Confidential Settlement for Premises Liability Accident
Confidential Settlement for Motorcycle Wreck
$705,000 Verdict in Commission Dispute Case
Confidential Settlement in Golf Cart Injury
$1.9 Million Recovered in Pay Dispute
Confidential Settlement For Atlanta Chiropractic Malpractice
Confidential Settlement in Commission Pay Dispute
Confidential Settlement In Dental Malpractice Case
$3.25 Million For Alleged Fraud in Sale of Business
$5.5 Million Medical Malpractice Verdict
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A new report based on an Atlanta Journal Constitution (“AJC”) review of inspection reports for Georgia’s assisted living communities (which includes nursing homes and senior living facilities) and large personal care homes revealed hundreds of recent infractions, including 140 violations of residents’ rights, 51 citations for failing to report serious incidents and dozens of medication errors and cases where residents with dementia went missing. Yet, despite these horrific incidents of negligence and malpractice, these very same facilities are benefitting from laxer oversight and accountability in the form of recent legislation to protect them against lawsuits.

The AJC review also exposed 180 new cases with violations involving residents being harmed or placed at high risk of harm. The details of these and hundreds of other new violations are available through an updated version of the AJC’s senior care ratings site. I highly recommend scouring these (not just browsing) before making any decisions as to whether you want to place your loved one into one of these facilities, and if so, which one. I would also look at the number of government web sites which compile statistics on these facilities. If you do this, you will see a pattern and, while you may not be able to settle on the very best one, you will certainly be able to discern a pattern of sloppiness and negligence on the part of the worst ones.

Some of the reports date to spring 2018, though state regulators only made them public in recent months. The AJC unveiled its website last fall as part of its investigation of the state’s senior care industry. This was met with a lot of publicity and well deserved credit to the AJC for helping expose the sloppy care and abuse that is rampant in this industry.

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All dentists and dental offices must use best practices and follow the standard of care to protect patients and provide the safest office environment possible. This has always been the law in Georgia, but now, in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, these dental providers must do much more.

To reduce the risk that patients and staff will be exposed to COVID-19, the American Dental Association has provided various guidelines to dental offices. The guidelines echo the recommendations of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.

These are among the highlights of the new guidelines and should be instituted by general dentists, oral surgeons, endodontists, periodontists, and all other dental specialists:

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As I have previously written, we are working remotely to assist you with your legal needs during the COVID-19 crisis. To help law firms conduct their practice of law during this emergency, Governor Kemp issued another executive order which allows the remote notarization and witnessing of documents.

The order reads in relevant part:

IT IS HEREBY ORDERED

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The number of Atlanta Nursing Home Abuse cases has soared in the last 20 years. Driven in part by more diligent oversight by family member and the state of Georgia, the number of cases and the egregiousness of the malpractice is eye-opening.

In response to these new revelations, the Georgia legislature is contemplating new laws to put some teeth into enforcement of nursing home abuse. A bill that would increase fines and require more staffing and training was overwhelmingly approved last month by the Georgia House.

Georgia House Bill 987 is expected to be taken up by the Senate in the coming days. Gov. Brian Kemp has said he supports the effort to improve standards for the state’s senior care providers, and many within the industry also support the bill. So, this is a no-lose proposition that should easily sale through the legislative process and become law.

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When you list your house with a real estate agent or broker to lease it, most people are careful to make sure the fee is listed correctly in the contract. While that is certainly important, there are a whole host of other important terms in the typical real estate listing agreement that must be analyzed before you sign. Many of these additional clauses (some hidden in fine print and other more obvious but not very clear) bind you, the landlord/lessor, to having to pay the real estate agent who leased your rental property fees on top of the fee you agreed to have the real estate agent list and lease the house. At times, the additional fees could amount to thousands of dollars in additional fees over and above what you thought you were contracting for.

Many listing agreements also require the payment of a commission if your tenant renews the lease for another year. This is yet another reason to read and understand anything you are asked to sign before you sign it.  Many more require that the payment of a full listing fee to the agent if you wind up selling your house to the tenants, even if that transaction was not even contemplated until after the lease is up. All contracts are negotiable, and you should make sure that you are comfortable with the terms of any agreement you enter into. If a specific condition is important to you and the person you are negotiating with does not want to give in, you may need to walk away and find someone else to work with. But, in order to do this, you must understand what the contract says, what the legal implications of the language are, and under what circumstances the different clauses kick in. Needless to say, this is one of those contracts that you should have your attorney look oer before entering into. If you don’t have an attorney, hire one who litigates contract disputes on a regular basis to review the contract and advise you BEFORE you sign it.

