Woman Blinded by Unproven Stem Cell Procedure, Lawsuit Claims

All the damage relief in the world won’t bring back Doris Tyler’s eyesight. Tyler became blind after undergoing a stem cell procedure for Macular Degeneration (MD), a disease that affects about 10 million Americans. Though her vision was fading, she could still function and enjoy life. She wanted her full eyesight back, and was willing to take some chances. She was told by her doctor the worst that could happen was the treatment wouldn’t work. He was wrong, and now she is permanently blind, and suing for misrepresentation.

Experimental Procedure Gone Bad

Tyler paid $8,900 for an experimental procedure in which her doctors made a stem cell cocktail from fat tissue taken from her abdomen. This solution was later injected into Doris’s eyes by an eye surgeon. Two weeks after the injection, she was totally blind. Her retinas detached from the stem cell injections. She later learned she was the clinic’s first MD patient.

Lawsuit Names Clinic and Its Affiliate as Defendants

The Tylers filed a lawsuit against the clinic that performed the eye surgery, as well as its affiliate, the Cell Surgical Network. The suit claims the risk of danger from the procedure “outweighs the non-existent benefits of a therapy with no evidence of therapeutic value.” This isn’t the first lawsuit Cell Surgical Network has been hit with. The Justice Department sued the Cell Surgical Network and a different provider, accusing them of a “persistent refusal to comply with the law” and seeking to prevent them “from experimenting on patients.”

Misleading Stem Cell Claims Abound

Though stem cells have been touted to be a potential cure-all for around a thousand different ailments, clinical trials have only been conducted on a handful of diseases, such as childhood leukemia and Alzheimer’s. The FDA even issued a consumer warning in 2017 that the only FDA-approved use of stem cells in the United States consists of blood-forming stem cells from umbilical cords, not from fat cells. Yet there are thousands of stem cell clinics conducting unverified procedures, such as this, leaving people permanently disabled, like Doris Tyler.

If you or someone you love has been injured by a stem cell procedure, contact a local medical malpractice attorney. Numerous patients are being handed false claims about the wonders of stem cell procedures, but unfortunately there is very little scientific data to back these claims. An experienced lawyer can help discuss the specifics of your case, and offer you alternatives to help you get compensation for your injuries.

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Is ICE Liable for Detention Center Sexual Assault?

According to recent investigation into sexual abuse in immigration detention, 1,448 allegations of sexual abuse have been filed against Immigration and Customs Enforcement over the past six years, with 237 allegations of sexual abuse in immigration detention facilities in 2017 alone. One such case in 2014 involved a detention center employee grooming and assaulting a 19-year-old mother in a Pennsylvania ICE facility.

Although any sexual contact between correctional facility staff and people in custody is illegal under federal and state law, the facility is claiming it can’t be held liable for the assaults because it is an immigration facility (as opposed to a jail or prison) and that the sexual encounters were consensual.

Prison Predator

As the ACLU points out, state and federal statutes criminalize even consensual sex between staff and prisoners: “These laws recognize that any sexual activity between detainees and detention facility staff, with or without the use of force, is unlawful because of the inherent power imbalance when people are in custody.” But what occurred between one detainee (referred to as only E.D. in legal filings) and former Berks County Residential Center-Immigration Family Center worker Daniel Sharkey doesn’t even sound consensual.

According to filings in E.D.’s lawsuit against Sharkey, the detention center, and ICE, Sharkey attempted to befriend and groom E.D. shortly after her arrival at the center “by giving her and her son treats, such as chocolate and extra food” and “allowing her to use his cell phone to call her mother and take pictures, and giving her and her son toys and clothes.” This escalated to more aggressive sexual overtures, forced sexual intercourse, and threats that if E.D. told anyone about their relationship “she would be deported back to Honduras.”

Other staff, however, were well aware of the sexual conduct, and did nothing. Sharkey’s employment at the facility ended, according to the lawsuit, “[a]fter an incident in August 2014 where Sharkey unsuccessfully attempted to pull down E.D.’s pants because she refused to submit.” He eventually pled guilty to criminal institutional sexual assault under Pennsylvania law.

