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NHL Brain Injury Lawyer

March 16, 2016  |  Brain Injury, General, Personal Injury, Resources  |  No Comments  |  Share

Oregon Personal Injury Lawyer Aaron DeShaw is presently accepting NHL Brain Injury Claims.

Lawsuits filed by NHL players for chronic brain damage from repetitive traumatic brain injuries, have been classified as a multi-district litigation case (“MDL”) against the National Hockey League for damages resulting from concussions sustained by NHL players.  Similar to the claims recently made by NFL players, the litigation against the league claims that the NHL knew, or should have known, that regular head strikes were likely to expose players to a substantial risk of brain injuries and diseases, but that the league failed to warn or protect players from permanent brain injuries.

Several retired NHL players suffer from the effects of repetitive traumatic brain injuries, which have resulted in life changing brain injury symptoms. Traumatic brain injuries have been linked to neurological degenerative diseases including Alzheimer’s disease, dementia and Parkinson’s Disease. Repetitive concussions have also been conclusively linked to a degenerative brain disorder known as Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (“CTE.”)  [CTE cannot be confirmed until death, however, in recent autopsy studies, 95.6% of deceased NFL players had CTE, leading to widespread concerns about the well being of athletes sustaining repeated blows to the he
ad.]  Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy in athletes is the topic of the recent film “Concussion” starring Will Smith.

Similar to the NHL, the National Football League initially denied any links between repetitive head strikes and CTE, by publishing a series of papers denying any link between football and brain damage, while at the same time quietly paying retired players who were disabled by brain injuries.  The NFL went so far as creating a “Mild Traumatic Brain Injury Committee” who wrote that no NFL player had ever suffered long term brain damage, or other neurological and psychological consequences, as a result of repetitive concussions. “Professional NHL Brain Injury Litigationfootball players do not sustain frequent repetitive blows to the brain on a regular basis,” the NFL’s Mild Traumatic Brain Injury Committee wrote in one 2005 paper. [It comes as little surprise that some of the doctors who sat on the NFL injury validity committee are the same doctors that work for insurers and defense lawyers in denying traumatic brain injuries in personal injury claims.  They get paid to deny traumatic brain injuries for a living.]

Players sustaining  head injuries in the NHL are reporting similar head injury symptoms to the NFL players, including headaches, mood swings, uncontrollable temper, sensitivity to light, seizures, depression, and suicidal thoughts.  Former NHL players claim they would have never played in the league had they known of the risk of permanent cognitive, behavioral and psychological changes caused by repetitive head injuries.

Presently over 115 hockey players are now part of the multi-district litigation against the NHL, seeking damages for the “pathological and debilitating effects of brain injuries caused by concussive and sub-concussive impacts sustained…during their professional careers.” A recent complaint alleges that the NHL’s failure to warn players of TBI risks constitutes fraudulent concealment because the National Hockey League had specialized knowledge of material medical information. Lawyers representing the NHL players assert that there has been extensive literature and research available on the subject, including four international symposia that included medical reports specific to hockey, as well as several conferences in the U.S. focusing on traumatic brain injuries in professional hockey.  The NHL players with a history of brain injury contend there is little chance that the NHL was unaware of the long-term consequences of repeated mild traumatic brain injuries. By withholding that information, the former NHL players claim they relied upon the NHL’s omissions and misrepresentations regarding the degree of risk associated with playing hockey in the NHL. The former players allege that the NHL suppressed evidence of the risks of repetitive concussions, and fostered an unreasonable and unnecessarily violent league.  The players contend that the NHL fostered a culture of violent conduct in order to increase its profits from ticket sales and merchandising on players and teams known to engage in such conduct, even though that violent conduct resulted in an increased risk of concussions for NHL players.

One of the National Hockey League’s defenses in the litigation is that players could have independently spent their time reading medical research and reports to figure out for themselves that repeated head trauma can lead to Alzheimers and other neurological degenerative conditions following repeated concussions. This fails to acknowledge that the NHL was in the best position to collect information on professional hockey and its players, and study the effect of concussions on retired NHL players.  Contrary to the NHL’s position, the former players maintain that they “had no familiarity with or reason to access any medical literature concerning concussions, or other sub-concussive impacts.” Instead the professional athletes state that they relied on their professional sports league for information about known risks of playing the sport, and that they were never informed of the negative long-term effects of sustaining concussions that the NHL already knew existed.

