In the wake of the massive data breach of four million patients at Advocate Medical comes word of other patient files being compromised at Chicago-area medical facilities. A front-page story of the Chicago Tribune ("Patient files left exposed," Sept. 10, 2013) explain how records were found scattered at the now closed Edgewater hospital, which has been the site of many break-ins. Chicago Tribune reporters Ameet Sachdev and Nancy Loo reported that despite Edgewater Medical Center's closing 12 years ago, the door to the room housing medical records did not have a lock. "Medical files were scattered on tables elsewhere in the building. Boxes of files in water-filled rooms were covered with mold," the Tribune reported. Pictures of the condition of the records that were taken by the Illinois Department of Public Health were published in the Tribune. The entire story can be read here. It also was reported by the University of Chicago Physicians Group that a "potential incident" may have affected the protection of health information of up to 1,344 patient files. On Sept. 6, 2013, the University of Chicago Medicine reported that the potential breach occurred within the network of its collection agency, ICS, that the Physicians Group retained. After its contract with ICS reportedly was terminated, "ICS said it discovered an external person may have been able to view these files while on the ICS website," the release on its website stated. The Medical Group said letters were sent to patients who may have been affected. Clifford Law Offices filed a class action lawsuit on behalf of four million patients who had their privacy and medical information stolen from Advocate Medical when four computers were allegedly stolen from their Park Ridge administrative offices in July. To learn more about it, visit the law firm's website here.
Clifford Law Offices has received hundreds of calls from patients who said they received letters from Advocate Medical regarding the compromise of their privacy and medical information in July. Advocate Medical reported that four computers were allegedly stolen from their Park Ridge offices. The computers contained important information regarding four million patients' dates of birth, Social Security numbers and medical diagnoses. Some people who called have experienced unauthorized credit cards being opened in their names, cell phone accounts, charges and other suspicious activity regarding their credit. Some have voiced concerns about the compromise of their Social Security checks, income tax returns and other personal issues. If you received a copy of the letter from Advocate Medical or you think you are affected, visit the law firm's website to fill out a form that will help to keep you informed on the legal action that Clifford Law Offices files in this matter. A copy of the class action complaint can be viewed here.
Kimberly M. Halvorsen (left), lawyer at Clifford Law Offices and co-chair of the My Hero Lend-a-Hand Awards, is pictured with former WGN personality Merri Dee, mistress of ceremonies, at the recent awards luncheon. The Judge Marovitz Lawyers Lend-A-Hand to Youth Program supports the legal community's resources to promote best practice mentoring and tutoring programs in disadvantaged communities. Since its founding in 1995, more than $1.4 million in grants has been awarded by the organization. Among this year's recipients was the Hon. Charles E. Freeman of the Illinois Supreme Court.
The American Academy of Pediatrics has released a car seat check app that makes it easy for a parent to find the correct seat for his or her child. Products are broken down by age, height and weight, and also include recent recall information.
7 in 10 Wrong: While 96 percent of parents and caregivers believe their child safety seats are installed correctly, research shows that seven out of 10 children are improperly restrained. Source: Child Passenger Safety Overview, Seatcheck.org 71 & 54 Percent: Correctly installed child safety seats reduce the risk of fatal injury by 71 percent for infants and 54 percent for toddlers riding in passenger cars. Source: Traffic Safety Facts 2011 Data, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (download) #1 Killer: Car crashes are the number one killer of children ages 1 through 13 in the United States. Source: Car Seats, Parents Central, Safercar.gov
Car seats are designed to save young lives. Unfortunately, most parents think they are installing the seats correctly, when inspections show seven in 10 are installed wrong! The consequences can be deadly given that motor vehicle accidents are the number one killer of kids in this country. And in fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that more than half of those deaths and serious injuries could be prevented by placing children in age- and size-appropriate car and booster seats. "Child safety seats save hundreds of young lives every year, but proper use is vital," said David Strickland, administrator at the National Highway Safety and Traffic Administration (NHSTA). "That's why we're urging everyone to make sure their kids are properly protected on every trip, every time." Avoid These Common Mistakes