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Author Archives: Todd Hendrickson

It probably isn’t obvious to most people, but I believe the Wisconsin governor’s plan to strip state unions of rights and so-called “tort reform” have a common goal … and it is pure politics.

Generally, labor unions have been stalwarts of support for the Democratic party. Also generally, the plaintiff’s personal injury and medical malpractice bar have been among the Democratic party’s strongest financial backers. There are exceptions to both situations, but overwhelmingly trial lawyers and unions are critical supporters of most Democratic candidates.

Tort reform and labor reform have an insidious common purpose-to break the financial back of the Democratic party. Look at the history of both efforts. You will rarely find Democratic support for these measures. Why? Because traditionally the Democratic party mission is to support the rights of working class people. That’s what labor unions do and that is what trial lawyers do to.

I’m proud to call myself a trial lawyer. I spend every day fighting for the rights of people who otherwise couldn’t afford an attorney. I was raised in a union household. I’ve walked a picket line with my father. I know what unions did for my family.

Make no mistake about it, labor “deform” and tort “deform” have the same purpose. And it is purely political.

The Missouri Supreme Court has unanimously abolished the last vestiges of contributory negligence in the recently decided Children’s Wish Foundation International, Inc. v. Mayer Hoffman McCann, P.C.. So what is contributory negligence and why should you care?

First, what is it? In 1983 the Missouri Supreme Court adopted comparative fault. Under comparative fault a jury will decide the relative levels of fault of the various parties involved in any kind of negligence case. The issue arises most often in personal injury and medical malpractice cases. Take your basic auto accident case. In an intersectional accident, you may have one driver who failed to yield and the other driver may have been speeding. Both are at fault. Under comparative fault the jury decides how much each party is at fault. For example, if one driver is injured and the jury finds that he was 10% at fault, the jury would decide the value of that drivers injuries and then the judge would enter a judgment for 90% of the damages. The system is inherently fair and equitable.

Before Missouri adopted comparative fault it operated under the contributory negligence standard. Under contributory negligence if the injured driver was even 1% at fault, he could not recover anything for his injuries. An inherently unfair system. But as I said, it was abolished in 1983, right? Well, not entirely. And that leads to why it might matter to you.

In the intervening years, various appellate courts have determined that contributory negligence was still the standard in negligence cases that involve only monetary damages, as opposed to physical injuries. Mostly this was cases of legal malpractice and accounting malpractice. The result? Attorneys and accountants sued for malpractice have been able to show even slight negligence on the part of their clients and walk away without paying a dime for the damages they caused by their negligence.

Well, not anymore. The Children’s Wish Foundation case has clearly and finally abolished contributory negligence in Missouri. From now on a jury will be instructed to determine the relative fault of all parties in any negligence case.

And that is a good thing for all Missouri citizens.

Todd N. Hendrickson concentrates his practice in the areas of medical malpractice, personal injury, and legal malpractice. You can contact him by clicking here or calling 314-721-8833.

This is the first in an occasional series of posts that I’m calling “How to Lose Your Accident Case.” With this series I intend to outline for you many of the things that accident claimants regularly do that seriously negatively impact their case, either causing them to get no recovery, or a substantially reduced recovery.

Lie to your lawyer. That’s it, the number one thing you can do wrong. Lie to your lawyer and you will negatively impact your case. What are some of the common lies that some clients tell, or things that they conveniently forget to tell their lawyer?
1. Lying about how an accident happened. If it is an auto accident, there will be a police report and witnesses. Insurance companies can and will hire private investigators. The truth will come out. You are much better off to tell your attorney the truth, right from the beginning. The problem may not be that big. Or it may not be a problem at all, but you won’t know unless your attorney has the ability to evaluate all the facts.
2. Lying about prior accidents, claims and injuries. This one is a no-brainer. Insurance companies have access to vast databases. If you’ve been injured and made a claim for benefits, they’ll probably have access to it. If not, there will be accident reports and medical records that they will find. Tell your attorney everything about other accidents, claims and injuries.

Almost 100,000 patients have received the DePuy ASR, metal-on-metal hip implant system. Those implants are failing at an alarming rate, at least 13% in the first few years. That is far beyond any “normal” failure rate. As a result, DePuy, a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson, has recalled these hips.

The problem is, you can’t easily “recall” medical devices that have been implanted. That means they have to be explanted, or surgically removed and replaced. In the case of hip implants, this is called a revision, and it can be an expensive and painful operation.

If you have a DePuy ASR metal-on-metal hip implant, and you talk to your doctor about a hip revision, please talk to an attorney before you have the surgery. Reports are appearing around the country of hospitals treating these explanted hip components as medical waste and discarding them. Don’t let them do this to you! The removed implant is vital evidence. Just because the hip has been recalled doesn’t mean that you will automatically win a case against DePuy. You will still have to prove that the implant was defective in some way and the implant itself is the best evidence.

Please contact our office you have had a DePuy hip implant and need to discuss your legal rights.

Missouri’s doctors are policed by the Board of Healing Arts. And Missouri’s Board is among the most lax in disciplining physicians, according to a recent St. Louis Post Dispatch article, Missouri Secretive, Lax on Doctor Discipline. The Post recounts a story all too familiar to those of us who spend our professional lives prosecuting medical negligence actions: doctors who perform the wrong surgery, who falsify records to cover it up and do so again and again, simply aren’t subject to any meaningful discipline. Suspension of a doctor’s license in Missouri is almost never done, and then usually only when another state’s board has suspended the doctor’s license to practice.