In 2011, the Canadian Medical Association Journal published an analysis of head injury risk in NHL players, which evaluated traumatic brain injuries over the course of several regular hockey seasons.  The study found 559 concussions during regular season games – equal to 1.8 concussions per 1,000 player hours. The most common symptoms of repeated traumatic brain injury found in the study were; dizziness, nausea, neck pain, headache, blurred vision, amnesia, and loss of consciousness.  These symptoms have traditionally been diagnosed as “post concussion syndrome” by doctors, but are now more commonly referred to as the consequences of a “mild traumatic brain injury.”  More serious symptoms included mental and/or physical fatigue and memory loss, which are also common symptoms of a mild traumatic brain injury – no frank bleed is required to cause these symptoms and in only 20% of cases can anything be seen on an MRI or CT after a traumatic brain injury.  These repetitive head injuries can, but do not always result in abnormal neurologic exams.  (All of these are also common symptoms for a person sustaining a one time mild traumatic brain injury in other traumatic injuries such as a motor vehicle collision.  In fact, our office has experience dealing with one-time TBIs which have substantially more brain injury symptoms.)

On August 19, 2014, the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation determined that the NHL concussion injury cases involved common “questions of fact” and that centralization of the cases in the District of Minnesota was appropriate. All similar cases by former NHL players against the NHL were transferred to the District of Minnesota and assigned to the Honorable Susan Richard Nelson for coordinated or consolidated pretrial proceedings. Any subsequent similar case filed in federal court anywhere in the United States will be transferred to the District of Minnesota.

In January 2016, the judge presiding over the brain injury MDL suit demanded the unsealing of emails between NHL executives. The communications are allegedly evidence of their indifference towards player concussions, and relevant to the plaintiffs’ theory that the NHL did not appropriately consider the health of it’s players.

While the NHL denies the allegations (just as the NFL did), the negative publicity surrounding the case and the outcome of the NFL settlements, may steer them away from trial and towards a more favorable settlement for players.

If you are a former NHL player, (or a former NFL player) with a cognitive, behavioral, or psychological injuries that are impacting you, and if you wish to make a legal claim, please contact our office for a free consultation at (503) 227-1233.

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Oregon Personal Injury Lawyer Attends National Convention

March 12, 2016  |  Catastrophic Injury, General, Personal Injury  |  No Comments  |  Share

Oregon Personal Injury LawyerOregon personal injury lawyer Aaron DeShaw attended the American Association for Justice annual winter convention in Florida last week.  DeShaw is one of few Oregon personal injury lawyers who attended the conference.  The conference is an important opportunity for lawyers to learn about the most recent developments in a wide variety of legal cases, and medical and scientific research on the topic of their practice.

The AAJ Annual Winter Conference brings together 2,000 of the nation’s leading personal injury lawyers, who handle cases involving traumatic injuries, medical malpractice, defective products, injuries from dangerous drugs, and much more. The conference also features important resources for lawyers to improve case handling, and law firm operations.  While at the conference, DeShaw reviewed new technology for use in trial, as well as new imaging methods for brain injury and spinal injury cases.

Lectures by experts on jury bias, trial methods and trucking cases.  During the session, DeShaw talked to several friends including leading trucking lawyers Joe Fried and Morgan Adams, fellow brain injury lawyer Bruce Stern and Tom Metier, business litigator and FRCP 30(b)(6) deposition specialist Mark Kosieradzki, jury bias pioneers Greg Cusimano and David Wenner, AAJ President and Trial Lawyer Hall of Fame inductee Lisa Blue, and many more.  DeShaw’s strong relationships with the nation’s leading lawyers allows our firm to hire national co-counsel in cases where lawyers with specialty practice can assist our clients.

DeShaw is one of a small number of Oregon and Washington personal injury lawyers that belong to the American Association for Justice, and one of a handful who regularly attend the national conferences.  This is done to ensure that people represented at our firm get the advantage of the most recent advanced in legal representation.

In addition to AAJ membership, DeShaw is a members of the American Association for Justice Brain Injury Litigation Group and receives information on new developments in brain injury research on a daily basis.  The group is limited to a small number of attorneys who primarily handle traumatic brain injury cases.

Oregon Personal Injury Lawyer attends Brain Injury Alliance of Oregon Annual Conference

March 12, 2016  |  Brain Injury, General, Personal Injury, Resources  |  No Comments  |  Share

Oregon Personal Injury Lawyer Aaron DeShaw is attending the Brain Injury Alliance of Oregon Annual Conference this week.

