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Articles Posted in Palm Beach County

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 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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This week we learned the Broward Sheriffs Deputies assigned to guard the baggage claim area of the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport on Jan. 6, 2017 when a shooting occured that killed five people and injured another six, were not actually at their assigned posts. Instead, they were in a nearby office full of balloons and cake for a retirement party.

A Virginia Beach woman, who lost her husband in this shooting, is suing BSO, Delta Airlines and the security firms charged with protecting the airport.

The lawsuit asserts that in the immediate aftermath of the shooting, as her husband’s body still lay on the floor of the airport, she was hustled into that party room. She waited there for hours, she said, as law enforcement investigated the scene.

In the chaos after the shooting, she and another spouse of a shooting victim were shuttled from room to room inside the airport while police swarmed outside. One of those offices was festooned with balloons and a cake. The shooter pleaded guilty to the killings in exchange for avoiding the death penalty. He faces five life sentences at his Aug. 17 sentencing hearing.

That was the room where BSO deputies were celebrating a fellow detective’s retirement instead of guarding baggage claim when the shooting took place, the lawsuit alleges.

Airports, just like all other businesses, have a duty to maintain a safe environment. They have a duty to protect their customers/guests from any foreseeable crime or criminal activity, which means having security officers and security cameras.

Negligent security lawsuits matter because they hold the wrongdoer accountable for their actions. Whoever was in control or had the opportunity to use control of the property would be liable in a negligent security case. This could be the person or business that owns the property. In this case, the airline and the security company are being sued as being the responsible entities.

In order to successguly prove negligence, it depedns on what the crime was and if it could have been prevented. If it could have been prevented, it is relevant to establish whether the business or entity did anything in an attempt to do so. If the property owner knew of the danger and did nothing to protect people, then a claim for damages can be filed for personal injury or wrongful death.

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A Broward County woman is suing Hyatt, alleging negligence led to her suffering injuries in the shower.

The woman filed a complaint Sept. 28 in the Ninth Judicial Circuit Court in Florida Orange County against Hyatt Corporation alleging they failed to use ordinary care to maintain their premises in a safe condition.

According to the complaint, on Sept. 22, 2015, the woman sustained serious injuries on the side of her neck when the shower head in a Hyatt Regency of Orlando bathroom suddenly dislodged and struck her. The suit says this caused her to violently twist her body and fall full force onto her right arm, neck and shoulder area.

As a result, she says she suffered bodily injuries, resulting in pain and suffering, disability, mental anguish, medical expenses and loss of earnings.

Sometimes something as simple as bathing can be a hazardous activity. Injuries from falls in the bathroom, particularly when getting in and out of a shower or tub, are common occurrences.

Bathroom falls typically mean violent contact with hard surfaces, which may result in traumatic brain injuries, back, hip or spinal injuries, neck fractures, or broken bones. If you suffered a serious injury from a hotel bathroom fall, you may still be dealing with the after effects.

If the hotel where you fell did not provide reasonable accommodations to protect you from an accident, you may be able to file an injury claim against the hotel for failing to provide a reasonably safe environment. Our South Florida Slip, Trip & Fall Injury Lawyers at Whittel & Melton can help you pursue potential compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

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According to deputies, a man was killed Saturday while riding a scooter in Pompano Beach.

The 22-year-old Lake Worth man died in the crash that happened shortly before 9 p.m., the Broward Sheriff’s Office said.

Investigators say the man was heading west in the center lane of the 900 block of Southwest Third Street at the overpass when he was struck by a GMC Yukon being driven by a 48-year-old woman.

The woman stopped to help the man after the crash but he died after being taken to Broward Health North, according to reports.

Investigators believe the man was going around the 35 mph speed limit at the time of the crash. Neither she nor a witness reported seeing the scooter before the crash, according to the sheriff’s office.

Scooters sharing the roads with other vehicles can bring about serious dangers. Scooters can be hard to spot for driver who is not paying attention, and many motorists do not take enough care to keep an eye out for them. Scooters are always at risk of being hit, and scooter operators are always the ones at a disadvantage due to the fact that scooters offer so little fall and impact protection.

Even the most defensive scooter driver cannot be protected from negligent motorists. When someone else is responsible for causing your injury or a loved one’s death, you can file a suit for financial compensation for the damages you have suffered, including:

  • Medical costs
  • Property damage
  • Pain and suffering
  • Lost wages
  • Funeral expenses

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A Frontier Airlines flight from Chicago to Florida was diverted to Indianapolis after an issue was reported with its fuel system.

No injuries have been reported.

A Frontier spokesman said flight 1334 left Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport on Sunday for Palm Beach with 205 passengers and seven crew members aboard and landed late Sunday in Indianapolis out of “an abundance of caution.”

The pilot for the Denver-based airline made the decision to divert the plane, according to reports.

Passengers were put on another plane to get to their destination. According to reports, they arrived in Palm Beach on Monday morning.

The Transportation Security Administration screens over 1.8 million passengers every single day, and each traveler knows that flying has built-in risks and trusts that they will get to their final destination safe and sound. The reality is that planes are machines, and machines can malfunction. Although airlines take as many precautions as possible, when dealing with such high speeds and altitudes, flight mistakes can have serious ramifications.

