Belefonte, Esq., receives award
Carmen P. Belefonte, Esq., received the
Guy G. Defuria Award on May 5, 2004, for
professionalism and trial advocacy. Mr. Belefonte, a
member of the prestigious American College of Trial
Lawyers, was presented this award by the American
Inns of Court Foundation-Charter No. 28. This award
recognizes Mr. Belefonte as a person whose professional
life and abilities as a trial lawyer are in the very
best tradition of the legal profession.
Mr. Belefonte is recognized as a leading trial lawyer
in the fields of both civil and criminal litigation, and is
a past president of the Pennsylvania Trial Lawyers
Association and Delaware County Bar Association.
Lawmakers who want to cap medical malpractice compensation say too many patients are suing
over trivialities. Each of the sufferers in the following cases would receive only $250,000 if
medical malpractice reformers have their way. While most proposals would allow for reimbursement
of out-of-pocket expenses, such as medical bills and lost wages, they would limit
compensation for permanent, life-altering injuries.
Shortly after oral surgery
at a hospital, a 17-yearold
patient died when
nurses negligently removed
a breathing tube too soon,
failed to monitor her
distress, and mishandled
her revival. A jury
awarded damages. A mother suffered a
cognitive problems, and
right-side paralysis after
being prematurely discharged
from a hospital,
despite doctors' knowledge
of her high blood pressure
and headache symptoms.
The parties settled. Although a five-year-old child
was admitted to a hospital for an
ear infection, radiologists failed to
diagnose and report a sinuscavity
blood clot before he suffered
permanent vision loss from
swelling and optic nerve damage.
A court awarded damages. Only juries can assess fair compensation for patients' medical payments, lifelong suffering,
loss of earning power, consortium with loved ones, and particularly their deaths.
.and the elderly
As our nation grays, greater numbers of aging
people may find themselves denied equal
opportunity in obtaining housing.
Housing discrimination against the elderly
usually involves two factors. First is a perceived
inability of an elderly person to live independently
and to care for him- or herself and a property. The
second consists of past, actual, or perceived
disabilities that might make someone incapable of
If real-estate agents, rental agents, condominium
associations, landlords, or even family members
unlawfully deny the elderly equal opportunity to
obtain housing in single-family homes, condominium
communities, or rental communities, those
harmed have recourse.
Elderly people who have
suffered discrimination are increasingly turning to
the Fair Housing Act (FHA) of 1968 and the
Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to obtain their fair rights to housing.
When a Texas couple was refused admission to a subsidized apartment complex
on the basis of the husband's blindness and partial paralysis, the U.S. Department of
Housing and Urban Development's FHA division determined that discrimination had
occurred and took the apartment's owners to federal court. The court ruled that the
FHA had the authority to bar discrimination against seniors with disabilities.
In a Florida case, an administrative law judge ruled on another FHA complaint.
Here, the court agreed that a condominium association was required to make reasonable
disability accommodations for a longtime resident who experienced a stroke that made
him unable to walk.
Courts have also ruled that older residents are entitled to maintain service- or
emotional-support animals as long as tenants reasonably comply with general tenancy
Wrongdoers selling phony
insurance plans are popping up
everywhere. Their less-expensive coverage may look very appealing to
Americans who lose coverage at work, experience rapidly escalating
premiums, or cannot get coverage elsewhere.
Not only do scammers often lack licenses to sell insurance, they also
don't have sufficient reserves to cover payments. Their game is to
pay smaller initial claims to solicit greater premiums
from future policyholders. A study found
that more than 100,000 scaminsurance-
plan buyers have been
stuck with $85 million in unpaid
medical bills since 2001.
Experts offer the following warning
signs to look for in potentially
solicitations: Unbelievably low rates. No health prescreening
requirement. Automatic preexisting-condition
coverage. Promoted and endorsed by
individuals allegedly representing
labor unions or professional associations.
Sales pitches that replace
"insurance" with "benefits."