Once armed with the legal knowledge of what the contact says, you are in a better position to negotiate terms instead of blindly signing a piece of paper that is pushed in front of you. Oh, and by the way, I have had too many clients come to me after the fact (after they signed a contract) and tell me to help get them out of paying under the contract because they didn’t read the contract and/or didn’t understand what it said. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but not reading a contact is no defense. In Georgia, the law of contracts is clear: One he can read, must read. Armed with this knowledge, and having had the good sense to address some common scenarios that may play out under the contract before they happen (which is what a good lawyer helps you do), you can gauge if what you are asking for is unreasonable. If it is reasonable and the other side does not budge, realize this early on; do NOT sign the contract, and move on. Only do business with people who, in your best judgement, are reasonable and trustworthy. Obviously, this ability to weed out bad eggs is a variable one, but you should do your best to do this on the front end, i.e., before you sign a legal contract with someone with whom you are bound under the law to work with and honor the contract.

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Below is the synopsis following a “routine” car accident. Well, it turned out to be anything but routine.

On Thursday, I was traveling on Piedmont Road to Peachtree Street in Atlanta. I was involved in a accident that was not my fault. I was knocked unconscious with head, chest, knee, and back injuries. I regained consciousness within seconds of the accident but I noticed that I did not have good balance and that my body felt funny and I was having trouble standing, walking, and communicating. I have to say, at this point I was a bit disoriented and I saw a person approaching in dark clothing. I attempted to give him my license, thinking he was a police officer. He said that he was not the police, but the wrecker operator, asking me if I wanted to tow my car. I was dazed and he didn’t seem to care, he just went past me to my car. I moved my hand, and didn’t see my licence. I opened my wallet looking for my license for quite some time. I had no idea it was in already in my hand. The tow trucker operator came back to me and I explained that I could’n find my license.  He told me to look in the passenger seat, and it was there!  Things were not clear to me and I became scared. I realized at the scene of the accident that I was dropping everything (e.g., my wallet, the pen I was trying to use to take notes of the other driver, my cellphone, my license, the other drivers papers. It was seem and I realized I was not in control of my motor skills. This worried me more as time passed and it did not get better. Surely, this accident did not leave me in this condition.  The police officer came toward me and I think he could tell right away that I was not stable. Wait, he thinks I’m drunk, or worse, high on drugs. I’m not but he check my eyes and reflexes and he suspects that I have been driving under the influence. I am not but he does not know that. I am getting more scared and I think this is making my situation worse by the minute. My heart is starting to race and I feel feint.  The officer notices that I have a big bump on my forehead. My head is aching and my chest feels like it’s in a vice. The officer, I think, realizes that I was not driving under the influence, but rather that I am hurt and need and ambulance. He calls the ambulance for me and I wait in fear. I am confused, I hurt in so many place, I am too disoriented to clearly explain to the officer how this happed (and he doesn’t seem interested in talking with me anyway, at least not now). He sees the bump on my head and he tells me that the pain in my chest was caused by the seat belt or maybe the airbag, I forget). Why do I have such pain in left knee. Plus the pain in my head and neck, and back. I wait as the officer says he will make a note in the police report that I am hurt badly.

I’m am taken by ambulance to the hospital for X-rays, CT  scans and MRI’s. I full battery of tests, and I am told that I have a traumatic brain injury in addition to all of the other assorted injuries to my neck, back and head. What does this even mean?
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The recent lawsuit makes clear,  Georgia companies think they can fire any employee (and they believe this applies to pretty much any employee from the janitor up to the CEO) to avoid paying outstanding money owed. This lawsuit was filed by an ousted chief executive officer against his former employer, an Atlanta-based flooring company giant, claiming he was terminated in a way that wrongly prevented him from receiving millions of dollars in severance benefits.

The former CEO’s suit illustrates that Georgia companies, both large and small, often try to fire employees and try to potentially save millions of dollars in commissions, severance benefits, bonuses, salary, stock option payments and and other payments for wages earned by the employee but not yet paid. While not every company operates like this, many of them in Georgia do. And the sleazy ones that do sometimes avoid paying large amounts of money because those workers who are affected either (1) don’t know their legal rights to recover all monies owed to them; (2) realize that they are owed the money but decide to not pursue it because they believe that the lawsuit will be too costly or harmful to their business prospects; or (3) hire a lawyer to represent them agains the company who is inexperienced and/or not familiar with the area of law dealing with pay disputes, commission disputes and the like.

