Month: March 2018

Bair Hugger Infection Claim

Utah Couple Files Bair Hugger Infection Lawsuit Against 3M and Arizant

Raizner Slania LLP has filed a Bair Hugger infection lawsuit on behalf of a Utah couple against 3M Company and Arizant Healthcare. The couple alleges the companies failed to warn them of the infection risk associated with the device.

In January 2017, the husband underwent surgery in which the Bair Hugger warming blanket was used throughout the course and scope of his right total knee replacement. The Bair Hugger introduced contaminants into the plaintiff’s open surgical wound that caused him to develop a periprosthetic joint infection (PJI), also known as a deep joint infection. The pathogen identified was Staphylococcus aureus.

Staphylococcus aureus, more commonly known as a Staph infection, is a serious infection that can cause life-threatening complications. While Staph bacteria can safely appear on parts of normal human skin, when it enters into the body it can cause sepsis, pneumonia, endocarditis or the infection of heart valves, and osteomyelitis or a bone infection.

As a result of the infection caused by the Bair Hugger, the plaintiff was forced to undergo extensive medical treatment, including multi-staged revision and replacement surgeries including resection of the right total knee arthroplasty with antibiotic cement spacer placement and an incision revision, placement of a revised knee arthroplasty, and PICC line antibiotics. Despite this extensive treatment, the plaintiff still required ongoing physical therapy and home health assistance. The plaintiff may also require additional treatments in the future.

The Bair Hugger is composed of two parts: a machine that sucks in air and heats it and a blanket with holes that is draped over the patient. The heated air gets pushed into the blanket and out of the holes, delivering warm air to the patient’s body to help regulate body temperature during surgery. While medically helpful, this process also allows contaminants in the operating room air to be introduced into a patient’s open surgical wound.

The Utah couple believes the Bair Hugger device is defective in both its design and manufacture. The couple also alleges 3M and Arizant committed consumer fraud and/or unfair and deceptive trade practices under Utah state law.

Get Help With Your Bair Hugger Infection Claim

If you underwent a hip or knee surgery within the last five years and developed an infection, you may be able to file a lawsuit against the Bair Hugger manufacturers. Contact Raizner Slania LLP today for a free consultation regarding your Bair Hugger infection claim.

Hurricane Maria

Puerto Rico’s Commissioner of Insurance Fines Insurance Companies For Unnecessary Delays After Hurricane Maria

For the island of Puerto Rico, recovering after Hurricane Maria has been incredibly difficult. In the six months since the hurricane ravaged the island, millions of Puerto Ricans have struggled to rebuild among an island-wide power outage, scarcity of clean drinking water, and slow response from insurance companies. However, Puerto Rico’s Commissioner of Insurance has made it clear that insurance companies will not be able to shirk their duties.

Last month, Commissioner of Insurance Javier Rivera issued a whopping 2,587 violation orders to six different insurers. Under Puerto Rican law, insurers are expected to handle claims promptly and in good faith. If a policyholder in Puerto Rico does not agree with an insurance company’s determination of their claim, they can request an investigation by the Commissioner of Insurance. These investigations have already illustrated a widespread issue of unfair dealings on behalf of the insurance companies.

To address this dishonest behavior, the violation orders also assessed fines to the insurers. The Commissioner of Insurance has issued over $2 million in fines to insurers for unnecessarily delaying processing Hurricane Maria claims.

Insurers Acting In Bad Faith

Insurance companies are first and foremost businesses. So when natural disasters occur, insurance companies face millions of dollars in claims payouts. Most companies are not in a rush to pay out, and in fact many will use bad faith tactics to limit or completely deny payouts. Insurance companies try to limit payouts to save on their bottom lines, but this is not just morally wrong – it is also illegal. Policyholders that pay their premiums regularly deserve full coverage under their policies delivered in a reasonable timeframe.

Know Your Rights After Hurricane Maria

Even under the best circumstances, rebuilding after a natural disaster is challenging. After Hurricane Maria, property owners faced substantial hurdles from the lack of electricity and damage to the island’s highways. Many property owners are still facing significant issues, but dishonest insurance companies shouldn’t be one. Puerto Rico’s Insurance Code provides numerous protections for policyholders, but insurance companies often count on policyholders being unaware of their rights. In Puerto Rico, insurers are expected to resolve claims in a 90-day claims window unless there are extenuating circumstances. Failing to meet his deadline can result in fines like the ones issued by the Commissioner of Insurance.

Bair Hugger Staph Infection Claim

Raizner Slania Files Bair Hugger Staph Infection Suit On Behalf Of Indiana Couple

Raizner Slania LLP has filed a Bair Hugger staph infection suit on behalf of an Indiana couple after the husband suffered a severe infection from the device. The couple believes the Bair Hugger device is defective in its design and manufacture.

