Search This Blog

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Doctor can sue Amusement Park for bumper car injury

Amusement Park Accident: Doctor Can Sue for Injury

San Jose Mercury News reports...

Bumper car patrons at Great America theme park and other amusement parks may be able to sue if they get hurt in that laundry cycle of getting bounced and jostled on the popular rides.

In a ruling Friday, a divided San Jose-based state appeals court found that a local doctor could sue the owners of Great America for breaking her wrist riding a bumper car with her son in 2005. The decision overturned a Santa Clara County Superior Court judge who tossed the lawsuit because of the conclusion the park did not have a legal duty to guarantee against such an injury.

The 6th District Court of Appeal disagreed, saying a jury should decide if Cedar Fair Entertainment, Great America's owners, was negligent in failing to taking steps to prevent head-on collisions on the bumper car ride. The lawsuit alleges Cedar Fair took precautions at other amusement parks it owns, but not at Great America's "Rue Le Dodge" bumper car ride.

"(Cedar Fair) holds the park open to the public with the promise of safe fun and excitement," Justice Conrad Rushing wrote for the court. "Without question, it is best situated to minimize any risks associated with its rides.

"Although bumping is part of the experience of a bumper car ride," the court continued, "head-on bumping is not. In fact, it is a prohibited activity."

The lawsuit was filed by Smriti Nalwa, identified in court papers as a San Jose doctor who took her young son and daughter to Great America in July

2005. According to the ruling, she was one of 55 people injured on the bumper car ride out of several hundred thousands patrons during the 2004 and 2005 park seasons, although the only person to suffer a fracture.

Patrick Hurley, Cedar Fair's lawyer, could not immediately be reached for comment.

In 2006, a year after the accident, Cedar Fair changed Great America's bumper car ride to add an island in the middle to keep drivers headed in the same direction, as was done at other parks around the country.

Justice Wendy Duffy wrote a long dissent, maintaining the ruling stretches the reach of liability for amusement park operators and that park patrons assume a certain risk when they jump in a bumper car.

"The name of the game is to bump and to attempt to avoid (often unsucessfully) being bumped," Duffy wrote. "(The record) discloses no evidence that Cedar Fair increased the risk inherent in riding Rue Le Dodge."

Buttafuoco & Associates

Personal Injury, Medical Malpractice Lawyers

Voted BEST LAW FIRM five years in a row!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

FDA: Risk of oral birth defects in children born to mothers taking topiramate

New Test from Standard MRI Could Yield New Insights on Brain InjuryNew data suggest that the drug Topamax (topiramate) and its generic versions increase the risk for the birth defects cleft lip and cleft palate in babies born to women who use the medication during pregnancy, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said today.

Before prescribing topiramate, approved to treat certain types of seizures in people who have epilepsy, health care professionals should warn patients of childbearing age about the potential hazard to the fetus if a woman becomes pregnant while using the drug.
Topiramate also is approved to prevent migraine headaches, but not to relieve the pain of migraines.

“Health care professionals should carefully consider the benefits and risks of topiramate when prescribing it to women of childbearing age,” said Russell Katz, M.D., director of the Division of Neurology Products in the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. “Alternative medications that have a lower risk of birth defects should be considered.”

Cleft lip and cleft palate, collectively called oral clefts, are birth defects that occur when parts of the lip or palate do not completely fuse together early in the first trimester of pregnancy, a time when many women do not know they are pregnant. The defects range from a small notch in the lip to a groove that runs into the roof of the mouth and nose, possibly leading to problems with eating, talking, and to ear infections. Surgery often is performed to close the lip and palate and most children do well after treatment.

Data from the North American Antiepileptic Drug (AED) Pregnancy Registry indicate an increased risk of oral clefts in infants exposed to topiramate during the first trimester of pregnancy. Infants exposed to topiramate as a single therapy experienced a 1.4 percent prevalence of oral clefts, compared with a prevalence of 0.38 percent – 0.55 percent in infants exposed to other antiepileptic drugs.

Infants of mothers who did not have epilepsy and were not being treated with other antiepileptic drugs had a prevalence of 0.07 percent. Similar data from the United Kingdom Epilepsy and Pregnancy Register supported the North American AED Pregnancy Registry data.