To check a plan's legitimacy, call
our state's insurance commissioner's
office for licensing, know the agent
who will pay claims, and contact an
attorney for counsel.
injuries.and equipment design
Thousands and thousands of American
workers are injured on the job every day.
In fact, according to the Bureau of Labor
Statistics, 4.7 million nonfatal workplace
injuries and illnesses were reported during 2002.
Many workplace injuries could be
prevented if manufacturers designed
machinery and other equipment with high
safety standards in mind, and businesses
required all machinery to be operated as instructed.
When workers are injured by defectively
designed equipment, our civil justice system
offers recourse. Family members of a woman
who suffered fatal injuries when a grinding
wheel she was working on exploded brought
suit. Their attorney alleged that the
equipment's manufacturer failed to warn of
design dangers and was further negligent in
failing to include a protective guard on the
equipment that would have prevented serious
injury. The parties settled out of court.
But proponents of
new legislation want to hamper their
When juries evaluate evidence and render
verdicts, corporate America listens.
It's because of our jury system that
defectively designed cribs no longer
strangle infants, once-harmful medical
devices have been redesigned, auto fuel
systems have been strengthened, and
cancer-causing asbestos no longer poisons
homes, schools, and workplaces.
executives and other proponents of new
legislation want to
hamper the effectiveness of juries through
new legislation. H.R. 5 (S. 607) was
designed to drastically limit the rights
of patients seriously injured by medical
malpractice, elderly victims of abuse
in nursing homes, and others harmed
by defective medical products and prescription
drugs. With the U.S. House's passage
of the bill earlier this year, those
who would stifle the ability of juries
to deliver justice may win the battle.
The bill is currently undergoing further
debate in the Senate.
introduced in 1999, two new kinds of
Vioxx® (Merck & Company)
and Celebrex® (Pfizer, INc.), were
promoted as "superaspirins" that
would not upset or harm patients' stomachs
as older nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory
drugs (NSAIDs) did.
Both products were heavily marketed
to physicians and to the public through
hard-hitting marketing and advertising
programs. Promotion worked, and Celebrex
earned $3.1 billion and Vioxx reached
$2.6 billion in worldwide sales.
products were marketed as safer than
traditional NSAIDs because
they protected patients' stomachs, the
medical community began reporting that
Vioxx and Celebrex had serious side
effects. In June 2002, a research team
noted that patients taking the products
had increases in hypertension and heart
attacks. Lancet, the British medical
journal, tied Vioxx to kidney failure.
Other studies linked both Celebrex and
Vioxx with aseptic meningitis, cardiac
problems, and other health issues.
Those concerned about these products
should consult their physicians and
contact legal counsel.
According to Mothers Against
Drunk Driving, in 2000, there were 17,380
alcohol-related deaths among the 41,945
total traffic fatalities. In 2001, there
were 17,448 alcohol-related deaths among
the 42,116 total traffic fatalities.
The ratio stayed at 41 percent, but
68 more people died in 2001. As the
nation's most frequently committed violent
crime, DUI takes its toll on the young.
Among all children ages 0-14 killed
in fatal DUI accidents in 2000, nearly
half -- 223 -- were passengers in a
vehicle driven by someone who had been
in an accident in which another driver
was DUI should seek legal
counsel. In one case, a woman already
suffering from an brain injury was struck
from behind by a driver who allegedly
refused to take a sobriety test, had
balance problems, and smelled of alcohol.
The jury that heard the case gave the
victim an award plus punitive damages.
The law offices of Carmen P. Belefonte
represent victims and consumers in
civil and criminal litigation. Our
goal is to improve the quality of
life for our clients who have been
seriously injured and to protect the
rights of consumers and people accused
of serious crimes. We specialize in
civil litigation, representing victims
of catastrophic injuries, defective
products, medical malpractice, workplace
accidents, automobile accidents, and
consumer fraud. We also represent
clients in serious criminal cases,
including DUI, white-collar crime,
and other serious offenses. Mr. Belefonte
and his staff are experienced and
are well-trained to evaluate and prepare
your case. Contact us today!