In January 2017, the plaintiff underwent a surgery in which the Bair Hugger warming blanket was used throughout the procedure to regulate his body temperature. Without temperature regulation, most patients would experience hypothermia during surgery, which increases bleeding risks and lengthens hospital stays. While utilizing a Bair Hugger can help decrease these risks, the design of the device exposes patients to serious infection risks. The Bair Hugger works by taking air from the operating room, heating it up, and dispersing it over the patient. This air cycling allows contaminants to be introduced to a patient’s open surgical wound.

As a direct result of using the Bair Hugger, contaminants were introduced into the plaintiff’s open surgical wound, causing him to develop a deep joint infection. The pathogen identified was staphylococcus aureus. Most people know staphylococcus aureus as the common Staph infection. While Staph bacteria is present on the skin of approximately one-third of the population, a Staph infection in an artificial joint is much more rare and a lot more dangerous. Staph infections in artificial joints are incredibly difficult to treat and can cause a number of serious conditions, including sepsis and pneumonia.

In order to treat the infection caused by the Bair Hugger, the plaintiff was forced to undergo extensive medical treatment, including multiple multi-staged revision surgeries including insertion and removal of multiple antibiotic spacers, single staged revision surgery including arthrotomy with polyethylene exchange, PICC line antibiotics, long-term antibiotic therapy, and physical therapy.

The plaintiff not only endured pain and suffering, but also suffered economically with the extensive bills from the treatments. The couple believes 3M and Arizant failed to warn them of the infection risks associated with the Bair Hugger device and committed consumer fraud and/or unfair and deceptive trade practices under Utah law.

Get Help With Your Bair Hugger Staph Infection Claim

If you or someone you love underwent a hip or knee joint surgery within the last five years and developed a staph infection, you may have grounds to file a lawsuit. The experienced defective device attorneys at Raizner Slania LLP can help you with your Bair Hugger Staph infection claim. Call us today to schedule a free consultation to discuss your case.

Business Interruption Claims

Business Interruption Claims After Hurricane Maria

After any natural disaster, businesses don’t just face property damage; they also suffer economic damages from lost business. It can take a long time for businesses to resume operations after a natural disaster, and in the case of Hurricane Maria, many Puerto Rican businesses are still not operating. To help protect against these financial losses that come after natural disasters, many policyholders choose to purchase business interruption insurance.

What Is Business Interruption Insurance?

Business interruption insurance (also called business income insurance) is a type of insurance coverage that compensates the policyholder for the loss of income a business suffers after a disaster such as a fire, hailstorm, or hurricane. This coverage can cover income lost while the business was closed during a natural disaster and while the business is closed for rebuilding and repairing property damage from the disaster.

How Is Business Interruption Insurance Calculated?

When a policyholder files a business interruption claim, a thorough investigation should take place to properly calculate all of the losses endured by the business. The investigation will include an examination of financial statements such as a profit and loss report, along with the business’s history, and the number of employees, among other things. The insurance company will estimate the profits that would have been earned had the business been open based on the business’s history and other factors. The insurance company will then total and estimate the expenses a business regularly incurs, and the expenses the business incurs as a result of its closure such as moving to a temporary location. These totaled amounts should then be paid out to the policyholder to cover the entire financial loss due to the business’s closure.

Business Interruption Claims From Hurricane Maria Will Be Complex

Because Hurricane Maria destroyed the Puerto Rico’s electrical grid, downed most of the communication systems, and damaged many of the island’s highways, businesses were unable to rebuild and reopen for many months – some still remain inoperable. The losses from business interruption could be in the millions for insurance companies, and they will do everything in their power to limit claim payouts. Insurance companies often underestimate the cost of different expenses in order to help minimize claims.

Insurance companies have already faced extensive fines from the Commissioner of Insurance of Puerto Rico for unnecessarily delaying claims, but it is likely they will continue to drag their feet in paying out Hurricane Maria claims.

Hurricane Maria

Puerto Rico Still Struggling After Hurricane Maria

Hurricane Maria was one of the worst Atlantic Hurricanes to ever rip through the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico. When Hurricane Maria made landfall on Puerto Rico, the storm was a high-end Category 4 Hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 175 miles per hour. The damage from the storm was absolutely catastrophic and Puerto Ricans are still struggling to rebuild in Maria’s aftermath.

Hurricane Maria Makes Landfall

Hurricane Maria made landfall on Puerto Rico on September 20, 2017. In addition to hurricane force winds, Maria brought heavy rainfall, as much as 37.9 inches in some areas, which caused widespread flooding. This flooding was compounded by La Plata Lake Dam floodgate releases. Although the releases were necessary to prevent the complete failure of the dam, the floods caused by the releases trapped thousands of Puerto Ricans. Residents affected by the flood releases reported waters rose at least six feet in only thirty minutes, with floodwaters reaching a depth of 15 feet in some areas.

