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Dear friends and clients,

At Winters Salzetta O’Brien & Richardson, LLC, we are doing our part to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus, while continuing to work tirelessly on your behalf. We anticipate being able to perform all of our job functions and duties that we owe to our clients and loved ones without any interruption. Our goal is to continue to work as normal, although our entire staff may not be in the office at the same time. We are hopeful that the virus will be contained and that we will all be back to our normal lives soon. In the meantime, when you call us, we will answer the phone and return your messages. When you email us, we will email you back. We encourage you to continue contacting us with your legal questions as you have in the past. Our face-to-face meetings with you may be curtailed for a time, but we will continue to work towards your goals. We will make sure that we maintain appropriate health standards so as not to infect or contaminate anyone unnecessarily. Please know that the various courts throughout Illinois and most of the country have announced measures to stem the spread of the virus in courthouses. Most of these initial steps involve 30 or 60 day partial shutdowns of courts. We continue to have access to the courts for emergent matters. We also continue to monitor the status of all jurisdictions in which we represent you and continue to monitor the court status of every single case that we handle for you. This temporary partial closure of courthouses will not stop Winters Salzetta O’Brien & Richardson from ensuring that everyone gets their day in court.

If you have a specific question about your case or any legal matter, please do not hesitate to contact us at 312-236-6324.  Be safe and be happy.

Tagged in: coronavirus

Chicago personal injury lawyer for Boy Scouts sex abuse claimsOver the past decade, many victims of sexual abuse have begun to speak out against their abusers and take legal action against the organizations that allowed this abuse to occur. The Boy Scouts of America, which recently changed its name to Scouts BSA, is one such organization that has faced hundreds of lawsuits from people who have suffered sexual abuse by scout leaders and other volunteers. In February of 2020, the Boy Scouts filed for bankruptcy, leaving many wondering about how this will affect current and future personal injury claims against the organization. 

Bankruptcy and Civil Lawsuits

Chapter 11 bankruptcy allows a company or organization to reorganize its assets and finances and work with creditors to determine how to pay off outstanding debts. One effect of the bankruptcy filing is that it automatically halts any civil lawsuits against the organization. In most cases, bankruptcy will prevent additional lawsuits against an organization based on events that occurred prior to the bankruptcy filing.

Legal experts have stated that the Boy Scouts likely began to consider bankruptcy due to changes to the laws in multiple states that extended the statutes of limitations in civil lawsuits for sex abuse. Between 2017 and 2019, the Boy Scouts paid out $150 million in settlements and other legal expenses. The organization is currently facing 275 lawsuits, and it estimates that between 1,000 and 5,000 more victims could potentially file claims seeking compensation for sex abuse. According to tax documents, the organization owns more than $1 billion in assets, and it may be able to work with insurers to ensure that victims are fairly compensated.

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Cook County cervical spine injury lawyerYour spinal cord is a key part of your central nervous system, and any injuries which result in damage to the spine can not only be very painful, but they can lead to long-lasting complications, including numbness, tingling, and paralysis in different parts of the body. Cervical spine injuries that affect the vertebrae in the neck can be especially dangerous, and they can result in permanent disability. These injuries often occur in motor vehicle accidents, but they can also happen in a variety of other situations, such as construction site accidents or slip-and-falls. If you have suffered a spine injury, you will want to work with a skilled attorney to determine your options for pursuing compensation.

Is Surgery Necessary for Cervical Spine Injuries?

The first seven vertebrae in the spine are known as the cervical vertebrae. Damage to the nerves in this area of the spinal cord can lead to paralysis in the arms, legs, and trunk; impairments in one’s ability to breathe, eat, drink, and speak; and loss of bowel and bladder control. 

Not every type of cervical spine injury will result in permanent disability. In some cases, people experience a herniated disc, which occurs when one or more of the discs that act as cushions between the vertebrae rupture. This can cause significant pain, and it may lead to compression of the spinal cord, resulting in numbness, weakness, and loss of fine motor control in the hands and arms.

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Cook County toxic chemical injury attorney ethylene oxideIn 2018, people in the Chicago area became aware of the significant dangers posed by a toxic chemical. Sterigenics International, a company that sterilizes medical equipment, was found to be emitting ethylene oxide, a known carcinogen, from its facility in Willowbrook. A variety of legal challenges have been raised against the Willowbrook plant, but due to its decades in operation, people in the surrounding communities, including Hinsdale and Burr Ridge, are at risk of serious personal injuries.

Changing Laws and Regulations Regarding Ethylene Oxide

While Sterigenics has claimed that its Willowbrook plant was operating within the emissions regulations set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the EPA reported in 2018 that people in the surrounding areas were at an elevated risk of contracting cancer due to the presence of ethylene oxide in the atmosphere. As a response, a variety of legal complaints were lodged against Sterigenics, and in February 2019, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker issued an order to shut down the facility.

In the ensuing months, Sterigenics was able to reach an agreement with Illinois lawmakers and the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency to reopen the plant, as long as new equipment was installed to drastically reduce the amount of ethylene oxide emissions. However, people in the community and public officials continued to fight against the facility being able to operate in Willowbrook. In September 2019, Sterigenics announced that it would be permanently closing the plant and that it would no longer operate sterilization facilities in the state of Illinois.

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Chicago dangerous product attorney e-cigarette lung illness
Over the past several years, the use of electronic cigarettes (also known as e-cigarettes or vape pens) has grown by leaps and bounds. Manufacturers of these devices have marketed them as being safer than traditional cigarettes, and “vaping” has become especially popular among teens and young adults. However, a variety of concerns have arisen regarding the harm that these devices can cause to their users. In addition to a large number of reported injuries from exploding e-cigarettes, multiple health issues have begun to make themselves known. If you have experienced a personal injury after using a vaping device, you should speak to a skilled attorney as soon as possible.

Lung Illness Related to Vaping

One of the most worrisome issues currently affecting e-cigarette users is the outbreak of vaping-related lung illness (known as “e-cigarette or vaping product use associated lung injury,” or EVALI) that has occurred throughout the United States. People have reported serious respiratory symptoms, including chest pain, coughing, shortness of breath, and fatigue, after using e-cigarettes. As of November 2019, more than 2,000 cases have been reported, and 39 people have died.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have been researching this outbreak, and a potential source has been identified. Vitamin E acetate, an additive that is used in some vaping products, was found to be present in samples of fluid collected from patients’ lungs. This substance is usually harmless, but when inhaled, it may interfere with the normal functions of the lungs.

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