The conference is a joint conference for Oregon, Washington and Idaho Brain Alliance organizations to bring together brain injury doctors (including MDs, DCs, DOs, neuro-opthomalagists), nurses, speech pathologists, neuro-cognitive rehabilitation specialists, biofeedback providers, auxiliary health care providers, long term care facilities, brain injury support group leaders, veteran affairs, brain injury survivors and family members, and a few brain injury lawyers.

While Dr. Aaron DeShaw is a full time lawyer at our firm, he attends most of the medical programs at the conference to ensure he fully understands the medicine and scientific literature of traumatic brain injuries.

Highlights of the conference involve OHSU Brain Injury Institute director Dr. James Chestnutt (on treatment of concussion in both hospital and cognitive rehabilitation settings), Rolf Gainer of the Neurologic Rehabilitation Institute and Brookhaven Hospital (on permanent cognitive and personality changes of people with traumatic brain injury) and the conference keynote speech by one of the nation’s leading neurologists Dr. Glen Zielinski (on the topic of traumatic brain injuries, post-TBI visual defects, and vestibular rehabilitation) including his successful treatment of people with significant traumatic brain injuries including quadriplegia as well as his work with world class snowboarder Kevin Pearce featured in the movie The Crash Reel.  (Pearce, who had been seen at The Craig Hospital in Colorado, but continued to have residual symptoms).

The annual conference provided great information about the breakthroughs that doctors are making in the detection and treatment of brain injuries.

Aaron DeShaw is a board member of the Brain Injury Alliance of Oregon.

Biotronik Pacemaker Lawyer

February 27, 2016  |  General, Personal Injury  |  No Comments  |  Share

DeShaw Law Firm is accepting cases as a Biotronik Pacemaker Lawyer for people who had unnecessary Biotronik pacemaker surgery.

In the first trial regarding this issue in the country, a New Mexico District Court jury found German pacemaker manufacturer Biotronik negligent in the case of Tommy Sowards, who claimed he was unnecessarily implanted with a pacemaker as a result of a conspiracy among Biotronik, a Biotronik salesman, a hospital and his cardiologist. That lawsuit disclosed a scheme where Biotronik paid improper kickbacks to a cardiologist including bonuses for every patient outfitted with a pacemaker, “training fees” and payments for clinical studies – payouts that more than tripled the amount the doctor charged per procedure. The lawsuit alleged that Sowers was improperly told he needed a pacemaker that he did not need. Sowards said that after the pacemaker surgery, his new doctors informed him that the pacemaker wasn’t necessary. It is now turned off, but his current physician says it cannot be removed without causing damage to his heart. The jury was so upset by the greed and violation of the patient’s trust, that they returned a verdict of $2.3 Million in compensatory damages, and $65 Million in punitive damages as a penalty for Biotronik’s conduct.

Biotronik, a German medical device company, has its US headquarters in Lake Oswego Oregon. This unnecessary surgery and kickback scandal follows another one involving improper kickbacks for medical devices to an Oregon doctor who was engaging in the highest rate of spinal surgeries in the US, during which he improperly inserted spinal hardware in people’s spines being sold by his girlfriend for medical device distributor Omega Solutions.

In regard to this most recent issue regarding the improper Biotronik pacemaker surgeries, there is some evidence suggesting that there were an abnormally high number of operations involving Biotronik pacemakers in parts of Oregon, most notably Biotronic pacemaker surgeries in Salem Oregon. In fact, the Oregon Department of Justice has already fined two Salem doctors for failing to disclose kickbacks from Biotronik to their patients.  In response to this action, The Oregonian has noted that “the practice [of financially incentivizing doctors to place medical devices in patients] is tolerated by the biggest hospitals in the state who do not require patients be informed of such payments.”  We believe this is wrong, particularly in cases where placement of the device is both unnecessary and can result in permanent injury or death of the patient.  The 15-month long battle between DOJ, the doctors and Biotronik in Marion County Circuit Court has been sealed, according to public filings in the Oregon Judicial Information Network.

Biotronik’s payments to doctors has been effective in getting more of their devices implanted in patients.  Biotronic’s kickbacks to doctors in Nevada led to a sudden growth in sales, and triggered a federal investigation, according to reports in the New York Times.

Dr. DeShaw is accepting cases as a Biotronik Pacemaker Lawyer either as trial counsel, or co-counsel, for both Oregon Biotronik Pacemaker cases, and local counsel for national Biotronik Pacemaker cases where the Biotronik pacemaker surgery was performed when clinically unnecessary.

If you believe you had a Biotronik Pacemaker surgery that was unnecessary, call (503) 227-1233 or (866) THE-FIRM for your free consultation.

