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pollution in chicago

Willowbrook Sterigenics Investigated for Emitting Invisible Cancer-Causing Gas to Residents and Workers

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is headed to the neighborhood of one of Levin & Perconti’s founding partners, John Perconti, to perform “ambient air testing” at the Willowbrook Sterigenics facility in DuPage County. Sterigenics is a global company which runs contract business for sterilization services. The Willowbrook facility, currently at the center of a toxic emissions review, sterilizes medical devices such as syringes and surgical procedure kits. The emission in question, Ethylene Oxide (EtO), is a known carcinogen and airborne substance identified as troublesome and cancer-causing for residents and workers who are ongoingly exposed. In 2007, the EPA issued standards to reduce emissions of EtO from hospital and medical device sterilizers to protect workers and community residents from damaging air pollutants.

An August 2018 public report prepared by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) titled “Evaluation of Potential Health Impacts for Ethylene Oxide Emissions” showed workers and residents who live nearby Sterigenics have been exposed to elevated airborne EtO concentrations. The ATSDR further concluded that “an elevated cancer risk exists for residents and off-site workers in the Willowbrook community surrounding the Sterigenics facility,” and that “these elevated risks present a public health hazard.” ATSDR officials have put forth the recommendation that Sterigenics “take immediate action to reduce EtO emissions at this facility.”

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Ikea, the Swedish home retail giant, has agreed to pay $50 million to 3 families whose children were killed after being crushed by toppled dressers. To these families, money will never be able to replace what they have lost, but the settlement is expected to send a strong message to legislators and furniture manufacturers that parents are demanding better quality, safer furniture.

An Unsettling Statistic

According to the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission, a child dies once every 2 weeks from falling furniture or televisions. While there is no federal law requiring specific safety measures be followed in furniture production, there are voluntary national safety standards that manufacturers should follow. According to the lawsuit filed by the victims’ families, Ikea consistently refused to meet those standards and their negligence directly resulted in the death of 3 children, each 2 years old.

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The holiday season is right around the corner. Many of us will be getting together with family and enjoying food and various activities. In my family, the kids will be running around, the adult men will be watching sports while the adult ladies spend time socializing. Though this time of the year brings great joy, there is always the risk of injury and some injuries are specific to this time of the year. This post will hit on this concept and will warn you of these risks.

Common Holiday Injuries

According to Rebound Orthopedics and Neurosurgery, there are a number of injuries incurred while decorating for the holidays. Decoration injuries typically involve falls, lacerations and back strains. In fact, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) reports that there were more than 15,000 reported injuries sustained while decorating during November and December of 2013.  

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Hiking is a very popular outdoor activity enjoyed by millions. According to the National Park Service (NPS), more than 280 million people come to its recreational areas every year. This time of the year, being fall, is a popular time to go hiking given the cool weather and leaves changing color.

Yet, as fun as hiking may be, the risk of injury runs rampant. Some trails pose risk of serious bodily injury and even death! Just last month, September 2016, a 17-year old boy was seriously injured when he fell 50 feet while hiking at Starved Rock State Park. This young boy was initially hiking with two of his friends when he suddenly decided to climb outside of the marked trail at the Pontiac Canyon. After climbing outside of the marked trail, the young boy fell 50 feet to the ground. Life flight took him to a nearby hospital where it was listed that the boy was in a serious condition. At Starved Rock, there are several signs reminding visitors that it is required that they stay within the park’s 12-mile marked trail.    

If you were adhering to the rules of the park, yet were still injured, or if you were injured by defective hiking equipment, it is important that you hire an experienced personal injury attorney. You may be entitled to compensation for your damages.

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Flying is a very popular mode of transportation. The International Air Transport Association (“IATA”) reports that, on average, more than eight million people fly every day. Flying is also considered the least dangerous mode of transportation according to Business Insider. Walking and driving are deemed more deadly than flying!

However, do not let these findings fool you; airline mistakes can occur. Recently, at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport, an American Airline Boeing 767’s right General Electric engine failed while the plane attempted to takeoff. This caused the plane’s right side to erupt into flames and resulted in engine debris being shot out about a half a mile.

The plane had 161 passengers and nine crewmembers onboard at the time of this incident. Luckily, everyone escaped this inferno. The passengers on the plane escaped by using the plane’s emergency slides. Following everyone’s escape, the airport’s fire crew arrived at the scene. This was important as time was of the essence. The airplane had nearly 43,000 pounds of fuel!

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We are in the midst of the dog days of the summer and the weather is scorching. During these conditions, many of us enjoy swimming, or just cooling off in the water. If you are one of these people, you must do so with caution. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDCP) recently found that around ten people, every day die from unintentional drowning. As a matter of fact, drowning ranks fifth among the leading causes of unintentional death in the United States.

If one of your loved ones drowned on someone else’s property, you may be entitled to compensation. This compensation may include, but is not limited to, medical expenses, related expenses, and loss of consortium. To increase your chances of being awarded this compensation, it is important that you hire an attorney for your case.