Mistake #1: Seat too loose Test it: Grab the car seat at its base, near where the safety belt passes through. If you can move it more than one inch to the left, right or forward, it's too loose. The danger: In a collision, a child in a loose seat could crash into the front seat and suffer serious head and face injuries. Fast fix: Read the manual first (only 20 percent of parents do, according to a recent survey by the NHSTA). Add your weight and tighten the seat belt as much as possible. For forward-facing seats, also use the top tether to help lock the seat in place. Mistake #2: Harness too loose Test it: Once the child is in the car seat, pinch the harness at the shoulder with the chest clip properly in place. If you're unable to pinch any excess webbing, it's tight enough. The danger: A child can easily slip out of a loose harness or even be ejected from the vehicle, suffering severe injuries. Fast fix: Always use the chest clip, and position it level with the armpit. Make sure the harness passes through the proper slots and is tightly buckled. There should be no slack. Mistake #3: Infant turned face forward too soon Test it: According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, all children should remain rear facing at least until they turn 2 years old or have reached the maximum height or weight capacity of the infant car seat. Inspections show that 30 percent of infants are turned around too soon. The danger: An infant's bones and spinal cord are still forming. When a child is rear facing, the strongest part of her body - the back - can better absorb the immense forces of a crash. When facing forward, an infant's relatively heavy head can catapult, putting pressure on the undeveloped spine and risking paralysis or death. Fast fix: Read the seat label and follow age and height/weight limits. Mistake #4: Rear-facing infant seat not at a 45-degree angle Test it: Many infant car seats have a built-in level that tells you when your seat is at the wrong angle. More often than not, seats are installed in a position that's too upright. The danger: An infant's airway is as narrow as the diameter of a soda straw. If a rear-facing seat leans too far forward, the baby's head can fall forward, cutting off her airway. Fast fix: If your safety seat is not equipped with an adjustable pedestal to ensure the correct angle, tightly rolled up towels or a section of a swimming-pool noodle can be placed under the area where a baby's feet rest. Mistake #5: Not knowing the age stages Test it: Any child between 40 and 80 pounds and up to 4'9" tall (generally kids from 4 to 8 years old) needs a booster seat. And children under 13 should never sit in the front seat. The danger: An adult seat belt doesn't properly restrain a child because it crosses the body at the wrong position: too high on the belly and across the shoulder. Plus, children often move the shoulder belt behind them because it's uncomfortable. During a crash, a child who is too small for a seat belt can sustain internal, head or spinal injuries. Fast fix: Move older children to a booster seat when they reach the height or weight limit allowed by the car seat manufacturer. Here's a handy guide for choosing the right seat. For more details, download this safety checklist and keep it in your vehicle. If you have ANY doubt whatsoever about the proper selection or installation of your child or booster seat, find a child passenger safety technician or checkup station near you. A child's life is at stake!
The 20th Annual Clifford Symposium will feature a special address by Associate Justice Stephen G. Breyer of the Supreme Court of the United States at DePaul University College of Law. The two-day program, April 24-25, is entitled "Judge Jack Weinstein's Impact on Civil Justice in America." Judge Weinstein is a federal judge in the Eastern District of New York. He was appointed by President Lyndon Johnson in 1967 and has authored numerous significant opinions on a broad range of topics in civil justice, from torts and civil procedure to the law of evidence.This program will examine his 45 years on the bench that has led him to be considered one of the most renowned judges in the history of the federal judiciary. Robert A. Clifford and Clifford Law Offices, a nationally recognized personal injury firm, established the symposium through a generous endowment two decades ago in the belief of providing a vehicle for exploring the civil justice system in an intellectually rigorous fashion. To read about the 2014 faculty, please click here.
Class Action Inquiry Form Clifford Law Offices filed a class action lawsuit against Advocate Medical Group for its negligence in the mishandling of important patient information and privacy issues on behalf of more than four million people. The case was filed as a class action lawsuit in Cook County Circuit Court in Chicago. If you have been affected by this mishandling of your information and want to join the legal action, please click here to fill out a form and fax back, or scan and email it to Clifford Law Offices at AdvocateLawsuit@CliffordLaw.com. Please note the instructions on the PDF form that can be printed and filled out.
