Brain Injury Association Information, Brain Injury Lawyers and Law

Shana De Caro reelected to Brain Injury Association of America Bd of Directors

De Caro & Kaplen, LLP is pleased to announce that Shana De Caro has been reelected to a three year term to the Board of Directors of the Brain Injury Association of America.

Founded in 1980, the Brain Injury Association of America is the oldest, largest, non-profit nationwide brain injury advocacy group.   Serving as a member of their Board of Directors is an honor recognizing the years Shana has devoted as a dedicated advocate seeking to improve the lives of persons with a brain injury. 

Shana’s practice focuses on representing victims of catastrophic injuries, traumatic brain damage, and medical malpractice in federal and state courts across the country. 

Shana is a featured speaker throughout the United States in areas of traumatic brain injury, personal injury, and medical malpractice.  In addition to serving on the Board of Directors of the Brain Injury Association, she also serves as member of the Board of Directors of the New York State Academy of Trial Lawyers, as Secretary and member of the Board of Trustees of the Civil Justice Foundation, and an elected Fellow of the Melvin Belli Society.  Shana is the immediate past chair of the American Association for Justice, Traumatic Brain Injury Litigation Group.

Shana’s legal work in the field of traumatic brain injury includes publication of a chapter of Psychiatric Clinics of North America special edition on brain injury and the New York Law Journal expert column on traumatic brain injury law.

Contact Shana

Her full CV can be viewed here

More information can be obtained about De Caro & Kaplen by visiting their web site brainlaw

January 4, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Brain Injury and Sports, Brain Injury Association Information, Brain Injury Broadcasts, Brain Injury Lawyers and Law

NY Daily News Interview on Concussion Movie

Gratified to be interviewed for special Daily News feature article on “Concussion” movie appearing in Sunday editions of paper.  We all need to be diligent and speak out for the 5.2 million Americans suffering from the permanent consequences of traumatic brain injury.  All brain injuries are serious and must be treated as such by the NFL, insurance carriers and health providers. Opening Eyes and Minds: Former NFL QB Ray Lucas, CTE activists weigh in on Will Smith’s ‘Concussion’

 

December 20, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Brain Injury & Concussions, Brain Injury and Sports, Brain Injury Association Information, Brain Injury Broadcasts, Brain Injury Events, Brain Injury Lawyers and Law, Brain Injury Legislative News, Brain Injury Publications, Brain Injury Rehabilitation, Current Affairs

Concussion a Good Opening Gambit

Shana and I attended an advance screening of the movie Concussion, with a group of sports writers and newscasters.  Will Smith gave a compelling performance as Bennet Omalu, and his quest to determine and understand the cause of a specific type of brain damage, later named CTE, first discovered in the brain of former Pittsburgh Steeler, Mike Webster.  This was Omalu’s movie and his story, based on the 2009 GQ exposé, Game Brain by Jeanne Marie Laskas. This was not a documentary.

The title for the film, “Concussion” is misleading.  The film is not about concussions and the failure on the part of the league to inform players about the signs and symptoms of concussions, the need to refrain from returning to play before a player is healed, or the potential life-long consequences of a concussion.  It is a film about the work of Bennet Omalu and his efforts to understand Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE).

Importantly the film is based upon a true story, but is not a complete story.  It is an excellent presentation of the path Omalu took and the painstaking investigation into the cause Mike Webster’s death.  Omalu’s dogged pursuit of answers led to the discovery of the connection between football and brain damage and opened the door to further research.  The movie indicated his conflict with the NFL in accepting this information, which the NFL still disputes.

This movie opens the door to a more important conversation, about trauma and brain damage that must continue.  The cinematic decisions about the portrayals of different characters and the complete omission of any reference to the Concussion Legacy Foundation in Boston, the past and current role of Commissioner Goodell and the NFL marketing department in deflecting criticism were interesting choices made by the film’s writer and director.

It was a compelling introduction for the public to the health issues generated by trauma in football.  This theme must be expanded. If this movie provokes a national conversation about the larger issues associated with all types of brain damage, from football, other sports and everyday accidents, then it has been a great public service.  It would be misleading, if however, it leaves the impression that the problems have been remedied or that the only public health concern is CTE.  This is the tip of the iceberg of the full-range of chronic life-altering effects of concussions. 

Brain injury is a chronic condition with life-long consequences.  According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), each year there are over 200,000 visits to emergency departments by children under the age of 19 suffering concussion related problems from organized sports.  Omitted from these statistics are visits to urgent care facilities, physicians’ offices, and cases where concussion is not the principal diagnosis. The CDC estimates that the accurate number is between 1.6 million to 3.8 million sports related concussions documented each year!  This is a true public health crisis.  Labeling a condition does not address treatment issues and how we, as a society, address the impact of a chronic condition that has consequences for families and society.