Drowning is Not a Rarity

The CDC further reports that from 2005 to 2014, the average number of annual drowning fatalities was 3,536. These were not boating related. CDC found that there were about ten deaths per day. Of these, around one in five people who drown are children aged 14 and younger. Occasionally, a child will wander off onto a neighbor’s property and drown in the neighbor’s pool.

Recently, a two-year-old boy’s body was discovered in his neighbor’s swimming pool. The Coroner’s office found the cause of death to be accidental drowning. An unsecured fence surrounded pool. The child’s aunt was caring for the child at the time the child wandered into his neighbor’s yard. The aunt was mowing the yard and was unaware of the child’s wondering.

Illinois Premises Liability
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When we have a child in desperate need for medical attention, we place our trust in the medical providers. In this instance, the last thing that we want to think of is wrongful/negligent acts being committed by such people. Yet, medical providers, occasionally, commit such wrongful/negligent acts.

Earlier this year, a doctor for a Chicago-based Rush University Medical Center performed a second operation on a baby less than one month following his first surgery. The doctor performed 24 more surgeries on the baby over the next 24 months. During surgery number 25, the doctor used a suturing device with the intent of repairing the baby’s esophagus. Apparently, using this device in such a way is inappropriate in deviation from the standard of care of a doctor in similar circumstances.

Ultimately, this use punctured the baby’s pulmonary artery. The baby now has irreversible brain injury and cerebral palsy. The family settled a medical malpractice lawsuit for $30 million.

Road Towards Compensation in IL
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Should American federal courts maintain Article III jurisdiction for wrongful tortious conduct occurring overseas? Traditionally, the Alien Torts Statute (“ATS”) provided such redress. Recent court decisions have curtailed ATS’s reach.

Historically, ATS first provided redress for foreign dignitaries for injuries they suffered in the US. It was first codified in 1789.

The History

In 1980, the plaintiffs in Filartiga v. Pena-Irala successfully applied ATS in their wrongful death lawsuit against the defendant. The defendant ordered the decedent’s kidnapping, torture and subsequent murder in retaliation for his father’s public condemnation of the Paraguayan paramilitary government. The Filártiga case established that American federal courts have jurisdiction for cases involving torture and human rights violations. ( Smith, Amanda Trial History: Filartiga v. Pena-Irala)

The Torture Victim Protection Act {TVPA} signed into law in 1991 is considered an important addition to ATS. TVPA specifically states ” An individual who, under actual or apparent authority, or color of law, of any foreign nation- (1) subjects an individual to torture shall, in a civil action, be liable for damages to that individual; or (2) subjects an individual to extrajudicial killing shall, in a civil action, be liable for damages to the individual’s legal representative, or to any person who may be a claimant in an action for wrongful death. Thus, in contrast to the ATS, the TVPA is not jurisdictional in nature, but rather creates a substantive cause of action. ”
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Being in a car accident can be frightening, painful, and devastating. But sadly for accident victims, the actual “accident” is rarely the end of the story. More often than not, accident victims are forced to swim in a deep pool filled with calls from insurance representatives, questions from police, and added stress and pressure that can result from the loss of a car. All of this does not even include the pain and life-altering consequences involved with physical injuries.

Making the Victim Whole

Under Illinois law, accident victims are entitled to just compensation for the pain and suffering inflicted upon them. In fact, Illinois courts consistently state that accident and injury law is “concerned with making the victim whole by making the tortfeasor [person at fault] pay[.]” Kunz v. Little Company of Mary Hospital and Healthcare Centers. But when so much is going on after an accident, how can victims know whether they are being treated fairly or not? How can they know whether they are being offered the type of compensation that makes them whole? These are the types of questions every accident victim should be asking after an accident.

Diminished Value of Property Part of “Making the Victim Whole”
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There are millions of vehicles that travel on Indiana roads each day. And as the summer months continue, those roads are becoming ever more crowded with the increasing number of Hoosiers utilizing the state’s bike laws while enjoying the warm weather. Undoubtedly, some of those cyclists have seen the various license plates encouraging one another to “Share the Road.” It is indeed a catchy slogan, but laws had to be passed in order to accomplish that lofty goal.

Here is the catch: the laws that have currently been passed can often be confusing, and have not been clearly articulated by anyone. This lack of basic understanding of the rights and responsibilities of riders, pedestrians, and cyclists alike will inevitably lead to more accidents in the streets all over this state. For example, if a cyclist and a motor vehicle both arrive at an intersection, who has the “right of way”? Or can a cyclist ride in a middle lane, or should she try to stay as close to the curb as possible if there is no bike lane present? The answer that you get for these questions really does depend on who you ask, and when you ask them.

A few of the obstacles to getting to the bottom of these quandaries include the overall novelty of the law, coupled with the lack of test cases that have presently gone through the courts. Unfortunately, some accidents may have to occur before the laws on the books (and the attitudes and responses of road travelers) finally sort themselves out.
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