Clifford Law Offices filed a class action lawsuit on behalf of a mother and her daughter whose privacy and medical information, along with millions of others, was compromised as a result of Advocate Medical Group failing to take proper precautions to protect private data of its patients. Advocate Medical Group, based in Downers Grove, said that its administrative offices in Park Ridge were burglarized in July and four computers were taken containing patients' names, addresses, phone numbers, Social Security numbers and other important data including medical diagnoses and insurance information were taken. The lawsuit alleges that Advocate was negligent in failing to use encryption and other basic security measures on behalf of its patients. Patients were informed in September of this alleged event that reportedly is under investigation by police. If you have been affected by this mishandling of your information and want to join the class action lawsuit, please click here to fill out a form and fax back or scan and email it to Clifford Law Offices at AdvocateForms@CliffordLaw.com. Please note the instructions on the PDF form can be printed and filled out. Click here to see the press release that was sent out by Clifford Law Offices when it filed the lawsuit.
By Andrew Maloney Law Bulletin staff writer Robert A. Clifford didn't set out to alter the Illinois legal landscape over dinner in Buffalo, N.Y., last year. That's just what happened. After a long day in court just before Thanksgiving, Clifford was dining at the upscale Buffalo Club with colleagues from his trial team, sharing notes and ideas in the crash case of Colgan Air Flight 3407, the Feb. 12, 2009, accident that killed 50 people just outside Buffalo. Clifford, the prominent trial attorney and a past president of The Chicago Bar Association, represents eight plaintiffs in the case.He said he doesn't remember what he ate that night. Nor does he remember exactly how many people were there -- about a half-dozen or so. What he does recall is that it was too late to fly back to Chicago. And at some point, the conversation at his table centered around paying settlements. "The business manager in me was lamenting the fact that it takes so darn long at times for these insurance companies to pay the settlements that they've agreed to pay to our clients," he said. "And we have to fight with 'em and tussle with 'em and prod 'em and make motions against 'em. And one of them says, 'Why do you have to do that? Don't you have a prompt-pay law?'" On that day, the answer to that question was "no." In four months, it will be "yes." Gov. Patrick J. Quinn on Monday signed Senate Bill 1912, a replica of the New York statute which sets a timetable for paying settlements. The new law's origins function as a case study in how ideas can become law in Springfield. Current Illinois law gives state courts discretion to enforce settlement payments in a timely manner. But the new law, which takes effect Jan. 1, will require a defendant to tender a release to the plaintiff within 14 days of written confirmation of the settlement. The defendant has 30 days to pay the settlement once the plaintiff has returned the release. As soon as Clifford saw a copy of the New York statute, the legislative grunt work began. "I remarked to myself, 'We need one of those,'" said Clifford, a partner at Clifford Law Offices. "So I got back to Chicago and I called (Illinois Trial Lawyers Association Executive Director) Jim Collins. I told him the story and said, 'Let's go to work.'" From there, Clifford and the trial lawyers group took the idea to the Legislative Reference Bureau, and in the course of enlisting sponsors, Clifford said, also took it to Senate President John J. Cullerton and House Speaker Michael J. Madigan. In the bill's earliest stages, the trial lawyers took a straw poll of sorts among members to determine if the problem was widespread enough to push for legislation. The group got feedback from opponents as well, including those who represent municipal governments. "We took into account all the points that they made," said Gregory L. Shevlin, a partner at Cook, Ysursa, Bartholomew, Brauer & Shevlin Ltd., who was ITLA president at the time. "We added in local government because there was concern that the original verbiage didn't make that clear enough, that local government entities are not subject to the bill. "There was a lot of back-and-forth." By the time the plan reached the House near the end of the General Assembly's spring session, the perception among many lawmakers, especially House Republicans, was just the opposite -- they saw the bill as hasty, poorly-vetted and a display of power by Democrats in concert with ITLA. "Oh yeah. I hated it," said Rep. Ronald L. Sandack, a Republican from Downers Grove and one of the House members who led the charge against the measure. Among a host of his objections is that the timetable is unrealistic, and opponents didn't have enough time to negotiate it. "I have no animus against the trial lawyers ... but it was just jammed down our throats," he said. Shevlin said the lawmaking process involved increasing the number of days to pay the settlement -- one of several compromises ITLA made while the bill was moving through the legislative process. "One section said 21 days. Now it's 30. There were compromises like that," he said. And Clifford said he disputes the perception that the bill is a power-grab. "What's so novel about you wanting to be paid?" he said. "When I became a plaintiff's lawyer, I learned there are the 3 Ds of defense -- defend, delay, and don't pay. ... And that's the truth. Every lawyer involved in tort litigation knows 'defend, delay and don't pay.' ... And (this) is an effort to prevent that from continuing." Copyright 2013 Law Bulletin Publishing Co. Reprinted with permission.