Is traumatic C1 instability missed on static x-rays?

December 21, 2015  |  General, Personal Injury  |  No Comments  |  Share

Screen Shot 2015-12-21 at 1.45.01 PMWe just received an case study from the DMX company.  DMX is a trade name for “Digital Motion X-ray” a technology that we have used in spinal injury cases in the past where C1 instability appeared likely due to the client’s symptoms.  We are posting this because the video demonstrates something very interesting that insurance companies, defense lawyers and  their defense expert witnesses will say cannot be the case to a jury, and we thought we should share this with the medical and legal communities so that they stop intentionally misleading juries.

If you are looking for a C1 instability lawyer, our law office has handled many C1 lateral instability cases. The injury occurs due to axial distraction of the neck during the initial phase of a motor vehicle impact, coupled with tearing of the structures that attach C1 to both the skull (occipital area) and the C2 vertebra. Common symptoms include some of the following:

  • A feeling that the head is too heavy for the neck to support;
  • Low grade, but chronic headaches that don’t go away after trauma despite treatment;
  • Dizziness with neck movement;
  • Blackouts with neck movement;
  • A “clunk” sound with neck movement (which differs from a chiropractic adjustment);
  • A “greying” out of vision (loss of color);
  • Tunnel vision (loss of peripheral vision);
  • Temporary Blindness; and
  • Other neurological conditions caused by vascular compromise including Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (“POTS”).

There are other symptoms, but these tend to be the ones that are more commonly associated just with C1 instability, and not mixed with other conditions.

As discussed elsewhere on this web site, symptoms occur due to an instability of the C1 vertebra leading to compression of the vertebral artery within the transverse foramen of the neck. The vertebral artery gets stressed and then compressed as C1 moves an abnormal amount, thereby shutting down blood flow from the vertebral artery into the brain.  This in turn shuts down the blood supply to the occipital lobe which processes visual information in the brain. This lack of blood flow results in the visual symptoms listed above as well as Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome and other conditions impacted by a lack of blood flow to the cranial nerves and posterior brain.

The injuries to the ligaments of the Craniocervical Junction and the resultant C1 instability are the subject of the new medical text “The Craniocervical Syndrome and MRI” published by Karger (2015).  Despite this being well known, and published in both medical journals and textbooks, defense experts will almost always claim that the injured person has a personality disorder instead.

Doctor/Lawyer Aaron DeShaw is a C1 instability lawyer, who has lectured on this topic nationally and internationally for both doctors and lawyers.  The medical literature suggests that post traumatic C1 instability is due to Alar Ligament damage,  Transverse ligament damage, or damage to the lateral capsules of C1.

As C1 instability lawyers, we have handled several trials involving clients with C1 instability and the consequences of that injury, including cases of traumatic POTS.  Insurance companies and their expert witness doctors have testified that you can get the same information about lateral instability of C1 if doctors take normal x-rays (in the lateral APOM position) rather than doing a DMX study.  This video demonstrates very clearly that is not the case. What video 1 in this DMX video shows, is a patient laterally bending with no apparent C1 translation to the right, a lesser amounts of translation to the left for the first two attempts.  It is likely during these first two attempts that a static x-ray would be taken, leaving the radiologist (and thus the lawyers, the insurance company, and the jury) with the impression that there is no translation to the right, and a less abnormal translation to the left.  But, take a look what happens to the motion on the remaining studies.

Insurers (and the defense lawyers and doctors they hire) will bring up issues of resolution of the DMX, and the fact that the same thing can be done with a higher resolution static x-ray, but this study shows quite clearly that this is not the truth.  This study shows that unless you can see the spine in motion, you could easily mis-characterize this instability as being entirely normal.

Our firm has a C1 instability lawyer with a great deal of experience handling C1 instability cases and the neurological consequences of them.  If you are an injured party, or a law firm with a client with a C1 instability seeking experienced co-counsel, feel free to call us for a free consultation at (503) 227-1233.

Disclosure:

While Dr. DeShaw has lectured at DMX continuing education events in the past [because he believes this is useful technology in diagnosing injured people,] he has not in several years due to time constraints. DeShaw has no financial interest in the company at all, has not been paid anything for his lectures for DMX, nor does he get anything to post things like this.  This information is being posted solely because we believe it provides important information to understand how to detect these injuries because C1 instability has significant long term effects for people with that injury.  We believe it is important that they have doctors and lawyers who understand the injury, and how to detect it correctly.  This study demonstrates that plain film x-rays may miss the injury all together, or understate the significance of the C1 instability.