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Bekman, Marder & Adkins, L.L.C. is proud to announce that it has been named to the U.S. News and World Report “Best Law Firms” list.SCBMA Best Lawyers  Nationally, SCBMA was named to the Third Tier of the Best Law Firms in the are of Admiralty and Maritime Law.  In Maryland, SCBMA was named to the First Tier in the areas of Admiralty & Maritime Law, Arbitration, Mediation, Plaintiffs’ Medical Malpractice, Plaintiffs’ Personal Injury, and Plaintiffs’ Product Liability Litigation.

For the 2015 “Best Law Firms” list, U.S. News and World Report uses a rigorous evaluation process that includes client evaluations, lawyer evaluations, and peer review from local and national leading attorneys.  Additionally, before any law firm can be named in the “Best Law Firms” list, it must have at least one lawyer who is included in the U.S. News “Best Lawyers” list.  Our firm is proud to have four attorneys named to the “Best Lawyers” list including Paul D. Bekman, E. Dale Adkins, III, Daniel M. Clements, and Stuart M. Salsbury.

Our firm takes great pride in being selected by our peers and colleagues as one of the best law firms in Maryland.  If you would like to discuss a possible case with our lawyers, call us at 410-539-6633.

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Bekman, Marder & Adkins, L.L.C., is proud to announce that Emily C. Malarkey and Ryan S. Perlin have been elected its newest partners.

Ryan Perlin Emily MalarkeyEmily C. Malarkey started at SCBMA as a law clerk and has been an Associate with the firm for eight years.  She has developed a busy practice in the areas of medical negligence, wrongful death, and other catastrophic injury.  She has also established a thriving appellate practice and has numerous published opinions to her name.  Ms. Malarkey is an experienced trial lawyer with multiple verdicts exceeding $1 million.  She has been named a Rising Star in every edition of Maryland Super Lawyers since 2010 and was recently named to the Board of Governors of the Maryland Association for Justice, Maryland’s primary civil justice organization of trial lawyers who represent the injured.  Prior to joining SCBMA, Ms. Malarkey completed an appellate judicial clerkship for the Honorable Sally D. Adkins on the Court of Special Appeals.

Ryan S. Perlin began his legal career at a prominent Baltimore defense firm, representing health care providers and hospitals in medical malpractice claims.  He joined SCBMA in 2011 and quickly established himself as a leading plaintiff’s attorney in medical negligence, wrongful death, and catastrophic injury cases.  He has successfully tried numerous jury trials in courts throughout Maryland, including multiple cases with verdicts exceeding $1 million.  Mr. Perlin was named a Rising Star in 2012 and 2013 and was selected as a Maryland Super Lawyer for 2014 and 2015.  Mr. Perlin has been a member of the Peer Review Committee for the Maryland Attorney Grievance Commission since 2013.  After graduating law school, Mr. Perlin clerked on the Circuit Court for Baltimore City for the Honorable Stuart R. Berger.

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Bekman, Marder & Adkins, LLC proudly acknowledges that 8 of its attorneys Super Lawyershave been named to the 2015 Maryland Super Lawyers or Maryland Super Lawyers Rising Stars lists.  Dale Adkins, Paul Bekman, Daniel Clements, Laurence Marder, Stuart Salsbury, Wendy Shiff, and Ryan Perlin have been named to the 2015 Maryland Super Lawyers list and Emily Malarkey has been recognized on the 2015 Maryland Super Lawyers Rising Stars list.

With its 2015 edition published on December 10, 2015, the 2015 Super Lawyers Magazine uses a patented multi-phase selection process to create its lawyer-ratings and lists.  The process includes peer nominations from other attorneys as well as third-party research across 12 categories conducted by an attorney-led research team.  The end result is a Super Lawyers list that only includes up to 5 percent of the lawyers in a state and a Rising Stars list with no more than 2.5 percent of eligible lawyers.