Airplane accidents can be caused by many different things. The following are some of the common causes of airplane accidents:

  • Instrument failure
  • Pilot error
  • Fuel mismanagement
  • Mechanical failure
  • Tire failure
  • Defective landing gear
  • Inadequate training
  • Inclement weather
  • Metallurgical failures
  • Improper maintenance
  • Mid-air collisions
  • Improper inspections
  • Poor fuel
  • Design defects
  • Inadequate security
  • Improper flight training

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South Florida cities are amping up their efforts to prevent fatal alligator attacks like the one that occurred in Orlando’s Walt Disney World when an alligator emerged from a lagoon, grabbed a toddler wading in ankle-deep water and killed him.

From Oakland Park to Delray Beach, cities have begun replacing “no swimming” signs with stronger warnings on lakes and canals where alligators and snakes might lurk.

Florida does not regulate whether cities or counties need warning signs.

Delray Beach is taking no chances. The city, which currently has only a few “no swimming” signs, plans to install 20 signs that warn of alligators at eight canals and lakes.

So are Oakland Park, North Lauderdale and Parkland, where staff are adding warning signs at parks by water.

According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission numbers, there were nine alligator attacks in 2015, one of which was fatal, and 10 in 2014, none of which were fatal. Since 2006, there have been five reported fatalities due to alligator attacks. There have been 23 reported attacks since 1948, when the agency began keeping track.

Living in Florida, we know the dangers of alligators in any body of water, as well as hotels, golf courses and even backyards. Most public places located near bodies of water are pretty vigilant about relocating dangerous animals out of these areas. The added signage going up in south Florida is great, as it could prevent another tragedy from occurring.

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Three passengers and two flight attendants have been hospitalized after suffering from head injuries after an Allegiant Airlines flight en route to Pittsburgh experienced severe turbulence.

According to the FAA, Allegiant 7001, an Airbus A319 aircraft, diverted to Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport in Florida after several injuries were reported on board due to the severe turbulence.

The flight originated in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, and was headed to Pittsburgh International Airport.

According to Allegiant, there were 137 passengers and six crew members on board the flight.

The five people taken to the hospital sustained head injuries. It is not immediately clear their condition.

Allegiant Air issued the following statement: “The airline is currently working to accommodate all passengers and develop a plan for getting all passengers safely to their destination. Passengers are currently being cleared through customs.”

Turbulence is a common occurrence during any high altitude flight, but sadly it can also result in the injury of passengers, as this case shows. If proper protocols are not followed or if passengers are not in their seats when experiencing sudden shifts and jolts, then serious injuries can arise.

Airline workers negligence can be a factor in turbulence-related injuries on aircrafts. When flight attendants, pilots or crew members fail to abide by proper safety procedures or do not take the necessary actions to prevent injuries, then the airline and its employees can be held responsible for any costs associated with injuries that result from that negligence.

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April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month. The purpose of this initiative by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is to promote safe driving practices.

Much of distracted driving centers on cellphone use while driving. Texting and talking on the phone while driving is a huge issue among all age groups, but especially teen drivers. People might think they are capable of driving while texting, but the truth is they are paying more attention to their phone than the road. Even hands-free options are not 100 percent distraction free – people can get more involved in their conversation than the main task at hand. If talking or texting on your phone is something you do, try keeping your phone in the back seat when you are driving. You will be less tempted to grab it at red lights or mess with it while sitting in traffic.

Cell phones are not the only distraction to drivers, people can be distracted by eating, drinking, and even other passengers. While fast food was sort of invented for people on the run, there is no way to stay focused on the road when you are unwrapping a burger or shovelling french fries in your mouth. Most drivers also fail to realize how distracting other passengers can be – screaming kids, rambunctious teens, etc. can all take your attention off the road. In these types of situations, it is actually best to pull the car over and handle whatever you need.

Distracted driving is a major problem on Florida roads, resulting in accidents, injuries, and deaths. According to the the NHTSA, 3,129 people were killed distracted driving accidents in 2014.

Distractions take your eyes off the road, hands off the steering wheel, and your mind away from driving. Distracted driving leads to serious injuries and sometimes, death.

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Less than a year after a University of Central Florida student drowned after her car crashed into a pond, a law is being passed in her name that would require roadside guardrails in front of bodies of water.

Chloe’s Law has passed both the House and the Senate and will go into effect this summer.

With the passing of Chloe’s law, any site of a drowning-related traffic accident over the past ten years will be outfitted with a guardrail.

According to Federal crash data, 49 people in Florida died inside submerged vehicles from 2008 to 2012. No other state comes close to these alarming numbers. Texas, ranks No. 2, with 18 deaths, followed by Indiana with 14, and Arizona and Louisiana, each with 10.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, counties with the highest concentration of motor vehicle drownings were:

  • Palm Beach
  • Broward
  • Miami-Dade

Orange, Duval, Lee and Collier Counties are tied for fourth place.

While it is true that guard rails won’t stop all accidents from occurring, strategically placed rails can reduce drowning fatalities from these types of collisions. In many cases, guard rails can turn what could be a fatal accident into a minor traffic incident.

If you or someone you love has been  involved in any type of auto accident that resulted in serious injuries or death, you might have a claim for financial compensation if someone else is responsible for the incident, including when another driver’s negligent actions caused your car to travel off the road and into a body of water.

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