We applaud the efforts of all those involved in making this important film, and hope it engenders continued investigation and research into not only prevention, but improved identification and treatment options that will assist this vulnerable population.

SHANA DE CARO, ESQ. is a member of the Board of Directors of the Brain Injury Association of America and immediate past chair of the American Association for Justice  Traumatic Brain Injury Litigation Group.

MICHAEL V. KAPLEN, ESQ. is a Professorial Lecturer in Law teaching the only course in traumatic brain injury law at The George Washington University Law School, a member and immediate past chair of the New York State Traumatic Brain Injury Coordinating Council, three term president of the Brain Injury Association of New York State and a past chair of the American Association for Justice Traumatic Brain Injury Litigation Group.

DE CARO & KAPLEN, LLP is a New York based law firm with a focus on representing victims of traumatic brain injury throughout the nation.  Shana and Michael are frequently invited to lecture attorneys and public advocacy groups nationwide on the legal issues pertaining to brain injury, public health concerns and the impact of brain injury on the lives of its victims.

Shana and Michael authored the New York Law Journal expert column on brain injury law and the chapter on brain injury law in the special issue of Psychiatric Clinics of North America.    

December 17, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Brain Injury and Sports, Brain Injury Lawyers and Law, Current Affairs

Roger Goodell Jokes About Concussions

A concussion is a brain injury.  NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell should know better.

Concussions are no laughing matter.  Read my sentiments in this New York Daily News Article.

 

December 10, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Brain Injury Lawyers and Law

De Caro & Kaplen, LLP Obtain $4.5 Million Dollar Settlement for Stroke Victim in Medical Malpractice Lawsuit

A New York medical malpractice lawsuit for a stroke victim has resulted in a settlement of $4.5 million dollars because of the legal work performed by New York medical malpractice attorneys Shana De Caro and Michael V. Kaplen.

Our firm achieved a $4.5 million settlement for our client, who at age 63 suffered a massive stroke following improper treatment for his paroxysmal atrial fibrillation and improper treatment at the emergency department of a local hospital.

We established our client was suffering from long standing paroxysmal atrial fibrillation, (AFib), a common heart condition in which the heart periodically deviates from normal rhythm. Frequently a patient with AFib experiences fatigue, heart fluttering, dizziness, chest pain and other signs that alerts him/her of the irregular heartbeat. There is effective medication that can control a patient’s heart rhythm and reduce the risk of stroke.  If untreated, however, this condition can cause an accumulation of blood in the heart’s atrial chamber causing increased risk of an embolus (a blood clot that breaks off) and places an individual at a higher risk of a stroke. 

Our client was seen by a cardiologist, seeing patients for his own vacationing doctor (who were both part of the same medical group), during an emergency appointment for symptoms of an irregular heartbeat. In the past when he experienced AFib he was placed on a well-known anti-coagulation (blood thinning) medication, Coumadin (also known as Warfarin).  On this visit, the cardiologist, ignored his past medical history (including a prior TIA and hypertension), and past successful treatment with Coumadin. This physician negligently determined plaintiff was at a low risk for a stroke and improperly placed the patient on a high dose of aspirin therapy with instructions to schedule a follow up visit one week later. 

We established it was medical malpractice not to prescribe Coumadin and instead place our client on aspirin therapy.  New York medical malpractice lawyers, Shana De Caro and Michael Kaplen also proved that the cardiologist was negligent in not recommending the patient return in two days to follow up and alert the patient’s regular cardiologist of this emergency visit.

One week later, when the patient returned for his scheduled examination by his regular cardiologist he was still in AFib and was immediately placed on Coumadin and sent him home.  Our malpractice attorneys proved his treating cardiologist committed malpractice because he failed to recognize that Coumadin would not reach therapeutic (beneficial) levels for several days. Considering his history of one week of AFib, he should have prescribed a rapid action blood thinning medication, Heparin to bridge the gap until Coumadin reached a therapeutic level. 

The combined failures of both cardiologists diminished plaintiff’s chances for a better outcome.

Predictably and unfortunately, twenty four hours after this second visit, the plaintiff suffered a stroke in his home and was immediately transported by ambulance to a local hospital certified stroke center.  Although emergency department doctors established he was a candidate for the stroke busting agent, tPA, they incorrectly administered an experimental stroke busting medication, Tenecteplase (TNK) generally used for acute myocardial infarction, not stroke.  