ICE Immunity

Still, ICE claims it should be granted qualified immunity from civil liability because E.D. was an immigration detainee, not a prisoner; and because she was not physically forced to have sex. Employers have long been held liable for the acts of their employees, and correctional facilities can be held liable for sexual assaults by their staff. While ICE claims its family detention center is not a prison — and should therefore not be liable under the same state or federal laws — the ACLU argues otherwise:

Immigrants in family detention are particularly vulnerable to abuse. Various investigations have concluded that ICE family detention facilities fail to meet basic constitutional and human rights standards for access to child care, medical and mental health care, and legal assistance, among other issues

The ACLU also points out that the inherent power inequalities in custodial settings “nullifies confined persons’ apparent consent to sexual contact with custodians,” meaning that E.D. could not have truly consented to any sexual intercourse. Whether ICE and other immigration detention center staff will be legally liable for the criminal sexual assaults by staff will be up to the U.S. Court of Appeals, and this case could have significant ramifications for other litigation against ICE.

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Microblading — Hot Trend With Burning Effects

Microblading is one of the hottest trends in the beauty industry, but one woman could barely stand the heat. After her microblading artist botched one of her eyebrows, she attempted to have the error removed, only to exclaim, “it felt like my skin was melting off.”

Microblading: The Leading Edge of Beauty

Microblading is a form of semi-permanent eyebrow tattooing that has taken the world by storm the past few years. Microblading artists draw or fill in eyebrows using a free-hand style, and then use special microblading tools to needle in the design. Linda Le, an Ohio resident, found a Groupon offering a good discount on the service with Hanin Hamid, owner of Hanin Artistry in Fairview Park, Ohio, and decided to take the beauty plunge. But she may live to regret that after suffering what might be permanent facial scarring. She’s filed suit against the microblading technician for negligence.

Beauty Is in the Eye(Brow) of the Beholder

Le looked at a lot of photos Hamid had in her gallery of microblading. and they talked at great length before starting the procedure. Once the eyebrows were drawn on, Le commented that one of the eyebrows had a funny arch to it. After the needling procedure, the brow on the left was slightly higher and more arched than the one on the right. According to Le, “She kept telling me it’s not a big deal; it’s a very easy fix.”

The “Fix” May Have Been Easy for Artist, but Not the Client

The “fix” turned out to be a very painful removal process, According to Le the process resulted in extreme pain, blistering and crusting. Le said, “I didn’t know she was actually putting like an acid on my face. I didn’t know it would be so harsh to my skin. It felt like my skin was melting off.” According to Le’s attorney, Le has seen a plastic surgeon, and was told there’s no medical solution for her, and the scarring on her face may never go away.

Microblading removal usually consists of either laser removal, similar to removing a tattoo, or the use of saline solutions. It appears a saline solution was used, but since Le described the feeling as acidic, who knows what was placed on her face. Perhaps we will know soon, as the lawsuit discovery gets under way.

If you feel like you have had a beautician visit go awry, contact a personal injury attorney. Accidents happen, that’s why there’s a saying for it. But you shouldn’t have to bear the entire brunt of an accident that wasn’t your fault. Contact a local personal injury lawyer to discuss the facts of your case and see if you can get some legal relief for your beauty mishap.

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Walmart Settles Lawsuit for Selling Gun Used in Murder by Neo-Nazi

In April 2014, self-avowed Neo-Nazi Frazier Glenn Miller Jr. shot and killed three people in an anti-Semitic attack at a Jewish community center and retirement community in Overland Park, Kansas. As a convicted felon, Miller was prohibited from owning or buying firearms, and investigators learned another man, John Mark Reidle, purchased the shotgun used in the shooting for Miller at a Walmart in Republic, Missouri four days prior.

