Posted by Eric Clark on Dec 18, 2015 in Medical Staff | Comments Off on Trial for Inmate with Undetected Broken Neck
A U.S. District judge has told defense lawyers for the Knox County Sheriff’s Office in the case of a county jail inmate whose fractured neck was left undetected and untreated for over two months that they should prepare to put their trial suits on.
For the second time, the Knox County Law Department has failed to convince U.S. District Judge Pamela Reeves to throw a lawsuit filed on behalf of former county jail inmate Donald Nichols out of court. Nichols suffered a fractured neck after a fall from his bunk in August 2010, and it took seventy days along with a number of alleged care failures by jail medical staff before the injury was finally discovered.
Medical Staff to Blame? The county first insisted that the Sheriff’s Office and Sheriff Jimmy Jones were not to be held accountable if it was the medical staff which provided Nichols with such a low standard of care. However, this argument was shot down by Judge Reeves last year, saying that Nichols’ case presented a rarity in civil-rights legislation against a government agency – there was proof that the county knew that its medical staff’s performance was so bad, as the entire medical department had been reprimanded for their standard of performance prior to the fall. Settlements Since then, attorneys Robert Kurtz, Arthur Knight, and Jonathan Taylor have reached settlements with some of the key medical staff involved with Nichols’ care, including Nurse Amy Luxford, who was accused of the largest portion of the failures alleged by the plaintiffs.
Because of this, the law department argued that the county should subsequently be absolved of blame as Luxford has settled out of court and is no longer party to the federal lawsuit.
Judge Disagrees However, despite the arguments set out by the county, Judge Reeves released a strongly-worded, four-page opinion filed in September, and ordered the case set for trial in July 2015. She wrote that the removal of Nichols from his official capacity claims against Amy Luxford does not in any way absolve Knox County of liability for allegations of implementing and maintaining customs and policies which were the moving force behind the violation of Nichols’ constitutional rights. Then aged 56, Nichols was booked into the jail on a charge of violating an order of protection in early August 2010. On August 27, 2010, Nichols fell off the top bunk which he had been assigned whilst sleeping, fracturing his neck and injuring his vertebrae. This resulted in an emergency medical call, with nurses Amy Luxford and Deanna Jones responding, according to court records.
Bill Minick wants to change the way businesses take care of injured workers. These changes let businesses opt out of worker’s compensation laws and create their own plans and rules.Minick believes his plan saves employer’s money. He also believes there are many benefits for workers employed by businesses that opt out. However, there is a lot of opposition to these changes.
Large Businesses Are Opting Out
Many large organizations have already taken Minick’s advice in Texas and Oklahoma. Opting out may be popular with employers but the consequences for workers are not fully understood yet. Some independent research has been carried out by organizations like ProPublica and NPR. They found that workers have less benefits, are more restricted and decisions weigh heavily on the side of employers.
Minick’s Unites Unlikely Allies
Minick’s actions have brought together diverse groups including Insurance companies, lawyers and union members. They are all against his plans.
Before workers comp, an injured party had to sue their employer for damages. These groups feel his measures will bring back this situation. Certain injuries are not covered if the employer opts out and the employer often has the final decision about this.
The Texas Way of Doing Things
Employers in Texas have always had the option to opt out of worker’s comp. However, it wasn’t seen as a wise decision until insurance premiums rose significantly in the 1980’s because it had the potential to lead to numerous law suits.
How Minick Started Out
Minick worked as a lawyer in Dallas in 1989 and was asked to find out how businesses could opt out of worker’s comp. He found the solution in the Employee Retirement Income Security Act from the 1970’s. In 1994 Minick started his own firm called PartnerSource. Minick’s company creates approximately half the opt out plans in Texas and almost 90% in Oklahoma.
Minick claims bureaucracy, poor doctor selection procedures and lack of injured employee accountability are just some of the problems associated with worker’s comp. However, he believes the opt out process removes these issues.t
Understand What You’re Signing
Employees need to understand what they’re getting into if their employee opts out. Many employers can reduce benefits and add restrictions. In some case’s the employee can even be fired for making a claim.
Opting Out Improves a Workplace
Minick believes workplaces are becoming safer if they opt out. Companies who opt out know they could face legal action. He states that they are more likely to introduce better health and safety procedures to avoid future lawsuits.
Introducing the Plan to Other Areas
Minick plans to introduce his strategy to other areas. However, he is facing fierce opposition. Ultimately, he feels he is doing a good deed for society. Minick believes employers will benefit, workplaces will improve and employees will get better benefits if they do get injured in the workplace. Others still disagree with this.
J urors spend hours and hours in courtrooms, not to speak a word, but without them most of the trial could not be held. Jury selection in the United States is the choosing of members of grand juries and petite juries for the purpose of conducting trial by jury in the United States.
In the federal system, jury selection is governed by the Jury Selection and Service Act and by the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure in criminal cases, and by the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure in civil cases. In capital cases, each side gets 20 peremptory strikes. In other felony cases, the defendant gets 10 peremptory strikes and the government gets 6. In misdemeanor cases, each side has 3 peremptory strikes. A lawyer may “passively” review a potential juror who are committed to improving the effectiveness of theirlaw firm marketing.
Selecting the Jury
Juries of six to twelve persons are selected from the jury pool. The size of jury varies from state to state and depends to some extent on the type of case at trial. In many jurisdictions, jury selection begins with the court clerk’s calling twelve people on the jury list and asking them to take a place in the jury box. The judge usually makes a brief statement explaining what kind of case is to be tried and inquiring whether there is any reason the potential jurors cannot serve. The judge or the lawyers then ask them questions as to whether they have any knowledge of the case or have had specific experiences that might cause them to be biased or unfair. This questioning of the potential jurors is known as voir dire (to speak the truth).
To be legally qualified for jury service, an individual must be a United States citizen; be at least 18 years of age; reside primarily in the judicial district for one year; be adequately proficient in English to satisfactorily complete the juror qualification form; have no disqualifying mental or physical condition; not currently be subject to felony charges punishable by imprisonment for more than one year; and never have been convicted of a felony (unless civil rights have been legally restored).
In addition to challenges for cause, each lawyer has a specific number of peremptory challenges. These challenges permit a lawyer to excuse a potential juror without stating a cause. In effect, they allow a lawyer to dismiss a juror because of a belief that the juror will not serve the best interests of the client. Peremptory challenges are limited to a certain number determined by the kind of lawsuit being tried. They can’t be used to discriminate on the basis of race or sex.
When both parties have agreed upon a jury, the jurors are sworn in to try the case by the court clerk. Those not selected are excused.
There are Three Groups that are Exempt from Federal Jury Service:
members of the armed forces on active duty;
members of professional fire and police departments;
public officers of federal, state or local governments, who are actively engaged full-time in the performance of public duties.
Persons employed on a full-time basis in any of these categories are barred from serving on federal juries, even if they desire to do so.y desire to do so.