It is well-known that tPA is the only FDA approved medication for a stroke. The medication works to rapidly dissolve the blood clot that develops in the brain and reduces brain damage that may develop due to impaired blood flow and decreased oxygen reaching brain tissue.  Effective treatment requires that tPA be administered within 4 ½ hours after signs of a stroke develop.  Plaintiff’s stroke was witnessed by his wife and he arrived at the Emergency Department well within the window of opportunity for treatment. When timely administered, tPA significantly improves the changes for a good outcome.  The emergency department doctors committed medical malpractice by ignoring the recommended time for administering tPA to a patient with obvious signs of a stroke who reached the hospital within 4 ½ hours of the stroke’s onset.

After discovery of the medication error, plaintiff was transferred on an emergency basis to a university hospital hoping they would perform an embolectomy, (a surgical procedure sometimes used to mechanically open the blockage in the blood vessel) within the brain causing the stroke.   Unfortunately, even after the emergency arrangements were made, the stroke team at the university hospital was not notified for an hour.  When they finally arrived a repeat CT study demonstrated the patient’s stroke was too large to perform this embolectomy. It was too late.

Because of his stroke Plaintiff suffered hemiparesis (paralysis) and aphasia (word finding difficulties) requiring full time care at home.

The treating cardiologists contributed their policy limits of $3.5 million dollars; hospital number one contributed $750,000 and hospital number two contributed $250,000 to the final settlement.  It was agreed there would be no disclosure of the identities of the parties.

The case was prosecuted by New York personal injury and malpractice attorneys, Shana De Caro, immediate past chair of the Traumatic Brain Injury Litigation Group, a member of the Board of Directors of the Brain Injury Association of America and Michael V. Kaplen, a member of the Board of Directors of the American Board of Professional Liability Attorneys and a Professorial Lecturer in Law at The George Washington University Law School. 

If you or your loved one suffered injuries because of the careless or negligent conduct of a doctor or hospital, you may be entitled to compensation. Contact the law firm of De Caro & Kaplen, LLP for a free, no obligation, consultation.  Our personal injury attorneys have been representing victims of medical negligence for over 35 years.

December 9, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Brain Injury & Concussions, Brain Injury and Sports, Brain Injury Latest Medical News, Brain Injury Lawyers and Law

Frank Gifford and CTE : It's time that the NFL gets serious

Former professional football player and TV commentator Frank Gifford, who died in August at age 84, suffered from Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE), a degenerative brain disease.  The only known cause of this condition is repetitive head trauma.  Gifford played in the NFL for 12 years and during that time suffered from repetitive head trauma.

“We as a family made the difficult decision to have his brain studied in hopes of contributing to the advancement of medical research concerning the link between football and traumatic brain injury,” Gifford’s family said in a statement released Wednesday.

Although all the details of Frank Gifford’s condition in the last years of his life are not known, the fact that CTE was found on autopsy adds further weight to the mounting evidence that football is a concussion delivery system causing permanent consequences to players.  The fact that Gifford and all players diagnosed with this condition past the settlement date in the NFL class action concussion litigation is further proof that the settlement that was reached was unfair and needs to be rejected by the United States Third Circuit Court of Appeals.   

The danger of CTE is something that the NFL can no longer hide from all ignore.  Players with this condition must be compensated and effective measures must be put in place to reduce to present and future players.  It’s time to end the double talk of the NFL and get serious about head injury and brain damage.  

The family said it decided to disclose his condition “to honor Frank’s legacy of promoting player safety dating back to his involvement in the formation of the NFL Players Association in the 1950s.”

My partner, Shana De Caro and I authored the amicus brief on behalf of the Brain Injury Association of America arguing against the NFL settlement. We argued to the court that the settlement was junk science and was not a fair or balanced settlement for players suffering from brain damage.

For more information, read the story on ESPN: Hall of Fame player Frank Gifford suffered from CTE, family says.

November 25, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Brain Injury Lawyers and Law, Brain Injury Prevention

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

December is Carbon Monoxide Safety Month It has no color….no taste…no smell. It doesn’t burn your eyes or cause people to cough. However, it can be deadly and is the leading cause of accidental poisoning deaths in the U.S.

The poison? It is carbon monoxide or CO, a gas that kills by binding up the hemoglobin in the blood, reducing the body’s ability to carry oxygen to the brain and muscles. Death is related to both the level of CO as well as the duration of exposure. CO is produced by the incomplete burning of various fuels (coal, wood, charcoal, oil, kerosene, propane, and natural gas) used in cars, trucks, recreational vehicles, houseboats, portable generators, furnaces, charcoal grills, small engines, salamanders, LP gas heaters, stoves, lanterns, fireplaces, portable flameless catalytic heaters, and gas ranges. Cars left running in attached garages even with the doors open, portable generators in basements vented to an open window or located outside next to a window, and charcoal grills inside tents or homes have all resulted in CO quickly building to lethal levels in enclosed spaces. People and animals can be poisoned. December is National Carbon Monoxide Safety Month. This is fitting as December and January are the peak months for CO poisoning, which results in the unintentional deaths of almost 500 people in the U.S. each year and is responsible for more than 20,000 emergency room visits and greater than 4000 hospitalizations.