Miller was eventually convicted of capital murder, attempted murder, and weapons charges and sentenced to death, while Reidle was sentenced to five years of probation for providing false information on a federal firearms form. But what about Walmart? It recently settled a lawsuit with the family of Terri LaManno, who was shot and killed outside the Village Shalom care center.

Gun Negligence

The families of the three victims all sued Walmart for being negligent in the “straw purchase,” as well as operators of a gun store in Lebanon, Missouri, who sold Reidle a handgun at a gun show that Miller eventually also used in the shooting, claiming employees were negligent and “knew, had reason to know, or recklessly failed to know that Miller was not lawfully entitled to purchase or possess a firearm.”

“Gun dealers, including Wal-Mart, owe a duty to use the highest standard of care to prevent the supply of firearms to those prohibited from possessing them,” the lawsuits claimed. “Given the circumstances of the purchase, Wal-Mart should have taken affirmative steps to confirm that Miller was the actual purchaser and intended user of the Remington shotgun, and that the sale of the shotgun to Reidle, a straw buyer, was illegal.”

Gun Liability

Lawsuits following mass shootings can be tricky. Claims against gun manufacturers are often barred by statutes, and even suits filed against those responsible for safety at shooting sites have often failed. However, lawsuits filed against gun dealers, especially those who have not followed the proper protocol for background checks or sales, have had more success.

The terms of Walmart’s settlement have not been disclosed, and it is unlikely that the megaretailer admitted any liability. Still, it may have provided some closure for the victim’s family.

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Victims of California Wildfire Sue Utility Company

Three law firms, calling themselves Northern California Fire Lawyers, filed suit against Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E), claiming the deadly Camp Fire in Butte County is the “direct and legal result of the negligence, carelessness, recklessness, and/or unlawfulness” of the company. The Camp Fire has all but destroyed the town of Paradise in Butte County. Specifically, the lawsuit claims PG&E failed to properly maintain, repair, and replace its equipment and that this “inexcusable behavior” contributed to the cause of the fire. The lawsuit seeks monetary compensation and unspecified damages.

Things Already Look Bad for PG&E

There are a host of damning facts that point the finger at PG&E. Specifically, in the days leading up to the fire, PG&E told Paradise customers it may have to shut their power down due to temporarily dangerous conditions, as the company had done recently to 60,000 other customers in nearby service areas. According to Reuters, just one day before the fire started, PG&E informed a landowner near the initial burn point of the blaze that crews would be coming on to her property due to sparking utility wires. Butte County District Attorney Mike Ramsey has yet to specify the cause of the deadly blaze, but is aware that fire teams are looking to preserve evidence for an investigation.

Devastation, by the Numbers

To date, the Camp Fire has killed 48 people, though over 100 are still missing, most of them senior citizens. Over 7,600 homes have been destroyed and 135,000 acres torched. The Butte County sheriff’s office has stated this is California’s most deadly and destructive wildfire in history. The fire is only about 35% contained.

PG&E No Stranger to Blazing Inferno Lawsuits

PG&E claims that it is focusing on rescue efforts and to date has no comment on its liability. It does not, however, dispute any of the facts in the Reuters article. PG&E is no stranger to negligence lawsuits. This is not the first lawsuit against PG&E over negligent maintenance of their lines. The PG&E gas line explosions of 2010 in San Bruno, California killed eight people and destroyed dozens of homes. In that disaster, PG&E accepted liability due to a faulty gas pipe, flawed operations and inadequate government oversight.

In September 2013, PG&E settled damages with the 501 victims, which amounted to $565 million. In nearby Santa Rosa, California, various plaintiffs are suing PG&E, including the city of Santa Rosa and the County of Sonoma, for failing to properly maintain the areas around some of its power lines and sparking utility wires, leading to the deadly Tubbs and Nun fires that the state insurance commissioner estimates caused over $1 billion in damage last October.

If you or someone you love has been affected by the Camp Fire in Paradise, call a local consumer protection attorney today. A legal veteran can inform you of your legal rights, and help you determine next best steps.

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