Archive for October, 2011

Rockford Families’ Train Settlement

October 26th, 2011 at 4:07 pm

On Friday, June 19, 2009, a train with 114 cars, including 74 tankers filled with ethanol, was traveling from Freeport, Illinois to Chicago. As it approached Rockford, Jose Tellez, his wife Zoila and their pregnant daughter were in the family car, stopped at a train crossing on the south side of the railroad tracks behind the lowered gates, waiting for the train to pass.

What happened while they were waiting was tragic.  Eighteen train cars carrying millions of gallons of ethanol derailed near the intersection where the Tellez family waited.  The derailed cars exploded in a fireball that engulfed the unsuspecting family.

All three members of the Tellez family sustained terrible burns as they tried to flee to safety.  Zoila was killed from the burns and the couple’s pregnant daughter, Adriana, lost her baby. Zoila Tellez is survived by her husband Jose; daughters Adriana, 19; Lisette, 17; Cristal, 14; and Elvira, 11.

The derailment was found to be caused by a washed-out portion of track. Before the derailment, the Winnebago County Sheriff’s Department had informed the Canadian National Railway that the dangerous condition existed.  Twenty minutes before the derailment, the Winnebago County 911 center had phoned the Canadian company at its headquarters in Montreal, Canada and warned officials that a portion of the track, which turned out to be near the derailment, had been washed out.

In documents and witness testimony, it was acknowledged that the engineer of the train had seen adverse conditions on the track ahead but instead of slowing down, the engineer actually sped the train up.  This was found to be a direct cause of the fiery crash.

Due to his negligence and the disregard shown by the Canadian National Railway the Tellez family experienced horrible losses.  The company has settled out of court to the sum of $13.75 million to Adriana Tellez and $22.5 million to Jose.  While these sums of money never replace losing a loved one to a terrible accident, they do help families deal with the burdens that these tragedies cause.  It is important to have an experienced and dedicated personal injury lawyer in your corner.


Food Contamination across the United States

October 16th, 2011 at 4:25 am


Contaminated food has seemingly become very commonplace during the month of September.  So far Cargill has overseen a recall of ground turkey infected with salmonella and the FDA has been investigating the presence of Listeria in cantaloupes.  While food makes headlines, it also provides a possibly deadly


Listeria Monocytogenes is a potentially deadly food poisoning bacterium that causes a condition called Listerosis. Listeriosis affects mainly pregnant women, newborns, the elderly, and adults with lowered immune system, and when pregnant women are infected with Listeria Monocytogenes the infection can result in premature delivery, miscarriages, or stillbirth. Additionally, if a pregnant woman is exposed to contaminated food during pregnancy, the child can be born with Listeriosis.


Because Listeria is generally found in uncooked meats, processed foods, and other foods derived from animal products, this particular bout of contamination came as a surprise. In fact, this is the first time that an outbreak of Listeria has been linked to whole cantaloupes.


According to the Center for Disease Control, the cases of Listerosis confirmed to be a result of the cantaloupe outbreak include 11 individuals from Colorado, 2 from Texas, and one each in Indiana, Nebraska, and Oklahoma. Nevertheless, the cantaloupes were also shipped to grocery stores in Illinois, Wyoming, Tennessee, Utah, Colorado, Minnesota, Kansas, New Mexico, North Carolina, Missouri, Arizona, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania, so more cases may develop.


The contaminated cantaloupes may be labeled with either a grey, yellow, and green sticker that reads “Jensen Farms-Sweet Rocky Fords,” or a green and white sticker that reads “Product of USA- Frontera Produce-Colorado Fresh-Rocky Ford-Cantaloupe.” If, however, you come across an unlabeled cantaloupe, either contact the store at which the melon was purchased to determine its source, or throw it away. These cantaloupes should not be eaten.


A doctor will be able to diagnose if you have been infected with Listerosis, and if caught in time, it is treatable. If your loved one has been diagnosed with Listeria poisoning after eating cantaloupe, you may have a claim for compensation from the grower, distributor or retailer and others. Compensation will depend on the facts of your personal injury or wrongful death case and may include medical expenses, pain, emotional distress, disability, lost income, and other damages. For more information contact the Law Offices of Francis J. Discipio.


The Fallout from an Indiana State Fair Stage Collapse

October 16th, 2011 at 4:20 am

On August 13th 2011, people were wounded and some died due to a stage collapsing before a Sugarland concert in Indiana.  A storm rolled into the Indiana State Fair and capsized the stage leaving up to 40 people wounded and 7 people killed. The opening band had just finished its set and no one was on stage when the rigging was torn down in strong winds.


The Indiana State Fair Commission adopted a process for distribution of donations from the State Fair Relief Fund which will enable payments to victims of the Aug. 13 accident at the Indiana State Fairgrounds to begin as early as next week. A claim form will be available, and distributions will begin as soon as claims information is verified.

The relief fund, which totals over $796,280.50 to date, will be distributed according to four classifications:

  • $35,000 for death claims:
  • $25,000 for those hospitalized for at least 10 days and nights
  • $7,500 for those hospitalized for 4-9 days and nights
  • $3,000 for those hospitalized for 1-3 nights and days

Payments from the relief fund are a gift from donors and are not considered as compensation for injuries or death resulting from the accident. Acceptance of relief funds does not constitute a waiver or release of any claims victims, or their representatives, may have against an entity that may later be found liable for the accident.

Several victims and families were also pursing separate lawsuits against companies involved with the concert and the stage construction.  This includes a same sex couple that was torn apart because one of them died due to the stage collapse.


Alisha Brennon and Christina Santiago made their relationship official this past summer, soon after Illinois’ civil union law began recognizing same-sex couples.  Following Santiago’s death, her partner Alisha has filed a wrongful death suit seeking damages.  The lawsuit highlights a new wrinkle caused by the patchwork of laws on the rights of gay and lesbian couples to marry or form civil unions.  It might just happen that due to the laws in Indiana about damages being paid to next of kin, which Alisha Brennon may not be able to retain damages that are not under question for heterosexual couples.


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