Some who survives Carbon Monoxide exposure can face permanent neurological damage. CO affects people differently. Children and adults over 65 years with health problems are particularly vulnerable. The initial symptoms of low to moderate CO poisoning are similar to the flu and include headache, fatigue, nausea, shortness of breath and dizziness. These slower developing symptoms can result in death over-time if mistaken for other illnesses.

High level CO poisoning, usually develops rapidly and includes progressively more severe symptoms including mental confusion, vomiting, loss of muscular coordination, loss of consciousness and ultimately death. The use of generators in residential spaces can cause this type of high level CO exposure to happen resulting in victims going to sleep and not waking up. This happened to a 16 year-old Buffalo teenager who lost her life sleeping near a malfunctioning basement boiler while at a friend’s house for a sleepover.

Workers are also affected by carbon monoxide poisoning. Workplaces may be weather sealed in winter. While internal combustion machinery such as gasoline or diesel-powered forklifts, air compressors, telehandlers, generators, pressure washers, welding equipment and petroleum-fired machinery produce CO are still being used. Although cold weather and power outages increase the use of risky alternative heating and power sources, carbon monoxide poisoning is not just a winter or storm-related concern. In recent years cases of CO poisoning have also been associated with residential utility shutoffs. This scenario is most prevalent in economically depressed areas and low income household where power disconnection results in families using unsafe means to keep warm or run their refrigerators.

SAFETY TIPS TO PREVENT CO POISONING:

  • Purchase and install CO alarms. Test them regularly and change the batteries twice yearly. A good time to do this is when you change your clocks to adjust for daylight savings time.
    • Ensure that heating systems and appliances are installed and serviced annually by qualified professionals. Chimneys should be checked and cleaned, as needed. When renovating a home or repairing a roof, make sure that tarps or debris do not block vents and chimneys. • Ventilate….ventilate….ventilate. Make sure that all fuel-burning equipment is vented properly. Don’t patch vent pipes in your home, cabin, camper, boat, or workplace with tape or gum
    • Remove vehicles from a garage immediately after starting them, even if the garage door is open. If you open the tailgate on a running SUV or similar vehicle, open the vents/windows to ensure air flow and exchange. If only the tailgate is open, CO from the exhaust could be pulled into the vehicle.
    • Ensure that vehicle exhaust pipes are not blocked in or after a heavy snowstorm. Make sure vents for the furnace, stove, fireplace and dryer are clear of snow.
    • Only operate portable generators or other gasoline-powered equipment, including portable flameless catalytic heaters, OUTSIDE of a home, garage, basement or any enclosed or semi-enclosed space. Position them at least 20 feet from a window, door or vent.
    • Increase awareness of symptoms and causes. Many people do not know that certain equipment, such as generators, are dangerous and can produce deadly fumes.
    • If symptoms suggest CO poisoning, get to fresh air immediately and call 911.

The brain injury law firm of De Caro & Kaplen, LLP has represented victims of carbon monoxide exposure and can provide legal representation to you or your loved one if a victim of carbon monoxide poisoning. 

November 21, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Brain Injury and Sports, Brain Injury Events, Brain Injury Lawyers and Law, Brain Injury Legislative News, Brain Injury Prevention

Concussion Legacy Foundation Awards Ceremony this Evening in Boston, Mass

I will be in Boston, Mass this evening attending the annual awards ceremony for the Concussion Legacy Foundation, formally known as the Sports Legacy Institute.  Foundation headed by Chris Nowinski has been instrumental in alerting the public to the dangers of concussion and brain damage in all sports; providing needed education on the signs and symptoms of concussions and most importantly leading efforts to keep players out when there is any suspicion of a concussion.  The group through their affiliation with Boston University also has led efforts to understand and appreciate the effects of cumulative brain trauma and its causation to a Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE).  Keep up the great work!

November 4, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Brain Injury Events, Brain Injury Lawyers and Law

DC Trial Lawyers Assoc. Brain Injury Symposium

I am honored to be presenting tomorrow at the Brain Injury Symposium sponsored by the Trial Lawyers Association of Metropolitan Washington DC at the Omni Shoreham Hotel beginning at 9 am.  My presentation will provide an overview of a brain injury case from the perspective of a brain injury trial attorney.  For further information, click here.

October 28, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Brain Injury and Sports, Brain Injury Latest Medical News, Brain Injury Lawyers and Law

CTE continues to haunt NFL

Public Broadcasting Network in their news show Front Line reveals new research strongly supporting link between CTE and repetitive head trauma

 Pleased to be interviewed on this important subject by International Business Times

 

September 19, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)