Based on the data, topiramate will have a stronger warning in its prescribing information (labeling). The pregnancy category will be changed to Pregnancy Category D. This means that there is positive evidence of human fetal risk based on human data, but the potential benefits of the drug in pregnant women may outweigh the risks in certain situations. The FDA previously designated the drug as Pregnancy Category C because of the lack of human data. More information about the Pregnancy Categories can be found in the FDA’s Drug Safety Communication.

The patient medication guide and prescribing information for Topamax and generic topiramate will be updated with the new information.

Before starting topiramate, pregnant women and women of childbearing potential should discuss other treatment options with their health care professional. Women taking topiramate should tell their health care professional immediately if they are planning to or become pregnant. Patients taking topiramate should not stop taking it unless told to do so by their health care professional.

Women who become pregnant while taking topiramate should talk to their health care professional about registering with the North American Antiepileptic Drug Pregnancy Registry, a group that collects information about outcomes in infants born to women treated with antiepileptic drugs during pregnancy.

Buttafuoco & Associates

Personal Injury, Medical Malpractice Lawyers

Voted BEST LAW FIRM five years in a row!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Why should I hire a Car Accident Lawyer?

Many people choose to settle minor (no injuries) car incidents claims with their insurance company, but it is a wise idea to hire a lawyer if involved in a major accident such as a fatality or even death. Accident lawyers can help you figure what options are best for your particular case when it comes to settlements.

  • Car accident lawyers are able to evaluate car accidents from a legal point-of-view, which means they can help the victims that were involved receive the compensation that they are legally entitled to. Without the help of a car accident lawyer, you could end up paying out thousands of dollars for a claim that you could should receive money for.
  • There are several things that you should look for before hiring a car accident lawyer such as years of experience, professionalism, reputation and legal fees. Most of this information can be researched on websites such as or Also remember that legitimate attorneys are registered with the American Bar Association.
  • Hiring a car accident lawyer decreases your workload since they are the ones capable of negotiating with all parties involved in the accident, including the auto insurance company. The lawyers also deal with important documents like police reports, medical bills and other statements that are needed for the case or settlement.
  • There are many insurance companies that try to intimidate or take advantage of the victims that have been involved in a car accident, but a skilled lawyer is able to present the evidence and facts needed to prevent any false claims. It is also the lawyer’s duty to protect the client’s rights.

George Washington Bridge fatal car accident snarls morning commute

A 32-year-old Manhattan woman was killed in a single-car wreck Tuesday morning after she lost control of her minivan on the George Washington Bridge, authorities said.

Patricia Salcedo's Toyota van flipped several times and landed on its roof on the New York side of the bridge's upper level about 4 a.m., authorities said.

She was pronounced dead on the scene. There were no other injuries reported, a Port Authority spokesman said.

The crash prompted the temporary shutdown of the upper level's outbound lanes, causing a nightmarish early morning commute for motorists heading to New Jersey.

The lanes were reopened about 7:30 a.m., authorities said.

Buttafuoco & Associates

Personal Injury, Medical Malpractice Attorneys

Voted BEST LAW FIRM five years in a row!

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Wind gusts send 3 'bouncy houses' flying at Long Island spring fair; 13 injured, including kids


Bodies began tumbling when a two-story red, white and blue inflatable slide went soaring into the air at a youth soccer tournament Saturday. Two other inflatables also flew off the ground that breezy afternoon, causing youngsters to suffer bumps and bruises but critically injuring a mother who had an inflatable crash-land on her.

Fathers, coaches and bystanders sprinted toward the airborne amusement rides, some grabbing knives to furiously stab the rubber-filled edifices before anyone else was injured. "I never thought there would be any serious issues, any concerns with safety," one father, Mike Perniches, later told The Associated Press. "But now, I'm like, forget it."

Thirteen ended up at the hospital that day। And people in Oceanside, on Long Island, learned a lesson that is becoming all too familiar: Inflatable amusement rides - with their hit-and-miss regulation and a lack of industry-wide standards - can endanger lives when not properly installed or operated.

At least 10 inflatables around the country have been toppled by winds or collapsed under too much weight in the last two months, injuring more than 40 people, according to, a website that tracks amusement ride accidents.

In a little more than a week beginning in late April, two slides collapsed at separate events in California, injuring nine children, according to media reports.

In Arizona, two accidents in the Tucson area injured four children, including sisters who were inside a bounce house in February when wind bursts tossed it onto a roof. In April, a boy and girl were in a bounce house that was blown across three lanes of traffic.

