyphosate that may remain are significantly below any limits of the safety standards set by the EPA and the European Commission as safe for human consumption.”

General Mills said: “Our products are safe and without question they meet regulatory safety levels. The EPA has researched this issue and has set rules that we follow.”

Glyphosate, also known by the brand name Roundup, is the most used agricultural chemical in the world, acting as a weed-killer. This new study also suggests that it is now a carcinogen.

With the rise in herbicide-resistance crops in recent years, the demand for Roundup has grown, resulting in more medical studies and health surveys concentrating on glyphosate exposure. Monsanto, the company that created and sells Roundup, denies any claims that the chemical is dangerous. They released a statement stating, “glyphosate does not cause cancer” and “has a more than 40-year history of safe use.” However, a number of lawsuits have recently come about, claiming that Monsanto knowingly hid evidence of Roundup’s toxicity because of the large profit they see in the monopolized market for herbicide. It is now being linked to the development of non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

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Hundreds of priests were said to have molested more than 1,000 children — and possibly many more — since the 1940s, and senior church officials, including a man who is now the archbishop of Washington, D.C., allegedly covered up the abuse, according to a grand jury report released Tuesday.

The “real number” of abused children might be in the thousands since some secret church records were lost, and victims were afraid to come forward, the grand jury said.

The grand jury accused a Cardinal, who leads the Washington archdiocese, of helping to protect abusive priests when he was Pittsburgh’s bishop.

Most of the Pennsylvania victims were boys, but girls were abused, too, the report said.

The abuse ranged from groping and masturbation to anal, oral and vaginal rape. There are also accusations that child pornography floated around the church.

The report put the number of abusive clergy at more than 300. In nearly all of the cases, the statute of limitations has run out, meaning that criminal charges cannot be filed. More than 100 of the priests are dead, and many others are retired or have been dismissed from the priesthood or put on leave.

The grand jury said it found cases in which police or prosecutors learned of clergy sex abuse allegations but did not investigate out of deference to church officials.

The grand jury concluded that a succession of Catholic bishops and other diocesan leaders tried to shield the church from bad publicity and financial liability. They failed to report accused clergy to police and sent abusive priests to so-called “treatment facilities,” which “laundered” the priests and “permitted hundreds of known offenders to return to ministry,” the report said.

The grand jury probe was the most extensive investigation of Catholic clergy abuse by any state. U.S. bishops have acknowledged that more than 17,000 people nationwide have reported being molested by priests and others in the church.

Sexual abuse by priests or clergy members is now well known. When priests take advantage of their position and sexually abuse children, it is a heinous action that warrants both criminal punishment and civil liability. In many cases involving the Catholic Church, individuals in authority knew of abusers and failed to take appropriate action, as this case highlights. Sadly, abusers were given complete freedom to take advantage of adolescents for years, even decades.

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In order to ensure the safety of their passengers, commercial airlines must comply with a comprehensive set of federal safety standards and regulations. Because of these strict standards, travelling by air is one of the safest, most reliable modes of transportation available to the public. However, airlines, just like any person or company, can fail to live up to their duties. When they do not meet federal regulations, they place passengers at risk of being involved in a dangerous accident.

While airplane accidents are relatively uncommon, they do happen. These accidents are usually caused by errors or negligence. When an aircraft has a mishap, airline companies may typically be held liable for the damages suffered by passengers and their families.

Negligence is why a JetBlue passenger is suing the airlines in Orange County.

A woman filed a complaint Aug. 1 in Orange County Circuit Court against JetBlue Airways Corporation, alleging failure to follow applicable safety guidelines and regulations.

According to the complaint, on March 5, 2015 the woman was a passenger on JetBlue flight 158 from Florida to JFK Airport in New York. The suit says the plane landed violently, causing the woman to be thrown about.

This rough landing caused the woman to suffer serious injuries resulting in pain and suffering, disability, disfigurement, mental anguish, loss of enjoyment of life, and/or aggravation of a previous existing condition.

The suit alleges JetBlue Airways failed to warn customers of the hazardous condition, and allowed the pilot to negligently operate the airplane.

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The Justice Department is currently investigating the Lowell Correctional Institution in Central Florida, where female inmates have complained for years about sexual, physical and mental abuse inflicted by corrections officers.

This investigation mirrors that of the Julia Tutwiler Prison for Women in Alabama where women were raped, sodomized, forced to engage in oral sex and fondled by corrections officers as state corrections officials looked the other way for nearly two decades.

In 2013, the prison was considered among the 10 worst prisons in the nation. At least one third of its staff was suspected of sexual misconduct, and inmates who dared to report the abuse were punished by being locked in confinement, a more restrictive form of incarceration.

A civil-rights investigation at the prison in 2013 showed that understaffing, poor medical care, inadequate sanitary supplies, overcrowding and poor security fostered an environment where sexual violence and abuse thrived.

Lowell apparently has a huge problem with sexual abuse of prisoners. It has been on the Justice Department’s radar for several years.

In April, John Gore, acting attorney general for the U.S. Department of Justice, sent a letter to Florida Gov. Rick Scott, informing him, Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi and Julie Jones, secretary for the Department of Corrections, that the department had launched a federal probe into conditions at Lowell.

In July, DOJ’s civil rights division sent a subpoena to Florida’s Department of Corrections, demanding records ranging from policy and training manuals to a listing of staff members who were terminated, transferred, suspended or resigned from the prison as of July 1, 2015.

The DOJ’s Civil Rights Division investigates when there is cause to believe that inmates are being subjected to conditions that deprive them of their constitutional rights — in this case, in violation of the Constitution’s Eighth Amendment protection against Cruel and Unusual Punishment.

Federal investigations follow a standard trajectory that takes anywhere from two to five years. The procedure calls for the department to visit the prison, inspect conditions and to interview inmates.

As part of the probe, the DOJ is holding a community meeting on Aug. 19. Investigators are inviting former inmates and family members of current inmates to the meeting at the Marion Baptist Association in Ocala.

The DOJ reached an agreement with the state of Alabama and its corrections department calling for a series of reforms to protect inmates. It concluded that Tutwiler guards had violated prisoners’ rights.

At Tutwiler, DOJ found that inmates lived in an environment of repeated, open and forced sexual behavior by corrections officers. Prison officials were criticized for failing to address the problems despite repeated complaints. The DOJ was especially critical of state corrections officials who “demonstrated a clear deliberate indifference to the harm and substantial risk of harm to women prisoners.’’

The probe found that Alabama had been on notice of the abuse for more than 18 years but had chosen to ignore them.

The Lowell investigation comes after years of complaints by inmates and activists, who organized in the aftermath of a 2015 Miami Herald investigation, “Beyond Punishment.’’ The series included interviews with more than three dozen former and current inmates at Lowell who described being forced to have sex with officers just to obtain basic necessities such as soap, toilet paper and sanitary napkins.

When someone is taken into custody for allegedly committing a crime, prison conditions can certainly be uncomfortable, but they should never include sexual abuse at the hands of other prisoners or prison staff. Prison guards have the legal and moral obligation to protect the rights of prisoners. Partaking in or allowing unwanted sexual advances is a direct violation of their duty.

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