Puerto Rico’s Damaged Electrical Grid

When Hurricane Maria swept through Puerto Rico, the electrical grid for the island was already previously damaged. Maria further damaged the electrical grid, leaving all 3.4 million Puerto Ricans without power. In addition to the complete destruction of the electrical grid, 85% of all aboveground phones and Internet cables were knocked out, making communication impossible for the vast majority of the island.

One month after Hurricane Maria’s landfall, 88% of the island was still without power. This represented approximately three million people. Three months after the hurricane, over 1.5 million Puerto Ricans were still without power. Now, over six months later, many Puerto Ricans – especially those residing outside of San Juan – remain without power.

Problematic Recovery

Puerto Rico’s recovery had a slow start not only because of the complete damage of the electric grid, but also because even one month after the hurricane most of the island’s highways and bridges were still heavily damaged. One month after Hurricane Maria, only 392 miles of the island’s 5,073 miles of road were open.

Economic Impact of Hurricane Maria

Like all natural disasters, Hurricane Maria caused significant damage. While the exact total amount of damage is not yet known, Puerto Rican authorities have requested $94 billion in aid. The storm not only affected residents and visitors, but it left businesses also struggling. Approximately 80% of Puerto Rico’s agriculture was lost in the hurricane, which totals about $780 million.

Puerto Rico is also responsible for manufacturing many medical devices and medications, representing about 30% of the island’s overall economy. Not only were these factories forced to shut down without electricity, but many of them also suffered damage, preventing them from reopening.

Insurance Has Been Slow To Act

Although many homes and businesses were protected by insurance policies, insurance companies have been slow to act. When natural disasters occur, billions of dollars of claims can be sought from insurance providers. Insurance companies try their best to avoid paying out claims by causing unnecessary delays and using bad faith tactics. The insurance landscape is particularly complex in Puerto Rico, where a handful of domestic insurers dominate the market, but most of the insurance risk is ceded to large reinsurers in Europe.

A Dire Situation for the Puerto Rican Business Community and Economy

Hurricane Maria claims on behalf of the Puerto Rico business community will be exceedingly complex. The Insurance Commissioner has already levied extensive fines against the domestic insurance industry for failing to handle claims in a timely manner. The well-capitalized reinsurance industry in European capitals such as London and Berlin maintain much of the financial risk on Puerto Rico insurance claims, but they have been slow to release money needed to rebuild. Until they do so, the economy will remain strangled and the Puerto Rico business community will remain at risk of financial collapse.

Bridge City Hurricane Harvey Claims

Bridge City Slow To Recover After Hurricane Harvey

Residents of Bridge City, Texas were wary as Hurricane Harvey made landfall and slowly made its way along the Texas coast. Flooding has been problematic for Bridge City in the past, but nothing could prepare residents for the unprecedented rainfall dropped by Harvey.

On the night of August 30, 2017, Bridge City was absolutely inundated with floodwaters, causing widespread damage. The past twenty-four hours had seen over 20 inches of rainfall. By the time Harvey was working its way toward Southeast Texas, it was a slow-moving storm, meaning everywhere in Harvey’s path would be drenched in rainfall for several days before Harvey moved on.

Harvey’s flooding was compounded by the fact that trash and debris clogged the city’s drainage system, preventing rainwaters from draining properly. City officials estimate 90% of the flooding in Bridge City was due to its clogged drainage systems. This resulted in homes and businesses being flooded for several days before the floodwaters finally subsided.

Much of Bridge City suffered catastrophic damage from Hurricane Harvey. After Harvey passed through the small Texas city, the streets were lined with huge piles of debris as property owners immediately began trying to salvage their homes and businesses and prevent further damage. Unfortunately, much of Bridge City is still struggling. Although it’s been more than six months since Harvey made landfall on the Texas coast, recovery has been particularly slow.

Hurricane Harvey victims in Bridge City are discovering insurance companies are less than honest when handling and paying out on Hurricane Harvey claims. An insurance company is first and foremost a business, so natural disasters will cause it to pay out millions or even billions of dollars of claims. To minimize payouts, insurance companies often use bad faith tactics.

Insurance companies have been misrepresenting policies, undervaluing damages, and outright denying valid claims. Without proper payouts from their insurance companies, property owners have been financially unable to completely rebuild. For policyholders struggling with a Bridge City Hurricane Harvey claim, the only way to receive rightful compensation is by partnering with an experienced insurance lawyer.

Bridge City Hurricane Harvey Claims

The experienced insurance lawyers at Raizner Slania LLP have helped victims of bad faith insurance tactics throughout Texas and across the country. We are working with many Hurricane Harvey victims to help them get what they are rightfully owed under their insurance policies. Call us today to schedule a free consultation to discuss your claim. There is no upfront cost for working with us. We work on a contingency fee basis so you won’t owe us anything unless we help you recover compensation.