"I wish this was a rarity, but it's not. It happens all the time," said Jim Barber, a spokesman for the National Association of Amusement Ride Safety Officials, based in Brandon, Fla. "These are probably the most dangerous amusement devices they have."

It's not the rides that are the problem, he said, it's the way they are set up and supervised.

Too many companies that rent inflatables will drop them off at a party with little instruction, said Barber. "If they're going to rent these things, they should be rented with an operator," he said.

"A lot of times they never get anchored down, they put too many kids in, they put two- and three-year-old kids in with a 16-year-old," said Barber, who oversaw New York State's ride inspectors before retiring.

"They don't fly away if they're properly installed," he said.

Police on Long Island did not immediately have the name of the vendor who provided the rides at the Oceanside United Soccer Club festival on Saturday. Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice said her office would investigate the circumstances surrounding the accident.

A woman identified as Cathleen Hughes, 36, of Oceanside, suffered head and spinal injuries when the flying slide landed on top of her, according to Newsday. An update on her condition was not immediately available from South Nassau Communities Hospital in Oceanside, where she was being treated.

"She was walking on the track and it hit her," Perniches said. "She was lying still on the ground, there was blood coming out of her mouth."

Most injuries from inflatables involve bumps and bruises but, as in Oceanside, there are more severe hazards. Most accidents are caused by improper anchoring, high winds and lack of supervision, according to a risk management advisory which New Hartford, N.Y.-based Utica National Insurance issued to groups which use inflatables.

A Pennsylvania man died June 2010 just days after an inflatable slide collapsed and pinned him at a Cleveland Indians game.

A 5-year-old boy was killed in March 2010 when he fell off an inflatable and landed on a concrete floor at an indoor entertainment center in Wichita, Kan.

In January 2010, winds blew a bounce house at Florida birthday party into a pond with a 5-year-old girl inside. Neighbors pulled the child out of the water.

Regulating amusement rides is left up to each state. While most have laws and inspectors overseeing mechanical rides at amusement parks and fairs, only a handful give inflatables the same scrutiny.

Barber, the spokesman for the National Association of Amusement Ride Safety Officials, said states don't have enough inspectors or money to keep up with the thousands of bounce houses and inflatable slides in operation. Still, he thinks it would be a good idea for all states to regulate them.

The Archdiocese of Cincinnati banned inflatable rides at southwest Ohio church festivals in 2009 after a boy was injured when a gust of wind flipped over a slide at a softball tournament sponsored by another group. The wind tossed the slide about 70 yards, carrying the 11-year-old boy with it. He came away with just bruises.

A Consumer Product Safety Commission report released in 2005 linked the growing popularity of inflatables with an increasing number of injuries treated at hospital emergency rooms from 1997 to 2004.

The agency found there were an estimated 1,300 injuries in 1997 and 4,900 injuries in 2004.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission warns that operators should anchor inflatables to the manufacturer's requirements and that bigger rides such as slides should have a least two people operating them. It also says weight limits should be watched closely.

The escalating problems and lack of industry-wide standards led a group of inflatable operators to form a trade association in 2003 to promote safety and develop guidelines and training programs. The Responsible Operators of Amusement Rentals has about 50 members, most on the East Coast. That's a fraction of the companies operating today.

Michael Mazzocco, who was coaching his 6-year-old daughter's soccer game when the inflatables went airborne Saturday on Long Island, said it was difficult at first to believe what he was seeing.

"We were all sprinting toward it, trying to grab the bug one and get the air out of it," he recalled. "There was kind of pandemonium at first with kids not knowing where their parents were and parents on the other side trying to find their children. There were a few tense moments."

He said his wife, who was shooting video of the soccer match, immediately turned the camera on the flying projectiles.

"We're just hoping that this is a lesson for others to make sure these things are anchored properly," he said. "I don't know if that was the case here, but it is always windy down there. It we can get someone to make sure this doesn't happen again, I will be happy."

Seewer reported from Toledo, Ohio। Associated Press researcher Rhonda Shafner in New York also contributed to this report.

Daniel Buttafuoco
Senior Partner & Founder
Buttafuoco & Associates
Personal Injury, Medical Malpractice Lawyers
Voted BEST LAWYER five years in a row!
$250+ Million recovered for our clients