Our firm is also proud to acknowledge Paul Bekman’s inclusion on the Super Lawyers “Top 10” list and Stuart Salsbury’s inclusion on the “Top 100 list.”  These lists recognize the “best of the best” and SCBMA is proud of its representation on the list.

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Last week, a federal jury in West Virginia awarded an Illinois couple $3.27 million in a transvaginal mesh case.  The plaintiff suffered from stress urinary incontinence, and, in 2011, underwent surgery to implant Johnson & Johnson’s transvaginal mesh sling.  Within a year, the sling had to be removed because it was causing her pelvic pain and pain during sexual intercourse.  The couple filed suit alleging that the mesh was defectively designed and that Johnson & Johnson had failed to warn physicians and patients about the risk of the mesh eroding.

Women were told that these mesh products would be a simple and easy fix for problems such as pelvic organ prolapse and incontinence repairs.  What they were not told, however, were the significant complications that can arise after surgery.  One of the largest risks of these products is that mesh implants—both transvaginal and bladder slings—have been found to erode or shrink after they have been implanted in the patient.  This can cause serious complications including infection, chronic pain, and pain during sexual intercourse.  As a result, thousands of women from across the country have filed lawsuits similar to the one brought by the Illinois couple.  These cases have been consolidated into several multi-district litigations in West Virginia, and the $3.27 million verdict is a promising sign for plaintiffs.

The attorneys at Bekman, Marder & Adkins are currently handling cases for women who have suffered serious side-effects from transvaginal mesh and bladder sling implants.  If you believe you have experience serious-side effects from either of these mesh products please contact us today.

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Following up on a previous post regarding the reporting of preventable adverse events and transparency for patients choosing medical and hospital care, USA Today has today reported that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) will resume reporting data on eight different “hospital acquired conditions,” including air embolism, blood incompatibility, catheter-associated infections, falls and trauma, retained foreign objects, pressure ulcers (bedsores), uncontrolled blood sugar levels, and urinary tract infections. CMS had stopped publicly reporting this data in early August of 2014, but recently changed course, demonstrating the power of the patient safety and transparency movement.

As consumers in the information age, we do research before making any significant purchase — houses, cars, schools, even refrigerators — so why not research our health care options? Choosing a doctor with whom you will have a relationship for many years, deciding whether to undergo a surgery, or deciding which nursing home to admit a loved one are important decisions that merit the same amount of investigation as other choices we make. Although information on health care quality and options is sparce, there are some sources out there, and we hope to see more of them in the coming years. For now, check out CMS’s Hospital Comparison Chart, which includes information collected by CMS regarding patient safety and quality of care at Maryland hospitals.

If you know of any other sources, share them with us!

 

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Here’s a link to Oklahoma Senator (and physician) Tom Coburn’s recent report on his investigation of Veterans’ Administration hospitals.  According to Senator Coburn, “Over the past decade, more than 1,000 veterans may have died as a result of the VA’s misconduct and the VA has paid out nearly $1 billion to veterans and their families for its medical malpractice.”

Here at SCBMA we are often asked to investigate, and do pursue cases against our local Baltimore VA Hospital, as well as at area military medical institutions such as Walter Reed.  Bringing medical malpractice claims against the VA is a highly specialized area of the law, and if you are thinking of doing so, it is critical that you hire lawyers who are experienced and knowledgeable about the legal deadlines and other special requirements in cases against the federal government and the VA.

Indeed, just last year, Paul Bekman and Michael Smith of our office succeeded in winning a $345,000 verdict in U.S. Federal Court against the VA Hospital in Baltimore.  The case involved the wrongful death of a 50 year old Veteran from acute blood loss caused by an undiagnosed aortoenteric fistula.  We successfully argued that the VA was responsible for the negligent acts of, among others, resident physicians affiliated with the University of Maryland Medical Center by virtue of a “resident agreement” in which residents treat Veterans at the VA Hospital.