I have seen this all too often. A typical scenario is when one of the best sales representatives for a company gives notice on that they would be leaving the company (as they feel they should do in order to provide the company with proper notice). Instead of rewarding the sale person for doing the right think the company advises the employee that they are terminated immediately, walks the employee out and then refuses to pay them their final commission check. The employee then feel as if they have no recourse and signs some type of release in exchange for a small fraction of what they are owed (and in the process, becomes bound by an overly broad release that adds additional non-compete and other restrictive covenants). When, In actuality, they could have gotten ALL of the money they are owed without having to sign the documents pushed in front of their face by the employer. Why? Because they did not consult with an experienced lawyer who regularly handles these type of commission disputes and who understands the rights of the fired employee and the duties of the company who terminated the employee.

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Otherwise healthy patients who undergo dental implants are at risk of ending up having heart surgery. As evidenced by the recent situation involving an oral surgeon who performed a number of procedures in his practice including installing implants which became infected, dental implant centers who regularly install “all on 4” dental implants in North Atlanta neighborhoods such as Alpharetta and Roswell, Georgia, must comply with sterilization protocol or risk liability for injures caused by, among other things, non-sterile water.

According to reports, the board of dentistry has  issued a licensure suspension and other penalties to a dentist after one of his patients died and 14 others suffered serious heart infections. At least fifteen patients who were treated at the dental office suffered from bacterial endocarditis. Twelve of the patients required heart surgery and one died, according to the release by the board of dentistry. Interestingly, while it is a dentist that did not follow proper infection protocol, the injuries sustained by the dental patients was not limited to the mouth, but rather, in the most serious of cases, affected the heart.

A continued failure to follow infection protocols exposes patients to a whole host of risks due to infection. This is especially true when dental implant centers install implants upon which dentures are mounted, or as the are commonly referred to in the industry as “all on 4 dentures.” They are called this because the dentures are mounted on 4 dental implants that are installed in the lower jaw for stability. The most serious risk to patients who are treated by dental implant centers of contracting the serious heart infection,” Repeated violations of infection control practices can result in many serious conditions.
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As a lawyer in Atlanta, Georgia who specializes in Dental Malpractice Injuries, I receive lots of calls from Georgia patients who have been severely injured by Atlanta dentists. The calls are many, and at the outset, I must point out, that not every injury in the dental chair is caused by dental malpractice. In other words, some people are injured as a the result of a dental procedures and the injury is something that can happen absent malpractice. It is part of my job, as a lawyer evaluating dental injuries, to identify those types of injuries (dental injuries that occur through no fault of the dentist) and eliminate those cases from consideration. After all, it is the goal of every good lawyer to steadfastly pursue the good cases to trial (if that’s what it takes) and not expend valuable resources and time (from the lawyer, law firm, and potential client who is dragged into litigation when ultimately the case has no merit) on a case that falters due to a lack of provable malpractice.

One such injury that is almost always caused by dental malpractice is something called trigeminal neuralgia (TN), which is sometimes known as “the suicide disease.” It is brought on when the brain’s trigeminal nerve, which carries sensation from the brain to the face, is disrupted, sending unfounded but very powerful pain signals to the brain. The trigeminal nerve breaks off into the lingual nerve and the inferior alveolar nerve and these two nerves are involved in the majority of dental nerve injury trigeminal nerve injuries. Typical dental procedures that cause these types of injuries from malpractice are dental implants placed in the lower jaw, root canals of lower molars and extractions of lower back molars.

Researchers estimate that around five in 100,000 people suffer from trigeminal neuralgia, but it is notoriously difficult to diagnose since the symptoms can overlap with other conditions and accurately describing the pain can be challenging for patients.  One woman suffering from trigeminal neuralgia said that the pain might come on while she brushed her teeth, or sometimes, after a gentle gust of wind blew on her cheek. The result was something like an “electric shock,” she said, with no obvious cause. It later evolved into a “constant and excruciating” sensation. When asked by doctors to rate the pain from one to 10, she said it was a 13. “I was thinking, ‘Was I imagining this pain? Where did it come from? Why is it here?'” This is all quite typical of many of my clients who have suffered this injury at the hands of a negligent dentist or oral surgeon.

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As evidenced by recently filed lawsuit, dental injuries from malpractice that are compensable in a lawsuit can include, in addition to dental nerve injuries, lost wages, pain and suffering and loss of consortium, such injuries as burns inside the mouth caused by fire. Of course, to be recoverable in a court of law, the injuries must be caused by dental malpractice.

As reported previously, a pediatric dentist is being sued for dental malpractice for improperly using a diamond bur to smooth his patient’s teeth while she was under anesthetics. The procedure then caused a spark that ignited the throat pack in the mouth and produced a fire inside the patient’s mouth and resulted in burns that the lawsuit is seeking recovery for.

The case is in suit and is seeking recovery for burns to the epiglottis, throat, tongue, mouth, lips, and surrounding areas. In addition, due to the area of the injury, the lawsuit alleged that some of the injuries may be permanent and disabling.

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