In another article, “Deviant Doctor got OK to Work in Bootheel” the Post describes a truly horrendous situation in which a physician, already on probation for improperly dispensing prescriptions, merely had his probation lengthened after he admitted to the board that he was having improper sexual contact with his patients. It was not until the physician, Martin McDonald, was charged with sexual abuse by Dunklin County prosecutors did the Board take action to suspend his license.

Missouri patients deserve real governmental oversight of all professions, but particularly those whose actions can cause grave harm and death. The process of “disciplining” doctors is long and complicated and allows physicians with known problems to continue to put their patients at risk, with no warning to the patients or the community.

The FDA has recalled Bard Surgical mesh distributed by RAM Medical, Inc., a medical product distributor in Wayne, New Jersey.

Surgical mesh is used in hernia and other abdominal surgeries to strengthen or repair defects in the abdominal wall or peritoneum. For example, in repairing an abdominal hernia, a surgeon may use surgical mesh to create a “backing” that will reinforce the repair.

The counterfeit Bard surgical mesh ranges in size from 2″x4″ to 10″x14″. It is not properly sterilized, the edges are not properly finished and the weave is larger. This mesh can cause infection and failures of the repair, necessitating additional surgeries and other complications. The counterfeit mesh was distributed beginning October 21, 2008. You can review the recall notice here.

If you or a loved one had a surgery using mesh after October 21, 2008, and have experienced any infection, pain or other complications, you may have received the recalled mesh. If so, you have legal rights that need to be protected. Please call the Law Office of Todd N. Hendrickson at 314-721-8833, or click here to submit an inquiry.

Don’t Be a “Good” Patient

Posted by Todd Hendrickson in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)

This article by CNN in their series, the Empowered Patient makes what I believe is an extremely important point if you do not want to be the victim of medical negligence: don’t be a good patient. Don’t simply go along passively with whatever your doctor recommends. Ask questions. Be proactive. If something doesn’t sound right, it probably isn’t. If you don’t get answers to your questions, go somewhere else for answers. Research your condition. Know what the treatment options are.

This goes for those whom you care for as well. Parents, children, sibling. Get involved. I once heard a nurse derisively refer to the mother of a sick child as a “scribbler.” By that, she meant a family member who constantly took notes on what was going on. Nurses generally don’t like scribblers. But you can bet that, if it is their child or their parent who is sick, that nurse will become a scribbler too.

Take action, be proactive and be informed. You are a consumer of medical services. You’d do research about what kind of car or computer or TV to buy. You should do the same thing with your medical care.

DePuy, a division of Johnson & Johnson, has issued a recall on its ASR hip replacement components, including the ASR Hip Resurfacing System and the ASR XL Acetabular System. You can read about the recall here.
The DePuy ASR components are known as metal-on-metal components. Rather than using a poly-vinyl, ceramic or other material pelvic cup surface, the DePuy, like many other manufacturers, designed the ASR system to utilize a metal ball head and metal pelvic cup. The result is apparently is a disaster.
By some reports, more than 13% of these implants are failing within five years. The average him implant lasts 15-20 years before it wears out and needs to be revised. The highest rate of failure is in the smaller ASR implant sizes, 50mm and less, the most common sizes implanted in women.
If you have an ASR hip implant that has been revised due to early loosening or other problems, please contact the office of Todd N. Hendrickson immediately. Our office is aggressively investigating these cases and can help you. It is important that you be represented by an experienced medical malpractice and medical product liability lawyer, as DePuy will attempt to defend these cases by claiming that surgeon error in implantation. Don’t trust your case to a so-called “mass tort” law firm that doesn’t prosecute medical malpractice cases.
Contact our office today, by clicking on this link.

Pfizer, Inc., the pharmaceutical giant, has agreed to settle a wrongful death suit alleging that the drug Neurontin caused a suicide. Neurontin is an anti-seizure drug approved for use to combat epilepsy. However, Pfizer has promoted the drug to treat chronic pain–a so-called “off label” use.

If you or a loved one has been injured as a result of an off-label use of Neurontin, contact medical malpractice attorney Todd N. Hendrickson to protect your legal rights.

For more information on the settlement, see the story on bloomberg.com.

Despite massive publicity, hospitals continue to mistakenly give infants adult doses of Heparin, a blood thinner. As reported by The Institute for Safe Medication Practices a Nebraska hospital has administered a deadly dose of Heparin, this time to a toddler about to celebrate her second birthday. The dose of blood thinner led to cerebral bleeding and brain death.This is by no means the first case and is far from the most famous. As I wrote in March 2008, actor Dennis Quaid’s new born twins were given near-lethal doses of adult formulated heparin at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Beverly Hills. See Celebrity Cases Highlight Medical Negligence Issues. Despite the massive publicity surrounding the incident and subsequent legal action, many hospitals have failed to take the necessary precautions and implement procedures to prevent continuing injuries and deaths.Heparin should be deemed a “high-alert medication” and special precautions should be instituted in every hospital to prevent dosing errors. As the Institute for Safe Medication Practices has reported for years, Heparin has repeatedly been among the top 10 drugs involved in serious, preventable injuries, disabilities and deaths reported to the Federal Drug Administration.If you suspect that you or a family injury has been harmed by an improper dose of Heparin, contact an experienced medical malpractice attorney immediately. In Missouri and Illinois, contact Todd N. Hendrickson. I will personally review your case.