 

 

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A few days ago, the Baltimore Sun reported on the under-reporting of serious medical errors, known by hospitals as “preventable adverse events,” and which, according to a recent journal article for doctors published in the Journal of Patient Safety, kill more than 400,000 Americans every year (and seriously injure 10-20 times as many).

According to the Journal of Patient Safety article: “[O]ur country is distinguished for its patchwork of medical care subsystems that can require patients to bounce around a complex maze of providers as they seek effective and affordable care.  Because of increased production demands, providers may be expected to give care in suboptimal working conditions, with decreased staff, and a shortage of physicians, which leads to fatigue and burnout.  It should be no surprise that [Preventable Adverse Effects] that harm patients are frighteningly common in this highly technical, rapidly changing, and poorly integrated industry.”

The Sun reported what we at SCBMA already know to be true: that because of the “mostly confidential” and broken system of error-reporting currently in place in Maryland and throughout our country, the truth about many patients’ injuries only sees the light of day once lawyers are hired and are able to investigate adverse medical events through our court system.  Indeed, we see this in our practice every day: patients who do not receive ordered medications, worrisome test results that are not properly transmitted or not properly acted upon, and unnecessary surgery that causes serious harm are only some examples of cases we are routinely asked to investigate.

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Many keystrokes have been typed about General Motors’ faulty ignition switches and the tragic deaths of at least thirteen people who died when their airbags failed to deploy because of the defect.  Yesterday, GM released the report of its own internal investigation, performed by Anton R. Valukas.  Mr. Valukas and his team made many interesting findings and I expect we will write more postings about the report and its importance to our practice.  The most interesting finding to us, though, related to the role of products liability lawsuits in uncovering the truth about GM’s defective cars.  Our firm has a great deal of experience in products liability lawsuits, and in automobile defect and crashworthiness cases in particular, so we have been following the story closely.

airbag-control-743960-mIn 2012, lawyers representing a deceased client’s family sued GM and hired an expert witness engineer named Erin Shipp, P.E. to investigate their clients’ death.  Despite having received very few documents from General Motors in the course of the lawsuit, the expert witness was able to make the connection between the faulty ignition switch and the failure of the airbags to deploy at the time of an automobile collision.  The Valukas Report lauded the expert witness for making the connection even before GM personnel were able to do so.

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Maryland’s Court of Appeals recently ruled that a trial court judge did not abuse his discretion in excluding the standard of care testimony of a plaintiff’s expert pharmacist in an informed consent case involving the cancer treatment drug Amifostine.  The Court of Appeals majority opinion in Shannon v. Fusco overturned a previous ruling by Maryland’s intermediate appellate court that held the pharmacist’s testimony should have been admitted.

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An exculpatory clause is a contractual provision that relieves a party from liability for any future negligent or wrongful act.  Maryland has long recognized that these clauses are valid and that two adults may contractually agree that one or more parties will not be liable for their own negligence.  Recently, however, the Court of Appeals of Maryland has taken this principle one step further and held that parents may sign an exculpatory clause on behalf of their minor children—in essence—agreeing that a company may negligently harm their children and not be held responsible for such conduct.

In BJ’s Wholesale Club, Inc. v. Rosen, Sept. Term 2012, No. 99 (Nov. 27, 2013), BJ Wholesale Club (BJ’s) provided a kids’ play area in its store so that parents could drop their kids off to play while the parents shopped.  Before allowing parents to take advantage of the play area, however, BJ’s required all parents to sign a contractual agreement on behalf of their children.  Included in this agreement was an exculpatory clause protecting BJ’s from any liability for injuries that may be suffered by the children while in the play area.  A child was then seriously injured while using the play area, and subsequently brought a claim alleging that BJ’s had negligently caused the injury.  Relying on the contractual exculpatory clause, BJ’s argued that it was free from all liability for the child’s injuries and the case was dismissed.  The Court of Appeals agreed.

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